Posts tagged ‘Torrent Sites’

TorrentFreak: GTA V Plunders More Data Than Game of Thrones Pirates

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

gtav-covGrand Theft Auto V is one of the most eagerly anticipated PC game releases of 2015 and this week the tension was finally over. For most the wait for desktop version of the 2013/2014 smash hit was totally worth it, with overwhelmingly positive reviews circulating online.

For others, however, the week has been one of tooth-gnashing, nail-biting tension, largely spent worrying over whether the mighty DRM-defeating piracy overlords would find it in their hearts to throw a cracked version to the masses.

And in parts it was a pretty ugly thing to behold.

Endless warez and torrent forums (and more public affairs such as Reddit) were flooded with requests for a cracked version of the iconic game, leading to anger over the umpteenth duplicate thread among those who’d answered the same questions dozens of times already.

But the real desperation was to be found in numerous chat channels occupied by people hoping to get an early heads-up on where to find the first free (and functioning) online copies.

On the day of the game’s release TF spent time in a few of them and for the most part it was an absolute car crash, largely due to people posting links to all manner of bogus content.

While the pictures of crack (cocaine) and the odd meme weren’t particularly hostile, the links to renamed .exe files and people running them there and then, with no apparent concern for the well being of their computers, was something to behold.

“Don’t forget to disable your anti-virus before running,” was the sterling advice given on a number of occasions.

At least twice people claimed to have received errors on their screen after running what they thought was a genuine crack, only to immediately disappear from chat, never to return. With the air thick with schadenfreude, much dark hilarity ensued among the link spammers.

By Wednesday it became clear that Chinese group 3DM would probably be the first to put out a crack for the popular title and sure enough a few hours later the much-anticipated code began to propagate. Suitable only for Windows 7 machines in the first instance, a later version claimed to cater for Windows 8 installations too.

3dm-crack-v2

But for some the few hours wait between official GTA V launch and the subsequent crack release had been too much. With a level of impatience not often seen in the gaming world, countless users publicly declared “enough is enough” and reported buying the game on Steam instead. They’re probably still stuck in Los Santos now, robbing and killing their way to infamy.

Nevertheless, many thousands more with either more patience, less disposable income, or both, proceeded to obtain the game and its crack through less official channels. By very early Thursday at least 20,000 people had obtained the game using BitTorrent, a not inconsiderable feat considering the huge size of the files involved.

While the updates and cracks weighed in at less than 400mb, the game files themselves were changing hands in archives ranging from 40GB to 60GB, with warnings that the compressed version could take four hours or more to decompress and install, even after the mammoth download.

But despite the waiting and hoop jumping, by early Thursday a staggering one petabyte of data had been exchanged on the most popular GTA V torrents, an amount equal to all U.S. Internet traffic during a single day in 2000. Or, to put it another way, more data than was consumed by the million Game of Thrones pirates who downloaded the first leaked episode in the hours following last week’s surprise release.

Nevertheless, even after all the head-scratching, waiting, downloading, decompressing and other shenanigans, many users are still having problems running the cracked version of the game. Others, on the other hand, report no problems at all and have heaped praise on 3DM for their amazing work.

“I love this game! Is there any way to donate to 3DM?” a user on one site asked.

“How about sending money to the Rockstar devs instead?” came a dry response.

And indeed, some pirates intend to do just that.

“It’s definitely impressive [to have cracked the game] in such a short time. I appreciate the efforts a lot,” wrote one.

“My only real goal was to gauge how well it runs on my PC before I plunk down $60 for it. Now that I know it runs fine I’ll be buying it after work today.”

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Reopens Registrations, Months After Raid

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

pirate baySlowly but surely things are returning back to normal at the beleaguered Pirate Bay.

After weeks of downtime the site came back online late January, recovering from a raid that hit the site hard. The notorious torrent site has burned through several hosting companies since its return but the site is now relatively stable.

With many of the old moderators back on board the spam problems are under control as well. All this time, however, there was still one major feature missing from the site. Users were not able to register an account so they can publish content.

This last barrier was removed a few hours ago when TPB formally reopened user registrations.

“The registrations remained closed as a security precaution. But now that the mods are back and stable, new accounts won’t flood the site with fakes,” Pirate Bay’s Winston tells TF

Registrations are open
tpbreg

Over the past couple of months the moderator team undertook a thorough cleanup of all suspicious user accounts. Pretty much all fakers and scammers were removed, a number that ran into the thousands.

“A lot of the dormant accounts have been used up now,” long time TPB moderator Agricola tells TF, noting that fakers and scammers are more prevalent than most people believe.

“In my time on The Pirate Bay I have 30,000+ kills on my name, which is how we refer to deleted accounts. You are talking hundreds of accounts a day.”

So while the reopened registration feature is good news for users who want to join the six million strong army of Pirate Bay users, it means all hands on deck for the moderator team.

According to Agricola this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, that’s what they have been doing all along.

“We’re pretty much going back to the way it was before the raid,” Agricola says.

Looking back at the past few months we can conclude that things have pretty much returned to normal at TPB. The site took a hit in terms of traffic and is no longer the most used torrent site, but the ship is still afloat.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Wants Private Theaters in U.S. Embassies to Lobby Officials

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

screeningYesterday Wikileaks published a searchable database of the emails and documents that were released from the Sony hack.

While a lot of ground was already covered after the initial breach, some new information is now bubbling up to the surface.

One of the conversations that caught our eye mentions a request from MPAA boss and former U.S. senator Chris Dodd.

In an effort to get foreign policy makers onside, the movie group asked its member studios to help fund an upgrade of the screening rooms in various U.S. embassies around the world.

In an email from Sony Pictures Entertainment Head of Worldwide Government Affairs Keith Weaver to CEO Michael Lynton last March, Weaver explains that the studio had been asked for rather a sizable contribution.

“I wanted to make you aware of a recent MPAA request, as Senator Dodd may contact you directly,” Weaver’s email begins.

“Essentially, the request is for the member companies to consider upgrading screening rooms at U.S. Embassies in various countries (Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, and Japan)…”

These rooms could then be used by the ambassadors to show off Hollywood content to invited high-level officials.

“…the idea being that these upgraded screening rooms would allow American ambassadors to screen our movies to high level officials (and, thus, inculcate a stronger will to protect our interests through this quality exposure to our content),” Weaver adds.

In other words, the MPAA wants to pay for an upgrade of the embassies’ private theaters, to indirectly protect the interests of U.S. movie studios abroad.

It’s a rather interesting lobbying effort and one that doesn’t come cheap. The estimated cost for the project is $165,000 per studio, which means the total budget for the project is close to a million dollars.

Unfortunately for the MPAA, Weaver suggested giving the project a miss and in a reply Lynton agreed.

“While studios have supported efforts like this in the past, my inclination is that we pass on this financial commitment at this time (of course, applauding the idea/effort),” Weaver noted.

In an email a few months later the issue was addressed again with additional details.

In this conversation Weaver notes that the request is “not unusual” and that the studio supported a similar request years ago. “Apparently, donations of this kind are permissible,” Weaver writes.

Again, Lynton replied that he was not inclined to support the project. It’s unclear whether any of the other members chipped in, or if the plan has been canceled due to a lack of financial support.

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

TorrentFreak: TV Companies Will Sue VPN Providers “In Days”

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

As Internet users demand more freedom online alongside an ability to consume media in a manner of their choosing, tools allowing them to do so are gaining in popularity.

Notable has been the rise of VPN services, which not only provide an increased level of privacy but also allow users to appear in any country they choose. This opens up a whole new world of content availability – such as better service from Netflix – often at better prices than those offered on home turf.

While popular with consumers, this behavior is frowned upon by distribution companies that spend huge sums of money on content licensing deals specific to their regions of coverage. Losing customers to overseas providers isn’t part of their plan and now some are doing something about it.

Earlier this month media companies SKY, TVNZ, Lightbox and MediaWorks told several Kiwi ISPs that if they don’t stop providing VPN services to their subscribers, legal trouble would be on the horizon.

Within days one of their targets, Unlimited Internet, pulled its VPN service after receiving a letter from a lawfirm claiming breaches of the Copyright Act. However, CallPlus and Bypass Network Services have no intention of caving in to the media giants’ demands.

“To receive without warning a grossly threatening legal letter like that from four of the largest companies in New Zealand is not something we are used to,” wrote Bypass CEO Patrick Jordan-Smith in a letter to the media companies.

“It smacks of bullying to be honest, especially since your letter doesn’t actually say why you think we are breaching copyright.”

Pulling no punches and describing his adversaries as a “gang”, Jordan-Smith likens the threats to those employed by copyright trolls in the United States.

“Your letter gets pretty close to the speculative invoicing type letters that lawyers for copyright owners sometimes send in the US ‘pay up or shutdown or else were are going to sue you’! Not fair,” he writes.

“We have been providing the Global Mode facility for 2 years. In all that time, none of your Big Media Gang have ever written to us. We assumed they were OK with Global Mode and we continued to spend money innovating the facility and providing innovative NZ ISPs with a service that their customers were telling them they wanted – a service that lets people pay for content rather than pirate it.”

The response from Bypass hasn’t been well received by the media companies who now say they will carry through with their threats to sue over breaches of copyright.

“Our position has not changed and unless they remove the unlawful service we will begin court action in the next few days,” says TVNZ chief executive, Kevin Kenrick.

“Each of our businesses invests significant sums of money into the rights to screen content sourced legitimately from the creators and owners of that copyrighted material. This is being undermined by the companies who profit from promoting illegitimate ways to access that content.”

Claiming that the action is aimed at defending the value of content rights in the digital world, Kenrick says that the legal action is not consumer focused.

“This is not about taking action against individual consumers or restricting choice, indeed each of our businesses are investing heavily in more choice so New Zealanders can have legitimate access to the latest TV shows and movies,” the CEO concludes.

While the commercial position of the TVNZ chief is understandable, his claim that this legal action isn’t aimed at reducing choice simply doesn’t stack up. Kiwis using Netflix locally get access to around 220 TV series and 900 movies, while those using a VPN to tunnel into the United States enjoy around 940 TV series and 6,170 movies, something which Bypass Networks believes is completely legal.

“[We provide our service] on our understanding that geo-unblocking to allow people to digitally import content purchased overseas is perfectly legal. If you say it is not, then we are going to need a lot more detail from you to understand why,” Jordan-Smith informs his adversaries.

“Simply sending us a threatening letter, as frightening as that may be, does not get us there and is not a fair reason for us to shut down our whole business.”

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: Netflix Sets Pricing Based on Local Piracy Rates

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

netfWith nearly 60 million subscribers globally, Netflix is a giant in the world of online video entertainment.

In terms of providing access to popular TV-shows and movies the company’s biggest competitor is piracy. Just a few weeks ago Netflix described the BitTorrent-powered Popcorn Time as a major threat.

Interestingly, piracy also offers critical business intelligence to the company. For example, it uses local piracy statistics to determine what content it should offer in various regions.

That’s not all though. During this week’s earnings interview Nexflix’s Chief Financial Officer David Wells said that a country’s piracy rate is a main factor in determining the service’s local price.

“Piracy is a governor in terms of our price in high piracy markets outside the US,” Wells explained.

“We wouldn’t want to come out with a high price because there’s a lot of piracy, so we have to compete with that,” Wells added.

Another recurring issue is Netflix policies against VPN usage. While the terms of use have prohibited this for a long time already, the big crackdown on VPN users has yet to begin.

According to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, VPNs are used by paying customers, which isn’t such a big problem as piracy.

“It’s certainly less bad than piracy,” Hastings said, quickly adding that it’s not something the company encourages.

Ted Sarandos, head of content at Netflix, noted that the company continues to work with the studios to address the VPN issue but that it’s “kind of a whack a mole.”

Instead, Sarandos prefers to focus on the positive battle against piracy, which he believes Netflix is winning.

“The real great news is that in the piracy capitals of the world Netflix is winning. We’re pushing down piracy in those markets by getting access.” Sarandos noted.

With the right pricing Netflix has indeed converted many pirates. The next step is to make VPNs obsolete, by offering content globally without any geographical restrictions.

“The best way to make the VPN issue a complete non issue is through global licensing that we’re continuing to pursue with our partners,” Sarandos said.

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

TorrentFreak: Dotcom Speeding Offense Could Lead to Deportation “In Weeks”

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

dotcomboatHe’s one of the most famous people in the online space and the founder of the site at the heart of the world’s largest ever copyright infringement lawsuit, yet a relatively minor indiscretion has the potential to derail Kim Dotcom in a matter of weeks.

It all stems back to September 10, 2009 when a police radar gun logged speed-loving Dotcom doing 149km/h (92mph) in a 50km/h (30mph) zone. According to the authorities police gave chase, eventually catching up with Dotcom’s 3.6-liter AMG Mercedes 1.7km (1 mile) later close to his Coatesville mansion.

Explaining his three times over-the-limit endeavor as a “stupid mistake”, Dotcom later pleaded guilty by letter four days later. During the hearing the court heard that the entrepreneur had been “testing” a new car.

“When spoken to by police the defendant stated he had seen an 80km/h sign. He further stated that he stepped on the gas for 3-4 seconds and then braked and reduced his speed to the speed limit. He also stated he wanted to test the acceleration of the vehicle,” the records state.

Despite Dotcom expressing regret for his actions, the judge fined him $500 plus $130 costs and banned him from driving for six months. Now, almost five years later, the case is coming back to haunt Dotcom after he failed to declare the motoring conviction on his New Zealand residency application eight months after the offense.

In the (blurred) image below released under the Official Information Act, item three shows a ‘No’ response to the question “Have you or any of your family members included in your application, ever been: Convicted of an offense including traffic offenses committed within the last five years, involving dangerous driving [or] driving having consumed excessive alcohol.

dotcom-declaration

The same immigration records reveal that Dotcom disclosed both his 1994 hacking conviction and a 2001 suspended sentence for insider trading, but both were disregarded having been dealt with under Germany’s “clean slate” legislation.

Nevertheless, it now appears that Dotcom’s position as a New Zealand resident is under threat due to his dangerous driving conviction and subsequent non-disclosure. According to NZHerald, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse could decide within the month whether Dotcom will be allowed to remain in New Zealand or be kicked out of the country.

Dotcom insists that the omission was the result of a misunderstanding with his advisors but the discovery was considered serious enough to prompt a high-level deportation inquiry.

“In the interests of fairness and natural justice, Mr Dotcom and his advisers have been asked to make submissions on the matter by 4 May,” Immigration NZ said in a statement.

“Once that process is complete a decision will then be made by the Minister of Immigration on whether Mr Dotcom is liable for deportation.”

The potential for deportation (albeit to either Finland or Germany, not the United States) only adds to Dotcom’s woes.

Last month the United States seized dozens of millions of dollars worth of the Megaupload founder’s assets and in June he’ll face an extradition hearing having had a request for postponement denied.

Whether Dotcom will be able to deflect ejection from New Zealand on either or both counts remains to be seen, but the tycoon certainly sees himself being backed into a corner.

“Dear Mr. Dotcom,” he wrote this morning on Twitter.

“Here are your options: Extradition or Deportation. Regards, The New Zealand Government.”

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

TorrentFreak: EZTV Goes on Hiatus For an Operational Security Audit

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

eztv-logo-smallEZTV, the go-to place for many torrenting TV fans, has suffered its fair share of troubles in recent months.

It started early December when the group’s site was knocked offline as collateral damage in the Pirate Bay raid. A month later the group lost its .it domain name, which was then taken over by impostors in March.

To get back online and stay there, EZTV has had to move things around quite a bit.

In response to these recent issues the EZTV team has decided to go on a small hiatus, so the current setup can be carefully inspected. This means that in the short term no new releases will go up on the site.

“We are not releasing any new content at the moment due to a security audit of all our servers,” EZTV’s Novaking informs TF.

“We just want to put things on hold to see where everything is at and make sure everything is running optimally,” he adds.

The latest torrents were released on Monday and there is no ETA yet for when new ones will appear. The group is taking its time to carry out a proper audit and will do some code cleanup at the same time.

As part of the security audit registered users have also received a request for a password reset. Initially this resulted in some issues where users were unable to login but Novaking notes that people who experienced this problem can get in touch via IRC.

If all goes well EZTV may also reopen registrations again, which is something people have requested for a long time.

Fueled by the lack of new content and the recent domain troubles, some users were suspicious when they saw a link to the Bitx video player in the torrent list. However, this is a new streaming player the group is testing and nothing to worry about.

In a few days EZTV hopes to start releasing new content again. Until then, the group advises TV fans to turn to the ‘competition’ for their daily fix.

“There are several other distribution groups people can use while we’re doing the audit,” Novaking says.

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

TorrentFreak: Crisis as HBO Laments ‘Dozens’ of Awful Game of Thrones Streams

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

got5After years of controversy over illegal downloads of Game of Thrones, the premiere of the new season this past weekend was never likely to come and go without a few piracy headlines.

What no one expected was for the first four episodes to leak in their entirety Saturday evening, triggering a pre-release piracy frenzy and a binge viewing bonanza on a never-seen-before scale .

But despite what some believed might be pending doom following millions of unauthorized downloads, HBO’s response was relatively calm, with the company saying it was “actively assessing” how the breach had occurred. However, an event from another unexpected quarter elicited a much more strongly worded response.

On Monday, Aussie news outlet Mumbrella reported that in the wake of gazillions of weekend BitTorrent downloads, literally “dozens” of people live-streamed the first episode of Game of Thrones to their friends as it aired in Australia.

Their weapon of choice was Twitter-owned Periscope, an app that allows anyone to point a smartphone at anything and stream that content live to the world. As expected, Twitter was quick to respond, saying Periscope would terminate the user accounts of anyone “determined to be a repeat infringer.”

Considering the extremely low number of reportedly poor quality streams and the unstoppable piracy extravaganza already underway elsewhere, it seemed unlikely the story would gain much traction. But for reasons best known to HBO, the company has now issued a more strongly worded statement on the Periscope streams than it did for the torrent leak on Saturday.

“We are aware of Periscope and have sent takedown notices,” an HBO spokeswoman confirmed in a statement. But then the twist.

“In general, we feel developers should have tools which proactively prevent mass copyright infringement from occurring on their apps and not be solely reliant upon notifications,” HBO added.

When targeted at a live streaming app like Periscope with a relatively tiny userbase, this is a head-scratching statement.

While a couple of handful of users were admittedly streaming the same content to their followers, Periscope would’ve needed to be advised in advance of what content to look out for in order to censor any streams. Even then it would’ve been tricky to pick out a particular TV show from what were presumably pretty wobbly smartphone streams.

But even if streams went ahead, would they even prove a crowd pleaser with those looking to view leaked shows? Periscope co-founder Kayvon Beykpour doesn’t believe so.

“I just don’t think that Periscope, as much as I love it, is a compelling way to watch a theatrical premiere of a movie, a Game of Thrones release, a soccer match, an NBA match,” Beykpour says.

“Of course someone is going to open up their phone and stream this stuff, but that’s not a compelling way for people to engage.”

What makes this situation even more curious is why HBO would pick on Periscope at all when there are much bigger targets? Within minutes of Game of Thrones appearing online Saturday evening HBO would’ve known the hash values of the episodes. Why then aren’t they calling on BitTorrent Inc, for example, to implement a hash filtering system in its uTorrent client?

It’s hard to know what’s going through the media giant’s collective mind, but neither BitTorrent nor Periscope appear to have hurt the Game of Thrones premiere. Despite four episodes already being widely available online, Sunday’s opener proved to be a series-best in the United States with 7.99 million viewers.

However, it is certainly possible that HBO has something else on its mind.

Sure, Periscope’s Beykpour feels that his app isn’t “compelling” for streaming sports, but will HBO feel the same way come May 2 when people start flooding into the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for Mayweather vs Pacquiao?

HBO and rare partner Showtime will be charging a whopping $89.95 for a PPV pass, 40% more than the previous record set for a Mayweather fight in 2013. Plus, there won’t be a way to torrent the event until the final bell has long gone.

Expect a lot more than “dozens” to point their periscopes and meerkats screenwards for the biggest fight in boxing history in just two weeks’ time. Proactively taking down those streams will be game of whac-a-mole that not even the men in the main event will be quick enough to keep up with.

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

TorrentFreak: Microsoft Takes Pirated Windows NT 4.0 Source Code Offline

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

microsoft-pirateIn February 2004 large portions of Microsoft’s Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 source code leaked onto the Internet.

In a statement issued at the time, Microsoft said the breach didn’t come from inside. The company worked closely with the FBI to track down the source but these efforts were fruitless.

Hoping to keep the leak under control, Microsoft also started issuing takedown notices to sites and P2P file-sharers, urging them to stop offering the code.

However, like anything that leaks onto the Internet it’s pretty much impossible to remove something for good. Even today, several NT 4.0 copies are still floating around in the dark corners of the web.

Up until a few days ago there was even a copy hosted on the popular developer platform GitHub. Posted by “njdragonfly” the leaked source code has been available there since 2011.

Microsoft initially didn’t spot the infringing copy but it recently took action by sending GitHub a DMCA takedown notice.

Microsoft’s takedown notice
mstd

“We have received information that the domain listed above, which appears to be on servers under your control, is offering unlicensed copies of, or is engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to, copyrighted works published by Microsoft Corporation,” the company writes

The notice proved to be successful. A few hours after its arrival the repository was made inaccessible. Those who try to access it now are redirected to GitHub’s standard takedown page.

While it’s understandable that Microsoft doesn’t want its source code out in the open, it’s not as much as a security threat as it was a decade ago. Today, more than 10 years after it was first published, pretty much all exploits have been patched.

That said, it’s worth nothing that after all these years Microsoft is trying to contain the leak. But perhaps that’s just for sentimental value.

Windows NT 4.0
Windows_NT_4.0

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

TorrentFreak: Music Industry Wants Cross Border Pirate Site Blocks

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

stop-blockedIn recent years blockades of “pirate” websites have spread across Europe and elsewhere. In the UK, for example, more than 100 websites are currently blocked by the major ISPs.

In recent weeks alone several new countries adopted similar measures, Australia, Spain and Portugal included.

Opponents of this censorship route often argue that the measures are ineffective, and that people simply move to other sites. However, in its latest Digital Music Report music industry group IFPI disagrees, pointing at research conducted in the UK.

“Website blocking has proved effective where applied,” IFPI writes, noting that the number of UK visits to “all BitTorrent” sites dropped from 20 million in April 2012 to 11 million two years later.

effblock

The key to an effective blocking strategy is to target not just one, but all leading pirate sites.

“While blocking an individual site does not have a significant impact on overall traffic to unlicensed services, once a number of leading sites are
blocked then there is a major impact,” IFPI argues.

For now, however, courts have shown to be among the biggest hurdles. It can sometimes take years before these cases reach a conclusion, and the same requests have to be made in all countries.

To streamline the process, copyright holders now want blocking injunctions to apply across borders, starting in the European Union.

“The recording industry continues to call for website blocking legislation where it does not already exist. In countries where there is already a legal basis for blocking, procedures can be slow and burdensome,” IFPI writes.

“For example, within the EU, blocking The Pirate Bay has meant taking multiple legal actions in different member states and rights holders are calling for injunctions to have cross-border effect.”

In addition to website blockades the music industry also stresses that other stakeholders should do more to help fight piracy. Search engines should prioritize legal services, for example, and advertisers and payment processors should cut their ties with pirate sites.

While IFPI’s numbers suggests that BitTorrent piracy has decreased globally, it still remains a significant problem. The group estimates that there are still four billion pirated music downloads per year on BitTorrent alone.

In other words, there’s plenty of blocking to be done before it’s no longer an issue, if that point will ever be reached.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Canada Servers Battle Reignites

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

The dramatic events of January 2012 in which the gigantic Mega empire of Kim Dotcom was brought to its knees are now more than three years old. Legal argument has dogged the case from day one, with each passing month presenting yet more points of contention.

One of the oldest issues surrounds the hardware seized as part of the global operation to close down what was once the world’s largest centralized file-sharing operation.

The U.S. Government seized 1,103 servers at Carpathia’s hosting facility in the United States, equipment that is currently gathering dust in a Virginia storage facility. Also at issue is a lesser-discussed batch of servers seized in Canada.

On January 18, 2012, a judge in Ontario issued a warrant to seize the 32 servers located in an Equinix datacenter. As the case continued to build against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and his associates, the U.S. government asked Canadian authorities to hand the hardware over, claiming that an internal Megaupload email revealed them to be “database / number crunching machines.”

A year later in January 2013, Megaupload protested the handing over of the hardware to U.S. authorities claiming that the servers contained a lot of information irrelevant to the case. Megaupload said an independent forensic examiner could examine the servers and determine their contents before any handover.

An Ontario court sided with Megaupload and refused to send the servers’ data to the United States. Instead, both sides were ordered to find a way to filter out irrelevant content.

Now, more than two years later, the issue of just how much of this seized content can be sent to the United States remains an issue. The matter reappeared before a Toronto court Monday, with fresh ideas on how progression can be made.

Crown attorney Moiz Rahman, acting on behalf of the U.S. government, suggested the appointment of an independent group of forensic examiners to inspect the data and determine which data is relevant to the case, CBC reports.

However, Megaupload lawyer Scott Hutchison raised concerns that once back in the United States, the so-called “clean team” might disclose non-relevant information they’d discovered on the servers. Any ruling in Canada to seal their lips would not be enforceable in the U.S., Hutchinson said.

“Once they return to the United States, that’s nothing more than a promise,” the lawyer said.

While conceding that the “vast majority” of the data was likely to be media uploaded by Megaupload’s users, Hutchinson suggested that it would be preferable to hire an independent Canada-based investigator to carry out the work.

But speaking for the Crown on behalf of the U.S., Rahman said that a U.S. team could present the results of its investigation to a Canadian court, which could then decide what information would be allowed back to the United States under current treaty protocol.

“That’s a little bit of cold comfort to me,” said Justice Michael Quigley.

After Rahman claimed that an independent Canadian investigator would prove too expensive, the Judge ordered the parties to present their respective costings to the court before any decision on the fate of the data is made.

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

TorrentFreak: Inspector General Exposes Pirating Prison Staffers

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

ohioreportLast year we received a well documented report from the former operator of USAWarez.com and USATorrents.com, who accused prison staff of showing pirated films to inmates.

The pirate screenings allegedly took place in Lorain Correctional Institution in Ohio and soon after the news broke the case was referred to the Ohio inspector general.

The inspector general launched an investigation and a back-up of the entire file server was made to search for traces of pirated films. In a report released last week the inspector general concludes that no pirated files were present on the server, although there were some movie traces present.

“The one movie file previously identified was no longer present on the server back-up. However, the analysis identified an additional 23 forensic artifacts of movie files, portions of movie files, or movie trailers that once existed within two other LorCI employee user profiles,” the report reads.

“…it was not possible to determine what the original files within the user profiles were, based on the artifacts found. As such, this information is being referred back to ODRC for any administrative action deemed appropriate.”

The analysis further notes that there’s no evidence that the two correction officers who allegedly showed the pirated movies had unauthorized movie copies (digital or physical) in their possession at the time of the investigation. As a result, no further action will be taken by the inspector general.

In addition to the pirated movies claim, the Ohio inspector general investigated a separate case after a complaint suggested that dozens of staffers of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) shared pirated music files on a work server.

In this case, a technical analysis found that there were indeed hundreds of files made available through the local network. In total, the report names 16 employees who shared between 33 and 463 audio files.

The files in question were stored on the prison’s “JPay” system and were available to anyone with access to the network. According to the inspector general’s report, most staffers didn’t realize that they were breaking the law by doing so.

“The majority of the 16 employees interviewed believed the folder containing the JPay audio files was visible to everyone who had access to the system, and it was permissible to play the audio files it contained,” the report reads.

“Many did not feel this was or might be a violation of copyright laws and noted that had they been aware it was a violation, they would not have accessed the folder and played or copied the files.”

CO Jayme Weber acknowledged copying several audio files after he overheard others talking about a shared folder on the system, but didn’t realize he was doing anything wrong.

“. .. I mean if somebody would have told me it was an issue, I would have deleted all the music and I would have never went into the folder. I mean, I just thought by word of mouth, that it was okay to do,” he said.

The Office of the Ohio Inspector General took the matter very seriously and contacted Homeland Security’s ICE unit to ask if they would pursue the matter.

Since there was no indication that any of the employees shared the copyrighted files to make a profit, ICE decided to let it slide.

“After being briefed of the allegations, investigators were told by the ICE duty officer that based on the allegations, barring any significant changes or evidence of sale-for-profit of the copied audio files, ICE would not pursue charges through the United States Attorney’s Office,” the report reads.

In both cases, the inspector general decided not to take any further steps against the accused employees. Instead, the report ends with a set of recommendations for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, to ensure that the same mistakes aren’t made in the future.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Seeks Net Neutrality Exceptions to Block Pirates

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

throttleThe Brazilian Civil Rights Framework for the Internet (Marco Civil da Internet) is legislation that governs the use of the Internet in Brazil. Under development since 2009, among other key issues the Marco Civil is aimed at protecting online privacy rights and net neutrality principles.

The law, which passed last April, was fast-tracked in the wake of revelations from Edward Snowden indicating that the U.S. had been spying on President Dilma Rousseff’s emails and phone calls, those of Brazil’s biggest oil company, and the communications of millions of citizens.

After being in place for a year, Brazil is now rolling out the Marco Civil’s secondary legislation, with the Ministry of Justice announcing a public consultation process allowing stakeholders to contribute to the development of the law.

One of the organizations getting involved is the Motion Picture Association, the international big brother to the United States’ MPAA. According to the MPA, which counts all the big movie studios among its members, the Marco Civil’s net neutrality provisions present an obstacle to rightsholders seeking to protect their content online.

In a submission to Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, the Motion Picture Association expresses concern that the legislation’s current wording is too tight and that exceptions need to be introduced in order to deal with online piracy.

“[Our] position is that the regulation should contain cases of exception to the general rule of net neutrality, enabling the judiciary to determine that traffic to a given illegal repository can be blocked,” the MPA writes.

“The aforementioned suggestion is based on the premise that an adequate service must be in harmony with the possibility of allowing the judiciary to block access to content that, based on judicial scrutiny, is illegal for any reason, from a case of child pornography and trafficking of illegal substances, to the case of systematic disregard for the consumer and violation of intellectual property rights.”

The MPA notes that due to the borderless nature of the Internet anyone can access content from any location. This presents challenges on a national level when undesirable content is made available from other parts of the world, the group says.

“For content hosted within a national territory a judge may issue a removal order, or in the case of breaches in the copyright field, the rightsholder can send a takedown notice to the ISP, requesting that the content is rendered unavailable,” the MPA states.

“However, when the content is hosted in a foreign nation, the Brazilian court order may [not have jurisdiction] or produce the expected results for months, perhaps years, after the court order has been issued.”

According to the MPA there is only one way to remedy this kind of impotence but the way the law is currently worded, the solution remains elusive.

“In these cases the Brazilian courts only have only one option: to order service providers to implement technical measures to block Internet traffic when it has been established that services are illegal,” the MPA notes.

“Without a clear provision for these techniques, in the midst of regulations, the current wording of the Marco Civil deprives courts of this possibility, leaving them unable to address such threats.”

The net neutrality debate is a sensitive one and one that has the potential to seriously affect Hollywood’s interests. With that in mind the MPA and MPAA will be keen to ensure that any new legislation, whether overseas or on home turf, won’t hinder the pursuit and monitoring of online pirates.

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

TorrentFreak: uTorrent Hopes to Regain Trust After Bitcoin Mining Controversy

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

utorrent-logo-newLast month many uTorrent users were surprised to see that their favorite BitTorrent client came bundled with the “Epic Scale” Bitcoin miner.

What made things worse was that, according to some, the application was installed silently without asking for explicit permission. uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. denied these allegations but took the complaints seriously.

The Bitcoin miner was quickly suspended until further notice. Based on the negative backlash from users it was recently announced that the “offer” would not be reinstated.

The uTorrent team offered a public apology and said it misjudged how users would respond.

“We acknowledge again that we misjudged how this offer would be received, and we apologize to users who have objected to it or who had trouble uninstalling that software. We understand this has already eroded some users’ trust in μTorrent,” BitTorrent Inc. Jory Berson said.

To further clarify the situation the uTorrent development team decided to release a new version this week. The bump from 3.4.2 to 3.4.3 should help to steer people away from the tainted version.

“This new release is in part to make it easy for our users to identify which version of μTorrent to pursue,” Berson notes.

While the official site no longer offers downloads that include the bundled Epic Scale Bitcoin miner, BitTorrent Inc. warns that third-party sites may still include it with the older release.

“It is important to note that if you are not downloading μTorrent software directly from us, that some third party distributors may have the older version with the Epic Scale offer, Berson says.

“This would only be a very small number, but to be sure you are installing the version you want, look for 3.4.3 or download directly from us,” he adds.

The BitTorrent mainline client, which included the same Bitcoin miner, has been updated from version 7.9.2 to version 7.9.3. The latest releases of both uTorrent and BitTorrent can be downloaded through the official sites.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 04/13/15

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

furi7This week we have five newcomers in our chart.

Furious 7 is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (5) Furious 7 (CAM/TS) 8.8 / trailer
2 (1) Taken 3 6.1 / trailer
3 (2) Interstellar 8.8 / trailer
4 (…) The Wedding Ringer 6.8 / trailer
5 (3) Last Knights 6.2 / trailer
6 (…) Hot Tub Time Machine 2 5.1 / trailer
7 (…) Inherent Vice 6.9 / trailer
8 (4) The Gambler 6.1 / trailer
9 (9) Careful What You Wish For 5.0 / trailer
10 (8) Into The Woods 6.2 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Suffers Downtime

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

pirate bayAfter weeks of relative smooth sailing, the Pirate Bay has become unreachable since a few hours.

It’s currently not clear what’s causing the problems. There might be a hardware issue, routing problem or a software glitch, issues that have occurred many times in the site’s history.

Or perhaps there’s a surge in traffic from Game of Thrones fans?

Finally, with the raid of a few months ago still fresh in memory some fear that the problems may be of a more serious nature.

The above is all speculation, but what we do know is that the site’s domain name is currently working properly. The nameservers appear to be setup correctly too, so those variables can be ruled out.

The Pirate Bay currently displays a CloudFlare error message suggesting that TPB’s servers are (partially) unresponsive.

tpbcferror

Interestingly, some users report that they can still access the site via the Tor network, including the popular Pirate Browser.

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay’s admin for a comment on the situation and we will update this article if we hear back.

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

TorrentFreak: Leaked Game of Thrones Episodes Trigger Piracy Craze

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

got5Today’s pre-release leak of four Game of Thrones episodes is without doubt one of the most prominent leaks in TV history.

The first copies, leaked from a review screener, appeared less than 24 hours ago on the private tracker IPT and quickly spread across public torrent sites.

During the first few hours there weren’t too many downloads, but that quickly changed after the news reached the mainstream press.

At the time of writing more than 135,000 people are sharing a single torrent of the first episode of season 5, which has already been downloaded over a million times since its release 18 hours ago.

The other three episodes are hovering around a million downloads as well, and that’s only via public torrent sites. The piracy totals will most likely double if the totals of streaming and direct download sites are added.

The most shared leaked GoT episodes
gotleak

While there’s certainly a piracy craze, with the four leaked episodes being the most pirated files globally at the moment, there’s no record to report just yet.

The unexpected release appears to have scattered the downloads throughout the day. As a result, last year’s record of 254,114 people sharing a single file at the same time is out of reach.

Still, more than a million downloads for a single episode in less than a day is quite impressive.

A snapshot of IP-addresses sharing the most downloaded episode shows that most originate from the UK and US, followed by India, Canada and France.

While all those pirates are surely having a great weekend now, the hangover will probably come later with the realization that it will take more than a month before the next episode comes online.

# Country % City %
torrentfreak.com
1 United Kingdom 9.8% London 3.3%
2 United States 9.1% Athens 2.4%
3 India 7.8% Lisbon 1.9%
4 Canada 5.4% Stockholm 1.8%
5 France 4.2% Bucharest 1.7%
6 Greece 3.3% Madrid 1.7%
7 The Netherlands 3.1% Mumbai 1.4%
8 Australia 3.1% Dubai 1.3%
9 Brazil 3.0% New Delhi 1.3%
10 Philippines 3.0% Toronto 1.1%

Note: The numbers are based on a sample of 21,445 IP-addresses collected over part of the day, which means that there’s a geographical bias. Also, downloaders who use VPNs may appear to be in a different country.

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

TorrentFreak: Media Must Protect Dallas Buyers Club’s Innocent Victims

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

papersDealing with people who receive threatening letters from so-called copyright trolls can be a draining experience. On the one hand there are those who are arrogant about their offending (and that’s their prerogative) but it’s the innocent parties that make things so difficult.

For at least seven years TorrentFreak has been receiving sometimes heartbreaking emails from people who just don’t know where to turn. Most received aggressive cash demands to make supposed lawsuits go away and some were threatened with the loss of their homes if they didn’t pay up.

These are multi-million dollar corporations bullying the little man simply because they can, and it’s a horrible thing to behold.

This week, in what can only be described as a massive effort by the Australian press, dozens of outlets informed us that U.S.-based Voltage Pictures had won its case against ISPs including iiNet. This means that close to 5,000 Aussies will shortly receive letters demanding cash settlements and all the misery they entail.

Many publications did note a positive, however. In a move designed to limit Voltage’s ability to abuse the vulnerable, Justice Perram stated the following:

“Having regard to the likely identity of many account holders and their potential vulnerability to what may appear to be abusive practices I propose to impose conditions on [Voltage Pictures] that will prevent speculative invoicing,” he wrote.

This means that Voltage will be required to send a draft of the letter it intends to send to alleged downloaders for the Judge to approve. Sadly, no matter how well intentioned, this ‘safeguard’ will likely do absolutely nothing to change the outcome or business model of this notorious copyright troll.

As pointed out by Justice Perram in his ruling, the same approach was ordered in Golden Eye (International) Ltd v Telefonica UK Ltd [2012], another trolling case in the UK. Judicial oversight in that case stopped Golden Eye from citing any precise monetary claim whatsoever in their initial letter, thus removing their ‘invoicing’ value.

While great in theory, no subsequent correspondence was monitored by the court and the topic of money was raised immediately after the court turned its back. The same thing also happened in the recent case involving a company called Mircom. As required, no money was claimed in the initial letter but as soon as people wrote back, all protestations of innocence were ignored and cash demands were forthcoming alongside threats of financial ruin.

Make no mistake, the Speculative Invoice WILL come to Australia. Justice Perram (for all his good intentions) has just delayed it by one envelope, at most. It’s possible he will read this piece and decide to do more, but it’s unlikely.

So, presuming no further protection will be forthcoming from the Federal Court, the responsibility for looking after the interests of the innocent – and there will be plenty of them – will fall into the laps of the only people with the power to bring this under control – the ladies and gentlemen of the media.

Aussie publications large and small need to step up to the mark, listen to the people being targeted and tell their stories. Sure, some will have brought this on themselves, but there will be others – such as account holders identified as infringers merely by virtue of them paying the Internet bill – who will have done absolutely nothing wrong. They deserve a voice.

It’s also worth noting that Voltage has indicated awareness over potential negative media coverage but take those comments with two large pinches of salt. This company knows exactly what it’s doing and in the United States they have had a very easy ride, no matter who they sued. That easy ride has only encouraged them to expand elsewhere, including Europe, Australia and more recently, Singapore.

That said, Voltage are not immune from criticism. Their claims – that they will not target the one time downloader, those on welfare, the disabled, or those in the military – should be closely monitored, and when they wrongfully pressure innocent account holders to give up the identities of those around them so that they can be pursued too, the public should hear about these tactics.

Their inevitable demands for many hundreds, possibly several thousands of dollars from regular citizens based on mere allegations that have never been taken to a fully contested trial, should be publicized too.

But the people can’t do this alone, they need the assistance of an inquisitive and persistent media determined to monitor Voltage’s behavior every step of the way. It won’t be pretty and there will be plenty of misdirection, but allow this company free reign in Australia and they will be only the first of many trolls to land Down Under.

There’s no question that copyright holders should have the ability to protect their content, but trolling is a business that only thrives because of its success in intimidating the weak and vulnerable. Any company engaged in these practices that claims otherwise is taking us all for fools, and should be held to account – publicly and in print.

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

TorrentFreak: First Episodes of Game of Thrones Season 5 Leak Online

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

got5Starting a few hours ago several episodes of the new Game of Thrones season started to appear online.

The copies were first spotted on the private torrent tracker IPT, but they soon made their way to more public sites such as The Pirate Bay, RARBG and KickassTorrents.

At the time of writing the first four episodes of the new season have been posted online. One source informs TF that the leak most likely originates from review copies sent to the press.

The leaks are a huge blow to HBO. In an effort to decrease piracy the company worked hard to ensure that the fifth season of Game of Thrones would premiere in 170 countries simultaneously.

Today, however, pirates have scooped up the exclusive, releasing four episodes worldwide.

While it came unexpected, many Game of Thrones fans have already spotted the early leak.

During the first three hours the episodes were downloaded more than 100,000 times and this number is expected to increase to more than a million later today.

Over the past three years Game of Thrones has been the most pirated TV-show. Based on the popularity of today’s leaks, this will be no different in 2015.

Breaking story, more info may follow

Game of Thrones Leaked S05E01
GOTleak

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Threats Trigger Massive Surge in VPN Usage

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

ausThis week news broke that the makers of Dallas Buyers Club have the court’s approval to go after 4,726 alleged movie pirates in Australia, opening the door to many more copyright lawsuits.

Around the same time the country’s largest Internet providers submitted their online anti-piracy code, announcing that 200,000 piracy warnings will be sent out each year.

Facing increased monitoring and potential legal action many file-sharers have taken counter measures, hiding their IP-addresses so their sharing activities can no longer be linked to their ISP account.

Early March, the initial announcement of the warning letters already increased interest in VPNs and other anonymizing services, but this week’s surge broke new records.

Data from Google trends reveals that interest in anonymizing services has soared, with searches for “VPN” quadrupling in recent weeks. This effect, shown in the graph below, is limited to Australia and likely a direct result of the recent anti-piracy threats.

aussievpn

The effects are clearly noticeable at VPN providers as well, in both traffic and sales. TorGuard, a VPN and BitTorrent proxy provider, has seen the number of Australian visitors spike this week, for example.

“Over the past week TorGuard has seen a massive jump in Australian subscribers. Traffic from this region is currently up over 150% and recent trends indicate that the upsurge is here to stay,” TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt tells us.

“VPN router sales to Australia have also increased significantly with AU orders now representing 50% of all weekly shipments.”

TorGuard traffic from Australia
TorGuardAU

The recent events are expected to drive tens of thousands of new users to anonymizing services. However, it appears that even before the surge they were already commonly used Down Under.

A survey among 1,008 Australians early March showed that 16% of the respondents already used VPNs or Tor to increase privacy. The Essential survey shows that anonymizing tools are most prevalent among people aged 18-34.

While copyright holders don’t like the increased interest in these evasion tools, it may not all be bad news.

In fact, to a certain degree it shows that pirates are spooked by the new initiatives. Where some decide to go underground, others may choose to pirate less. And for the “trolls” there are still plenty of unsecured file-sharers out there.

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

TorrentFreak: Sentenced to Jail, Warez Operator Faces $30m Damages Claim

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

warezEvery year the RIAA and MPAA submit their overviews of so-called “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR). Sites detailed in these reports are branded “rogue”, a label reserved for the supposed worst-of-the-worst in the piracy landscape.

In the RIAA’s most recent submission all the usual suspects were present, including The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Goear, the site blocked in Spain this week. Also present was Wawa-Mania, a popular ‘warez’ forum specializing in a broad range of ‘pirate’ content.

Founded in 2006 by Dimitri Mader, Wawa-Mania became the biggest local site of its type with more than 2,000,000 registered members.

Unsurprisingly this success attracted the attention of rightsholders and in 2009 Mader was detained after the Association Against Audiovisual Piracy (ALPA) identified more than 3600 films being made available via the site without permission.

Mader, known online as Zac, received an unusual level of support from sympathizers, some of whom scaled Alpa’s headquarters and placed banners in support of the site operator.

wawa-mania

This week more than five years later, it was announced that Mader had been handed a year in jail and fined 20,000 euros for his role on the site. According to a statement issued by the Civil Society of Phonogram Producers (SCPP), the 26-year-old was sentenced in absentia, having fled to the Philippines some time ago.

The court also ordered Wawa-Mania to be shut down but it currently remains fully operational using an Ecuadorian TLD and the same Moldovan host previously used by The Pirate Bay.

mader-tv5

But for Mader the bad news doesn’t end here. Some of the world’s largest movie companies including Columbia Pictures, Disney, Paramount, Tristar, Universal, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. are now seeking huge damages amounting to around $30 million.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for late May. According to unconfirmed reports Mader is considering a return to France to face proceedings. Meanwhile, supporters are discussing ways to keep Wawa-Mania alive after any shutdown.

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

TorrentFreak: Judge: IP-Address Doesn’t Identify a Movie Pirate

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

ip-addressWhile relatively underreported, many U.S. district courts are still swamped with lawsuits against alleged film pirates.

One of the newcomers this year are the makers of the action movie Manny. Over the past few months “Manny Film” has filed 215 lawsuits across several districts.

Like all copyright holders, the makers of the film rely on IP-addresses as evidence. They then ask the courts to grant a subpoena, forcing Internet providers to hand over the personal details of the associated account holders.

In most cases the courts sign off on these requests, but in Florida this isn’t as straightforward.

When District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro was assigned a Manny Film case she asked the company to explain how an IP-address can pinpoint the actual person who downloaded a pirated film. In addition, she asked them to show that geolocation tools are good enough to prove that the alleged pirate resides in the Court’s district.

In a detailed reply the filmmakers argued that IP-addresses can identify the defendant and that a refusal to grant a subpoena would set a “dangerous precedent.” Manny Film further stated that “all other courts” disagreed with the notion that an IP-address is not a person.

This last remark didn’t go down well with Judge Ungaro. In an order handed down this week she cites various cases where courts ruled that IP-addresses don’t always identify the alleged offenders.

“Due to the risk of ‘false positives,’ an allegation that an IP address is registered to an individual is not sufficient in and of itself to support a claim that the individual is guilty of infringement,” wrote the Judge citing a 2012 case, one of many examples.

The referenced cases clearly refute Manny Film’s claim that all other courts disagreed with the Judge Ungaro’s concerns, and the Judge is not convinced by any of the other arguments either.

“As in those cases, Plaintiff here fails to show how geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant. Specifically, there is nothing linking the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing the copy righted material and nothing establishing that the person actually lives in this district,” Judge Ungaro writes.

“Even if this IP address is located within a residence, geolocation software cannot identify who have access to that residence’s computer and who would actually be using it to infringe Plaintiff’s copyright,” she adds.

As a result, the Court refused to issue a subpoena and dismissed the case against IP-address 66.229.140.101 for improper venue.

While not all judges may come to the same conclusion, the order makes it harder for rightholders to play their “copyright troll” scheme in the Southern District of Florida. At the same time, it provides future defendants with a good overview to fight similar claims elsewhere.

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

TorrentFreak: Stallone Thanks Piracy Police For New Expendables 3 Arrest

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

cityoflondonpoliceLast year the movie The Expendables 3 leaked in extremely high-quality several weeks before its theatrical debut, sparking huge Hollywood controversy.

The fully finished DVD Screener copy of the action movie featuring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham and Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared late July 2014 and was downloaded millions of times before its official release mid August 2014.

Three months later came the first news of arrests in connection with the case.

During November 2014 the Intellectual Property Crime Unit of City of London Police (PIPCU) announced that two men aged 33 and 36 had been taken into custody after being arrested in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and Upton, Wirral.

This morning the same police unit announced the arrest of a third man, again in the UK.

In what is being described as a joint investigation with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), City of London Police arrested the 26-year-old at his workplace in Leeds yesterday morning. He was taken to a local police station for questioning.

“The suspect is believed to be involved in obtaining high-quality films, which are either only available at the cinema or are unfinished movies which have yet to be released, and then leaking them on to the internet. It is estimated his actions are costing the industry millions of pounds,” PIPCU said in a statement.

“Officers from PIPCU and HSI searched the man’s home in Halifax where several computers and mobile devices were seized.”

News of the arrest was welcomed by Sylvester Stallone himself, who expressed gratitude to the authorities for their work in apprehending the man.

expendables“I’d like to thank the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at the City of London Police for working with US Homeland Security Investigations to apprehend the suspect in this case. It is important to protect the rights of creatives around the world from theft,” Stallone said.

Commenting in the arrest, City of London Police Detective Inspector, Mick Dodge, said that the operation was indicative of the international reach of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

“PIPCU has a remit to protect the UK’s creative industries but we are also committed to ensuring the UK is not a safe haven for criminals seeking to attack international businesses from our shores,” Dodge said.

“Working with law enforcement partners across the world, PIPCU is coming down hard on criminals exploiting intellectual property for their own financial gain and today’s action should serve as a warning to online pirates.

“This joint investigation also demonstrates our close working relationship with the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) which was recently marked with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.”

Matthew Etre, U.S. Embassy London’s Attaché for US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) said that dealing with the issue of online piracy remains a top priority for law enforcement, despite the perception that infringement is a victimless crime.

“Too often these types of crimes are regarded as immaterial because they are seemingly without victims; however, when a business suffers a loss, it is felt at all levels, from the C-suite to the mailroom,” Etre said.

“In cases such as this, preventing piracy is akin to protecting people’s livelihoods. This arrest is yet another success story highlighting what strong, collaborative relationships between law enforcement agencies can accomplish. HSI London values its relationship with the PIPCU and continues to work closely with them to battle against intellectual property crime.”

According to PIPCU, yesterday’s arrest stems from a tipoff received by Homeland Security in July 2014 regarding movie piracy. To date, no arrests in the United States in connection with the case have been made public.

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

TorrentFreak: EFF Seeks DMCA Exemption to Preserve Abandoned Games

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

effWhile video gaming used to be a strictly offline affair, in the current market many titles require continued access to custom online resources in order to function.

Updates, patches and multi-player support aside, some titles simply cease to function when their developers or publishers decide that the game has outlived its usefulness.

While this is convenient for companies looking to promote the latest titles to their customer bases, those who have invested in software are regularly abandoned along with their now-useless games.

In attempt to remedy this situation the Electronic Frontier Federation (EFF) has teamed up with law student Kendra Albert to seek legal protections from the Copyright Office for those who modify gaming code in order to keep titles playable.

The problem lies in the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Section 1201) which create legal uncertainty for those digging into code for such purposes. To create clarity, provide protection and allow for the functional preservation of videogame art, the EFF is seeking an exemption to the Act.

“Section 1201 is often used by the entertainment industries not to prevent copyright infringement but to control markets and lock out competition. So it’s not surprising that ESA (the trade association for the largest game producers), along with MPAA and RIAA, have written to the Copyright Office to oppose this exemption,” EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz explains.

“They say that modifying games to connect to a new server (or to avoid contacting a server at all) after publisher support ends—letting people continue to play the games they paid for—will destroy the video game industry. They say it would ‘undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based’.”

Indeed, the testimony of ESA Senior Vice-President and General Counsel Christian Genetski before the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet last year (pdf), outlines the software group’s position clearly.

“[W]hile addressing copyright infringement is one important objective of Section 1201, it is not its only objective,” Genetski said.

“[A] prohibition on the hacking of technological protection measures controlling access to protected works (even if the hacking does not result in any copyright infringement) [is] necessary in order to encourage innovation in the online distribution of copyrighted works.”

mario64While the ESA appears to have at least drawn a distinction between piracy and non copyright-infringing activity in its 2014 submission, the EFF says that the software group is now using language that closes the gap somewhat.

Any exception to Section 1201’s blanket ban on circumvention would send a message that “hacking — an activity closely associated with piracy in the minds of the marketplace — is lawful”, the ESA says, adding that the same would “undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based.”

It’s fair to say that the EFF remains unimpressed by this interpretation.

“Imagine the havoc that could result if people believed that ‘hacking’ was ever legal! Of course, ‘hacking’ is legal in most circumstances,” Stoltz says.

“Most of the programmers that create games for Sony, Microsoft, EA, Nintendo, and other ESA members undoubtedly learned their craft by tinkering with existing software. If ‘hacking,’ broadly defined, were actually illegal, there likely would have been no video game industry.”

In its submission to the U.S. Copyright Office (pdf), the EFF lists dozens of server shutdowns in 2014 alone, affecting titles such as Age of Empires Online, various Battlefield, Command and Conquer and Crysis titles, several FIFA, Madden and Mario games, plus more than a dozen Pokemon editions.

While these titles have been committed to the graveyard for now, the EFF hopes that an exemption to the DMCA will allow them to enjoy new life. They are supported by T.L. Taylor, Associate Professor of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The preservation of computer games includes not only making sure we can see their graphics or hear their sounds, but understand the complexity of their mechanics. Given the market life-cycle of most games, protection is needed to ensure research can continue on these artifacts even after developers have moved onto other ventures,” Taylor writes.

“I believe the exemption proposed here offers a critical path to supporting a range of work that, far from harming any stakeholders, fosters the lively use, development, and scholarship of digital gaming.”

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