Posts tagged ‘sweden’

Raspberry Pi: Blowing in the (fetid subway) wind

This post was syndicated from: Raspberry Pi and was written by: liz. Original post: at Raspberry Pi

A quick post today: I’m at the airport gate waiting to get on a plane.

I sent out a tweet about this brilliant advertising application of the Pi last week, but so many of you missed it on Twitter and have emailed to tell me about it since then (including one Dr Eben Upton) that I thought it deserved a spot here. Here’s a digital billboard that responds to the wind created by an approaching train.

The advertising agency behind this piece of clever is Åkestam Holst from Sweden, working with production company Stopp for Apotek Hjärtat’s Apolosophy products. Stopp says the ad was scheduled to be run for one day only, but it was so popular that the company which owns the screens asked for it to run for the rest of the week “as a way for them to show the opportunities their screens can offer”. When you think about it, a device like the Pi that can run a full HD digital display and can be hooked up to respond to real-world inputs is ideal for this sort of setup. These guys aren’t the only agency to be using a Raspberry Pi behind digital displays: but this is the best integrated use of the device I’ve seen in this context, and it’s made for a very powerful piece of advertising.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder’s Detention Extended, Investigation Continues

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

Following a failed appeal to the Supreme Court in Sweden, Gottfrid Svartholm was extradited to Denmark last November, where he now stands accused of hacking offenses.

Denmark accuses the Pirate Bay co-founder of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC. In an earlier case in Sweden he was acquitted of similar charges, but convicted for hacking into IT company Logica.

gottfridGottfrid appeared in court again today and during the closed-door hearing his custody was extended for a minimum of four more weeks. Until then he will remain in prison, as the authorities fear that he may compromise evidence if released.

During the hearing prosecutor Maria Cingari said that the investigation into the alleged hacking carried out by Gottfrid and his 20-year-old co-defendant is still ongoing. Since it’s such a complex case it may take “a few months” before the indictment is finalized.

“The investigation is not over. It is a very extensive and complex hacking case. Police don’t have a clear picture yet of what has happened with the stolen files. Investigations suggest that the downloaded files are partly located on servers abroad, “she said.

Among other things, Gottfrid is accused of accessing a large number of files including police records and drivers’ licenses, some of which were transferred to servers outside Denmark. The prosecution says that Danish police have asked for assistance from authorities in Australia, hoping to find out what happened to the stolen records.

Gottfrid continues to deny involvement in the Danish hacks and is pleading not guilty. According to him, someone else must have gained access to his machine to carry them out.

Gottfrid’s co-defendant, a 20-year-old Dane, also remains in prison having already been detained for more than eight months. In Denmark people can be held in custody for a year, for crimes with a punishment of up to six years.

In recent weeks Gottfrid has received a lot of support from people all over the world. More than 100,000 signed a petition to relax his restrictive imprisonment conditions.

While he now has access to his own books, access to other reading material is still very limited. Among other things, he can’t receive books or letters from outsiders.

TorrentFreak talked to Gottfrid’s mother Kristina Svartholm today, who can’t understand why her son is only allowed minimal communication with the outside world. Just last week the police stressed that she can’t give Gottfrid books and other printed material, as these may contain secret messages.

“I find it remarkable that Denmark keeps him in relative solitary confinement, after all those months between last year when he was free to contact me on a daily basis, and free to receive books, newspapers, magazines, printed copies of articles from scientific journals and so forth,” Kristina told TF.

“I think this assumption is astounding, because it suggests that I would deliberately risk my only opportunity to meet him during the single hour per week that we are allowed to see each other,” Kristina adds.

Whether the restrictive conditions will stay in place for The Pirate Bay founder will become known in the weeks to come.

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

TorrentFreak: 50,000 Call to Free Pirate Bay Founder as Court Extends Custody

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

gottfridFollowing a failed appeal to the Supreme Court in Sweden, Gottfrid Svartholm was extradited to Denmark last November.

The Pirate Bay founder stands accused of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC. In an earlier case in Sweden he was acquitted of similar charges, but convicted for hacking into IT company Logica.

Today, Svartholm appeared in court during a closed session, much to the disappointment of his supporters and members of the press who were denied access.

During the hearing the court extended Svartholm’s custody until February 5, at minimum. Until then he is expected to be detained in relative isolation, without free access to his mail and books.

Anakata supporters gathered outside the courthouse (via @ClausBuhr)

freeanakata

In an attempt to free the Swede, or at least improve his circumstances, a petition was launched recently, directed at the Danish Prime Minister.

Initially there were only a few hundred backers but when a banner was added to the homepage of The Pirate Bay this quickly grew to more than 50,000. Among other things, the petition demands that Gottfrid is given free access to books and other reading material.

“With only 9 hours a week of contact outside of his isolation cell, reading and educational materials are important for Anakata. He is a computer genius and it is important for not only mental but physical health to keep a mind active,” the petition reads.

The “signatures” of the petition backers will be handed over to the judge overseeing the case, but whether this massive support will help Svartholm has yet to be seen.

Luckily for Svartholm, his situation already improved somewhat last week. He is no longer kept in solitary confinement as he was before, and the 9 hour restriction was cancelled at the same time.

Pirate Bay supports Anakata’s petition

tpb-anakata

Both Svartholm and his 20-year-old co-defendant have pleaded not guilty to the hacking allegations. According to his lawyer Luise Høj, Gottfrid believes the case rests on a misunderstanding.

“He doesn’t understand why he is mixed up in this case. For each passing day he seems to be being subjected to another unfair treatment. He can only wait and hope that the court makes the right decision when the time comes,” Høj says.

The authorities, however, are convinced that Svartholm is involved. Among other things, they note that the hacking suddenly stopped when he was arrested in Cambodia in 2011.

The defense and prosecution are expected to present their arguments during a trial later this year.

Update: The article was updated to clarify that Svartholm’s solitary confinement and the restriction to meet with other inmates, have been cancelled.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party Turns the Tables and Spies On Intelligence Agency

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

cameraspyPirate parties worldwide are known for their aversion of both on- and offline surveillance.

So, when the Swedish Pirate Party found out that their local intelligence agency FRA was helping the NSA to spy on Russian leaders, something had to be done.

Turning the tables on the spying agency, three members of the Swedish Pirate Party’s youth division drove up to FRA’s headquarters yesterday, hoping they could find out more about the agency’s secretive plans.

“No politician or FRA executive wants to tell the public what they actually are doing. So we thought that we need to do a bit of signal intelligence ourselves,” Gustav Nipe, Chairman of Young Pirate tells TorrentFreak.

Armed with a large antenna the Pirates parked their purple van a few meters outside the FRA building. However, before they could set up their surveillance rig armed guards came rushing in to put a stop to their plans.

Ready to spy

SPY-FRA2

The ‘spies’ were held for 45 minutes while their vehicle was searched, with the guards filming every minute detail. The pirates were eventually released, but not before they were warned that any attempt to activate their equipment would lead to their arrest.

Looking back, the Young Pirate chairman is surprised that they were approached this aggressively, as they were not trespassing or carrying out any other type of illegal activity. “Everybody is allowed to scan the air for signals in Sweden,” Nipe tells TorrentFreak.

“It’s clear that FRA have something to hide, otherwise they wouldn’t have sent armed guards at us,” he adds.

Spying on the spies

SPY-FRA

The Pirates hope that their actions have at least helped to raise public awareness about the secret surveillance practices, and the fact that those who are responsible refuse to explain what they are doing, and why.

“It is up to us citizens to try to find out what is going on. Who and what is FRA spying on? Our constitution states that all public power emanates from the people, but when we are not entrusted to know what is done with this power, we need to seek the answers ourselves,” Nipe concludes.

Perhaps a drone may come in handy next time? That worked pretty well for the German Pirate Party.

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

TorrentFreak: The Simpsons Cleverly Cover The Pirate Bay & Anti-Piracy Enforcement

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

The Simpsons is rightfully considered one of the greatest animated shows to ever grace the airwaves and last night’s “Steal This Episode” will do nothing to change that perception. It covered the issues generated by illegal downloading and was a shining example of how far the show’s creators are prepared to go when covering a topic.

If you don’t want a few spoilers as you intend to watch later, please stop reading now.

The show begins with Homer’s co-workers gathered around the watercooler discussing Radioactive Man’s latest movie. Homer hasn’t seen it and he gets upset that no matter where he goes people are discussing how great it is. Desperate to see the movie, Homer took the entire family to the theater. Sadly it cost a fortune and was riddled with advertising.

“If I wanted to pay for commercials I can’t skip i’d sign up for Hulu Plus,” he complained while launching into a rant that got him ejected from the theater.

Seeing his father’s sadness, Bart taught Homer how to illegally download from the best pirate website around – The Bootleg Bay. His precise instructions were continually interrupted by a PSA-style voiceover explaining how Fox does not endorse piracy.

Bootleg

Back at work, Homer walked in on another water-cooler chat about the latest Bond movie. He hadn’t seen that either but when his colleagues told him to go the theater to see it, he explained that wouldn’t be necessary.

“All I need to see this movie is a laptop and a website based in a country that is really just an offshore oil platform,” Homer said.

This is a delightful reference to The Pirate Bay planning to buy the island nation of Sealand way back in 2007. Groening certainly does his homework.

After showing his colleagues the Bond movie on his laptop, one commented that it was a great experience that combined the fun of the theater with the thrill of stealing. Another said that what the movie industry needs to understand is that the people have needs – brand new, big budget entertainment, in their homes – for nothing. It’s clear that Matt Groening is as happy as ever to take shots at both sides.

What followed was an interesting parallel. Many times in the past The Pirate Bay has made it clear that its mission is to offer ‘culture’ to all. In the show Homer does something similar by opening his own free mini theater for the people of Springfield using movies downloaded from The Bootleg Bay.

However, when Marge later discovered that she’d been watching a pirate movie, she sent a check to Hollywood to pay for the ticket she never bought. This set off a chain of events which saw Homer investigated by the FBI. The size of the movie piracy department next to the drug enforcement office is a clear nod to the resources being expended on piracy-related issues.

FBIPiracy

Inside the FBI’s movie piracy department was a large bustling nerve center with agents sitting at workstations and a world map glowing with pirate locations. The FBI were clearly going to put a lot of resources into tracking Homer down.

NoToTorrents

Although most will probably miss it, the next scene almost certainly referenced another important event in file-sharing history. Homer presented a downloaded copy of Cosmic Wars VII, a movie which was clearly meant to be Star Wars. He noted that the copy he was about to show was a leaked version “direct from the computer of an angry editor at a special effects house.”

This inclusion is very interesting. Back in 2005, file-sharing site EliteTorrents was subjected to a massive FBI raid after it offered for download an unfinished ‘workprint’ version of Star Wars Episode III which had obviously originated from an industry pre-production source. While several staff members at Elite were all jailed, no one was ever prosecuted for the actual leak, something which remains highly suspicious to this day.

Before long though, a Kim Dotcom-style raid was being carried out against the animated pirate cinema, complete with plenty of armed officers seeking to intimidate “and stage the prison suicide” of Homer Simpson. He’s taken away to prison but things didn’t go quite to plan, with Homer quickly becoming a fugitive. Desperate for sanctuary he flees to the only place in America that doesn’t care about Internet piracy laws – the Swedish consulate.

consulate

“The people of Sweden believe that all movies should be shared freely,” explained Lisa to a confused Marge.

Eventually Homer hands himself over to the many FBI agents massing outside and, like pretty much all big file-sharing cases in the US, later finds himself up in court to answer for his sins.

Court

Overall the episode is a clever one that highlights both sides of the debate. It makes clear that big budget content needs to have a funding mechanism, but even more apparent is the overblown response to the issue encouraged by Hollywood and executed by law enforcement.

Definitely one to watch – which raises another issue of course. Right at the start of the episode Homer found himself pirating movies because the official experience fell short of his expectations. Equally there will be plenty of people wanting to watch this episode who will have no local access to the show. It’s a self perpetuating cycle that cannot be solved with law enforcement.

The release of the episode follows a Fox lawsuit and a $10.5m judgment against a Canadian who ran a Simpsons download portal. Coincidence or….?

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Back in Sweden’s Calm Waters After .GY Suspension

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

tpbToday The Pirate Bay returns to its Swedish based .SE domain, after a domain hopping exercise of little more than a week.

The trouble started last week when the notorious BitTorrent site lost its .SX domain after pressure from the anti-piracy outfit BREIN. In a response The Pirate Bay moved to Ascension Island’s .AC ccTLD, and later Peru’s .PE domain, but both these domains were suspended as well.

Yesterday The Pirate Bay switched over to Guyana’s .GY ccTLD, where the torrent site wasn’t welcome either. Within a day of thepiratebay.gy becoming operational the local registry has already taken it offline.

TorrentFreak reached out to the GY registry which didn’t name a specific reason for the suspension, other than the following.

“Once a site violates our policies, it will be suspended,” the registry noted in a statement. A brief inspection of the registry’s acceptable use policy reveals that linking to copyrighted material is sufficient to warrant a suspension.

After the .GY domain was lost a few hours ago The Pirate Bay moved back to its old home, thepiratebay.se. The site is expected to remain in Sweden’s relatively calm waters for the time being.

The Pirate Bay

pirate bay

The return to the .SE domain is noteworthy, as this domain is also at risk of being seized.

On behalf of several major movie, music and publishing companies, Swedish prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad filed a motion at a Stockholm court in April, requesting the seizure of thepiratebay.se, piratebay.se and the new thepiratebay.is domains.

“There is widespread copyright infringement linked to these sites and these domains are used to assist in connection with crime,” Ingblad wrote in the complaint.

Ironically, this looming seizure was the main reason why TPB traded in its .SE domain for a Greenland-based domain in April, before switching to a .IS and a .SX domain when other problems became apparent.

The good news for The Pirate Bay, however, is that the .SE domain registry previously stated that it will not suspend the domain name unless there is a court order. This means that Sweden should be a safe haven for now.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Held in Solitary Confinement Without a Warrant

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

Following a failed last-ditch appeal to the Supreme Court in Sweden, Gottfrid Svartholm was extradited to Denmark last month.

The Pirate Bay founder stands accused of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC. In an earlier case in Sweden he was acquitted of similar charges.

Previously in Sweden and within the natural parameters of his detainment, Gottfrid had been granted various freedoms, including socializing with other inmates and the ability to receive mail. He also enjoyed access to books for his studies, an absolute must for someone with such an active mind but no computer or Internet. However, since arriving in Denmark things have been very different.

In a recent letter sent to Amnesty and shared with TorrentFreak, Gottfrid’s mother Kristina explains her son’s plight. She says that Gottfrid is being kept in solitary and treated as if he were a “dangerous, violent and aggressive criminal” even though his only crime – if any – is hacking.

Gottfrid’s lawyer Luise Høi says the terms of his confinement are unacceptable and are being executed without the correct legal process.

“It is the case that Danish authorities are holding my client in solitary confinement without a warrant,” Høi explains, noting that if the authorities wish to exclude Gottfrid from access to anyone except his lawyer and prison staff, they need to apply for a special order.

The theory is that the special terms of Gottfrid’s confinement are in place so that he is unable to interfere with the investigation, but Kristina doesn’t buy that excuse.

“[In Sweden] I visited him every week, unsupervised, sometimes with an additional person. He rang me daily throughout the fall and his letters etc were not checked. For a long time he has had every opportunity in the world to complicate investigations for the Danish police if he had wanted,” Kristina says.

The extradition by Sweden and current situation in Denmark has outraged Wikileaks‘ Julian Assange, a staunch supporter of Gottfrid who he describes as a ‘Wikileaks Consultant’.

“It is time someone says it like it is: Gottfrid Svartholm Warg is a political prisoner and Sweden has fallen off the map of decent nations in its treatment of him. Gottfrid has always been ideologically driven to inform the world; he worked tirelessly to help WikiLeaks expose the slaughter of civilians in Iraq by a US helicopter gunship and was responsible for an important part of our infrastructure,” Assange says.

“There are thousands of alleged cyber criminals, but instead of dealing with these cases, we see vast resources diverted yet again by the Swedish state into smashing Gottfrid. These attempts include the first trial of Gottfrid after US pressure (extensively documented in US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks), his subsequent rendering from Cambodia by the Swedish intelligence service SAPO, his months of incommunicado detention in Sweden, and now his irregular extradition to Denmark – for a charge he was just acquitted of.”

Today, Kristina will travel to see Gottfrid in Denmark, hopefully with more encouraging news to report on her departure.

Meanwhile in Russia, authorities there have ordered local ISPs to initiate a block on RuTor.org, a site whose domain is registered to the Swede. The site stands accused of distributing copyrighted material including the 2013 film ‘Stalingrad’.

Anyone who would like to write to Gottfrid is certainly welcome to try. For any chance of this mail eventually getting through people should ensure that letters contain only text, are not written in any kind of code or suggestion of that, and do not contain any discussion of the case.

Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, 171084
Att: Jens Jørgensen
Politigården
1567 København V
Denmark

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

TorrentFreak: Landmark Beyonce File-Sharing Prosecution Fails to Intimidate

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

Difficulties associated with gathering evidence against BitTorrent users have led authorities in Sweden to concentrate on file-sharing cases where large-scale infringement can be more easily shown. That has been achieved by going after users of systems such as DirectConnect, where proving the distribution of thousands of tracks is a much easier prospect.

However, while going after individuals sharing an album or two on BitTorrent usually amounts to an endless and expensive task, music labels are very happy to make exceptions. One of the industry’s pet hates are album pre-releases, and for those they are prepared to commit significant resources.

One such case concluded yesterday dates back to early June 2011 when a copy of Beyonce’s album ’4′ appeared online more than two weeks ahead of its official launch. An investigation carried out by the IFPI and anti-piracy company DtecNet (now MarkMonitor) led them to an IP address registered to a woman in Gothenburg. It was later established, however, that she was not the only one with access to her Internet account.

Also using her wireless connection was a neighbor, a then 47-year-old man. IFPI and Sony Music Entertainment said he uploaded the album to the Internet during June 8 2011, 16 days before the album’s June 24 launch.

Revelations that the man worked in the industry as a DJ and music producer added interest to the case, however it later became clear that he was not the source of the original leak. Torrent site records show the album was uploaded at least the day before but that didn’t matter to prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson, who stated that a pre-release is still a pre-release, no matter who released it first.

In interviews with the police the man protested his innocence, stating that he only believed he had been downloading the album for personal use, something he believed was permissible in Sweden.

“I had no idea when the Beyoncé album would be released, these days it’s almost impossible to know when the release takes place,” he explained. “If I downloaded the album illegally from a site such as The Pirate Bay, I would not have had a clue that it was a pre-release of the record or not.”

Of course, since BitTorrent is a two-way protocol he necessarily became an uploader too, something which exposed him as a pre-releaser of the album, despite his protests.

Earlier this month the man went to court for a two-day trial, with the now 48-year-old standing accused of breaches of copyright law. Hanging in the background was a huge $233,000 damages claim from Sony Entertainment, who said that the leak had not only damaged its marketing strategy and sales revenues, but had also hurt its relationship with Beyonce whose reputation had been damaged.

After much drama and deliberation, yesterday the sentence was handed down. The man was found guilty of copyright infringement but the verdict was hardly the scary affair the IFPI and Sony had hoped for.

In the event the court rejected imprisonment and handed down punishment based on the ‘day-fine’ system, which ranks the severity of the offense (in this case 80) and then multiplying that by the defendant’s daily income minus certain expenses.

Grand total – $1,200.

“They tried to make an example of me to intimidate both Swedish and foreign citizens,” said the 30 year veteran of the music industry. “Given that Swedish taxpayers have had to pay for this it smells a little bad.”

De-escalating matters further, it’s also believed that Sony has withdrawn its claim for damages. If true, that suggests that the music industry’s switch to chasing down BitTorrent users has proven just as time-consuming, costly and ineffective as observers believed it would.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Ordered to Take Down Russian Pirate Sites

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

anakataIt’s been a rough few months for Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm. After being sentenced in Sweden on hacking related charges, he will be extradited to Denmark this week to stand trial in a similar case.

As if that’s not enough trouble, Svartholm has now been dragged into a prominent Russian piracy case.

The case in question is one of the first under Russia’s new anti-piracy law and was initiated by several major media companies including Gazprom Media, Non-Stop Production and Star Media.

The copyright holders have targeted several websites, including the popular Rutor.org, which are accused of distributing their content without permission. The list of pirated titles includes the movies Stalingrad and Legend 17 as well as the TV series Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire.

While Svartholm is not believed to be directly involved in the case, his name appeared as the domain name registrant for Rutor.org and Kinozal.tv. In addition, PRQ, the hosting company created by the Pirate Bay founder, is listed as the registrant organization.

Following a verdict released by Moscow City Court this week, Svartholm is now being held responsible for the copyright infringements that take place though these two sites.

The court has therefore ordered him to stop the distribution of these copyrighted works by changing the domain name information, and pay the fees for the publication of the verdict.

Rutor Whois

rutor-anakata

Commenting on the case, a representative for the plaintiffs says that copyright holders “do not care who the ultimate owner of the site is,” as long as the infringing material is rendered unavailable.

Russia’s new anti-piracy law can be used to block IP-addresses or make domains unavailable. This effectively means that domain registrars and hosting companies can be held liable for the infringing actions of their clients.

It is unknown to what extent the court has researched whether Svartholm still has control over the domain name information or how he is supposed to comply with the ruling during his incarceration.

If the authorities plan to bring Svartholm to justice on their home turf should he fail to take action, they will have to get in line behind Denmark.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder’s Imminent Extradition Raises Big Questions

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

In June 2013, authorities in Denmark requested the extradition of Gottfrid Svartholm following accusations that he was involved in hacking into a Danish company.

Their request would have to wait, however, pending the outcome of a parallel hacking case against The Pirate Bay founder in Sweden.

In the event Gottfrid was found guilty and handed two years in jail, but on appeal that was reduced to 12 months when it was decided that his involvement in a breach at the Nordea bank could not be proven.

This outcome was important. In the Nordea case the court found that although Gottfrid’s computer had been used in the hack, it was possible it had been remotely controlled. This doubt led to an acquittal and the sparking of new hope as the case in Denmark involved the same computer during the same time period in a similar case.

With this in mind, last month Gottrid filed a last-ditch appeal at the Supreme Court in Sweden. It was a failed exercise and as a result Gottfrid faces extradition to Denmark where he is accused of hacking into the mainframe computers of IT company CSC.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Gottfrid’s mother Kristina says that while the similarities in the cases are obvious, the Danish police appear to have other things on their minds.

“The Danish police have shown a significantly greater interest in what a person mentioned by name and called ‘Swedish police’ in the documents has had to say about the computer and its remote control possibilities,” Kristina says. “According to his person, Gottfrid’s computer could not have been remotely controlled.”

This, of course, is completely the opposite of the conclusion arrived at by the Court of Appeal.

Furthermore, Kristina says that the person from the Swedish Security Police told Danish authorities that Gottfrid used the nickname “My Evil Twin”, yet that name has never appeared in the Swedish investigation or in another situation related to him.

“This ‘nick’ is given, however, such a distinction in the investigation that it is even to be found in a separate heading, along with the two names that are familiar from the Swedish investigation, ‘Anakata’ and ‘tLt’. The basis for this? Well, the name was found in a file in the computer. And, according to the person from Säpo, the computer could not have been used by someone else. And therefore that nickname must be Gottfrid’s,” Kristina explains.

Notably, the Säpo employee was also the person who originally tipped off Danish police about the intrusion made against CSC. That tipoff led to the issuing of an arrest warrant for Gottfrid on the basis that he had sabotaged and caused “the extensive disruption of information systems,” but up until this point they had no idea that there was anything wrong.

But even though the Danish authorities still believe they have a strong case that warrants extradition, it is interesting that up until now no indictment has appeared.

“The documentation that the Danish police have presented to Gottfrid is, in his own words, extremely thin. Time has passed and no indictment has yet been presented. But the demand for extradition remains,” Kristina explains.

There are other problems too. In the documents seen by Kristina the Danish police’s case against Gottfrid references the ‘guilty’ judgment handed down by the District Court earlier in the year but of course that was later repealed by the Court of Appeal. There is no mention of the acquittal.

“[The police] obviously do not want to let the Danish court take note of this assessment of the remote control of the computer. If they did the suspicions against Gottfrid would fall,” Kristina explains.

In correspondence with the Danish prosecutor in September, Kristina was informed that the authorities do not intend to take note of the Court of Appeal ruling, despite any similarities in the cases. As a result Gottfrid will be sent to Denmark next week where he will likely be imprisoned for many months before he faces trial. If he had remained in Sweden he would have been free by the end of the year, a point not lost on his mother.

“Is this all about keeping Gottfrid locked up as long as possible, regardless of cost, human and financial?” she questions. “Why, in that case? To punish him? In order to set an example?”

If convicted in Denmark, Gottfrid faces up to six years in jail.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party Gets Observer Status at World Trade Organization

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

ppi-logoFollowing the launch of the first Pirate Party in Sweden the “Pirate” movement quickly spread all over the world, and not without success.

During the German elections earlier this year nearly a million people voted for the local Pirate Party, in Iceland the national Parliament has three Pirate MPs, and the Swedish branch of the Pirates currently has two seats at the European Parliament.

To coordinate the international agenda Pirate Parties International (PPI) was founded in 2010. The organization currently represents the interests of 43 parties worldwide, from China to Chile.

One of the goals of the umbrella organization is to facilitate international operation with other global organizations, to monitor and influence the political agenda. This week PPI took a big step towards this goal when it was granted observer status for the upcoming meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Bali.

The WTO Secretariat approved the application of the international Pirate organization, which means that it can participate in WTO conferences and related meetings. Observer status also allows PPI to submit papers to be circulated among WTO members.

Previously PPI was denied observing member status at the World intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) after several member states, including the United States, objected to its application.

Gregory Engels, Co-Chairman of PPI, says they have already sent a new application to WIPO, and he hopes that the recent developments will help the group to get accepted there as well.

“One of WIPO’s points of critique was that they were not aware of any existing cooperations between UN bodies and international political organizations. By being admitted to the WTO meeting we have created such a precedent. This is definitely a door opener for us,” Engels tells TorrentFreak.

In addition to WTO and WIPO, Pirate Parties International hopes to join various other UN organizations to raise their profile. The status as WTO observer is definitely a breakthrough, but also just the beginning.

“Overall I think that we need more connections with other international global players – NGOs and academia. By being admitted to Bali we have the chance to deepen those relationships and gain visibility,” Engels says.

“I consider the WTO conference an accolade for us in the field of international lobbying, and a door opener to more international participation,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Largest Ever BitTorrent Tracker Movie Uploader Trial Concludes

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

In 2004 during some of the early days of the Swedish BitTorrent scene, a new private tracker appeared online. Swebits maintained a membership of up to 40,000 and was very popular with locals.

Seven years later in February 2011 the site announced it would close. News from the site suggested it had been targeted by a DDoS attack and alongside had suffered a catastrophic hardware disaster. Perhaps coincidentally, just a week before the site’s closure a Swebits user was arrested at his home following an investigation carried out by anti-piracy outfit Antipiratbyran (now Rights Alliance).

It transpired that the then 25-year-old was a moderator on Swebits and between April 2008 and November 2011 had allegedly shared huge quantities of content with the site’s users. The prosecution in the case insisted that he had uploaded many thousands of movies and TV shows after obtaining them from so-called ‘topsites’ affiliated with the warez scene.

The final case, which involved the uploading of 518 titles, concluded yesterday afternoon in the Västmanlands District Court after being reduced to ‘just’ 517 titles on a technicality.

“A film was dropped [from the case] because the statute of limitations expired,” explained prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson.

However, out of the significant remainder the defendant confessed to just 13 of the charges, the number of titles Antipiratbyran / Rights Alliance said they downloaded directly from the man and later tested. As more than 500 titles remained untested, the former Swebits moderator believes he is innocent of those charges.

Despite the reduction and counterclaim, Rasmusson said that never before had a court dealt with someone who had uploaded so many movies and TV shows online. In what is generally seen as an aggravating factor, the court heard that many of the uploads took place before the products were officially available on DVD.

Although more than 500 titles were involved in the trial, it appears only one producer is seeking damages from the now 28-year-old. Nevertheless, they are substantial.

Represented by infamous pirate-hunter Henrik Pontén of Rights Alliance, Nordisk Film AS are trying to recover more than a million dollars in damages after their title “Buried Alive” was released onto the Internet two days before its official DVD release.

According to the prosecutor, a request for a custodial sentence will be the likely outcome.

“I will probably insist on imprisonment,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Reports Notorious Pirate Sites to U.S. Government

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

mpaa-logoResponding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), yesterday the MPAA submitted a new list of “notorious markets.”

In its latest filing the MPAA targets a wide variety of websites which they claim are promoting illegal distribution of movies and TV-shows, with declining incomes and lost jobs in the movie industry as a result.

“Copyright theft is not a victimless crime. The criminals who profit from the most notorious markets throughout the world threaten the very heart of our industry and in doing so they threaten the livelihoods of the people who give it life,” the MPAA writes.

According to the movie industry group, in recent years the piracy landscape has become more fragmented and harder to deal with, as torrent sites, cyberlockers, streaming sites and linking sites continue to gain ground.

“Today the online market has further fragmented and content thieves are taking advantage of new online technologies, with streaming sites and cyberlockers representing a growing share of unlawful conduct.”

“Moreover, a secondary market has arisen in the form of ‘linking sites’, which are professional-looking sites that facilitate content theft by indexing stolen movie and television content hosted on other sites.

Despite these challenges the movie studios are also glad to report one of their recent successes, the takedown of isoHunt.com. Nevertheless, there are still many other sites that remain a problem for the group.

Below is the full list of ‘rogue’ sites and their suspected location as defined by the MPAA in its USTR filing.

BitTorrent / P2P sites:

- ExtraTorrent.com (Ukraine)
- Kickass.to (Canada)
- RuTracker.org (Russia)
- ThePirateBay.sx (Sweden)
- Torrentz.eu (Canada)
- Xunlei.com (China)
- Kuaibo.com (China)

Download/streaming:

- Extabit.com (Netherlands)
- Netload.in (Germany)
- Nowvideo.sx (Netherlands)
- Putlocker.com (United Kingdom)
- Rapidgator.net (Russia)
- Uploaded.net (Netherlands)
- VK.com (Russia)

Linking sites:

- Cuevana.tv (Argentina)
- Primewire.ag (Estonia)
- Filmesonlinegratis.net (Brazil)
- Free-tv-video-online.me (Czech Republic)
- Megafilmeshd.net (Brazil)
- Movie4k.to (Romania)
- Seriesyonkis.com (Spain)
- Solarmovie.eu (Latvia)
- Telona.org (Sweden)
- Yyets.com (China)

Usenet:

- Usenext.com (Germany)

The MPAA provides a short description for every site listed but doesn’t detail why these sites are considered “rogue” while others aren’t. Additionally, some of their other claims are not always accurate.

For example, the MPAA claims that Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm has been extradited to Denmark where he was supposedly sentenced following hacking related charges.

“In 2012, one of the site’s co-founders was found guilty on hacking charges in Sweden after his extradition from Cambodia. He was then extradited to Denmark and sentenced for similar charges in 2013,” MPAA writes.

However, Gottfrid is still in a Swedish prison and filed for an appeal at the Supreme Court this week. He hasn’t even left for Denmark, let alone been tried and sentenced.

Similarly, the MPAA suggests that Pirate Bay’s PirateBrowser is linking to websites that are actually hosted on the Tor network, which is not what it does.

“ThePirateBay.sx promoted its tenth year as an index website by releasing the PirateBrowser, a self-contained portable web browser with preset bookmarks to BitTorrent websites hosted on the TOR network,” MPAA notes.

In a few weeks the US Trade Representative will use the submissions of the MPAA and other interested parties to make up its final list of piracy havens. The U.S. Government will then alert the countries where these sites are operating from, hoping that the local authorities take action.

Source: MPAA Reports Notorious Pirate Sites to U.S. Government

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Group Seeks Sweden-Style File-Sharing Crackdown

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

From a region where online file-sharing has traditionally thrived, Scandinavia has become an area more focused than many on the issue of online piracy.

As the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, Sweden in particular has long been associated with free-and-easy attitudes to infringement and as a result dozens of sites were founded in the site’s wake. This eventually prompted a more organized approach to dealing with operators of file-sharing sites and now that model is being eyed by others in the region.

Writing today in Jyllands-Posten, RettighedsAlliancen’s (Rights Alliance) Maria Fredenslund says that in the face of rampant illegal downloading the time has come to subject Danish Internet pirates to stiffer penalties via a dedicated anti-piracy task force, such as the ones in place in both Sweden and London.

“A special unit that works consistently with intellectual property crime would be a marked improvement on the current situation. Such a facility would enable police and prosecutors to build the relevant skills through their daily operational work with intellectual property cases,” Fredenslund writes.

“Experiences from abroad, such as the special IP unit in Sweden that has been a conspicuous success, show us that a task force will strengthen copyright holders and weaken the criminal masterminds. This is supported by the fact that the number of convictions has increased significantly over a very short period of time.”

Fredenslund says that a dedicated force would free regular police from having to start from scratch each time a new case arises and would ensure that police resources are used in a more efficient manner than is currently the case. But apparently there are other problems too.

In a separate article published by veteran Danish anti-piracy lawfirm Johan Schlüter, it seems that Rights Alliance have grown weary of committing large resources to anti-piracy investigations only to have them ruined when police didn’t handle the complaint in a way the anti-piracy organization would have liked.

“When we at Rights Alliance choose to report a case to the police, it follows years of exploration and work. Notification is always done on the basis .[..] that a person or company is behind the extensive distribution of illegal products, typically for profit,” the company explained.

“Unfortunately, what we have seen repeatedly is that the police choose to call and inquire about these suspicions before steps have been taken towards a preservation of evidence. Such calls obviously give suspects an opportunity to deny the accusations and eliminate all kinds of evidence. That leaves Rights Alliance with a bad case and many hours of wasted work.”

However, there are now clear signs that the Danish authorities are ready to progress on the issue. In July the Attorney-General said there would be a strengthening of responses to piracy and last month further discussions with Danish rightsholders took place. Whether the proposals will be enough for the entertainment companies remains to be seen, but history tells us that a mutually satisfactory solution is unlikely.

Source: Anti-Piracy Group Seeks Sweden-Style File-Sharing Crackdown

TorrentFreak: How NSA-Proof Are VPN Providers?

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

cameraspyLet’s start off by saying that no VPN service can ever guarantee your anonymity 100%. That said, there is good reason to believe that the most secure encryption schemes are nearly impossible to crack.

In theory, however, there’s always a possibility that certain agencies are operating several steps ahead of the game. For example, the NSA and others might be capable of cracking more advanced encryptions when data streams are stored for future decoding.

And then there’s the possibility of VPN providers being forced to hand over customer data. While no-logging policies protect against traditional court orders, things get more complicated when government agencies issue gag orders, such as those contained in United States national security letters.

To explore these issues TorrentFreak talked to BlackVPN, IPredator, Private Internet Access, VikingVPN and TorGuard.

Below is an overview of the responses we received. On the one hand they address which encryption schemes are still safe, and which ones should be avoided. Separately, the U.S. based providers shared their thoughts on the discussions regarding national security letters.

Does encryption still work?

The first question is whether encryption still works. A few weeks ago many VPN users got concerned after they read that the NSA had compromised privacy software and cracked encryption algorithms.

So does that mean VPNs can no longer be trusted? While the various providers all have different opinions, they agree that the most secure encryptions are impossible to crack on the fly. Similarly, most providers warn that PPTP is flawed and should be avoided wherever possible.

BlackVPN

“OpenVPN is the best choice when available on your device. It’s easy to check that your VPN provider is using strong encryption algorithms and keys (like 256bit keys and AES encryption) by looking at the OpenVPN configuration files supplied by your VPN provider. Also it can be configured to use TCP on port 443 which makes it extremely difficult to block as it looks like standard HTTP over SSL traffic.”

“OpenVPN is slightly more effort to setup (download and install a client for Windows, OS X, IOS 5+ & Android 4+) but it should be the default way for most people to connect to their VPN. We have been using OpenVPN securely (2048 bit RSA keys and AES-256) since our beginning in 2009 so previous traffic should still be secure from decryption.”

“L2TP/IPSec is a good choice if you want a quick and easy setup. However the encryption algorithms and keys used depend on your VPN provider and your device, and it is difficult to know if secure or insecure encryption is being used. Your data could be encrypted with AES-256 (more secure) or with 3DES (not secure) and you wouldn’t know. An evil or silly VPN provider could force all clients to use 3DES. Also Windows XP does not support AES and would use 3DES encryption instead.”

“PPTP has known security weaknesses and should only be used as last option or where nothing else works with your device. There are no good reasons to use PPTP unless IPSec traffic is being blocked and you cannot install openVPN on your device. We would recommend only use PPTP if your security and privacy are not a concern – for example if you just want to access websites or content blocked in your country.”

IPredator

Sweden-based IPredator is also clear on the point that PPTP should be avoided by users who are looking for the most secure setup, but in common with many other VPN providers, they still offer these connections.

“We explicitly tell users that PPTP is insecure and that it’s not suitable for privacy related things anymore to protect against a government attacker. We could just turn it off BUT then people would just go to other providers who still offer it, so in my opinion it’s better to educate them.”

According to iPredator, OpenSSL with ECDHE + AES and without RC4 is the most secure option for VPN users at the moment.

TorGuard

According to TorGuard many of the strongest encryptions can still be trusted, and the company sees Open Source Software as a key element to keep intelligence agencies for implementing backdoors.

“Encryption still works and nothing has been mathematically broken. What has been broken is the consumer trust relationship between government and big business. The NSA has attempted to undermine VPN encryption not by brute force or mathematics, but by sabotaging secure technologies at the corporate level.”

“Open source software is in the driver’s seat, everyone else is just along for the ride. Community driven code like what powers OpenVPN is continuously subject to scrutiny, making it virtually impossible for an outside agency to implement a secret backdoor.”

“It is also important to point out that there is no known method that even comes close to breaking 128bit Blowfish encryption. For the ultra-paranoid, TorGuard offers AES-256 bit ‘Stealth’ connections that actually disguise packets as regular HTTP traffic on the network. We will soon be offering these stealth AES-256 connections on all servers as standard options.”

“True privacy in this digital age requires sound cryptography and companies who are willing to back it up – no matter the cost. If we expect to have any privacy in the future, the entrepreneurs and cypherpunks of today must work together in continuing to develop effective privacy solutions for tomorrow.”

National Security Letters

Aside from the worries about broken encryption and backdoors, there’s also the possibility that providers might find themselves served with a national security letter by U.S. security agencies or a foreign equivalent. Yesterday VPN provider CryptoSeal shut its doors in the belief it could no longer guarantee the privacy of its users following the Lavabit ordeal.

TorrentFreak asked three prominent U.S. based VPN providers to share their thoughts on this issue.

Private Internet Access

“Prior to the entire Lavabit ordeal, we had begun reaching out to the EFF, ACLU and FFTF in order to better understand the legal climate in which the internet operates such that we would better understand how we could hedge the company to better protect our ‘way of the internet’. Our CTO/co-founder, who many know as coderrr, the developer of privacy extensions from the early years of Bitcoin, moved out of the US along with our entire admin/development team.”

“Moving or establishing a VPN company outside of the US/EU would do little to protect against these kinds of issues as long as anyone with access to the machines remains within said regions. As such, he and the entire admin/development team are committed to remain outside of the US, and in fact, the team in its entirety are decentralized across the globe in countries that have historically been very reluctant to assist the US. Simultaneously, our research team has been implementing and increasing our available crypto-suite.”

“As for myself [Andrew Lee], I love my country. Please do not misunderstand, as a minority born, raised and living in the US, I am certainly not screaming, ‘MERIKA FUK YAH!’ However, this country has provided a climate in which people can work hard to better their lives and, as well, enjoy great liberties which, in reality, most/many countries fail to match. As such, I, myself, remain in the US in order to help see to it that this country is able to continue/return to being a land of liberty and freedom. To this extent, we’re really putting our money where our mouths are.”

“However, to remain in the US, meant, as well, the relinquishing of my access to the PIA systems/network. Administrators, developers and co-founders everywhere can relate to the difficulty of doing so, but the reality is that it was a requirement if I was to remain here. This policy is in place, and relinquished access I have.”

“With regard to the gag orders, recently a US judge ruled the gag order provision to be unconstitutional, in violation of First Amendment rights. We do consider this to be a win for our side, in our quest to bring our privacy and civil liberties back to levels which we as a society can decide for ourselves. With that said, it’s not the end of the battle, as the ruling is currently being appealed, and as such, no decision is certain at present.”

“However, we’re a company that operates, as we said on our privacy policy, within the spirit and letter of the law. As such, we believe in constitutionally provided privacies and liberties and, to this extent, I’d like to make it unequivocally clear that we will fight any gag order to the fullest extent given that it clearly undermines First Amendment rights and the transparency of governmental interactions with private entities.”

“While I’d like to yell some kind of statement as many have before that most certainly could never be upheld, our customers and TorrentFreak readers deserve to know that we’re fighting to the best of our abilities, within the confines and maturity of the existing societal infrastructure. This is not the only way, but this is currently the best way for us to make a meaningful broad impact.”

TorGuard

“Lavabit’s actions to suspend operations and preserve its client’s privacy were truly inspiring. This serves as an excellent example for other companies to not let big government push them around and stand up by legally challenging unlawful data requests or gag orders. Curbing the power of government surveillance on the corporate sector won’t be easy, but it needs to start now with increased transparency and corporations that take an oath of privacy no matter the cost to business. In Lavabit’s case – if you can’t leave Texas then burn the servers.”

“A big misconception going around is that one’s data is far safer from scrutiny with foreign based corporations. Unfortunately, the US isn’t the only country with a spy agency and they certainly are not confined by domestic borders. We’ve seen countless incidents in the recent past where both domestic and international surveillance agencies abused power to gain access to servers and customer data – no gag order required.”

“Just because a company is incorporated in ‘Timbuktu’ doesn’t mean the third-party data centers they lease servers from won’t open the door when federal agents come knocking. That’s why more transparency is needed on a global scale, not just from US service providers, but also by these international based ISPs, Data Centers, Domain Registrars and Merchant Providers..(the list goes on).”

“While TorGuard does have US-based representation, we are an internationally owned company with 90% of our employees and server resources based abroad. As owner/operator, I’ve pledged an oath of privacy to our client base and I intend to uphold this promise to the best of my abilities, even if it means temporarily suspending services or relocating company assets. We have backup plans for our backup plans, and travel light.”

VikingVPN

“Knowing whether or not a company has been compromised by a national security letter is deceptively simple. All you have to do is ask. Right now, I can confidently say that VikingVPN has not been served a National Security Letter. Feel free to ask me again later. If I don’t reply at some point in the future when you ask me, then you’ll know. See how easy that was?”

“The reason this works is that the Govt. cannot compel you to lie, but they can (apparently) compel you to remain silent. I would actually argue that the national security letters, and indeed the entire PRISM/XKeyScore system are illegal and unconstitutional, but obviously I don’t sit on the FISA court or Supreme Court, so my opinion holds little weight.”

“I would encourage TorrentFreak to reach out to all the US VPN providers and simply ask them if they have received a national security letter. If they don’t reply within a reasonable time-frame you will have your answer. I would even encourage you to keep a running list of VPN providers that reply. You could ask them once a month.”

“Further, VPNs have always been about trust. You’re entrusting your data to the VPN service provider, and hoping they don’t betray you. Any VPN service provider could be secretly logging and passing your data to a 3rd party without your permission. Some of this trust can be gained (or lost) from reputation.”

“Do users of the service report betrayals in the form of legal notices? Some of the trust has to come from knowing just who runs the VPN service. VikingVPN has been very transparent about this. You can see who myself and my partners, Justin Greene & Derek Zimmer, are. You can see that we’re not connected to any Intelligence Agencies or Copyright bodies. You can also view the kinds of political speech we engage in. We’re vehemently anti-spying and anti-PRISM.”

“US VPNs can still be trusted because you can place a honeypot anywhere in the world when it comes to VPN services. The paranoia surrounding US-based VPNs simply is not thought through very well. The UK and Sweden both have similarly intrusive dragnet programs, and there seems to be little concern for VPN services out of those nations. Furthermore, you can save all the packets you want, unless the VPN itself is compromised it isn’t going to matter.”

Conclusion

The conclusion brings us right back to the start of this article. No VPN provider can guarantee that any type of encryption is 100% secure. Hopefully the above has given people some pointers on what to avoid, and what the more secure alternatives are.

But even if people pick the strongest encryption possible, one still has to trust VPN providers to keep his or her data safe, regardless of where the company is located.

Source: How NSA-Proof Are VPN Providers?

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Urges Sweden to Stop His Extradition (Updated)

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

gottfridLast month Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm had his hacking sentence reduced from two to one year in prison.

The Court of Appeal upheld the guilty verdict in the hacking of IT company Logica, but overturned the guilty verdict handed down in respect of the breach at the Nordea bank.

Following the new verdict Gottfrid is set to be released early next year. However, since he is wanted in Denmark in a separate hacking case the Swedish authorities are planning to extradite the 29-year old next week.

In Denmark, Gottfrid is accused of hacking into the mainframe of IT company CSC and downloading a large number of files, including police records. The Danes successfully requested Gottfrid’s extradition earlier this year when they described the CSC hack as similar to the Nordea one in Sweden.

Gottfrid previously asked the Danish authorities to drop his case. He apologized that his computer was used for the CSC hack, but stressed that this was not his wrongdoing. Thus far this request has been without result and in a final attempt to stop his pending extradition the Pirate Bay founder has now turned to the Swedish Government.

In an open letter he points out that two crucial issues have to be addressed before the extradition can take place.

Firstly, Gottfrid notes that the arrest warrant he received was incomplete. It didn’t include a detailed description of the circumstances of the alleged crime, its location or the nature of his involvement. In addition, he didn’t have the opportunity to read the attachments that were referenced in the warrant, which were in Danish.

The second issue is the question of whether the Danish case is similar to the one Gottfrid has been tried for in Sweden already. The appeals court previously cleared Gottfrid of the Nordea hacking charges and because of the similarity between the cases he believes this should also apply to the Danish charges.

“It was found that my computer could have been controlled remotely, and that it had acted as a ‘computer lab’/ server, accessible to a wider audience. I could therefore not be held responsible for what was found on it. Liability was thus tried in Sweden for something that very closely matches what Denmark wants to hold me responsible for,” Gottfrid writes.

“It must be investigated whether this act should be considered ‘the same offense’ or not,” he adds.

The Pirate Bay founder urges the Swedish Government to keep him in Sweden until these uncertainties have been resolved. If they proceed with the extradition it would be a violation of international law, he notes.

“Overall, I argue that an extradition, if it is executed before [these two issues] have been investigated further, would be contrary to international law and what is to be guaranteed by the European Convention of 4 November 1950 on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

Below is a translated copy of the open letter (Swedish original with references).

This Friday the Swedish sentence against Gottfrid will be made final, and if the defense does not appeal, he will be extradited within five days.

Update: A few minutes after we published this article the news broke that Gottfrid will appeal his case at the Supreme Court in Sweden.

This means that the extradition is not going through next week. It’s likely to take months before the Supreme Court will decide on the matter, at which point Gottfrid will have served his sentence.

Re.: Possible upcoming Swedish crimes against international law and international agreements

I want to make the Swedish government aware that Sweden is about to violate Nordic, European and international agreements in that the Swedish authorities intend to surrender me to Denmark in accordance with a Nordic arrest order, issued in May 2013.

I would like to state the following :

(1) Formal errors were made in terms of the warrant form, of the information I have received on its contents as well as in terms of my rights to have this presented in the Swedish language:

I have not received any detailed description of whether the circumstances of the crimes I am suspected of in Denmark , the location of it or what my involvement in it could mean .

In the arrest warrant there are references to attachments that I have not had the opportunity to read. In a police interrogation , I could browse through a stack of paper that may possibly have been those attachments, but I do not know. They were also only in the Danish language.

(2) Before any extradition it must be determined whether an earlier indictment against me for hacking and fraud / attempted fraud against the Danish Nordea is considered as an indictment of the ‘same offense’ or not. Here are additional facts emerged since the warrant was issued :

I was cleared of suspicion as above by the Court of Appeals (Svea Hovrätt) on 25 September 2013. It was found that my computer could have been controlled remotely, and that it had acted as a ‘computer lab’/ server , accessible to a wider audience. I could therefore not be held responsible for what was found on it.

Liability was thus tried in Sweden for something that very closely matches what Denmark wants to hold me responsible for. It must be investigated whether this act should be considered ‘ the same offense’ or not.

The liability trial that the Court of Appeals has conducted also brings something that the Nordic governments have agreed about: “The system with a Nordic arrest is based on a high degree of trust between the Nordic States.” This trust should also apply to evidence trials and verdicts in each country.

Overall, I argue that an extradition, if it is executed before (1) and (2) have been investigated further, would be contrary to international law and what is to be guaranteed by the European Convention of 4 November 1950 on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms .

Häktet I Sollentuna
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg

Source: Pirate Bay Founder Urges Sweden to Stop His Extradition (Updated)

TorrentFreak: Spotify: Labels Thought We Were No Better Than The Pirate Bay

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

spotifyIn a world where all kinds of entertainment media is available for free download with a couple of clicks, we have been led to believe that competing with such a reality is not just hard, but virtually impossible.

So who could have imagined then that after its birth five years ago today (during the glory years of The Pirate Bay no less) Spotify would develop into a hugely successful consumer product that has not only proven popular with music lovers around the world, but with pirates past and present.

Against the odds, Spotify has gone beyond turning many dedicated file-sharers into revenue-generating customers, it has made them happy ones too.

Earlier this year Spotify revealed it had signed up 24 million users worldwide, 18 million to the ad-supported service and 6 million to a paid subscription. But as revealed by company founder Daniel Ek, even greater goals are being eyed.

“My goal is to not just convert the 24 million into buying a subscription,” Ek said. “My goal is to get 1 billion using streaming services rather than a piracy service.”

But during the early days in Spotify’s Swedish homeland, a problem persisted. By failing to respond to customer needs a content availability vacuum had formed, and it came as no surprise to Spotify’s Scandinavia CEO Jonathan Forster that sites like The Pirate Bay were thriving.

“It is a society that loves music and when the internet exploded it was no surprise that it took place in Sweden. In the absence of a legal service, people used whatever was available,” Forster told Metro today.

But despite a huge customer base in waiting and a dream of luring people away from unauthorized sources en masse, Spotify faced problems with the labels.

“When I started at Spotify and realized that we really had not even talked to any of the majors, I felt that this would be difficult,” Forster explains.

So Spotify embarked on a mission to convince the record companies that making their catalogs available on an ad-supported basis would be the way to go. However – and perhaps unsurprisingly given the track records of some of their countrymen before them – they were instead treated as if they were creating a piracy service of their own.

“[The labels] were very polite, but utterly amazed at what we wanted to do,” Forster recalls. “In their eyes we were just a bunch of Swedes who wanted to take their music and give it away for free. We were no different than the people behind the Pirate Bay for them.”

But Spotify refused to give in and two years later the company netted its first license agreements and is now promoted heavily by the labels. According to Rasmus Fleischer, former Piratbyran member and author of award-wining thesis “The music’s political economy,” some of Spotify’s success in Sweden can be attributed to the entertainment companies’ legal victories against The Pirate Bay and the streaming service’s reputation for stirring things up.

“On a symbolic level, it was incredibly significant,” Fleischer says. “The history of Spotify has been built in the Swedish press and media as a rebel company that has rebelled against an outdated recording industry.”

The art of rebellion against the entertainment industries was perfected by The Pirate Bay during the last decade and as a result the site made itself some dangerous rivals. But interestingly while the most powerful forces in the world have failed to take it down, it’s companies like Spotify that could end up becoming its most serious adversary yet.

That, however, will rely on the company maintaining its rebellious streak, positive image and excellent product at a fair price. It will be interesting to see if it can keep that up.

Source: Spotify: Labels Thought We Were No Better Than The Pirate Bay

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Asks Danish Authorities to Drop Hacking Case

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

anakataTwo weeks ago Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm had his hacking sentence reduced from two to one year in prison.

The Court of Appeal upheld the guilty verdict in the hacking of IT company Logica, but overturned the guilty verdict handed down in respect of the breach at the Nordea bank.

Following the new verdict Gottfrid will be a free man in just four months. However, soon after the appeal court decision authorities in Denmark announced that they would move forward with the Pirate Bay founder’s extradition for a separate hacking case.

In Denmark, Gottfrid is accused of downloading a large number of files, including police records, from the mainframe of IT company CSC. The Danes successfully requested Gottfrid’s extradition earlier this year when they described the CSC hack as similar to the Nordea one in Sweden.

Despite the similarities and Gottfrid’s acquittal on the Nordea hack, Denmark is continuing its case against the Pirate Bay founder, much to the surprise of his mother Kristina Svartholm.

“It would be remarkable if the Danes bring Gottfrid to court in spite of the Swedish judgment. It would mean, in principle, that one country after another could do this to him despite the acquittal,” Kristina informs TorrentFreak.

The decision to extradite Gottfrid was based on an treaty between the two Nordic countries, in which Sweden trusts the Danish legal system and vice versa. However, in an open letter to the Danish Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior, Gottfrid doubts that this is still the case.

In the letter he further apologizes that his computer was used for the CSC hack, but stresses that this was not his wrongdoing.

“It was positioned as a ‘lab computer’/server available to other people, both physically and through the Internet. This has been confirmed by the Swedish Svea Court of Appeal in the judgment delivered on 25 September,” Gottfrid writes.

“The Court of Appeal also notes that the computer’s firewall has been configured in such a way that the computer’s integrity could no longer be guaranteed and the remote control could be done in a number of ways,” he adds.

Gottfrid says that he can’t be held responsible for what the police found on his computer. To avoid wasting time and resources, he believes that the Danish prosecution should drop the case.

“I wish to emphasize my view that there must be a huge waste of resources – both monetary and human – to continue to pursue the case against me in Denmark after this judgment. It seems as if the Danish police and the Danish prosecution service does not trust the Swedish courts,” Gottfrid writes.

Thus far there is no sign that the Swedish appeal verdict will change the position of the Danish prosecution, and whether Gottfrid’s plea will have any effect remains to be seen. A full copy of the open letter is available below.

Dear Morten Bødskov / Margarethe Vestager,

I am sincerely sorry that my computer has been used in a way that caused injury in Denmark. Of course, this has not been the intention of it. It was positioned as a ‘lab computer’/server available to other people , both physically and through the Internet.

This has been confirmed by the Swedish Svea Court of Appeal in the judgment delivered on 25 September. The Court of Appeal also notes that computer’s firewall has been configured in such a way that the computer’s integrity could no longer be guaranteed and the remote control could be done in a number of ways. Hereby, I can not be held responsible for what has have been found on the computer.

I want to emphasize that I have no connection whatsoever to Denmark. Previously, Danish police in interrogation with me claimed that the Danish CSC-hack was similar to the Nordea infringement that I was charged of. With the ruling by the Svea Court of Appeals, I am completely cleared of suspicions of the Nordea intrusion.

Finally, I wish to emphasize my view that there must be a huge waste of resources – both monetary and human – to continue to pursue the case against me in Denmark after this judgment. It seems as if the Danish police and the Danish prosecution service does not trust the Swedish courts. I would be grateful if the Minister could point this out to those affected and would once again regret that my computer was misused in this way.

Sincerely
Gottfrid Svartholm Warg

Source: Pirate Bay Founder Asks Danish Authorities to Drop Hacking Case

TorrentFreak: Censorship Busters: The Challenges of Running a Pirate Bay Proxy

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

In many countries across Europe users visiting many of the world’s leading torrent sites are greeted with messages informing them that the domain is no longer available.

These court-ordered blockades requested by the music and movie industries are becoming widespread, but even more common are tools to circumvent them.

One of the most straightforward and popular ways to unblock a site is by using a reverse proxy. There are dozens of them online and they are as easy to use as a regular website. So what makes these sites tick and what motivates their operators to keep them online?

TorrentFreak caught up with dhxr, an operator of PirateReverse.info, one of the largest torrent site proxies.

Censorship – necessary evil or something to be fought against?

censorwiki“Personally I am against censorship at all levels bar extremities. Essentially there should be no censorship of the internet except for content such as child pornography. These views extend to mediums such as books and other publications,” dhxr explains.

“In the UK the IWF maintains a list of such content that has been blocked for a number of years – but as with every other instance this can be abused and used to block content on political or copyright grounds.”

Dhxr notes that in some cases censorship is acceptable, at work for example when you’re there to a job and not sit around on Facebook all day. But when we get home and are paying for what is now becoming a limited service, things change.

“One might say the definition of being able to access the internet is having the ability to at least connect to all 4,294,967,296 IPv4 addresses and 3.4*10^38 IPv6 addresses if your ISP provides IPv6,” he says.

As each week goes on, however, it’s clear that’s not what we’re getting.

What motivates to create and keep anti-circumvention tools online?

dollar-money“For me, it was the realization that censorship of this level is wrong and cannot be tolerated. Why should we have some corporate interests govern what we can and cannot see?

“Unfortunately that is the way it is going – because fundamentally it is all about money, despite the many studies that claim blocking sites has little to no effect on record label and film company profits.

“I think most people who run proxy sites also share this realization and wish to help the effort. There can never be too many proxy sites,” dhxr observes.

Why are proxies and reverse proxies so important?

“Proxy sites are important because they are the easiest to use. There is no setting anything up for the user, just type in a URL and see the site you’re used to seeing. Their place in online society has only been formed out of necessity. If no torrent sites were blocked, then little to no torrent site proxies would exist. As it happens, with censorship rife in many countries, the need for accessible proxy sites is ever increasing, and with the more sites being blocked around the world, demand will continue to increase,” dhxr predicts.

Reverse proxies – how do they work?

“The term ‘reverse proxy’ relates to how the servers are configured. Typically a ‘forward proxy’ takes requests from clients (such as a web browser), fetches the content, and sends it back,” dhxr explains.

“An example of this is Immunicity. By requesting and relaying the content from an unblocked server, it allows unrestricted access to specific resources. On the other hand, a ‘reverse proxy’ does the same but rather than being setup in a web browser as a proxy, it is setup as a website, so all the user needs to do is type in a URL and the server requests content from the original site, then sends it back to the user.”

Maintaining a reverse proxy

“Daily maintenance is slim, it consists of checking everything is working as intended. Most other system admin tasks are automated. We don’t log so this removes a large maintenance hurdle of rotating the logs and managing disk space. We cache responses in memory because it’s faster than writing to disk, which is an important part of the process because without it, the proxies would be slow,” dhxr reveals.

Overcoming challenges

“As part of our almost daily routine, I check TorrentFreak and see if blocks against any new sites have been announced. Typically I like to get the domains sorted as soon as the sites are mentioned as candidates to be blocked, then I can get to work proxying them and ensuring they work fine, well ahead of when the blocks are due to be implemented. This can sometimes be challenging because from a technical level every site is different,” dhxr notes.

Interestingly there is one particular site that causes more problems than most.

kickass“We don’t really know why, but Kickass’ servers compress all their content and you can’t ask for it uncompressed like most sites. This makes it very difficult, as many other proxy operators have experienced, to rewrite Kickass’ URLs so images and CSS load from an unblocked domain,” dhxr explains.

“At first we wrote a script that would manually ungzip content but it was slow and inefficient. Now, after much research and testing, we use Apache inbetween our web-facing servers and Kickass, which is configured to decompress content ready for the URLs to be rewritten so the site loads as the user would expect.”

Hardware – the thirst for more power

Initially PirateReverse used a small VPS server located inside the UK but that was soon moved to Sweden where it operated for several months. But due to an increase in demand, an upgrade was in order. Dhxr told us that two additional servers were obtained in Spain and the Isle of Man but a 16Gbps DDoS attack caused the site’s host to lose patience with the service.

“We took this opportunity to move onto our own dedicated hardware, which is what we’re still using today as it provides more than enough capacity which helps ensure our proxies are always fast regardless of how many people are using them. We currently have two web servers, each configured in parallel. There are other servers behind the scenes too that help keep everything running smoothly,” we were told.

PirateReverse are connected with the Immunicity unblocking service, so even more hardware is needed there.

servers“We have a few servers running the Immunicity website, the load balancer and configuration broker. Then we have two gateway servers, currently running in parallel.

“We have hardware pending installation, which when configured will replace the existing gateways. These new servers are more powerful and will keep Immunicity running for the foreseeable future at least, with 16GB RAM, 2TB HDD and 3.4GHz Intel Xeon E3 processors each,” dxhr reveals.

Looking to the future

Finally, what happens next month and next year? Dxhr says he’s not optimistic and fears for the health of the Internet.

“What was once thought to be open, has slowly started to become compromised by corporate interests. It is hard to predict specifically what will happen, but I think encryption will become a key element in what we do online in future,” he predicts.

“As for proxy sites, they can easily be blocked, and they are. Many of our domains for example are now blocked by UK ISPs. Whatever happens though, there will always be technical ways to circumvent censorship – success of these methods can often be down to the complexity, and the laws surrounding their use,” dxhr concludes.

Source: Censorship Busters: The Challenges of Running a Pirate Bay Proxy

TorrentFreak: Large Torrent Site to be Blocked by Russia’s SOPA

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

It’s been an interesting first month for Russia’s new anti-piracy plan.

After a tentative start with only a handful of rightsholders filing complaints, it quickly became clear that in order for the system to work effectively, movie and TV companies would have to be a little better organized.

Thursday last week it was revealed that out of a total of 19 submitted complaints just 11 had been accepted after administrative faults were found with the others.

In the coming months, in which the law will almost certainly be amended to protect other copyright works including music and lyrics, it is expected that copyright holders will become more adept at supplying the required paperwork.

But despite the early hiccups, the law is already showing its teeth.

According to the Roskomnadzor communications agency, a large file-sharing site will soon be censored by locals ISPs after failing to respond appropriately to copyright complaints.

rutor

Rutor.org, a public torrent site running its own tracker, operates out of Sweden but is targeted at Russia. According to Alexa the site is the 32nd most-visited site in Russia. Around 9% of the site’s traffic comes from Ukraine where it is the country’s 60th most-popular site.

Rutor stands accused of making available movie and TV show content without obtaining permission from rightsholders. Its domain will shortly be added to Russia’s national blocklist meaning that it will be rendered inaccessible to users of the Runet not running a proxy or VPN service.

Another site has seen its luck change. OpenSharing.org indexes primarily Russian content but actually operates out of neighboring Ukraine. It is less popular with Russians than Rutor and is the country’s 894th most-popular domain. After being marked for blocking last week, it has now complied and will be removed from the blocklist.

Other sites that face being blocked include torrent sites turbofilm.tv and fast-torrent.ru, plus streaming portals online.stepashka.com, seasonvar.ru, smotruonline.ru, intv.ru and kinozal.tv. Roskomnadzor reports today that four of the sites have complied and will be removed from the blacklist.

Under the new law blocks are carried out against a site’s IP address so there’s a possibility that unconnected domains could also be censored if they share the same IP. Rutor’s IP is not currently in use by any other site.

In a cruel twist, Rutor.org was one of the driving forces behind the successful 100K+ signature petition to have Russia’s anti-piracy law withdrawn. That petition will now be reviewed by the government.

Source: Large Torrent Site to be Blocked by Russia’s SOPA

TorrentFreak: Should Authorities Decrypt VPNs and Tor – or Ban Them Altogether?

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

encryptionIf the revelations of Edward Snowden have taught us anything, it’s that our activities online can hardly be considered private.

When we write private emails or fire off instant messages, someone somewhere has the ability to access their contents and, if necessary, act on what they’ve seen.

We’re told that this is a necessary evil, that our countries’ security depends on us giving up some of our freedoms, indeed some of our rights – including the right to privacy – in order to keep us all safe from the ill intentions of the world’s bogeymen.

But despite the assurances of our leaders, most of us simply don’t want to be spied on.

You almost certainly can’t tell, but this article was placed on TorrentFreak’s servers using an encrypted connection. There’s nothing illegal about this article or the way it was written and its author isn’t wanted for crimes anywhere and isn’t trying to cover any up. Encryption has simply become part of life and turning on a VPN here is now as natural as firing up a browser.

But with the perhaps needlessly over-cautious cast aside for a moment, there are those who really do need to stay encrypted for genuinely important reasons. For dissidents around the globe privacy can be a matter of life and death and for whistle-blowers the need to remain in the shadows is paramount, as the unfortunate cases of Manning and Snowden illustrate.

Sadly, and despite all the good carried out via encrypted communications such as Tor, there’s a bitter pill to swallow. There are criminals – serious criminals committing horrible crimes – that use these very same systems in order to hide their identities. What’s to be done about these individuals when their online activities are cloaked? Swedish police think they have the answer.

“We must have a law that allows us to get access to the encrypted services. We need to get a key to access the serious crime,” says Per-Åke Wecksell from the Cybercrime Section of the National Criminal Investigation Department.

Wecksell says gaining back-door access to encryption services is necessary to clamp down on the growing problem of child abuse. Those who engage in such activities are now acutely aware they’re targets for the police so they’re increasingly taking special steps to ensure they remain untraceable.

But of course, once police have the authority to decrypt encryption (and it’s currently extremely unclear how that could be achieved from a technical standpoint), the security of non-abusers using these systems take a massive hit too, through no fault of their own.

data“In the world outside the Internet, the police do not go to any lengths to try to chase criminals, for the simple reason that it would hurt other people. It’s the same online,” says Anna Troberg, chairman of the Pirate Party.

“For example, I have talked with a lot with human rights organizations that are totally dependent on having encrypted information to do their work with activists in other countries, that opportunity would surely be threatened if the police have the ability to decrypt things.”

Of course, it could be argued that restraints could be put on the police so that any new law states clearly that decryption could only take place in cases of suspected child abuse. However, during the crafting of any new legislation there would be calls by interested parties to throw other crimes into the mix – terrorism and issues of national security for instance.

A likely catch-all term of decryption for only “serious crimes” would then be wide open for manipulation by interested parties, meaning that while today abusers and terrorists would be hunted down, tomorrow’s targets would include whistleblowers traitors such as Edward Snowden and alleged copyright infringers master criminals such as Kim Dotcom.

Russia is currently grappling with the same issue, although they appear to be going down a different route. According to local news reports, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) has initiated a process which will see the introduction of laws that will not allow the decryption of Tor and other anonymous networks, but will ban them completely from the Russian controlled Internet.

The process was uncovered when a request to have Tor blocked on the grounds it is used by child abusers was sent to the FSB by the Bounty Hunters civil movement. But even the movement have their doubts about blocking. Their chief, Sergey Zhuk, told Russian media that he would prefer it if Tor operators were forced to work with the authorities instead.

So it appears we are left with three current approaches.

1 – The status quo where everyone keeps their privacy, serious criminals included.
2 – Trusting the police with the keys in the hope they only go after the really bad guys.
3 – Blocking anonymity tools altogether.

The battle now, to maintain a free and open Internet and the privacy rights of millions, is to find a way to weed out the bad guys without ruining it for everyone else. It might be the most complicated Internet task ever carried out, but someone is going to have to find a fourth option.

Source: Should Authorities Decrypt VPNs and Tor – or Ban Them Altogether?

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Turns 10 Years Old: The History

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

the pirate bayDuring the summer of 2003 The Pirate Bay was founded by Swedish pro-culture organization Piratbyrån.

Piratbyrån, which translates to Bureau of Piracy, was formed by political activists and hackers in the early 2000s, many of whom had already launched other web projects challenging political, moral and power structures.

The group’s members were all friends of friends and in common with The Pirate Bay, there was virtually no structure.

One of the group’s unwritten goals was to offer a counterweight to the propaganda being spread by local anti-piracy outfit Antpiratbyrån. With BitTorrent as the up-and-coming file-sharing technology, they saw it fit to start their own file-sharing site to promote sharing of information.

“At the time there was one big torrent site, which was called Suprnova, but they mainly had international content. We and Piratbyrån wanted more Swedish and Scandinavian content. So we started a big library, and that is The Pirate Bay,” Peter Sunde later recalled.

The site first came online in Mexico where Gottfrid Svartholm, aka Anakata, hosted the site on a server owned by the company he was working for at the time.

After a few months the site moved to Sweden where it was hosted on a Pentium III 1GHz laptop with 256MB RAM. This one machine, which belonged to Fredrik Neij (TiAMO), kept the site online and included a fully operational tracker.

The Pirate Bay server

tpb classic

It didn’t take long before more server power was needed to keep the site and tracker from collapsing due to a growing number of visitors.

By the end of 2004, a year after the site launched, the tracker was coordinating a million peers and over 60,000 torrent files. Around the same time the founders also noticed that it was not only Scandinavians developing an interest in their site.

In fact, by then 80% of their users came from other parts of the world. Because of increasing worldwide popularity The Pirate Bay team completely redesigned the site, which became available in several languages during July 2005.

The Pirate Bay before the redesign

tpb classic

Due to these changes, The Pirate Bay grew even faster, and the number of peers tracked by the site grew to 2,500,000 by the end of 2005.

In the meantime, Piratbyrån had distanced itself from the site as a group, but continued to share the Kopimi lifestyle throughout the world until 2007. The Pirate Bay sailed on independently and continued to be operated by an unorganized collection of individuals.

Pirate Bay’s increase in traffic didn’t go unnoticed by the entertainment industries. Copyright holders started to send out takedown notices, which were often mocked by the site’s founders. Eventually, however, The Pirate Bay got raided following pressure from Hollywood and the USA.

May 31, 2006, less than three years after The Pirate Bay was founded, 65 Swedish police officers entered a datacenter in Stockholm. The officers were tasked with shutting down the Pirate Bay’s servers.

Footage from The Pirate Bay raid

The site went down for three days, only to reappear at a new hosting facility. The site’s operators were not impressed and renamed the site “The Police Bay” complete with a new logo shooting cannon balls at Hollywood. A few days later this logo was replaced by a Phoenix, a reference to the site rising from its digital ashes.

The raid brought the site into the mainstream press, not least due to its amazing three-day resurrection. All this publicity resulted in a huge traffic spike for TPB, exactly the opposite effect Hollywood had hoped for.

Logos after the raid

tpb classic

Despite a criminal investigation into the site’s founders The Pirate Bay kept growing and growing. In early 2009, more than two years after the Swedish investigation was finalized, the three co-founders and businessman financier Carl Lundstrom went on trial.

April 2009 the four were found guilty of assisting copyright infringement. They were sentenced to one year in jail and fines totaling $3,620,000. During the appeal in 2010 the prison sentences were reduced, but the fines increased to more than $6.5 million. Thus far, two of the four have served their sentences.

The Pirate Bay’s assets, meanwhile, were transferred to the mysterious Seychelles-based company Reservella which continues to operate the site up until today.

Under new ownership several major technical changes occurred. In the fall of 2009 the infamous BitTorrent tracker was taken offline, turning The Pirate Bay into a torrent indexing site.

magnetEarly 2012 The Pirate Bay went even further when it decided to cease offering torrent files for well-seeded content. The site’s operators moved to magnet links instead, allowing them to save resources and making it easier for third-party sites to run proxies.

These proxies turned out to be much-needed, as The Pirate Bay is now the most broadly censored website on the Internet. In recent years ISPs in Denmark, Italy, UK, the Netherlands and elsewhere have been ordered by courts to block access to the BitTorrent site. Earlier this year The Pirate Bay estimated that at least 8% of their visitors are now accessing the site through proxies.

Late last year The Pirate Bay made another change to improve its resilience by switching their entire operation to the cloud. Serving its users from several cloud hosting providers scattered around the world saves costs, guarantees better uptime, and makes the site more portable and thus harder to take down.

The final change to the site’s operation came a few months ago. Fearing a domain seizure by the Swedish authorities, TPB took action again. After hearing the rumors The Pirate Bay quickly switched to a Greenland-based domain, later hopping to Iceland, and eventually landing .SX domains as other problems became apparent.

Despite numerous court cases, court-ordered blockades by ISPs and two full trials at the Stockholm Court, The Pirate Bay remains online. In fact, it is still one of the most-visited websites on the Internet and the number of users continues to grow.

As for the future, it is expected that the legal pressure will continue and increase. In recent years copyright holders have focused more on targeting the site’s hosting facilities, domain registrars and advertisers. Whether that will be good enough to bring the site to its knees remains to be seen.

Source: The Pirate Bay Turns 10 Years Old: The History

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party Reports IT Minister to the Police for Copyright Infringement

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

HattThe downloading of movies and TV shows is a daily topic of conversation online, as is the unauthorized distribution of music, games and software.

It is this type of copyright infringement that receives the most attention, largely due to the complaints made by the big corporations that produce and distribute this content. Their influence causes those in power around the world to sit up and listen, which often leads to a tightening of legislation.

Despite all the efforts, however, this year the world’s most infamous torrent site, The Pirate Bay, celebrates its ten-year anniversary. But while it carries on business as usual, Internet users are being subjected to increasingly tough copyright regimes, such as $150,000 fines for sharing a single song in the United States through to the increasing likelihood of arrest for those sharing more than personal-use levels of content in Sweden.

Sweden’s local Pirate Party has battled these developments for years and today, marking a decade of The Pirate Bay, they’ve demonstrated that copyright infringement is not restricted to the sharing of music and movies and that anyone – even those charged with running the country – can easily break the law at the click of a button.

The party has been doing some research on the online activities of Sweden’s IT Minister, Anna-Karin Hatt, and have discovered that the 40-year-old has not been 100% successful when it comes to absolute respect for copyright law.

Singling out Hatt’s Instagram account as an example, the party notes that the minister has posted copyrighted Calvin and Hobbes cartoons plus the artwork for several motion pictures including The Lord of the Rings, The Da Vinci Code, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Quick, send the police, it’s a non-commercial infringement of copyright

KATTCalvin

“When not even the Swedish IT Minister complies with copyright law online, one can hardly expect ordinary Internet users to feel compelled to follow such an outdated law,” says party legislative spokesperson Torbjörn Wester.

To underline their point that breaking copyright law is extremely simple these days, the Pirate Party have today reported Minister Hatt to the police, just as music and movie studios do when they find people infringing their copyrights. Wester doesn’t believe anything will come of the complaint.

“Resourceful companies and prominent politicians have not much to fear [when breaking copyright] while the police are chasing down file-sharing adolescents,” Wester says.

But of course, the Pirate Party do not want Hatt or indeed anyone else prosecuted for such a ridiculously small ‘crime’. They want to decriminalize all non-commercial sharing of “culture and knowledge”, so that citizens – Hatt included – can share a music file or indeed a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon online without fear of repercussions.

“The government and Parliament have made it impossible to live a modern life and be active on the Internet without being a criminal,” Wester concludes.

Source: Pirate Party Reports IT Minister to the Police for Copyright Infringement

TorrentFreak: A Tipping Point Against The Copyright Monopoly Regime Is A Lot Closer Than You Think

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

The key to changing the world’s copyright monopoly regime lies in Europe and the European Union. The reason for that is that the United States is completely dependent on a number of Industrial Protectionism (IP) schemes since the failure of its industrial capacity in the mid-1970s, having moved ahead from that failure with disguising lopsided rent-seeking schemes as “free trade agreements”. The first of these was the WTO, the body created to oversee the TRIPs agreement. There have been many more since. You cannot change the United States from within on these matters.

Externally, the United States puts significant unilateral pressure on any country that doesn’t submit to these agreements, up to and including trade sanctions. (You will not have a hard time finding a case where the United States has threatened a country with trade sanctions or visa problems for having a too lax copyright monopoly regime, for example – the U.S. even does this on a regular basis in something named the “Special 301 Report”.) That’s why Europe is key to change.

Europe has the world’s largest economy, slightly larger than that of the United States. (China is in third place.) For trade sanctions to be effective, they have to be directed against a smaller player. This is why the United States can have effective trade sanctions against Cuba, but not the other way around. Therefore, the United States cannot execute trade sanctions against Europe without getting hurt more itself.

However, the laws and enforcement of the copyright monopolies, patent monopolies and other protectionism schemes are at the national level in the European Union. That means that a state in Europe can change its laws significantly, and still enjoy the shield against trade sanctions that comes with being a member of the European Union. (The country may get some heat within the EU, but that’s not going to have any consequences if there is political momentum in the direction of the change. EU rules are routinely ignored when politically inconvenient.)

So Sweden could change its copyright monopoly laws and be free to ignore the rattling of American sabers, knowing safely that the threats cannot be put into effect. So could Poland or Germany, if there was political will. But Sweden is not a very interesting country in terms of political clout. It was just meant to be the proof of concept; the important first stage.

Remember: Sweden, Europe, and the world. In that order.

(As a side note, countries in Latin America also have a politically expedient climate for this change and the gradual dismantling of Industrial Protectionism schemes, but lack the necessary shield from an economic union, and even so, their combined economy is roughly half of that of the US or the EU – not enough on its own.)

On June 7, 2009, the proof of concept materialized as the Swedish Pirate Party took two out of Sweden’s twenty seats in the European Parliament. That sent shockwaves through the political establishment. I thought that this would be the signal for Pirate Parties to form in more countries, seeing that success was achievable; that was actually wrong. There were already Pirate Parties in some fifty different countries by that date. Things had moved much faster than I had anticipated.

To see why Europe is the next step, we need to understand the political dynamics of the Industrial Protectionism supporters (copyright monopoly and patent monopoly rooters). These schemes have essentially been forced onto Eastern Europe by the countries in the west of Europe – notably the UK, France, and Germany. But tides are changing. In the European Parliament, there is now an estimated one-half still in favor of monopolistic protectionism, one-third sceptical or against it, and one-sixth undecided. Shift that balance by more than a sixth, and the protectionist dismantlers will get political majority.

But there’s more than just the European Parliament. Europe is run in many different ways in parallel, and I mentioned the UK, France, and Germany. It is enough to win one of those three countries to tip the political majority in Europe toward the line of the countries in Eastern Europe: the political line exposing copyright monopolies and patent monopolies of today for lopsided rent-seeking schemes that are generally bad for everybody with the possible exception of the United States.

Let’s take a closer look at Germany. The Pirate Party there has enjoyed quite a bit of success, but has come tumbling back down to a more baseline level of support after failing to live up to extreme amounts of hype around the party. If it manages to get a kingmaker position in the German Parliament, it has the power to shift Germany’s stance completely on these matters (and the other parties would gladly give up such a peripheral issue – peripheral to them, anyway – in exchange for the Office of Chancellor).

To do this, the German Piratenpartei needs 5% in the elections on September 22 of this year. If that happens, and the kingmaker move succeeds, then there will be a majority in Europe against copyright monopolies and patent monopolies.

The German Piratenpartei is currently polling at 3%-4%.

Just another small nudge forward for the German Piratenpartei, and Germany is won. The instant Germany is won, Europe is won.

And the day that Europe decides that it is not going to honor protectionistic monopolies, then that’s just the way it is. The day the world’s largest economy (Europe) decides that copyright monopolies are bullshit, they will practically cease to exist overnight elsewhere, too. The same goes for any gradual dismantling.

In other words, we are ridiculously close to a tipping point which will end this destructive war on information, knowledge, and culture. We are ridiculously close to a tipping point which will start dismantling the atrocious copyright and patent monopolies, worldwide. Specifically, we are about 1.5% of political support in Germany away from that tipping point.

The plan was to win Sweden, Europe, and the world. In that order. And it’s executing brilliantly.

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: A Tipping Point Against The Copyright Monopoly Regime Is A Lot Closer Than You Think

TorrentFreak: How The Copyright Industry Pushed For Internet Surveillance

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

cameraspyThere are many different forces pushing us toward a Big Brother dystopia.

There are those who profit off of selling surveillance equipment (obviously), there are various religious nutcases who insist that they have the perfect way of life for everybody else, there are politicians who try to prey votes off of fear. But one overlooked major player driving us towards a Big Brother society is the copyright industry.

The reason for the copyright industry to push for surveillance is simple: any digital communications channel can be used for private conversation, but it can also be used to share culture and knowledge that is under copyright monopoly. In order to tell which communications is which, you must sort all of it – and to do that, you must look at all of it.

In other words, if enforcing the copyright monopoly is your priority, you need to kill privacy, and specifically anonymity and secrecy of correspondence. This is exactly what the copyright industry has been doing quite consistently. I’m not going to let this stay at a philosophical level – instead, let’s see what tangible changes they pushed for hard in Sweden to enable persecution of people who share knowledge and culture outside of their monopolies. I’m going to focus on two changes.

In order to be able to sue single parents for their houses and life savings, they needed the ability to tie an IP address and a timestamp to a subscriber. In other words, they had to establish historic trackability of everybody’s actions online, and they needed direct access to that surveillance data. These two developments by themselves were unthinkable a decade ago, but it is the combination of them that mixes the real poison into society’s fabric.

If the copyright industry “only” received rights that went further than those of the Police in requesting IP logs from Internet Service Providers, the ISPs would have responded by refusing to keep any logs at all. If the ISPs were forced to keep logs by law, thus switching this kind of privacy intrusion from “absolutely forbidden” to “mandatory”, those logs would have been kept strictly for law enforcement. So it was the combination of the two – forcing ISPs to keep logs of everybody’s subscriber identity, and getting rights by law to access those logs – that was the key to suing the houses off single parents.

This was also exactly what they got in Sweden. Through an atrocious over-implementation of the EU IPRED directive, which was in itself shameless mail-order legislation from the record industry, the copyright industry got access to the subscriber logs. (It is notable that these rights to violate privacy are stronger than what the Police had.) You can even see this demand on a checklist of demands given to Sweden’s government from the International IP Association via the US Embassy. They also got their Data Retention Directive that specifically requires logging of subscriber identities online – Thomas Bodström, one of the architects behind the EU directive, was heavily in bed with the copyright industry.

There were many snags on the way to this point that were even more revealing. For example, it was proposed in Sweden that the records stored in accordance with the Data Retention Directive should be explicitly excepted from availability in accordance with IPRED. At that point, the copyright industry in Sweden went ballistic and threw tantrums all over the media. It left little to chance, or to the imagination, for that matter: it was obvious what they wanted. They wanted trackability of everybody online. And they got it, thanks to the clueless digital illiterates we have that call themselves politicians.

The copyright industry drives a Big Brother society in order to force everybody to care for their obsolete business. I certainly don’t, and I certainly won’t. I think the idea is repulsive. But at the end of the day, it’s not really the copyright industry who is at fault for making obscene demands. They’re just spectacularly failed entrepreneurs. The real blame here lies with the politicians who blindly accept the obscene demands.

With regards to the net and its liberties, today’s politicians keep behaving like drunken blindfolded elephants trumpeting about in a porcelain factory. It remains up to us to educate or replace them, and above all, making clear to them that these are their two options.

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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Source: How The Copyright Industry Pushed For Internet Surveillance