Posts tagged ‘Torrent Sites’

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Lures Hollywood With ‘Popcorn Time Protection’

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

popcorntIn little more than a year Popcorn Time has become a household name on the Internet.

The software amassed millions of users by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

This attraction has drawn a lot of attention from the press, which makes the “Popcorn Time” brand an ideal tool for anti-piracy outfits to promote their work.

In recent months various movie studios have launched lawsuits against Popcorn Time users, for example. In practice these cases target the same BitTorrent swarms as the thousands of other lawsuits that have been filed in recent years, but a press release quoting “Popcorn Time” ensures mainstream coverage.

Struggling piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has the same idea. A few hours ago the company published a press release announcing their new “Popcorn Time Protection” service.

“The service includes 365x24x7 monitoring of the Popcorn Time network and associated data collection and reporting services,” the company announces.

While the name is new, the service does nothing more than what Rightscorp currently offers. After all, traditional BitTorrent pirates and Popcorn Time users are connected to the same swarms and are downloading the same files.

Rightscorp monitors these swarms and through Internet providers they send DMCA notices to the pirating IP-addresses, asking the account holders to pay $30 per copyright infringement. These IP-addresses can belong to both Popcorn Time and regular BitTorrent users.

The anti-piracy company nonetheless leverages the ‘brand’ to lure Hollywood studios into becoming customers. Warner Bros. is already on board and by focusing on Popcorn Time’s momentum they hope others will follow.

“Popcorn Time is a clear and present danger to Hollywood and directly threatens the right of the creators and owners of content to determine how their content is distributed,” CEO Christopher Sabec says.

The company cites Netflix’s warning against the application as well as other news items. In addition the CEO claims that the software is immune to some other anti-piracy measures.

“We believe our new Popcorn Time Protection service is the only scalable solution for this major threat to Hollywood. Popcorn Time is unaffected by domain blocking and by DMCA takedown notices,” Sabec notes.

This is where Rightscorp appears to misunderstand or at least bend the truth. Popcorn Time relies heavily on centralized third party services, such as the YTS torrent site, which accepts DMCA notices and can easily have its domain name seized or blocked.

In fact, Rightscorp published a blog post recently in which the company noted that Popcorn Time had stopped working for some people, an event triggered by a domain seizure.

This point is also brought up by the developers of the PopcornTime.io fork, who accuse Rightscorp of “using a popular name to surf the wave and impress the markets.”

“While there’s nothing new in what they offer, its name catched [sic] our attention,” the team says of the Rightscorp ‘product’.

Finally, the Popcorn Time team draws attention to VPNs, which render Rightscorp’s monitoring model useless. For some reason that’s a detail the anti-piracy company conveniently left out of its press release.

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

TorrentFreak: Canada’s Mr. Robot Premiere Censored By False DMCA Notice

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

robot-smallNew York resident Elliot Alderson works as a security engineer at cyber-security company Allsafe. Through a window of mental issues, Alderson views the world with paranoia while using his undoubted technical skills to hack his targets.

After being recruited by an anarchist known as “Mr. Robot”, Alderson becomes part of a team known as “fsociety” with a mission to take down one of the largest corporations in the world.

The now-hit TV show Mr Robot enjoyed a somewhat unusual U.S. launch, with the pilot airing late May on a wide range of online platforms including the USANow app, YouTube, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, plus Xbox and Playstation, to name just a few.

Chris McCumber, president, USA Network, said that the strategy provided a “unique opportunity” to get noticed and drive word-of-mouth promotion. It’s the kind of effort piracy has been providing unofficially for many years via leaked pilots (1) (2).

After enjoying huge success in the United States, this Friday evening Mr Robot will finally get its Canadian premiere on Showcase. And, in line with the U.S. strategy, Canadian geeks have already been given the opportunity to have an advance sneak preview of the pilot episode on Showcase.ca and ETCanada.com.

However, those attempting to use Google to find the pilot won’t be able to do so directly. Quite unbelievably, NBCUniversal in the United States have reported Showcase to Google, claiming that the copy of the pilot on the broadcaster’s website is illegal.

mr-robot-dmca

With episodes carrying titles such as eps1.1_ones-and-zer0es.mpeg and eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v (not to mention a quite fantastic website at whoismrrobot.com), there can be little doubt that Mr Robot’s creators are reaching out to those who spend their lives online. It’s therefore particularly disappointing that the same target audience will be only too aware of how ridiculous these kinds of careless takedowns are.

Also regrettable is that the bogus NBCUniversal takedown has somehow slipped past Google’s systems that often reject erroneous claims. As can be seen from the image below, the pilot episode page has been completely delisted from Google.

mr-robot-google

The first series of Mr Robot has enjoyed success and great reviews in the U.S. but only now have Canadians been let in on the fun. Those wishing to do so without relying on censored Google search results should follow this link.

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

TorrentFreak: ISPs and Rightsholders Extend “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme

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

pirate-runningDuring the summer of 2011 the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with five major Internet providers in the United States, announcing their a plan to “educate” BitTorrent pirates.

The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agreed on a system through which Internet account holders are warned if their connections are used to download pirated content. After five or six warnings ISPs take a variety of repressive measures, including bandwidth throttling and temporary disconnections.

Initially the first ISPs were expected to start sending out “Copyright Alerts” by the end of 2011, but due to several delaying factors it took until 2013 before the system went live.

A few weeks ago the original agreement (pdf) quietly expired, but that doesn’t mean that warnings are off the table. Behind the scenes, copyright holders and ISPs have agreed to extend the original agreement for four more months while they work on several changes and improvements.

According to a document seen by TF the parties opted for the short extension because more time is needed to reach a new agreement. The yearly volume of notices is likely to be one of the key issues up for discussion.

An insider informed TF that CCI is committed to keeping the flagship Copyright Alert program alive. In addition, the group is working on an expansion of its consumer education efforts in an effort to direct people to legal services.

While warnings are at the center of the Copyright Alert System, the ultimate goal of CCI is to “shift social norms and behavior.”

At the moment it remains unclear how effective the alerts have been thus far. Some initial statistics were released early 2014 but TF was told that no new figures will be made public before next year.

While CCI remains positive about the program, there has also been critique from copyright holders. A few months ago several independent movies studios called for an end to the “six strikes” scheme, describing it as an ineffective “sham”.

According to the movie studios the copyright alerts are highly ineffective because only a small fraction of the piracy notices are forwarded to the Internet providers.

Time will tell whether any of the upcoming changes will address these concerns.

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

TorrentFreak: UK Police Arrest Prolific Pirate Bay Uploader

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

cityoflondonpoliceWhile BitTorrent can be used to distribute files as small as a single image, the protocol is much better suited to shifting larger files, video in particular.

Nevertheless, millions of music tracks are shared every week across hundreds of torrent sites, mainly in full album form. Of course, due to its efficiency, entire discographies are easy to find too, as are weekly packs of the Billboard Top 100 and the UK’s Top 40.

However, following action by police in the UK today, those in the music industry will be hoping that these large packs will be harder to find.

According to news just in from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) their officers were in action early this morning taking down what they believe to be a prolific music pirate.

Following a joint investigation with licensing outfit PRS for Music, officers from PIPCU and Merseyside police raided an address in Everton, Liverpool. Their target was a 38-year-old man believed to be involved in the unlawful distribution of music online.

In addition to uploading the UK’s Top 40 Singles to various torrent sites on a weekly basis, police say the man also ran his own website offering not only regular tracks but also acapella versions. Police claim there was a commercial motivation, with the man generating “significant” advertising revenue from his endeavors.

“Today’s operation in Liverpool demonstrates how PIPCU are prepared to travel nationwide in the pursuit of those suspected of being involved in the illegal distribution of content online,” said City of London Police Detective Inspector, Mick Dodge.

“This is a crime that is costing the UK creative industry hundreds of millions of pounds, money that not only supports the artists but the thousands of technical and support staff working in this sector, and PIPCU is committed to working with partners nationally and internationally to target those involved.”

Simon Bourn, Head of Litigation, Enforcement and Anti-Piracy at PRS for Music, said that music piracy continues to have an impact on those who contribute to the creative economy.

“We’re committed to partnering with PIPCU to enforce against illegal services that are not willing to work with us towards a legitimate licensed model, and which continue to exploit our members’ work without permission,” Bourn said.

At this stage police have not named the arrested individual but sources familiar with the situation have informed TF that the man is a regular uploader to KickassTorrents and The Pirate Bay and has uploaded hundreds of torrents in the past five years.

Further investigation by TorrentFreak led us to a website offering acapella content as described by FACT, linked to a man in the Liverpool area.

It certainly doesn’t look like a huge operation but PIPCU claim the man’s actions “could be costing the music industry millions of pounds”.

The man is currently being questioned at a local police station. Several computers have been seized.

Breaking, more information as we have it

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

TorrentFreak: Twitter Suspends ‘Pirate’ Site Accounts Over Dubious Claims

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

pirate-twitterIn common with many other online services, copyright holders regularly ask Twitter to remove tweets that link to pirated material.

If a user decides to post a link to a pirated blockbuster or music track there’s a good chance that it won’t be online for long. In addition, the Twitter user may have his or her account suspended.

The latter happened to the accounts of Spain’s largest torrent site EliteTorrent and the linking site Bajui recently, both following a copyright holder complaint. However, both accounts had refrained from linking to pirated material.

The takedown notices in which the accounts were targeted were sent by the Spanish company Golem Distribución, who own the distribution rights of the film “Cut Bank.” They both reference tweets where the title of the film was mentioned alongside the film poster.

In its copyright and DMCA policy Twitter explains that it takes action against “tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials,” but EliteTorrent and Bajui didn’t post any links, just text and a film poster.

The Elitetorrent tweet
censoredtweet

Morphoide, the founder of the Elitewebs Network which includes both EliteTorrent and Bajui, initially thought that the tweets were flagged because of the image. However, the DMCA notice makes no mention of this.

Instead, Golem Distribución accuses the accounts in broken English of distributing the film on their respective websites, not Twitter.

“According to the protocol of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act): We have noted that the websites own, is offering free downloads and/or streaming of the work ‘CUT BANK’ belonging to GOLEM DISTRIBUCIÓN,” the notice reads.

The DMCA notice
dmcagolemtweet

Morphoide is disappointed with Twitter’s decision and informs us that he specifically chose not to include any links to avoid this kind of trouble.

“There were no links in the tweets. I stopped linking a long time ago because I didn’t want my account to be suspended for doing so,” Morphoide says.

Apparently even tweets without links can be flagged and both sites have had their accounts suspended as a result. This means that thousands of followers are gone, just like that.

The site’s founder says he has lost faith in Twitter and doesn’t intend to appeal the suspension.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Sites Must Pay Legal Costs of Own Blockade, Court Rules

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

stop-blockedContinuing with the blocking campaign spreading around Europe, several Hollywood studios recently applied to a court in Norway to have seven ‘pirate’ sites blocked at the ISP level.

Warner Bros, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Sony, Disney, Columbia and several local industry groups argued that the sites – The Pirate Bay, ExtraTorrent, Viooz, PrimeWire, Swefilmer, DreamFilm and Movie4K – infringe their copyrights.

Local ISPs including Telenor, TeliaSonera, NextGenTel and Altibox were named as defendants in the case alongside Pirate Bay founder Fredrik Neij and the alleged operator of Viooz, Bakrie Abubakr.

The process was handled in writing by the Oslo District Court over the summer, so the public have had no access to proceedings. In fact, news of the lawsuit broke only yesterday, alongside estimates that the court would make up its mind sometime next week.

In the event the decision came much sooner. Early this afternoon the District Court sided with the mainly Hollywood studios and ordered the seven sites named in the lawsuit to be blocked by the leading ISPs in the country.

Telenor, Norway’s leading broadband provider, welcomed the decision.

“Telenor is very pleased with the ruling. The principles that have always been important for us are followed in the ruling,” said Communications Director Torhild Uribarri.

“For Telenor it has always been important to ensure that the legal system is being followed so that it is the courts, not the Internet providers, who will decide whether a site should be shut down.”

Also of importance to Telenor is the Court’s decision to treat all Internet service providers equally. When a blocking order is handed down today and in future, it should be directed at all ISPs

Telenor also praised the Court for “a very thorough examination of the case” and for ensuring that strict standards are applied before a blocking order is handed down.

“To block a site the damage it causes must be very large, the site must be popular in Norway, the site must not create its own content and infringement on the site should be extremely difficult to prevent or counteract,” Uribarri said.

Another issue tackled by the Court was that of costs. Normally the plaintiffs (the studios) and the ISPs would battle this out between themselves but in this case the Court ruled that the pirate sites should pay.

According to the ruling the owners of the file-sharing sites should each be billed 231,964 kroner ($28,100) to be divided up between various rightsholders and their associated groups. The split is as follows:

$1424 each to Disney, Paramount, Columbia, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros, $8,500 to the Norwegian Society of Composers and Lyricists, $6,830 to the Norwegian Videograms Association, $1,900 to Video Industry Felleskontor and $2,280 to the Norwegian Film Distributers Association.

The ISPs were given two weeks to implement DNS blocks of several Pirate Bay domains including thepiratebay.se, thepiratebay.com, thepiratebay.net, thepiratebay.org, thepiratebay.mn, thepiratebay.gd and thepiratebay.la.

Three Extratorrent domains (.cc, .com and .ws), eight Movie4k domains, plus several for PrimeWire, Viooz, Swefilmer and DreamfilmHD complete the list.

The court indicated that the order (which is initially valid for five years) can be updated with new domains as they are put into action.

The sites themselves were also given two weeks to settle their bills with Hollywood. It seems unlikely that those will ever be paid.

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

TorrentFreak: No Dallas Buyers Club Piracy Appeal in Oz, Company Considering Options

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

In April, Aussie file-sharers let out a collective groan when the company behind the movie Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) won the right to obtain the personal details of almost 4,800 individuals said to have downloaded and shared the movie without permission.

However, things didn’t go to plan. As six ISPs stood by ready to hand over the information, the Federal Court told DBC that before allowing the release of the identities it wanted to see the letters the company intended to send out to alleged infringers. Justice Nye Perram wanted to avoid the so-called ‘speculative invoicing’ practices seen in other countries in recent years.

In a mid-August ruling it became clear that Justice Perram was right to exercise caution.

DBC did intend to demand thousands from alleged infringers, from the cost of single purchase of the movie and a broad license to distribute, to attempting to factor in damages for other things people may have downloaded. All but the cost of the film and some legal costs were disallowed by the Court.

In the end and in order to make it financially unviable for DBC to go against the wishes of the court, the Judge told DBC it would have to pay a AUS$600,000 bond before any subscriber information was released. The company didn’t immediately accept that offer and was given a couple of weeks to appeal. That deadline expired last Friday.

But while those who believe they might have been caught in the dragnet breathe a sign of relief, the company is warning that it’s not done yet. Speaking with itNews, Michael Bradley of Marque Lawyers, the law firm representing DBC, said that while an appeal was considered risky, other options remain.

“Appeals are always hard, it’s an expensive course, and it’s unpredictable – if one judge has taken a particular view, you’re taking a gamble on whether three other judges are going to take a different view,” Bradley said.

“We think there may be another way of achieving the outcome [we want] without having to go through an appeal.”

DBC believes that by reworking the way it calculates its demands, the Judge will see its claim in a different light. One of the avenues being explored is the notion that pirates can not only be held liable for their own uploading, but also subsequent uploading (carried out by others) that was facilitated by theirs.

In his August ruling, Justice Perram said he had “no particular problem” with that theory but did not consider it in his ruling since DBC provided him with no information. Bradley believes that door remains open for negotiation.

“Whether an individual should be liable for damages based on other activity is not a closed subject,” Bradley says. “So there may be a different way of approaching it and coming up with something [Justice Perram] is more comfortable with.”

The idea that file-sharers should somehow be held liable for the activities of other file-sharers is an extremely complex one that will be hard if not impossible to prove from a technical standpoint.

While it could be shown that file-sharer ‘A’ entered a Dallas Buyers Club movie swarm before file-sharer ‘B’, there is no way of showing that ‘B’ benefited in any way from the activity of ‘A’. DBC has no access to any information that proves information was shared between the two, or even between the two via third parties.

The company could take a broader view of course, and claim that all pirates were equally responsible for the resulting infringement in the swarm. But that amounts to each person being held responsible for their own infringement and the judge has already determined that to be the purchase price of the movie.

While DBC may yet take a second bite at the cherry (it has little to lose having invested so much already in Australian legal action), it wouldn’t come as a surprise if the company decides to make its money elsewhere. There are easy pickings to be made in the United States and the UK, and parts of Scandinavia are now also being viewed as troll-friendly. Tipping money down the drain in Oz might not be the best option.

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

TorrentFreak: US Govt. Denies Responsibility for Megaupload’s Servers

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

megaupload-logoIn a few months’ time it will be four years since Megaupload’s servers were raided by U.S. authorities. Since then, virtually no progress has been made in the criminal case.

Kim Dotcom and his Megaupload colleagues are still awaiting their extradition hearing in New Zealand and have yet to formally appear in a U.S. court.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 Megaupload servers from Carpathia Hosting remain in storage in Virginia, some of which contain crucial evidence as well as valuable files from users. The question is, for how long.

Last month QTS, the company that now owns the servers after acquiring Carpathia, asked the court if it can get rid of the data which is costing them thousands of dollars per month in storage fees.

This prompted a response from a former user who wants to preserve his data, as well as Megaupload, who don’t want any of the evidence to be destroyed.

Megaupload’s legal team suggested that the U.S. Government should buy the servers and take care of the hosting costs. However, in a new filing (pdf) just submitted to the District Court the authorities deny all responsibility.

United States Attorney Dana Boente explains that the Government has already backed up the data they need and no longer have a claim on the servers.

“…the government has already completed its acquisition of data from the Carpathia Servers authorized by the warrant, which the defendants will be entitled to during discovery,” Boente writes.

“As such, there is no basis for the Court to order the government to assume possession of the Carpathia Servers or reimburse Carpathia for ‘allocated costs’ related to their continued maintenance.”

The Government says it handed over its claim on the servers early 2012 after the search warrant was executed and the hosting company was informed at the time. This means that the U.S. can and will not determine the fate of the stored servers.

The authorities say they are willing to allow Megaupload and the other defendants to look through the data that was copied, but only after they are arraigned.

In any case, the U.S. denies any responsibility for the Megaupload servers and asks the court to keep it this way.

“…the United States continues to request that the Court deny any effort to impose unprecedented financial or supervisory obligations on the United States related to the Carpathia Servers,” the U.S. Attorney concludes.

Previously the U.S. and MPAA blocked Megaupload’s plans to buy the servers, which is one of the main reasons that there is still no solution after all those years.

The MPAA also renewed its previous position last week (pdf). The Hollywood group says doesn’t mind if users are reunited with their files as long as Megaupload doesn’t get hold of them.

“The MPAA members’ principal concern is assuring that adequate steps are taken [to] prevent the MPAA members’ content on the Mega Servers in Carpathia’s possession from falling back into the hands of Megaupload or otherwise entering the stream of commerce,” they write.

The above means that none of the parties is willing to move forward. The servers are still trapped in between the various parties and it appears that only District Court Judge Liam O’Grady can change this.

It appears to be a choice between saving the 25 Petabytes of data or wiping all servers clean.

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

TorrentFreak: Movie Studios and Record Labels Target Pirate Bay in New Lawsuit

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

tpbIn 2009, the IFPI and several local movie studios demanded that Norwegian ISP Telenor should block The Pirate Bay. The ISP refused and legal action commenced.

A subsequent ruling determined that there was no legal basis for site blocking and in 2010 a rightsholder appeal also failed. If sites were to be blocked, a change in the law was required.

In May 2011 the Ministry of Culture announced that it had put forward proposals for amendments to the Copyright Act, to include web blocking, and on July 1, 2013 the new law came into effect.

After more than two years of threats, local and international copyright holders have now made good on their promises to use the new legislation to stamp down on piracy.

In a lawsuit filed at the Oslo District Court, Disney, Warner Bros. and Sony plus local producers and representatives from the recording industry are teaming up to sue eleven local ISPs. Also targeted in the action are the alleged operators of eight ‘pirate’ sites.

Although the sites are yet to be publicly revealed, The Pirate Bay is among them and site co-founder Fredrik Neij is named as a party in the case.

According to Dagens Næringsliv, studios and labels filed an initial complaint with ISPs back in April via anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance. It was sent to the country’s largest ISP Telenor plus others including Get, NextGenTel and Altibox.

The rightsholders’ demands are familiar. All the main local ISPs must block The Pirate Bay and related sites so that subscribers can no longer access the domains directly.

“We understand licensees’ struggle for their rights. For us it is important that the court must take these decisions, and that we do not assume a censorship role,” says Telenor communications manager Tormod Sandstø.

Also of interest is how the legal process is being handled. The Oslo District Court is dealing with the case in writing so the whole process is completely closed to the public. After processing the case during the summer, early estimations suggest that the court will have made its decision within the next 10 days.

The news follows several key Norwegian anti-piracy developments in 2015. In March, an investigation by Rights Alliance culminated in a police raid against local pirate site Norskfilm.

In July, Rights Alliance placed the blame for a piracy explosion firmly on the shoulders of Popcorn Time, with the group announcing last week that up to 75,000 users of the application could now be contacted by mail. The message they will receive remains unclear but comments from Rights Alliance during the past few days have leaned away from lawsuits.

Interestingly, Popcorn Time related sites are not among the batch of domains currently under consideration by the Oslo District Court as the service was not considered a priority when the original Rights Alliance complaint was being put together. Should the current blocking attempt prove successful, expect Popcorn Time domains to appear in an upcoming lawsuit.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrenting “Manny” Pirate Must Pay $30,000 in Damages

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

pirate-runningWhile 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 sports documentary Manny. Over the past few months “Manny Film” has filed 215 lawsuits across several districts.

Most cases are settled without of court, presumably for a few thousands dollars. However, if the alleged downloader fails to respond the damage can be much worse.

District Court Judge Darrin Gayles recently issued a default judgment (pdf) against Micheal Chang, a Florida man who stood accused of pirating a copy of “Manny.

Since Chang didn’t respond to the allegations the Judge agreed with the filmmakers and ordered Chang to pay $30,000 in statutory damages. In addition he must pay attorneys’ fees and costs bringing the total to $31,657.

While the damages are a heavy burden to bear for most, the filmmakers say that the defendant got off lightly. Manny Film argued that Chang was guilty of willful copyright infringement for which the damages can go up to $150,000 per work.

“Here, despite the fact of Defendant’s willful infringement, Plaintiff only seeks an award of $30,000 per work in statutory damages,” Manny Film wrote.

According to the filmmakers Chang’s Internet connection was used to pirate over 2,400 files via BitTorrent in recent years, which they say proves that he willfully pirated their movie.

“…for nearly two years, Defendant infringed over 2,400 third-party works on BitTorrent. In addition to Plaintiff’s film, Defendant downloaded scores of Hollywood films, including works such as Avatar and The Wolf of Wall Street.”

It is unlikely that the court would have issued the same damages award if Chang had defended himself. Even in cases without representation several judges have shown reluctance to issue such severe punishments.

For example, last year U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice ruled that $30,000 in damages per shared film is excessive, referring to the Eighth Amendment which prohibits excessive fines as well as cruel and unusual punishments.

“This Court finds an award of $30,000 for each defendant would be an excessive punishment considering the seriousness of each Defendant’s conduct and the sum of money at issue,” Judge Rice wrote.

On the other hand, it could have been even worse. The damage award pales in comparison to some other default judgments. In Illinois three men had to pay $1.5 million each for sharing seven to ten movies using BitTorrent.

Controversy aside, Manny Film believes that they are certainly entitled to the $30,000. They have requested the same amount in other cases which are still pending, arguing that the actual lost revenue is even higher.

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

TorrentFreak: Yandex Demands Takedown of ‘Illegal’ Music Downloader

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

githubYandex is a Russian Internet company that runs the country’s most popular search engine controlling more than 60% of the market.

Making use of the free music that could be found via its search results, in 2009 Yandex introduced its first music player. A year later the company launched Yandex.Music, a new service offering enhanced legal access to around 800,000 tracks from the company’s catalog.

In 2014 and after years of development, Yandex relaunched a revamped music platform with new features including a Spotify-like recommendation engine and licensing deals with Universal, EMI, Warner and Sony, among others. Today the service offers more than 20 million tracks, all available for streaming from music.yandex.ru.

1d-github

While the service can be reached by using an appropriate VPN, Yandex Music is technically only available to users from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Additionally, the service’s licensing terms allow only streaming.

Of course, there are some who don’t appreciate being so restricted and this has led to the development of third-party applications that are designed to offer full MP3 downloads.

In addition to various browser extensions, one of the most popular is Yandex Music Downloader. Hosted on Github, the program’s aims are straightforward – to provide swift downloading of music from Yandex while organizing everything from ID3 tags to cover images and playlists.

Unfortunately for its fanbase, however, the software has now attracted the attention of Yandex’s legal team.

“I am Legal Counsel of Yandex LLC, Russian Internet-company. We have learned that your service is hosting program code ‘Yandex.Music downloader’…which allows users to download content (music tracks) from the service Yandex.Music…,” a complaint from Yandex to Github reads.

“Service Yandex.Music is the biggest music service in Russia that provides users with access to the licensed music. Music that [is] placed on the service Yandex.Music is licensed from its right holders including: Sony Music, The Orchard, Universal Music, Warner Music and other,” the counsel continues.

“Service Yandex.Music does not provide users with possibility to download content from the service. Downloading content from the service Yandex.Music is illegal. This means that program code ‘Yandex.Music downloader’…provides illegal unauthorized access to the service Yandex.Music that breaches rights of Yandex LLC, right holders of the content and also breaches GitHub Terms of Service.”

As a result, users trying to obtain the application are now greeted with the following screen.

git-down

The Yandex complaint follows a similar one earlier in the month in which it targeted another variant of the software.

While the takedowns may temporarily affect the distribution of the tools, Yandex’s efforts are unlikely to affect the unauthorized downloading of MP3s from its service. A cursory Google search reveals plenty of alternative tools which provide high-quality MP3s on tap.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Italian ISPs to Block Popcorn Time

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

popcorntBranded a “Netflix for Pirates,” the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year.

The application is a thorn in the side of many copyright holders who are increasingly trying to contain the threat.

In Italy this has now resulted in a new blocking order issued by the Criminal Court of Genoa. The Court ruled that Popcorn Time assists copyright infringement and has ordered local ISPs to block several domain names.

The domains listed in the ruling include those of the two most used forks, popcorntime.io and popcorn-time.se, as well as the localized download page popcorntimeitalia.com.

While the ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time from these sites, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

Also, many other sites offering the same Popcorn Time software are still available. This means that the blockades will only have a limited effect.

Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm who specializes in Internet and copyright disputes, informs TF that Popcorn Time could successfully fight the order.

Sarzana references a recent case in Israel where the Popcorn Time block was overturned because it hinders freedom of speech and says he’s willing to represent the developers.

For now the developers of the main .io Popcorn Time fork are showing little interest in fighting the decision. Instead, they’d rather put their efforts into making sure that the blockade has minimal impact.

“While they are able to block the website, Popcorn Time is a standalone program, so once a user has it downloaded it is unlikely that blocks will cause many issues other than new users getting the program from our site directly or in some cases updates.”

“However, we try our best to have things in place to make these blocks effectively null and void,” the Popcorn Time teams says.

Just a few days ago the same developers urged Hollywood to start competing with Popcorn Time. However, for now we expect that blocking efforts and other legal actions will remain top priorities.

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 – 08/31/15

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

avengThis week we have five newcomers in our chart.

Avengers: Age of Ultron 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 (2) Avengers: Age of Ultron (Web-DL) 7.8 / trailer
2 (1) Mad Max: Fury Road 8.4 / trailer
3 (…) San Andreas (Web-DL) 6.4 / trailer
4 (…) Self/less 6.5 / trailer
5 (2) Aloha 5.3 / trailer
6 (…) Magic Mike XXL (HDRip) 6.2 / trailer
7 (…) Southpaw (HDrip) 7.8 / trailer
8 (…) Minions (HDRip) 6.7 / trailer
9 (5) Terminator Genisys (Subbed HDTV rip) 7.0 / trailer
10 (7) Pitch Perfect 2 6.8 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: When You’re Calling Culture Content, You’re Reinforcing The Idea Of A Container

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

copyright-brandedThe copyright industry has consistently used the word “content” for anything creative.

Just like most other things the copyright industry does, there’s a thought behind the choice of wording – a choice they hope that other people will copy, because it reinforces their view of the world, or rather, what they would like the world to look like.

When we use certain words for metaphors, the words we use convey meaning of their own. This is why you see the pro-choice vs pro-life camps on opposite sides of the abortion debate: both camps want to portray the other camp as anti-choice and anti-life, respectively.

In the liberties debate and the culture debate, there’s nothing of the sort. The copyright industry has been allowed to establish the language completely on its own, and therefore, we’re using terms today that reinforce the idea and the notion that the copyright industry is good and that people who share are bad.

That’s insane.

Stop doing that.

Stop doing that right now.

Language matters.

You’re on the other side of the pro-life camp and you’re willingly calling yourself “anti-life”. How are you expecting to win anything from that position?

One thing you can stop saying immediately is “copyright”. Call it “the copyright monopoly”, for it is a monopoly, and that should be reinforced every time the abomination is mentioned. Also, use the term “the copyright industry” – as in manufacturing copyright monopolies and profiting off them – as often as possible. Never ever talk about “Intellectual Property”, except when describing why it’s bad to do so, as using that term reinforces the idea that ideas can not just be contained, but owned – something that’s blatantly false.

If you have to use the IP term, let it stand for Industrial Protectionism instead. That’s a much more correct description. Never ever ever use the word “property” when you’re referring to a monopoly. Doing so is so factually incorrect that courts have actually banned the copyright industry from using terms like “property” and “theft” – and yet, they keep doing so. Playing along with that game is stupid, dumb, and self-defeating.

Today, I’ll focus on the word “content”.

You’ll notice that the copyright industry uses this word consistently for everything. There’s a reason for that: If you have content, you must also have a container.

Do you need a container for a bedtime story? Do you need a container for a campfire song? Do you need a container for a train of thought? Do you need a container for cool cosplay ideas?

Of course you don’t. They’re ideas shared, songs sung, stories told. The idea that they must have a container – because they’re “content” – is so somebody can lock up those stories told and those songs sung, and so we can buy the container with the “content” we desire, instead of just singing the songs and telling the stories unfettered.

Compare the mental imagery evoked by these two sentences:

“We need to fill this website with content.”

“We need to fill this website with the stories of people in the area.”

One is locked up, controlled, locked down, devalued. The other is shared, cultural, told.

The word “content” means that there must also be a “container”, and that container is the copyright industry.

Don’t ever use the word “content”. It’s as improductive as describing yourself as “anti-life”. Talk about songs, articles, stories, and ideas. Doing so brings new life to the stories you tell.

Above all, be aware of terms that have been established by the adversary to the Internet, to liberty, and to culture – and refuse using them. The copyright industry is not your friend.

About The Author

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

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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TorrentFreak: MPAA Demands Extraordinary Measures to Prevent Piracy

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

cameraspyAt some stage the majority of content created by the world’s leading movie and TV companies enters the digital realm. Whether during production, post-production, marketing or distribution, the digitization of video is the inevitable outcome of technological advances.

As a result, dozens of companies are involved in shifting studio content around the world, either as part of the creative process or when finished material is made available to the public via platforms such as Netflix or Amazon.

Of course, every company that gets involved represents an additional weak link in the chain, with the potential for movies to be pirated before they’re ready for distribution (workprints, for example) or once they’re completed. Unsurprisingly, the MPAA works extremely hard to ensure that such leaks are kept to a minimum.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the documentation that accompanies the MPAA’s Content Security Model, a set of best practices aimed at companies entrusted with handling protected media and content. Amazon, one of the MPAA’s partners, has published the Hollywood group’s latest set of requirements.

Admittedly many of the MPAA’s demands will be already-established business practices for a big company like Amazon, but a few really stand out as examples of how far Hollywood is prepared to reach into its suppliers’ operations.

For example, in addition to carrying out background screening on all employees and third party contractors, the MPAA demands that all workers sign annual confidentiality agreements that forbid them from talking about protected content.

With an eye on local law, companies must also implement random searches of their workers for traces of MPAA content, including the removal of coats, hats and belts, the emptying of pockets, a full security pat-down, scanning with metal detectors and inspection of electronic devices.

Workers are also forbidden from entering/exiting premises with any digital recording devices such as USB drives, cameras and cellphones, while anyone bringing food into a production area must do so using a transparent bag or container.

And to ensure that no one tries to smuggle content out, companies such as Amazon are required to implement a worker dress code which bans the use of “oversized clothing” such as baggy pants or hooded sweatshirts.

Overseeing all of these precautions are any number of security guards, but not even they escape the eyes of the MPAA. Studio partners are also required to implement additional controls to ensure that their own security guards are “actively” monitored.

For workers with computer access there are dozens of rules and regulations (most making complete sense from an IT security perspective), but those thinking of smuggling out a file or two should perhaps reconsider. The MPAA insists that all movement of content, both internally and externally, should be subject to comprehensive logging, including username, timestamps, filenames, plus source and destination IP addresses.

The above represent just a few examples of the MPAA’s comprehensive requirements but no matter how stringent the rules, content leaks happen each and every year.

Whether that’s the handful of movie workprints that periodically make the headlines or the dozens of fully finished Oscar screeners hitting the web annually, leaks are here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future.

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

TorrentFreak: Offcloud Downloads Torrents to Google Drive and Dropbox

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

offcloudlogoDownloading torrents remotely is nothing new. Most of the popular torrent clients support this functionality, but for many users it’s too much of a hassle to configure it correctly.

This is where Offcloud comes in.

The new startup offers users a wide range of tools to download and backup files from video services and file-hosters, and recently added torrent support and Google drive integration as well.

The idea is simple and straightforward. Users simply paste a torrent link into their Offcloud account and the service then downloads the files right away.

One of the main benefits to users is that they can add torrents from work, school or on the road. After the torrent is downloaded to Offcloud’s server the files can be downloaded to a local computer or synced to Google Drive, Dropbox or an FTP server.

Once the files are synced people can access or play the files directly from the cloud, since Dropbox and Google Drive support online streaming for various media formats.

Google Drive Streaming
h4uflH4

Downloading files only to Offcloud is an option as well of course, as the service has a built-in media player.

The main downside of Offcloud is that it limits the number of downloads to two torrent links per week on a free account. This should be good enough for the casual user, but paid plans are also available starting at $1.99.

TF also asked the service about its seeding policy and the company clarified that it’s not a seedbox service.

“Offcloud does not have the ambition to be a seedbox service. We are not here to help BitTorrent uploaders, but rather to provide a simple cloud-based solution to users who simply wish to leech from BitTorrent in a fast and secure manner,” Offcloud’s spokesperson says.

The company tries to main torrent etiquette by uploading and downloading an equal amount of data. And thanks to the high bandwidth capacity the overall torrent swarm speeds will increase, at least temporarily.

“We usually aim at a 1:1 ratio for the sake of the BitTorrent swarm’s quality. Furthermore, our 10-Gbit nodes are truly boosting the swarm at the moment they are active on a certain torrent,” Offcloud notes.

TF tested the service which works as advertised. The torrents start quickly and download at much higher speeds than the average home connection, and they quickly appear in the designated Dropbox account or Google Drive.

In addition to torrents the service also downloads and converts videos from a range of other sites including YouTube, Vimeo, adult sites and most popular file-hosters.

People who want to take a look can head over to Offcloud to take it for a free spin.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Is Down…

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

pirate bayThe 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, hosting problem or a software glitch, issues that have occurred many times in the site’s history.

What we do know is that the site’s domain names are not the culprit.

The Pirate Bay currently displays a CloudFlare error message across all domain names, suggesting that TPB’s servers are unresponsive.

tpbcferror

With the raid of last year still fresh in memory some fear the worst, but these concerns are unwarranted for now.

In fact, the site is still accessible via the Tor network (through http://uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion/), including the popular Pirate Browser.

The Tor traffic goes through a separate server and works just fine.

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team 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: 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: Popcorn Time Blames Hollywood For Its Popularity

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

popcorntLast week several users of Popcorn Time were sued in the United States and this week a Norwegian anti-piracy group threatened to go after tens of thousands of local users.

It’s clear that copyright holders aren’t happy with the app, which allows people to stream pirated movies. However, according to the software’s developers Hollywood is to blame for its overwhelming success.

In a statement sent to TF the team behind the popular Popcorn Time .io fork say that film and TV-studios should compete with their app. That is, make a globally available streaming service where all the latest blockbusters and series are available.

“People are ready to pay a fee, but a lot of them currently refuse to pay for a petty catalog with country-specific restrictions,” the Popcorn Time team notes.

“The price can also be a hurdle for some people: $20 a month is not the same in Uganda and the United States. But obviously, the most problematic issue is the complete lack of legal availability in some places.”

Hollywood is still holding on to limited releases and regional roadblocks. This is something Netflix and other VOD providers are not happy with, and neither are consumers.

“Why would people in France wait two years to see a movie that’s already being broadcasted in the US, when they both are paying almost the same amount of money?”

According to Popcorn Time these artificial limitations drive people to break towards unofficial sources.

“The Internet has brought people closer, and they start to notice that some things aren’t acceptable. And then they turn to alternatives, even if it means diving into illegality.”

The developers themselves see the Popcorn Time software as a legitimate product but they realize that some users may be breaking the law. Ironically, the reason for breaking the law is so they can watch their favorite Hollywood entertainment.

Currently, this situation mostly benefits the popularity of Popcorn Time but with the right alternative for the right price, many won’t need to turn to piracy.

“Maybe it is time to consider the will of the people and offer them a legal, complete and useful service, no matter where they were born, instead of trying to punish people for… well, for wanting the see the content artists and industries are offering.

“Currently, piracy is fulfilling the demand of the people because the industry fails at the transition into the modern age. We think it’s as simple as that,” the Popcorn Time team concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: First Netflix 4K Content Leaks to Torrent Sites

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

netflixuhdWhile many average consumers can’t even play 4K content on their TV or computer, true video geeks are looking forward to every new release.

Thus far the offerings have been limited to adult content and a handful of mainstream productions. However, with the adoption of a Blu-Ray standard for Ultra High Definition video more releases will follow soon.

4K streaming releases have been available for a while already, with Netflix and Amazon being the two key vendors. These online streams are well protected against pirates.

In fact, up until this week it was believed to be impossible to break the High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) version 2.2 or higher. However, this may no longer be the case as the first 4K Netflix leak just appeared online.

The leak in question is the first episode of Breaking Bad and was released by the reputable group “iON.” The 2160p video file takes up 17.73 GB of space, which is roughly 50 times that of a traditional standard definition equivalent.

The image below shows the file being listed at a popular private tracker with just over a dozen people sharing it.

Breaking.Bad.S01E01.Pilot.2160p.NF.WEBRip.DTS.x264-iON
bb4k

The media info for the release shows that the episode has a bit rate of 41.3 Mbps and overall the video specs make it hard to play the file smoothly on the average computer.

At the time of writing the 4K leak is only available on private torrent trackers but it’s expected to eventually leak to public sites as well. It’s currently unknown if the release group broke HDCP 2.2 or if they found another way to capture the stream.

Leaked drafts of the 4K copy protection agreement between Sony and Netflix reveals that the streams are generally well-protected. They also include a watermark so that leaks can be traced back to the source.

“The watermark must contain sufficient information such that forensic analysis of unauthorized recorded video clips of the output video shall uniquely determine the account to which the output video was delivered,” the document reads.

It’s unclear whether the watermarks were included and if they were removed from the Breaking Bad video, but release groups are generally well-equipped to remove these type of markers.

Netflix informs TF that they are looking into the reported leak and the company will do its best to prevent similar breaches in the future.

“Piracy is a global problem. We, like others content providers, are actively working on ways to protect content featured on our site,” a Netflix spokesperson told us.

While 4K content is not going to be shared by the majority of online pirates, the first 4K leak from Netflix will certainly have Hollywood and the streaming service worried. Whether they can stop it has yet to be seen though.

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.

TorrentFreak: Tech Giants Want to Punish DMCA Takedown Abusers

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

copyright-brandedEvery day copyright holders send millions of DMCA takedown notices to various Internet services.

Most of these requests are legitimate, aimed at disabling access to copyright-infringing material. However, there are also many overbroad and abusive takedown notices which lead to unwarranted censorship.

These abuses are a thorn in the side of major tech companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft. These companies face serious legal consequences if they fail to take content down, but copyright holders who don’t play by the rules often walk free.

This problem is one of the main issues highlighted in a new research report (pdf) published by the CCIA, a trade group which lists many prominent tech companies among its members.

The report proposes several changes to copyright legislation that should bring it in line with the current state of the digital landscape. One of the suggestions is to introduce statutory damages for people who abuse the takedown process.

“One shortcoming of the DMCA is that the injunctive-like remedy of a takedown, combined with a lack of due process, encourages abuse by individuals and entities interested in suppressing content,” CCIA writes.

“Although most rightsholders make good faith use of the DMCA, there are numerous well-documented cases of misuse of the DMCA’s extraordinary remedy. In many cases, bad actors have forced the removal of material that did not infringe copyright.”

The report lists several examples, including DMCA notices which are used to chill political speech by demanding the takedown of news clips, suppress consumer reviews, or retaliate against critics.

Many Internet services are hesitant to refuse these type of takedown requests at it may cause them to lose their safe harbor protection, while the abusers themselves don’t face any serious legal risk.

The CCIA proposes to change this by introducing statutory damage awards for abusive takedown requests. This means that the senders would face the same consequences as the copyright infringers.

“To more effectively deter intentional DMCA abuse, Congress should extend Section 512(f) remedies for willful misrepresentations under the DMCA to include statutory awards, as it has for willful infringement under Section 504(c),” CCIA writes.

In addition to tackling DMCA abuse the tech companies propose several other changes to copyright law.

One of the suggestions is to change the minimum and maximum statutory damages for copyright infringement, which are currently $750 and $150,000 per work.

According to the CCIA the minimum should be lowered to suit cases that involve many infringements, such as a user who hosts thousands of infringing works on a cloud storage platform.

The $150,000 maximum, on the other hand, is open to abuse by copyright trolls and rightsholders who may use it as a pressure tool.

The tech companies hopes that U.S. lawmakers will consider these and other suggestions put forward in the research paper, to improve copyright law and make it future proof.

“Since copyright law was written more than 100 years ago, the goal has been to encourage creativity to benefit the overall public good. It’s important as copyright is modernized to ensure that reforms continue to benefit not just rightsholders, but the overall public good,” the CCIA concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Piracy: Hollywood’s Losing a Few Pounds, Who Cares?

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

factThis week it was revealed that Paul Mahoney, the former operator of streaming portal FastPassTV, is now facing a custodial sentence following his guilty plea before a Northern Ireland court.

After operating his sites for around six years, the prosecution claims that Mahoney made almost 410,000 euros ($471,500) in advertising revenue.

Extrapolating what was probably a good year for viewing numbers on FastPassTV, David Groome QC came to the conclusion that the 30-year-old potentially cost Hollywood around £120 million [$188m].

Following Mahoney’s guilty plea it’s unlikely that those numbers will ever be challenged. As a result, when the authorities and anti-piracy group FACT get their conviction, the public deterrent they’ve been looking for will be home and dry.

But despite looking forward to what is likely to be billed as a historic judgment, it appears that the industry still has work to do to get the man in the street onside. That became evident during an appearance by FACT Director General Kieron Sharp on the local BBC Radio Foyle

After discussing the background to the case, Sharp was confronted with an uncomfortable truth.

“I would imagine the problem for you Kieron in your job is that a lot of people out there – and we’re already seeing it in fact in the [listener] texts to the show this morning – is that [the public] don’t really see the victim in all of this,” the BBC presenter said.

“They see this as Hollywood losing a few pounds – who cares?”

If industry figures are to be believed, around 20% of the populations of several European countries are accessing content from sites such as Mahoney’s, so some lack of sympathy shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. That being said, Sharp’s response only raises more questions.

“Yes I know, that’s an unfortunate way of looking at things really. The big problem about this is that these people are all film fans. They want to watch films and television programs,” he said.

“The best example I can give you is Game of Thrones which is made in Northern Ireland as you know. Huge success story for Northern Ireland, for the people who are working there and getting employment in the film industry.

“They’re the sort of programs that won’t get made in the future if you think that all this is about is a few quid out of the pockets of those in Hollywood.”

While choosing Game of Thrones as an example makes sense from a local perspective, it’s a confusing selection from a piracy standpoint.

As pointed out here on dozens of occasions, Game of Thrones is the most pirated TV show in history. Yet season after season the show returns, each time bringing in more and more legitimate viewers despite smashing several piracy records. Even the show’s director thinks that piracy doesn’t hurt the production.

Nevertheless, when challenged by the interviewer Sharp maintained his position.

“An ordinary film coming out of Hollywood costs $60m to $100m to make and they have to make a return on that. If these films don’t get made then people won’t have jobs, it’s as simple as that. It’s quite straightforward, absolutely no doubt about it whatsoever,” he said.

Sharp wouldn’t be drawn on whether Mahoney should be sent to prison when he’s sentenced next month, noting that’s for the court to decide. But whatever happens to him, problems persist, not only with the countless other people like Mahoney scattered around the globe, but also with public perception. Still, FACT is hopefully that people can be persuaded to do the right thing.

“They can be [prosecuted] but we’re more interested in converting those people into paying customers,” Sharp said. “They’re film fans, we want them to enjoy the product at its best and not from some cheap ripoff copy.”

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

TorrentFreak: T-Mobile Refuses to Block The Pirate Bay

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

pirate bayAs the poster-child of online piracy, The Pirate Bay has become one of the most censored websites on the Internet in recent years.

Most recently the Austrian Internet provider A1 was ordered by the Commercial Court of Vienna to block subscriber access to The Pirate Bay.

In addition to various domain names of the notorious torrent site, the court order also requires the Internet provider to block three other “structurally infringing” sites; Isohunt.to, 1337x.to and h33t.to.

Taking advantage of this momentum, local music rights group LSG sent its lawyers after several other large ISPs urging them to follow suit, or else.

A letter with a ‘demand’ to block The Pirate Bay and others was sent T-Mobile and Drei, among others. However, without a court order directed at them the providers are not all eager to comply.

Helmut Spudich, spokesman for T-Mobile, says that his company has no plans to implement new blocking measures. “We will not to comply with this request and access to The Pirate Bay will not be blocked,” Spudich told Futurezone.

The decision of the Commercial Court of Vienna only applies to A1, so T-Mobile sees no legal obligation to comply with the request.

Instead, T-Mobile notes that the authorities “should implement clear legal regulations with regard to Internet blocking in Austria.”

“We don’t want to block our customers to be blocked inadvertently and would like a clarification on the correct procedure,” Spudich adds.

Several other Austrian Internet providers have received the same letter but thus far none have publicly stated that they are prepared to voluntarily block The Pirate Bay on their network.

The Pirate Bay is not the first site to be targeted in Austria. Earlier this year the Supreme Court ordered several leading Austrian ISPs to block the major streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to.

This order also clarified that the Internet providers will have to pay the costs for future blockades, which may make ISPs more hesitant to comply without protest.

Whether copyright holders will indeed take T-Mobile and other ISPs to court to broaden the existing blockade has yet to be seen.

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

TorrentFreak: Aussie Piracy Notices Delayed But Lawsuits Are Coming

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

warningAfter years of wrangling, on September 1, 2015, Australian ISPs will take the historic step of implementing a new anti-piracy scheme, one that will see Internet users issued with escalating warning notices designed to bring a halt to their pirating ways.

Well, at least that was the plan when a draft anti-piracy code was laid down in April. Almost predictably, however, that deadline will come and go without event.

The problem – and this will come as zero surprise to those who have followed this process for the past several years – is one related to costs.

Money, money, money

Since the beginning of negotiations, rightsholders have insisted that ISPs should pick up varying percentages of the bills incurred when sending piracy warnings to their subscribers. Equally, ISPs have insisted that if rightsholders want notices sent out, they should be the ones to pay.

This dispute has brought the parties to deadlock several times during years of negotiations, and has derailed talks completely more than once, most recently in 2012. However, this year – with the government breathing down their necks – rightsholders and ISPs agreed most aspects of how the notices would be handled, but left the issue of costs until another day.

That day has now arrived and still there are disputes. With the launch of the scheme supposedly just next week, ITNews reports that during an industry briefing this morning it was revealed that the parties are still arguing over who will pay for the 200,000 notices set to go out in the scheme’s first year.

For their part, rightsholders think that the ISPs should help with the costs, in part because it is their customers carrying out the infringements. They also believe that if ISPs foot part of the bill, they will be keen to keep costs down.

On the other hand, ISPs insist that if the notices prove effective in cutting piracy and driving up sales, rightsholders will get the benefit so should therefore pay the bill.

Countering, rightsholders also point to the bigger picture, one in which ISPs are increasingly becoming the conduit for providing entertainment content to subscribers.

“As ISPs increasingly become content providers, the business imperative to make sure people are valuing those services will become more and more important [to them],” says Foxtel director of corporate affairs Bruce Meagher.

So how much is the whole thing likely to cost? According to figures obtained by ITNews, there is dispute there too.

Too expensive to reduce piracy?

ISPs say that the bill could amount to $27 per IP address targeted, while rightsholders suggest that the figure would be more like $6. A report commissioned by the parties earlier this year concluded that the cost will be closer to the $27 suggested by the ISPs.

That cost is too high. As previously seen in New Zealand, “strikes” schemes with high costs are rendered pointless.

“We saw that in New Zealand where the government mandated $25 per IP address, and no-one used the scheme,” Meagher says. “We’ve got to work out a way of setting a price that encourages the scheme to be used.”

If in doubt, send the lawyers out

But even though agreement could take a while to reach, there are those in the entertainment industry already looking ahead to what might happen once people start receiving warning notices. Speaking with SBS, Village Roadshow co-founder Graham Burke says that if the notices don’t prove enough of a deterrent, legal action will be the next step.

“Yes, [piracy] is wrong. [Downloaders] have been warned, and sent notices that they’re doing the wrong thing. Yes we will sue people,” Burke said.

Asked by interviewer Marc Fennell whether there is any fear of a backlash should the industry start suing single parents and grandmothers (as they have done in the past), Burke dismissed the concerns.

“It was really just a couple of instances of a bad news day, where [the press] picked up a couple of instances of a single pregnant mother,” he said.

But would just a couple of those stories prove damaging?

“Not if it’s seen in the context that it is theft, and they have been doing the wrong thing, and they’ve been sent appropriate notices, and they’ve been dealt with accordingly. We’re certainly not going to be seeking out single pregnant mothers,” Burke said.

Confronted with the likelihood that some people will simply hide their activities by using a VPN, Burke played down the fears.

“I think that if people are appealed to in the right way, they’ll react appropriately,” he said.

Site blocking

Finally, after site-blocking legislation was passed earlier this year, Burke has now confirmed that his company will take action soon.

“We are going through the legal preparation at this stage and will be ready in October to go to the courts and ask them to block sites,” he concludes.

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