Posts tagged ‘Torrent Sites’

TorrentFreak: UK Police Force Shutdown of Sports Torrent Network

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

cityoflondonpoliceAfter obtaining government funding to protect the rights of mainstream music and movie companies, last year UK police began a campaign aimed at closing dozens of torrent and other file-sharing sites.

Many sites subsequently reported receiving letters from PIPCU, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, warning that their operations had been scouted and deemed to be infringing.

While most sites ignored the warnings, some inevitably felt the pressure and decided to quit while they were ahead. In the months that followed direct pressure on sites reduced when police began to concentrate on indirect measures, such as pressuring registrars to retract domains and advertisers to stop supporting sharing sites.

However, earlier this month police restarted their direct approach, sending threat letters out to the operators of torrent sites in an attempt to close them down directly. In at least one case the police have been successful.

Due to its coverage of sports including the NHL, NBA, soccer and Formula 1, The Sports Torrent Network (TSTN) was a site popular with fans on both sides of the Atlantic. With an estimated 20,000 userbase and its own ‘capping’ team, the site was certainly a fan favorite and possibly the largest site of its type. But now, after an unwelcome warning, the party is over.

TSTN

Along with other sites, a little under two weeks ago TSTN received communications from the police which stated that the site’s operators could be committing crimes with serious penalties attached.

“Such activity is an indictable offense under the Serious Crime Act 2007 and is punishable by up to ten years’ imprisonment (two years for encouraging/assisting communication to the public; and ten years for encouraging/assisting distribution to the public),” the police explained.

“PIPCU has the lawful right to pursue action against you and against the thesportstorrentnetwork.co.uk website in order to prevent, detect and disrupt criminal activity.”

While the threats looked official enough, a more detailed examination of the correspondence sent to TSTN raised questions over its authenticity. As can be seen from the screenshot below, a clear spelling error was present in the title of the mail, which lead to concerns this may have been some kind of fake.

PIPCU-TSTN

However, an additional error later in the email suggested that it was probably genuine. As can be seen under the highlight, it appears that police neglected to fill in a precise date instead of the placeholder text.

TSTN-error

But errors aside, TSTN decided that while it had been a good run, now was the time to thrown in the towel. The site is now permanently closed.

“We are sad the site had to go but feel it was the only option,” a staff member told TF.

With calls from the UK Prime Minister’s IP advisor to permanently fund the Intellectual Property Crime Unit, the shutdown of TSTN will certainly not be the last.

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

TorrentFreak: Why Are Porn Perfomers Scared to Talk About Internet Piracy?

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

Internet porn is big – extremely big – and one of the reasons often cited for the rapid growth of the Internet. Every second there is an average of 28,258 Internet users watching porn online, together accounting for an estimated 35% of Internet downloads.

Over the past few years, porn industry claims that its very existence has become threatened by piracy have only increased. In addition to the hundreds of torrent sites offering content for no charge, a new type of site has emerged offering a staggering and immediately accessible range of content, at an entry price of absolutely free.

Due to their similarity with YouTube, these sites are known as ‘tube’ sites. They operate in much the same way as YouTube, with content being uploaded by their users for viewing by others.

The space is dominated by giants including YouPorn and Pornhub, sites which have been heavily criticized due to the endless quantities of unauthorized content they host. But in the ever-evolving adult industry, things are not what they seem.

Tube giant takeover

youpornpornhub‘Mindgeek’ may not sound familiar to everyone, but this is the new name for one of the biggest companies in the adult industry.

Formerly known as Manwin, Mindgeek is a huge company that has scooped up some of the biggest tube sites in the world including YouPorn, Pornhub, Tube8, XTube, RedTube, ExtremeTube and SpankWire to name a few. All in all, Mindgeek is reported to be one of the top three consumers of bandwidth in the world.

While Mindgeek sites act within the law by operating an efficient DMCA process that removes user-uploaded content at the request of copyright holders, many adult producers and performers feel that the sites are hitting their bottom line. But while that might be true for some, for others a much more complex situation is emerging.

A report this week from ABC showed the news outlet attempting to solicit comments from adult industry performers. However, when the topic turned to piracy on tube sites, suddenly they didn’t want to talk.

“I can’t talk about THAT part,” said one actress walking away from the camera. “I really don’t want to say anything because I don’t want them to ban me.”

“Them” in this context is Mindgeek, the operator of the tube sites offering unauthorized copies of porn movies uploaded by their users. So why are these actresses scared to talk about Mindgeek and what possible control could it have over them?

Spending tube money

dollar-moneyAfter making huge quantities of cash via its tube sites, Manwin/Mindgeek bought up several top studios including Brazzers, Digital Playground, Mofos, MyDirtyHobby and Twistys. The company also sucked up the Reality Kings brand and became an online partner of Playboy. This means that some of the performers complaining about piracy on tube sites are actually being paid by the company running them.

“Some people have asked me why i’m being a hypocrite and working for [Mindgeek companies],” one actress told ABC. “As a performer, boycotting these companies is not going to take any time, money or anything away from them because if I say no there are another hundred blondes who are willing to do it.”

Providing yet another twist, the report also shows adult actress and outspoken piracy critic Tasha Reign arranging to have one of her illegally uploaded videos taken down from Mindgeek-owned PornHub.

Reign then admits that she too works for Mindgeek.

“It’s like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place in a way, because if I want to shoot content then I kinda have to shoot for [Mindgeek] because that’s the company that books me because they own…almost…everything,” Reign says.

In the meantime, it’s reported that a new porn video is made in the United States every 39 minutes. How many will be produced by Mindgeek companies or distributed via their tube sites remains to be seen, but in any event the company could be making money at one end, the other, or intriguingly – both ends at once.


ABC US News | ABC Business News

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

TorrentFreak: American Express Accuses Pirate Sites of ‘Stealing’ Their Ads

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

pirate-cardHurting the revenue streams of infringing sites has become a prime anti-piracy strategy for the entertainment industries in recent months.

By cutting off revenue through deals with payment providers and advertising agencies, they hope to make it less profitable to operate these sites.

This is not an easy task, as there are many advertising companies who are still eager to team up with “rogue” torrent sites and streaming portals. Likewise, site owners often implement tricks to hide the site where the ads are displayed.

As a result, several major brands see their ads showing up on sites they don’t want to be associated with. A few weeks ago a report from the Digital Citizens Alliance revealed that companies such as Amazon, American Express, Dell, Ford, Lego, McDonalds, Xfinity are contributing to the problem.

These problematic ad placements were also highlighted by a publication of the Australian media and entertainment group mUmBRELLA, which focused on ads appearing on streaming portals such as watchseries.lt and videoweed.es. The report shows that American Express and other brands had their ads on display, and that the companies were asked for comment.

As expected, none of the major brands said it willingly promoted its products through these pirate sites. However, the explanations that were given varied, and the response from American Express was the most intriguing of all.

The payment processor’s media agency Mindshare says that the ads in question weren’t real ads at all. Instead, American Express accuses the pirate sites of “photoshopping” their banners into their designs, to increase site credibility.

AmEx on Videoweed
amex-ad

Timothy Whitfield, general operations director at the responsible advertising placement outfit Xaxis, confirms this suspicion.

“Now when we dug into it what happened is that in some cases they were using basic photoshopping skills to take an old creative from Amex and building it into the homepage and into the video leads and on the homepage of the website,” Whitfield said

“It wasn’t a real creative it was just someone who had photoshopped it into the site. Now the reason that we think they were doing that is that they were working very hard to make themselves look like a reputable website,” he ads.

While this type of banner ‘theft’ is certainly an option, TorrentFreak was unable to replicate the finding from a wide variety of locations. It is also unclear why the sites in question would give up valuable advertising placements. There is hardly any positive effect on the site’s reputation when it’s not done structurally.

The insurance company Allianz was also caught advertising on pirate sites, but here the explanation was a more common one. According to Whitfield, Xaxis didn’t place the ad directly, but instead it loaded through several iframes thereby disguising the website where it appeared.

Through this “nesting” technique pirate sites can trick advertising agencies and have higher paid ads.

“Every man and his dog blocks these websites – Watchseries.it, Videoweed etc. – but because you’re seven layers deep you don’t know if it is one you have blocked or not,” Whitfield said in a comment.

Finally, HotelsCombined came up with yet another reason why their banners appeared on infringing websites. Again, without their explicit knowledge.

Kristen McKenzie, global PR and content manager of HotelsCombined, explained that it may have been the result of ad-retargeting. HotelsCombined tracks people who visit their website, and their advertising provider then displays ads on some of the sites these people visit afterwards.

“Our retargeting provider does not disclose their extensive list of networks, and with millions of different sites being accessed simultaneously in real-time, it is ultimately impossible for us to police where retargeting may occur,” McKenzie said.

The above shows that getting rid of banners on rogue sites is proving to be more difficult than simply compiling a blacklist. It’s a cat and mouse game, much like the efforts to go after hosting companies and payment providers. And if pirates are starting to use Photoshop to promote brands for free, it’s never-ending.

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

TorrentFreak: Game of Thrones Premiere Triggers Piracy Craze

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

thronesYesterday evening saw a massive demand for the premiere of Game of Thrones’ fourth season, both on legal and less-authorized channels.

The unprecedented demand caused trouble for the HBO Go service, which crashed and was unreachable for several hours on end.

This outage probably motivated some to look for unauthorized copies, which were widely available through dozens of torrent sites soon after the episode finished. Unlike HBO Go, downloads via BitTorrent actually benefit from the increased interest, which usually means that downloads finish faster.

And indeed, there has been plenty of interest in unauthorized copies of the Game of Thrones season premiere.

Data gathered by TorrentFreak reveals that half a day after the first episode appeared online over a million people have already grabbed a copy via a torrent site. Earlier this morning, more than 300,000 people were actively sharing one of the three most-popular torrents.

The number of downloads is roughly the same as last year, but the season premiere didn’t set a record for the largest BitTorrent swarm, most likely because there were multiple popular copies available. The most shared torrent file had around 140,000 people sharing at once at its height this morning.

Game of Thrones sharers
got-peers

During the days to come the number of downloads is expected to grow by several millions. Last year Game of Thrones became the most pirated TV-show for the second time, and with today’s numbers it is well on its way to securing the title for another year.

In addition to the downloads, we also looked at the countries people were sharing from. A sample of 18,333 IP-addresses collected over the day shows that Australia takes the crown with 11.6% of the total. The United States is a good second with 9.3%, followed by the United Kingdom with 5.8%.

The number one spot for Australia is all the more impressive since it has a population of just over 22 million people, relatively small compared to the other two countries. Looking at the city level we see that most downloads (during the first half day) come from Melbourne, before Athens and Sydney.

So, why are all these people pirating Game of Thrones?

As always, there are many reasons why people may choose torrents or other pirate sources. In some cases there is simply no legal alternative, because of licensing issues for example, or due to technical troubles such as those suffered yesterday by HBO Go. In other cases the legal options are too limited, restrictive, or expensive.

The reasons above are not exhaustive of course, there are many more reasons why people turn to BitTorrent. For some it’s become a habit that will be hard to break, no matter where they live and how good the legal alternatives are.

If there are any Game of Thrones pirates reading this, let us know what drives you in the comments.

Note: To clarify, the IP-address sample was collected during the first 12 hours, which means that there’s a geographical bias. Also, downloaders who use VPNs may appear to be in a different country.

# Country % City %
torrentfreak.com
1 Australia 11.6% Melbourne 3.2%
2 United States 9.3% Athens 2.9%
3 United Kingdom 5.8% Sydney 2.0%
4 Canada 5.2% London 1.9%
5 The Netherlands 4.7% Stockholm 1.7%
6 Philippines 4.6% Amsterdam 1.7%
7 India 4.2% Madrid 1.5%
8 Greece 3.6% Warsaw 1.4%
9 Poland 3.0% Brisbane 1.4%
10 Sweden 2.7% Perth 1.3%

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

TorrentFreak: Saudi Arabia Government Blocks The Pirate Bay (and More)

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

tpb-logoBlocking The Pirate Bay has become quite common around Europe in recent years, and today this practice spread to Saudi Arabia.

Without prior warning or official announcement, the country’s Ministry for Culture and Information ordered local ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. In addition, several other torrent sites were also censored, including Torrentz.eu and Rarbg.com.

The reason for the blockade remains unknown, but piracy concerns seem plausible as the measures are coming from the Ministry of Culture, and not the Communications Commission which administers the country’s regular filters.

As can be seen below, the blocking notification for The Pirate Bay is also different from the green notice that appears for sites that are blocked in violation of the Islamic religion.

Saudi Arabia’s Pirate Bay blockade
saudi-arabia-block

Interestingly, the measures come two months after several copyright holder groups urged the U.S. Government to place Saudi Arabia on its priority watchlist. MPAA, RIAA and others suggested that the country isn’t doing enough to stop online piracy.

The blockade is currently active on nearly all ISPs, but TF has learned that Zain customers can still access the site. Zain does block Pirate Bay’s porn category, but that’s nothing new.

The Pirate Bay is among the 50 most visited websites in Saudi Arabia, and the blockade has caused quite a bit of uproar on social media. The topic is currently trending on Twitter where many people are voicing their frustration.

TPB block trending on Twitter
sa-tweets-tpb

However, as with all censorship attempts there are plenty of ways to circumvent this blockade. The easiest option at the moment is to simply use the https version of the site. Other workarounds, such as VPNs or Pirate Bay proxies, work fine too.

The Pirate Bay team is not impressed by yet another country blocking access to their website. A few months ago they released Pirate Browser which allows users to access the site without restrictions. It has been downloaded millions of times since.

Update: The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Information has now confirmed that the blockades are copyright related. 22 domain names have been blocked in total.

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

TorrentFreak: Mobile Music Piracy More Popular Than Torrents and Cyberlockers

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

cassetteIn recent years the music industry ‘s battle against piracy mostly focused on torrent sites, cyberlockers and unauthorized MP3 indexes. However, new research from the industry analysis firm NPD Group suggests that a new, much bigger threat, has arrived.

NPD’s Senior Vice President, Industry Analysis, Russ Crupnick informs us that mobile music piracy through apps has outgrown traditional P2P file-sharing and direct downloads.

“In terms of the number of internet users doing a variety of music sharing activities, downloading from mobile apps is the most popular,” Crupnick tells TF.

The data comes from unpublished research, which was the first to include statistics on the usage of mobile apps to download music. Quite surprisingly, mobile piracy comes out on top right away.

It is estimated that in the United States 27 million people downloaded at least one music track via their mobile over the past year, mostly without permission. This trumps all other forms of online piracy. By comparison, 21 million people used traditional P2P sites such as The Pirate Bay to download music.

For other media types the results are different, but the findings signal an interesting trend.

According to NPD mobile apps are, as one would expect, most popular with younger consumers. There are a variety of reasons for the mobile piracy explosion, but the research firm believes that increased usage of smartphones and apps among Millennials is a major driver.

“My guess is there is an underground buzz network about music apps that is fueled by teens and Millennials,” Crupnick says.

NPD believes that it’s important for copyright holders and app platforms to work together to tackle this problem. While some people may know that these apps are unauthorized, the fact that they appear in iTunes or Google Play may give them an air of legitimacy.

“Lots of things on the web are free or ad-supported, including some entertainment content. I’m sure some users are quite aware that there is music that is not legally distributed on these apps, but others may not be as educated,” Crupnick tells us.

“If it’s on an app store, it must be ‘OK’. This is where the music industry and technology companies have an opportunity and maybe an obligation to work together to make sure consumers understand, and artists get compensated,” he adds.

These last comments appear to signal a new working territory for the music industry’s anti-piracy initiatives. Until now, there hasn’t been a major campaign against “infringing” apps, but this is bound to change in the near future.

Whether a crackdown on apps will be enough to counter the current mobile piracy trend has yet to be seen. In addition to pirate apps, several unauthorized MP3 indexes have also developed mobile versions, which will prove much harder to deal with.

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

TorrentFreak: VPN Providers Ban BitTorrent Traffic Over Piracy Concerns

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

stop-blockedBitTorrent is a great technology to share large files with a massive audience, but it’s also one of the least private tools for communicating on the Internet.

It therefore makes sense for frequent BitTorrent users to use anonymity services such as VPNs and proxies. But those who sign up with a VPN should take a good look at the fine print, as not all VPN providers allow BitTorrent traffic across their entire network.

TF is currently compiling our latest overview of logging policies at various VPN providers, and by popular demand we also asked whether these services allow BitTorrent and other file-sharing traffic. The responses received thus far confirm that BitTorrent traffic is not welcome everywhere.

While all VPN providers we surveyed have BitTorrent-friendly servers, many have chosen to block file-sharing traffic on U.S. and U.K. servers. The main reason for these policies is piracy related.

VPNs Blocking File-sharing traffic

It appears that companies who offer VPN services in the US are often flooded with DMCA notices. This causes issues with the ISPs, as Unspyable explains.

“The issue is simply that the U.S. ISPs forward all the DMCA complaints to us. This forces us to deal with them which wastes time and effort, as we do have to send them a response,” Unspyable says.

“Since we don’t track anything we have nothing to give them in the response to the DMCA. However, many times that is not sufficient and we have had ISPs shut down our servers several times. This results in having to find new ISPs and the expense of setting up new servers,” the company adds.

NexTGenVPN notes that they block file-sharing traffic in the U.S. and U.K. because of bandwidth restrictions. The company also mentions that banning this type of traffic helps them to prevent being flooded with DMCA requests.

“The reason is quite simple actually. UK and U.S. are the only two locations where our bandwidth allocation is not really extendable at the moment, and we cannot accommodate massive transfers speeds there. Also, this prevents us from being flooded with DMCA complaints. Not that we really care, but it gets annoying in the end,” NexTGenVPN explains.

HideIPVPN also prohibits file-sharing traffic on some servers. The company notes that downloading copyrighted content is prohibited by law in the US, UK and Canada, so has decided to block both legal and unauthorized BitTorrent traffic on these servers.

“As you know uploads and downloads of copyrighted content via P2P and torrent networks is considered illegal in the U.S. With that in mind and also the fact that we do not wish to monitor traffic and data exchanged by our users, the simplest solution was to ban such traffic on some servers,” HideIPVPN tells TF.

While unauthorized file-sharing is against the law in most countries, rightsholders mostly send their takedown notices to U.S. ISPs. This is one of the main reasons why several VPN providers block BitTorrent traffic there.

NordVPN provides a similar explanation. The company currently blocks all file-sharing in several places.

“We only allow P2P traffic on servers that are located in the countries where there are no restrictions on the content downloaded via BitTorrent or other file-sharing applications,” NordVPN informed us.

File-sharing traffic is a no-go on EarthVPN‘s U.S. servers as well. The company mentions the DMCA as the main reason for this decision.

“Torrent and other file-sharing traffic is only allowed on Canada, Panama, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Luxembourg and Romania locations as of now due to the DMCA,” the company explains.

PureVPN takes it a step further. In addition to blocking file-sharing traffic on their servers in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and elsewhere, they also block various torrent sites on these connections.

“We have blocked torrents on some of our servers. If users want to use BitTorrent, they can connect to our servers in Turkey, Sweden, Romania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany (Frankfurt only) or Russia and enjoy P2P/file-sharing there.

Non-blocking ISPs

Not all VPN providers are blocking file-sharing traffic in the U.S. and elsewhere though. Private Internet Access, for example, prides itself on providing unrestricted access to the Internet on all servers.

“We do not discriminate against any kind of traffic/protocol on any of our servers, period. We believe in a free, open, and uncensored internet,” PIA notes.

Ipredator, the VPN that was launched by a founder of The Pirate Bay, doesn’t have any file-sharing restrictions either.

“Besides filtering SMTP on port 25 we do not impose any restrictions on protocols our users can use on the VPN, quite on the contrary. We believe our role is to provide a net-neutral access,” the company told us.

The same is true for BlackVPN, Mullvad, Proxy.sh, VikingVPN and many others.

TF’s full report on the BitTorrent and logging policies of several dozen VPN providers will be published next week.

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

TorrentFreak: BREIN: We Killed 200+ Pirate Bay Proxies in 2013

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

brein-newDuring the first few months of each year, infamous Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN details its successes of the previous 12 months.

In its new report published this week, BREIN presents a laundry list of site and service shutdowns, payment processor and advertising disruptions, plus the results of takedown campaigns directed at companies such as Google. Most of BREIN’s annual declarations contain large-scale claims and the report for 2014 continues that tradition.

Strategy

“Briefly, BREIN’s enforcement strategy is aimed at forcing illegal sites or online services into copyright compliance and fulfilling their duty of care. If not, the sites’ hosting providers could identify them or take them offline, or if that offers no solace, providers can block access to them,” BREIN explains.

In addition to identifying individuals behind sites, BREIN says it also targets their payment providers, advertisers and their intermediaries. The group also issues takedown requests, including many thousands sent to Google.

Site takedown results

In common with all previous years, BREIN has some big claims on this front. Cyberlocker linking sites were hardest hit in 2013, with BREIN claiming shutdown of 280 sites in total. The names of the sites remain a mystery, a policy maintained by BREIN throughout many years’ reports.

Moving up to the sources rather than sites that merely link to them, BREIN says it closed down 10 actual file-hosting sites. In the streaming and Usenet realms the group claims the scalps of 66 and 38 sites respectively. Again, no details are provided.

Of course, most readers will be interested in BREIN’s claims of successes against BitTorrent sites and as usual they are pretty lofty. The Hollywood-affiliated group says that it closed 118 torrent sites in 2013. Their names are…..unknown.

The big feather-in-the-cap for BREIN in 2012 was of course the blocking of The Pirate Bay, but there was less to celebrate on that front in 2013. As previously reported, all that came tumbling down in recent weeks when The Court of The Hague decided to lift the ban and restore access for Dutch citizens.

Nevertheless, in this week’s report BREIN is still claiming successes in upholding the ban throughout 2013, with claims that it took down an astonishing 206 proxy sites setup to circumvent the blockade of The Pirate Bay. Whether those sites remain down today is largely moot, as Dutch citizens can now access The Pirate Bay directly pending a Supreme Court ruling.

Advertisers, payment processors and takedown notices

A developing anti-piracy strategy is to try and cut sites off from their income. To this end BREIN says it deals with advertisers on the one hand and payment processors on the other.

The group reports that in 41 cases payment processors divulged “identifying information” and discontinued service to sites. In another 100 cases advertisers reportedly offered a commitment not to advertise on sites offering content without permission.

In common with many other anti-piracy groups, BREIN is now sending plenty of takedown requests to both sites and search engines. A total of 2.3 million URL takedown notices were sent to Google last year, making an average of around 44,000 per week. According to Google’s Transparency Report, most related to file-host search engine FilesTube, followed by now-defunct torrent site isoHunt.

Conclusion

There can be little doubt that in recent years BREIN has proven to be a major thorn in the side of many hundreds of mostly small, Netherlands-based file-sharing sites. However, while it seems unlikely that BREIN would be outwardly untruthful in its annual statements, the anti-piracy outfit provides zero evidence in support of its claims. Pirate Bay aside, not a single site is mentioned by name, even though the claim is that more than 700 (sites and proxies) were taken down in 2013.

Effective? The rightsholders paying them must think so.

Photo: Dan Zen

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

TorrentFreak: Google Downranks The Pirate Bay in Search Results

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

tpb-logoOver the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its game when it comes to anti-piracy efforts.

These remarks haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has slowly implemented various new anti-piracy measures in response. For example, the company began filtering “piracy-related” terms from its AutoComplete and Instant services.

One of the main demands from copyright holders is that Google should downrank copyright-infringing websites, so these don’t show up as the top results in Google. The search engine promised it would do so, but reports published by the MPAA and RIAA a few months back provided little evidence to back that up.

To see how accessible The Pirate Bay is in Google we decided to run a few tests of our own. The results undoubtedly show that Google is now downranking the most-used torrent site, although it is far from completely gone.

For example, those who type “The Pirate Bay” in Google’s search box will still see the notorious torrent site as the first result. The same is true for the three-letter abbreviation TPB and several related searches.

The results are quite different, though, when people search for specific titles such as “12 years a slave dvdrip“. For these keywords The Pirate Bay doesn’t appear on the first pages of the search results. Several other popular torrent sites do show up of course.

In itself the above doesn’t really prove that any downranking is going on, although it’s strange that the world’s biggest torrent site is absent from results. So, the next step is to take content that’s unique to The Pirate Bay, and let Google search for that.

We picked a phrase from TPB’s help page, which doesn’t show or link to any pirated files. The phrase in question is as follows: “There are many different clients for bittorrent, this guide explains how to use Bitlord”. As can be seen below, The Pirate Bay is not showing in the top results when we search for it on Google.com, even though it’s the source of the content.

Instead, the first result is a Pirate Bay proxy.

googletpb-com

We used the same method with a few other targeted searches, including a track Dan Bull uploaded to the site, and got a similar result. The top result doesn’t list The Pirate Bay site, which is the original place where the “Sharing Is Caring” song was uploaded.

The above suggests that individual Pirate Bay pages are being downranked. This is confirmed by the fact that the results for the search phrases above do show TPB as the first result on other Google domains, such as Google.ca and Google.co.uk. Apparently, the downranking for this phrase only happens on the .com domain.

googletpb-ca

It has to be noted though, that the result above shows the Pirate Bay’s old domain, thepiratebay.org, where one would expect thepiratebay.se. The .se site does appear on other Google domains for the Dan Bull song and several other keyword variations we tested.

The more phrases and keywords we tried, the more varying results we encountered. For example, searching for a sentence on The Pirate Bay’s “doodle” page doesn’t list TPB’s official site in the top results of any of the Google domains we tried. Clearly, something is going on here.

Our findings show that Google is certainly downranking The Pirate Bay in its search results. Whether this is part of the earlier announced anti-piracy initiatives is unknown at this point.

In any case, The Pirate Bay is not really bothered by Google’s decision to downrank websites that are accused of linking to pirated material. According to The Pirate Bay team, it will only result in more direct traffic.

“That Google is putting our links lower is in a way a good thing for us. We’ll get more direct traffic when people don’t get the expected search result when using Google, since they will go directly to TPB,” the site previously told TF.

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

TorrentFreak: Authorities Raid Large Torrent Site Again…aaand it’s Back Online

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

There was a time when raiding a torrent site meant that it stayed down for good, but with 2014 just a couple of months old it’s clear that things have changed.

The latest signs relate to Tankafetast, Sweden’s #2 torrent site and the 95th most popular site in the country according to Alexa. The site, second only to The Pirate Bay, specializes in movies and TV shows and has been an anti-piracy target for some time. With a motto of “We shall never surrender!” one gets a flavor of how that’s gone so far.

On October 1, 2012, PRQ, a webhost previously owned by Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm, disappeared offline after Swedish police raided the facility. Many file-sharing sites went offline and it was later confirmed that Tankafetast was the prime target.

Just three weeks later it was back online, taunting the authorities and nemesis Henrik Pontén at copyright protection outfit Antipiratbyrån (Rights Alliance).

In April 2013 yet more action was taken against the site, with the arrest of one of the site’s admins. Yet again the site remained intact and online.

And now, according to the site’s operators, Rights Alliance and local authorities have had another go at shutting Tankafetast down.

“Once again, we fell victim to a Rights Alliance (Anti-Piracy Office) ploy to shut down TankaFetast! Our data centers have been raided,” the site’s operators report.

It appears that a continuing investigation led authorities to a location from where they believed Tankafetast was operating. While the raid last week may have unearthed something, the site was fully prepared for the event.

“Instead of sitting and waiting to see what the authorities want us to do we can move just anywhere to our other servers located abroad. Once again we will rise up again!” the site’s operators said.

And, a few initial problems aside, Tankafetast returned online this weekend. [Update: site has some stability issues]

“We’re going nowhere Rights Alliance, believe it!” the site declared.

Interestingly there was no announcement of action against Tankafetast last week from Rights Alliance or the police. Both are usually fairly quick to inform the press of their achievements but there are no reports from either. TorrentFreak contacted lawyer Henrik Pontén for comment but we have received no response.

It is certainly possible that the raid on the Tankafetast datacenter was expected to fail. Last Thursday a site operator revealed that the 2012 raid on PRQ didn’t net the site, just a gateway.

“We had some old empty dusty boxes with PRQ a few years ago but that was merely a proxy. When police got them there was nothing left in them anyway, since the memory was cleared for the least outside risk,” he revealed.

While in the ‘old days’ torrent site admins simply crossed their fingers and perhaps wore garlic to fend off attacks, it’s becoming clear that these days site setups are being hardened in preparation for what many believe to be an increasingly likely event. But these systems cost money and that has to be made somehow. Intrusive advertising is one way, according to Tankafetast.

“It is precisely because of pop-under advertising that we have been able to have servers around the world. Here you get a really good example. When one goes down we just move to another. The advertising that many find annoying saves us in situations like this,” they conclude.

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

TorrentFreak: “Pirate Sites Generate $227 Million In Ad Revenue a Year”

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

cashIt’s no secret that running a torrent portal, linking site, or cyberlocker can be highly profitable. Thus far, however, only a few have attempted to quantify the money that flows into these businesses.

This week the Digital Citizens Alliance is trying to fill this gap. The group released a new report titled “Good Money Gone Bad: Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business,” which aims to offer insight into the ad dollars that end up at pirate sites.

The term “pirate site” should be used loosely here, as the sample is based on all websites for which Google received more than 25 takedown requests during the third quarter of 2013. Foreign sites and sites without ads were removed from the sample, bringing the total number of sites down to 596.

The report divides these sites into three sizes based on the number of unique visitors per month; large (>5 million), medium (1-5 million) and small (<1 million). They are further classified into different categories, including torrent portals, linking sites, streaming sites and direct download sites.

Based on the number of ad positions, page views and estimates of the various ad-rates, the report gives an overview of the advertising income of the sites in the various segments.

In total, the sites are estimated to generate $227 million in annual ad revenue. More than half of this flows to the 30 largest sites and the top torrent sites earn the most, over $6 million per site per year.

“The 30 largest sites studied that are supported only by ads average $4.4 million annually, with the largest BitTorrent portal sites topping $6 million. Even small sites can make more than $100,000 a year from advertising,” the report reads.

pirate-revenueThe table on the right shows a breakdown of the aggregate quarterly revenue per site category and site size.

In total half of all ad-revenue goes to torrent portals, which make up less than a quarter of the total sample.

Based on an estimate of the operating costs, torrent sites are also believed to be the most profitable, with profit margins up to 94.1%.

It has to be noted, however, that ad revenue is often the only source of income for torrent sites, where direct download hubs and streaming sites have secondary revenue streams through subscriptions and affiliate deals.

According to the report some of the world’s most respected brands are funding pirate sites. The report shows that a large percentage of the ad revenue comes from premium brands, including Amazon, American Express, Dell, Ford, Lego, McDonalds, Xfinity.

“Premium brand ads appeared on nearly 30% of large sites, highlighting the ineffectiveness of current approaches to protecting the brands’ reputation and value.”

Most of these ads are sold and resold through various channels, so the brands themselves are not aware of these placements. However, according to Digital Citizens Alliance the association with these pirate sites can result in damage to the brand’s reputation.

“Premium brands are those easily recognizable companies familiar to most consumers, and which suffer reputational damage when their ads appear on content theft site, often alongside ads for illicit sites and services,” the report explains.

All in all the report provides some interesting insight into the profitability of so-called pirate sites. How accurate the estimates are is unknown, but with the top sites serving hundreds of millions of pageviews a month, the figures don’t seem unrealistic.

What’s more problematic is that not all of the sites listed are “pirate sites.” Many sites have perfectly legitimate uses, and a site such as vcdq.com doesn’t host or link to infringing content at all.

Digital Citizens Alliance, however, concludes that their findings should be a wake-up call for advertisers and ad-networks. They urge the various parties involved to increase their efforts to prevent ads from being displayed on questionable sites and services.

“Advertisers and ad agencies, networks and exchanges can start by enhancing their voluntary best practice standards. The technology and services to identify and filter out content theft sites are available and should be adopted in the online advertising community,” the report reads.

“Just as brands do not advertise on porn or hate sites, they can take steps to assure they are not on content theft sites,” it concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: NSA Authorized Monitoring of Pirate Bay and Proxy Users

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

cameraspyThe revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have caused shockwaves around the world and resonated in all corners of the online community. Today the leaked material is of particular interest to torrent site users.

Published on Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, the new papers reveal internal NSA discussions over what can and cannot be monitored in various circumstances.

In Q&A‘s between NSA staff, Threat Operations Center Oversight and Compliance (NOC), and the NSA’s Office of General Council (OGC), torrent sites are mentioned on a number of occasions, with The Pirate Bay sitting front and center.

Tracking The Pirate Bay and its users

The first question concerns the querying of non US-based IP addresses which have been obtained from home soil.

“If we run across foreign malicious actors at home (spam email, router/IDS logs, torrent sites, etc) can we bring those IPs here and use the SIGINT [intelligence-gathering by interception] system to monitor these guys?” the member of staff asked.

“It might be okay,” NOC and OGC responded, “but wait for confirmation.”

The second instance came from a staff member asking questions over the monitoring of servers overseas, alongside the possibility that U.S. citizens may be using them.

pirate bay“Is it okay to query against a foreign server known to be malicious even if there is a possibility that a US person could be using it as well? Example, thepiratebay.org,” the NSA employee wrote.

No problem, came the reply, but exercise caution.

“Okay to go after foreign servers which US people use also (with no defeats). But try to minimize to ‘post’ only, for example, to filter out non-pertinent information,” NOC and OGC wrote back.

From the documents it’s clear that the NSA sees both The Pirate Bay and Wikileaks as organizations that threaten U.S. security through their distribution of U.S. secrets. What follows is a question which seems to suggests that once a torrent has been released on The Pirate Bay, it’s possible to analyze traffic sent before the release was made in order to trace the leaker.

“[If a] list of .mil passwords [were] released to thepiratebay.org…can we go back into XKS-SIGINT (using a custom created fingerprint) to search for all traffic containing that password in foreign traffic just before the release? the NSA worker asked.

Tracking people using proxies to hide their activities

While many consider proxies as useful tools to mask their online activities, it has to be presumed that organizations such as the NSA have the ability to track individuals using even multiple instances. The next set of questions skip over the mechanics of how that might be possible (with the clear implication that it is) and jump straight to what is permissible.

spy[When an actor is]….posting to thepiratebay.org (a foreign web-server)….through multiple proxied hops, are we allowed to back-trace that communication even if it hops through US based proxies?” an NSA worker asked.

“In other words, back-trace the post from thepiratebay.org to a Chinese base proxy which came through a US based proxy, which came through another US based proxy, which came through a Russian based proxy etc”

“Assuming you mean via SIGINT metadata,” came the NOC response, “then SPCMA-trained [Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis] analysts would be able to use SPCMA-enabled tools to chain through U.S. based proxies. It is not authorized otherwise.”

While on the one hand these discussions suggest that some kind of effort is being made to protect US citizens from NSA spying, on the other it’s fairly obvious that they are being swept up en masse whether they like it or not.

Furthermore, the odds of being caught up in that dragnet only increase should U.S. citizens dare to become involved in organizations like Wikileaks or use torrent sites including The Pirate Bay. Worryingly, the threshold for becoming categorized as an associate of a “malicious foreign actor” appears to be lower than ever.

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

TorrentFreak: De La Soul Gave Away Pirated Copies of Their Own Music

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

3feetIn a decade spilling over with heavy aggressive gangsta rap from the likes of N.W.A, the birth of De La Soul in 1987 was a much needed breath of light fresh air.

Two years later the trio’s debut album 3 Feet High and Rising was making waves and a quarter of a century on its magnificence hasn’t diminished one bit – if you can get to hear it.

Trouble is, unless you have it on some old-skool format (I have my vinyl here), you can’t obtain it legally online. It’s a complex story of the band’s undoubted sampling prowess and refreshingly ‘liberal’ approach to copyright, followed by a licensing nightmare that not even two decades and a half of negotiations could put to rest.

This past weekend, however, De La Soul had a rather special gift for their fans. To celebrate 25 years since the launch of 3 Feet High, the band dropped the album and their entire back catalog on WeAreDeLaSoul.com, a site set up on Valentine’s day to spread the love to fans old and new.

This musical free-for-all was great publicity for the band (who have new album coming out later this year) and a golden opportunity for people who wanted to get their hands on gems such as The Magic Number, Say No Go, and my personal favorite Ghetto Thang, without having to resort to obtaining the music from pirate sources.

On that front, however, there’s both good and bad news.

Yes, De La Soul delivered on the music front, handing over the tunes in exchange for the downloader’s email address, but those hoping to get tracks untainted by piracy will be disappointed. As first spotted by Recode, it seems De La Soul had a bit of a problem obtaining ‘official’ digital copies.

Text revealed in the metadata on the 3 Feet High MP3s appears to show that De La Soul (or someone close to them) downloaded the copies from Russian pirate site Rappalata before making them available on their own site.

3Feet MetaTags

The alternative explanation – that these are actually official but previously unreleased MP3s to which someone close to the band has ‘mischievously’ added Rappalata’s URL – is a fun one, but very fairly unlikely to say the least.

3FeetRapp

Sadly De La Soul’s weekend giveaway is now over, with the band’s music retreating once again into analog exile. Of course, copies of the Valentines giveaway have already appeared on torrent sites including The Pirate Bay, which raises an interesting point.

If the band are unable to digitally release the majority of their music due to copyright and licensing issues but are happy to give it away, it seems highly likely that they simply want their fans to listen to and enjoy De La Soul music in the run up the release of their new album.

Is listening to it on YouTube (possible) really any different from grabbing it from Pirate Bay? After all, not only are the samples unauthorized, the MP3s are too…..

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

TorrentFreak: US Government Targets Pirate Bay and Other “Notorious” Sites

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

ustrIn its annual “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets”, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has listed more than a dozen websites said to be involved in piracy and counterfeiting.

The list is based on input from industry groups and copyright holders including the RIAA and MPAA, who submitted their recommendations a few weeks ago. While the USTR admits that the list is not meant to reflect legal violations, the responsible authorities could use the list to take legal action.

“The United States urges the responsible authorities to intensify efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting, and to use the information contained in the Notorious Markets Review to pursue legal actions where appropriate,” USTR states.

One of the prime targets is The Pirate Bay. According to USTR the site continues to facilitate downloading of copyright-infringing material. The Government further highlights the site’s resilience, mentioning recent domain name changes and the release of TPB’s censorship-resistant browser last summer.

“The site released its own web browser designed to evade network controls and reportedly has plans to offer software to circumvent conventional methods of enforcement. Network security experts have criticized The Pirate Bay for failing to follow security best practices in the development of their software,” USTR writes.

The last part feels a little out of place. The Pirate Bay can be accused of a lot of things by the Government, but not following security “best practices” is not the first thing that comes to mind.

While the inclusion of The Pirate Bay comes as no surprise, RapidShare’s listing is quite unexpected. The cloud hosting service has taken extreme measures to deter piracy and as a result was excluded from the most recent “Notorious Markets” list.

Even though visitor counts continued to drop in recent years, the USTR now believes that the site deserves to be included again, mentioning a recent ruling where RapidShare was ordered to pay $26,000 to a Czech movie director.

“Although RapidShare.com’s popularity has diminished since its 2012 listing, it remains one of the most active sites worldwide as well as in the Czech Republic, where it is best known as Share-rapid.cz,” USTR writes.

Another surprising mention was given to Aiseesoft.com, a software vendor that sells video converter and ripping tools. While this software may not be permitted in the US, it’s perfectly legal in other countries.

The Government, however, classifies the company as a notorious market and its competitor SlySoft.com was awarded the same label.

“Rights holders indicate that this site’s operators, reportedly based in China, develop and make available to customers worldwide various ‘high-quality’ DVD converter tools [...] that, according to the site, allow users to circumvent technical protection measures and view video content in an unauthorized manner,” USTR writes.

In addition to the domains listed above, the US Government is also pointing a finger at the following sites:

PutLocker, Baixedetudo.net, Darkwarez.pl, Ex.ua, Extratorrent.cc, Free-tv-video-online.me, KickassTorrents.com, Kuaibo.com ,Mp3skull.com, Rapidgator.net, Rutracker.org, Seriesyonkis.com, Torrentz.eu, Uploaded.net, vKontakte.com, Wawa-mania.ec, Xunlei.com, Kankan.com, Zamunda.net, Arenabg.com and Zing.vn.

The “notorious markets” list is meant to be a pressure tool on the sites and the countries from where they are operated. Meanwhile, the sites remain accessible in the U.S. itself and thus far no attempts have been made to have local ISPs block any of them.

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

TorrentFreak: IIPA: Canada is a Magnet for “Rogue” Sites and Persistent Pirates

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

canada-pirateThe International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has just published its latest submission to the U.S. Government, providing an overview of countries it believes should better protect the interests of the copyright industry.

The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and ESA, has listed its complaints against a whole host of countries. As in previous years, Canada was discussed in detail with the recommendation to put it on the 2014 Special 301 ‘watch list’.

One of the main grievances against Canada is that the country offers a home to many sites which the copyright industries label as “rogue” businesses. This includes the recently shut down isoHunt.com as well as other popular torrent sites such as torrentz.eu and kickass.to.

“Even after the shuttering of Isohunt, Canada is still the home to some of the world’s most popular Internet sites dedicated to piracy, including torrentz.eu and kickass.to, which garnered rankings of third and second place, respectively, on one of the most widely accessed listings of the world’s most popular illicit BitTorrent sites,” IIPA writes.

The copyright holders further mention the linking sites cuevana.tv, free-tv-video-online.me, and solarmovie.so as having Canadian connections, as well as the smaller torrent sites fenopy.se and monova.org. Without proper enforcement action against them, Canada remains very attractive to these allegedly infringing sites, they claim.

“It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Canada remains a magnet for sites whose well-understood raison d’être is to facilitate and enable massive unauthorized downloading of pirated versions of feature films, TV shows, recorded music, entertainment software, and other copyright materials,” IIPA writes.

“The largest of these Canadian-hosted sites attract scores of millions of unique visitors every month, and their corrosive effects on legitimate markets are felt worldwide,” they add.

The United States should encourage Canada to take action against these sites, the industry groups recommend. Without proper action the country will not just remain a safe haven for infringing websites, but also a breeding ground for new generations of Internet pirates.

According to the IIPA, current policies have resulted in widespread piracy among Canadian Internet users, with instances twice as frequent as in the United States.

“In this environment, it is not surprising that Canadians continue to demonstrate a formidable propensity to patronize illegal online sources of copyright material, thus stunting the availability and growth of legal alternatives,” IIPA writes.

“A report released in September 2012 found that, on a per-capita basis, Canadians download more unauthorized music than residents of any other country, and two-and-one-half times as much as Americans,” the groups add.

“Canadians continue to demonstrate a formidable propensity to patronize illegal online sources of copyright material, thus stunting the availability and growth of legal alternatives.”

The industry groups further recommend that Internet providers should partner with copyright holders to tackle the ongoing piracy problems. While some ISPs already forward infringement notices to their customers, they note that repeated infringers go unpunished.

Due to this “glaring weakness” the current copyright infringement warnings sent out by some ISPs are not believed to be very effective.

“Although more and more notices of infringement are sent by right holders and forwarded by service providers to their customers each year, the providers do not even correlate the notices with individual subscribers to know which are repeat infringers,” IIPA writes.

“To treat the first-time violator identically with the serial offender jeopardizes any deterrent effect the notices might otherwise achieve,” they add.

The groups recommend that the U.S. Government urges Canada to implement “strong legal incentives” for local ISPs to take action against these persistent pirates by teaming up with copyright holders.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg for Canada. Among other things, the groups also call for stronger border protections and hefty jail sentences for copyright infringers.

This is not the first time that Canada has been called out on copyright. Based on similar recommendations the U.S. Government has placed its northern neighbor on the intellectual property watch-list for several years in a row.

The IIPA’s full 2014 Special 301 recommendation report is available here. This also includes assessments from more than two dozen other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Italy, Russia, Spain and Switzerland.

Photo: Sébastien Launay

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

TorrentFreak: Google Refuses to Remove Links to Tarantino’s Leaked Script

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

When Quentin Tarantino found out that copies of the script of his new movie ‘The Hateful Eight’ were circulating online, he decided to cancel the movie.

Then, on Monday after Gawker published links to copies of the 146-page screenplay, things took a turn for the worse. The filmmaker was outraged by Gawker’s move and filed a lawsuit claiming that the blog was facilitating copyright infringement.

“Their headline boasts ‘Here Is the Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script’ – ‘Here,’ not someplace else, but ‘Here’ on the Gawker website,” the complaint states.

“The article then contains multiple direct links for downloading the entire screenplay through a conveniently anonymous URL by simply clicking button links on the Gawker page, and brazenly encourages Gawker visitors to read the Screenplay illegally with the invitation to ‘Enjoy!’ it.”

tarantinoIn addition to filing a lawsuit, Tarantino also took steps to remove links to numerous copies and references to the leaked script from Google.

Several DMCA notices were sent to Google on behalf of the director, targeting the Gawker article as well as several other forum posts and news articles. Tarantino claims that the URLs in question are infringing on his copyrights, but Google sees things differently.

Of the 29 URLs Tarantino wants to have removed, Google took action for only a handful. The links that were disabled include copies of the leaked script on torrent sites and the file-hosting site Anonfiles.

The news articles, blog posts and forum threads, however, remained online.

The Gawker article Tarantino sued over, for example, is still listed in the search results. Google’s Transparency Report also points out that “no action” was taken to remove the URL in question.

Google’s “no action” in response to Tarantino

google-tarantino

TF asked Google to explain why the Gawker page hasn’t been removed, but we have yet to hear back from them. It is worth pointing out that the copies of the screenplay that are linked from article have since been removed from Scribd and Anonfiles, so the article isn’t “infringing” anymore.

That said, Google also refused to remove links to other articles, which still have excerpts and screenshots of the leaked Hateful Eight script.

It is safe to say that the search engine is clearly taking a stand here, perhaps in part to protect their own interests. If the case against Gawker goes ahead, it is likely that Google will get involved to prevent a damaging precedent.

After all, the search engine is linking to millions of infringing files itself. Unlike Gawker, Google’s links are added to the search engine automatically, but a ruling on the issue is likely to have a broader effect.

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

TorrentFreak: YIFY Torrents Announces Retirement of Founder, But Show Goes On

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

yifyBack in 2010 a fresh movie piracy brand was hitting the Internet. Side-stepping the so-called ‘Scene’, YIFY became part of the new breed of release groups who make releases directly to fans using P2P networks.

Just a year later and YIFY releases – easily visible on torrent sites due to the YIFY ‘tag’ at the end of their file titles – had gained enough traction to warrant their very own website.

In 2011, YIFY-Torrents.com was born and since then millions of movie fans have flooded to the YIFY website and others such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents to obtain YIFY releases. Like the aXXo group before them YIFY took the crown of most popular movie release group with the general public, and one with successful branding to match.

YIFY itself was founded by a guy, unsurprisingly, nicknamed YIFY. He was not only the group’s founder but its main movie encoder.

“I personally think that many people are following and downloading YIFY encodes due to the consistency we offer in our releasing,” YIFY told TorrentFreak in a 2013 interview. “Everything from the consistent film cover art, to the information layout, and ultimately to the file-size of our encodes.”

But after founding the YIFY group, brand and website, today marks his retirement.

“After two and half years of running the YIFY-Torrents website, and almost four years of being involved in the torrent community, I have decided that the time has come for a new challenge. As much as I have loved being able to provide content for all of you, it is simply time for a change in my life,” YIFY explains.

From today, YIFY-Torrents and the site’s releases will switch over to a new management team comprised of existing staff members, with OTTO handling encodes and uploads and Seraph managing the site. The site will also undergo a re-branding exercise.

yts“The website, domains and everything linked to the website will be changed to YTS,” YIFY (now YTS) web developer jduncanator informs TorrentFreak.

“We’re looking forward to the future, and have been lucky to be entrusted with such an excellent platform and userbase by YIFY,” the team adds.

Visitors to the site’s main page at the existing URL can already see the new YTS logo, but should be aware that the domain switches to YTS.RE, the URL the site will use going forward.

Although the site has changed its name and domain, the famous YIFY release name will continue, even with YIFY himself long gone. This will make searching for past and future releases as easy as its ever been.

“Releases and torrents will still carry the YIFY tag,” jduncanator clarifies.

For those who have always accessed YIFY releases without visiting the site itself, nothing will change. All uploads on sites such as PublicHD, KickassTorrents, 1337x, The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent will still be marked with the YIFY tag at the end. All files inside torrents and torrent naming conventions will remain intact.

YIFY himself says he has fond memories of his time with the group, citing the joys of uploading from a 10-year-old laptop, being featured on TF in last year’s interview, and battling Internet censorship in the UK. But essentially, he says, none of that would have been possible without followers of the group.

“Thank you all, for spreading your seed, making us one of the biggest trackers in the world, and for giving me a reason to do this for so long. You were YIFY Torrents every bit as much as I ever was,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: Irish Internet Providers Roll Out KickassTorrents Blockade

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

kickasstorrentsIn an effort to reduce piracy, copyright holder all over the world are trying to get popular torrent sites blocked by ISPs.

In 2009 Ireland was one of the first countries in the world to have an ISP block The Pirate Bay on copyright grounds. Eircom backed out of a court battle with the major music labels and blocked the site voluntarily.

Getting other providers to follow suit proved to be more difficult due to legal complications, but last year the ball was rolling again.

Following an action initiated by EMI, Sony, Warner and Universal against the ISPs UPC, Imagine, Vodafone, Digiweb, Hutchison 3G and Telefonica O2, in June 2013 the High Court gave the ISPs just 30 days to block The Pirate Bay.

After this success the labels moved on to their next target, KickassTorrents, or KAT for short. Following The Pirate Bay blockade KAT quickly took over the crown, and up until last week was one of the 25 most-visited websites in Ireland.

Hoping to significantly reduce this threat the record labels applied to the High Court to have local ISPs block subscriber access to KAT. The request was successful and Mr Justice Kelly ordered the new blockade in December.

This week most ISPs implemented the blockade, much to the disappointment of Irish KAT visitors.

Interestingly, Eircom, the largest Internet provider in the country, was not included in the court case, but together with several other ISPs chose to implement a block voluntarily. As a result, Eircom subscribers are now greeted with the following message when they attempt to access the site.

Blocked

blocked

As with all blockades there are still plenty of workarounds that let people access the KAT site. Several users note that KAT proxies work just fine, and a VPN also lifts all restrictions.

Nevertheless, the music labels will celebrate the new blocks as a victory and, with KAT taken care of, they are likely to prepare another lawsuit targeted at the next large torrent site, continuing the game of Whack-A-Mole..

Update: The KAT team tells TorrentFreak that the traffic to their site is severely impacted by these blockades. They are advising users to use a VPN. Proxies are also an option, although people have to be careful as these are not officially run by KAT, so the proxy owner could harvest logins and passwords.

“We are still getting traffic from those countries where KAT is blocked. But its amount is significantly lower (up to 10% from what we had before).

“These measures can be be pretty effective when appropriate authorities react very quickly on domain or IP change. For example, for Italy it’s just 3 days.”

“Our suggestion would be to use VPN servers placed outside country where site is banned and user is actually present. Also it will have sense to start using Google DNS or similar service to bypass domain block.”

“As an alternative it’s also possible to start using any KAT mirrors. But all those mirrors are provided by 3d parties so we would not recommend to enter credentials while user are using them.”

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

TorrentFreak: IsoHunt.to: From Zero to the 8th Biggest Torrent Site in Just 2 Months

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

isohunt-toWhen popular torrent site isoHunt.com shutdown on October 17, 2013, it marked the end of an era.

Having endured a several-years-long legal battle with the MPAA, owner Gary Fung sensibly negotiated a way out of his potentially ruinous copyright infringement predicament, eventually settling for a headline amount of $110 million, something (thankfully) he’ll never have to pay.

Nevertheless, the end result was that one of the Internet’s favorite torrent sites, with an owner that was both visible and well-liked, shut its doors for good leaving users without their regular home. Seeing an opportunity in waiting, a torrent-friendly group seized the day.

Within a couple of weeks, isoHunt.to was born. The site is a loose clone of isoHunt.com – graphically similar but with no connections to the original isoHunt team – with an aim to give former users a pace to share files. Just two months later at the end of 2013, isoHunt.to was making serious waves. From a standing start the site became the Internet’s 8th most popular torrent site, slotting in just behind 1337x.org in the overall top 10.

“When we launched isohunt.to we gained the level of about 200k uniques per day in about a week. Right before Christmas we hit 500k uniques per day. After that we’ve been going up and down but the overall trend remains upward,” an isoHunt.to admin informs TorrentFreak.

“Of course, many people are looking for ‘isohunt’ and that drives them to us. But there’s a lot of new traffic as well. We do lots of stuff to keep users happy and improve the site constantly. In a couple of days we’ll be rolling out another pack of features we’ve done since Christmas. Hopefully, users will be satisfied.”

While it’s certainly likely that millions of users are now happy at having a familiar looking site to frequent, the same can not be said about people who worked on the original isoHunt. When the clone site launched some quite understandably felt that it was unfairly trading on isoHunt.com’s image, not to mention their hard work.

isoHunt

“We tried to contact former isohunt.com members (admins and moderators) to get involved with the new site but we were rejected in a very rude way,” the isoHunt.to admin explains.

“Their position is clear – isohunt.to is a ripoff and our intention is only to make profit from the well-known brand. They have contributed so much into the original website it’s painful for them to see a wannabe isohunt in a current condition. But their rejection just means we have to continue ourselves. We may not reach the same heights as isohunt.com but we’ll definitely try to create a new wave of isohunt followers and make a new home for them.”

But in the world of file-sharing there is another bogeyman that often raises its head. When sites come out of nowhere and quickly start getting big, people question their motives. Is it money? Is it malware? Or, God forbid, do they have something even bigger up their sleeve?

“Since honeypots have been created over the last few years some people thought (and still think) our site is a honeypot made by MAFIAA,” the admin explains.

“It’s interesting to read comments where people assume we work for a government agency like the FBI, or an organization like the MPAA and others. We don’t blame them, we would probably think the same. And we don’t try to encourage these people into using isohunt.to. Everyone should decide it for himself or herself. But there are plenty of opportunities to be anonymous on the net. Just a hint,” he adds.

But despite the setbacks, the popularity of the site is booming and while some won’t use the site, others have put the past and other worries behind them.

“There are lots of people saying we made them happier with the new isohunt. When they found out the original site closed down many regular users felt like a huge part of their lives had just disappeared. They were sad and lost. That shows us again how great the original place was and how immense was the effort to keep it going. We can only see a fraction of that but are happy we can preserve something valuable for people.”

Finally, the isoHunt.to admin says he believes that the new site is in itself symbolic of torrenting.

“First there’s someone sharing something. Then others join and continue sharing when the original sharer can’t do it anymore. That feels great to be a part of something bigger. So we’ll be happy for new people to join the new-wave isohunt community and continue sharing,” he concludes.

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

TorrentFreak: The 20 Most Pirated Artists of The Year: A Drop in The Ocean?

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

casThe music industry has witnessed some dramatic changes in recent years, even when piracy is left out of the equation. In little more than a decade the Internet has redefined people’s music consumption habits.

First there was a shift from CDs to MP3s, soon to be followed by a massive increase in paid and free streaming services such as Spotify and YouTube.

Despite the legal offerings the major record labels are still concerned about online piracy. Every day millions of people access music through unauthorized sources, with torrent sites being one of the largest platforms.

Today we take a look at the most pirated artists of 2013, with Bruno Mars leading the chart with more than 5.7 million downloads. Rihanna and Daft Punk come in second and third place, with over 5.4 and 4.2 million downloads respectively.

As can be seen below, over the past year Bruno Mars was most downloaded in the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy, Brazil and Australia. If we look at the number of downloads per Internet users, Portugal would come out top.

Bruno Mars top download locations in recent years

bronostat

The data presented here is provided by music analytics company MusicMetric, which helps artists to get insight into who’s listening to their music. The company was kind enough to share the top 20 most downloaded artists with TorrentFreak, as well as the 20 most played artists on free streaming platforms such as YouTube and Vevo.

Looking at both lists, which are included at the bottom of this article, there’s an interesting observation to make.

For years the top record label executives have been claiming that it’s impossible to compete with free, but YouTube and others appear to be proving them wrong. Compared to these legal plays, the pirated downloads via BitTorrent are a mere drop in the ocean.

For example, Bruno Mars was played nearly 2 billion times in 2013, which comes down to 5.5 million views per day, roughly the same as all pirated downloads in the entire year.

Of course this comparison is not really fair, as pirated downloads include albums, and those who download it may play it many times. But still, it’s quite obvious that the music industry can compete with piracy, through a medium that didn’t exist a decade ago.

Even better, revenue-wise YouTube and Vevo have become a serious source of income. The major labels haven’t been very open about their revenue sharing deal, but EMI Music chief financial officer Paul Kahn said during the LimeWire trial that his label gets half a penny for each YouTube play.

Half a penny may not sound much, but with billions of views it quickly adds up. For example, with 2 billion ad-supported views Bruno Mars would rake in $10 million.

That’s not too shabby, right?

Below is the list of MusicMetric’s estimated BitTorrent downloads in 2013 from January until the last week of December. Other sources of unauthorized music consumption are not included.

Most pirated artists on BitTorrent, 2013
rank artists est. downloads
musicmetric.com
1 Bruno Mars 5,783,556
2 Rihanna 5,414,166
3 Daft Punk 4,212,361
4 Justin Timberlake 3,930,185
5 Flo Rida 3,470,825
6 Kanye West 3,199,969
7 Eminem 3,176,122
8 Jay Z 3,171,358
9 Drake 3,139,408
10 Pitbull 3,138,308
11 One Direction 2,920,445
12 Maroon 5 2,857,652
13 Zed 2,828,764
14 Nicki Minaj 2,681,177
15 Adele 2,594,275
16 Avicii 2,562,151
17 David Guetta 2,441,235
18 Linkin Park 2,352,385
19 Pharrell Williams 2,336,996
20 Katy Perry 2,318,740

The table below shows the most track and video plays on “social media”, as defined by Music Metric. This includes YouTube and Vevo plays, which account for the most plays by far.

Most played artists on Vevo, YouTube etc, 2013
rank artists est. plays
musicmetric.com
1 PSY 2,211,525,973
2 Bruno Mars 1,998,568,878
3 Rihanna 1,562,276,049
4 One Direction 1,543,221,692
5 Justin Bieber 1,226,750,959
6 Gummibär 1,130,446,514
7 Miley Cyrus 1,078,063,309
8 Nicki Minaj 1,058,762,304
9 Eminem 921,595,163
10 Ryan Lewis 876,041,240
11 Super Junior-M 875,604,056
12 Pitbull 851,054,277
13 Katy Perry 805,537,588
14 David Guetta 798,744,318
15 will.i.am 746,419,305
16 Skrillex 679,730,499
17 Avicii 652,465,634
18 Ne-Yo 642,956,631
19 Chris Brown 634,537,325
20 Drake 601,346,518

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

TorrentFreak: Symantec Patent Helps BitTorrent Users to Spot Malware and Fakes

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

symantecWith an estimated quarter billion active users per month, BitTorrent is a lucrative target for scammers and malware peddlers.

Every day thousands of “fake” torrents are uploaded from malicious sources, often labeled with the names of popular movies or TV-shows. Needless to say, those who download these torrents don’t get what they were looking for. Instead they are redirected to scam websites or lured into installing malware.

This malware problem is far from new, but most recently it has gained the attention of Symantec, one of the largest computer security vendors in the world.

Last week the company filed a patent application for a technology that aims to counter the problem. Symantec says that since most torrent sites do a bad job at keeping malicious torrents off their sites they have come up with a solution.

“While the BitTorrent protocol represents a popular method for distributing files, this protocol also represents a common means for distributing malicious software. Unfortunately, torrent hosting sites generally fail to provide sufficient information to reliably predict whether such files are trustworthy,” Symantec writes.

Symantec has developed a system than evaluates the trustworthiness of files that are downloaded via BitTorrent. Unlike traditional virus scans, where the file itself is malicious or not, the technology uses the reputation of other downloaders, and several other factors to make the evaluation.

“For example, if an entity has been involved in several torrent transactions that involved malware-infected target files, the reputation information associated with the entity may indicate that the entity has a poor reputation, indicating a high likelihood that the target file represents a potential security risk.”

The factors on which the trustworthiness of a file is based include the original uploaders, torrent sites, trackers and other peers. For example, if an IP-address of a seeder is linked to several malicious torrents, it will get a low reputation score.

The picture below shows an overview of these variables, with a reputation score ranging from 0 to 100% for each.

sym=rep

When a file is categorized as a potential threat based on the reputation score, several “security actions” can be taken. These range from shutting down the download to blocking access to the file in question.

“Examples of such security actions include, without limitation, alerting a user of the potential security risk, blocking access to the target file until overridden by the user, blocking network traffic associated with the torrent transaction, quarantining the target file, and/or deleting the target file,” Symantec writes.

symantec

The security vendor believes that its system is able to prevent or at least reduce the distribution of malware through BitTorrent.

While this may be the case, there certainly are downsides too. Symantec’s automated categorizing systems have sometimes provided false positives, which in this system would lead to the blocking of legitimate files. TorrentFreak learned that the hard way earlier.

Symantec is not the only computer security vendor to take an interest in BitTorrent recently. McAfee previously submitted a patent for a system that can detect and block pirated material from any website, and present users with authorized and legal alternatives instead.

At the moment it’s unclear whether Symantec has already developed the technology, or whether it has plans to bring it to the market in the near future. So for now, BitTorrent users have to follow common sense if they want to avoid trouble, which usually involves reading comments.

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

TorrentFreak: Demonoid Returns, BitTorrent Tracker is Now Online

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

demonoidAs the single largest semi-private BitTorrent tracker that ever existed, Demonoid used to offer a home to millions of file-sharers.

This changed abruptly August 2012, after a series of troubled events took the site offline. The unexpected downtime was followed by more than a year of silence, until the Demonoid.com homepage showed signs of life two months ago.

The site owners put up a notice suggesting that they were planning to restore Demonoid to its former glory. This uplifting news was later confirmed in a short statement that was sent to us by the people behind the site.

“I can’t give you any specifics at the moment, but yeah, we are planning to bring the site back,” TorrentFreak was told.

This glimmer of hope got many former Demonoid users excited, and today we can report further progress as the site’s tracker is now back online.

A few hours ago http://inferno.demonoid.com:3396/announce was revived, and at the time of writing the tracker is coordinating the communication of 1.3 million people scattered across 388,321 torrent files. This means that Demonoid has instantly settled itself among the five largest BitTorrent trackers on the Internet.

Demonoid tracker back in action

demonoid-back

What appears to be new is that all these torrents are tracked by a single announce URL. Previously, Demonoid used various tracker addresses and ports for its torrents. However, several older announce URLs still work as well.

The hosting location has also changed as Demonoid have traded in their Ukrainian provider for one in Sweden.

While the above is good news for those who hold Demonoid dear, there are still plenty of uncertainties regarding the comeback. For example, it is still unknown whether Demonoid users can still use their old accounts, as the database may have been compromised.

Last year a mysterious replacement surfaced, using a copy of the Demonoid user and torrent database. The operator of the spin-off claimed not to be related to the Demonoid owners, but he did have a copy of the site’s database.

The tracker that was revived today uses Demonoid’s original .com domain, so it’s presumably backed by part of the old crew.

Time will tell whether Demonoid can make a full comeback, and what the site will look like if it does.

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

TorrentFreak: Top 10 Most Popular Torrent Sites of 2014

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

2014With 2013 now behind us, which torrent sites are pulling in the most visitors at the start of 2014?

Traditionally, BitTorrent users are very loyal, which is reflected in the top 10 where most sites have had a consistent listing for more than half a decade. But in common with every year, 2014 sees a few movers and shakers, as well as several newcomers.

The top three slots remain intact compared to last year, with The Pirate Bay in the lead despite several domain name changes.

The most notable absentee this year is isoHunt. The site has been featured in the top 10 since 2006, but went offline in 2013 after it settled its legal dispute with the MPAA for $110 million.

Last year’s newcomer H33t also fell out of the top 10 after it lost its domain name. The site relaunched after two months downtime at H33t.to but has lost most of its traffic.

The first newcomer in the top 10 this year is YIFY-Torrents, which is also one of the youngest torrent sites after being founded in 2011. The site has grown tremendously over recent months, and by focusing on popular movie releases YIFY has evolved into Hollywood’s new nemesis.

Isohunt clone/replacement isoHunt.to is the second newcomer, which is quite an achievement since the site only launched two months ago. RARBG is the last ‘new’ name, the site has been around for many years but is listed in the top 10 for the first time.

Below is the full list of the top 10 most-visited torrent sites at the start of the new year. Only public and English language content sites are included. The list is based on various traffic reports and we display the Alexa and U.S. Compete rank for each. In addition, we include last year’s ranking for each of the 10 sites.

Did we miss anything? Feel free to join the discussion below.

1. The Pirate Bay

To many people The Pirate Bay is synonymous with BitTorrent. The site was founded more than a decade ago and is still expanding, despite various legal troubles, domain hops and ISP blockades. The Pirate Bay currently has well over a billion page views a month.

Alexa Rank: 79 (est) / Compete Rank: NA / Last year #1

2. KickassTorrents

KickassTorrents was founded in 2009 and has quickly moved up in our top 10, settling into 2nd position this year. Responding to a looming domain seizure the site moved from its kat.ph domain to Kickass.to last August. Despite domain troubles and blockades by Internet providers in the UK and Italy, the site continues to grow.

Alexa Rank: 103 / Compete Rank: 452 / Last year #2

3. Torrentz

Torrentz has been the leading BitTorrent meta-search engine for many years. Unlike the other sites featured in the list Torrentz does not host any torrent files, it merely redirects visitors to other places on the web. The site uses several domain names with .eu being the most popular.

Alexa Rank: 153 / Compete Rank: 1.377 / Last year #3

4. ExtraTorrent

ExtraTorrent continues to gain more traffic and has moved up again in the top 10, now placed as the 4th most-visited torrent site. This success didn’t go unnoticed by rightsholders groups such as the MPAA who recently called out ExtraTorrent as one of the top pirate sites. The site was forced to trade in its .com domain for .cc this year, after it was suspended by its domain registrar.

Alexa Rank: 363 / Compete Rank: 2,286 / Last year #5

5. YIFY-Torrents

Roughly three years ago nobody had ever heard of YIFY but today the movie release group is one of the most recognizable movie piracy brands on the Internet. This reputation resulted in a court-ordered ISP blockade in the UK last year.

Alexa Rank: 809 / Compete Rank: 6,245 / Last year #NA

6. EZTV

Unlike the other sites in the top 10, TV-torrent distribution group EZTV is a niche site specializing in TV content only. Because of its focus, EZTV’s traffic varies in line with the TV seasons.

Alexa Rank: 1,050 / Compete Rank: 10,790 / Last year #7

7. 1337x

1337x focuses more on the community aspect than some competitors. The site’s owners say they launched 1337x to “fill an apparent void where it seemed there was a lack of quality conscience ad free torrent sites with public trackers.” In common with most other sites in the top 10, 1337x.org is currently blocked by the larger UK Internet providers.

Alexa Rank: 1,382 / Compete Rank: 11,445 / Last year #6

8. isoHunt.to

Isohunt.to was launched last October, less than two weeks after isoHunt.com shut down. The site is not affiliated with the old isoHunt crew but copied the site’s design. This has not been without success, as the site now has millions of pageviews a day.

Alexa Rank: 1,550 / Compete Rank: NA / Last year #NA

9. BitSnoop

BitSnoop is one of the largest BitTorrent indexes, claiming to index a massive 21,437,061 torrent files at the time of writing. The site’s torrents list continues to grow steadily, as do the number of DMCA notices that it receives.

Alexa Rank: 1,714 / Compete Rank: 5,633 / Last year #8

10. RARBG

RARBG, which started out as a Bulgarian tracker several years ago, is the third newcomer in the top 10. Together with isoHunt.to it is the only website in the list that hasn’t been blocked in the UK, which may in part explain its popularity.

Alexa Rank: 1,867 / Compete Rank: 13,238 / Last year #NA

Disclaimer: Yes, we know that Alexa isn’t perfect and that Compete has plenty of flaws, but combined both do a pretty good job at comparing sites that operate in a similar niche. The Alexa rank for The Pirate Bay is estimated based on the ranking of the .sx domain and isoHunt’s Alexa ranking is based on the past month only.

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent Zeitgeist: What People Searched for in 2013

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

2013-tagDuring December, all self-respecting search engines produce an overview of the most popular search terms of the past year.

These lists give insight into recent trends, and in 2013 Nelson Mandela, Paul Walker and iPhone 5s were the top trending searches on Google.

But what about torrent search engines? With billions of searches every year it’s worth taking a look at the most-entered keywords on the dominant file-sharing network.

There is no central database of searches available, but Kickass.to, one of the top three torrent sites in terms of visitors, was kind enough to share the most popular search terms of 2013 with us. This list is based on millions of searches and gives an indication of what people were looking for on BitTorrent networks during the last 12 months.

Topping the lists this year is YIFY, which refers to the popular movie release group. The group has millions of dedicated followers who use the ‘YIFY’ tag to find its recent releases. The movies World War Z and Iron Man 3 complete the top three.

The top 10 contains three other movie title related searches: Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness and Now You See Me. The search term 2013, often used to find recent movies, is listed in sixth place.

Traditionally, TV-shows are much sought after on BitTorrent as well, and it’s no different this year. Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and Dexter made it into the top 10, followed by The Walking Dead and Suits further down the list.

Adult related searches are surprisingly absent among the popular search terms, and the same is true for music and game searches. The only non-video search in the top 50 is Windows 8 in 40th place.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that ITA, a term used to find Italian content and the most searched for keyword in 2011, dropped out of the top 50 entirely. This can be explained by the fact that KickassTorrent was blocked by all Italian Internet providers last year.

Below is the full list of the 50 most-entered search phrases on Kickass.to (minus site specific searches). This list will be different for each torrent site, but we assume that the top searches will be popular on other indexes as well.

1. yify
2. world war z
3. iron man 3
4. breaking bad
5. man of steel
6. 2013
7. game of thrones
8. Star Trek Into Darkness
9. now you see me
10. dexter
11. pacific rim
12. the lord of the rings appendices
13. despicable me 2
14. this is the end
15. french
16. jack reacher
17. the walking dead
18. oblivion
19. a good day to die hard
20. elysium
22. suits
22. fast and furious 6
23. arrow
24. true blood
25. the conjuring
26. after earth
27. White House Down
28. Django Unchained
29. percy jackson sea of monsters
30. 2 guns
31. gangster squad
32. olympus has fallen
33. under the dome
34. jack the giant slayer
35. warm bodies
36. life of pi
37. pain and gain
38. Hansel and Gretel 2013
39. spartacus
40. windows 8
41. grown ups 2
42. 1080p
43. hindi
44. red 2
45. skyfall
46. the hobbit
47. movie 43
48. argo
49. how i met your mother
50. telugu

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

TorrentFreak: The Matrix ASCII: Oldest Torrent Alive Turns 10 Years Old

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

matrix-ascii-smallA decade ago the Internet looked vastly different from how it does today. Torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and Torrentz were only a few months old, while Facebook and YouTube didn’t even exist.

Back then BitTorrent was a relatively unknown technology that, for the first time in history, allowed users to share large videos with groups of people all over the world.

One of the torrents that gained quite a bit of traction in the early days is an ASCII version of The Matrix. This piece of fan art is a re-coded version of the original movie in green text on a black background, resulting in a rather unique viewing experience.

Thanks to BitTorrent, the creator of The Matrix ASCII was able to share his work with thousands of people. Exactly 10 years ago today on December 20, 2003, the torrent for this release was created.

A few weeks later the torrent file was first shared online, along with an ASCII DVD cover and insert. In the months and years that followed thousands of copies of the film were downloaded worldwide, and even today it is still being shared by a dozen people every day.

To the best of our knowledge, this means that The Matrix ASCII is the oldest torrent that’s still being actively shared.

The.Matrix-ASCII screencap

matrix-ascii-large

Perhaps worried that Hollywood wouldn’t appreciate the effort, the DVD file comes with a small disclaimer.

“This work is a parody. As such I do not believe that this DVD has any possibility of competing with the original in any market. It is not for sale,” the disclaimer reads.

Prospective downloaders have very little to worry about though, as Warner Bros. is not known to go after this type of fan-art that’s created for non-commercial use.

The people who’ve downloaded a copy of The Matrix thus far responded mostly positively after watching the ASCII movie. That is, those who knew what to expect.

“This is absolutely INCREDIBLE!!! EASILY one of the coolest things I’ve EVER seen! Where’d you get the notion to do something like this!?!?!?!” one person noted in a comment highlighted on The Matrix ASCII website.

Others, who assumed that they had downloaded a copy of the original Matrix movie, were less happy with the ASCII version.

“Dude, tell me what to do with this Matrix ASCII, cause the picture is all green n stuff, can’t even see what’s going on. And, its in 4 VOB files, but why?” was the response of an unhappy downloader.

All in all it’s safe to say that The Matrix ASCII has become a fine piece of Internet history. The tale of its survival in itself has now become a reason for people to download it as a collectors’ item.

The question is, however, will it survive another decade?

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