Posts tagged ‘mpaa’

TorrentFreak: Hollywood’s Release Delays Breed Pirates

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

babypirateHollywood has a message to all those pirates who keep making excuses to download and stream films illegally.

“You have no excuse.”

The major movie studios have done enough to make their content legally available, launching thousands of convenient movie services worldwide, they claim.

“We need to bust the myth that legal content is unavailable. Creative industries are tirelessly experimenting with new business models that deliver films, books, music, TV programs, newspapers, games and other creative works to consumers,” Stan McCoy noted on the MPAA blog this week.

“In Europe, there are over 3,000 on-demand audio-visual services available to European citizens,” he adds.

So is the MPA right? Is “availability” an imaginary problem that pirates use as an excuse not to pay?

We decided to investigate the issue by looking at the online availability of the ten most downloaded films of last week. Since the MPAA’s blog post talked about Europe and the UK we decided to use Findanyfilm.com which focuses on UK content. The results of our small survey speak for themselves.

Of the ten most pirated movies only Gone Girl is available to buy or rent online. A pretty weak result, especially since it’s still missing from the most popular video subscription service Netflix.

Ranking Movie Available Online? Buy / Rent
torrentfreak.com
1 Interstellar NO
2 American Sniper NO
3 Taken 3 NO
4 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies NO
5 John Wick NO
6 Into The Woods NO
7 Fury NO
8 Gone Girl Rent/Buy
9 American Heist NO
10 The Judge NO

Yes, the results above are heavily skewed because they only include movies that were released recently. Looking up films from 2011 will result in a much more favorable outcome in terms of availability.

But isn’t that the problem exactly? Most film fans are not interested in last year’s blockbusters, they want to able to see the new stuff in their home too. And since the movie industry prefers to keep its windowing business model intact, piracy is often the only option to watch recent movies online.

So when the MPA’s Stan McCoy says that lacking availability is a myth, he’s ignoring the elephant in the room.

For as long as the film industry keeps its windowing business model intact, releasing films online months after their theatrical release, people will search for other ways to access content, keeping their piracy habit alive.

Admittedly, changing a business that has relied on complex licensing schemes and windowing strategies for decades isn’t easy. But completely ignoring that these issues play a role is a bit shortsighted.

There’s no doubt that the movie studios are making progress. It’s also true that many people choose to pirate content that is legally available, simply because it’s free. There is no good excuse for these freeriders, but it’s also a myth that Hollywood has done all it can to eradicate piracy.

Even its own research proves them wrong.

Earlier this year a KPMG report, commissioned by NBC Universal, showed that only 16% of the most popular and critically acclaimed films are available via Netflix and other on-demand subscription services. The missing 84% includes recent titles but also older ones that are held back due to rights issues.

Clearly, availability is still an issue.

So if Hollywood accuses Google of breeding pirates, then it’s safe to say the same about Hollywood.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Trademark Forces “Rated R” Beer To Drop Its Name

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

ratedrThe MPAA is best known for its efforts to protect the rights of the major movie studios. However, the group also has some intellectual property of its own to defend.

A few weeks ago the MPAA sent a cease and desist letter to Minneapolis beer brewery 612 Brew, who’re known for their tasty beers including the popular “Rated R” brand.

The movie industry group pointed out that the company was using the “Rated R” trademark without permission and urged the beer maker to drop the name to avoid confusion.

The MPAA registered “Rated R” at the trademark office in the eighties as a certification mark, indicating that a movie is rated unsuitable for children under 17, unless they’re accompanied by an adult.

While movie ratings have nothing to do with beer, the MPAA took offense at the name after the brewery filed their own trademark application. According to 612 Brew co-founder Kasak, the MPAA didn’t want the beer makers to use any of the “Rated” variants.

“[Our beer] could have been PG, PG-13 or R. It didn’t matter. As long as it contained the word ‘rated’ it would still get flagged,” Kasak told Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

An MPAA spokesperson confirmed that the group sent a cease and desist letter but further details are not available.

The brewery first responded to the demands by arguing that the Rated R name can be used as they clearly operate in a different industry. The MPAA wasn’t convinced though, so 612 decided that it was easiest to change the name.

The trademark specifically notes that the MPAA doesn’t have an exclusive right to the word “rated,” but 612 Brew decided to go for a different variant.

Starting this year the name of “Rated R” beer was changed to “Unrated,” which isn’t trademarked by the MPAA. While the change is a setback for the brewery it’s co-founder doesn’t believe it will harm business in the long run.

“It’s going to take some time for people to get used to it, but it will be OK. It’s a great beer and they’ll drink it regardless of the name,” Kasak notes.

The brewery now has to hope that the “unrated” name won’t cause any headaches in the future. A quick search reveals that there’s an “unrated” trademark application in progress by a “yoga pants” outfit, so fingers crossed.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: How Hollywood Plans to Seize Pirate Site Domain Names

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-runningLast December a leaked document from the MPAA exposed Hollywood’s global anti-piracy priorities for the coming years.

The leak listed the mysterious term “Fujian” as one of the top priorities, without explaining what the name of a Chinese province has to do with online piracy.

Additional documents seen by TF shed more light on the issue. It turns out that the MPAA is slowly but steadily testing a novel legal procedure through which it hopes to seize the domain names of top pirate sites.

Fujian actually refers to the company “Fujian Sharing Import & Export Ltd,” which was sued several years ago for selling counterfeit Polo Ralph Lauren and The North Face clothing.

The counterfeiters used thousands of websites to sell their knockoffs using just as many domain names. If one was taken down, Fujian would simply replace it by a new one selling the same counterfeit gear.

To stop this game of Whack-A-Mole a federal court in New York ordered various intermediaries, including domain name registries, to stop working with the company and hand over the domain names to the clothing manufacturers. If they failed to comply, the registries themselves would be held liable.

In recent years both The North Face and Polo Ralph Lauren frequently updated the list of counterfeit domain names and had them seized by their registries and deleted from search engines.

The movie studios are now planning to use the same strategy against pirate sites. Besides asking reputable domain name registries to take voluntary action, they also plan to use the “Fujian” model in court.

In a detailed overview of its strategies the MPAA says that it wants to “persuade or compel domain name registries that control the reputable gTLDs (e.g., .com, .org) to terminate domain services for demonstrated pirate sites.”

“Efforts principally include civil litigation (Fujian strategy) and outreach to registries seeking to ensure they do not provide domain services to pirate sites,” they add.

Thus far they have had some success in the U.S. in a lawsuit against a ring of counterfeit DVD sites. However, the tactic has yet to be tried against sites that offer streaming services, torrents or links to pirated material.

Behind closed doors the MPAA admits that targeting domain names will be less effective than site blocking, which is also on the agenda, as sites can move to so-called “rogue” registries. But it is still expected to have a decent impact.

“Nevertheless, domain name termination can be very effective in disrupting pirate sites and the user experience in visiting them. At least temporarily, thesite is made inaccessible,” MPAA notes.

“Even sites that come back online can be expected to see reduced traffic, with a corresponding impact on profitability and sustainability,” they add.

And there’s more to worry about. Looking at one of the most recent (24th!) supplemental order in the Fujian case we see that the court grants rightsholders powers that go much further than targeting domain names alone.

The order also requires search engines to delist the infringing URLs, banks to seize the site’s assets, and forbids ISPs, back-end service providers and web designers to do business with the domain name owners.

Whether the MPAA will be successful with their efforts has yet to be seen but persistent pirates may want to learn the IP-addresses of their favorite sites by heart, just in case.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Failed MPAA / Xunlei Anti-Piracy Deal is Shocking

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoAs one of China’s top 10 Internet companies, Xunlei is a massive operation. In the first three months of 2014 the company enjoyed 300 million monthly unique visitors.

Among other file-sharing ventures, Xunlei operates ‘Thunder’, the world’s most popular torrent client. This and other issues have placed the company firmly on the radar of the MPAA.

The movie group first took legal action against the China-based outfit in 2008 but by 2014 relations began to warm with Xunlei pursuing an IPO in the United States. In May last year there was a breakthrough, with the former rivals signing a Content Protection Agreement (CPA) requiring Xunlei to protect MPAA studio content including movies and TV shows.

In October 2014, however, the MPAA reported Xunlei to the U.S. government, complaining that piracy was rampant on the service. Something had clearly gone wrong, an assertion that was only underlined this morning with a report that the MPAA has now sued Xunlei.

“For too long we have witnessed valuable creative content being taken and monetized without the permission of the copyright owner. That has to stop and stop now,” said Mike Ellis, the MPAA’s Asia-Pacific chief.

While it’s clear that the MPAA are disappointed with Xunlei’s efforts, it’s certainly possible that the company found it impossible to fulfill its agreement with the MPAA. Documents obtained by TorrentFreak dated May 2014 (days before the deal was signed) detailing a draft agreement which Xunlei “stated unequivocally in writing that it will accept” reveal the toughest set of anti-piracy demands ever seen.

Content filtering

The CPA reveals that Xunlei agreed to deploy Vobile‘s fingerprinting system across all of its services (including file-sharing clients) to ensure that no unfiltered content would ever be uploaded or downloaded. Filters were to have been deployed within 120 days of signing the agreement and would have to be implemented on both past and future projects.

Repeat infringers

The CPA requires Xunlei to terminate those who not only infringe but also those who attempt to infringe copyright. For all U.S.-based users of Xunlei the company agreed to implement a three-strike policy, with Chinese user strike numbers to be determined later.

“This is a very strict repeat infringer policy — as strict as exists anywhere in key respects — in that both uploads and downloads count and in that infringement is determined by the filter (not just based on
notices received),” the MPAA document reads.

“[The] filter will identify each and every instance of a user attempting to infringe a studio work, by uploading or downloading. Thus, the repeat infringer numbers likely will be off the charts in our favor when we have those later negotiations. Xunlei is also obligated to preserve data on identified infringers, and we can request this data in our due diligence reviews.”

Site blocking

The CPA also grants the MPAA the power to determine who Xunlei can deal with online.

“[The MPAA] will be able to identify to Xunlei what we believe to be ‘pirate sites’ and Xunlei will block those domains from all aspects of its system (e.g., no using those domains for accelerated downloads and no accepting communications/links from those domains),” the MPAA writes.

Licensing – content is banned unless the MPAA says otherwise

As a content provider Xunlei has licensing deals with many companies to provide legitimate content. However, the CPA with the MPAA restricts the company’s ability to make its own decisions without reference.

“The definition of Unauthorized Content…excludes content for which Xunlei has a license directly or for which the studios have granted a license to a site or users that would extend to and authorize the use contemplated by Xunlei. However, this is not left to Xunlei to determine,” the MPAA notes.

“All content is deemed Unauthorized unless Xunlei obtains express written confirmation from the appropriate studio that a relevant license has been granted,” with the CPA “putting the burden on [Xunlei] to get written confirmations and effectively to create a white list.”

Access to source code

“[The MPAA] will have rights of due diligence, which will allow us access to source code and technical data/documents, to assess Xunlei’s compliance,” the MPAA adds.

When it all goes wrong

The Content Protection Agreement includes clauses for the MPAA not to sue Xunlei for copyright infringement as long as it keeps to its side of the deal. However, it appears the MPAA wanted to avoid legal action if at all possible.

“[In] the event that we are still seeing significant infringement even with Xunlei honoring its filtering obligations, then either [Xunlei] violated its representation (which by agreement is deemed a material breach) or the ongoing cooperation provisions kick in – and if [Xunlei] does not comply with them, we can sue,” the MPAA notes.

“Given the limited relief available in an action in China and the uncertainty of suit in the US, we strongly recommend that we accept the contingent covenant not to sue in the draft CPA.”

There are currently no reports of the MPAA’s legal action in Chinese media but it will be interesting to see the reaction in the days to come.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants to Censor OpenCulture’s Public Domain Movies

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

opencultureDespite the growing availability of legal services in many countries, movie studios face a constant stream of pirated films.

In an attempt to deter these infringements, the MPAA and individual movie studios send thousands of takedown notices to Internet services every month. Most of these requests are directed at Google.

When it comes to takedown notices the MPAA has a dubious track record. The movie industry group has got into the habit of asking Google to remove the homepages of allegedly infringing sites instead of individual pages where the infringing movies are listed.

A few days ago, for example, the MPAA asked Google to remove the homepage of the most popular torrent site Kickass.so, alongside several other torrent and streaming sites. As with previous requests Google declined to do so as the request was too broad.

kickmpaa

The same takedown notice includes another unusual and perhaps more worrying request. Between all the “pirate sites” the MPAA also targeted Open Culture’s list of public domain movies.

For those unfamiliar with the project, Open Culture offers an archive of high-quality cultural & educational media. With Stanford University’s Dan Colman as founder and lead editor, the content listed on the site is selected with great care.

The MPAA, however, appears to have spotted a problem with the list and has asked Google to remove the entire page (containing 700 movies) from its search results, as shown in the image below.

openculturedown

So why would MPAA target content that’s seemingly in the public domain?

The full details of the takedown notice have yet to be published, but there is a good chance that the request was sent in error.

In any case, the notice doesn’t look good for the MPAA. Over the past seferal months the MPAA has lobbied Google to block entire domains from its search results, but mistakes like these are a reminder for Google to remain cautious.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Links Online Piracy to Obama’s Cybersecurity Plan

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoThe unprecedented Sony hack has put cybersecurity on top of the political agenda in the United States.

Just last week Representative Ruppersberger re-introduced the controversial CISPA bill and yesterday President Obama announced his new cybersecurity plans.

New measures are needed to “investigate, disrupt and prosecute” cybercrime as recent events have shown that criminals can and will exploit current weaknesses, according to the White House

“In this interconnected, digital world, there are going to be opportunities for hackers to engage in cyber assaults both in the private sector and the public sector,” President Obama notes.

Together with Congress the Obama administration hopes to draft a new bill that will address these concerns. Among other things, the new plan aims to improve information sharing between private Internet companies and the Government.

Privacy advocates argue that this kind of data sharing endangers the rights of citizens, who may see more private data falling into the hands of the Government. President Obama, on the other hand, sees it as a necessity to stop attacks such as the Sony breach.

“Because if we don’t put in place the kind of architecture that can prevent these attacks from taking place, this is not just going to be affecting movies, this is going to be affecting our entire economy in ways that are extraordinarily significant,” the President cautions.

With the Sony hack Hollywood played a central role in putting cybersecurity back on the agenda. And although President Obama makes no mention of online piracy, the MPAA is quick to add it to the discussion.

In a statement responding to the new cybersecurity plans, MPAA CEO Chris Dodd notes that because of these criminals certain companies have their “digital products exposed and available online for anyone to loot.”

“That’s why law enforcement must be given the resources they need to police these criminal activities,” Dodd says.

The MPAA appears to blend the Sony hack with online piracy. It calls upon Congress to keep the interests of Hollywood in mind, and urges private actors including search engines and ISPs to help in curbing the piracy threat.

“… responsible participants in the Internet ecosystem – content creators, search, payment processors, ad networks, ISPs – need to work more closely together to forge initiatives to stop the unlawful spread of illegally-obtained content,” Dodd says.

Hollywood’s effort to frame online piracy as a broader cybersecurity threat is not entirely new.

Last year an entertainment industry backed report claimed that 90 percent of the top pirate sites link to malware or other unwanted software. In addition, two-thirds were said to link to credit card scams.

This report was later cited in a Senate Subcommittee hearing where the MPAA urged lawmakers to take steps so young Americans can be protected from the “numerous hazards on pirate sites.”

Whether a new cybersecurity bill will indeed include anti-piracy measures has yet to be seen. But for the MPAA it may be one of the few positive outcomes of the Sony hack, which exposed some of its best kept secrets in recent weeks.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Student “Not Guilty” in First 3D Movie Piracy Case

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

There have been a number of so-called “camming” cases in the UK in recent years with the MPAA-affiliated Federation Against Copyright Theft keen to stamp out the practice.

Punishments can be severe. Fast and Furious 6 ‘cammer’ Philip Danks was sentenced to 33 months in prison last year for recording, uploading and selling physical copies of the popular movie. But prosecutions can be complex and sometimes things can backfire in the biggest possible way.

Earlier this month, Birmingham student Ciprian Florea went on trial accused of attempting to ‘cam’ the space blockbuster Gravity. The case was special in a number of ways, not least that this was the first time that an individual had been accused of going equipped to capture a movie in full 3D.

According to the prosecution, Florea attended a Cineworld cinema in the city during November 2013 equipped with a home-made recording rig consisting of a pair of high-def cameras fashioned together in a device held on the man’s chest.

Florea, a student of film technology at Birmingham City University, is said to have hired the cameras the day before his arrest. These had been placed in a custom-made box in order to record the left and right eye as required for 3D imaging.

But before he had even entered the screening the student was spotted by a security guard who confiscated the device and called the police.

Florea said he had no intention to record the movie and only had the device to record his friends. He attended the screening without the device.

In the light of the fact that the UK has no specific “anti-camming” legislation and no copyright works were ever recorded, the prosecution accused the student of possessing a 3D camera with intent to commit fraud, i.e the recording and subsequent distribution of the movie.

The Judge didn’t buy it.

“I am sure everything was done with the best of motives. However I have real concern as to whether this prosecution should have been brought at all,” said Mr Recorder Nolan QC.

“It ought to have been absolutely clear there was no legal basis for it,” he added.

The Judge added that there was nothing to suggest that Florea had intended to commercially exploit any copy. Going further, he noted that even if a copy had been made and posted online, the offense may have been a breach of copyright but would not have amounted to fraud.

This may well present a problem for similar future prosecutions. With no uploading to the Internet and no evidence to support that was the intent, it appears claims of copyright infringement and/or fraud are effectively ruled out. In a case like this, where the movie hadn’t even been recorded, it’s not difficult to see why the case fell apart.

Nevertheless, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, who supported the prosecution, told TorrentFreak that the student’s behavior suggested he intended to break the law.

“The circumstances of Mr Florea’s actions in entering a cinema with equipment constructed to capture a 3D film provided strong evidence that he intended to commit a criminal offense,” FACT said.

“FACT supported the prosecution brought against him by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service on the basis of the serious damage caused to the film industry by those who illegally record films in cinemas. We are disappointed with the verdict, but respect the decision of the court.”

In comments to the Birmingham Mail after the verdict, Florea said he was glad the whole thing was over.

“I am relieved. It has taken a year and to be honest it has been a big pain in my life,” the student said.

“Although I won the case it has really been hard for me in my third year of my course. It was the first test of my final year’s project. I was just taking film of friends at the cinema.”

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: IFPI Targets ‘Pirate’ Domains With New Site Blocking Law

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Domain blocking is now firmly established as one of the entertainment industries’ go-to methods for reducing online copyright infringement. Its use is widespread around Europe by both the music and movie sector.

In Europe the most important legal decision was announced in March last year when the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed that EU ISPs can be required to block access to sites engaged in copyright infringement.

Elsewhere, individual countries are making their own decisions on how to move forward. Last July, Singapore legislators approved the Copyright Amendment Bill which allows copyright holders to obtain High Court orders forcing local service providers to block “flagrantly infringing” websites. Now, six months on, entertainment companies are ready to launch their first tests.

IFPI regional director Ang Kwee Tiang confirmed that the music group will initially target three to five “infringing sites” over the next two months.

“We are now actively looking into exercising this in the future,” he said.

The sites to be targeted have not yet been revealed but it’s always been the understanding that The Pirate Bay would be tackled first. The site’s reputation as the “worst-of-the-worst” allows entertainment companies to present a relatively straightforward case to the courts. The rising number of blocking orders already granted elsewhere only add to the mix.

“Now, The Pirate Bay has more than 6 million links. We take the screenshots and we show that these are not licensed. We’re going to show that The Pirate Bay has been blocked in nine or 10 different countries. I think that will be very convincing for our cause,” Ang said.

However, with The Pirate Bay currently down, it’s possible that other targets will have to be selected in the first batch. Ang confirms that evidence is still being collated but he’s confident that a successful blockade will help to reduce piracy.

“I divide (consumers) 80 to 20 – 80 per cent are average consumers, if they cannot get it easily and if a legal site offers it, they may go for the legal site,” he said.

“The committed pirate is like a committed criminal. They will search for ways to circumvent. But once we have the website blocking, then we are free to tackle the 20 per cent.”

The driving force behind the site blocking phenomenon can be found in the entertainment companies of the United States but following the SOPA debacle public discussion to progress site blocking has been fairly muted. That doesn’t mean nothing has been happening, however.

In December it was revealed that behind closed doors the MPAA has been working hard to bring site blocking to the United States. Whether those aims will still be progressed following the somewhat embarrassing leaks will remain to be seen, but it’s likely the movie group won’t be steered off course for long.

Overall, Hollywood definitely sees blocking as an important anti-piracy tool. The practice is endorsed by none other than MPAA chief Chris Dodd and internal MPAA research has found it to be effective.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: U.S. ‘Strikes’ Scheme Fails to Impact Piracy Landscape

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

FBIpiracydeptAlongside site blocking and attacking the finances of pirate sites, so-called “strike” schemes are one of the preferred anti-piracy mechanisms of the mainstream entertainment companies.

The idea is simple. Rightsholders monitor their works being exchanged on file-sharing networks, capture IP addresses of alleged infringers, and send complaints to those individuals’ ISPs. These notices are then forwarded to inform customers of their errant behavior.

There can be little doubt that this option is preferable to suing users en masse, but is the approach effective? Thanks to MPAA documents sent to the studios and obtained by TorrentFreak, we now have a clearer idea of whether the movie business itself thinks that “strikes” programs work – and more besides.

One document, titled ‘Notice & Graduated Response Programs’ begins by stating the primary aim of the programs: “Reduce P2P piracy while educating consumers about, and directing them to, legal content.”

Also confirmed is the MPAA’s desire to implement graduated response schemes with mitigation measures and awareness campaigns attached, the U.S. “Copyright Alerts System” (CAS) for example.

CAS mitigation measures haven’t proven to be particularly aggressive thus far but plenty of users have received notices. Around 1.3 million notices were sent in the first 10 months of operations. By November last year, Comcast alone had sent one million warnings.

But does the Copyright Alerts System work?

While it’s clear that the studios believe these schemes are part of the answer, the MPAA is pragmatic about the CAS behind closed doors, largely since it believes efforts thus far are just the beginning.

The U.S. system is “not yet at scale” or operating with “enough education support” according to the MPAA. As a result the CAS has not made an “impact on the overall [piracy] landscape.”

That said, the MPAA does claim some successes among those receiving notices.

“US program – with escalating remedial measures – [is] reasonably effective in decreasing P2P piracy by those actually receiving notices/alerts,” one summary reads.

However, the claim that some notice recipients mend their ways after receiving a warning (the rate of re-offending is actually quite high) is somewhat contradicted by another statement later in the same document.

“No current information as to the behavior of users who appear to stop P2P infringement – do not know whether [they are] migrating to other pirate systems or to lawful services,” the statement reads.

Nevertheless, the MPAA appears keen to expand the program to a point where impact is more meaningful. This will require cooperation with ISPs, both on volumes and mitigation measures.

Expansion, tougher punishments

“Attainability as to existing programs boils down to whether ISPs will agree (a) to expand scale to levels that might impact overall P2P piracy, and (b) to enhance remedial measures so as to improve efficacy,” the MPAA writes.

Plans to double up on the number of warnings being sent have already been revealed but whether ISPs will be keen to further punish customers remains to be seen. Still, the MPAA’s graduated response “secondary objective” might help them decide.

“Build and leverage relationships with ISPs; acknowledgement by ISPs of some responsibility for infringement through their systems; gain and/or strengthen government and other influential support for ISP accountability,” the objective reads.

Strikes systems worked elsewhere, right?

Perhaps surprisingly the MPAA has pushed ahead with CAS in the United States despite knowing that similar schemes have produced lukewarm results elsewhere.

“Programs in France and South Korea (both mandated/managed by government) – and available in New Zealand and Ireland” have had a “limited impact” according to the MPAA.

And the notice-and-notice scheme just launched in Canada and the UK’s upcoming VCAP warning system probably won’t produce nice surprises either. The MPAA believes that both are “likely” to prove less effective than programs with mitigation measures, such as the United States’. CAS.

The future

For the coming year it seems likely that while the MPAA will try to expand its current notice programs by volume, it will not attempt to introduce similar schemes elsewhere.

Will users flood to legitimate services though? The MPAA doesn’t know today and won’t know anytime soon but in any event that desired effect will probably require much more investment.

“Should see reasonable economies of scale…but to scale to level that will impact overall P2P piracy will likely require substantial additional resources,” the movie group says.

“May not have reliable data about impact for 1-2 years.”

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants to Sue ‘Pirate’ Site Hosting Providers

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoLast month a leaked document from the MPAA exposed Hollywood’s global anti-piracy priorities for the coming years.

The leak revealed where the movie studios would focus their efforts, with file-hosting and streaming sites among the top targets.

The same data breach also included a more in-depth overview of the anti-piracy plans which were previously unreported. This new leak comes from an email the MPAA sent to the movie studio’s top executives October last year and provides additional background.

One of MPAA’s main anti-piracy priorities are file-hosting services, often referred to as cyberlockers. As part of the strategy to deal with this threat the movie studios plan to sue the site’s hosting providers.

The two items below reveal Dutch hosting provider LeaseWeb is named as one of the possible targets. The MPAA also leaves the option open to go after “recalcitrant” hosters in the United States, if these choose not to cooperate.

- Litigation against a significant hosting provider in the Netherlands (e.g., Leaseweb).
– Outreach to hosting providers in the US, where sufficient legal precedent exists (potentially to be followed by litigation against recalcitrant US hosting providers).

mpaastrat1

In a specific section describing its strategy towards hosting services the MPAA also notes that it will put a “political spotlight and pressure” on hosting providers who make a lot of revenue from pirate sites.

In addition the MPAA plans to make criminal referrals against hosting companies, accusing them of money laundering and conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.

Interestingly, it’s unclear whether the criminal route will be successful as the document mentions that the U.S. Government may be reluctant to take these on “given difficulty with Megaupload case.”

mpaahosting1

LeaseWeb is surprised to learn that they are referenced in these MPAA documents. According to the company’s Senior Regulatory Counsel Alex de Joode there is no reason why they should be considered a target.

“There is no basis or ground for the MPAA to target any LeaseWeb company as part of its anti-piracy strategy,” De Joode tells TF.

“LeaseWeb companies that provide services to third parties have stringent policies to which cloud storage providers and video streaming sites must adhere, and which ensure rights holders can enforce their rights effectively. All LeaseWeb companies also have efficient abuse notification procedures in place, and act quickly upon takedown requests,” he adds.

LeaseWeb operates various companies, also in the United States, but the MPAA’s plan suggests that a possible lawsuit would take place in the Netherlands.

Thus far, however, LeaseWeb hasn’t seen any signs of or reasons for a potential lawsuit. In fact, they maintain a good relationship with the local Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group BREIN with which they have regular meetings in the Netherlands.

“Neither BREIN nor the MPAA has informed any LeaseWeb company that the MPAA may consider any of the LeaseWeb companies a target as part of its anti-piracy strategy or why such may be the case. The only reason that we can think of for ‘LeaseWeb’ to be on the list is that we are a big brand and big player in the hosting business, and as a group of companies have a vast and fast network.”

LeaseWeb is indeed a major player in the hosting business. It previously provided hundreds of servers to the now defunct Megaupload, and still serves many streaming sites and file-hosting services.

For now, no lawsuits against hosting providers have been filed by the MPAA. Whether or not this will happen depends in part on the level of funding the major movie studios are willing to contribute to the laid out anti-piracy proposals.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Sets Sail For Home Base…

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate bayA month has passed since The Pirate Bay was raided at the Nacka station, a nuclear-proof data center built into a mountain complex near Stockholm.

After being down for two weeks the site’s domain became responsive again, waving a pirate flag and a counter that kept track of the time that had elapsed since the raid.

Last week this counter suddenly started counting down, indicating that something is about to happen on February 1st. A few hours ago a few new mystery changes were made to the site.

The Pirate Bay logo in the right left corner started to move to a new image named totheisland.png on the bottom left. The CSS class of the image is “setsail,” suggesting that TPB is moving to the island.

The question that remains, however, is what it all means. The text on the island image is hardly readable but on closer inspection it appears to be a copy of one of TPB’s older doodles, pictured below.

The island in question features Pirate Bay’s home base and a few other torrent landmarks, including the seeder’s cave, dead torrents swamp and the grave of the MPAA.

pirate bay

So does this mean that the Pirate Bay is heading home for a fresh start? Or will the ship dock for good?

Besides the moving ship and the island image TPB also added a new “pipe vi Makefile” class for the encrypted AES code. This is yet another suggestion that something’s coming, but in common with the other hints it’s still unclear what.

tpb-source

A source close to The Pirate Bay team informs TF that they are not ready to make an announcement on the site’s future yet. However, an official statement will follow in a few days time.

While Pirate Bay users are eagerly hoping for a full comeback on February 1st, the site could also announce something new. The extended downtime suggests that the site was hit hard and it’s not unthinkable that recent backups are out of reach.

Meanwhile, several Pirate Bay copycats are trying to gain the hearts and minds of lost Pirate Bay users. Yesterday, one of the imposters using the com.ua TLD went as far as issuing a press release, stating that the Pirate Bay has found a new home in Ukraine.

For now, however, the real Pirate Bay remains without torrents. And if it eventually makes a comeback, it will be at the official thepiratebay.se domain.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: PirateSnoop Browser Unblocks Torrent Sites

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

pirate-cardBlocking of file-sharing related sites is becoming widespread in Europe, particularly so in the UK. In fact, it’s now almost impossible to access a top torrent site from any of the country’s leading ISPs, with the notable exception of OldPirateBay since the site is so new.

Users in the United States can’t rest easy either. As reported here in December, the MPAA is working hard to introduce site-blocking by utilizing creative interpretations of existing law. It seems unlikely that Hollywood will stop until it gets its way.

It’s becoming clear that Internet users everywhere will need to prepare if they want unfettered access to the Internet. While that can be achieved using premium services such as VPNs, there will always be those looking for a free solution. Today we have news of one such product.

In appearance PirateSnoop looks a lot like the popular Chrome browser. In fact the only immediate giveaway that things are a little different is the existence of a small pirate-themed button on the right hand side of its toolbar.

pirate-unblock

Underneath, however, PirateSnoop is based on the freeware web browser SRWare Iron which aims to eliminate some of the privacy-compromising features present in Google Chrome. PirateSnoop is then augmented with special extensions to enable its site unblocking features.

PirateSnoop (PS) was created by the team at public torrent site RARBG. While certainly less referenced by the mainstream media than The Pirate Bay for example, RARBG is now the 7th most popular torrent site in the world and a force to be reckoned with. It was also blocked by major UK ISPs recently.

Anti-censorship agenda

rarbg-logo“Nazi Germany had less censorship than we have today on the Internet,” the PS team informs TorrentFreak.

“However you are not paying for the Internet itself to your ISPs, but for the carrying of the Internet connectivity. ISPs are legally enforced by their countries to block content and what we are worried about is that little to none of the ISPs decided to fight any blocking court order.”

PirateSnoop vs PirateBrowser

The web-blocking features of PirateSnoop are similar to those of The Pirate Bay’s PirateBrowser, but there are some important differences. Although users are not rendered anonymous, PirateBrowser uses the TOR network. PirateSnoop sees this as problematic as torrent sites are increasingly blocking TOR IPs.

“The TOR network is abused by a lot of people – uploading fakes for example. It’s also used by DMCA agencies to scan sites. TOR is no longer an option to access sites. Its blocked on almost every site I know,” a dev explains.

Instead, PirateSnoop uses its own custom proxy network which utilizes full HTTPS instead of the HTTP used by basic proxies. Just like a regular browser to website connection, PS allows websites to see their users’ IP addresses (unless they’re using a VPN) in order to cut down on abuse.

Overall, PirateSnoop should be a faster browsing solution than PirateBrowser, its creators say.

Limitations and future upgrades

Currently several major blocked sites are supported by PirateSnoop but there are a couple of omissions. However, the team is prepared to expand the browser’s reach based on user demand.

“Any site that is requested to be added will be added immediately with no questions asked,” the team note.

The PirateSnoop team say they are committed to upgrades of their software to include proxy updates (added automatically upon browser restart) and full browser updates following any Iron browser core updates.

PirateSnoop can be downloaded here (using BitTorrent, of course).

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Remove 345 Million “Pirate” Links in 2014

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

google-bayIn the hope of steering prospective customers away from pirate sites, copyright holders are overloading Google with DMCA takedown notices.

These requests have increased dramatically over the years. In 2008, the search engine received only a few dozen takedown notices during the entire year, but today it processes more than a million reported “pirate” links per day.

Google doesn’t report yearly figures, but at TF we processed all the weekly reports and found that the number of URLs submitted by copyright holders last year surpassed the 345 million mark – 345,169,134 to be exact.

The majority of these requests are honored with the associated links being removed from Google’s search results. However, Google sometimes takes “no action” if they are seemed not to be infringing or if they have been taken down previously.

Most takedown requests were sent for the domains 4shared.com, rapidgator.net and uploaded.net, with more than five million targeted URLs each. The UK Music industry group BPI is the top copyright holder of 2014, good for more than 60 million reported links.

2014-takedown

Despite the frequent use of the takedown process many copyright holders have stressed that the search giant should take responsibility and do more to tackle the piracy problem.

Facing this harsh criticism from copyright holders, Google has gradually changed its attitudes towards sites and services that are often associated with piracy.

October last year the company implemented the most significant change to its search algorithm to date, aimed at downranking sites that often link to copyright-infringing material.

This significantly reduced the visibility of pirate links in search results and had a major impact on the traffic levels of some sites. However, Google also reminded copyright holders that they too can do more to prevent piracy.

Without legal options it’s hard to beat unauthorized copying, is the argument Google often repeats.

“Piracy often arises when consumer demand goes unmet by legitimate supply. As services ranging from Netflix to Spotify to iTunes have demonstrated, the best way to combat piracy is with better and more convenient legitimate services,” the company noted earlier.

“The right combination of price, convenience, and inventory will do far more to reduce piracy than enforcement can.”

In recent weeks tensions between rightsholders and Google reached a new high. After the MPAA issued a ‘snarky’ press release responding to Google’s downranking efforts, the company ended its anti-piracy cooperation with the Hollywood group.

Not much later, Google sued Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood who secretly collaborated with the MPAA to get certain pirate sites delisted.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios Fear a Google Fiber Piracy Surge

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

googlefiberlogoGoogle is slowly expanding its fiber to the home services in the United States. Most recently Austin, Texas, was added to the list and a few dozen other cities will follow soon.

Promising free Internet and blazing fast gigabit per second connections at a relatively low price, many consumers are happy with Google’s new product.

Hollywood on the other hand fears the worst. While great connectivity offers commercial opportunities for entertainment companies, some are overly worried about the negative consequences.

Earlier this week we received a leaked presentation covering the results of a Google Fiber survey conducted on behalf of Warner Bros and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The research was conducted in 2012 and aimed to get a baseline of the piracy levels, so changes can be measured after the rollout.

The survey respondents came from Kansas City, where Google Fiber first launched, with St. Louis residents as a control group. In total, more than 2,000 persons between 13 and 54 were asked about Google Fiber, their piracy habits and media consumption in general.

The results reveal that more than half of those surveyed were very interested in Google’s offer. This includes a large group of pirates, which make up 31% of the entire population.

About a third of these pirates said they would download or stream more with Google Fiber. Perhaps even more worrying for Hollywood, about a quarter of the non-pirates said they would start doing so if Google comes to town.

The most interesting part, however, is that the research tries to estimate the studio’s extra piracy losses that Google Fiber could create across the nation.

Drawing on an MPAA formula that counts all pirated views as losses the report notes that it may cost Hollywood over a billion dollars per year. That’s a rather impressive increase of 58% compared to current piracy levels.

fiber-pirates

The research also finds a link between piracy and broadband speeds, which is another reason for Hollywood not to like Google’s Internet service.

According to the report this is “another indication that piracy becomes more attractive with Google Fiber.”

fiberspeed

We will refrain from analyzing the methods and the definition of piracy losses, which deserve an article of their own. What’s most striking from the above approach is the way the studios frame Google Fiber as a piracy threat, instead of looking at the opportunities it offers.

For example, the same report also concludes that 39% of the respondents would use paid streaming subscription services more, while 34% would rent and purchase more online video. Yet, there is no mention of the potential extra revenue that will bring in.

Judging from all the piracy calculations, statistics and projections, it appears that Hollywood is mostly occupied with threats. But of course there’s nothing new there.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Considered Pulling Out of UK Pirate Notice Program

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

One of the cornerstones of modern online piracy schemes are so-called ‘copyright alert’ programs. The idea is simple – rightsholders monitor online file-sharing networks, capture IP addresses of alleged pirates and have ISPs send warnings to subscribers.

Several countries in the world currently operate these systems. France was one of the pioneers but the largest project is handled with the cooperation of the largest ISPs in the United States. In the summer a new deal was reached between the music and movie industries and the government to bring notices to the UK.

However, TorrentFreak has learned that just three months earlier Hollywood was getting cold feet over the scheme. Leaked emails reveal that the MPAA was giving consideration to the consequences of pulling out of VCAP (or delaying it by 18 months) due to the group not having enough information on the effectiveness of notice-only, no punishment schemes.

Since consequences could include political fallout due to UK government involvement in VCAP, the MPAA decided to send former Senator Chris Dodd to the UK. Dodd met Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, and Tim Luke, Prime Minister David Cameron’s Senior Policy Advisor, in the first week of March 2014.

Dodd returned with plenty of praise for Vaizey whose apparent efforts in paving the way for site blocking and attacking the finances of pirate sites were showing results. Nevertheless, there were sticking points.

It appears that a notice-only warning system, one in which subscribers aren’t punished for their actions, was not something the MPAA aspired to. This left the MPAA wondering whether launching VCAP quickly would be a favorable thing to do.

Interestingly, Dodd also made it clear to Vaizey that the MPAA was seriously considering the political implications of when VCAP should begin, a point not lost on the politicians.

Both Vaizey and Luke felt that if notices only started going out in the months preceding the May 2015 general election that would be an unwelcome development. A delay on notice-sending until the fall of 2015 was preferred all round.

Whatever happened in the interim period, in May news leaked that an agreement had been reached and by June the MPAA were confirming internally that a Memorandum of Understanding had indeed been signed.

Despite public comments welcoming the VCAP agreement it seems clear that the MPAA would prefer a system with account suspensions and disconnections. For now, however, that is not on the agenda.

At this point it appears Hollywood will give VCAP time to work, but could pull out at a later point if the public simply isn’t getting the message.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: isoHunt Founder: Piracy is A Convenience and Access Problem.

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

garyfungNovember last year isoHunt’s founder shut down the site after he signed a $110 million settlement agreement with Hollywood.

After being one of the lead figures in the BitTorrent community for over a decade, Fung is now about to close his first year as an outsider.

Has this new perspective changed his outlook on piracy? What lessons has he learned, and what should the major entertainment industry companies do to address the piracy challenge? Today Fung shares some of his thoughts from the past year.

On Piracy and The Future of Media Distribution

By Gary Fung

I’ve often said before, in court and elsewhere, that isoHunt’s shutdown means nothing against what and how much people share. isoHunt was a tool and its stats a reflection of what people wanted to share. I was right, nothing of substance has changed in file-sharing on BitTorrent. Neither has the recent downtime of The Pirate Bay it seems.

For now, piracy is being maintained by the inability of media giants to serve their customers well.

I like movies. I’ve always gone to theaters to see good movies, with friends. isoHunt’s shutdown hasn’t changed that. Recently, there was a movie I wanted to see: The Imitation Games. After weeks of it being premiered in the US, I still couldn’t see it here in BC, Canada. Only a few days ago did it start showing in just one local theater.

“Piracy” is not a money problem, it’s a convenience and access problem. Money is merely a part of the access problem. What are studios supposed to expect people to do when they want to see a movie but they can’t pay because it’s not playing locally?

So how can the entertainment industry stop piracy? Innovation.

Not being involved in file-sharing gives me the freedom to say that streaming services are the future of movies and TV. Technically, streaming and superior recommendations are the things that can effectively compete with piracy, which is not as convenient, not as legal and not as high quality. Continue to hamstring collective streaming services with licensing limitations and territorial barriers and expect piracy to endure. The War on Internet cannot be won with lawyers.

I wanted isoHunt to evolve into a service of frictionless content discovery. I realize now that without cooperation with the content owners, this isn’t possible. Technologically, I envision studios and other media companies creating open APIs and platforms so new innovative streaming services can be developed on top.

That would solve the studio’s fear of single players like Netflix dominating media distribution and eventually dictating terms in the industry. New streaming services could find a hybrid approach by using BitTorrent P2P streaming to lower cost and Bitcoin for pay per view micro-transactions.

Imagine when everyone can watch and listen to anything, anytime, anywhere, with mere cents, automatically and continuously deducted from your Bitcoin wallet. No, you won’t own your media, but that was never the case to begin with. Our entertainment will be completely in the cloud, searchable and discoverable with recommendations. Not yours, physically or otherwise, but available and priced low enough that you don’t think much about the charge.

I believe that the frictionless micro-transactions that enable this will be ideal for bridging the digital divide between creators and consumers. Taylor Swift doesn’t want to be on Spotify? She can create her own platform using a streaming API, a clearinghouse for rights, and bitcoin purchase details made available by her label. The same would be true for any TV show and movie producer.

And here’s my tip to industry associations like the MPAA and RIAA for continued relevance in this Internet age, possibly for everyone’s benefits. Become standards bodies for programmatic APIs over media rights, metadata and micro-transaction details. Record labels and movie/tv studios can use these standards to make their own works available for streaming and to accept payments from third parties.

With open APIs, new streaming services can freely innovate. With increased competition and choice, consumers can get better pricing and collectively access everything, just as the Internet eventually makes everything available. And with competing streaming services, the labels and studios don’t have to fear streaming giants such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify consolidating too much power over distribution.

Streaming services will become the new channels, available on any connected TV, sound system and mobile device. Micro-transactions that are frictionless in access is the hardest part from a technical point of view, but has the potential to end download stores, subscription streaming and piracy of today. Free and cheaper tiers of access through the APIs are possible when supplemented with advertising naturally and new forms of product placements and endorsements, already pioneered by Youtube channels now (although ethics in continued melding of content and advertising will have to be questioned).

The piracy and ownership debates I believe will be largely academic when access to content in reality will be that easy. Media companies that hound their future customers and technology partners with lawsuits will be laughed at, like we can now laugh at horse carriages suing automobiles for going too fast

That would be a sight to see.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Sony Accidentally Funded “Rogue” Piracy Sites

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

In recent years the mainstream entertainment industries have largely come to the realization that chasing down individual file-sharers is unlikely to yield significant anti-piracy results.

With this in mind new strategies have been adopted, one of the most important being the attacking of ‘pirate’ site revenue streams. The theory under consideration is that such sites would cease to exist if a profit could not be made from their operations.

One of the key ways sites generate revenue is via advertising so pressure has been mounting on agencies and the companies placing the ads to do everything possible to stop their promotions appearing on pirate sites. On occasion, groups such as the Digital Citizens Alliance publish information aimed at naming and shaming big brands who’ve let their ads appear in the wrong places.

“Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business” was a DCA report from February 2014 which estimated that the top “pirate sites” generate $227 million in annual ad revenue.

The report also called out big companies including Amazon, American Express, Dell, Ford, Lego and McDonalds for allowing their ads to appear on pirate domains. What it failed to do was point the finger at companies a little closer to home.

TorrentFreak has learned that during its monitoring of “pirate” sites in early 2014, the MPAA discovered that ads commissioned by entertainment companies close to the ones it represents were appearing on those very same sites.

In a five month analysis (Jan to May 2014) the MPAA found that Sony companies including Sony Online Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Entertainment Network, Sony Corporation, and Sony Mobile Communications, were placing ads on ‘rogue’ sites.

This wasn’t a few here and a few there either. In the first five months of the year Sony company ads appeared on “pirate” sites almost two million times, with the lion’s share placed by SCE and its partners.

Internal correspondence reveals that Sony Pictures were keen to eliminate this embarrassment, with the company’s content protection department writing to other divisions requesting that ads are kept aware from pirate networks in future.

Sony said its goals were threefold:

– “Starving pirate sites of any additional ad revenue generated by viewers clicking through on those internet ads”

– “Eliminating any semblance of legitimacy that ads for well­ known
brands might lend these rogue sites”

– “Protecting the reputation of our brand, since these sites often include malware and ads for questionable and/or illegal content.”

Noting that the information had been provided by the MPAA, Sony asked its sister companies to assist them in the fight against piracy. It’s unclear whether Sony has achieved its aims but in any event, don’t expect an MPAA partner company to be called out for supporting piracy anytime soon.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Now “Wanted for Hacking”

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

One by one the key players behind The Pirate Bay have been captured by police and forced to complete jail sentences previously determined by Swedish authorities.

The most recently detained was Fredrik Neij, a key player in the operations of The Pirate Bay right from the very early days of the site.

After realizing that his fate in Sweden involved a 10 month jail sentence, Neij fled to Laos in Asia where he lived until recently with this young family. He traveled from Laos into bordering Thailand on many occasions but last month his luck ran out.

On November 4, immigration police announced that Neij had been detained while crossing the border into Nong Khai, a city in North-East Thailand. What followed was a very public press conference in which a bewildered looking Neij was paraded before the media while flanked by several officers.

fredrik

But while the rest of the world had to wait until November 4 to hear the news, leaked emails obtained by TorrentFreak show that the Hollywood studios knew about things well in advance.

In an email dated the day before Neij’s arrest was made public, the MPAA advised chiefs at Disney, Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros, NBC Universal and FOX of the Swede’s arrest. But things went deeper than that.

Already there had been rumors in Thai media that “U.S. movie companies” had hired a lawfirm to track down Neij and that a house on the island of Phuket plus a bank account containing five million baht ($153,000) had been discovered. Emails seen by TF confirm the MPAA’s involvement, but also that they didn’t want that noticed in public.

“Jan Van Voorn [MPA’s Regional Director for Content Protection] and Neil Gane [former policeman, former AFACT boss, now MPA APIC chief in Asia] are in contact with both Swedish and Thai authorities providing additional assistance,” the email reveals.

“Thai Immigration is planning a press conference for tomorrow, November 4. We have alerted our Communications Section, and do not plan to comment to the media.”

Another email confirmed the MPA’s intention to lie low, but that it might already be too late to hide any involvement.

“Huge win! Don’t know if hackers will retaliate,” an email from a studio begins. “MPA is laying low and quiet, but the pirate blogs are attributing the pursuit to movie studios.”

While a brash affair, the press conference itself revealed few details of Neij’s actual arrest other than the time, place, and what he was wearing. However, the correspondence the MPAA had with the studios reveals they knew quite a bit more.

Holding a long-standing belief that Neij was somehow still associated with the running of The Pirate Bay, in 2011 the studios obtained a beefed-up injunction which banned the Swede from being involved with the site.

Not only has their mindset remained the same for three years, but the studios also believe that Neij could be on the hook for other offenses too.

“Neij is facing a 10 month prison sentence in Sweden for his conviction in the Pirate Bay case. Neij may also face new charges for his continuing role in the operation of TPB and two additional charges for computer hacking,” the emails read.

No additional details on any hacking charges were provided or have been released since, but the MPAA are hopeful that items taken from Neij when he was arrested will provide the clues.

“Two laptop computers were seized from Neij at the time of his arrest, and may provide additional evidence against Neij and others in the ongoing TPB investigation in Sweden,” the MPAA writes.

While an investigation into The Pirate Bay is now obvious following the raid two weeks ago, another MPAA email confirms that a criminal referral was also made against “TPB co-founder Frederik Neij and his ISP DCP Networks.”

Fredrik Neij is currently serving his 10 month Pirate Bay related sentence in a Swedish jail but his arrival there from Thailand was never announced publicly. He is the third key Pirate Bay operational figure to be jailed.

Gottfrid Svartholm was the first to be detained after authorities in Cambodia handed him over to Swedish police in 2012. Gottfrid completed his sentence but is currently detained in Denmark following an unrelated hacking case.

Peter Sunde was captured by a special police unit on a farm in Sweden during the summer of 2014. Sunde served his sentence and is now a free man, probably traveling around Europe.

With the imprisonment of Fredrik Neij the MPAA now have the full set, an achievement they were happy to pat themselves on the back for.

“Another excellent example of global cooperation and coordination between our content protection hubs,” a November email concludes.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Secretly Settled With Hotfile for $4 Million, Not $80 Million

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoIt’s been nearly a year since Hotfile was defeated by the MPAA, resulting in a hefty $80 million dollar settlement.

While the public agreement left room for the file-hosting service to continue its operations by implementing a filtering mechanism, the company quickly shut down after the settlement was announced.

As it now turns out, this was the plan all long. And not just that, the $80 million figure that was touted by the MPAA doesn’t come close to the real settlement Hotfile agreed to pay.

Buried in one of the Sony leaks is an email conversation which confirms that the real settlement payment from Hotfile was just $4 million, just a fraction of the amount widely publicized in the press.

“The studios and Hotfile have reached agreement on settlement, a week before trial was to start. Hotfile has agreed to pay us $4 million, and has entered into a stipulation to have an $80 million judgment entered and the website shut down,” the email from Sony’s SVP Legal reads.

Considering the time and effort that went into the case, it would be no surprise if the movie studios actually lost money on the lawsuit.

The good news for the MPAA is that the money was paid in full. There were some doubts if Hotfile would indeed pay up, but during the first weeks of December last year the $4 million was sent in three separate payments.

The huge difference between the public settlement figure and the amount that was negotiated also puts previous cases in a different light. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the $110 million settlement with isoHunt and the $110 deal with TorrentSpy were just paper tigers too.

Whether or not the Hotfile case resulted in a net loss is probably not that important to the MPAA though. Hollywood mostly hopes that the staggering numbers will serve as a deterrent, preventing others from operating similar sites.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Tries to Crush Popcorn Time, Again

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

popcornThis year Popcorn Time became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming inside an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

The breakthrough app had Hollywood concerned but luckily for them the developers shut it down after a few weeks, saying that they wanted to move on with their lives.

It was never revealed whether Hollywood forces had threatened the developers, but an MPAA update that surfaced as part of the Sony leaks now reveals that this was indeed the case.

In the MPAA’s “first quarter update,” sent to the movie studio heads in March, the group stated that it had “scored a major victory in shutting down the key developers of Popcorn Time.”

The MPAA added that the investigative and enforcement actions required collaboration on three continents, which they hoped would prevent Popcorn Time from becoming a “major piracy threat.”

Unfortunately for Hollywood the threat didn’t go away. The Open Source project was quickly picked up by others and in recent months several popular forks gained steady user-bases.

Popcorn-Time.se, one of the most-used forks, has since turned into a bigger threat than the original application. As a result, Hollywood is trying its best to dismantle it.

Previously the fork had its domain name suspended and over the past few weeks found itself being kicked out by various hosting providers. Complaints from the Hollywood backed anti-piracy group BREIN were to blame.

The hosting troubles resulted in long periods of downtime, which isn’t good for morale among the developers.

“We had a tough two weeks with a few shut downs that came unexpectedly. We moved our service through three different hosting companies in these weeks,” the Popcorn-Time.se team tells TF.

“All caved after a few hours to a day or two, after ‘some’ copyright organization contacted them, saying suddenly that they don’t want to host our ‘illegal’ domain. We were shocked actually to see how quickly these organizations work.”

While Popcorn-Time.se might have been down, they’re not out yet. The team is determined to keep its software available and will be releasing new updates to the app today.

“BREIN is on our backs? Well, we found a new hosting company which we hope will be more cooperative, and we’re releasing updates for both Windows and Mac today to show everyone that business is as usual.”

“No one said it was gonna be easy, but what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, and we’re not into dying… ;-),” the Popcorn-Time.se team concludes.

Whether other Popcorn Time forks have had similar problems recently is unknown, but the above makes it clear that Hollywood is still determined to crush these popular apps.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Google & MPAA Publicly Slam Each Other Over Piracy

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoEven after running for weeks, the fallout from the Sony hacking fiasco is showing no signs of waning. In fact in some areas it appears that matters are only getting worse.

Earlier this month a TF report revealed how the MPAA (with a SOPA defeat still ringing loudly in its ears) is still intent on bringing website blocking to the United States.

The notion that Hollywood was intent on reintroducing something so unpopular didn’t sit well with critics, but that was only the beginning. A subsequent article in The Verge revealed a campaign by the MPAA to attack “Goliath” – a codeword for Google – by “convincing state prosecutors to take up the fight” against the search giant.

The MPAA budgeted $500,000 for the project with costs potentially rising to $1.175 million. The Hollywood group subsequently called on SOPA-supporting Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood to attack Google, which he did.

The New York times has a copy of the letter he sent to the search giant – worryingly it was almost entirely drafted by the MPAA’s lawfirm Jenner and Block.

After a week of “no comment” from Google, the company has just broken its silence. In a statement from SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker, Google questions the MPAA’s judgment over its SOPA-like aims and apparent manipulation of an Attorney General.

“Almost three years ago, millions of Americans helped stop a piece of congressional legislation—supported by the MPAA—called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). If passed, SOPA would have led to censorship across the web. No wonder that 115,000 websites—including Google—participated in a protest, and over the course of a single day, Congress received more than 8 million phone calls and 4 million emails, as well as getting 10 million petition signatures,” Walker writes.

“We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means, and helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood.”

Then, in what can only be a huge embarrassment for the MPAA and the Attorney General, Walker turns to the letter AG Hood sent to him in 2013.

“The MPAA did the legal legwork for the Mississippi State Attorney General.
The MPAA then pitched Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, an admitted SOPA supporter, and Attorney General Hood sent Google a letter making numerous accusations about the company,” Walker explains.

“The letter was signed by General Hood but was actually drafted by an attorney at Jenner & Block — the MPAA’s law firm. As the New York Times has reported, the letter was only minimally edited by the state Attorney General before he signed it.”

The Google SVP ends with a shot at the MPAA and questions its self-professed position as an upholder of the right to free speech.

“While we of course have serious legal concerns about all of this, one disappointing part of this story is what this all means for the MPAA itself, an organization founded in part ‘to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists’ right to free expression.’ Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?” Walker concludes.

Without delay, Google’s public comments were pounced upon by the MPAA who quickly published a statement of their own. It pulls no punches.

“Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal,” the statement begins.

“Google’s blog post today is a transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google Search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct – including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property.”

And, in a clear indication that the MPAA feels it acted appropriately, the Hollywood group lets Google know that nothing will change.

“We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities,” the MPAA concludes.

The statements by both Google and the MPAA indicate that in this fight the gloves are now well and truly off. Will ‘David’ slay ‘Goliath’? Who will get hurt in the crossfire?

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Leak Exposes Hollywood’s Global Anti-Piracy Strategy

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoThe Sony Pictures leak has caused major damage to the Hollywood movie studio, but the fallout doesn’t end there.

Contained in one of the leaked data batches is a complete overview of the MPAA’s global anti-piracy strategy for the years to come.

In an email sent to top executives at the major Hollywood studios earlier this year, one of the MPAA’s top executives shared a complete overview of Hollywood’s anti-piracy priorities.

The email reveals key areas of focus for the coming years, divided into high, medium and low priority categories, as shown below.

piracy-strategy-page

The plan put forward by the MPAA is the ideal strategy. Which elements are to be carried out will mostly depend on the funds made available by the studios.

High priority

For cyberlockers and video streaming sites the MPAA plans to reach out to hosting providers, payment processing companies and advertising networks. These companies are urged not to work with so-called rogue sites.

Part of the plan is to create “legal precedent to shape and expand the law on cyberlockers and their hosting providers,” with planned lawsuits in the UK, Germany and Canada.

Cyberlocker strategy
mpaa-cyberlocker

Other top priorities are:

Apps: Making sure that pirate apps are taken down from various App stores. Google’s removal of various Pirate Bay apps may be part of this. In addition, the MPAA wants to make apps “unstable” by removing the pirated files they link to.

Payment processors: The MPAA wants to use government influence to put pressure on payment processors, urging them to ban pirate sites. In addition they will approach major players with “specific asks and proposed best practices” to deter piracy.

Site blocking: Expand site blocking efforts in the UK and other countries where it’s supported by law. In other countries, including the U.S., the MPAA will investigate whether blockades are an option through existing principles of law.

Domain seizures: The MPAA is slowly moving toward domain seizures of pirate sites. This strategy is being carefully tested against sites selling counterfeit products using trademark arguments.

Site scoring services: Developing a trustworthy site scoring system for pirate sites. This can be used by advertisers to ban rogue sites. In the future this can be expanded to payment processors, domain name registrars, hosting providers and search engines, possibly with help from the government.

Copyright Notices: The MPAA intends to proceed with the development of the UK Copyright Alert System, and double the number of notices for the U.S. version. In addition, the MPAA wants to evaluate whether the U.S. Copyright Alert System can expand to mobile carriers.

Mid and low priority

BitTorrent is categorized as a medium priority. The MPAA wants to emphasize the role of BitTorrent in piracy related apps, such as Popcorn Time. In addition, illegal torrent sites will be subject to site blocking and advertising bans.

BitTorrent strategy
mpaa-bittorrent-strategy

Other medium and low priorities are:

Search: Keep putting pressure on search engines and continue periodic research into its role in facilitating piracy. In addition, the MPAA will support third-party lawsuits against search engines.

Hosting: The MPAA sees Cloudflare as a problem and is developing a strategy of how to deal with the popular hosting provider. Lawsuits against hosting providers are also in the agenda.

Link sites: Apart from potential civil lawsuits in Latin America, linking sites will only be targeted if they become “particularly problematic.”

In the email the MPAA’s top executive does not consider the above strategies to be “final” or “set in stone”. How much the MPAA will be able to carry out with its partners depends on funds being availble, which appears to be a subtle reminder that the studios should keep their payments coming.

“…the attached represents priorities and activities presuming online CP is adequately resourced. Your teams understand that, depending upon how the budget process plays out, we may need to lower priorities and activities for many sources of piracy and/or antipiracy initiatives,” the email reads.

The leaked strategy offers a unique insight into Hollywood’s strategy against various forms of online infringement.

It exposes several key priorities that were previously unknown. The MPAA’s strong focus on domain name seizures for example, or the plans to target cyberlockers with lawsuits in the UK, Germany and Canada.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Furious Google Ended MPAA Anti-Piracy Cooperation

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

Each week Google removes millions of ‘infringing’ links from search engine results at rightsholders’ request, 9.1m during the last documented week alone. In the main Google removes these links within hours of receiving a complaint, a record few other large sites can match.

But no matter what Google does, no matter how it tweaks its search algorithms, it’s never been enough for the MPAA. For years the movie group has been piling on the pressure and whenever Google announces a new change, the MPAA (and often RIAA) tell the press that more can be done.

By most standards, this October Google really pulled out the stops. Responding to years of criticism and endless complaints that it’s one of the world’s largest facilitators of pirate content, Google came up with the goods.

“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites,” said Katherine Oyama, Google’s Copyright Policy Counsel.

“Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in search results. This ranking change helps users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.”

Google’s claims were spot on. Within days it became clear that torrent sites had been hit hard. Was this the tweak the MPAA had been waiting for?

Google seemed confident, in fact so confident that according to an email made public due to the recent Sony hack attack, the company contacted MPAA chief Senator Chris Dodd the day before to give him the headsup.

But if Google was hoping for a congratulatory public statement, they would need to look elsewhere. Instead of a warm reception the MPAA chose to suggest that Google knew it have been involved in wrongdoing.

“Everyone shares a responsibility to help curb unlawful conduct online, and we are glad to see Google acknowledging its role in facilitating access to stolen content via search,” the MPAA’s press release began.

The leaked emails reveal that Google responded furiously to the perceived slur.

“At the highest levels [Google are] extremely unhappy with our statement,” an email from the MPAA to the studios reads.

“[Google] conveyed that they feel as if they went above and beyond what the law requires; that they bent over backwards to give us a heads up and in return we put out a ‘snarky’ statement that gave them no credit for the positive direction.”

In response to the snub, Google pressed the ‘ignore’ button. A top executive at Google’s policy department told the MPAA that his company would no longer “speak or do business” with the movie group.

In future Google would speak with the studios directly, since “at least three” had already informed the search engine that they “were very happy about the new features.”

While the MPAA and Google will probably patch things up in future, the emails also suggest reasons why the MPAA might have given Google a frosty reception.

First up, the MPAA had no time to assess the changes Google had put in place, so had no idea whether they would work. Welcoming changes that fail to perform in future is clearly something the MPAA would want to avoid.

But intriguingly the emails suggest that the MPAA were trying not to affect another external matter from progressing.

“We were also sensitive to the fact that Mississippi [Attorney General] Hood is expected to issue a [Civil Investigative Demand] to Google sometime this week; we did not want an unduly favorable statement by us to discourage AG Hood from moving forward,” the MPAA email reads.

In conclusion the MPAA felt that Google overreacted to their October press release and that the problems will eventually blow over. It’s certainly possible that relations have improved since the emails were written in October.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: MPAA Prepares to Bring Pirate Site Blocking to the U.S.

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Andy. Original post: at TorrentFreak

mpaa-logoSite blocking has become one of the go-to anti-piracy techniques for the music and movie industries. Mechanisms to force ISPs to shut down subscriber access to “infringing” sites are becoming widespread in Europe but have not yet gained traction in the United States.

If the Stop Online Piracy Act had been introduced, U.S. blocking regimes might already be in place but the legislation was stamped down in 2012 following a furious public and technology sector revolt. Behind closed doors, however, blocking proponents were simply waiting for the storm to die down.

TorrentFreak has learned that during 2013 the MPAA and its major studio partners began to seriously consider their options for re-introducing the site blocking agenda to the United States. Throughout 2014 momentum has been building but with no real option to introduce new legislation, the MPAA has been looking at leveraging existing law to further its aims.

Today we can reveal that the MPAA has been examining four key areas.

DMCA

According to TF sources familiar with the plan, the MPAA began by exploring the possibility of obtaining a DMCA 512(j) blocking injunction without first having to establish that an ISP is also liable for copyright infringement.

To get a clearer idea the MPAA commissioned an expert report from a national lawfirm with offices in Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington, DC. Returned in July, the opinion concluded that a U.S. court would “likely” require a copyright holder to establish an ISP as secondarily liable before granting any site-blocking injunction.

This option might be “difficult” and financially costly, the law firm noted.

Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

Rule 19 – ‘Required Joinder of Parties’ – is also under consideration by the MPAA as a way to obtain a blocking injunction against an ISP. In common with the DMCA option detailed above, the MPAA hopes that a blocking order might be obtained without having to find an ISP liable for any wrongdoing.

The MPAA is considering a situation in which they obtain a judgment finding a foreign “rogue” site guilty of infringement but one whose terms the target rogue site has failed to abide by. Rule 19 could then be used to join an ISP in the lawsuit against the rogue site without having to a) accuse the ISP of wrongdoing or b) issue any claims against it.

The same lawfirm again provided an expert opinion, concluding that the theory was “promising, but largely untested.”

Using the ITC to force ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites

Among other things the United States International Trade Commission determines the impact of imports on U.S. industry. It also directs action on unfair trade practices including those involving patents, trademarks and copyright infringement.

The MPAA has been examining two scenarios. The first involves site-blocking orders against “transit” ISPs, i.e those that carry data (infringing content) across U.S. borders. The second envisions site-blocking orders against regular ISPs to stop them providing access to “rogue” sites.

Again, the same lawfirm was asked for its expert opinion. In summary its lawyers found that scenario one presented significant technical hurdles. Scenario two might be feasible, but first ISPs would have to be found in violation of Section 337.

“Section 337 declares the infringement of certain statutory intellectual property rights and other forms of unfair competition in import trade to be unlawful practices,” the section reads (pdf).

The lawfirm’s August report highlights several potential issues. One noted that an injunction against a domestic ISP would effectively stop outbound requests to “rogue” sites when it is in fact “rogue” sites’ inbound traffic that is infringing. Also at issue is sites that don’t “import” content themselves but merely offer links to such content (torrent sites, for example).

Nevertheless, the general conclusion is that if a clear relationship between the linking sites and the infringing content can be established, the ITC may take the view that the end result still amounts to “unfair competition” and “unfair acts” during importation of articles.

The Communications Act

Details on this final MPAA option involves the Communications Act and how it is perceived by the Federal Communications Commission and the Supreme Court.

The scenario balances on the MPAA’s stance that ISPs have taken the “public position” that they are not “telecommunications services”. When the position of the ISPs and opinions of the FCC and Supreme Court are combined, the MPAA wonders whether the ISPs could become vulnerable.

The scenario under discussion is one in which ISPs are not eligible for safe harbor as DMCA 512(a) “conduits” since the DMCA definition of a conduit is the same as the Communications Act’s definition of “telecommunications service” provider.

Major meeting two months ago

TorrentFreak sources reveal that a large meeting consisting of more than two dozen studio executives took place in October to discuss all aspects of site-blocking. A senior engineer from U.S. ISP Comcast was also invited.

On the agenda was a wide range of topics including bringing on board “respected” people in the technology sector to agree on technical facts and establish policy support for site blocking.

Other suggestions included encouraging academics to publish research papers with a narrative that site blocking elsewhere in the world has been effective, is not a threat to DNSSEC, and has not “broken the Internet”.

Conclusion

In June, MPAA chief and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd praised pirate site blockades as one of the most important anti-piracy measures, and in August a leaked draft revealed MPAA research on the topic.

The big question now is whether the studios’ achievements in Europe will be mirrored in the United States – without a SOPA-like controversy alongside. While the scale is unlikely to be the same, opposition is likely to be vigorous.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom Is Not a Fugitive, Court Hears

This post was syndicated from: TorrentFreak and was written by: Ernesto. Original post: at TorrentFreak

kimfugitiveIt’s been nearly three years since Megaupload was taken down by the U.S. authorities but it’s still uncertain whether Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants will be extradited overseas.

As there’s little progress in the criminal case, the U.S. launched a separate civil case asking the court to forfeit the bank accounts, cars and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

The U.S. claims that these assets were obtained through criminal activities. In a recent motion to strike the DoJ added that Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants have no right to oppose the forfeiture request as they are fugitives.

“Claimants Bram van der Kolk, Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, and Sven Echternach, are deliberately avoiding prosecution by declining to enter the United States where the criminal case is pending,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente noted.

Yesterday evening Megaupload’s legal team filed a response to the Government’s motion, noting that the U.S. heavily distorts the “fugitive” status concept.

The lawyers inform the court that Kim Dotcom and his fellow defendants aren’t trying to avoid prosecution. Instead, they’re remaining in place until the New Zealand court decides over their extradition request.

“These Claimants never fled the United States to evade prosecution. To the contrary, they remain precisely where they have long been residing and carrying out the very business enterprise that the Government characterizes as criminal—in New Zealand.”

“Nor have these Claimants altered their plans so as to avoid return to the United States. To the contrary, they are simply maintaining the pre-indictment status quo and following the rule of law by invoking their rights under the laws and procedures of their home countries, where they had long-planned to remain.”

In a declaration to the court Dotcom emphasizes that he’s currently under supervision of the New Zealand court. He never fled from the United States, in fact, he has never been there in his entire life.

“I have never been a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. I have never visited the United States,” Dotcom writes.

Megaupload’s lawyers ask the court to deny the U.S. “fugitives’” claim or keep it pending until there’s a decision on the motion to dismiss they filed earlier. In this motion they argued that the entire case should be dismissed since the U.S. doesn’t have a statute for criminal secondary copyright infringement.

If the court decides to move forward, Megaupload’s legal team want the “fugitives” claim to be converted to a request for summary judgment. This would allow them to conduct discovery and find out what role the MPAA played in the criminal investigation.

Shortly before the investigation began the MPAA hired former Assistant Attorney General, Cybele Daley, for lobbying purposes. Daley had a budget of over $1 million a year to lobby attorneys at the Department of Justice, and Megaupload’s lawyers want to find out where the U.S. was overreaching.

It’s now up to the Virginia federal court to decide how to proceed. Needless to say, the outcome will have a major impact on Dotcom’s means to fight back.

Source: TorrentFreak, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing and anonymous VPN services.