Posts tagged ‘Torrent Sites’

TorrentFreak: Hola VPN Sells Users’ Bandwidth, Founder Confirms

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

hola-logoFaced with increasing local website censorship and Internet services that restrict access depending on where a user is based, more and more people are turning to specialist services designed to overcome such limitations.

With prices plummeting to just a few dollars a month in recent years, VPNs are now within the budgets of most people. However, there are always those who prefer to get such services for free, without giving much consideration to how that might be economically viable.

One of the most popular free VPN/geo-unblocking solutions on the planet is operated by Israel-based Hola. It can be added to most popular browsers in seconds and has an impressive seven million users on Chrome alone. Overall the company boasts 46 million users of its service.

Now, however, the company is facing accusations from 8chan message board operator Fredrick Brennan. He claims that Hola users’ computers were used to attack his website without their knowledge, and that was made possible by the way Hola is setup.

“When a user installs Hola, he becomes a VPN endpoint, and other users of the Hola network may exit through his internet connection and take on his IP. This is what makes it free: Hola does not pay for the bandwidth that its VPN uses at all, and there is no user opt out for this,” Brennan says.

This means that rather than having their IP addresses cloaked behind a private server, free Hola users are regularly exposing their IP addresses to the world but associated with other people’s traffic – no matter what that might contain.

hola-big

While this will come as a surprise to many, Hola says it has never tried to hide the methods it employs to offer a free service.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Hola founder Ofer Vilenski says that his company offers two tiers of service – the free option (which sees traffic routed between Hola users) and a premium service, which operates like a traditional VPN.

However, Brennan says that Hola goes a step further, by selling Hola users’ bandwidth to another company.

“Hola has gotten greedy. They recently (late 2014) realized that they basically have a 9 million IP strong botnet on their hands, and they began selling access to this botnet (right now, for HTTP requests only) at https://luminati.io,” the 8chan owner says.

TorrentFreak asked Vilenski about Brennan’s claims. Again, there was no denial.

“We have always made it clear that Hola is built for the user and with the user in mind. We’ve explained the technical aspects of it in our FAQ and have always advertised in our FAQ the ability to pay for non-commercial use,” Vilenski says.

And this is how it works.

Hola generates revenue by selling a premium service to customers through its Luminati brand. The resources and bandwidth for the Luminati product are provided by Hola users’ computers when they are sitting idle. In basic terms, Hola users get their service for free as long as they’re prepared to let Hola hand their resources to Luminati for resale. Any users who don’t want this to happen can buy Hola for $5 per month.

Fair enough perhaps – but how does Luminati feature in Brennan’s problems? It appears his interest in the service was piqued after 8chan was hit by multiple denial of service attacks this week which originated from the Luminati / Hola network.

“An attacker used the Luminati network to send thousands of legitimate-looking POST requests to 8chan’s post.php in 30 seconds, representing a 100x spike over peak traffic and crashing PHP-FPM,” Brennan says.

Again, TorrentFreak asked Vilenski for his input. Again, there was no denial.

“8chan was hit with an attack from a hacker with the handle of BUI. This person then wrote about how he used the Luminati commercial VPN network to hack 8chan. He could have used any commercial VPN network, but chose to do so with ours,” Vilenski explains.

“If 8chan was harmed, then a reasonable course of action would be to obtain a court order for information and we can release the contact information of this user so that they can further pursue the damages with him.”

Vilenski says that Hola screens users of its “commercial network” (Luminati) prior to them being allowed to use it but in this case “BUI” slipped through the net. “Adjustments” have been made, Hola’s founder says.

“We have communicated directly with the founder of 8Chan to make sure that once we terminated BUI’s account they’ve had no further problems, and it seems that this is the case,” Vilenski says.

It is likely the majority of Hola’s users have no idea how the company’s business model operates, even though it is made fairly clear in its extensive FAQ/ToS. Installing a browser extension takes seconds and if it works as advertised, most people will be happy.

Whether this episode will affect Hola’s business moving forward is open to question but for those with a few dollars to spend there are plenty of options in the market. Until then, however, those looking for free options should read the small print before clicking install.

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

TorrentFreak: Seized Megaupload Domains Link to Scam Ads and Malware

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

dojWell over three years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against the operation.

The United States hopes that New Zealand will extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues, but the hearings have been delayed several times already.

Meanwhile, several domain names including the popular Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com remain under the control of the U.S. Government. At least, that should be the case. In reality, however, they’re now being exploited by ‘cyber criminals.’

Instead of a banner announcing that the domains names have been seized as part of a criminal investigation they now direct people to a Zero-Click adverting feed. This feed often links to malware installers and other malicious ads.

One of the many malicious “ads” the Megaupload and Megavideo domain names are serving links to a fake BBC article, suggesting people can get an iPhone 6 for only £1.

And here is another example of a malicious ad prompting visitors to update their browser.

megascamad

The question that immediately comes to mind is this: How can it be that the Department of Justice is allowing the domains to be used for such nefarious purposes?

Looking at the Whois records everything seems to be in order. The domain name still lists Megaupload Limited as registrant, which is as it was before. Nothing out of the ordinary.

The nameserver PLEASEDROPTHISHOST15525.CIRFU.BIZ, on the other hand, triggers several alarm bells.

meganame

CIRFU refers to the FBI’s Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit, a specialized tech team tasked with handling online crime and scams. The unit used the CIRFU.NET domain name as nameserver for various seized domains, including the Mega ones.

Interestingly, the CIRFU.NET domain now lists “Syndk8 Media Limited” as registrant, which doesn’t appear to have any connections with the FBI. Similarly, CIRFU.BIZ is not an official CIRFU domain either and points to a server in the Netherlands hosted by LeaseWeb.

It appears that the domain which the Department of Justice (DoJ) used as nameserver is no longer in control of the Government. Perhaps it expired, or was taken over via other means.

As a result, Megaupload and Megavideo are now serving malicious ads, run by the third party that controls the nameserver.

This is quite a mistake for one of the country’s top cybercrime units, to say the least. It’s also one that affects tends of thousands of people, as the Megaupload.com domain remains frequently visited.

Commenting on the rogue domains, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom notes that the people who are responsible should have known better.

“With U.S. Assistant Attorney Jay Prabhu the DOJ in Virginia employs a guy who doesn’t know the difference between civil & criminal law. And after this recent abuse of our seized Mega domains I wonder how this guy was appointed Chief of the Cybercrime Unit when he can’t even do the basics like safeguard the domains he has seized,” he tells TF.

“Jay Prabhu keeps embarrassing the U.S. government. I would send him back to law school and give him a crash course in ‘how the Internet works’,” Dotcom adds.

Making matters worse for the Government, Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com are not the only domain names affected. Various poker domains that were previously seized, including absolutepoker.com and ultimatebet.com, also link to malicious content now.

While the Government appears to have lost control of the old nameservers, it can still correct the problem through a nameserver update at their end. However, that doesn’t save those people who had their systems compromised during recent days, and it certainly won’t repair the PR damage.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Drags CloudFlare into Piracy Lawsuit, Scolds LeaseWeb

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

cloudflareEarlier this month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end.

Facing hundreds of millions in damages, the music streaming service settled the dispute for $50 million while offering an apology for the mistakes that had been made in the past.

The RIAA heralded the outcome as a major victory, but the joy didn’t last long. A few days after Grooveshark shut down unknown persons launched a new music service using the familiar Grooveshark brand.

Recognizing the new Grooveshark.io service as a considerable threat, the RIAA didn’t waste any time taking countermeasures. The group filed a sealed application for temporary restraining and seizure orders, targeting the site’s domain name and hosting services.

The court granted the RIAA’s request earlier this month and this week the documents were unsealed. They reveal how the music group intends to drag both Cloudflare and hosting provider LeaseWeb into the fight.

In his declaration, RIAA’s VP Online Anti-Piracy Mark McDevitt describes the new Grooveshark as a “blatantly illegal” site that hides its true location behind CloudFlare’s service.

“Because of the presence of CloudFlare’s servers, it is impossible to identify the location of the actual server supporting those aspects of the website absent the disclosure of this information by CloudFlare,” McDevitt writes (pdf).

While CloudFlare doesn’t host any of the infringing files, it’s accused of helping Grooveshark to evade detection. The RIAA alerted CloudFlare of this role early May and asked the company to take action, without the desired result.

“In response to this notice, CloudFlare informed the RIAA that it had notified the operator of the Grooveshark.io website of the RIAA’s complaint, but did not discontinue providing its services to the website,” McDevitt writes.

In an email seen by TF, CloudFlare informs the RIAA that it’s merely a pass-through provider, and that they’re not offering any hosting services.

“Please be aware CloudFlare is a network provider offering a reverse proxy, pass-through security service. We are not a hosting provider. CloudFlare does not control the content of our customers,” the company replied.

Even today, the new Grooveshark remains active on the Grooveshark.li domain name, and it’s still hiding behind CloudFlare. The site did lose its original domain name, which Namecheap seized after receiving the court order, but new domains are easily registered.

It’s unclear at this point whether CloudFlare is actively refusing to comply with the restraining order that’s targeted at Grooveshark’s Internet service providers, but the company’s counsel did attend a court hearing yesterday to discuss the matter.

Besides CloudFlare, the RIAA also names web company LeaseWeb, which they suspect of offering hosting services to the new Grooveshark. In its presentations to the court the RIAA lashes out hard against the Dutch company.

“LeaseWeb has a long history of hosting major pirate sites. For example, LeaseWeb once hosted the notorious (and now shuttered) pirate website ‘MegaUpload,’ which was the subject of the largest criminal copyright law enforcement action ever undertaken,” McDevitt writes.

“Other examples of LeaseWeb’s involvement with pirate sites are also well known in the antipiracy community,” he adds, after summing up several other examples.

Neither CloudFlare nor LeaseWeb are named as defendants, but the language used makes clear that the RIAA isn’t happy with how they respond to copyright complaints.

While Grooveshark.li is a relatively small fish, the case may set a crucial precedent for future anti-piracy efforts. With relative ease the Court has issued temporary restraining and seizure orders. If these hold up, more sites may be targeted in a similar fashion.

This outlook may also be the reason for CloudFlare to have their say in the matter. As a service provider to some of the largest piracy havens, including The Pirate Bay, there’s a lot at stake.

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

TorrentFreak: High Court Orders UK ISPs to Block eBook Sites

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

stopstopRather than tackling unauthorized sites with direct legal action, major entertainment industry companies are increasingly attempting to disrupt ‘pirate’ operations with broader strokes.

One of the favored tools is site blocking, a technique that has gathered considerable momentum in Europe and the UK in particular. More than 120 domains are currently blocked by the country’s major ISPs, largely thanks to action taken by the movie and music industries plus soccer body The Premier League.

This week the pool of organizations to succeed in site-blocking legal action deepened with the addition of The Publishers Association (PA). The group, which has more than 100 members with combined revenues of £4.7 billion, went to the High Court to demand the blocking of several eBook focused download sites.

They are: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot.

According to the PA its investigations found that over 80% of the material made available by the sites infringes copyright. In total the sites are said to offer in excess of 10 million titles.

In response the PA and its members claim to have sent close to one million takedown notices directly to the sites and requested that Google remove 1.75 million related URLs from its search results.

In common with all previous similar actions initiated by the MPAA and BPI, The Publishers Association (with support from the Association of American Publishers) sued the UK’s leading ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE – under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

Presenting a case which demonstrated mass infringement on the eBook sites in question alongside evidence that the major ISPs have “actual knowledge” that their subscribers are infringing copyright, the PA argued that the sites should be blocked without further delay.

After consideration, yesterday the High Court handed down its ruling in favor of the publishers. The outcome was never really in question – UK ISPs have long since given up defending these cases.

“We are very pleased that the High Court has granted this order and, in doing so, recognizes the damage being inflicted on UK publishers and authors by these infringing websites,” says Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The PA.

“A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in online infringement. Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.”

The ISPs listed in the injunction now have 10 days in which to implement a blockade.

High Court injunctions represent a new anti-piracy tool for The Publishers Association. In addition to its regular takedown work with search engines such as Google, The PA is also involved in City of London Police’s Operation Creative, run out of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). Last year PIPCU acted on The PA’s behalf by taking down a domain operated by eBook site OnRead.

The full list of sites to be blocked in the UK is now as follows:

New: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot.

Previously blocked: popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, isoplex.isohunt.to, watchonlineseries.eu, axxomovies.org, afdah.com and g2g.fm, Bursalagu, Fullsongs, Mega-Search, Mp3 Monkey, Mp3.li, Mp3Bear, MP3Boo, Mp3Clan, Mp3Olimp, MP3s.pl, Mp3soup, Mp3Truck, Musicaddict, My Free MP3, Plixid, RnBXclusive, STAFA Band, watchseries.lt, Stream TV, Watchseries-online, Cucirca, Movie25, watchseries.to, Iwannawatch, Warez BB, Ice Films, Tehparadox, Heroturko, Scene Source,, Rapid Moviez, Iwatchonline, Los Movies, Isohunt, Torrentz.pro, Torrentbutler, IP Torrents, Sumotorrent, Torrent Day, Torrenting, BitSoup, TorrentBytes, Seventorrents, Torrents.fm, Yourbittorrent, Tor Movies , Demonoid, torrent.cd, Vertor, Rar BG, bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, bts.to, limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me, torlock.com, torrentbit.net, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentfunk.com, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrents.net, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd, torrentzap.com, vitorrent.org.Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T and The Pirate Bay.

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 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 a few months ago 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, including the popular Pirate Browser.

The Tor traffic goes through a separate server, and it appears that this part of the site’s infrastructure is not going through CloudFlare.

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: H33T.to Mysteriously Disappears….But Can Be Found

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

People being unable to access a particular torrent site is perhaps the most common complaint in the file-sharing world today, and that should come as little surprise considering the elements at play.

While citizens of the U.S. largely enjoy unfettered access to any site, file-sharers in Europe have to deal with website blocking on a grand scale. Add domain seizures, pressure on webhosts and sundry raids that effect everyone into the mix, it’s perhaps surprising just how well sites are coping.

One site with a checkered recent uptime history is H33T. At times one of the world’s Top 10 torrent sites, H33T has fought through some very public spats with copyright holders and has been blocked in the UK since 2013 after music industry group BPI obtained a High Court order against the country’s six ISPs.

Recently H33T disappeared again but with no comment from anyone running the site (if anyone is, day to day), millions of the site’s users were left wondering what the following message from Cloudflare means for the future.

“You’ve requested a page on a website (h33t.to) that is on the CloudFlare network. CloudFlare is currently not routing the requested domain (h33t.to). There are two potential causes of this,” Cloudflare explains.

cloud-h33t

From the above it’s clear that Cloudflare isn’t currently a helpful service for those trying to access the site. The big question, however, is whether H33T is functioning somewhere and Cloudflare is the issue, or whether it’s gone altogether. Time to bypass Cloudflare to find out.

A few minutes of detective work turn up two potential direct IP addresses for H33T, one registered to a Canadian datacenter and the other located in the tiny 115-island country of Seychelles. At first, both appear useless, with the Canadian IP doing nothing and the Seychelles IP directing straight back to Google.

However, by adding the latter IP to the Windows hosts file and then accessing H33T.to in the usual way……

h33t-block

….H33T magically springs to life.

Perhaps surprisingly the site seems entirely operational, with torrents uploaded as recently as today. Exactly what the problem is remains unclear, but serious issues with Cloudflare that have persisted for many days seem to be the culprit.

Why these haven’t been fixed is a question likely to go unanswered. The site’s once-popular Facebook page hasn’t been updated since October 2014 and still lists the long-defunct URL H33T.com as the site’s main domain.

In the meantime and not withstanding hosts edits, proxies such as this one are keeping the site alive. Only time will tell if Cloudflare will re-enable the site – the company does not discuss individual cases.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Order Forbids ‘Poor Pirate’ To Use BitTorrent

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

bartThe makers of Dallas Buyers Club have sued thousands of BitTorrent users over the past year.

Many of these cases end up being settled for an undisclosed amount. This is usually a figure around $3,500, which is what the company offers in their settlement proposals. However, there are exceptions to this rule with damages and costs in some cases hitting $14,000.

This week we stumbled upon a new consent judgment between Oregon resident Krystal Krause and the movie studio. In this case the Magistrate Judge signed off on an order that requires the defendant to pay $7,500.

Interestingly, however, the woman doesn’t have to pay anything as long as she promises not to pirate any movies in the future. According to the judgment the filmmakers offer this leniency due to the “financial hardship” and “extenuating circumstances.”

“In recognition of the financial hardship and extenuating circumstances in this case, plaintiff agrees that though the below Money Judgment shall be entered and enforceable, plaintiff will not execute or enforce the Money Judgment so long as the defendant complies with the below Permanent Injunction…,” the consent order reads.

The court documents do not explain what the extenuating circumstances are, but it suggests that money isn’t the only issue.

Looking more closely at the permanent injunction it appears that there are more reasons why the order is unusual.

injunction

In addition to barring any future infringements, Krause can’t use BitTorrent for legal purposes either. In fact, she has to remove all BitTorrent and P2P software she has installed.

“Krystal Krause is hereby directed to immediately delete […] any and all BitTorrent clients on any computer(s) she owns or controls together with all other software used to obtain media through the Internet by BitTorrent peer-to-peer transfer or exchange,” it reads (pdf).

For Krause it may be a small sacrifice to make, especially when it saves $7,500 in costs. That said, it’s still highly unusual to order someone to remove software that by itself isn’t infringing at all.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Offered Internet Provider a Cut of Piracy Settlements

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

cox-logoPiracy monetization firm Rightscorp has made headlines over the past year, often because of its aggressive attempts to obtain settlements from allegedly pirating Internet users.

Working on behalf of various copyright owners including Warner Bros. and BMG the company sends copyright infringement notices to Internet providers in the U.S. and Canada. These notices include a settlement proposal, offering alleged downloaders an option to pay off their “debt.”

Rightscorp’s practices haven’t been without controversy. The company and its clients have been sued for abuse and harassment and various large ISPs refuse to forward the settlements to their subscribers.

Cox Communications, one of the larger Internet providers in the U.S. also chose not to work with Rightscorp. The ISP didn’t comment on this refusal initially, but now that Cox has been sued by several Rightscorp clients, it reveals why.

In a statement that leaves little to the imagination, Cox notes that Rightscorp is “threatening” subscribers with “extortionate” letters.

“Rightscorp is in the business of threatening Internet users on behalf of copyright owners. Rightscorp specifically threatens subscribers of ISPs with loss of their Internet service — a punishment that is not within Rightscorp’s control — unless the subscribers pay a settlement demand,” Cox writes (pdf).

As a result, the ISP decided not to participate in the controversial scheme unless Rightscorp revised the notifications and removed the extortion-like language.

“Because Rightscorp’s purported DMCA notices were, in fact, improper threats against consumers to scare them into paying settlements to Rightscorp, Cox refused to accept or forward those notices, or otherwise to participate in Rightscorp’s extortionate scheme.”

“Cox expressly and repeatedly informed Rightscorp that it would not accept Rightscorp’s improper extortion threat communications, unless and until Rightscorp revised them to be proper notices.”

The two parties went back and forth over the details and somewhere in this process Rightscorp came up with a controversial proposal. The company offered Cox a cut of the settlement money its subscribers would pay, so the ISP could also profit.

“Rightscorp had a history of interactions with Cox in which Rightscorp offered Cox a share of the settlement revenue stream in return for Cox’s cooperation in transmitting extortionate letters to Cox’s customers. Cox rebuffed Rightscorp’s approach,” Cox informs the court.

This allegation is something that was never revealed, and it shows to what great lengths Rightscorp is willing to go to get ISPs to comply. It’s not clear whether the same proposal was made to other ISPs are well, but that wouldn’t be a surprise.

Cox, however, didn’t take the bait and still refused to join the scheme. Rightscorp wasn’t happy with this decision and according to the ISP, the company and its clients are now getting back at them through the “repeat infringer” lawsuit.

“This lawsuit is, in effect, a bid both to punish Cox for not participating in Rightscorp’s scheme, and to gain leverage over Cox’s customers for the settlement shakedown business model that Plaintiffs and Rightscorp jointly employ,” Cox notes.

Despite the strong language and extortion accusations used by Cox, the revelations didn’t prevent the Court from granting copyright holders access to the personal details of 250 accused copyright infringers.

The case is just getting started though, and judging from the aggressive stance being taken by both sides we can expect a lot more dirt to come out in the months ahead.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Founder Appeals Domain Seizure Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 05/25/15

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

kingsmanThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Kingsman: The Secret Service 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) Kingsman: The Secret Service 8.1 / trailer
2 (1) Ex Machina 8.0 / trailer
3 (3) Jupiter Ascending 5.8 / trailer
4 (…) Home 6.8 / trailer
5 (…) Avengers: Age of Ultron (CAM/TS) 8.0 / trailer
6 (4) Furious 7 (Subbed/cropped HDRip) 8.8 / trailer
7 (2) Project Almanac 6.3 / trailer
8 (…) The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water 6.3 / trailer
9 (9) Focus 6.7 / trailer
10 (6) American Sniper 7.4 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Thanks for the Really Counter-Productive DMCA Complaints

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

picarddmcaOne of today’s favored anti-piracy methods is to have Google de-index alleged pirate links from its search results. The theory is that if users don’t find content on search pages 1, 2 or 3, there’s more chance of them heading off to an official source.

The trouble is, Google’s indexes are massive and therefore return a lot of data. This results in copyright holders resorting to automated tools to identify infringing content en masse and while for some people these seem to work well (the UK’s BPI appears to have a very good record), others aren’t so good at it.

Errors get made and here at TF we like to keep an eye out for the real clangers – obviously it’s of particular interest when we become the targets. After being wrongfully accused by NBC Universal eight times in February, we had to wait until April for the world-famous Web Sheriff to ride into town.

In a DMCA notice sent on behalf of The Weinstein Company, Web Sheriff tackles dozens of domains for alleged offering the company’s content for download. However, for reasons best known to the gun-slinging Sheriff, he told Google that TF’s list of the most popular torrent sites of 2015 is infringing on his client’s copyrights.

We weren’t the only targets though. The Sheriff also tried to have three pages removed from business networking site Linkedin and one each from movie promo sites ComingSoon and Fandango (which are both legitimately advertising Weinstein movies).

However, the real genius came when the Sheriff tried to take down the Kickstarter page for Weinstein’s own movie, Keep On Keepin’ On. Fortunately, Google is on the ball and rejected every attempt.

sher-1

This month we were targeted again, this time by Markscan, a company that made the headlines during last year’s soccer World Cup when it failed in an attempt to silence the articles of several leading news outlets.

In a new DMCA notice the company bizarrely targets a TF article from December 2006 in which we promoted the availability of 2,000 Creative Commons music albums available on the Jamendo platform.

Bad enough, of course, but made even worse by the targeting in the same notice of the official BitTorrent Inc. torrent client available for download on Softonic and another random freeware torrent client published by DVDVideoSoft.

Finally, TF was targeted a couple of days ago by anti-piracy outfit Unidan acting on behalf of Japanese talent agency and entertainment company AKS Co. Ltd. It’s clear from their complaint that they have a problem with plenty of file-hosting sites.

One of them is RyuShare, a Vietnamese-based site whose owners were arrested last year and eventually jailed. However, for some strange reason Unidam didn’t want us to get the word out on that story, instead asking Google to remove it from its search results.

ryu-dmca

While it’s pretty irritating to be wrongfully targeted by these companies, it’s important to recognize the valuable role Google plays here. Without the company’s transparency report the world would be largely blind to the sloppy actions of some anti-piracy companies.

Admittedly these outfits have a tough job, but if they have the time to send these notices out and take the money, they should take the time to check that they aren’t stepping on innocent toes.

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

TorrentFreak: ‘How Movie Studios Exploit Video on Demand Services’

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

moviesThe account below comes from an employee of a mid-sized video on demand (VOD) service in Europe.

To avoid repercussions from the major studios the author prefers to remain anonymous.

Exploitation On Demand

Every once in a while wrongdoings are reported by whistleblowers. Motives are often political and have worldwide consequences. Today, we’re addressing a much more down to earth topic. We don’t pretend for a second that we’re changing the world but instead we’re shining light on what we consider to be wrongful practices destroying an industry.

Our case is business centered, yet the industry we’re denouncing has damaged its fair share of individual liberties and has violated countless numbers of ethical principles. We’re talking about the Major Movie Studios.

For quite some time we’ve been working with “Major Studios” such as Warner Bros, Walt Disney, Universal, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Paramount. We would like to refer to it as collaboration, but unfortunately it’s really been a one way street thus far. Money transits and the final destination is the Majors’ pockets

We’ve been operating a video on demand service (VOD) for quite some time now, trying to make the best out of it. Eventually we grew tired of being shaken down at every turn and now feel it’s time to share the limitations that come with a deal in the “legit distribution” system. This may not be breaking news to some of you, yet we feel it’s important for people to understand how operating within the constraints imposed by the Majors works.

While observing the latest productions coming out from Hollywood studios (Fast & Furious 7, Avengers, Transformers 4, Dumb and Dumber 2, Taken 3) you may have noticed that this industry is not very risk savvy, to say the least. In fact it hates risk.

In recent years the studios’ strategy has been to buy rights to bestselling or comic books, plus games and kids toys to feed the public with a new episode every year.

Another risk minimizing strategy is to pre-sell cinema-distribution rights in certain territories to finance film making. By this mechanism a film is basically paid for before it gets made.

This system works for cinema distribution and was exported for home entertainment, where it affects our business. For a video on demand (VOD) operator to distribute any given catalogue, it must pay “Minimum Guarantees (MG’s)” to the studio. This allows one to exploit the catalogue. Mind you, you don’t get to choose what you pay for. That would be too simple.

Output deals are the norm and in essence they mean you need to take every licensed film as part of a single deal. If you want the latest blockbuster, you must also take the latest winner of the Golden Raspberry awards, and take our word for it, there are some pretty unworthy films in there. These Minimum Guarantees are quoted in millions of dollars per deal, and as a result VOD services like ourselves have to operate on very small profit margins.

On top of MG’s, distributors must also agree to pay revenue shares. Should the sales top the Minimum Guarantee on a given year the rev share kicks in. Revenue shares are usually in the studio’s favor (between 70% and 50% depending on whether we’re speaking of recent releases or old ones).

If a given platform manages to recoup its costs it must also share its future revenue with the Rights Holder, while providing the majority of the value chain involved in a streaming service: Storage, streaming costs, platform development, DRM licenses and geoblocking tools.

In the meantime, studios provide a license that costs them virtually nothing and they take the lion’s share of the deal for it. And we haven’t even started on release windows yet. Windows? If you thought that paying a fortune for a film allowed you to exploit it forever, think again. Usually the window for a film is 90 days.

You got that right: platforms have 90 days to pay for a Minimum Guarantee if they expect to turn a profit on a film. And keep in mind most of the profit just gets funneled back to the studios anyway with the revenue share clause. After that a title simply gets pulled off their catalogues to allow for Pay-TV and linear TV distribution. The title can come back in the catalogue after 12 to 18 months, given of course that it’s properly paid for.

This may seem like a lot to process, and it is, yet it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We will probably write a follow-up to this article as these people are not acting as if they were selling entertainment; they’re behaving like they’re selling enriched uranium!

Facilities that host servers on which films are kept have to be equipped as if they were a bank. If studio’s are looking to diversify they should consider giving Fort Knox consultancy services on security matters. More on that soon…

We love films and originally started a VOD business hoping to provide a legit solution that would entertain millions. How will we ever be successful while we have to operate on such stiff policies? Well we won’t.

It’s no wonder that streaming and P2P services are thriving: Majors’ constraints imposed on people who are trying to abide by their standards are just disabling anyone trying to be competitive enough and offer a comprehensive catalogue at a decent cost to the public.

Until this framework changes no one will ever. With their own policies, the major movie studios are sawing at the branch on which they sit . They probably realize it to some extent. But they certainly don’t care enough to do something about it.

Surely this is because piracy is not hurting them as much as they want us to believe. By cutting some slack to their partners they would have concrete tools to cut down piracy. They’re simply too comfortable to consider that as an option.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Cox to Expose “Most Egregious” BitTorrent Pirates

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

cox-logo Last year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued Cox Communications, arguing that the ISP fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claim that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction.

The case revolves around the “repeat infringer” clause of the DMCA, which prescribes that Internet providers must terminate the accounts of persistent pirates.

As part of the discovery process the music outfits requested details on the accounts which they caught downloading their content. In total there are 150,000 alleged pirates, but as a compromise BMG and Round Hill limited their initial request to 500 IP-addresses.

Cox refused to hand over the requested information arguing that the Cable Privacy Act prevents the company from disclosing this information.

The matter was discussed during a court hearing late last week. After a brief deliberation Judge John Anderson ruled that the ISP must hand over the personal details of 250 subscribers.

“Defendants shall produce customer information associated with the Top 250 IP Addresses recorded to have infringed in the six months prior to filing the Complaint,” Judge Anderson writes.

“This production shall include the information as requested in Interrogatory No.13, specifically: name, address, account number, the bandwidth speed associated with each account, and associated IP address of each customer.”

The order
coxorder

The music companies also asked for the account information of the top 250 IP-addresses connected to the piracy of their files after the complaint was filed, but this request was denied. Similarly, if the copyright holders want information on any of the 149,500 other Cox customers they need a separate order.

The music companies previously informed the court that the personal details are crucial to proof their direct infringement claims, but it’s unclear how they plan to use the data.

While none of the Cox customers are facing any direct claims as of yet, it’s not unthinkable that some may be named in the suit to increase pressure on the ISP.

The full list of IP-addresses is available for download here (PDF).

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

TorrentFreak: WebHost Owner Cleared of Aiding Torrent Site Piracy

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

pirate bay flagFollowing a complaint from Swedish anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån, in November 2011 police carried out raids in two locations against private torrent site TTi, aka The Internationals.

In one location police targeted site owner Joel Larsson. In another, Patrik Lagerman, boss of web-hosting firm PatrikWeb, the company providing hosting for the torrent site.

The case against Larsson centered around the unlawful distribution of copyrighted video content by his site’s users. Lagerman was accused of aiding that infringement after he refused to take the site down following a request (not backed by a court order) from Antipiratbyrån.

The case dragged on for more than three and a half years but concluded earlier this month. The judgment was handed down yesterday and its one of mixed fortunes.

Larsson previously admitted to being the operator of TTi and also the person who accepted donations from site members, an amount equivalent to around US$12,000. He also insisted that he never controlled the content shared by his site’s users.

In its judgment, however, the court noted that files found on a confiscated PC revealed details of meetings with site staff indicating that Larsson fully understood that the site was involved in the exchange of infringing content.

The Court found Larsson guilty of copyright infringement and sentenced him to 90 hours community service. If prison had been suggested by the prosecutor he would have served three months.

The Court also seized several servers connected with the site but rejected a prosecution claim for the forfeiture of $12,000 in site donations after it was determined Larsson spent the same amount keeping the site running.

For Patrik Lagerman, the site’s host, things went much better. Despite finding that Lagerman had indeed been involved in the site’s operations by providing hosting and infrastructure, he was deemed not negligent for his refusal to take down the site without a court order. He was acquitted on all charges.

Commenting on the judgment, Sara Lindbäck at Rights Alliance told TorrentFreak that getting a conviction was the important thing in this case.

“The person responsible for the illegal service was found guilty. That is the important part in the ruling. The illegal services are causing tremendous damages to the rights holders,” Lindbäck said.

“In this case the person had also received substantial amounts in donations, in other words receiving money for content that somebody else has created.”

Speaking on Lagerman’s acquittal, Lindbäck acknowledged that the situation had been less straightforward.

“Regarding the hosting provider, the court did not find him responsible for copyright infringement. The legal aspects to the responsibility for hosting providers is of course interesting legally. We will now analyze the ruling further and see what consequences it can have in the future.”

Rights Alliance did not reveal whether it intends to appeal, but considering the amount of time already passed since the arrests in 2011, that seems unlikely.

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

TorrentFreak: Google: Targeting Downloaders Not The Best Solution to Fight Piracy

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

google-bayIn recent years it has become more common for copyright holders to include settlement offers in the takedown notices that are sent to Internet providers.

While most large ISPs prefer not to forward these demands, Google Fiber decided it would.

A few days ago we highlighted the issue in an article. Before publication we reached out to Google for a comment, but initially the company didn’t reply. Now, a week after our first inquiry Google has sent a response.

Google explains that it’s forwarding the entire takedown notice including the settlement offers in an effort to be as transparent as it can be.

“When Google Fiber receives a copyright complaint about an account, we pass along all of the information we receive to the account holder so that they’re aware of it and can determine the response that’s best for their situation,” a Google spokesperson tells TF.

This suggests that the transparency is seen by Google as more important than protecting customers against threatening and sometimes inaccurate notices. Overall, however, Google notes that targeting pirates directly is not the best solution to deal with the issue.

“Although we think there are better solutions to fighting piracy than targeting individual downloaders, we want to be transparent with our customers,” Google’s spokesperson adds.

Google doesn’t say what these better options are, but previously the company noted that piracy is mainly a pricing and availability problem.

While transparency is often a good thing, in this case it doesn’t necessarily help Google Fiber customers. After receiving the notice they can either pay up or ignore it. If they choose the latter generally nothing happens, but recent history shows that there’s a legal risk involved.

Last week the news broke that Rotten Records, one of the companies which sends settlement requests to ISPs, sued Comcast subscribers for ignoring these infringement notices.

With the possibility of false accusations, it would probably be in the customers’ best interest if ISPs ignored the notices entirely, which some do.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Loses New Domain Name, Hydra Lives On

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

tpbhydraxEarlier this week the Stockholm District Court ordered the Pirate Bay’s .SE domains to be handed over to the Swedish state, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes.

The Pirate Bay was fully prepared for the negative outcome and quickly redirected its visitors to six new domain names.

Since then the site has been accessible through the GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD domain names, without even a second of downtime.

Marking the change The Pirate Bay updated its logo to the familiar Hydra logo, linking a TLD to each of the heads. However, we can now reveal that one head has already been chopped off.

The site’s .GS domain name has been suspended by the registry, and ThePirateBay.gs is now listed as “ServerHold” and “Inactive.”

The Pirate Bay informs us that the .GS domain has indeed been lost, which didn’t come as a complete shock. In fact, one of the reasons to move to six domains was to see which ones would hold up.

“We have more domain names behind, if needed. We are stronger than ever and will defend the site to the end,” the TPB team tells us.

At this point it’s unclear for how long the other domain names will remain available. Hoping to find out more, we reached out to the respective registries to discover their policies on domains being operated by The Pirate Bay.

The Mongolian .MN registry informs TF that they will process potential complaints through ICANN’s Dispute Resolution Policy, suggesting that they will not take any voluntary action.

The VG Registry referred us to their terms and conditions, specifically sections 3.4 and 7.2, which allow for an immediate termination or suspension if a domain infringes on the rights of third parties. However, it could not comment on this specific case.

“We will review any complaint and act accordingly. Please understand that we cannot make any predictions based on theoretical options,” a VG Registry spokesperson says.

It won’t be a big surprise if several more Pirate Bay domain names are suspended during the days and weeks to come. That’s a Whac-A-Mole game the site’s operators are all too familiar with now, but one that won’t bring the site to its knees.

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

TorrentFreak: Supergirl Pilot Leaks to Torrent Sites, Six Months Early

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

supergirlAfter making an appearance as far back as 1958, Supergirl was intended to be a female counterpart to DC Comics’ Superman who first appeared 20 years earlier. While successful in her own right, she never quite reached the dizzy heights of the Clark Kent-based character.

This yeah, however, the world is braced for the return of Supergirl in a new CBS TV series. Featuring Melissa Benoist (Glee, Homeland, Law and Order) as Kara Zor-El, an alien who has hidden her powers since escaping from Krypton, the show will see her transform into Supergirl and “the superhero she was meant to be.”

After a commitment in September 2014, the series was officially picked up by CBS earlier this month. The pilot was scheduled to debut in November, but those plans have now massively unraveled after the episode leaked online, six months earlier than its planned debut.

Two ‘Scene’ release groups – DiMENSiON and LOL – competed to premiere the title first this morning, with the latter beating the former by around 90 seconds. LOL’s version is a convenient 400mb so likely to become the most sought after copy. On the other hand DiMENSiON’s is more than 15 times the size, but for 1080p connoisseurs it’ll be worth the wait.

Although it’s certainly possible that the pilot contains hidden watermarks, as far as visible identifiers go the 46 minute episode looks very clean. As illustrated by the image below, there are no tell-tale ‘property of’ warnings that are regularly seen on ‘screener’ copies of leaked movies.

supergirl-ss

The leak of the pilot came as a complete surprise a couple of hours ago so download stats on BitTorrent sites are a currently quite modest 25,000 or so. However, given the anticipated media snowball effect during the day the number of downloads is likely to increase dramatically, probably to more than a million by this time tomorrow.

The Supergirl leak comes just weeks after the first four episodes of the new series of Game of Thrones leaked online. That event triggered a piracy crazy that continues to this day.

Whether more episodes of Supergirl will leak online in the days to come is unknown but in any event it seems likely that CBS will try to stem the current tide. The company is a prolific sender of DMCA takedown notices and regularly sends more than 100,000 each week to Google alone.

Supergirl trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Domain Seizures Are Easy in the United States

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

court1-featuredOne the biggest piracy-related stories of the year broke this week after Swedish authorities succeeded in their quest to take over two key Pirate Bay domains.

The court order, handed down Tuesday, will see ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se fall under the control of the Swedish government, provided no appeal is filed in the coming weeks. It’s been a long and drawn out process but given the site’s history, one with an almost inevitable outcome.

Over in the United States and spurred on by ‘rogue’ sites such as TPB, much attention has been focused on depriving ‘pirate’ sites of their essential infrastructure, domains included. Just last week the MPAA and RIAA appeared before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee complaining that ICANN isn’t doing enough to deal with infringing domains.

Of course, having ICANN quickly suspend domains would be convenient, but entertainment industry groups aren’t completely helpless. In fact, yet another complaint filed in the United States by TV company ABS-CBN shows how easily it is to take control of allegedly infringing domains.

The architect of several recent copyright infringement complaints, in its latest action ABS-CBN requested assistance from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The TV company complained that eleven sites (listed below) have been infringing its rights by offering content without permission. To protect its business moving forward ABS-CBN requested an immediate restraining order and after an ex parte hearing, District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas was happy to oblige.

In an order (pdf) handed down May 15 (one day after the complaint was filed) Judge Dimitrouleas acknowledges that the sites unlawfully “advertised, promoted, offered for distribution, distributed or performed” copyrighted works while infringing on ABS-CBN trademarks. He further accepted that the sites were likely to continue their infringement and cause “irreparable injury” to the TV company in the absence of protection by the Court.

Granting a temporary order (which will become preliminary and then permanent in the absence of any defense by the sites in question) the Judge restrained the site operators from further infringing on ABS-CBN copyrights and trademarks. However, it is the domain element that provokes the most interest.

In addition to ordering the sites’ operators not to transfer any domains until the Court advises, Judge Dimitrouleas ordered the registrars of the domains to transfer their certificates to ABS-CBN’s counsel. Registrars must then lock the domains and inform their registrants what has taken place.

Furthermore, the Whois privacy protection services active on the domains and used to conceal registrant identities are ordered to hand over the site operators’ personal details to ABS-CBN so that the TV company is able to send a copy of the restraining order. If no active email address is present in Whois records, ABS-CBN is allowed to contact the defendants via their websites.

Once this stage is complete the domain registrars are ordered to transfer the domains to a new registrar of ABS-CBN’s choosing. However, if the registrars fail to act within 24 hours, the TLD registries (.COM etc) must take overriding action within five days.

The Court also ordered ABS-CBN’s registrar to redirect any visitors to the domains to a specific URL (http://servingnotice.com/BL4G47/index.html) which is supposed to contain a copy of the order. At the time of writing, however, that URL is non-functional.

Also of interest is how the Court locks down attempts to get the sites running again. In addition to expanding the restraining order to any new domains the site operators may choose to move to, the Court grants ABS-CBN access to Google Webmaster Tools so that the company may “cancel any redirection of the domains that have been entered there by Defendants which redirect traffic to the counterfeit operations to a new domain name or website.”

The domains affected are: freepinoychannel.com, lambingan.to, pinoymovie.to, pinoynetwork.to, pinoytambayan-replay.com, pinoytambayantv.com, tambaytayo.com, tvnijuan.net, phstream.com, streampinoy.info and tambayanatin.com.

Despite the order having been issued last Thursday, at the time of writing all but one of the domains remains operational. Furthermore, and in an interesting twist, pinoymovie.to and pinoynetwork.to have already skipped to fresh domains operated by none other than the Swedish administered .SE registry.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Israeli ISPs to Block Popcorn Time Websites

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 has some of the major media giants worried, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor to its business.

Since Popcorn Time is powered by BitTorrent it is hard to stop the downloads directly, but copyright holders can go after the websites that offer the application. In Israel the local anti-piracy outfit ZIRA went down this route.

The group, which represents several media companies, applied for an ex parte injunction ordering local Internet providers to block access to the websites of several Popcorn Time forks.

This week the Tel Aviv court granted the application, arguing that the application does indeed violate the rights of copyright holders.

The copyright holders are pleased with the outcome, which shows that services such as Popcorn Time are infringing even though they don’t host any files themselves.

“The Popcorn Time software provides users with a service to stream and download content on the Internet, including Israeli movies and foreign movies and TV series with English subtitles, without having any permission from copyright holders to do so,” attorney Presenti told local media.

The ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time in the future. However, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now.

To address this, ZIRA’s lawyers say the are considering additional steps including the option to block the ports Popcorn Time uses. While that may be effective, it may also block other traffic, especially if the app switches to more common ports such as port 80.

Israel is the second country to block access to Popcorn Time websites. Last month the UK High Court issued a similar order, which also targeted the domain names of various APIs the applications use.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Fiber Sends Automated Piracy ‘Fines’ to Subscribers

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

googlefiberlogoEvery month Google receives dozens of millions of DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders, most of which are directed at its search engine.

However, with Google Fiber being rolled out in more cities, notices targeting allegedly pirating Internet subscribers are becoming more common as well.

These include regular takedown notices but also the more controversial settlement demands sent by companies such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK.

Instead of merely alerting subscribers that their connections have been used to share copyright infringing material, these notices serve as automated fines, offering subscribers settlements ranging from $20 to $300.

The scheme uses the standard DMCA takedown process which means that the copyright holder doesn’t have to go to court or even know who the recipient is. In fact, the affected subscriber is often not the person who shared the pirated file.

To protect customers against these practices many ISPs including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have chosen not to forward settlement demands. However, information received by TF shows that Google does take part.

Over the past week we have seen settlement demands from Rightscorp and CEG TEK which were sent to Google Fiber customers. In an email, Google forwards the notice with an additional warning that repeated violations may result in a permanent disconnection.

“Repeated violations of our Terms of Service may result in remedial action being taken against your Google Fiber account, up to and including possible termination of your service,” Google Fiber writes.

fiberwarning

Below Google’s message is the notification with the settlement demand, which in this example was sent on behalf of music licensing outfit BMG. In the notice, the subscriber is warned over possible legal action if the dispute is not settled.

“BMG will pursue every available remedy including injunctions and recovery of attorney’s fees, costs and any and all other damages which are incurred by BMG as a result of any action that is commenced against you,” the notice reads.

bmgwarning

Facing such threatening language many subscribers are inclined to pay up, which led some to accuse the senders of harassment and abuse. In addition, several legal experts have spoken out against this use of the DMCA takedown process.

Mitch Stoltz, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) previously told us that Internet providers should carefully review what they’re forwarding to their users. Under U.S. law they are not required to forward DMCA notices and forwarding these automated fines may not be in the best interest of consumers.

“In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,” Stoltz said.

According to Stoltz these settlement demands are often misleading or inaccurate, suggesting that account holders are responsible for all use of their Internet connections.

“The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true,” he notes.

While Google is certainly not the only ISP that forwards these notices it is the biggest name involved. TF asked Google why they have decided to forward the notices in their entirely but unfortunately the company did not respond to our request for comment.

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

TorrentFreak: Netflix Needs BitTorrent Expert to Implement P2P Streaming

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

netflix-logoWith roughly 60 million subscribers globally, Netflix is a giant in the world of online video entertainment.

The service moves massive amounts of data and is credited with consuming a third of all Internet traffic in North America during peak hours.

Netlix’s data use is quite costly for the company and also results in network congestion and stream buffering at times. However, thanks to P2P-powered streaming these problems may soon be a thing of the past.

In a job posting late April, Netflix says it is looking to expand its team with the addition of a Senior Software Engineer. While that’s nothing new, the description reveals information on the company’s P2P-streaming plans.

“Our team is evaluating up-and-coming content distribution technologies, and we are seeking a highly talented senior engineer to grow the knowledge base in the area of peer-to-peer technologies and lead the technology design and prototyping effort,” the application reads.

The software engineer will be tasked with guiding the project from start to finish. This includes the design and architecture phase, implementation, testing, the internal release and final evaluation.

“This is a great opportunity to enhance your full-stack development skills, and simultaneously grow your knowledge of the state of the art in peer-to-peer content distribution and network optimization techniques,” Netflix writes.

A few weeks ago Netflix told its shareholders that it sees the BitTorrent-powered piracy app Popcorn Time as a serious threat. However, the job application makes it clear that BitTorrent can be used for legal distribution as well.

Among the qualification requirements Netflix lists experience with BitTorrent and other P2P-protocols. Having contributed to the open source torrent streaming tool WebTorrent or a similar project is listed as a preferred job qualification.

In other words, existing Popcorn Time developers are well-suited candidates for the position.

– You have experience with peer-to-peer protocols such as the BitTorrent protocol

– You have strong experience in the development of peer-to-peer protocols and software

– You have contributed to a major peer-to-peer open source product such as WebTorrent

– You have strong experience in the development of web-based video applications and tools

Moving to P2P-assisted streaming appears to be a logical step. It will be possible to stream videos in a higher quality than is currently possible. In addition, it will offer a significant cost reduction.

BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen will be happy to see that Netflix is considering using his technology. He previously said that Netflix’s video quality is really terrible, adding that BitTorrent-powered solutions are far superior.

“The fact is that by using BitTorrent it’s possible to give customers a much better experience with much less cost than has ever been possible before. It’s really not being utilized properly and that’s really unfortunate,” Cohen said.

While the job posting is yet more evidence that Netflix is seriously considering a move to P2P-powered streaming, it’s still unclear whether the new technology will ever see the light of day.

The job posting
netflix-torrent

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

TorrentFreak: Voltage Pictures Sued For Copyright Infringement

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

godz-smallThere are dozens of companies engaged in so-called “copyright trolling” worldwide, the majority connected with adult movie companies.

While most are generally dismissed as second-rate companies out to make a quick buck, U.S. producer Voltage Pictures has developed a reputation for making fairly decent movies and being one of the most aggressive ‘trolls’ around.

The company has targeted thousands of individuals in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and most recently Australia. The company has largely prevailed in these actions but a new case filed this week in the U.S. sees the company on the receiving end of procedures.

The spat concerns Voltage’s plans for a new movie. Starring Anne Hathaway and titled ‘Collosal‘, the flick sees a giant lizard-like creature stomping its way over Tokyo. It sounds an awful lot like Godzilla, recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest-running movie franchise ever. Toho, the Japanese movie studio behind the Godzilla brand, noticed the similarities too.

In a lawsuit filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Toho highlights the hypocrisy of Voltage’s actions.

Describing the company as a “staunch advocate for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights” after filing hundreds of copyright suits involving its movies The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club, Toya says that Voltage began promoting its new movie via email at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month.

As can be seen from the screenshot below, the email features three large photos of Godzilla, actress Anne Hathaway, and a giant robot.

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“Gloria is an ordinary woman who finds herself in an extraordinary circumstance. Tokyo is under attack by Godzilla and a giant robot and, for some strange reason, Gloria is the only person who can stop it,” the email reads.

Predictably Toho is upset at Voltage’s use of the Godzilla character and associated breaches of the company’s copyrights and trademarks. Only making matters worse is the fact that the image of Godzilla used by Voltage is actually taken from promotional material published by Toho to accompany the release of its 2014 movie, Godzilla.

“Godzilla is one of the most iconic fictional characters in the history of motion pictures. Toho Co., Ltd., the copyright owner of the Godzilla character and
franchise of films, brings this lawsuit because defendants are brazenly producing,
advertising, and selling an unauthorized Godzilla film of their own,” Toho begin.

“There is nothing subtle about defendants’ conduct. They are expressly informing the entertainment community that they are making a Godzilla film and are using the
Godzilla trademark and images of Toho’s protected character to generate interest in
and to obtain financing for their project,” the company continues.

“That anyone would engage in such blatant infringement of another’s intellectual property is wrong enough. That defendants, who are known for zealously protecting their own copyrights, would do so is outrageous in the extreme.”

Noting that at no stage has Voltage ever sought permission to exploit the Godzilla character, Toho says it asked Voltage to cease and desist but the company refused.

“Upon learning of Defendants’ infringing activities, Toho demanded that Defendants cease their exploitation of the Godzilla Character, but Defendants refused to do so,” Toho writes.

In response Toho filed suit and is now demanding that all profits generated by Voltage as a result of its “infringing activities” should be handed over to the Japanese company. That, or payment of $150,000 in statutory damages for each infringement of Toho’s copyrights. Trademark issues are at stake too, with Toho demanding preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against Voltage’s use of the Godzilla marks.

Being on the wrong end of a copyright infringement lawsuit will be a novel experience for Voltage Pictures.

After recently winning a case to reveal the identities of thousands of alleged pirates in Australia, the company is currently engaged in negotiations with a Federal court over how its first letters to the accused should be worded.

With a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, the studio is still experiencing resistance against what is perceived as a so-called “speculative invoicing” business model. Local ISP iiNet is providing comprehensive advice to its customers affected by Voltage’s action and is even working with a law firm prepared to provide pro-bono services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pirate Bay homepage (.VG didn’t fit the hydra)
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This means that all the effort that went into the lawsuit, as well as at least $40,000 in legal costs, have done very little to stop the site.

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

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

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

And so the Whack-a-Mole continues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breaking news story

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

TorrentFreak: EZTV Shuts Down After Hostile Takeover

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

eztv-logo-smallDuring the spring of 2005 several large TV-torrent sites were knocked offline, leaving a gaping void that was soon filled by a new torrent distribution group, EZTV.

For a decade EZTV has been one of the leading TV distribution groups. It turned into one of the most visited torrent sites, but today this run comes to an end.

Facing a hostile takeover the group’s founder and main operator NovaKing has called it quits.

Initially it remained vague how EZTV’s demise came to be, not least because NovaKing could not be reached. However, with help from several EZTV staffers including sladinki007 we can now explain what happened.

The group’s troubles started earlier this year when the .IT registry suspended EZTV’s domain name because of inaccurate Whois information. A few weeks later the .IT registry put the domain back on the market and it was snapped up by scammers.

The people who took over the domain name came in well-prepared. They registered the UK company EZCloud LIMITED, which is the same company name as EZTV used. Initially the takeover wasn’t much of a problem, as EZTV had already moved to a new domain name at EZTV.ch, but things quickly turned from bad to worse.

Using the EZCloud company details and by faking the director’s name, the scammers also managed to take over the EZTV.se domain through the EuroDNS registrar. NovaKing tried to prevent this from happening by alerting the registrar, but according to an EZTV staffer he was told to get a court order if he wanted his domain back.

The .se domain was linked to the mailbox of EZTV founder NovaKing, which allowed them to access the domain registrar account and various other services for which they quickly reset all passwords. As a result, NovaKing was locked out, losing control of virtually all of his domain names.

Initially, there was also the possibility that the servers were compromised as well. This prompted a thorough security audit and a site lockdown last month.

Eventually, even the new EZTV.ch domain fell into the hands of the scammers, completing the hostile takeover.

Sladinki007 says that NovaKing must have been devastated by what happened. A life’s work was completely ruined in a few days and access to personal domain names was gone as well.

While EZTV could technically start over using a new name the group’s founder decided to throw in the towel. Too much had already been lost. The group had always been a “fun” non-profit project, and the recent troubles took the fun away.

The scammers, meanwhile, continue to operate both the .it and .ch domain names and are now distributing their own torrents (sourced elsewhere) with the hijacked EZTV brand. They pretend to be the real deal, sending out misleading and false status updates, but they’re not.

Having control over NovaKing’s email address the scammers even reached out to other torrent site operators, claiming that EZTV was back in business. However, most knew better not to fall for it and have retired official EZTV uploader accounts.

A Pirate Bay moderator informs TF that they have suspended the EZTV user account. Many of the older torrents are still on the site, but TPB has added a warning urging people to stay away from the compromised domain.

TPB’s EZTV warning
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Other torrent sites such as KickassTorrents, BT-chat and Rarbg have also disabled or suspended the official EZTV accounts after hearing about the takeover. In addition, KickassTorrents and BT-chat have added the same warning as TPB. This way they hope to keep people away from the compromised EZTV site, which is now serving various ads including pop-unders.

Former EZTV staffers also urge people to stay away from all EZTV sites and to inform others to do the same. The real EZTV is no longer active.

EZTV’s forced retirement marks the and of an era. While there are still plenty of TV-torrents around, the group will be dearly missed by millions.

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