Posts tagged ‘sweden’

TorrentFreak: Italy Launches Largest Ever Pirate Site Blockade

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

guardiaAlongside the United Kingdom, Italy is the most aggressive country in the world when it comes to blocking websites on copyright infringement grounds.

Over the past several years dozens of domains have been censored locally and a new operation has upped that tally significantly following a complaint from a major broadcaster.

Sky Italia is a digital satellite television platform owned by Sky Plc, the TV company founded by Rupert Murdoch. 21st Century Fox owns a controlling 39% of the shares in Sky Plc and with a turnover of more than £7.6 billion ($11.41 billion) it’s one of the largest media companies in the world.

To protect its bottom line, in 2014 Sky Italia filed a complaint with authorities against more than 120 websites said to broadcast sporting events, concerts, music, plus film and television works without rightsholders’ permission.

A subsequent investigation was coordinated by the Public Prosecutor of Rome and entrusted to deputy prosecutors Nello Rossi and Eugenio Albamontes. Assistance was provided by the Special Unit for Broadcasting and Publishing (Nucleo Speciale Radiodiffusione Editoria).

Authorities say that pirate content was offered by the sites in a number of ways but streaming in particular, both of live events and via on-demand. Many provided helpful schedules to assist users with planning.

With all sites operating outside Italian territory, local authorities decided to take action to render them inaccessible in the country. A sweep was ordered by magistrate Gaspare Sturzo and this morning 124 websites are reported blocked via local Internet service providers.

The names of most sites hit in ‘Operation Match Off’ have not been released but authorities have pointed out that ‘sportlemon.tv’ was registered in the name of Gottfrid Svartholm. It seems unlikely that the Pirate Bay founder had any operational connections to the site but the domain was registered by PRQ, his former company in Sweden.

In common with previous cases, advertising is being blamed for the revenue generated by these unauthorized sites. The Guardia di Finanza (GdF), the law enforcement agency responsible for dealing with financial crime and whose Special Command Unit carried out the operation, said site users were met with aggressive ads and click-fraud techniques.

Italy has been working hard to counter the rise of advertising on pirate sites. Last summer a Memorandum of Understanding between the online advertising industry (including Google) and the music and movie industries signaled the creation of a central body to tackle the piracy issue.

But despite the agreement it was found that “known brands” were still advertising on the now-blocked sites. As a result authorities are now conducting an investigation into the agencies that placed the ads for companies in the financial, real estate, betting, retail and communications sector.

Enzo Mazza, chief of FIMI, Italy’s answer to the RIAA, said the action against the domains was welcome.

“The Fiscal Police from Rome carried out a very sophisticated operation including the economic angle of the case. This is the largest criminal action involving site blocking ever carried out,” Mazza told TorrentFreak.

“Some sites were also offering music concerts in addition to soccer and sport. We congratulate the special unit of the Fiscal Police and the public prosecutor from Rome for the operation.”

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

TorrentFreak: Men Tried for Extortion After Porn Download Threats

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

badtrollFor more than a decade copyright holders around the world have been doing their best to extract money from those who download content without permission. The RIAA were probably the pioneers but today it’s the adult industry making the most noise.

Porn is a convenient weapon in this landscape. Few people want their adult content viewing habits to be made public so the chances of targets paying up following an unauthorized download are anecdotally higher than for regular entertainment content.

Out to make as much money as possible, this assumption wasn’t lost on a group of adult business ‘entrepreneurs’ based in Sweden.

Operating out of the region of Skåne, two years ago the individuals began sending threatening communications to people they claimed had downloaded pornographic content from sites without permission. The websites in question were all operated by the men.

In total around 4,000 people all over Sweden received ‘invoices’ for alleged illegal downloads. Each were warned that if they failed to pay the amounts stipulated they would be reported to the police and their activities made public.

While some people paid, others decided to take action. According to SR.se, police received 1,000 complaints from members of the public ranging from 10-year-old children to pensioners.

After an investigation the police began to view the case as criminally motivated. As a result this week six men went on trial in the Malmö district court accused of generating around $240,000 via extortion and blackmail. During a break in proceedings one of the accused defended his actions.

“If people are stealing and taking things that do not belong to them they must face the consequences. It also applies to porn,” said Dennies Pettersson, one of the main defendants in the case.

In an article published in Nyheter24 this week, former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde said he hopes the men get convicted but wonders if the type of content involved affected the way the case was being handled.

“What I think is interesting and worth a little thought is how the situation would be if it were not porn but possibly pop music or Hollywood movies that had been downloaded? Who would’ve been the deceiver in the state’s eyes in that situation?” Sunde asks.

Due to the numbers of victims to be heard and its complexity (the investigation documents run to 20,000 pages) the Malmö district court has set aside a whole month to handle the case.

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

TorrentFreak: Police Seized 50 Servers in Pirate Bay Raid

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

The first major raid on The Pirate Bay took place on May 31 2006 in Stockholm, Sweden. It was a dramatic affair, with dozens of police involved, hardware seized and individuals arrested.

But while authorities previously shut down the ‘Bay in a blaze of glory while pressing the maximum publicity button (most probably to send a signal to the United States), this time around things were markedly different. Announcements, when they arrived, were much more considered – vague even.

“There has been a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm. This is in connection with violations of copyright law,” read a statement from Paul Pintér, police national coordinator for IP enforcement.

It seems likely that the more modest tone was the product of 12 years of virtual humiliation at the hands of the world’s most arrogant torrent site. Big announcements of raids and permanent closures are hard to retract when a site returns in 72 hours as it did following the raids in 2006.

This time around the raid was confirmed as taking place in a datacenter located in Nacka outside Stockholm, but very few details have been made available since. However, according to new information, police left no stone unturned to ensure that The Pirate Bay was properly taken down.

A witness to the raid has now confirmed that more than 10 officers turned up at the datacenter which, rather dramatically, is itself embedded into the side of a mountain just outside the capital.

Alongside regular law enforcement officials were a forensics team tasked with securing all available related digital evidence on site. Previously prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad said the investigation into the site would take months and now it’s becoming clear why that’s the case.

To ensure no piece of evidence was left behind, on December 9, 2014 the officers present seized around 50 servers under suspicion of being connected to The Pirate Bay. That’s somewhat more than the 21 virtual servers the site previously claimed to operate.

According to a source familiar with events last month, police not only took away servers that had been live at the time of the raid, but they also gained access to the datacenter’s storage rooms. From there officers seized old equipment, just in case any of it had been used to operate The Pirate Bay.

While shutting down the site was the main goal of the police, evidence is now being sifted through as part of a criminal investigation. Earlier this month prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad confirmed that the process would like take months to complete.

With that underway, speculation continues as to whether The Pirate Bay will ever return. Various hints and suggestions have been appearing on the site’s temporary homepage but as yet not a single torrent or magnet link has been indexed.

Nevertheless, the site remains massively popular. Understandably ThePirateBay.se took a massive hit in traffic when it stopped offering content in December but against all the odds the site is still attracting millions of visitors. According to Alexa, the site is still the 159th most-trafficked in the world.

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Finally, as reported earlier this week, the site’s homepage was recently hosted in Moldova but protected by Cloudflare. While the anti-DDoS service is still in place, the site does not appear to be operational from its earlier IP address.

On the move already? Only eight days to find out…….

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Wants You to Write Him a Letter

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key players behind The Pirate Bay during its early years. Without him, the site might have never recovered from the first raid in 2006.

As with Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik’s involvement with the site eventually resulted in a prison sentence and a hefty fine.

After being on the run for two years he was arrested by Thai immigration authorities last November when he tried to cross the border from Laos. A few days later he flew to Sweden where he was transferred to a prison in Skänninge.

With several weeks now passed, TF has learned that Fredrik is doing well considering the circumstances. His wife and two kids are allowed to visit now, which must be a welcome distraction to monotonous prison life.

With a sentence of 10 months Fredrik will not be released before summer. Worryingly, he also has to face hacking allegations as well as a criminal referral of his ISP DCP Networks.

Considering the above, Fredrik won’t mind having some things to entertain himself. In a message sent to TF he signaled that it would be nice to receive letters, cards and other stuff from people all over the world.

Anything goes, the more mail arrives the better.

People who want to write Fredrik should use the address listed at the bottom of this article. Keep in mind though, all incoming mail will be checked by the authorities before he receives it.

Besides Fredrik, Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm also remains in prison. Last October he was convicted of hacking into the systems of IT company CSC and sentenced to 3.5 years.

TF spoke with Gottfrid’s mother Kristina who informed us that her son is being held in better conditions than before. He is allowed to receive books and his letters are no longer read by the police, but access to a computer or the Internet is still off-limits.

Gottfrid has officially appealed his sentence and these proceedings are scheduled to start in April. In the meantime, he too would love to receive mail.

The addresses of Gottfrid and Fredrik are listed below.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg
Arresthuset i Koege
Kongsberg Allé 6
Dk4600 Koege, DENMARK

Fredrik Neij 14-514
Box 213
596 21 Skänninge
SWEDEN

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Admins Get Probation But Face Millions in Damages

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

disney-pirateFive years ago, pressure was building against Swedish private torrent tracker ‘eXcelleNT’. The site, known to its users as XNT, had been on the radar of local anti-piracy outfits for some time, but had chosen not to shut down.

Behind the scenes, Swedish anti-piracy group Rights Alliance (then Antipiratbyrån) was closing in and early 2011 the group filed an official police complaint.

In May that year authorities pounced, arresting a man in Borlänge, Sweden, and another in the Stockholm area a day later. The site’s server was seized in Germany.

What followed was a wait of more than three years as the authorities prepared their case and in December the men went on trial. The pair were accused of making available more than 1,000 different movies and TV shows without permission from rightsholders including Warner Bros. and Disney.

Yesterday the verdict was handed down by the Falu District Court and it’s mixed news for the pair.

Although 1,050 titles were referenced in the case (an unusually large amount), the court only found the men guilty of copyright infringement in 28 cases. In the remaining 1,022 cases there was no proof that infringement had been committed.

This meant that rather than the hefty jail sentences demanded by the prosecutor, the 24 and 25-year-olds received probation and were ordered to complete 120 hours of community service instead.

Speaking with DN.se, prosecutor Frederick Ingblad, the man also running the case against The Pirate Bay, says he has not decided if he will appeal the decison.

“I think the sentence was low, but it’s good that they still got community service and not just probation,” Ingblad said.

But while probation is probably a relief to the men, another significant challenge lies ahead.

The judgment reveals that film company Nordisk Film has also filed a claim for damages amounting to some 18 million kronor ($2.2 million). This will be dealt with through a separate legal process handled by Rights Alliance.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Investigation “Will Take Months” to Complete

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

piratebaydowncountYesterday was the one month anniversary of the December 9, 2014 raid on The Pirate Bay. To this day the site remains down.

First week aside, most news has focused on the fate of the notorious site and whether it will rise like a phoenix from the ashes. There have been numerous teasers from people with access to The Pirate Bay’s main domain, thepiratebay.se, but no concrete signs either way.

But while millions of former users adjust to life without the site, authorities have remained fairly tight-lipped about when their investigation began and the position it’s at today. There are signs, however.

In 2012 it became evident that new action was being planned against the site when the Pirate Bay team revealed the existence of a new investigation. Just days later Swedish hosting company Binero confirmed that they had been approached by the police for information about the site’s domain.

Then, as predicted, in April 2013 prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad filed a motion at the District Court of Stockholm requesting the seizure of several Pirate Bay domains.

Shortly after, Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm was questioned in prison, a visit which confirmed the existence of a new investigation involving Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån and led by Ingblad.

Outwardly things went quiet in the months that followed but in November 2014 there was a significant development. The Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij was arrested, ostensibly to serve the sentence handed down for his previous involvement in the site.

However, emails obtained by TorrentFreak revealed Hollywood insiders discussing new criminal charges against Neij for his alleged continued involvement in the site.

Also of interest but not revealed until today, TF understands that last year Thai police were briefed on a number of individuals said to be involved in The Pirate Bay’s operations.

One of those individuals was a man employed at a hosting company back in Sweden, but not the company that was raided in December. After obtaining his photograph from a police briefing document TorrentFreak approached the man himself and also Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Ponten for more information. Neither responded to our requests for comment.

The task ahead for Swedish authorities is said to be substantial. In the December raid large amounts of equipment and other evidence was seized and that will have to be systematically processed as the days unfold. According to prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, that will take a considerable time.

“[The Pirate Bay] was seized, everything needs to be reviewed and analyzed. It will take many months to do so,” Ingblad said this week.

The big question now is whether Ingblad’s team will be investigating a dead site or one that has already risen from the ashes. They are watching, he confirmed.

“We will keep track of what happens,” the prosecutor added.

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

TorrentFreak: Rental Car Stereos Infringe Copyright, Music Rights Group Says

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

Car rentals are big business. According to Car Rental Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2013 – 2019, the global car rental market was valued at $36.89 billion in 2013. In the US alone an estimated 2.07m vehicles are available for hire.

Over in Europe, the second largest market next to North America, a storm is brewing. Up in the north of the continent Swedish music rights outfit and car rental company Fleetmanager are locked in dispute over the latter’s business, specifically how the company provides car rental customers access to music.

STIM (Svenska Tonsättares Internationella Musikbyrå) is a collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers. It demands license fees whenever its members’ music is broadcast or transmitted, and collects sizable revenues from music streaming service Spotify. STIM also ensures that its members are paid when their music is played in public and this is at the heart of the dispute with Fleetmanager.

Each car rented out by Fleetmanager contains a stereo radio and CD player so that the customer can enjoy broadcasts of all kinds, including music. STIM says that to do so legally Fleetmanager needs to obtain a license but to date has failed to do so.

According to SVD, STIM is arguing that the inside of Fleetmanager’s cars contain members of the public and therefore amount to public places. On this basis the company needs to obtain a public performance license. Fleetmanager disagrees, noting that any music played inside a car is only heard by a limited circle of people.

STIM disagrees. The collection society says that previous cases involving hoteliers have ended with licenses being obtained which enable hotel guests to listen to music while on the premises. Furthermore, other car rental companies in Sweden have already agreed to pay a per-stereo levy so Fleetmanager should also pay, STIM argues.

This is not the first music-related copyright case to hit the car sector this year. In July, the Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies launched a class action lawsuit against Ford and General Motors over the CD-ripping capability of their cars. In November the group followed up with fresh legal action against Chrysler and technology partner Mitsubishi.

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

TorrentFreak: Mortally Wounded Pirate Bay Enters 2015 in Uncertainty

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

tpb-logoMay 31, 2006 was a momentous day for everyone involved in the BitTorrent scene.

The Pirate Bay, one of the world’s most famous torrent sites, was smashed to its knees. Dozens of police, acting on information provided by the global entertainment industries via local anti-piracy group Antipiratbyran, raided Swedish datacenter PRQ and seized all of the site’s hardware.

But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, three days later The Pirate Bay was back online utilizing a backup that Fredrik Neij, aka TiAMO, had made of the site. In a public speech heralding the site’s return, Neij excited gathered crowds in Sweden.

“It’s a pleasure to announce that the Pirate Bay is back online. In your face, Hollywood,” the Swede declared. TPB was back.

TPB Back online in 2006 – Image from TPB AFK

tpb-back

In the years that followed The Pirate Bay grew in size and reputation, an apparently unstoppable behemoth supported by a hard-core following renewed determination.

But while the masses enjoyed the spoils of the site for years to come, in November 2014 history caught up with Neij when he was arrested at the Laos/Thai border, shipped back to Sweden and locked in a prison cell.

Several weeks later, on a December morning more than eight years after the original raid, Antipiratbyran – now known as Rights Alliance – showed the world that they also have extremely long memories when it comes to The Pirate Bay.

Following a new investigation and presentations to the authorities, police descended on a datacenter in Nacka and once again ripped The Pirate Bay offline.

The events of 2006 and the Megaupload case aside, never before had so much attention been focused on the shutdown of a file-sharing site. Tens of millions of worried Pirate Bay users sat in disbelief as the hours passed by. Some thought the downtime was related to technical issues. Others believed news of a fresh raid was a hoax. It was neither.

As file-sharers and interested observers absorbed developments, one train of thought persisted through most conversations. Hadn’t The Pirate Bay become raid-proof? Wasn’t its virtual server setup immune to the attentions of the police? Who was in charge of making the backups this time around and why isn’t the site back online already?

piratesaintThe days passed and it became increasingly clear – this wasn’t The Pirate Bay of 2006. Times – and people – had changed.

The team that had driven the site to glory during the last decade had long since parted ways and the collective defiance of Piratbyran (the Pirate Bay’s founding group) had dissipated following a decade of pursuing still unsurpassed culture sharing ideals.

“We were not that surprised by the raid. That is something that is a part of this game. We couldn’t care less really,” a Pirate Bay insider informed TF in the wake of the shutdown.

“We have however taken this opportunity to give ourselves a break. How long are we supposed to keep going?”

So what could be done to fill the vacuum before any Pirate Bay return? Interestingly it was previous efforts to limit the availability of The Pirate Bay in countries such as the Netherlands, United Kingdom and elsewhere that provided the springboard.

Sites and domains that previously acted as mirrors and proxies to TPB suddenly transformed themselves into clones of the famous site. Some early efforts were controversial, with fears over impostors and malware unsettling the masses. Others (such as ThePirateBay.com.ua) became the closest representation of what the site once was, with user names and a high percentage of comments now restored.

But despite the claims and suggestions, not a single one of these sites is the real Pirate Bay resurrected. Nevertheless, many have flourished simply by virtue of similar looking domains and a half decent torrent index. However, one of the most interesting developments was launched by the team responsible for launching isoHunt.com clone, isoHunt.to.

TheOpenBay project is an attempt at open-sourcing a Pirate Bay-like site, and not without success. The initiative has resulted in hundreds of mini TPB clones and the sky-rocketing of the project to the top spot on developer platform Github.

OpenBay has real potential and provides an easier route into the torrent scene for budding admins, but ultimately this platform provides an alternative, not a replacement, to The Pirate Bay.

The disappearance of The Pirate Bay has been somewhat of a roller-coaster. Emotions have been running high all month, with hopes for a return and/or a worthy replacement at the forefront of millions of users’ minds.

Dreams of a grand return were boosted four days before Christmas when the original Pirate Bay domain – ThePirateBay.se – burst back to life. While the famous front page was missing, an elaborate pirate flag has waved on the site ever since. Alongside other cryptic hints, the flag is keeping the pirate spirit alive and hopes of a resurrection with it.

At the time of writing The Pirate Bay has been down a record-setting three weeks. In all of its history the site has never been offline for such a long time which raises some obvious questions. Will the site ever return or is the delay down to important technical issues which need to be overcome in order for the site to come back up and stay up?

Whatever the reason, it now seems that 2015 will begin without The Pirate Bay and if that is to be the case, somehow the community needs to come to terms with that. Will things ever be the same? Perhaps not. But file-sharing did not begin with The Pirate Bay and will not end with it either.

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: Private Torrent Site Operators Face Criminal Trial

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

In 2009, in the wake of the first Pirate Bay trial and the guilty verdict handed to its operators, other admins with file-sharing sites in Sweden began to reconsider their positions.

Piling on the pressure, Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance) wrote to several sites warning them to end their copyright-infringing activities or face the consequences.

While most simply ignored the threats, some decided it was time to close down. One pair, SweDVDR and SoftMP3, did so alongside the release of their source code. This led to the creation of two new sites which eventually merged into one to become ‘eXcelleNT’, or XNT as it was known in public.

xnt

For two years the site grew in size and reputation but in 2011 things came crashing down. Just as promised 24 months earlier, Antipiratbyrån / Rights Alliance investigated the site and filed a complaint with the police. In May the authorities pounced, arresting a man in Borlänge, Sweden, and another in the Stockholm area a day later. The site’s server was seized in Germany.

“We believe that the men have been administering and managing the site together,” said prosecutor Frederick Ingblad at the time.

In April 2014, almost three years after the raids, prosecutor Ingblad announced that the men had been prosecuted and would be heading to court. This week they appeared before the Falu District Court to appear before a criminal copyright infringement trial.

“On this file-sharing site 1,050 different types of movies and TV shows were made available to the public illegally without rightholders’ approval,” Ingblad said this week.

The case, which received support from German authorities, centers around the unauthorized distribution of movies and TV shows between March and May 2011, including content owned by Warner Bros. and Disney.

The men, aged 23 and 24, stand accused of operating XNT in a case similar to the one involving The Pirate Bay in 2009. However, while the man from Borlänge admits to running the site, he feels no crime has been committed since he uploaded no content himself and only provided a sharing platform.

His lawyer, Sven-Erik Charles, goes even further. Charles believes that his client can not be convicted of infringement in Sweden since any crimes were committed overseas

“The issue in this lawsuit is where the crime were committed, abroad or in Sweden. This particular site’s server was located in Germany,” he said.

With most private BitTorrent trackers there’s an issue with site funding that’s usually overcome by users making donations. In this case XNT also received voluntary payments from its users – $6,500 to be precise. However, according to SR.se, the prosecutor has already determined that money was not the motivation behind the site and the men didn’t get rich as a result.

“It’s about the desire to compete with other sites, you want to be the quickest to upload some movies and become the greatest, pure and simple,” Ingblad said.

As noted following the Supreme Court decision earlier this week, 1000 movies and TV shows is way above the newly-established threshold for file-sharers to avoid custodial sentences. The men have other concerns too, however. As expected the entertainment companies represented by Rights Alliance have also lodged a multi-million claim for damages.

The men’s fate on both counts will be determined in the coming weeks.

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

TorrentFreak: Swedish Supreme Court Determines Movie Piracy Fines

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

nopiracyWhile headlines may suggest otherwise, the vast majority of online file-sharers go about their business without ever falling foul of the law. Like hundreds of millions of speeding motorists every day, most breaches go unnoticed or unpunished.

Nevertheless, that’s not to say people can forget about the risks. Breaches of copyright law can result in hefty fines in most developed countries, if rightsholders feel strongly enough about prosecuting the case.

One such case began in Sweden four years ago when police investigating another incident stumbled across content being shared on a man’s computer. The discovery, which involved material obtained from The Pirate Bay, was reported to both copyright holders and the prosecutor.

After moving through an initial case and an appeal, the prosecutor’s office was disappointed when the file-sharer was issued with just a fine. With ambitions for a scary legal precedent, those sharing files habitually should be sent to jail, the prosecutor argued.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court but it didn’t work out as planned. The Court agreed that the defendant (known as JS) had damaged the interests of copyright holders with his actions but noted that in the majority of cases (57 out of the 60 movies) his subsequent sharing with others had been brief.

Also in the man’s favor was how the Court viewed his activities. No commercial motivation was found, with the Court noting that his file-sharing had been for personal use, despite its scale.

“Such use of the current networks and services should not be considered as an aggravating factor when assessing the penalty amount,” the judgment reads.

Sweden operates an income-calibrated system of fines known as “day fines” which are equal to the amount the defendant could have earned in a day. The Court ruled that for each movie download with a short upload, the man would be sentenced to 50 day fines.

While that sounds like the fine could increase to a huge amount, in Sweden when people are convicted of several offenses at the same time the penalty is gradually reduced for each subsequent offense. In any event the maximum punishment is 200 day fines.

In this case the man was sentenced to 180 day fines, up from the 160 handed down by the lower court. Anti-piracy group Rights Alliance who assisted with the case welcomed the judgment, but there can be little doubt that a custodial sentence (even a suspended one) was the target here.

Nevertheless, it appears that the judgment could have drawn a line in the sand.

“This is a borderline case where the sentence is located on the edge of going over to prison. If you’re looking to see what is necessary for a prison sentence, it’s not much more than this,” Supreme Court Judge Svante O. Johansson concluded.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Responds to The Raid, Copies and The Future

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

phoenix-bayFor more than a decade The Pirate Bay’s been the bastion of uncensored information. Until the raid on some of its critical infrastructure last week, the site never had more than three days of downtime.

The big remaining question on everyone’s minds right now is whether the site will make a comeback, and if so, how long this will take.

The TPB crew have remained awfully quiet and haven’t commented on the raid in public, but today “Mr 10100100000″ breaks the silence in order to get a message out to the world.

“We were not that surprised by the raid. That is something that is a part of this game. We couldn’t care less really,” Mr 10100100000 informed TF through an encrypted channel.

“We have however taken this opportunity to give ourselves a break. How long are we supposed to keep going? To what end? We were a bit curious to see how the public would react.”

Without hearing about the exact issues, we get the feeling that a comeback may be more complicated than most people assume. It seems unlikely that the site will return within the next few days, but if it does eventually come back online people will surely notice.

“Will we reboot? We don’t know yet. But if and when we do, it’ll be with a bang,” Mr 10100100000 says.

Obviously there are discussions ongoing behind the scenes on how to proceed. The entire team including the moderators comprises a few dozen people who all have their own opinions on the matter.

“The people behind TPB are like one big collective mind. There are no leaders nor any one in charge. About 30-50 people from all over the world pitch their ideas against each other and whatever comes out of that is what will be the fate of TPB.”

In recent days many “copies” of The Pirate Bay appeared online and many of these have now started to add new content as well. According to the TPB crew this is a positive development, although people should be wary of scams.

“Copycats are to be seen as a higher form of the proxies. If [Pirate Bay’s] code wouldn’t be so shitty we would make it public for everyone to use, so that everyone could start their own bay.”

“Of course there is a problem if sites like [thepiratebay].ee try to scam people. But overall, we’d love to see a thousand Pirate Bays,” Mr 10100100000 adds.

The Pirate Bay doesn’t really have a preference when it comes to the best Pirate Bay alternative and says the “swarm” has to decide which one is best. In any case, people should keep the Kopimi spirit alive as TPB is much more than some hardware stored in a dusty datacenter.

“We’ve always lived by Kopimi. We love being cloned. It would be amazing if, like in the classic movie Spartacus, everyone could stand up and say “I am The Pirate Bay,” Mr 10100100000 says.

To be continued.

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

Schneier on Security: Over 700 Million People Taking Steps to Avoid NSA Surveillance

This post was syndicated from: Schneier on Security and was written by: schneier. Original post: at Schneier on Security

There’s a new international survey on Internet security and trust, of “23,376 Internet users in 24 countries,” including “Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.” Amongst the findings, 60% of Internet users have heard of Edward Snowden, and 39% of those “have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of his revelations.”

The press is mostly spinning this as evidence that Snowden has not had an effect: “merely 39%,” “only 39%,” and so on. (Note that these articles are completely misunderstanding the data. It’s not 39% of people who are taking steps to protect their privacy post-Snowden, it’s 39% of the 60% of Internet users — which is not everybody — who have heard of him. So it’s much less than 39%.)

Even so, I disagree with the “Edward Snowden Revelations Not Having Much Impact on Internet Users” headline. He’s having an enormous impact. I ran the actual numbers country by country, combining data on Internet penetration with data from this survey. Multiplying everything out, I calculate that 706 million people have changed their behavior on the Internet because of what the NSA and GCHQ are doing. (For example, 17% of Indonesians use the Internet, 64% of them have heard of Snowden and 62% of them have taken steps to protect their privacy, which equals 17 million people out of its total 250-million population.)

Note that the countries in this survey only cover 4.7 billion out of a total 7 billion world population. Taking the conservative estimates that 20% of the remaining population uses the Internet, 40% of them have heard of Snowden, and 25% of those have done something about it, that’s an additional 46 million people around the world.

It’s probably true that most of those people took steps that didn’t make any appreciable difference against an NSA level of surveillance, and probably not even against the even more pervasive corporate variety of surveillance. It’s probably even true that some of those people didn’t take steps at all, and just wish they did or wish they knew what to do. But it is absolutely extraordinary that 750 million people are disturbed enough about their online privacy that they will represent to a survey taker that they did something about it.

Name another news story that has caused over ten percent of the world’s population to change their behavior in the past year? Cory Doctorow is right: we have reached “peak indifference to surveillance.” From now on, this issue is going to matter more and more, and policymakers around the world need to start paying attention.

Related: a recent Pew Research Internet Project survey on Americans’ perceptions of privacy, commented on by Ben Wittes.

TorrentFreak: “How To Learn Absolutely Nothing In Fifteen Years,” By The Copyright Industry

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

pirate bayIn 1999, Napster was a one-time opportunity for the copyright industry to come out on top of the Internet. Napster was the center of attention for people sharing music. (Hard drives weren’t big enough to share movies yet.)

Everybody knew that the copyright industry at the time had two options – they could embrace and extend Napster, in which case they would be the center of culture going forward, or they could try to crush Napster, in which case they would lose the Internet forever as there would not be another centralized point like it.

The copyright industry, having a strong and persistent tradition of trying to obliterate every new technology for the past century, moved to crush Napster. It vanished. DirectConnect, LimeWire, and Kazaa — slightly more decentralized sharing mechanisms – popped up almost immediately, and BitTorrent a year or so later.

This was about as predictable as the behavior of a grandfather clock: the cat wasn’t just out of the bag, but had boarded a random train and travelled halfway cross-country already. People had smelled the scent of sharing, and there was no going back. However, people wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of Napster and have a single point of failure. For the next couple of years, sharing decentralized rapidly to become more impervious and resilient to the onslaught of an obsoleted distribution industry.

It is not a coincidence that The Pirate Bay rose about 2003. That time period was the apex of the post-Napster generation of sharing technologies. With the advent of the first generation of torrent sites, sharing slowly started to re-centralize to focus on these sharing sites. For a few years, DirectConnect hubs were popular, before people transitioned completely to the faster and more decentralized BitTorrent technology.

This week, The Pirate Bay was taken offline in a police raid in Sweden. It may only have been the front-end load balancer that got captured, but it was still a critical box for the overall setup, even if all the other servers are running in random, hidden locations.

Sure, The Pirate Bay was old and venerable, and quite far from up to date with today’s expectations on a website. That tells you so much more, when you consider it was consistently in the top 50 websites globally: if such a… badly maintained site can get to such a ranking, how abysmal mustn’t the copyright industry be?

The copyright industry is so abysmal it hasn’t learned anything in the past 15 years.

In the mere week following the downing of The Pirate Bay, there has been a flurry of innovation. People are doing exactly what they did fifteen years ago, after Napster: everybody is saying “never again”, and going to town inventing more resilience, more decentralization, and more sharing efficiency. The community who are manufacturing our own copies of knowledge and culture had gotten complacent with the rather badly-maintained website and more or less stopped innovating – The Pirate Bay had been good enough for several years, even when its age was showing.

I’ve seen signals from every continent in the past week that the past decade of decentralization technologies is getting pooled into new sharing initiatives. A lot of them seem really hot. Some are just hitting the ball out of the park if they get realized: everything from TOR to blockchain technology to distributed computing – components that weren’t there when BitTorrent first surfaced ten years ago. If realized, they should surface over the next few years, like BitTorrent surfaced three to four years after Napster with a bunch of other technologies in between. As a side bonus, these new initiatives will also protect privacy and free speech, which are both incompatible with enforcement of the copyright monopoly.

So in a way, this was welcome. We need that innovation. We need to not grow complacent. We all need to stay ahead of the crumbling monopolies – a dying tiger is dangerous, even when it’s obviously insane. But The Pirate Bay’s legacy will never die, just like Napster’s legacy won’t.

In the meantime, the copyright industry is a case study in how to really insist on not learning a damn thing from your own monumental mistakes in fifteen full years.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Holdout Still Holds 40 “Illegal Sites”, Lawyer Says

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

smashedserverThis whole week has felt like a crazy rollercoaster of a dream foretelling an impossible future. Has the world’s most resilient torrent site really gone for good?

At this point in time it’s hard to say for sure, but optimism is pretty low. The Pirate Bay was hit hard on Tuesday by Swedish police and currently not a shred of evidence suggests that a recovery is on the cards.

The action against TPB, which took place in a cave-built datacenter in Nacka, Sweden, affected several other sites too including Zoink, Torrage, the Istole tracker, Suprbay.org, Bayimg.com and Pastebay.net. EZTV was also taken down, but is currently working its way back online.

However, according to one of the key figures behind the complaint and subsequent police raid of The Pirate Bay, the sites taken down this week are just the tip of a pretty large Swedish iceberg.

Henrik Pontén is a lawyer with Rights Alliance, the anti-piracy group previously known as Antipiratbyrån. He informs TorrentFreak that there are dozens of other ‘pirate’ sites operating in the very same datacenter that previously housed parts of The Pirate Bay.

“At the hosting provider that the police raided [this week] there are still around 40 illegal sites still up and running,” Pontén explains.

Quite why those sites didn’t go down too isn’t clear, but according to the lawyer some big ones remain operational including torrent site 1337x.to and streaming movie portal Solarmovie.is.

Perhaps even more of a surprise is Pontén’s allegation that movie release group SPARKS is operating a topsite there. TorrentFreak has no way of verifying the claim and the fact we were given the information is in itself curious, but the Rights Alliance lawyer seems pretty convinced.

The big question is whether the anti-piracy group intends to do anything about the sites. We weren’t told anything specific but received a general warning.

“Rights Alliance acts wherever a crime has been committed against our rightsholders. The guilty persons will be prosecuted and damages will be required,” Pontén said.

In the meantime and in the wake of the The Pirate Bay’s untimely disappearance there’s no shortage of sites stepping up to try and take its place. As previously mentioned certain impostors have directed people to malware and have even tried to charge for access.

Right now this misdirection only looks set to get worse – unless there’s a miraculous rebirth this Christmas.

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

TorrentFreak: Swedish Police Raid The Pirate Bay, Site Offline

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

For many years The Pirate Bay has been sailing by the seat of its pants so any downtime is met with concern from its millions of users.

This morning, for the first time in months, The Pirate Bay disappeared offline. A number of concerned users emailed TF for information but at that point technical issues seemed the most likely culprit.

However, over in Sweden authorities have just confirmed that local police carried out a raid in Stockholm this morning as part of an operation to protect intellectual property.

“There has been a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm. This is in connection with violations of copyright law,” read a statement from Paul Pintér, police national coordinator for IP enforcement.

Police are staying quiet on the exact location of the operation and the targets involved but the fact that the national police IP chief is involved at this early stage suggests something sizable.

In addition, expert file-sharing case prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad has commented on the raid, further adding weight to the incident.

“There were a number of police officers and digital forensics experts there. This took place during the morning and continued until this afternoon. Several servers and computers were seized, but I cannot say exactly how many,” Ingblad told SR.

Ingblad would not be drawn on any arrests during the operation but TorrentFreak has learned that police may have detained at least one man connected to the site.

While it seems certain that The Pirate Bay has been targeted today, it was not the only casualty. Several other torrent related sites including EZTV, Zoink, Torrage and the Istole tracker are also down.

Update: The Pirate Bay’s forum Suprbay.org is also offline.

Breaking news story, more as we have it.

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

TorrentFreak: World’s Largest BitTorrent Tracker Goes Down

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

openbittorrentFounded in 2009 after The Pirate Bay shut down its tracker, OpenBitTorrent soon grew out to become a key player in the BitTorrent ecosystem.

Running on the beerware-licensed Opentracker software, the standalone tracker offers a non-commercial service which doesn’t host or link to torrent files themselves.

For several years OpenBitTorrent has been the most used BitTorrent tracker. The free service coordinates the downloads of 30 million people at any given point in time, processing roughly three billion connections per day.

About a week ago, however, the tracker suddenly stopped responding. Those who now try to download a torrent with help from OpenBitTorrent will notice that the connection to the tracker times out.

The problems appear to originate from missing DNS entries. The domain name is currently not linked to an IP-address which makes it impossible to reach.

openbttimesout

Around the same time OpenBitTorrent went down, “sister” tracker PublicBT disappeared as well. The latter reappeared two days ago and is functioning as usual at the time of writing.

Hoping to get more details TF reached out both OpenBitTorrent and PublicBT earlier this week, but we have yet to receive a response.

It’s worth noting that former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij is listed as the domain registrant for the OpenBitTorrent domain. Neij was arrested a few weeks ago and is currently imprisoned in Sweden.

Despite the largest tracker being down most BitTorrent users are still able to share files. In fact, it’s likely that the majority are completely unaware of the downtime.

Instead of using a tracker, most popular torrents work fine when they rely solely on DHT and PEX. This allows downloaders to get info on other peers from each other, instead of a central tracker.

Users of BitTorrent proxy services can experience more problems as they often have DHT and PEX disabled to prevent their real IP-addresses from leaking out. For this group there is no other option than to wait until the trackers return or manually add addresses of other trackers to their torrents.

We’ll update this article if we receive new information on OpenBitTorrent’s prolonged downtime.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Site Admin Sentenced to Five Months Prison

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

tankanerWhen it comes to file-sharing news arriving from Sweden, these days it’s rarely something positive. Week after week there’s news of a fresh prosecution, or historical cases being brought to a conclusion.

This Thursday a case running since 2012 came to an end, with a particularly miserable outcome for the man involved.

It began two years ago when anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance filed a complaint against a man they believed to be the owner of torrent site Tankaner. Local police launched an investigation and the man was later arrested.

In April 2014 the man was prosecuted for copyright infringement related to the illegal distribution of 32 movies during 2012 and 2013. At the time prosecutor Fredrik Inglad said that since there were ads on the site he would be pushing for a prison sentence.

In his defense the 40-year-old claimed that he’d disposed of the site four years ago. But according to Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén, the court didn’t buy that version of events.

“There was extensive evidence against the man in the form of signed contracts for the piracy server, login information, book keeping, e-mails and a photo in which he is posing in a T-shirt with ‘Tankaner’ printed on it,” Pontén told TF.

“The man argued that he was innocent and that he had transferred the operation from him to unknown persons who had made alterations to his encrypted computer while he was asleep. The court did not accept this version of events.”

Pontén says that the Court applied principles from the Svensson case previously referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union by Sweden’s Court of Appeal.

“In the case the suspect argued similar stand points to the ones argued by the suspects in the Pirate Bay case and they were dismissed on the same merits. However a difference from the Pirate Bay case is that the man was convicted as a direct infringer and not for contributory infringement,” Pontén adds.

On Thursday the Uppsala District Court sentenced the man to five months in prison. Rights Alliance are now seeking damages for one of the movies made available to the public.

Meanwhile, Tankaner remains online.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Cyberlocker Bayfiles Disappears After Arrest

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

bayfiles-logoThree years ago Pirate Bay founders Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde launched Bayfiles, a new file-sharing venture based on the cyberlocker model.

With steady growth ever since the site accumulated a decent user base, not least since it’s still prominently linked from Pirate Bay’s homepage.

Aside from issues with Google and its payment processor the site never ran into trouble. However, starting a few weeks ago Bayfiles suddenly disappeared from the Internet.

The site, which is registered to Pirate Bay’s former operator Fredrik Neij, went down around the same time that he was arrested.

Based on traffic estimates Bayfiles had tens of thousands of users per day. The site was frequently used by third-party sites that linked to pirated video hosted on the site. How many users have personal files stored on the site is unknown.

The graph below shows that Bayfiles’ traffic tanked early November and at the time of writing the site remains inaccessible.

Bayfiles going down
bayfilestraffic

TF spoke with the recently released Peter Sunde who told us that Fredrik’s arrest may indeed be related to the downtime. Peter himself hasn’t been involved in the project since its launch, as he was locked out by his former Pirate Bay colleague.

“I started Bayfiles and invited Fredrik and a third person to join in. Then all of a sudden, just before the launch, I no longer had access to the system and other systems that we previously co-operated in making. I also lost access to a few sites that Fredrik was hosting for me,” Sunde tells us.

The incident was the end of the friendship between the two. Peter tells us that Fredrik suddenly stopped responding, and the two never spoke again.

“Since that day Fredrik has never replied to any of my calls, texts, emails, chat requests or anything. I actually feels it’s kind of karma that he’s in prison, just a shame that he’s in prison for the wrong thing,” he says.

If Fredrik is indeed the current operator then it will be a few months before the site comes back. The former Pirate Bay operator was taken to a Swedish prison two weeks ago where he now has to serve his one year prison sentence.

The Pirate Bay, meanwhile, remains up and running, as do other TPB affiliated properties such as BayImg, PasteBay and PirateBrowser.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Preps Appeal, Puts the Press Straight

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

After being arrested in Cambodia during September 2012 it soon became clear that two Scandinavian countries wanted to get their hands on Gottfrid Svartholm.

Sweden had a long-standing interest in their countryman for his infamous work on The Pirate Bay, but once that was out-of-the-way a pair of hacking cases had to be dealt with.

The first, in Sweden, resulted in partial successes for both sides. While Gottfrid was found guilty of hacking into IT company Logica, following testimony from Jacob Appelbaum he was later cleared by the Appeal Court (Svea Hovrätt) of hacking into Nordea Bank.

But despite this significant result and a repeat appearance from Appelbaum, the trial that concluded in Denmark last month went all one way, with Gottfrid picking up a three-and-a-half year sentence.

With his mother Kristina acting as go-between, TorrentFreak recently fired off some questions to Gottfrid to find out how he’s been bearing up following October’s verdict and to discover his plans for the future.

Firstly, TF asked about his opinion on the decision. Gottfrid declined to answer directly but indicated we should look to the fact that he has already filed an appeal against the verdict. That should be enough of an answer, he said.

As it stands and considering time served, Gottfrid could be released as early as August 2015, but that clearly isn’t deterring him from the possibility of leaving sooner. Gottfrid has always shown that he’s both stubborn and a fighter, so sitting out his sentence in silence was probably never an option.

Moving on, TF pressed Gottfrid on what he feels were the points of failure during the court process and how these will play out alongside his appeal.

“Can’t discuss defense strategy at this point,” he responded. Fair enough.

Even considering the preparations for an appeal, there are a lot of hours in the coming months that will prove hard to fill. However, Gottfrid’s comments suggest that his access to books has improved since his days in solitary confinement and he’s putting that to use.

“I study neurobiology and related subjects to pass the time,” he says, with mother Kristina noting that this education is self-motivated.

“The ‘arrest house’ can of course not provide him with opportunities for higher studies,” she says.

Although he’s been thrust into the public eye on many occasions, Gottfrid’s appearances at court in Sweden (documented in TPB AFK) and later in his Danish trial reveal a man with an eye for detail and accuracy. It perhaps comes as little surprise then that he also took the opportunity to put the record straight on something he knows a lot about – the history of The Pirate Bay.

If one searches for “founders of The Pirate Bay” using Google, it’s very clear from many thousands of reports that they are Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde. According to Gottfrid, however, that simply isn’t true.

“TPB was founded by me and two people who haven’t been involved since 2004,” Gottfrid says. “Fredrik came into the picture when the site moved from Mexico to Sweden, probably early 2004.”

While acknowledging Fredrik’s work as important for the growth of the site, Gottfrid noted that Peter’s arrival came sometime later. He didn’t specify who the other two founders were but it’s likely they’re to be found among the early members of Piratbyrån as detailed here.

With Peter Sunde already released from his sentence and Fredrik Neij close to beginning his, it’s possible that the founders trio could all be free men by the end of 2015. So does Gottfrid have anything exciting up his sleeve for then?

“Yes, I have plans, but I’m not sharing them,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: The Copyright Monopoly Wars Are About To Repeat, But Much Worse

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

copyright-brandedPeople sometimes ask me when I started questioning if the copyright monopoly laws were just, proper, or indeed sane. I respond truthfully that it was about 1985, when we were sharing music on cassette tapes and the copyright industry called us thieves, murderers, rapists, arsonists, and genocidals for manufacturing our own copies without their permission.

Politicians didn’t care about the issue, but handwaved away the copyright industry by giving them private taxation rights on cassette tapes, a taxation right that would later infest anything with digital storage capacity, ranging from games consoles to digital cameras.

In 1990, I bought my first modem, connecting to FidoNet, an amateur precursor to the Internet that had similar addressing and routing. We were basically doing what the Internet is used for today: chatting, discussing, sharing music and other files, buying and selling stuff, and yes, dating and flirting. Today, we do basically the same things in prettier colors, faster, and more realtime, on considerably smaller devices. But the social mechanisms are the same.

The politicians were absolutely clueless.

The first signal that something was seriously wrong in the heads of politicans was when they created a DMCA-like law in Sweden in 1990, one that made a server owner legally liable for forum posts made by somebody else on that server, if the server operator didn’t delete the forum post on notice. For the first time in modern history, a messenger had been made formally responsible for somebody else’s uttered opinion. People who were taking part in creating the Internet at the time went to Parliament to try to explain the technology and the social contract of responsibilities, and walked away utterly disappointed and desperate. The politicians were even more clueless than imagined.

It hasn’t gotten better since. Cory Doctorow’s observation in his brilliant speech about the coming war on general computing was right: Politicians are clueless about the Internet because they don’t care about the Internet. They care about energy, healthcare, defense, education, and taxes, because they only understand the problems that defined the structures of the two previous generations – the structures now in power have simply retained their original definition, and those are the structures that put today’s politicians in power. Those structures are incapable of adapting to irrelevance.

Enter bitcoin.

The unlicensed manufacturing of movie and music copies were and are such small time potatoes the politicians just didn’t and don’t have time for it, because energy healthcare defense. Creating draconian laws that threaten the Internet wasn’t an “I think this is a good idea” behavior. It has been a “copyright industry, get out of my face” behavior. The copryight industry understands this perfectly, of course, and throws tantrums about every five years to get more police-like powers, taxpayer money, and rent from the public coffers. Only when the population has been more in the face of politicians than the copyright industry – think SOPA, ACTA – have the politicians backpedaled, usually with a confused look on their faces, and then absentmindedly happened to do the right thing before going back to energy healthcare defense.

However, cryptocurrency like bitcoin – essentially the same social mechanisms, same social protocols, same distributed principles as BitTorrent’s sharing culture and knowledge outside of the copyright industry’s monopolies – is not something that passes unnoticed. Like BitTorrent showed the obsolescence of the copyright monopoly, bitcoin demonstrates the obsolescence of central banks and today’s entire financial sector. Like BitTorrent didn’t go head-to-head with the copyright monopoly but just circumvented it as irrelevant, bitcoin circumvents every single financial regulation as irrelevant. And like BitTorrent saw uptake in the millions, so does bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency is politically where culture-sharing was in about 1985.

Politicians didn’t care about the copyright monopoly. They didn’t. Don’t. No, they don’t, not in the slightest. That’s why the copyright industry has been given everything they point at. Now for today’s million dollar question: do you think politicians care about the authority of the central bank and the core controllability of funds, finances, and taxation?

YES. VERY MUCH.

This is going to get seriously ugly. But this time, we have a blueprint from the copyright monopoly wars. Cory Doctorow was right when he said this isn’t the war, this is just the first skirmish over control of society as a whole. The Internet generation is claiming that control, and the old industrial generation is pushing back. Hard.

We’ve already seen the magic trigger words usually applied to culture-sharing being tried on bitcoin. Like this infamous quote:

“Bitcoin is used to buy illegal drugs!”

Since this is laughably used in defense of the US Dollar, that argument cannot go uncountered by the trivial observation that “So… you’re claiming that the US Dollar isn’t?”. But we’re already seeing the arguments that were used in the copyright monopoly battle getting rehashed against the next generation of peer-to-peer technology. The exact same trigger words: organized crime, file sharing, child porn, drug trade. The trigger words that mirror the way “communism” was used in the US in the 1950. And “jazz music” before then, by the way.

Beyond bitcoin, there are technologies like Ethereum and Counterparty, which aim to make the more core services of government – incorporation, courts, arbitration – obsolete and circumvented. The old structures will not accept that development sitting down.

The entire copyright monopoly war is about to repeat. But rather than brushing it off because politicians don’t care about what’s being discussed, this time, the technology and social changes are going to be attacking the very core power of politicians head-on. This time, they will try to crush technology and its users quite deliberately, rather than out of ignorance. This time, they will hold no punches and consider no balance against rights to privacy, life, happiness, or liberty.

But this time we’re ready. This time, we have a blueprint for exactly what will happen, because the copyright monopoly wars were the tutorial missions in the game of civil liberties. To be honest, we haven’t played the tutorial very well. But we know all the adversary’s capabilities, moves, and patterns now.

The end of that development is either a Big Brother society beyond dystopian nightmares, or a society where cryptocurrency is firmly established and the copyright monopoly has also been abolished to cheers and whistles from a new, liberated generation, who have new problems to deal with instead of those that defined our grandparents’ generation.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

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TorrentFreak: Liam Neeson Downloaders Face Anti-Piracy Shakedown

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

File-sharers in the United States, Germany and the UK are particularly familiar with the tactics of so-called copyright trolls. In recent years the lucrative nature of the business has attracted many companies, all out to turn piracy into profit.

Most countries have managed to avoid the attentions of these outfits, Sweden, the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, included. However, in a surprise move the Scandinavian country has now appeared on the file-sharing lawsuit radar.

Along with Universal Pictures and Studio Canal, Check Entertainment is one of the companies behind the 2014 Liam Neeson movie, Non-Stop. According to latest figures from Box Office Mojo it has done very well, bringing in excess of $222 million on a $50 million budget.

Nevertheless, according to Dagens Media, Check Entertainment has hired lawfirm Nordic Law to go to court in Sweden to obtain the identities of individuals said to have downloaded and shared the action thriller.

The U.S.-based company has targeted subscribers of five local Internet service providers – Com Hem, Bredbandsbolaget, Banhof, Telia Sonera and Telenor – with the aim of forcing them to turn over the names and addresses of 12 of their Internet subscribers. Data on the alleged file-sharers was captured by German anti-piracy outfit Excipio.

At this point Check Entertainment says it wants to “investigate and prosecute” the subscribers for alleged copyright infringement but if cases in the rest of the world are any yardstick the aim will be a cash settlement, not a full court case.

Interestingly, one ISP from the five has indicated that its customers do not have to be concerned about possible lawsuits or shakedowns.

Service provider Banhof, a company long associated with subscriber privacy, says it is currently the only ISP in the Swedish market that does not store data on its customers’ Internet activities.

The development dates back to April when the EU Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive to be invalid. In response, many Swedish ISPs stopped storing data but since then most have reversed their decision to comply with apparent obligations under the Swedish Electronic Communications Act. Banhof did not, however.

This means that even if the ISP is ordered by the court to reveal which subscribers were behind a particular IP address at a certain time, it has no data so simply cannot comply.

“We have no such data. We turned off data storage on the same day that the EU judgment was handed down,” Banhof CEO Jon Karlung told Dagens Media.

While Sweden has a long tradition of file-sharing and the state regularly prosecutes large scale file-sharers, actions against regular sharers of a single title are extremely rare, ‘trolling’ even more so.

“It’s pretty rare,” Karlung says. “It has been quite a long time since it happened last.”

The big question now is whether the courts will be sympathetic to Check Entertainment’s complaint.

“We have submitted [our case] to the district court and now we want to see what the service providers say in response,” Nordic Law’s Patrick Andersson concludes.

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TorrentFreak: Hollywood Demands Tougher Penalties for Aussie Pirates

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

ausThe MPAA has published its latest submission to the U.S. Government. It provides an overview of countries the studios believe could better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The movie group lists more than two dozen countries and describes which “trade barriers” they present.

In recent years the Obama administration has helped Hollywood to counter online piracy and with a letter, signed by MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, the movie organization urges the Government not to drop the ball.

“The US government must not falter from being a champion of protecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the online market,” Dodd told the United States Trade Representative.

According to the MPAA there are more than two dozen countries that require special attention. This includes Australia, which has one of the highest online piracy rates in the world

“Australia has consistently ranked amongst the highest incidence of per capita P2P infringement of MPAA member company films in the region,” the MPAA chief writes.

One of the main grievances against Australia is the lack of thorough copyright laws. On this front the movie studios put forward a specific recommendation to draft legislation to deter ‘camming’ in movie theaters.

“Australia should adopt anti-camcording legislation. While illegal copying is a violation of the Copyright Act, more meaningful deterrent penalties are required,” the MPAA notes.

In recent years there have been several arrests of people linked to scene release groups who illegally recorded movies in theaters. However, instead of several years in jail they usually get off with a slap on the wrist.

“For instance, in August 2012, a cammer was convicted for illicitly recording 14 audio captures, many of which were internationally distributed through his affiliation with a notorious release group; his fine was a non-deterrent AUD 2,000,” the MPAA writes.

“These lax penalties fail to recognize the devastating impact that this crime has on the film industry,” they add.

The MPAA hopes that the U.S. Government can help to change this legal climate Down Under. The most recent anti-piracy plans of the Aussie Government are a step in the right direction according to the Hollywood group.

This is not the first time that the MPAA has become involved in Australian affairs. Previously a Wikileaks cable revealed that the American movie group was also the main force behind the lawsuit against iiNet.

In addition to Australia, the MPAA also points out various copyright challenges in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The latter country is seen as a “safe haven” for pirates and lacks effective enforcement, as The Pirate Bay remains online despite the convictions of its founders.

“The law [in Sweden] must also change in order to effectively curb organized commercial piracy, as evidenced by the difficulties thwarting The Pirate Bay – an operation the court system has already deemed illegal,” MPAA writes.

MPAA’s full list of comments and recommendations is available here.

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TorrentFreak: Copyright Holders Want Pirate Bay Blocked in Sweden

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

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet.

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, and this list continues to expand.

Now the music and movie industries plan to bring the blockades to Sweden, Pirate Bay’s home country. To that end, record labels Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music teamed up with Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry to file a lawsuit against one of the country’s largest ISPs, B2 Broadband.

The copyright holders demand that the Internet provider blocks access to The Pirate Bay as well as streaming site Swefilmer, Dagens Media reports.

According to the lawsuit, the companies previously asked the ISP to take action against the piracy that occurs on its networks, but without result. B2 doesn’t believe that it’s responsible for the actions of its users and turned down the request.

The copyright holders disagree. In their complaint they write that the ISP is responsible for the pirating activities of its users on both The Pirate Bay and Swefilmer.

“In each case, the objective conditions are met for B2 Broadband to be deemed guilty of being complicit in the copyright infringement that’s committed,” the complaint reads.

Attorney Henrik Bengtsson is convinced that the music and movie companies have a good chance of winning the case, as similar blockades are already in place in Denmark, the UK and elsewhere.

If they indeed win the case, Bengtsson believes that they may demand similar blockades from other large ISPs in the country.

Rick Falkvinge, founder of the first Pirate Party in Sweden, is not happy with the attempt to make B2 responsible for the traffic it transmits.

“It’s neither the first time nor the last that this parasitic industry has found it easier to attack the messengers. This is why we have messenger immunity, why the mailman is never responsible for the contents of a message and the phone company not liable for what’s said in a phonecall” Falkvinge tells TF.

“The Internet must catch up to modern civil liberties standards,” he adds.

Thus far the copyright holders have not commented publicly on the lawsuit to avoid a media spectacle. “We have deliberately chosen not to push this. Neither party wants to make this media process,” Bengtsson says.

If the court sides with the copyright holders it will be the first time that a Swedish ISP has been required to block a website on copyright grounds.

Whether such a blockade will be very successful remains to be seen though, as there are plenty of alternatives and circumvention tools available. This includes VPN services, the many proxies that make up 9% of The Pirate Bay’s total traffic, and TPB’s own PirateBrowser.

Earlier this year the Dutch Pirate Bay blockade was lifted because the court deemed it disproportionate and ineffective.

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TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Peter Sunde Released From Prison

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

peter-sundeAfter being on the run for two years Peter Sunde, aka brokep, was arrested during a family visit in southern Sweden late May.

Despite being accused of non-violent crimes, Peter was transferred to a high-security unit. His time in prison was tough.

There was no concern for his vegan diet and he was struggling with depression. As a result Peter lost more than 15 kilograms.

“The worst thing is the boredom”, Peter said in August, summing up his daily routine. “I have soy yoghurt and muesli for breakfast, which I was recently allowed to buy from my own money, as the prison doesn’t offer any vegan food.”

Today Peter’s struggle in prison comes to an end. After more than five months he is now a free man again. A few hours ago he left prison to be reunited with his loved ones, and in a way, with himself.

“My body just got re-united with my soul and mind, the parts of me that matters and that never can be held hostage. #freebrokep #brokepfree,” he Tweets.

#brokepfree
sunde-free

Although there is no denying that Peter was physically and mentally impacted by his stay in prison, he is now truly free. No longer a fugitive, the former Pirate Bay spokesperson can travel the world again.

“Things will get easier once I get out,” Peter said previously. “I’ve been a fugitive for two years and could hardly go to conferences or would have to show up unannounced.”

Now that his sentence has come to an end, Peter will probably take some time to gain strength and spend time with friends and family.

After that, he will continue to work on his many Internet related projects including the micro-donation service Flattr and the encrypted chat application Heml.is. As always, activism remains a high priority too.

“I’m brimming with ideas and that one of my main goals will be to develop ethical ways of funding activism,” he said in August. “You often need money to change things. But most ways of acquiring it require you to compromise on your ideals. We can do better than that.”

Welcome back Peter!

Credit: clouds photo

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