Posts tagged ‘sweden’

TorrentFreak: Universal: Smart Pirate Site Owners Get Round Restrictions

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

per-sundinFor many years Sweden was one of the most prominent battlegrounds in the global file-sharing wars, playing host to dozens of unlicensed sites including the notorious Pirate Bay. As a result, Universal Music Sweden MD Per Sundin knows a thing or two about piracy.

A key figure in the now-famous prosecution of The Pirate Bay, Sundin was one of the site’s harshest critics and one of many desperate to bring both the platform and its operators to their knees.

But despite a herculean effort from Sundin and others, The Pirate Bay not only lived through a trial and subsequent appeals, it outlived even its own founders who each served prison sentences for their crimes. Today the site may not quite hold the status it once did, but it’s certainly a major player in the file-sharing ecosystem.

If Sundin remains bothered by the Pirate Bay’s resilience he isn’t letting it show, but it’s clear that he’s picked up plenty of experience along the way. In an interview with MBW, Sundin suggests that no matter what obstacles are put in file-sharing’s way, pirates will always adapt.

“We will see piracy in the future,” Sundin says.

“The pirate site owners will get smarter and find ways around [restrictions]. If we close down one, another will pop up. That’s a fact of life.”

This admission from Sundin is not the usual thing one hears from high-powered music executives, especially those so close to the powerful anti-piracy forces of IFPI. However, Sundin is part of a revitalized local music market that projects Sweden’s success story onto the world stage, despite massive historical piracy.

According to figures from IFPI, the Swedish music revenues bounced from a low of US$144.8 million in 2008 to US$194.2 million in 2013. During the same period, digital music revenues increased from just 8% to a huge 70%, with subscription services accounting for 94% of the digital market.

“[In] 2009, we had The Pirate Bay trial and verdict; we had the [anti-piracy] enforcement directive implemented; and we had Spotify, which launched in October 2008. It was the perfect storm,” Sundin explains.

“Thanks to that – especially Spotify, I would say – we were taken out of the dark times. We went from bad boys to something much better.”

Despite Sundin’s comments concerning the difficulty of permanently blocking or shutting down sites, he remains optimistic about confronting piracy. However, rather than relying entirely on the stick, the industry veteran now openly acknowledges that beating the pirates at their own game is a better option.

“We have to help legal services, Spotify and others, be better,” Sundin says.

Interestingly – and this has been a talking point in recent weeks – Sundin also expresses concern surrounding the prevalence of ‘exclusives’ on legitimate services, such as those recently negotiated with Apple by Black Eyed Peas and Dr Dre.

“I think the exclusivity thing is dangerous – that’s my personal opinion. Hopefully we won’t see it so much,” Sundin says.

The Universal man’s thoughts are shared by Mark Dennis, Managing Director of Sony Music Sweden.

“We have to learn from what’s happened in the past: when people haven’t been able to consume music in the way they want, they turn to piracy. We’re just not learning!”

If piracy is to be kept under control long-term then such lessons will have to be learned, but whether the message will take a long or short time to sink in is another matter. History suggests later rather than sooner, but attitudes are changing.

Nevertheless, with appetites whetted, millions of people are now eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s super-advanced version of Spotify and other services that simply haven’t been envisioned yet. But whatever arrives, innovation is definitely the key, and one gets the impression that the Swedes really get that.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Released From Jail But Immediately Re-Arrested

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

Back in June after a highly technical court hearing, a jury at the Appeal Court in Denmark again found Gottfrid Svartholm guilty of hacking IT company CSC.

The ruling meant that the Pirate Bay founder had no further avenues for appeal, despite continuing to protest his innocence.

However, due to how the appeals process played out, Gottfrid’s jail sentence was close to completion anyway, meaning that the Swede would be up for parole middle to late August.

Yesterday morning and after several long years Gottfrid completed his Danish prison sentence, but freedom didn’t await the Pirate Bay founder. Rather than leaving Denmark a free man, Gottfrid was immediately re-arrested by the police. The disappointment wasn’t entirely unexpected, however.

In June, Gottfrid’s mother, Kristina Svartholm, informed TorrentFreak that the Swedish Prison and Probation service had requested an arrest warrant for her son. The problem was that when Swedish authorities sent Gottfrid to Denmark after serving his earlier sentence, he hadn’t actually completed his sentence back home. Four weeks remained.

“[This was] never communicated properly to Gottfrid, neither from Sweden nor Denmark. We found out about it on our own,” Kristina informs TF.

Making matters worse, Gottfrid was only advised 48 hours before his supposed release date this week that in fact he’d remain in custody.

“Tuesday this week, two days before his release date (which was officially communicated to him only some two weeks ago) Gottfrid was informed that the Danish prosecutor had decided that he should be handed over because of the warrant,” Kristina informs TF.

Always a fighter, Gottfrid is in a Danish court this morning appealing his arrest and the decision to send him to Sweden, but news of the outcome has yet to reach Kristina. Swedish authorities previously filed a request for the remaining sentence to be served in Denmark but that was refused by the Danes.

If successful this morning Gottfrid might be able to serve the sentence in a Danish prison. Should the appeal fail, Gottfrid will be extradited back to Sweden where he is expected to serve around a month before being released.

What happens after his ultimate release will be up to Gottfrid, but he certainly won’t be returning to Denmark. The Pirate Bay founder is banned from the country for life, something that presents travel difficulties for a Scandinavian looking to visit countries elsewhere in Europe by land.

Nevetheless, plenty of other options remain open, including ones that simply require a screen and an Internet connection.

“What Gottfrid wants to do now, more than anything else, is to get back to his developmental work within IT (graphics etc),” Kristina previously told TF.

“And, of course, first of all: to sit by a keyboard again after nearly three years away from one.”

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

Schneier on Security: Schneier Speaking Schedule

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

I’m speaking at an Infoedge event at Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas, at 5 PM on August 5, 2015.

I’m speaking at DefCon 23 on Friday, August 7, 2015.

I’m speaking — remotely via Skype — at LinuxCon in Seattle on August 18, 2015.

I’m speaking at CloudSec in Singapore on August 25, 2015.

I’m speaking at MindTheSec in São Paulo, Brazil on August 27, 2015.

I’m speaking on the future of privacy at a public seminar sponsored by the Institute for Future Studies, in Stockholm, Sweden on September 21, 2015.

I’m speaking at Next Generation Threats 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden on September 22, 2015.

I’m speaking at Next Generation Threats 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden on September 23, 2015.

I’m speaking at Free and Safe in Cyberspace in Brussels on September 24, 2015.

I’ll be on a panel at Privacy. Security. Risk. 2015 in Las Vegas on September 30, 2015.

I’m speaking at the Privacy + Security Forum, October 21-23, 2015 at The Marvin Center in Washington, DC.

I’m speaking at the Boston Book Festival on October 24, 2015.

I’m speaking at the 4th Annual Cloud Security Congress EMEA in Berlin on November 17, 2015.

TorrentFreak: Sweden’s Largest Streaming Site Will Close After Raid

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

swefilmlogoWhile millions associate Sweden with BitTorrent through its connections with The Pirate Bay, over the past several years the public has increasingly been obtaining its content in other ways.

Thanks to cheap bandwidth and an appetite for instant gratification, so-called streaming portals have grown in popularity, with movies and TV shows just a couple of clicks away in convenient Netflix-style interfaces.

Founded in 2011, Swefilmer is currently Sweden’s most popular streaming movie and TV show site. Research last year from Media Vision claimed that 25% of all web TV viewing in the country was carried out on Swefilmer and another similar site, Dreamfilm.

According to Alexa the site is currently the country’s 100th most popular domain, but in the next three days it will shut down for good.

swefilmer

The revelation comes from the site’s admin, who has just been revealed as local man Ola Johansson. He says that a surprise and unwelcome visit made it clear that he could not continue.

In a YouTube video posted yesterday, Johansson reports that earlier this month he was raided by the police who seized various items of computer equipment and placed him under arrest.

“It’s been a tough month to say the least. On 8 July, I received a search by the police at home. I lost a computer, mobile phone and other things,” Johansson says.

While most suspects in similar cases are released after a few hours or perhaps overnight, Johansson says he was subjected to an extended detention.

ola“I got to sit in jail for 90 hours. When I came out on Monday [after being raided on Wednesday] the site had been down since Friday,” he explains.

The Swede said he noticed something was amiss at the beginning of July when he began experiencing problems with the Russian server that was used to host the site’s videos.

“It started when all things from OK.ru disappeared. That’s the service where we have uploaded all the videos,” Johansson says.

While the site remains online for now, the Swede says that this Friday Swefilmer will close down for good. The closure will mark the end of an era but since he is now facing a criminal prosecution that’s likely to conclude in a high-profile trial, Johansson has little choice but to pull the plug.

The site’s considerable userbase will be disappointed with the outcome but there are others that are welcoming the crackdown.

“We are not an anonymous Hollywood studio,” said local director Anders Nilsson in response to the news.

“We are a group of film makers and we will not give up when someone spits in our faces by stealing our movies and putting them on criminal sites to share them in the free world. It is just as insulting as if someone had stolen the purely physical property.”

Aside from creating a gap in the unauthorized streaming market, the forthcoming closure of Swefilmer will have repercussions in the courtroom too, particularly concerning an important legal process currently playing out in Sweden.

Last November, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit in the Stockholm District Court against local ISP Bredbandsbolaget (The Broadband Company). It demands that the ISP blocks subscriber access to The Pirate Bay and also Swefilmer.

Even after negotiation Bredbandsbolaget refused to comply, so the parties will now meet in an October hearing to determine the future of website blocking in Sweden.

It is believed that the plaintiffs in the case were keen to tackle a torrent site and a streaming site in the same process but whether Swefilmer will now be replaced by another site is currently unknown. If it does, Dreamfilm could be the most likely candidate.

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

TorrentFreak: Massive Piracy Case Ends in Disappointment for Hollywood

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

warezAfter tracking down hundreds of Internet pirates over the years, a case that came to a head at the turn of the decade was shaping up to be one of the most important for anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance).

More often focused on lower-hanging fruit, Antipiratbyrån had their eyes on the “warez scene”, the people and infrastructure at the very top of the so-called “piracy pyramid” from where content trickles down to the masses.

In 2010 and following a lengthy investigation by Antipiratbyrån, police raided a topsite known as ‘Devil’. Topsites are top-secret, high-speed servers used by piracy release groups and their affiliates for storing and distributing unauthorized copyrighted content. When Devil went down dozens of servers were seized, together containing an estimated 250 terabytes of pirate content.

One man was also arrested but it took until 2014 for him to be charged with unlawfully making content available “intentionally or by gross negligence.”

According to police the 50-something year old man from Väsby, Sweden, acted “in consultation or in concert with other persons, supplied, installed, programmed, maintained, funded and otherwise administered and managed” the Devil file-sharing network. Before its shutdown, Devil was reported to service around 200 elite members.

Considering Antipiratbyrån’s links with the movie industry it came as no surprise that the charges included the unlawful making available of 2,250 mainly Hollywood movies. According to the prosecutor, those numbers made the case a record breaker.

“We have not prosecuted for this many movies in the past. There are many movies and large data set,” prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad commented earlier. “It is also the largest analysis of computers ever made in an individual case.”

devil-top

Given the scale of the case it was expected that punishments would be equally harsh but things did not play out that way.

Despite admitting that he operated servers at his home and in central Stockholm and the court acknowledging that rightsholders had suffered great damage, the man has just been sentenced to probation and 160 hours of community service.

According to Mitti.se, two key elements appear to have kept the man’s punishment down. Firstly, he cooperated with police in the investigation. Secondly – and this is a feature in many file-sharing prosecutions – the case simply dragged on for too long.

“It is worrying that the bottleneck at the police has affected the sentence,” says Sara Lindbäck of Rights Alliance.

Defense lawyer Henrik Olsson Lilja says that he’s pleased his client has avoided jail but adds that no decision has yet been made on any appeal. That being said, an end to the criminal case doesn’t necessarily mean the matter is completely over.

Last year Rights Alliance indicated that the six main studios behind the prosecution might initiate a civil action against the man and demand between $673,400 and $2.69m per title infringed, albeit on a smaller sample-sized selection of the 2,250 movies involved in the case.

No announcement has been made on that front and Rights Alliance did not respond to our requests for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founders Acquitted in Criminal Copyright Case

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

tpb-logoThere can be little doubt that The Pirate Bay is the most infamous torrent site of all time. Its attitude towards copyright and related laws has landed the site and its operators in endless legal trouble for more than a decade, conflict that continues today.

Following the convictions of The Pirate Bay Four – co-founders Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij, former site spokesman Peter Sunde, and site financier Carl Lundström – most legal matters involving the site have been connected to local ISP blocking injunctions. Nevertheless, a separate legal process against the men themselves has persisted in Belgium.

Unusually, the case was based in criminal law, with Svartholm, Neij, Sunde and Lundström all standing accused of a range of crimes including criminal copyright infringement and abuse of electronic communications. However, the case itself has always experienced problems.

All four defendants deny having had anything to do with the site since its reported sale to a Seychelles-based company called Reservella in 2006. That has proven problematic, since the period in which the four allegedly committed the crimes detailed in the Belgian case spans September 2011 and November 2013.

Having failed to connect the quartet with the site’s operations during that period, the case has now fallen apart. Yesterday a judge at the Mechelse Court ruled that it could not be proven that the four were involved in the site during the period in question.

Indeed, for at least a year of that period, Svartholm was in jail in Sweden while connecting Lundström to the site a decade after his last involvement (which was purely financial) has always been somewhat ridiculous.

In the end, even the site’s anti-piracy adversaries in the case agreed with the decision.

“Technically speaking, we agree with the court,” said Olivier Maeterlinck, director of the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA).

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Damages Debt Doubles, No One Pays a Penny

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

moneybannedFollowing their convictions for copyright infringement, Pirate Bay co-founders Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij, former site spokesman Peter Sunde, and site financier Carl Lundström owed considerable amounts in damages.

After the 2008 appeal which resulted in reduced jail time but increased financial penalties, collectively the quartet owed 46 million kronor ($5.4m) to the movie and record company plaintiffs in the case. That amount has been accruing interest since the original shutdown of The Pirate Bay in May 2006.

By February 2012 the total owed had reached 73 million kronor. Now, more than nine years after the now-infamous raid, it stands at 86 million kronor, or $10 million. Very soon the amount will be double the original damages award.

While all have now completed their custodial sentences (Svartholm technically has a few extra weeks), neither has paid back a single penny of the money owed. This hardly comes as a surprise. While Svartholm and Neij have been less vocal, on a number of occasions Peter Sunde has made it clear that the money will never be repaid.

lundstromNow, thanks to a visit to his home in Switzerland by Swedish newspaper Expressen, Carl Lundström has broken his silence. The former multi-millionaire lives with his family in the town of Wetzikon located a few miles outside Zurich and he told the publication he enjoys his life there.

“I have it good in Switzerland,” Lundström said.

One of the reasons why the 55-year-old has avoided paying his debts is that in 2012 he filed for personal bankruptcy. A year later he was declared bankrupt in Switzerland, despite allegations that the businessman had previously transferred all of his assets to his wife Bettina.

With the Motion Picture Association still keen to retrieve its cash, in 2013 the group admitted it was keeping a close eye on Lundström. But thus far it appears that effort is yet to bear fruit, with the Swede seemingly quite aware of his delicate situation.

Speaking on the doorstep of a several hundred square meter villa, Lundström – who made a small fortune in the 80s when the family crispbread business was sold for around 77 million kronor ($9m) – explained a little about his homing situation.

“It is my wife who rents two floors in this house. I’m just living here,” he explained.

And it appears that others around Lundström have also been make preparations to keep money away from copyright holders in the music and movie industries.

According to Expressen, Lundström’s mother Gwen Lundström recently passed away and in her Last Will and Testament she made it clear that any assets should transfer to her grandchildren. Additionally, specific clauses made it clear that any assets were not be used to pay legal debts.

Ultimately, however, Lundström refused to discuss his massive debts back in Sweden, smiling and answering a simple “No” when asked if he missed the country.

In a few months, the bailiffs will again start investigating Lundström to see if he has any assets but it seems unlikely anything will be found. Back in Sweden, movie studio Yellow Bird moved to have both Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij declared bankrupt in 2012 and 2013 but there was little to nothing to take.

Whether copyright holders will ever get to see a penny of the millions owed is up for debate, but it’s safe to say that there is no appetite among the ‘Pirate Bay Four’ to run to Hollywood with bundles of cash.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Was Worth Doing Prison Time For, Co-Founder Says

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, one of The Pirate Bay’s co-founders, was released early last month after serving a 10-month prison sentence for his involvement with the site.

A few days ago Fredrik arrived back home in Laos, where he’s enjoying his family and an unlimited stock of beer to get his liver back on track.

TF had the chance to catch up with the Swede to see how prison life treated him and the answers we received may surprise some. While it’s never fun to be locked up, Fredrik says it was worth doing time for The Pirate Bay.

“Things were not too bad in prison,” Fredrik tells TF. “It was well worth doing prison time for The Pirate Bay, when you consider how much the site means to people,” Fredrik says.

The prisons in Sweden are nothing like those seen in Hollywood blockbusters. He had plenty of space and privacy and no bars on the door.

“Like most people I only knew about prisons from American movies. Now that I have some firsthand experience I am happy to say it’s quite different. Unlike the barred cages for two persons in the movies, here I have my own private room that’s 10 square meters, with a real door and no bars on the window.”

Fredrik compares his cell to a cabin on a cruise ship, but one with a shitty view. Instead of seeing beautiful coastlines and picturesque bays, he was looking at a prison wall with barbed wire on top, and agricultural fields in the distance.

The cell itself had a private toilet and shower as well as some space for personal items. There were two bulletin boards as well, one with photos of his kids and family and another one for all the fan mail he received.

Although the prison management denied him access to his classic 8-bit Nintendo console, there was plenty of entertainment around. The room came equipped with a Samsung smart TV and Fredrik was also allowed to have newer game consoles.

As a Sci-Fi addict, Fredrik was also happy that “some people” managed to smuggle digital content inside.

“I watched a lot of TV-series and movies on smuggled in USB sticks and MicroSD cards, which is a nice way to kill some time, watching Archer, Futurama, Firefly and other Sci-Fi,” Fredrik says.

On the music front Pirate Bay’s co-founder was thrown back two decades, spinning CDs in an ancient Discman. Music he actually had to pay for.

“Listening to music on a Discman gave me flashbacks to how life was before MP3s, with short battery-life and having to change CD to listen to different artists. Also it was probably the first legal music I bought this millennium.”

The lockup hours were between 7am and 7pm and inmates were allowed to put out their own lights, so games could be played all night. During weekdays Fredrik had to work for three hours as well, putting pieces of wood into a laser etching machine.

The best times of the week were without a doubt the visiting hours, especially when they overlapped with work. Talking to friends and family was a welcome distraction, either in person or on the phone, which Fredrik could have in his room a few times per week.

There were also a lot of people writing in. Not just with words of support, but also to keep him updated on news in the real world, including TF articles.

“To keep up to date with the outside world, friends and family sent me newspapers, magazines and printouts of online media such as TorrentFreak! I also spent a lot of time reading all news-clippings, books and tech- science- and computer magazines I received from fans.”

Fredrik was locked up in the medium security prison in Skänninge where he was the only convict doing time for a “virtual” crime.

“Most other guys were in for drug-related offenses, robberies, manslaughter, aggravated assault. No-one had ever heard of someone being placed at that prison for such a low severity, nonviolent, white-collar crime as ‘assisted copyright infringement,’ but I guess the MAFIAA get what they pay for,” he says.

Surprisingly enough, Fredrik could cope relatively well without 24/7 access to a keyboard and the Internet.

“I didn’t miss computers and the Internet as much as I would have expected. I mostly just missed having instant access to information like I am used to. Inside I used TEXT-TV and newscasts instead of web-sites,

“You only notice how dependent we are on the Internet when are forced off it and have to do things like it was the early 90s again,” Fredrik adds.

Looking ahead Fredrik is hoping to catch up life where he left off.

“It’s great to be back home with the kids. Family aside I was mostly looking forward to catching up on Doctor Who and Archer. And to put an end to my liver’s well deserved vacation with a large beer!”

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

lcamtuf's blog: Poland vs the United States: crime and punishment

This post was syndicated from: lcamtuf's blog and was written by: Michal Zalewski. Original post: at lcamtuf's blog

This is the tenth article in a short series about Poland, Europe, and the United States. To explore the entire series, start here.

Throughout much of its history, the United States has been a violent nation. From the famed lawlessness of the western frontier, to the brawling biker gangs, to the iconic Italian Mafia and the fearsome Mexican drug cartels, the thirst for blood has left a mark on the American psyche – and profoundly influenced many of the country’s most cherished works of literary and cinematic art.

But sooner or later, a line gets drawn. And so, when a tidal wave of violent crime swept the nation in the late 80s, the legislators and the executive branch felt obliged to act. Many wanted to send a message to the criminal underworld by going after it with relentless and uncompromising zeal – kicking off the multi-decade War on Drugs and rolling out policies such as the three strikes law in California or stop-and-frisk in New York City. Others saw the root of all evil in the pervasive gun culture of the United States – successfully outlawing the possession or carry of certain classes of firearms and establishing a nation-wide system of background checks.

And then, in the midst of these policy changes, something very interesting started to unfold: the crime rate plunged like a rock, dropping almost 50% over the course of twenty years. But why? Well, the funny thing is, nobody could really tell. The proponents of tough policing and the War on Drugs tooted their own horns; but less vindictive municipalities that adopted programs of community engagement and proactive policing heralded broadly comparable results. Gun control advocates claimed that getting assault rifles and handguns off the streets made a difference; gun rights activists found little or no crime gap between the gun-friendly and the gun-hostile states. Economists pointed out that people were living better, happier, and longer lives. Epidemiologists called out the elimination of lead – an insidious developmental neurotoxin – from paints and gasoline. Some scholars have gone as far as claiming that easy access to contraception and abortion caused fewer children to be born into multi-generational poverty and to choose the life of crime.

Europe certainly provided an interesting contrast; the old continent, having emerged from two unspeakably devastating and self-inflicted wars, celebrated its newly-found pacifist streak. Its modern-day penal systems reflected the philosophy of reconciliation – abolishing the death penalty and placing greater faith in community relationships, alternative sentencing, and the rehabilitation of criminals. A person who served a sentence was seen as having paid the dues: in Poland and many other European countries, his or hers prospective employers would be barred from inquiring about the criminal record, and the right to privacy would keep the indictments and court records from public view.

It’s hard to say if the European model worked better when it comes to combating villainy; in the UK, crime trends followed the US trajectory; in Sweden, they did the opposite. But the utilitarian aspect of the correctional system aside, the US approach certainly carries a heavy humanitarian toll: the country maintains a truly astronomical prison population, disproportionately comprised of ethnic minorities and the poor; recidivism rates are high and overcrowding borders on the inhumane. The continued incarceration of people sentenced for non-violent cannabis-related crimes flies in the face of changing social norms.

Untangling this mess is going to take time; most Americans seriously worry about crime and see it as a growing epidemic, even if their beliefs are not substantiated by government-published stats. Perhaps because of this, they favor tough policing; reports of potential prosecutorial oversight – such as the recent case of a tragic homicide in San Francisco – tend to provoke broader outrage than any comparable claims of overreach. Similarly, police brutality or prison rape are widely acknowledged and even joked about – but seen as something that only ever happens to the bad folks.

For the next article in the series, click here.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Still Wants to Clear His Name

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

Last week and after a technically complex hearing, a jury at the Appeal Court in Denmark again found Gottfrid Svartholm guilty of hacking IT company CSC. The Pirate Bay founder now has no further opportunity to officially protest his innocence.

Nevertheless, if all goes to plan and considering time served and his good behavior, Gottfrid could be up for parole middle to late August. But in cases involving the now-famous Swede, it will come as no surprise that there are complications.

Gottfrid’s mother, Kristina Svartholm, informs TorrentFreak that the Swedish Prison and Probation service has requested a Nordic warrant for her son. The reason for this is that Swedish authorities sent Gottfrid to Denmark a month before his previous sentence was due to expire in 2013. This means that when he is released from Denmark later this year, he could be sent straight back to prison in Sweden to serve a few more weeks.

But despite the setbacks, Gottfrid remains upbeat.

“What Gottfrid wants to do now, more than anything else, is to get back to his developmental work within IT (graphics etc),” Kristina told TF.

“And, of course, first of all: to sit by a keyboard again after nearly three years away from one.”

With those days potentially just a few months away (even when taking the Swedish situation into account) some might sit back and accept their fate. However, Gottfrid is still intent on shining light on what he believes was a sub-standard investigation in Denmark and a poor decision from the court when it denied his appeal.

According to Kristina, Gottfrid seriously questions the reports presented by the Danish police and is disappointed by their content, quality and lack of professionalism. “Clumsy amateurs” according to the Pirate Bay founder.

In respect of the verdict itself, Gottfrid insists that it contains many “errors, mistakes and misunderstandings”. There is even a suspicion that the judges decided on his guilt before the date of the verdict.

“The final speeches from the defense/the prosecutor respectively were made Monday June 15, 2015. The judges and jury met Tuesday for voting. The verdict was presented Wednesday morning. WHEN was this verdict written?” Gottfrid questions.

While the answer to that question may never be forthcoming, Gottfrid and Kristina remain determined to shine a light on the Danish investigation and what they both believe to be an extremely flawed legal process.

To that end and in conjunction with Gottfrid, Kristina has penned a 2200+ word document detailing what they believe to be the key points behind an unfair investigation, criminal trial, and subsequent appeal.

It covers plenty of topics, from the encrypted container found on Gottfrid’s computer to a chat log that became central to linking him to the case, despite it being highly edited by the authorities.

Also of interest are the details of discussions secretly recorded by the police that potentially place Gottfrid in the clear, but were still ignored by the Appeal Court.

The report can be downloaded here (RTF)

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Gottfrid Svartholm Loses Hacking Appeal

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

gottfridTwo years after being arrested in his Cambodian apartment in September 2012, Gottfrid Svartholm went on trial in Denmark.

The Pirate Bay founder and a 21-year-old co-defendant stood accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. It was billed as the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.

Right from the outset Gottfrid’s position was that his computer, from where the hacking had taken place, had been compromised by outside attackers. Respected security expert Jacob Appelbaum gave evidence for the defense in support of this theory. However, the court was not convinced.

Dismissing the “remote control” defense, Judge Ulla Otken described the hacking of CSC as both “systematic and comprehensive.” Three judges and four of six jurors returned guilty verdicts in 2014 and Gottfrid was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.

Never one to give up, Gottfrid immediately filed an appeal and this month his case came before the Eastern High Court. According to local media, whose coverage has been much less intense than when the Swede went on trial last year, the evidence presented by both sides was of a highly technical nature.

Writing earlier this week for Version2.dk, Elías Lundström reported that even as an IT journalist he had difficulty in following the evidence, a sentiment shared by Gottfrid’s mother.

“I also have trouble understanding it – how should any of the jurors be able to follow the evidence?” Kristina Svartholm said.

Gottfrid’s lawyer Luise Høj also underlined the difficulty in dealing fairly with such a complex case.

“I think overall that progress continues to be characterized by the fact that we all lack the technical knowledge to deal with this matter, and it characterizes the whole process,” she said.

Whether the complexity of the case affected the jury will be a matter for future debate, but a few moments ago all three judges and all nine jurors upheld the District Court’s decision handed down last October.

Addressing the “remote access” defense, the High Court ruling notes that it would be unlikely that Gottfrid’s computer could be accessed without him noticing it. Furthermore, the Court found it unusual that the Swede refused to assist police in getting to the bottom of the crime.

While the guilty verdict will undoubtedly come as a disappointment to Gottfrid himself, his mother Kristina – who has endured two court cases and numerous trips to Denmark in support of her son – has been openly critical of the entire process.

In a series of tweets this week she complained of how the case has been handled, from its roots in Cambodia, via Sweden and ultimately to Denmark.

Breaking news story, updates to follow

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

TorrentFreak: Study: Swedes View 280m ‘Pirate’ Movies & TV Shows Annually

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

pirate-cardAs the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay and the birthplace of some of the world’s most hardcore file-sharers, Sweden has definitely earned its place in the history books. If Swedes can be converted to legal offerings, just about anyone can, one might argue.

A new study just published by the Film and TV Industry Cooperation Committee (FTVS) in collaboration with research company Novus reveals some interesting trends on local media consumption habits.

Covering both legal and illegal services, the survey is based on 1,003 interviews carried out between Feb 27 and March 9 2015 among citizens aged 16 to 79-years-old.

Legal and illegal consumption

On the legal TV and movie consumption front, Sweden appears to be doing well. A decent 71% of respondents said they buy services such as Netflix and HBO, with a quarter using such services every day and 35% watching several times each week.

In comparison, 29% of all respondents admitted to using illegal services to watch film and television. Perhaps unsurprisingly the activity is most prevalent among the young, with 60% of 16 to 29-year-olds confessing to using pirate sites.

The survey found that around 280 million movies and TV shows are watched illegally in Sweden each year, with respondents indicating they would have paid for around a third of those if illegal services weren’t available.

With torrents extremely popular around Europe, it’s interesting to note that downloading of content is now taking second place to online streaming. The survey found that 19% of respondents stream content illegally, while 17% download. When users engage in both streaming and downloading, streaming is the more popular activity.

The study notes that dual users (those that use both legal and illegal services) watch every third movie or TV show illegally, an average of four films and seven TV shows every month.

Attitudes

The survey also polled respondents on their attitudes to piracy. Six out of ten respondents said they think that using ‘pirate’ sites to watch movies and TV shows is “wrong”. Four out of ten agreed, but previously used these services anyway.

On the thorny question of what to do about piracy, respondents were asked what they thought would be the best solution.

Somewhat conveniently for an anti-piracy focused report, 43% of respondents indicated that ISPs should play a part in reducing the numbers of user visiting illegal services, with 24% opting for site blocking measures and 19% suggesting a warning notice scheme.

However, when it comes to the heavy hand of the law, a minority of respondents show an interest. Just 10% believe that boosting law enforcement and judicial resources will solve the problem while a tiny 4% think that harsher punishments will bring results.

Commenting on the report, Per Strömbäck of FTVS says that the situation in Sweden is far from satisfactory.

“There is a common misconception that piracy is less of a problem today because we have a wide range of legal options. On the contrary, the problem of illegal services is greater than ever,” Strömbäck says.

“The situation is not sustainable. For us to be able to continue to produce, distribute and show films and TV audiences want to see and pay for, we need a functioning digital market and measures to stop the illegal competition.”

With site blocking firmly on the agenda in Sweden, entertainment industry groups will be pinning their hopes on success in the courts since there is clearly no appetite for punishing the public.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Co-Founder Fredrik Neij Released From Prison

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

pirate bayFredrik Neij, one of The Pirate Bay’s co-founders, was a key operator of the torrent site during its early years.

In 2012 Fredrik received a 10-month prison sentence for his involvement with the notorious site, which he initially avoided.

Last November he was eventually arrested by Thai immigration authorities and later transferred to a prison in Skänninge, Sweden.

Today, Fredrik’s jail term ended and a few hours ago he was released from prison. After serving two-thirds of his ten month prison sentence the 37-year-old was reunited with family and friends.

TF spoke with a family member who was kind enough to share some pictures of Fredrik enjoying his newly gained freedom. Based on the pictures below, he is doing quite well.

Fredrik is out, enjoying a beer
fredrikbeer

For a while it was uncertain whether Fredrik would be released today. The Swedish authorities questioned whether the time he spent in Thai custody should count towards his sentence, but this dispute was eventually resolved.

While Fredrik has been doing relatively well in prison, he clashed with the administration a few times. First, because he wasn’t allowed to print and again after a request to play games on an old Nintendo 8-bit console was denied.

In recent months the Pirate Bay co-founder was also accused of hacking and his continued involvement with The Pirate Bay, but these allegations haven’t been made official.

With his release Fredrik can put prison life behind him and focus on the future again. It is expected that he will return to his new home country of Laos, where he lives with his wife and kids.

Today’s release marks the end of a controversial chapter in The Pirate Bay’s history, as Carl Lundström, Gottfrid Svartholm, Peter Sunde and Fredrik have all served their sentences.

Fredrik enjoying his freedom
fredrikfree

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Appeals Domain Seizure Decision

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

tpbhydraxLast week a two year old case launched by the Swedish state concerning a pair of key Pirate Bay domains came to an end.

While the prosecution failed in its quest to hold the Swedish .SE registry responsible for infringements carried out by The Pirate Bay and its users, it did convince the Stockholm District Court to put ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se out of action.

Even though the domains were held in a third-party’s name, the Court found that Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij owned and operated them. On that basis they were ordered to be placed under the future control of the Swedish state, never to be used again.

“Fredrik Neij has participated in the [copyright infringement] crimes that have been identified and he is the actual holder of the domain names. It is therefore no obstacle to confiscate domain names from him,” the Court said.

The parties were given until June 9, 2015, to appeal but less than a week later we now know that The Pirate Bay’s most recognizable domains will remain operational for at least a little while longer.

Through his lawyer Jonas Nilsson, this morning Fredrik Neij confirmed that he will appeal the confiscation order handed down May 19 by the District Court. But while some might presume that getting the domains handed back is a key aim of Neij, that is not the case. He is actually more interested in challenging the Court’s reasoning.

“The district court makes an erroneous assessment of how to look at a domain name. We believe it is an address assignment, not an estate,” Nilsson says.

“The prosecution has alleged two things. One is that crimes have been committed via The Pirate Bay. Fredrik Neij really has no views on this. The second is that he is involved in The Pirate Bay operation.”

It was the assertion that the domains were controlled by Neij and used to infringe copyright that appeared to make it a straightforward decision for the Court to order their forfeiture. But for Neij, however, that has the potential to develop into a more serious matter.

In 2009 the Stockholm District Court banned Fredrik Neij and co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm from having anything to do with the site, even though both were living outside Sweden (even the EU) by that time. Nevertheless, the court attached a 500,000 kronor ($59,500) penalty to any breach.

With Neij set to be released from prison next week after serving his Pirate Bay sentence, one has to wonder if the District Court’s determination will negatively affect that in some way. As reported here in December 2014, a leaked MPAA email predicted continued trouble.

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

Either way, Neij has unfinished business in Sweden and with his history of moving to far-off lands to avoid justice, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the prosecution argued for his continued detention.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Moves to GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD Domains

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

tpb-logoThe Pirate Bay has long been associated with Sweden but soon the popular torrent site will stop using a Swedish domain name.

Earlier today the Stockholm District Court ordered the seizure of both thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes.

Potential appeals aside the domains in question will be handed over to the Swedish Government, but the ruling is unlikely to hamper Pirate Bay’s availability, quite the contrary.

The TPB team informs TF that they have already begun redirecting the .SE address, rotating it to six new domain names.

As of now, the notorious torrent site is available through new GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD domain names.

Pirate Bay homepage (.VG didn’t fit the hydra)
tpblogo

This means that all the effort that went into the lawsuit, as well as at least $40,000 in legal costs, have done very little to stop the site.

“Congratulations to Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad. Two years hard work to get us to change two little letters at a cost of $20,000 per letter,” the TPB team tells TF in a comment.

“He could have given us $35,000 and we would have left the domain, thus saving the Swedish tax payer $5,000. All he had to do was ask nicely,” they add.

With six new domains one can argue that The Pirate Bay has become even more resilient. There will undoubtedly be attempts to seize or suspend the new domains, but there are also plenty more domains TPB can register.

And so the Whack-a-Mole continues.

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

TorrentFreak: Key Pirate Bay Domains Must Be Seized, Court Rules

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

tpb-logoIn keeping with a global strategy to disrupt the operations of unauthorized file-sharing sites by attacking their infrastructure, Swedish authorities have been eying two domains operated by the notorious Pirate Bay.

In 2013, Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the operation that took the site down in December, filed a motion targeting ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative).

Filed against Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain, the case reasoned that since The Pirate Bay is an illegal operation, its domains are tools used by the site to infringe copyright. Noting that Punkt SE supplies and controls the domains and is therefore liable for their (mis)use, the domains should be dealt with in the same way that other criminal tools would be, Ingblad argued.

Punkt SE, on the other hand, took the position that holding a registry responsible for infringement has no basis in law. Furthermore, disabling domains is an ineffective way to deal with infringement.

After two years preparation the case was heard at the end of April 2015 and just a few minutes ago the decision was handed down.

After a week-long delay the Stockholm District Court ruled that The Pirate Bay will forfeit its Sweden-based domains – ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se.

For now, however, The Pirate Bay will continue business as usual. An insider informs TorrentFreak that the site has plenty of other domains in reserve and will make a switch when required.

Both the domain registry and prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad are preparing statements for TorrentFreak and this article will be continuously updated as soon as further details become available.

Breaking news story

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Helps Puts Sweden on the Map, Govt. Agency Says

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

tpb-logoAs countries fight for prominence on the international stage, being recognized among trading partners and the global general public is an important part of the battle.

For example, London imagery and the royal family are powerful overseas marketing tools for the UK while superstar movie and music icons ensure that United States branding is funneled into hundreds of millions of overseas homes every single day.

In Sweden the government has its own agency tasked with understanding overseas cultures and promoting Sweden and Swedish issues globally. Founded in 1945, the Swedish Institute has approximately 140 employees.

This morning the Swedish Institute made an appearance at the Swedish consulate in Istanbul as part of a Curators of Sweden event discussing freedom of expression, the Internet and democracy. As part of a slideshow the organization highlighted a number of Swedish brands responsible for raising Sweden’s profile on the world stage.

As can be seen from the slide below (thanks Erkan Saka) some of Sweden’s most iconic companies sit front and center. Adorned in Sweden’s national colors, furniture giant IKEA makes a key appearance, closely followed by clothing outlet H&M and motoring legend Volvo. The final three need little introduction.

si-istanbul

Interestingly, all three of the tech companies above have close connections to the file-sharing scene.

First up is Swedish-founded communications software Skype. While millions have used the tool since its launch in August 2003, most probably aren’t aware that its backend was first utilized by infamous P2P tool Kazaa. Indeed, Niklas Zennström co-founded them both.

And Spotify has close connections to file-sharing too. In addition to publicly admitting its service was “designed from the ground up” to be a product with appeal to pirates, one of its engineers is Ludvig Strigeus (Ludde), a Swedish programmer best known for developing BitTorrent client µTorrent.

And last – but certainly not least – sits the infamous The Pirate Bay. As famous for pirating music in 2015 as Swedish pop sensation ABBA were for creating it 40 years earlier, the site has certainly raised the profile of Sweden around the globe. Of course, some will argue that boost hasn’t always been for the best.

At the same time as gathering tens of thousands of headlines focusing on Sweden, the country’s connections to The Pirate Bay have also strained relations with key allies, including the United States.

However, what cannot be denied is how the site has raised global interest in Sweden and ensured that when it comes to discussion and progression in the digital age – especially concerning entertainment distribution – this small Scandinavian country (currently 90th in the world by population) remains at the cutting edge.

Soon, however, the Swedish legal system will decide whether to sever the country’s ties with the infamous file-sharing system. It’s unlikely the country’s overseas profile will diminish as a result though – that part of history has already been written and won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

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

TorrentFreak: Trial of Torrent Site Admin and Hosting Provider Concludes

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

In 2009 during the wake of the original Pirate Bay trial and the jail sentences for its operators, Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån sent out a batch of warnings to other sites hosted in Sweden.

One of the sites that initially decided to shut down was known as The Internationals, or TTi for short. In the event the closure was short-lived and just a month later the 26,000 member site was back online and operating largely as usual. The return lasted for more than two years, but then it all fell apart.

A police investigation led to November 2011 raids against TTi in two locations in Sweden, Borås and Växjö. In addition to the seizure of servers housing the site’s tracker and community data, two men were also arrested.

The man detained in Borås was the alleged operator of TTi but interestingly the second individual, Patrik Lagerman from Växjö, was the person providing TTi’s webhosting.

The owner of local web-hosting outfit Patrikweb, Lagerman previously gained worldwide attention for being involved in bandwidth supply to The Pirate Bay.

In the TTi case, Lagerman was handed a demand by Antipiratbyrån to disconnect the tracker. He requested a court order but none was forthcoming. The reaction almost a year later was an 06:30am alarm call carried out by five police officers followed by several hours of questioning.

“Trying to prosecute the hosting provider for assisting [in infringement] shows just how stupid they are,” Lagerman said at the time.

But this week that’s exactly what happened when Lagerman and the as-yet unnamed TTi sysop went on trial for their alleged crimes. The hearing lasted for two days.

“Two men were prosecuted,” prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad informs TorrentFreak.

“The alleged main administrator of the TTi site and the second one – Lagerman – was prosecuted for aiding and abetting the infringement, by renting out server space, Internet services etc, and helping the administrators in some other ways (as an intermediary).

“The rights holders contacted [Lagerman] and informed him of the site and the infringement, but he still continued with his services to the site owner,” the prosecutor notes.

Although the site tracked many more titles including plenty of Hollywood blockbusters, the case itself now involves just 28 Swedish films.

TorrentFreak spoke with Lagerman who said he’d hold back on a comment until the verdict is handed down in two weeks time. Fortunately for both defendants he should be able to do that as a relatively free man since the prosecution are not pressing for custodial sentences.

“Due to the long time that has passed since the crimes (the investigation unfortunately took a bit too long), I didn´t request for an unconditional imprisonment,” Ingblad says.

“I requested for a conditional sentence and community services for the alleged main administrator, and a conditional sentence plus fines for Mr. Lagerman.”

The case is an intriguing one and the eventual decision will be of great interest to other local ISPs in similar positions.

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

TorrentFreak: Historic Pirate Bay Domain Decision Will Arrive Early May

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

tpb-logoA small Scandinavian country in Northern Europe, Sweden has become a key battleground for international copyright holders looking to stamp their authority on millions of BitTorrent users. Attacking the sites they populate is a key strategy and above all others the destruction of The Pirate Bay is paramount.

Born and developed in Sweden, the now notorious site is no longer the most popular in the world (that crown is currently worn by KickassTorrents) but its profile ensures it remains a target with massive propaganda value. When The Pirate Bay is crushed a corner will have been turned, Hollywood and the record labels believe.

Over the years the site has been squeezed out of Sweden, and Sweden has been squeezed out of the site. Numerous court orders and raids have ended its physical presence in the country and its Swedish management have long since gone.

Indeed, as far as its operations at this moment are concerned, the only big connection the site has with Sweden is its domain name – ThePirateBay.se – and authorities are now doing whatever they can to break that most visible link.

ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative) are being targeted by Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the operation that took the site down in December. Filed back in 2013 at the District Court of Stockholm, the motion targets Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain.

This week the parties met in the Stockholm District Court, each putting forward their side of the argument. Ingblad didn’t respond to TorrentFreak’s offer to contribute to this article, but we know that he believes that Pirate Bay domains are criminal tools that enable copyright infringement, tools that should be confiscated by the state.

Punkt SE, on the other hand, maintains that holding a registry responsible for infringement has no basis in law. Furthermore, disabling domains is an ineffective way to deal with infringement.

“We believe it is wrong to pursue legal action against a top-level administrator like .SE to take away a service from the internet,” Punkt SE’s Maria Ekelund informs TF.

“To confiscate a domain name is ineffective and disproportionate to achieve the impact of the earlier judgment, that is, to suspend access to the service itself.”

In 2009, Swedish ISP Black Internet was ordered to stop providing Internet access to The Pirate Bay. The ISP initially declined to appeal the ruling but appeared to change its mind after its infrastructure was subjected to a huge cyber-attack.

While the appeal was granted, the ISP failed to have the original decision overturned and subsequently blocked all traffic into and out of the IP addresses used by The Pirate Bay. For The Pirate Bay, the dream of trouble-free hosting in Sweden was largely over.

But still, the site has found a way to stay online, no matter where in the world it has thrown anchor. Punkt SE believes that taking away Pirate Bay’s domain will do little to change that.

IIS SE“To remove a domain name can be likened to taking away a sign that shows the address to a store operating illegally. Just because the sign disappears, does not mean the business disappears,” Ekelund adds.

“However, we think it is good that the issue should be examined because the legal situation is unclear. This case differs from previous cases because it is not only directed against the holder, but also directly against .SE.”

So now the waiting begins. In less than two weeks the Stockholm District Court will hand down its decision. Victory for Punkt will underpin the registry’s stance on limited liability and will buy The Pirate Bay more time. A win for the prosecutor will deliver a fairly serious blow to the site and draw a line in the sand for others looking to embark on similar adventures.

But, perhaps more importantly, in the event the Court sides with the prosecution, Sweden will at last rid itself of the site that put the country in the crosshairs of the United States. No longer serviced from Swedish soil, with hardware or domain names, The Pirate Bay will be cut adrift to float at sea.

Where will it dock next? That will remain a secret, at least for now.

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

TorrentFreak: Fate of Pirate Bay Domains Hang in the Balance

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

Some of the key strategies employed by anti-piracy groups around the world involve attacking the infrastructures of so-called pirate sites.

Pressuring hosting companies to cut off sites is one of the oldest and perhaps easiest method of disrupting activities, but finding a new host – even for the most blatant of infringers – is usually countered in a few hours. It’s a nuisance, but one that can be handled relatively easily.

Blocking domains at the ISP level presents more of a problem for sites but actually seizing a domain or rendering it entirely useless really takes things to the next level. It’s a strategy being actively pursued in a number of cases, most recently by the RIAA in an important case against MP3Skull reported here yesterday.

Next week in a separate action, a Swedish court will be required to decide whether The Pirate Bay will be allowed to keep control of two of its most important domains.

ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative) are being targeted by Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the now-famous operation that took the site down in December.

Filed back in 2013 at the District Court of Stockholm, the motion targets Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain.

Ingblad’s position is that since The Pirate Bay has been deemed an illegal site, its domain names are assisting in those crimes and should be subject to action, just like a tool used in any other crime

In a case against both the .SE registry and former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij, Ingblad wants the Court to order the domains to be forfeited.

“That is, in practice, that the state should take them over, or at least that .SE should not rent them out again, Ingblad says.

In parallel The Pirate Bay is also facing its first web blocking action in Sweden. Last November, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit against Swedish service provider Bredbandsbolaget. The ISP intends to fight the demand.

In the meantime the blocking case is certainly one to watch, with Punkt SE CEO Danny Aerts framing the action as unique in Europe.

“There are no previous cases of states suing a registry for abetting criminal activity or breaching copyright law,” Aerts notes.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Can’t Play Nintendo Classics In Prison

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key operators of The Pirate Bay and often referred to as one of the site’s co-founders.

In 2010 Fredrik received a prison sentence for his involvement with the notorious site, which he initially avoided.

Last November he was eventually arrested by Thai immigration authorities and later transferred to a prison in Skänninge, Sweden.

Under the circumstances, Fredrik has been doing relatively well. However, prison life lacks distraction and entertainment, not to mention a digital connection to the outside world.

To kill time The Pirate Bay’s former operator put in a request to play games on an old Nintendo 8-bit console. Not the most advanced gaming experience, but a real treat for someone with virtually no access to entertainment.

Unfortunately, however, Fredrik’s request was outright denied by the prison administration. While gaming isn’t against the rules, they state that there’s no way to open the box to check it for concealed items.

“The console is sealed in such a way that it can not be opened without the machine being destroyed,” the prison wrote in a reply.

In light of this, the institution can’t implement the necessary control of the game console and it is therefore impossible to ensure that it does not contain prohibited items.”

Fredrik doesn’t agree with the decision decided to appeal the case before the administrative court.

Pirate Bay’s former operator doesn’t believe that a game console from the 80s without any network connectivity poses a threat, and points out that the prison only has to buy a simply screwdriver to check the box.

“That the institution lacks a screwdriver which costs 100 kroner can not be considered reasonable,” Fredrik writes.

“One has to wonder how many other victims there are when all video-game units of the brand Nintendo have the same screwdriver,” he adds.

This isn’t the first time that Fredrik has appealed a decision from the prison. Earlier this month he filed an appeal after the institution denied a request to print three documents.

TF note: The Nintendo case can actually be opened with a pen and a cigarette lighter

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay’s Fredrik Neij Appeals Denial to Print In Prison

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

fredrik-neijFredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key operators of The Pirate Bay.

In 2010 Fredrik received a prison sentence for his involvement with the notorious site, which he initially avoided.

After being on the run for several years he was eventually arrested by Thai immigration authorities late last year, and later transferred to a prison in Skänninge, Sweden.

While reportedly doing well, prison life has many limitations. Access to technology is limited, for example, but Fredrik recently managed to get a tablet so he could read the details of a preliminary investigation.

According to Fredrik, he was also given verbal approval to write text documents on the device and make printouts for personal use, but the prison administration now denies this.

In a response the former Pirate Bay operator has now filed an appeal at the Administrative Court.

“When I received the e-reader I specifically asked if I could use it to write letters and make notes in the tablet’s word processing programs. I was told that it would be okay,” Fredrik writes.

In addition to writing he was also promised that he could make several printouts.

“The answer I got was that there wouldn’t be a problem,” Neij notes.

Printing three files doesn’t seem to be a major issue, especially if the same documents are already available digitally. However, in prison things rarely come easy.

The good news for Fredrik is that his prison sentence is half done, and he’s scheduled to be released later this year.

Worryingly, however, there are more problems on the horizon. The former Pirate Bay operator is also facing hacking allegations as well as a criminal referral of his ISP, DCP Networks.

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

TorrentFreak: Major Labels Sue Music Leaker After FBI Investigation

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

nickiIf there is one issue guaranteed to incense recording labels and artists alike it’s the premature public availability of pre-release music.

Over the years leaks from popular artists have featured in countless online piracy cases, painted by the labels as some of the most damaging forms of unauthorized distribution.

While some believe that leaks are useful for creating buzz, labels often argue that availability amounts to unfair competition and the undermining of an artist’s decision as to when and where content should be heard.

Pre-release leaks can happen anywhere in the supply chain, usually towards the retail environment, but a case set to be heard next month is unusual in several respects, not least the point at which the music was obtained.

Between 2010 and 2013 it’s alleged that unreleased music began leaking from industry-affiliated email accounts based in the United States. Tracks from some of the world’s biggest stars was targeted, including those from Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown and Mary J Blige.

It’s claimed that the music began turning up in public after being sold to DJs worldwide, events which heralded the involvement of the FBI and a trail to Sweden.

“In the United States an investigation was launched into the stolen songs. The tracks led to Sweden through bank accounts and IP addresses. Therefore, we were contacted,” says prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad.

Further investigation led Swedish authorities to a 25-year-old local man who is said to have hacked the email accounts, obtained the music, and sold it on for a profit.

“He hacked into the email accounts and got hold of unreleased songs, and songs that might have never been released. That makes this case unusual,” Ingblad adds.

The prosecution claims that the man, who denies the charges, made around $12,000 from sales of the tracks. He will go on trial in Sweden next month and will face fines and up to two years in prison. Labels including Sony, Warner and Universal are suing the man and will be seeking damages.

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

Errata Security: Pin-pointing China’s attack against GitHub

This post was syndicated from: Errata Security and was written by: Robert Graham. Original post: at Errata Security

For the past week, the website “GitHub” has been under attack by China. In this post, I pin-point where the attack is coming from by doing an http-traceroute.

GitHub is a key infrastructure website for the Internet, being the largest host of open-source projects, most famously Linux. (I host my code there). It’s also a popular blogging platform.

Among the zillions of projects are https://github.com/greatfire and https://github.com/cn-nytimes. These are mirrors (copies) of the websites http://greatfire.org and http://cn.nytimes.com. GreatFire provides tools for circumventing China’s Internet censorship, the NYTimes contains news stories China wants censored.

China blocks the offending websites, but it cannot easily block the GitHub mirrors. Its choices are either to block or allow everything on GitHub. Since GitHub is key infrastructure for open-source, blocking GitHub is not really a viable option.

Therefore, China chose another option, to flood those specific GitHub URLs with traffic in order to pressure GitHub into removing those pages. This is a stupid policy decision, of course, since Americans are quite touchy on the subject and are unlikely to comply with such pressure. It’s likely GitHub itself can resolve the issue, as there are a zillion ways to respond. If not, other companies (like CloudFlare) would leap to their defense.

The big question is attribution. Is this attack authorized by the Chinese government? Or is it the work of rogue hackers?

The company Netresec in Sweden partially answered this problem by figuring out most of the details of the hack. The way the attack worked is that some man-in-the-middle device intercepted web requests coming into China from elsewhere in the world, and then replaced the content with JavaScript code that would attack GitHub. Specifically, they intercepted requests to Baidu’s analytics. The search-engine Baidu is the Google of China, and it runs analytics software like Google in order to track advertising. Everyone outside China visiting internal pages would then run this JavaScript to attack GitHub. Since the attack appears to be coming “from everywhere”, it’s impractical for GitHub to block the attack.

Netresec could clearly identify that a man-in-the-middle was happening by looking at the TTL fields in the packets. TTL, or time-to-live, is a field in all Internet packets that tracks the age of the packet. Each time a router forwards a packet, one is subtracted from the field. When it reaches zero, the packet is discarded. This prevents routing loops from endlessly forwarding packets around in circle.

Many systems send packets with a starting TTL of 64. Thus, when a packet arrives with a value of 46, you know that that there are 18 hops between you and the sender (64 – 18 = 46).

What Netresec found was a situation shown in the following picture. This picture shows a sequence of packets to and from the server. My packets sent to the Baidu server have a TTL of 64, the starting value I send with. The first response from the server has a value of 46 — because while they transmitted the packet with a value of 64, it was reduced by 18 by the time it arrived at my computer. After I send the web request, I get weird TTLs in response, with values of 98 and 99. These obviously did not come from the original server, but some intermediate man-in-the-middle device.

I know this man-in-the-middle is somewhere between me and Baidu, but where? To answer that, we use the concept of traceroute.

Traceroute is a real cool trick. Instead of sending packets with a TTL of 64, the tool sends them with a TTL of 1, then 2, then 3, and so on. Because the TTL is so low, they won’t reach their destination. Instead, the TTL will eventually reach 0, and routers along the way will drop them. When routers do this, they send back a notification packet called a Time-Exceeded message — using the router’s Internet address. Thus, I can collect all these packets and map the routers between me and a target.

The tool that does this is shown below, where I traceroute to the Baidu server from my machine:

The second column is time. As you can see, it takes almost 80-milliseconds for my packets to reach Los Angeles, and then the delay jumps to 230-milliseconds to reach China. Also note that I can’t quite reach the server, as there is a firewall after hop 16 that is blocking traceroute from working.

So where along this route is the man-in-the-middle interception happening? To answer this question, I had write some code. I wrote my own little traceroute tool. Instead of sending a single packet, it first established a connection with normal TTLs, so that it would reach all the way to the target server. Then, when it sent the web request packet, it used a smaller TTL, so it would get dropped before reaching the server — but hopefully after the man-in-the-middle saw it. By doing these with varying TTLs, I should be able to discover at which hop the evil device is lurking.

I found that the device lurks between 11 and 12 hops. The web request packets sent with a TTL of 11 are not seen, while packets with TTL of 12 are, generating a response, as shown below:

The black line above shows the packet I sent, with a TTL of 12. The orange line (and the two packets above it) show the packets received from the man-in-the-middle device. When I send packets with a TTL of 11, I never get a response from that evil device.

By looking at the IP addresses in the traceroute, we can conclusive prove that the man-in-the-middle device is located on the backbone of China Unicom, a major service provider in China.

The next step is to traceroute in the other direction, from China to a blocked address, such as the http://www.nytimes.com address at 170.149.168.130. Using the website http://www.linkwan.net/tr.htm, I get the following:

This shows that the Great Firewall runs inside the China Unicom infrastructure.

Conclusion

Using my custom http-traceroute, I’ve proven that the man-in-the-middle machine attacking GitHub is located on or near the Great Firewall of China. While many explanations are possible, such as hackers breaking into these machines, the overwhelmingly most likely suspect for the source of the GitHub attacks is the Chinese government.

This is important evidence for our government. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond to these attacks — attacks by a nation state against key United States Internet infrastructure.

TorrentFreak: Pirate Party Becomes Iceland’s Most Popular Political Party

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

pirate-iceOn January 1, 2006, Rick Falkvinge founded the Swedish and first Pirate Party. The party has survived more than nine turbulent years while provoking heated discussion on copyright reform, privacy and freedom of speech.

The party is currently enjoying its second term in the European Parliament and in January 2014 Julia Reda MEP released her draft report for the overhaul of EU copyright. As pointed out by Falkvinge himself, that fact is worthy of a double take.

“A Pirate Party representative is writing the European Union’s official evaluation of the copyright monopoly, and listing a set of necessary changes,” he wrote in a TF column.

And today brings yet more news which prompts a second look at a surprising headline. According to a poll carried out in Iceland over the past week, the Pirate Party is now the country’s most popular political party. For a party founded locally less than two and a half years ago, that’s an astounding achievement.

Run between the 13th and 18th of March by MMR, a company experienced in measuring support for local political parties, the survey places the Pirates ahead of even the most established of political movements.

According to Visir, total public support for the Pirate Party is currently riding at 23.9%, that’s up from the 12.8% reported in the last MMR survey.

The Pirates have snatched the lead from the Independence Party, who led during the last poll with 25.5% but have now dropped to 23.4%. While that is a slim lead of just 0.5%, it is a lead nonetheless, and the gap between the Pirates and other parties is even more pronounced.

The Social Democratic Alliance polled at 15.5% and the Progressive Party now sits at just 11.0%, marginally ahead of the Green Party with 10.8% of the support.

Today’s results are an improvement over those reported in a separate survey published last week which put the Pirates in a marginal second place. That prompted cautious excitement from Pirate MP Helgi Hrafn Gunnarsson.

“I’m happy to see such a reception, but you also need to keep this in mind. Firstly, it’s not self-evident that this will be the result of the elections and not self-evident that this will go on. It’s important not to become arrogant because of this,” he said.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge says the results of the poll are inspiring.

“This is an extraordinary accomplishment. Where we had the proof-of-concept in Sweden in 2009, and additional sparks of success in Germany in the following years, I didn’t really anticipate a Pirate Party measuring as its country’s very largest within a decade of founding the first one in 2006,” Falkvinge says

“The suddenly-within-reach prospect of actually taking up a prime ministry in the near term shows what you can accomplish when you’re calling out stale policies and governmental backroom shadiness for what they are. It also shows how the net generation just won’t stand for the holier-than-thou attitude that’s still being displayed by an old self-appointed elite toward the young future.

“Still, to get to this point requires extraordinary hard work, commitment, and dedication. Far more than just congratulations are in order. The Icelandic Pirate Party is an inspiration for the net generation of the entire world,” Falkvinge concludes.

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