Posts tagged ‘Torrent Sites’

TorrentFreak: German Court Will Issue Pirate Site Blocking Decision in November

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

stop-blockedWith the phenomenon spreading around the world, the blocking of ‘pirate’ websites is emerging as a key anti-piracy strategy of the entertainment industries.

Europe has been a key battleground for the movement and if rightsholders have their way, yet another new regional country will implement blocks soon.

The current action involves German performance rights organization GEMA. Known for its aggressive anti-piracy stance, GEMA’s case dates back seven years when it found music tracks on major file-hosting sites (Rapidshare, Netload, Uploaded) being distributed via a links site known as 3DL.am. Since it couldn’t contact 3DL’s operators to deal with the infringement, GEMA expanded its fight elsewhere.

In a subsequent complaint, GEMA demanded that in order to reduce further copyright infringement, leading German ISP Deutsche Telekom should take technical steps to stop its customers from accessing 3DL.am.

The ISP refused, stating that as a mere ‘dumb pipe’ it has nothing to do with the infringement on the site. Furthermore, blocking one site would simply lead to increasing numbers of similar demands, the ISP argued.

In 2013 the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg rejected GEMA’s case on the basis that Deutsche Telekom is not the direct host of 3DL.am (now 3DL.tv). A subsequent appeal was also dismissed. However, persistence from the rights organization means that the case is now being heard by Germany’s Supreme Court.

Oliver Süme from Eco.de, the Association of the German Internet Industry, believes that GEMA’s efforts are destined to fail.

“The legal situation thus far is that [consumer ISPs] are not liable for infringements on the Internet. It is therefore pointless to impose on the providers the role of an auxiliary police force,” Süme says.

“Furthermore, the required technical measures to control and filter the traffic of Internet users violates telecommunications secrecy and data protection laws that we have fought in favor of for years.”

The Supreme Court says that a decision on the case will be handed down in November. In the meantime, 3DL continues business as normal.

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Site Blocking Delay Shows Lack of Urgency, Critics Say

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

When entertainment industry groups speak publicly of the piracy situation, the rhetoric suggests that the sky is falling, that the very future of the business is at risk if something isn’t done quickly.

In truth it’s been that way for more than 30 years but that doesn’t stop successive governments in countries around the globe taking the threats seriously. And considering the size of the entertainment industries and the influence of those running them, it’s not difficult to see why.

In Australia, calls to do something about the “scumbag theft” carried out by “copyright bandits” have escalated to almost fever pitch in recent years, with 2014 seeing the most concerted effort yet to crack down on file-sharers and the sites they use.

In response, Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked the Cabinet to develop legislation which would allow ‘pirate’ sites to be blocked by ISPs. In March 2015 the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 was introduced and after just three months of consideration by parliament, the legislation was passed into law.

Considering the demands for dramatic and urgent action, one might think that rightsholders would be already queuing up to have the first sites blocked. But according to a report from ABC, that point is still a long way off.

While it appears that pay TV company Foxtel will be the pioneer of the very first legal case under the new legislation (probably against a big player such as The Pirate Bay), the timescale for implementation being quoted by the company is not a matter of weeks, but loosely described as arriving “in the coming months”.

The fact that Foxtel is still at the “legal advice” stage on “how best to put the legislation into effect” has upset critics, who believe that rightsholders may have overstated the need for urgent new laws.

“We are astounded, given the urgency with which this law was passed at the urging of the rights holders, that so far they haven’t bothered to use it,” says Internet Australia CEO Laurie Patton.

“We would have thought that they’d have a raft of cases ready to go if the problem is that critical.”

While six weeks might appear to be a reasonable amount of time to put a case together (the legislation was passed June 26), it’s worth bearing in mind that the first blocking cases to be brought in any region have always been the most important. Their implications stretch far beyond blocking a single site.

Although each case will be different to some extent, the first case – if presented correctly – will provide a template for subsequent cases, saving rightsholders (and the courts) lots of time and money in the long run. Getting the system running smoothly from the start will be a key priority so it’s no surprise that Foxtel aren’t already waiting at the doors of the court.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of things to be done and according to John Stanton from the Communications Alliance, Australia’s ISPs still haven’t been consulted on the basics of what will need to be done following any injunction.

“ISPs hope that if applications are to be lodged, rights holders will discuss them in advance with ISPs, to provide an opportunity for some shared understanding on logistical and other issues,” Stanton says.

“These issues including timing, the provision by rights holders of a landing page to inform internet users why a website has been blocked, discussion of the various technical options for website blocking and the planned breadth of an application.”

Considering the importance of ISPs to the success of site-blocking, not having included or consulted them thus far is somewhat of a mystery and perhaps indicative of how far from presenting its first case Foxtel is.

Still, with years of training behind them in respect of geo-unblocking services such as Netflix, it could very well be that the introduction of the first site blockade will have a minimum of impact on Aussies anyway – whether it arrives in the next few weeks or in distant months.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Vulnerable to Hack Attacks, Researcher Says

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

popcorntAlmost 18 months since it burst onto the scene in 2014 and Popcorn Time is still one of the most popular file-sharing applications on the market.

Millions of people use multiple variants of the Netflix-style tool everyday, with ease of use and wide content availability proving a hit with users old and new.

Popcorn Time’s success has also made it a target for anti-piracy companies desperate to shut it down, but today the software finds itself under attack of a different kind.

Antonios Chariton, aka ‘DaKnOb’, describes himself as a Security Engineer & Researcher. Currently in Greece studying for his B.Sc. in Computer Science, Chariton informs TorrentFreak that he’s discovered some serious security vulnerabilities in at least one fork of Popcorn Time.

“There are two reasons that made me look into Popcorn Time. First of all, I know many people who have installed this application on their personal computers and use it, and second of all, by pure accident: I was setting up my computer firewall when I noticed the network traffic initiated by Popcorn Time,” Chariton says.

The researcher says that the problems begin with “a really smart” technique that Popcorn Time uses to bypass ISP-level blocking in the UK. By utilizing Cloudflare infrastructure for part of its setup, it’s difficult to block Popcorn Time by DNS without banning the Cloudflare website, Chariton notes.

But cleverness aside, this is where the problems begin.

“First of all, the request to Cloudflare is initiated over plain HTTP. That means both the request and the response can be changed by someone with a Man In The Middle position (Local Attacker, Network Administrator, ISP, Government, etc.),” Chariton explains.

“The second mistake is that there is no input sanitization whatsoever. That means, there are no checks in place to ensure the validity of the data received. The third mistake is that they make the previous two mistakes in a NodeJS application.”

As shown in the image below, Chariton says he was able to perform a “content spoofing” attack, in which he gave the movie Hot Pursuit the title of “Hello World” instead.

pop-hack1

The researcher says that while he could’ve changed any other information in the Popcorm Time application, that wouldn’t be “exactly much fun”. So, to get pulses racing, he launched an XSS attack instead.

As shown in the image below, Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) attacks allow for potentially malicious scripts to be injected into other web applications.

pop-hack2

“We have injected malicious JavaScript and the client application executed the code. Using this attack we can show fake messages or even do something smarter. Since the application is written in NodeJS, if you find an XSS vulnerability, you are able to control the entire application,” Chariton explains.

“This essentially is Remote Code Execution on the computer that runs Popcorn Time. You can do anything the computer user could do.”

That’s obviously a pretty serious issue but Chariton does have some advice for the developers.

“HTTP is insecure. There’s nothing you can do to change this. Please, use HTTPS everywhere, especially in applications that don’t run inside a web browser. Second, sanitize your input. Even if you receive something over TLS v1.2 using a Client Certificate, it still isn’t secure! Always perform client-side checks of the server response,” he notes.

“Last but not least, just because something is Open Source doesn’t mean it’s audited and secure. Discovering and exploiting this vulnerability was literally one hour of work, including the time to write all the JavaScript payloads and come up with cool stuff to do,” Chariton concludes.

Making the situation more complex is the number of Popcorn Time forks in circulation. Chariton told us that he carried out his tests on the variant available at PopcornTime.io but it’s certainly possible that the same issues exist elsewhere on lesser-used forks.

That being said, the developers behind the variant available at Popcorn-Time.se inform TorrentFreak that their version isn’t vulnerable to these exploits.

“These security issues don’t refer to Popcorn-time.se since we built Popcorn Time from scratch in C++,” the devs explain.

“We don’t use Node Webkit which is known for having security issues, but chose the longer route of building our platform on our own from the ground up to avoid just these kind of issues.”

TorrentFreak reached out to Popcorntime.io yesterday but at the time of publication we had received no response. Chariton has raised the issue here and it’s currently under discussion.

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

TorrentFreak: India’s Porn Block Targets Torrent Sites, CollegeHumor and 9Gag

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

stop-blockedThis weekend millions of Indian Internet users started to notice that their favorite websites were no longer accessible.

On Friday the Government ordered local Internet providers to block access to a list of 857 websites, including many of the top porn sites.

“Your requested URL has been blocked as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India,” was the warning many got to see instead.

The move has sparked outrage among the public, who condemn the Government for censoring the Internet without proper cause. According to the court order the sites are being blocked because they threaten the morality and decency of Indians, which a local official has now confirmed.

“Free and open access to porn websites has been brought under check. We don’t want them to become a social nuisance,” a spokesman at the Department of Telecommunications told Reuters.

The Government order is quite broad, and not just because of the high number of domain names involved. A leaked copy which list all of the affected domains reveals some unsuspected entries.

For example, the list contains two of the largest torrent sites, Kickass.to and H33t.to. The first is now operating under the new Kat.cr domain name and the latter site is down, so the effects of the blockade are minimal.

blockedcollegeWhile blocking these torrent sites may be justified as both sites do link to pornographic content, the same can’t really be said for CollegeHumor and 9Gag, which are also on the blacklist.

The same goes for Liveleak, which has plenty of ‘immoral’ videos but isn’t really known for its vast amounts of porn. Finally, the list also includes nonvegjokes.com, a site specializing in dirty jokes.

The blocking order was issued under Rule 12 of the local Information Technology Rules, which allows the Government to block access to sites that are deemed to violate the integrity or security of India.

The Government still has to justify its blocking request before the end of the month. If those arguments prove insufficient, the court order may be overturned again. In the meantime, the interest in circumvention tools such as VPN services and proxy sites is expected to skyrocket.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Will Be Blocked in Austria

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

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

Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and the list continues to expand.

The latest blocking order was issued right before the weekend in Austria. Following a complaint from copyright holders the Commercial Court of Vienna ordered local ISP A1 Telekom to block subscribers access to The Pirate Bay.

In addition to 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.

The court allows the ISP to choose how to implement the blockade on a technical level but it is likely to involve DNS-blocking, an IP-address blacklist or a combination of both.

If A1 Telekom chooses a DNS blockade then users can easily circumvent the measures by using a non-ISP DNS server. A combination of a DNS and IP-address block is generally more effective, but with the wide availability of proxy sites and VPN services that’s not airtight either.

Franz Medwenitsch, managing director of the Austrian music industry association IFPI, welcomes the court order and notes that they are happy to assist with the implementation of the blockades.

“For the further development of the online music market it is a very gratifying decision. We call on the Internet providers to work together towards a legally compliant and straightforward implementation of site-blocking,” Medwenitsch says.

The current court order follows hot on the heels of another major blocking case in Austria, which came to an end last month.

After a round of appeals the Supreme Court ordered several leading Austrian ISPs to block the major streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. The Court further rules that the Internet providers will have to pay the costs for future blockades.

Given the recent successes, it wouldn’t be a surprise if more blocking requests will follow during the months to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/03/15

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

hotpThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Hot Pursuit 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 (…) Hot Pursuit 4.9 / trailer
2 (2) Furious 7 7.6 / trailer
3 (1) Insurgent 6.6 / trailer
4 (…) Minions (HDTS) 6.7 / trailer
5 (3) Jurassic World (TS/Subbed HDrip) 7.7 / trailer
6 (8) Terminator Genisys (TS) 7.0 / trailer
7 (…) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (HDTS) 8.0 / trailer
8 (5) Ted 2 (Subbed HDrip) 6.9 / trailer
9 (6) Home 6.8 / trailer
10 (7) The Longest Ride 7.1 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: Copying And Sharing Was Always A Natural Right; Restricting Copying Never Was

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

sharing-caringPolitical scientists have this concept called “natural rights”. It’s a right you have innately, even if there is no law enforcement or indeed any government. Such rights include the right to think freely, the right to use your senses, the right to speak your mind, and the right to hold property (starting with your own body).

In contrast, laws that restrict such rights cannot exist without a government to enforce such laws. This is crucial to understanding what can be considered a starting point for society; if you have a blank slate, what laws and rights exist before you’ve put the first ink to paper.

The copyright industry tries repeatedly to portray itself as in the moral right from a high horse, when advocating restrictions to copying and sharing. That’s not just wrong, it’s also blatantly dishonest and false, and knowingly so. The copyright monopoly is a protectionist mechanism, a remnant from before the free-enterprise reform of the mid-1800s, that has no place in a society built on creativity and innovation. The monopoly is not just destructive and wrong, but also draconian and arbitrary.

Let’s examine how natural rights come into play when sharing knowledge and culture.

To create a bitstream of a file, say Gameofthrones.s05e10.1080p.WOOT.mkv, we observe that this file exists somewhere. We use our own senses, and technology extensions to our own senses using our own property (a computer, a router, network cables, etc.), to observe the existence of this stream, and the bitpattern that makes up particular stream. After observing what the bitpattern looks like, we rearrange our own property – magnetic fields on our hard drive – to match what we are observing with our senses.

From a natural rights perspective, this is identical to a painter using their property – paint, brushes, bristles – to record onto a canvas what they’re seeing with their eyes. It’s not just perfectly fine, it’s completely expected behavior.

Now, it may be that exercising natural rights in this case interferes with dreamed-up business models by the copyright industry. But natural rights don’t take a back seat to somebody’s imaginary right to profit. They’re on a different level altogether. While there are laws that limit natural rights, they are generally seen as hideously immoral and to be practiced with enormous restraint.

However, the conclusion here is that copying is the natural state, a mere exercise of natural rights, and restriction of such copying is an arbitrary and draconian intrusion into natural rights, an anachronistic remnant from the pre-free-enterprise era which has no place in the age of the Internet.

Finally, I said that the copyright industry is “knowingly” deceptive on this point. By that, I am referring to the fact that they keep reiterating that people who are exercising their natural rights are “stealing”, despite the U.S. Supreme Court clearly having ruled the opposite, which they are well aware of, and also that the copyright industry has been explicitly banned by court from using such deceptive and disingenuous language.

About The Author

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

Book Falkvinge as speaker?

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

TorrentFreak: Google Asked to Remove 18 ‘Pirate Links’ Every Second

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

google-bayIn the hope of steering prospective customers away from pirate sites, copyright holders are overloading Google with DMCA takedown notices.

These requests have increased dramatically over the years. In 2008, the search engine received only a few dozen takedown notices during the entire year, but the same number is now reached in a matter of seconds.

At TF we processed the number of URLs submitted by copyright holders over the past month, which were roughly 47 million in total. Or put differently, Google is now being asked to remove well over 18 links to alleged copyright infringing material every second.

Just last week Google received a record breaking 12.5 million reported links in seven days, showing that the surge in notices is still ongoing.

The BPI and RIAA are among the most active senders of DMCA takedown requests. Together, the music groups have sent notices for 5.5 million URLs over the past month, which represents 12% of all requests.

Both groups are topped by takedown agencies Rivendell and Degban though, who are good for reporting 7.7 and 6.3 million URLs respectively.

googrecord

Over the past month more than 2,600 copyright holders submitted takedown notices, targeting 77,514 separate domain names. The relatively unknown MP3 search engine myfreemp3.re tops the list with nearly a million removed pages, and several Pirate Bay related domains are also among the top targets.

The vast majority of the reported links have been removed, but the takedown notices also include duplicate or non-infringing URLs for which Google takes no action.

Despite the frequent use of the takedown process many copyright holders are not happy with Google’s take on the piracy problem. Groups such as the RIAA and MPAA have repeatedly stressed that the company should do more to prevent pirated content from showing up in the top search results.

Faced with this harsh criticism, Google has gradually altered its search algorithms. October last year the company implemented the most significant change yet, aimed at downranking sites that often link to copyright-infringing material.

Still, the major copyright holders remain far from pleased. They’ve urged Google to completely de-list infringing domains and boost the rankings of legitimate sites. Until that happens, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the number of reported links going down.

TF reached out to Google for a comment on the ever-increasing volume of takedown requests and how the company is able to cope with the surge, but at the time of publication we haven’t heard back.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Web Blocking Site More Popular in the UK than Spotify & Skype

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

FCT tyFor citizens of the UK, web blocking is becoming a hot topic. Aside from the large and growing list of torrent, streaming and other downloading sites currently blocked by ISPs, netizens are now facing the specter of government enforced porn barriers.

That’s according to Prime Minister David Cameron, who this week fired off a broadside against adult content providers who he says are failing to control what other people’s children are viewing online.

“Our one nation government is working hard to make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content which is currently far too widely available,” the Prime Minister said. “I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down.”

According to the government the UK’s top 10 adult sites account for over half (52%) of all site views so this is no trivial matter. The site’s aren’t mentioned by name so TF decided to look them up.

The most popular within the UK’s top 200 most-visited sites according to Alexa are Pornhub (#41), XHamster (#44), Xvideos (#47), RedTube (#92), TubeCup (#105) and YouPorn (#122). To give an idea of scale, PornHub is more popular than Netflix and YouPorn is more visited than Vimeo.

However, while compiling this list we stumbled across something else that’s both surprising on one hand and utterly predictable on the other. Occupying the position of the UK’s 192nd most-visited site is Unblocked.pw, a service entirely dedicated to unblocking blocked websites.

Breaking the top 200 is no mean feat for any site, especially when one considers the competition at that level. Nevertheless, after existing for much less than a year, Unblocked.pw is already more popular in the UK than both Spotify (#194) and Skype (#195).

unblocked

While the skill of the site’s operator is no doubt a factor in its success, the huge popularity of Unblocked.pw is almost entirely down to restrictions being put in place by UK Internet service providers. Every time a blockade is put in place, Unblocked.pw provides a solution to the problem. It currently unblocks most major torrent and streaming sites plus the specialist ebook archives targeted in May.

“Fighting censorship has been the primary motivation behind running Unblocked,” the site’s operator informs TorrentFreak.

“It’s to show that whatever regulators do to censor things online, there will always be a way around it. The initial motivation came from when The Pirate Bay was blocked in the Netherlands. We set up Proxybay.co to maintain a list of Pirate Bay proxy sites and show people how to create their own.”

In respect of porn sites, Cameron’s office suggests that users could be required to validate their ages with a credit card, but the operators of overseas ‘tube’ sites will be extremely reluctant to introduce such measures since they will mess with their business models by reducing traffic and ad revenue.

That will leave web-blocking as Cameron’s only other option but as highlighted by the Open Rights Group, that won’t work.

“While the government can shut down UK-based sites, these are few in number and represent a tiny proportion of the global porn industry. Cameron needs to clarify how he wishes to achieve his goals, given that most porn sites are hosted abroad,” says ORG’s Jim Killock.

“To block them, the government would have to introduce a national firewall, which would censor sites for everyone, and would likely be widely circumvented.”

While there are currently no dedicated adult sites in Unblocked.pw’s repertoire (since none are currently blocked in the UK), there can be little doubt that if the UK government decides to order blockades, Unblocked and similar sites will quickly offer wordarounds.

If that does indeed transpire, expect a successful service to break the top 50 most-visited sites in the country while jockeying for rankings with the likes of Apple and WordPress. It’s a battle the government simply can’t win, but that won’t stop them from trying.

In the meantime the Internet continues to interpret censorship as damage, and routes around it.

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

TorrentFreak: Bitdefender Blocks Anti-Piracy Website as Malware

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

rightscorp-realPiracy monetization firm Rightscorp has made several headlines recently, often because of its aggressive attempts to obtain settlements from allegedly pirating Internet users.

The publicly traded company ask U.S. ISPs to forward DMCA notices to subscribers, with a settlement offer tagged on to the end.

On behalf of Warner Bros, BMG and other copyright holders Rightscorp asks subscribers to pay $30 per pirated file, or risk a potential $150,000 ‘fine’ in court.

Increasingly, these practices have resulted in a backlash. Rightscorp was sued for fraud, harassment and abuse late last year and just last month Internet provider Cox Communications described its settlement emails as “improper extortion threats

Today we can add another setback to this list. For the past few days prominent anti-virus vendor Bitdefender has been blocking the company’s website after categorizing it as malware.

People who receive a notice from Rightcorp are welcomed with the following popover when they try to access the settlement page. The notice is limited to the settlement pages and doesn’t appear on the regular website.

Bitdefender’s malware warning
bitdefrights

It’s unclear why Bitdefender has listed Rightcorp’s website as malware but it’s certainly plausible that the huge amount of settlement emails linked to a payment request raised a red flag.

In any case, Bitdefender users are less likely to pay up if their anti-virus software warns them not to visit the page, which can only further hurt Rightcorp’s already meager revenues.

Despite sending out millions of notices Rightscorp has yet to turn a profit. The company continues to trade at a loss and recently increased its settlement amount by 50 percent, hoping to get out of the red.

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

TorrentFreak: YouTube Games Copyright Law To Avoid License Fees, IFPI Says

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

youtubefaceWhile the diminishing revenues of the major recording labels have been a hot topic for many years, it’s only relatively recently that the debate over artists’ earnings has found itself almost constantly in the news.

A decade-and-a-half of disruptive technology has certainly played its part, but without that turmoil the music industry might still be playing catch up today. At any rate, the rise of online piracy arguably provided a much needed wake-up call and prompted the rise of dozens of legitimate music services.

However, according to IFPI chief executive Frances Moore, some of them aren’t playing by the rules since they fail to properly compensate creators.

“It is true that artists and record producers are not being paid fairly for the use of their music. This is because user upload platforms, such as SoundCloud and YouTube, are taking advantage of exemptions from copyright laws that simply should not apply to them,” Moore said this week.

The problem lies with the nature of these platforms. While services such as Spotify obtain expensive licenses from the record labels for the use of their content, Moore says that sites including YouTube are in effect gaming copyright law when they monetize content uploaded by their users without first obtaining the appropriate licenses.

“Laws that were designed to exempt passive intermediaries from liability in the early days of the internet – so-called ‘safe harbours’ – should never be allowed to exempt active digital music services from having to fairly negotiate licenses with rights holders,” Moore explains.

“There should be clarification of the application of ‘safe harbors’ to make it explicit that services that distribute and monetize music do not benefit from them.”

In order to combat the problem, IFPI says it is determined to work towards a fair licensing environment in which all services offering organized access to music are first required to obtain similar licenses from the labels.

“We want to ensure that services that make our content available, including by curating and monetizing it, are licensed on the same basis,” IFPI informs TorrentFreak.

“Services such as Spotify and Deezer negotiated licenses with right holders on fair market terms prior to their launch. By contrast, user-upload services such as YouTube and SoundCloud did not seek a license at the outset but rather built a business off the back of unlicensed content, relying on the ‘safe harbour’ exemptions to EU copyright law.”

Interestingly, IFPI isn’t stating that user-generated content sites (UGC) such as YouTube and Soundcloud are unlicensed. Instead, the music group says that the terms of those licenses were negotiated under duress, after services got big first and then sought to work with the labels later.

“Although some user-upload services are now licensed by rights holders, those licenses were not negotiated in a fair environment because rights holders’ content was already available on the services on a mass scale and the measures available to prevent this – i.e. notice and take down and Content ID – are easily circumvented and ineffective in preventing all content being available,” IFPI explains.

“As a result rights holders were left with no realistic option but to allow the content and take the license terms on offer.”

In order to level the playing field moving forward, IFPI says it will seek legislative clarification (and presumably change, if necessary) to ensure that “safe harbor” provisions in the EU are restricted to passive intermediaries, thus forcing UGC sites like YouTube to obtain appropriate licenses.

“User upload services that curate and monetize content are not passive intermediaries so should license on fair market terms in the same way that services such as Deezer and Spotify do,” IFPI says.

“There have been conflicting court decisions in different countries in Europe regarding the responsibility of user-uploaded content services. Therefore we are seeking clarification in the EU legislative framework to ensure that services that are active in distributing content are required to take a license from right holders and cannot rely on the ‘safe harbours’,” the music group concludes.

While the labels clearly think they are owed additional revenue from the likes of YouTube and have a duty to level the playing field for licensed services such as Spotify, it’s unlikely that the video giant will sit back while established legal safe harbors are eroded in Europe. Much bigger problems lie ahead if that transpires.

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent Inventor Granted P2P Live Streaming Patent

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

bram-streamHoping to revolutionize live broadcasting on the Internet, Bram Cohen started working on a new protocol for live streaming video more than half a decade ago.

At the time BitTorrent was believed to be responsible for a third of all Internet traffic. However, streaming services were quickly gaining momentum.

The problem with streaming, live streaming in particular, are high latencies. It can sometimes take up to a minute before a “live” stream reaches the audience.

Cohen solved this problem with a new BitTorrent Live protocol that has a much lower latency while sharing the bandwidth costs among users. This allows anyone to stream to an audience of millions at minimal cost.

This week Bram Cohen’s patent for the live streaming patent was awarded (pdf). According to BitTorrent’s inventor, who still works at the company, his technology can shape the future of live broadcasts.

Two years ago BitTorrent Inc. first demoed the technology in a web-based player, but this project was later discontinued. The company is now working on a new release that will come in the form of a mobile application.

“We’re working on using the technology for a new application, focusing on mobile,” Cohen tells TF.

Mobile live streaming has taken off this year with the release of Periscope and Meerkat. Both apps allow users to start live streams instantly and Cohen says they could make good partners for BitTorrent Live.

“Periscope and Meerkat are applications which use live, where what we have is underlying technology. We may work with them in the future,” he notes.

That said, the true strength of BitTorrent Live becomes apparent when there is a huge audience, not just a few viewers. This means that it will excel at streaming major events such as sports games and breaking news.

“The amount of utility of BitTorrent Live is based on how many people are watching something simultaneously. Big events where everybody is watching the same thing at the same time, like sports, are the best applications,” Cohen tells us.

Since BitTorrent Live shares the distribution costs among viewers, the bandwidth investment for these streams will be minimal compared to current solutions. In addition, latency will also be much lower making these broadcasts ‘more live.’

“Ironically in addition to being much better on bandwidth costs BitTorrent Live also has much lower latency, five seconds instead of 30-60 seconds, which is bordering on tape delayed instead of live,” Cohen says.

Previously BitTorrent Inc. suggested that it could help Netflix to increase its performance. Not with BitTorrent Live, but with the standard BitTorrent streaming technology which will allow Netflix to offer higher quality streams for a fraction of the current costs.

It appears that Netflix realizes the power of BitTorrent-like streaming, as the company is currently working on its own P2P streaming technology.

Eventually Cohen believes that all streaming will go over the Internet, both live and pre-recorded. It is much cheaper than the cable approach, especially with BitTorrent under the hood.

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

TorrentFreak: Rapid Pirate Site Blocking Mechanism Introduced By Portugal

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

stopstopThere can be little doubt that one of the most-favored anti-piracy mechanisms of the past several years is that of site-blocking. Rather than tackling sites head on with expensive legal action, rightsholders have domains blocked at the ISP level with the aim of diminishing ease of access and reducing direct traffic.

The strategy is mainly employed around Europe, with the UK standing out as the clear front-runner. Hundreds of domains are now blocked there by local ISPs after several High Court injunctions. Now Portugal has joined the club with a new system that not only aims to speed up the blocking process, but one that could put the UK quickly in the shade.

This week the Ministry of Culture announced the signing of a memorandum between its own General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), the Portuguese Association of Telecommunication Operators (APRITEL), various rightsholder groups, the body responsible for administering Portugal’s .PT domain and representatives from the advertising industry.

The memorandum lays out a new mechanism for blocking so-called ‘pirate’ sites. In common with similar frameworks elsewhere, the process is initiated by a complaint from a rightsholder association. Local anti-piracy group MAPINET then collates evidence that a site is engaged in the unlawful distribution of copyright works and has failed to cease its activities.

MAPINET subsequently forwards its complaints to the Ministry of Culture where the General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC) conducts an assessment and notifies local Internet service providers of the sites being targeted.

According to reports in local media, the system will target sites with more than 500 allegedly infringing links and those whose indexes contain more than 66% infringing content.

Only two complaints can be filed against pirate sites each month. However, each complaint can contain 50 websites, meaning that 100 sites could become blocked every month. Visitors to those sites will receive a notice in their browser advising them that the site has been blocked.

The memorandum is expected to come into force during the next two weeks so sites could be blocked as early as September.

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

TorrentFreak: Kim Dotcom & Mega Trade Barbs Over Hostile Takeover Claims

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

mega_logoFor the past several years, Kim Dotcom has been the most vocal supporter of Mega.co.nz, the cloud storage site he helped launch in 2013. Two and a half years later, something has gone very sour.

In a Q&A session with Slashdot this week, Dotcom told surprised readers that Mega was to be avoided.

“I’m not involved in Mega anymore. Neither in a managing nor in a shareholder capacity. The company has suffered from a hostile takeover by a Chinese investor who is wanted in China for fraud. He used a number of straw-men and businesses to accumulate more and more Mega shares,” Dotcom explained.

“Recently his shares have been seized by the [New Zealand] government. Which means the NZ government is in control.”

Intrigued, Dotcom spoke with Kim Dotcom to find out more about his allegations.

“Mega has experienced a hostile takeover and is no longer in the control of people who care about Internet Freedom. The New Zealand Government and Hollywood have seized a significant share of the company,” Dotcom told TorrentFreak.

“The combined shares seized by the NZ government and Hollywood were significant enough to stop our listing on the New Zealand stock exchange. On the one side Hollywood seized Mega shares of a family trust that was created for the benefit of my children and on the other side Hollywood was lobbying US Senators and credit card companies to stop payment processing for Mega.”

Dotcom says that the efforts of the NZ government and Hollywood meant that Mega couldn’t raise the capital required from the stock market to carry out its business plan. Furthermore, attacks on its abilities to process payments have now “dried up” the company’s cash flow.

“As a result Mega has been forced into bankruptcy territory and recently had to raise new capital at an insanely low valuation of NZD 10 million,” Dotcom says.

“This company was worth over 200 million before the NZ government and Hollywood launched their combined effort to destroy Mega. I have always said that this is a political case and the systematic sabotage of Mega is further proof of that.”

All of this leads Dotcom to the conclusion that Mega is no longer a safe site to use.

“As a result of this and a number of other confidential issues I don’t trust Mega anymore. I don’t think your data is safe on Mega anymore. But my non-compete clause is running out at the end of the year and I will create a Mega competitor that is completely open source and non-profit, similar to the Wikipedia model,” Dotcom says.

“I want to give everyone free, unlimited and encrypted cloud storage with the help of donations from the community to keep things going.”

Mega bites back

With shots fired, TorrentFreak spoke with Mega CEO Graham Gaylard and CCO Stephen Hall. Needless to say, they see things quite differently.

“Mega is a New Zealand company privately owned by 17 local and international investors, whose identities are publicly disclosed on the New Zealand Government’s Companies Office website,” Mega told TF.

“Like all start-up companies, Mega has had several rounds of equity investment. More than 75% of shareholders have supported recent equity issues, so there has not been any ‘hostile takeover’, contrary to Mr Dotcom’s assertion. Those shareholders who have decided not to subscribe to recent issues have been diluted accordingly. That has been their choice.”

Turning to the 6% shareholding held by the Dotcom family trust (which is controlled by Mr Dotcom’s estranged wife and is currently subject to a High Court freezing order following a 2014 application by five Hollywood film studios), Mega says there is no cause for alarm.

“That is a matter for the Dotcom family trust and does not concern Mega. The authorities responsible for maintaining the order have not opposed or interfered in any of Mega’s operations,” the company explains.

“Two other shareholdings totaling 7% are subject to a separate restraint ordered by the New Zealand High Court in August 2014. That is also a matter for that investor and does not concern Mega. Mega is not a party to either of the above court proceedings.”

Turning to Kim Dotcom’s claims that Mega is no longer in the hands of people who care about privacy, Mega told TF that isn’t the case.

“Mega continues to be managed by its executive team, supported by a Board of Directors and shareholders, who all care deeply about Internet freedom and privacy and are passionate about supporting Mega’s user-controlled encryption for cloud storage and communication services,” the company says.

Turning to Dotcom himself, the cloud storage site gave its clearest statement yet on its relationship with the German. Mega says that while Dotcom was a co-founder of their operation he was not involved in the design and implementation of Mega technology, resigned as a director in 2013 and has had no managerial role since. Additionally, Mega says that Dotcom has not received any payments or renumeration from the company.

“Mega disagrees with a number of Mr Dotcom’s public comments,” Mega adds.

Turning to the security of Mega itself, the company says that the full source for its client-side software SDK is available on Github and the source for its MEGAsync and mobile applications will be published in due course.

“Mega’s encryption code has been examined by various international experts including the Spanish National Cybersecurity Institute without any flaws being found,” the company says.

In closing, Mega issued a statement which indicates a collapse in relations with their co-founder.

“Mega views Mr Dotcom’s defamatory comments as self-serving and designed simply to [promote] his supposed new business venture,” Mega says.

“They are inconsistent with his previous desire to ensure that the shareholding in Mega remains a valuable asset for his children and reflect just how completely Mr Dotcom and Mega have now moved apart if he can make such an unwarranted and irresponsible, defamatory attack,” the company concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: U.S. Reports Progress in Antigua Legal “Pirate Site” Dispute

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

ustrA few years ago citizens of the Caribbean country of Antigua and Barbuda were enjoying the fruits of a flourishing gambling industry. Then the U.S. stepped in and prevented them from accessing their market, causing the industry to collapse.

“What was once a multi-billion dollar industry in our country, employing almost 5% of our population has now shrunk to virtually nothing,” Antigua’s High Commissioner to London, Carl Roberts, said previously.

Refusing to back down, Antigua filed a dispute with the World Trade Organization (WTO) and prevailed in 2005 with a WTO ruling that the actions of the United States violated free trade.

In 2007 the WTO went further still when it granted Antigua the preliminary right to suspend U.S. copyrights up to the value of $21 million for each year the U.S. blocks its gambling services. Intellectual property was chosen because trade in other areas was either weak or could prove a counter-productive target for Antigua.

In 2013, Antigua ran out of patience. A source close to the government informed TorrentFreak that it was considering cashing in via the launch of a ‘pirate’ website dedicated to selling U.S. movies, TV shows and music to the world without compensating rightsholders.

Just days later on January 28, 2013, the WTO effectively authorized Antigua’s plan for a ‘pirate site’ to enable it to start recouping the money owed by the United States.

The U.S. responded angrily to the plan, warning Antigua that such an action would undermine its chances for a settlement and noting that investment in the country, particularly in its high-tech industries, would suffer.

freedomBut after a few months passed, Antigua was rattling its sabers once more. Sources close to the government told TorrentFreak that it was looking for partners to assist with the launch of its download platform and would love to get involved with The Pirate Bay.

“Whichever vendor is selected in the process, be it The Pirate Bay or any other company, it would be involved in a dialogue with the Government and a partnership that will be strictly supervised to make sure that the operation is conducted in accordance with the WTO rulings,” then Antigua attorney Mark Mendel told TF.

More than a year passed with no site appearing and in June 2014 Antigua elected a brand new government with Prime Minister Gaston Browne at the helm.

In September the government said it had “formulated yet another comprehensive and realistic proposal” and had made “significant concessions” in a bid to resolve its WTO dispute with the United States.

The United States owes Antigua around $200m but word from the new government suggested it might settle for ‘just’ $100m.

Shortly after, Antigua fired its attorney Mark Mendel, with the new Prime Minister promising to take a tougher line in negotiations than his predecessor.

After a period of relative quiet, this month local media reported that Antigua’s Minister of International Trade and Foreign Affairs Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez would travel to the U.S. to begin a new round of negotiations with the United States Trade Representative.

That meeting took place on Tuesday and early signs from the USTR suggest that progress is being made.

“On 28th July, 2015, Assistant US Trade Representative for the Western Hemisphere, John Melle, met with the Foreign Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, H. Charles Fernandez, and his delegation to discuss resolution of the WTO case United States – Measures Affecting the Cross-Border Supply of Gambling and Betting Services,” the USTR said in an announcement.

“Both sides considered the meeting productive and useful for the exploration of various elements that could ultimately bring closure to the matter. Both governments have undertaken to continue the discussions at an early date with a view to reaching a final settlement.”

In closing, both Fernandez and Melle committed to “moving to a final conclusion as expeditiously as possible.”

Having already cut their demands by half despite clear World Trade Organization rulings, it will remain to be seen how much further Antigua will be prepared to go in order to settle with the United States once and for all. If not, a new legal ‘pirate’ site could still sail onto the horizon.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA and Friends Accuse CNET of Hosting ‘Pirate’ Software

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

downloadcomDespite growing revenue streams from digital music, the music industry still sees online piracy as a significant threat.

This week a coalition of 16 music groups including the RIAA, the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM) and the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) voiced their concern over so-called “ripping” software.

The groups are not happy with CNET’s Download.com as the software portal offers access to various YouTube downloaders and other stream ripping tools. In a letter to Les Moonves, CEO of CNET’s parent company CBS, they accuse the download portal of offering infringing software.

“[CNET’s Download.com] has made various computer, web, and mobile applications available that induce users to infringe copyrighted content by ripping the audio or the audio and video from what might be an otherwise legitimate stream,” the letter reads.

“We ask that you consider the above in light of industry best practices, your company’s reputation, the clear infringing nature of these applications, and your role in creating a safe, legitimate, and innovative Internet ecosystem,” the groups add.

Despite the strong wording, CBS doesn’t appear to be very impressed by the accusations.

In response cited by Billboard the company notes that “all of the software indexed on Download.com is legal”. According to CBS the mentioned software can be used for legal means and the company notes that this is the responsibility of the user.

downloadyou

This isn’t the first time that CNET and CBS have been called out for allegedly facilitating piracy. A few years ago a group of artists sued CBS and CNET for their role in distributing uTorrent, LimeWire and other P2P software.

The artists claimed that CNET profits heavily from distributing file-sharing software via Download.com, while demonstrating in editorial reviews how these application can be used to download copyright-infringing material.

The judge eventually ruled in favor of CBS and CNET and said that there was no indication that the companies will purposefully encourage copyright infringement in the future. A software ban would therefore needlessly silence “public discussion of P2P technologies.”

Given CBS’s response to the music group’s recent letter, the current request won’t be effective either.

TF asked RIAA, A2IM and ASCAP for additional details on the letter it sent to CBS but none of the groups replied to our inquiry before publication.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Publishes Chrome Fix For Serious VPN Security Hole

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

As large numbers of Internet users wise up to seemingly endless online privacy issues, security products are increasingly being viewed as essential for even basic tasks such as web browsing.

In addition to regular anti-virus, firewall and ad-busting products, users wishing to go the extra mile often invest in a decent VPN service which allow them to hide their real IP addresses from the world. Well that’s the theory at least.

January this year details of a serious vulnerability revealed that in certain situations third parties were able to discover the real IP addresses of Chrome and Firefox users even though they were connected to a VPN.

This wasn’t the fault of any VPN provider though. The problem was caused by features present in WebRTC, an open-source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera.

By placing a few lines of code on a website and using a STUN server it became possible to reveal not only users’ true IP addresses, but also their local network address too.

While users were immediately alerted to broad blocking techniques that could mitigate the problem, it’s taken many months for the first wave of ‘smart’ solutions to arrive.

Following on the heels of a Chrome fix published by Rentamob earlier this month which protects against VPN leaks while leaving WebRTC enabled, Google has now thrown its hat into the ring.

Titled ‘WebRTC Network Limiter‘, the tiny Chrome extension (just 7.31KB) disables the WebRTC multiple-routes option in Chrome’s privacy settings while configuring WebRTC not to use certain IP addresses.

In addition to hiding local IP addresses that are normally inaccessible to the public Internet (such as 192.168.1.1), the extension also stops other public IP addresses being revealed.

“Any public IP addresses associated with network interfaces that are not used for web traffic (e.g. an ISP-provided address, when browsing through a VPN) [are hidden],” Google says.

“Once the extension is installed, WebRTC will only use public IP addresses associated with the interface used for web traffic, typically the same addresses that are already provided to sites in browser HTTP requests.”

While both the Google and Rentamob solutions provide more elegant responses to the problem than previously available, both admit to having issues.

“Some WebRTC functions, like VOIP, may be affected by the multiple routes disabled setting. This is unavoidable,” Rentamob explains.

Google details similar problems, including issues directly linked to funneling traffic through a VPN.

“This extension may affect the performance of applications that use WebRTC for audio/video or real-time data communication. Because it limits the potential network paths, WebRTC may pick a path that results in significantly longer delay or lower quality (e.g. through a VPN). We are attempting to determine how common this is,” the company concludes.

After applying the blocks and fixes detailed above, Chrome users can check for IP address leaks by using sites including IPLeak and BrowserLeaks.

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

TorrentFreak: Twitter Sued for Failing to Remove Copyrighted Photo

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

pirate-twitterIn common with many other user-generated sites, Twitter is used by some of its members to host or link to copyright infringing material.

If rightsholders submit a takedown request, Twitter swiftly takes the infringing content down. This policy made headlines just a few days ago when Twitter removed several tweets that republished a joke without attribution.

However, a new lawsuit suggests that Twitter’s takedown efforts are not always this effective.

This week award-winning photographer Kristen Pierson filed a complaint (pdf) against Twitter at a California District Court. Pierson accuses Twitter of hosting or linking to one of her works without permission.

“A Twitter user or users copied the Infringing Image without license or permission from Pierson and on information and belief sent one or more Tweets publicizing and linking to it. The Infringing Uses were hosted either on Twitter or on third-party servers,” the complaint reads.

Under U.S. law Internet services are not liable for the copyright infringements of their users, as long as they respond to takedown requests. But Twitter failed to do that, Pierson says.

On March 4 of last year Pierson sent a notice to Twitter’s registered DMCA agent pointing out that one of her photos of Dragonforce guitarist Herman Li was being shared illegally. More than a year passed by but she received no response.

The takedown notice
twitdmca

The Twitter account which allegedly posted the image is no longer online, but even today the infringing image is still present on Twitter’s servers and accessible through the twimg.com url.

Pierson doesn’t mention whether she sent any follow-ups to the original request. TF searched for the notice in question on Chillingeffects.com where Twitter publishes its takedown notices, but it’s not listed there.

In the complaint the photographer asks for a restraining order preventing Twitter from hosting or linking to her work. In addition, Pierson demands both statutory and actual damages which could well exceed $150,000.

This is not the first time that Twitter has been sued by a photographer over a failed takedown response. Christopher Boffoli previously sued the company for the same offense. The case was settled out of court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

swefilmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Wants Domain Registrar to Expose ‘Pirate Site’ Owner

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

riaaDespite an increased availability of legal options, millions of people still stream MP3s from unofficial sources. These sites are a thorn in the side of the RIAA.

Going after these pirate sites is a problem, according to the music group, as the operators are often unknown and hidden behind Whois privacy services. This is one of the reasons why the RIAA is supporting an ICANN proposal to limit domain name privacy.

But even under current laws and regulations it’s often possible to find out who runs a website, through a DMCA subpoena for example. And a recent case shows that the process isn’t too hard.

A few days ago the RIAA obtained a DMCA subpoena from the U.S. District Court of Columbia ordering domain name registrar Dynadot to expose the personal details of a customer. These subpoenas are signed off by a clerk and don’t require any overview from a judge.

With the subpoena in hand RIAA asked Dynadot to identify the owner of the music streaming site Soundpiff.net, claiming that the site infringes the work of artists such as Eminem, Drake and Selena Gomez. Among other details, the registrar is ordered to share the IP-address and email address of the site’s operator.

“We believe your service is hosting the below-referenced domain name on its network. The website associated with this domain name offers files containing sound recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use,” the RIAA writes.

Soundpiff.net
soundpiff

In addition, the RIAA also urges Dynadot to review whether the site violates its terms of service as a repeat infringer, which means that it should be pulled offline.

“We also ask that you consider the widespread and repeated infringing nature of the site operator(s)’ conduct, and whether the site(s)‘ activities violate your terms of service and/or your company’s repeat infringer policy.”

Soundpiff.net is a relatively small site that allows user to discover, stream and download music tracks. The audio files themselves appear to be sourced from the music hosting service Audioinbox, and are not hosted on the site’s servers.

“On our website you can find links that lead to media files. These files are stored somewhere else on the internet and are not a part of this website. SoundPiff.net does not carry any responsibility for them,” the website’s operator notes.

It is unclear what the RIAA is planning to do if they obtain the personal information of the site owners. In addition to suggesting that Dynadot should disconnect the site as a repeat infringer, the music group will probably issue a warning to the site’s operator.

For now, however, Soundpiff is still up and running.

This is not the first time that the RIAA has gone after similar sites in this way. Over the past several years the group has targeted several other download and streaming sites via their registrars or Whois privacy services. Some of these have closed, but others still remain online today.

RIAA’s subpoena to Dynadot

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

TorrentFreak: Sony Settles Piracy Lawsuit With Russia’s Facebook

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

vkFor several years VKontakte, or VK, has been branded as a piracy facilitator by copyright holders and even the U.S. Government.

In common with many user-generated sites, VK allows its millions of users to upload anything from movies and TV shows to their entire music collections. However, copyright holders often claim that Russia’s social network has failed to adopt proper anti-piracy measures.

Last year this resulted in a lawsuit filed at the Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Region Arbitration Court, in which Sony Music, Universal Music and Warner Music demanded countermeasures and compensation for the large scale copyright infringement VK allegedly facilitates.

The case is still ongoing, but as of this week Sony Music has dropped out. According to a local report Sony and VK signed a confidential settlement agreement to resolve the dispute.

No further details on the content of the deal have been published, but according to sources VK will upgrade its current music service.

Among other things, the social network will start charging mobile users for access to its official music platform. Desktop users will still have free access, but these views will be monetized through advertisements.

Both changes will be rolled out gradually after a thorough test phase.

The settlement with Sony Music is a breakthrough for the Russian equivalent of Facebook, but it doesn’t mean that all legal troubles are over.

The remaining cases against Universal Music and Warner Music haven’t been resolved yet. Together with Sony the companies demanded 50 million rubles ($830,000) in damages in their complaint last year, and VK is still on the hook for most of it.

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

TorrentFreak: Spanish Government Claims Success in Internet Piracy Fight

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

piracydownFor many years Spain was regarded as somewhat of a piracy safe-haven but in recent times the country has taken steps to repair its fractured relationship with the entertainment industries.

Since 2012, Spain has implemented a series of changes and adjustments to local copyright law, each aimed at clamping down on the online distribution of copyrighted content. January 1, 2015 saw the most notable development, with the introduction of tough new legislation aimed at quickly shutting down pirate sites.

Now the country’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports is reporting success in its battle with the Internet pirates in a new report highlighting achievements since the beginning of legislative change three years ago.

According to the Ministry, more than 95% of the 444 complaints filed with the Intellectual Property Commission by creators and rightsholders have been resolved.

In total, 252 websites were ordered by the Commission to remove illegal content with 247 (98%) responding positively to the demands. According to the Ministry, 31 ‘pirate’ sites chose to shut down completely.

Last December and following a complaint filed by 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros, Disney, Universal, Paramount and Sony, police also raided two of the country’s leading video streaming sites. Two men were arrested.

In addition to these voluntary and forced shutdowns, Spanish courts have recently ordered local ISPs to block several sites after rightsholders took advantage of a recent change in the law. Unsurprisingly The Pirate Bay was the first site to be targeted

In its report the Ministry reports that a total of five websites have now been ordered to be blocked in this manner following two High Court judgments. They include Goear, the first unlicensed music site to be tackled by the legislation.

Given the scale of the problem the gains being reported by the Spanish government seem relatively modest. Nevertheless, the Ministry insists that progress is definitely being made.

Citing figures from Alexa showing that three years ago 30 ‘pirate’ sites were among the top 250 most-visited sites in Spain, the Ministry says that now just 13 are present. Furthermore, those 13 are lower placed than they were before.

“It is clear from this data that pirate websites are losing their share of total Internet traffic in Spain,” the Ministry reports.

But while the claimed shuttering of dozens of sites and the removal of copyright content following complaints is being portrayed as a success story, the real test is whether Spaniards are buying more content.

According to figures published this week by local music industry group Promusicae, they are. Music sales in Spain totaled €70.6 million ($78 million) in the first half of 2015, an increase of almost 11%.

However, rather than solely attributing the successes to anti-piracy measures, Promusicae praised streaming as the industry’s savior. According to the group, streaming revenues increased 40% in the first six months of 2015 when compared to the same period last year.

With music industry successes ringing in their ears, later this year the TV and movie industries will learn whether Spaniards have a similar appetite for their products ‘on demand’. After a seemingly endless wait, Netflix will launch locally in the second half of 2015.

Beating piracy in Spain will be a tall order, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is upbeat.

“We can think of this as the bottled water business,” Hastings said. “Tap water can be drunk and is free, but there is still a public that demands bottled water.”

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

TorrentFreak: BREIN Hits 128 Sites Plus BitTorrent Uploaders & Moderator

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

nopiracyAnti-piracy groups come in all shapes and sizes but one of the most famous is Dutch outfit BREIN. Although its mission has expanded in recent years, BREIN is generally viewed as one of the more aggressive groups doing Hollywood’s bidding in Europe. That has included taking on giants such as The Pirate Bay.

Unlike most groups operating in its field, each year BREIN publishes an overview of its anti-piracy enforcement actions. It’s a broad report that for operational and security reasons tends to leave out specific details. Nevertheless, the highlights of its initial 2015 report provide a useful insight to the outfit’s current focus.

In the first half of the year BREIN continued its threats to local webhosts who offer services to file-sharing sites. While some are less responsive than others, BREIN says 128 ‘illegal’ sites were taken down in this way. Almost two dozen were BitTorrent sites, 37 takedowns hit streaming video portals and two targeted cyberlockers distributing music. The remainder were linking sites used to spread content hosted on cyberlockers and Usenet.

Like its counterparts overseas, BREIN mentions the tendency of ‘pirate’ sites to attempt to hide their locations behind the services of U.S.-based Cloudflare. However, the anti-piracy group says that unmasking sites’ true locations can be achieved upon request.

“BREIN believes that the services provided by CloudFlare to illegal providers should be discontinued after notification by BREIN,” the group adds.

As previously reported, BREIN also took action against several sites helping to distribute Popcorn Time software. The anti-piracy group says it targeted seven in all, with two “fleeing abroad” to be pursued by other copyright enforcers.

Also in the first half of 2015, BREIN says it obtained a total of 12 ex-parte injunctions, i.e court orders against alleged infringers who were not present to defend themselves during the proceedings.

Five of the orders concerned large uploaders, four connected to BitTorrent and the other to Usenet. BREIN said it also obtained an injunction against “an important moderator” on one of the “largest illegal BitTorrent sites”. In line with BREIN policy, the site itself is not named.

Five of the ex-parte orders related to those offering movies and TV shows without permission while two were connected to eBook offerings, one of which was a 13,500 title supplier. Two video game infringement injunctions were also obtained, one of which related to modification of consoles.

In action directed away from individuals, BREIN says it continued with its efforts to have infringing links delisted from Google. In the first half of the year the group says it sent 1.4 million infringement reports to Google, making 10 million reports since the program began in 2012.

BREIN also notes that it targeted various dedicated BitTorrent trackers with requests to “blacklist illegal infohashes”. Two of the trackers reportedly complied but a third “fled abroad” where it is now being pressured by another anti-piracy outfit.

Finally, BREIN reminds everyone that the long-running Pirate Bay blocking case is not over yet. After a big legal defeat in January 2014, BREIN is now taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA Emails Expose Dirty Media Attack Against Google

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

google-bayLate last year leaked documents revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi Attorney General (AG) Jim Hood to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States.

In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret plan. The company also demanded copies of internal communications from the MPAA which are now revealing how far the anti-Google camp planned to go.

Emails between the MPAA and two of AG Hood’s top lawyers include a proposal that outlines how the parties could attack Google. In particular, they aim to smear Google through an advanced PR campaign involving high-profile news outlets such as The Today Show and The Wall Street Journal.

With help from Comcast and News Corp, they planned to hire a PR firm to “attack” Google and others who resisted the planned anti-piracy efforts. To hide links to the MPAA and the AG’s office, this firm should be hired through a seemingly unaffiliated nonprofit organization, the emails suggest.

“This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The ‘live buys’ should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this),” the plan reads (pdf).

The Today Show feature would be followed up by a statement from a large Google investor calling on the company to do more to tackle the piracy problem.

“After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform.”

In addition, a planted piece in the Wall Street Journal should suggest that Google’s stock would lose value if the company doesn’t give in to the demands.

“Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google’s stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed,” the plan notes.

mpaasmear

Previously, the MPAA accused Google of waging an “ongoing public relations war,” but the above shows that the Hollywood group is no different.

On top of the PR-campaign the plan also reveals details on how the parties would taint Google before the National Association of Attorneys General.

Through a series of live taped segments they would show how easy it is for minors to pirate R-rated movies, buy heroin and order an assault weapon with the help of Google’s search engine.

Finally, the plan includes a “final step” where Attorney General Hood would issue a civil investigatory demand to Google.

In its court filing (pdf) Google uses the information above to argue that the AG’s civil investigatory demand was not the basis of a legitimate investigation. Instead, it was another tool pressuring the company to implement more stringent anti-piracy measures.

Given this new information, Google hopes that the court will compel Fox, NBC and Viacom to hand over relevant internal documents, as they were “plainly privy” to the secretive campaign.

It’s now up to the judge to decide how to proceed, but based on the emails above, the MPAA and the AG’s office have some explaining to do.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/27/15

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

insurgentThis week we have two newcomers in our chart. Furious 7 came out as a DVDrip and made a comeback.

Insurgent is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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 (1) Insurgent 6.6 / trailer
2 (back) Furious 7 7.6 / trailer
3 (2) Jurassic World (TS/Subbed HDrip) 7.7 / trailer
4 (…) True Story 6.4 / trailer
5 (3) Ted 2 (Subbed HDrip) 6.9 / trailer
6 (4) Home 6.8 / trailer
7 (6) The Longest Ride 7.1 / trailer
8 (…) Terminator Genisys (TS) 7.0 / trailer
9 (7) Mad Max: Fury Road (WEB-DL) 8.5 / trailer
10 (5) Spy (Subbed HDrip) 7.5 / trailer

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