Posts tagged ‘Torrent Sites’

TorrentFreak: Google’s New Search Downranking Hits Torrent Sites Hard

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

google-bayIn recent years Hollywood and the music industry have taken a rather aggressive approach against Google. The entertainment industry companies have accused the search engine of not doing enough to limit piracy, and demanded more stringent anti-piracy measures.

One of the suggestions often made is the removal or demotion of pirate sites in search results. A lower ranking would lead fewer people to pirate sources and promoting legal sources would have a similar effect, rightsholders argue.

While Google already began changing the ranking of sites based on DMCA complaints in 2012, it announced more far-reaching demotion measures last week. According to Google the new alghorithm changes would “visibly” lower the search rankings of the most notorious pirate sites, and they were right.

TorrentFreak has spoken with various torrent site owners who confirm that traffic from Google has been severely impacted by the recent algorithm changes. “Earlier this week all search traffic dropped in half,” the Isohunt.to team told us.

The drop is illustrated by a day-to-day traffic comparison before and after the changes were implemented, as shown below. The graph shows a significant loss in traffic which Isohunt.to solely attributes to Google’s recent changes.

Torrent site traffic drop
traffic drop

The downranking affects all sites that have a relatively high percentage of DMCA takedown requests. When Google users search for popular movie, music or software titles in combination with terms such as “download,” “watch” and “torrent”, these sites are demoted.

The new measures appear to be far more effective than previous search algorithm changes, and affect all major ‘pirate’ sites. Below is an overview of the SEO visibility of several large torrent sites in the UK and US, based on a list of 100 keywords.

Google SEO visibility torrent sites
seo-visibility

The true impact varies from site to site, depending on how much it relies on Google traffic. Confirming their earlier stance, The Pirate Bay team told TorrentFreak that they are not really concerned about the changes as they have relatively little traffic from Google.

“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,” they said.

To get an idea of how the search results have changed we monitored a few search phrases that were likely to be affected. The before and after comparisons, which are only three days apart, show that popular ‘pirate sites’ have indeed disappeared.

A search for “Breaking Bad torrent” previously featured Kickass.to, Torrentz.eu and Isohunt.com on top, but these have all disappeared. Interestingly, in some cases their place has been taken by other less popular torrent sites.

old – “Breaking Bad torrent” – new
breaking bad torrent

The top torrent sites have also vanished from a search for the movie The Social Network. “The Social Network download” no longer shows results from Kickass.to, ThePirateBay.se and Movie4k.to but shows the IMDb profile on top instead.

old – “The Social Network download” – new
the social network download

Searches for music tracks have changed as well. The phrase “Eminem lose yourself mp3″ no longer shows links to popular MP3 download sites such as MP3Skull.com, but points to legal sources and lesser known pirate sites.

old – “Eminem lose yourself mp3″ – new
eminemp3

The traffic data and search comparisons clearly show that Google’s latest downranking changes can have a severe impact on popular “pirate” sites. Ironically, the changes will also drive a lot of traffic to smaller unauthorized sources for the time being, but these will also be demoted as their takedown notice count increases.

Rinse and repeat.

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

TorrentFreak: Record Labels Obtain Orders to Block 21 Torrent Sites

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

stop-blockedHaving ISPs block file-sharing sites is a key anti-piracy strategy employed by major rightsholders in the UK. Both Hollywood-affiliated groups and the recording labels have obtained High Court orders alongside claims that the process is an effective way to hinder piracy.

Last week these rightsholders were joined by luxury brand owner Richemont, which successfully obtained orders to block sites selling counterfeit products. The outcome of that particular case had delayed decisions in other blocking applications, including one put forward by the record labels. Today the High Court ended its hiatus by processing a new injunction.

The application was made by record labels 1967, Dramatico Entertainment, Infectious Music, Liberation Music, Simco Limited, Sony Music and Universal Music. The labels represented themselves plus the BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) which together account for around 99% of all music legally available in the UK today.

Through their legal action the labels hoped to disrupt the activities of sites and services they believe to be enabling and facilitating the unlawful distribution of their copyright works. In this case the key targets were the 21 torrent sites listed below:

(1) bittorrent.am, (2) btdigg.org, (3) btloft.com, (4) bts.to, (5) limetorrents.com, (6) nowtorrents.com, (7) picktorrent.com, (8) seedpeer.me, (9) torlock.com, (10) torrentbit.net, (11) torrentdb.li, (12) torrentdownload.ws, (13) torrentexpress.net, (14) torrentfunk.com, (15) torrentproject.com, (16) torrentroom.com, (17) torrents.net, (18) torrentus.eu, (19) torrentz.cd, (20) torrentzap.com and (21) vitorrent.org.

As usual the UK’s leading Internet service providers – Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk, BT and EE – were named as defendants in the case. The ISPs neither consented to nor opposed the application but participated in order to negotiate the wording of any order granted.

In his ruling Justice Arnold noted that the sites listed in the application function in a broadly similar way to The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, sites that are already subjected to blocking orders. Perhaps surprisingly, efforts by some of the sites to cooperate with rightsholders meant little to the Court.

“All of [the sites] go to considerable lengths to facilitate and promote the downloading of torrent files, and hence infringing content, by their users,” Justice Arnold wrote.

“Although a few of the Target Websites pay lipservice to copyright protection, in reality they all flout it. Although a few of the Target Websites claim not to, they all have control over which torrent files they index.”

Also of interest is that Court didn’t differentiate between sites that allow users to upload torrents, those that store them, or those that simply harvest links to torrents hosted elsewhere.

“Thirteen of the Target Websites (bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd and vitorrent.org) do not permit uploads of torrent files by users, but gather all their links to torrent files using ‘crawling’ technology. No torrent files are stored on these websites’ own servers,” Justice Arnold explained.

“Nevertheless, the way in which the torrent files (or rather the links thereto) are presented, and the underlying technology, is essentially the same as in the cases of the other Target Websites.”

The Judge also touched on the efficacy of website blockades, citing comScore data which suggests that, on average, the number of UK visitors to already blocked BitTorrent sites has declined by 87%.

“No doubt some of these users are using circumvention measures which are not reflected in the comScore data, but for the reasons given elsewhere it seems clear that not all users do this,” Justice Arnold wrote.

bpiSpeaking with TF the BPI said that the 21 sites had been selected for blocking on the basis that they are amongst the most infringing sites available in the UK today. BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor said that having them rendered inaccessible would help both the music industry and consumers.

“Illegal sites dupe consumers and deny artists a fair reward for their work. The online black market stifles investment in new British music, holds back the growth of innovative legal services like Spotify and destroys jobs across Britain’s vital creative sector,” Taylor said.

“Sites such as these also commonly distribute viruses, malware and other unsafe or inappropriate content. These blocks will not only make the internet a safer place for music fans, they will help make sure there is more great British music in years to come.”

Finally, and mirroring a decision made in the Richemont case, Justice Arnold said that Internet subscribers affected by the block will be given the ability to apply to the High Court to discharge or vary the orders. Furthermore, when blocked site information pages are viewed by ISP subscribers in future, additional information will have to be displayed including details of the parties who obtained the block.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Removes Pirate Bay Search Box and Links

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

google-bayAbout a month ago Google announced its new and improved “sitelinks” sections.

This section appears when searching for keywords related to large sites, including YouTube and Twitter, and lists links to popular parts of the site.

Last week TorrentFreak reported that The Pirate Bay had also been added to this list. This allowed people to use Google to search Pirate Bay pages, complete with a pirate-themed AutoComplete function.

While this unusual addition was the work of algorithms, it was bound to upset some entertainment industry groups. After all, many copyright holders have been asking to make sites such as The Pirate Bay less visible in the search results, and this change was doing the opposite.

This is how a search for The Pirate Bay looked like until yesterday, complete with a search box and prominent sitelinks.

Pirate Bay search box and sitelinks
tpbsitelinks

Now, less than a week later the search bar no longer appears for Pirate Bay related content. Even more so, other prominent sitelinks which have been in place for more than a year are gone too.

Today, the only things left are a few rather small sitelinks under the site description, as shown below.

Pirate Bay ….
google-sitelinks-gone-tpb

TorrentFreak has confirmed that the sitelinks features were removed for several torrent sites including Isohunt.to and Torrentz.eu. For Google, Twitter and other sites the new search box remains online.

The removal of the search box and prominent links appears to be intentional. TorrentFreak learned that Google was not happy with the unintended feature for The Pirate Bay, and must have felt the need to take action.

While the removal may be a well intended move to keep copyright holders pleased, it places Google in a difficult position. It could be argued that if the sitelinks features have been removed due to the “infringing” aspects of a site, why still keep the site in search results at all?

To find out more TorrentFreak contacted Google, but the company didn’t wish to comment on the recent changes. Google did stress that the placing of the sitelinks is determined automatically.

“Not every site will get the sitelinks search box; it’s determined automatically based on a number of factors. As always, we’ll keep working to improve the quality of our search results,” a Google spokesperson says.

The comment evades the issue at hand, but it appears that these factors were changed recently to exclude The Pirate Bay and other “pirate” sites.

For now, however, all Pirate Bay pages remain indexed as usual. In that regard the recent change is mostly interesting from a political perspective, as a possible result on the entertainment’s continuing pressure on the search engine.

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

TorrentFreak: Twin Peaks Piracy Surges In Anticipation of Comeback

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

twinpeaksWhen the first Twin Peaks episode was broadcasted back in 1990, the World Wide Web didn’t yet exist.

But this week, nearly 25 years later, tens of thousands of people used it to browse to their favorite torrent sites and catch up with the show.

On Monday director David Lynch announced the comeback of the cult show which kept millions of people glued to their TV screens in the early nineties. The show, that some consider to be the beginning of today’s TV series boom, will start a new season in 2016.

The Twin Peaks revival has made headlines all over the world and many millions of people are anxious to see how the mystery continues.

This renewed attention also increased interest in the first two seasons, both from old fans and the younger generation who never saw how it all started. This was also noticeable on various torrent sites, where the numbers of Twin Peaks downloads skyrocketed over the past few days.

The interest in Twin Peaks never faded away completely. But instead of a few hundred daily downloads, the various season packs are now being downloaded more than 10,000 times a day.

Counting all the different release it’s estimated that Twin Peaks torrents were downloaded 75,000 times over the last week. This includes mostly full seasons, or complete packs of both seasons.

A few Twin Peaks downloads
twinp

This statistic pales in comparison to recent TV-shows, which can get well over a million downloads per week, but for a series from the early nineties it’s pretty impressive.

Most pirates seem to prefer the lower quality versions which are roughly 1.4 gigabyte for an entire season. Those pirates who prefer better quality don’t have to miss out though. There’s also a 79.99 gigabyte copy of “Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery.”

Depending on the release, the number of active sharers for each of these files increased up to tenfold. This surge is slowly fading off as time goes by but it’s certainly a sign that there’s plenty of interest among pirates too.

Whether this will eventually help or hurt the Twin Peaks revival will remain an unsolved puzzle for now.

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

TorrentFreak: Court Orders Immediate Pirate Site Blockade

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

Kino.to, at the time one of the world’s largest illegal streaming portals, was shut down in 2011 as part of Europe’s largest ever action against piracy sites.

However, just a month before Kino.to was dismantled, Austrian ISP ‘UPC’ was served with a preliminary injunction ordering it to block subscriber access to the site. The order had been obtained by the Hollywood-affiliated anti-piracy group VAP but it was called into doubt by the ISP. This led to the Austrian Supreme Court referring the matter to the European Court of Justice.

Earlier this year the ECJ handed down its widely publicized decision which stated that yes, in reasonable circumstances, pirate sites can indeed be blocked by European ISPs.

On the back of this ruling, VAP subsequently wrote to several local ISPs (UPC, 3, Tele2 and A1) demanding blockades of Movie4K.to and Kinox.to, a site that took over from Kino.to. This would become the test case on which all future blockades would be built.

When this formal request for the ISPs to block the sites was rejected, in August VAP sued the providers. And now, after more than three years of wrangling, VAP have finally got their way.

In a ruling handed down yesterday by the Commercial Court of Vienna, UPC, 3, Tele2 and A1 were ordered to block Movie4K and Kinox with immediate effect. According to Der Standard, UPC and A1 placed blocks on the sites within hours, with 3 and Tele2 expected to comply with the injunction today.

But while another important hurdle has now been overcome, there is some way to go before VAP will have achieved everything they initially set out to do. At issue now is how far the ISPs will have to go in order to comply with the court order. It’s understood that VAP requires DNS and IP address blocking at a minimum, but whether the ISPs intend to comply with that standard remains to be seen.

It’s important for VAP, and other anti-piracy groups waiting in the wings, that these technical steps are workable going forward. Both VAP and the IFPI have lists of sites they would like blocked in the same way as Movie4K and Kinox have been, so it’s crucial to them that blockades aren’t easily circumvented.

Once this issue has been dealt with, in the next few months it’s likely that attention will turn to legal action being planned by the IFPI. The recording group has taken on the task of having torrent sites blocked in Austria, starting off with The Pirate Bay, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to.

IFPI is expected to sue several ISPs in the hope that local courts will treat torrent sites in the same way as they have streaming services. Once that’s been achieved – and at this stage it seems likely – expect long lists of additional domains to be submitted to the courts.

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

TorrentFreak: The Art of Unblocking Websites Without Committing Crimes

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

networkThe blocking of sites such as The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Torrentz in the UK led to users discovering new ways to circumvent ISP-imposed censorship. There are plenty of solutions, from TOR and VPNs, to services with a stated aim of unblocking ‘pirate’ sites deemed illegal by UK courts.

Last month, however, dozens of these went offline when the operator of Immunicity and other related proxy services was arrested by City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. He now faces several charges including breaches of the Serious Crime Act 2007, Possession of Articles for Use in Fraud, Making or Supplying Articles for use in Frauds and money laundering.

While it’s generally accepted that running a site like The Pirate Bay is likely to attract police attention, merely unblocking a domain was not thought to carry any such risk. After all, visitors to torrent sites are just that, it’s only later on that they make a decision to infringe or not.

In our earlier article we discussed some of the possible reasons why the police might view “pirate” proxies to be illegal. However, there are very good arguments that general purpose proxies, even ones that are expressly setup to bypass filtering (and are able to unblock sites such as Pirate Bay), remain on a decent legal footing.

One such site is being operated by Gareth, a developer and networking guru who grew so tired of creeping Internet censorship he began lobbying UK MPs on the topic, later moving on to assist with the creation of the Open Rights Group’s Blocked.org.uk.

After campaigning and documenting Internet censorship issues for some time, Gareth first heard of last month’s proxy arrest during a visit to the United States.

“I was at DefCon in Las Vegas when the news of the Immunicity arrest reached me and I realized that for all my volunteer work, my open source applications, operation of Tor relays, donations and letters to MPs to highlight/combat the issues with Internet censorship, it was not enough,” the developer told TorrentFreak.

“I felt that this issue has moved from a political / technical issue to one about personal liberty and Internet freedom. e.g. first they came for the ‘pirate proxies’, then the Tor operators, then the ISPs that don’t censor their customers. The slippery slope is becoming a scary precipice.”

Since his return to the UK, Gareth has been busy creating his own independent anti-censorship tool. He’s researched in detail what happened to Immunicity, taken legal advice, and is now offering what he hopes is an entirely legal solution to website filtering and subsequent over-blocking (1)(2).

“Unlike Immunicity et al I’m not specifically building a ‘Pirate Proxy’. Granted people might use this proxy to navigate to torrent websites but were I to sell a laptop on eBay that same person may use it for the same reasons so I see no difference,” he explains.

“In fact Section 44, subsection 2 of the Serious Crimes Act 2007 even states [that an individual] is not to be taken to have intended to encourage or assist the commission of an offense merely because such encouragement or assistance was a foreseeable consequence of his act.”

The result of Gareth’s labor is the anti-censorship service Routing Packets is Not a Crime (RPINAC). People who used Immunicity in the past should feel at home, since RPINAC also utilizes the ability of popular browsers to use Proxy Auto-Config (PAC) files.

In the space of a couple of minutes and with no specialist knowledge, users can easily create their own PAC files covering any blocked site they like. Once configured, their browser will silently unblock them.

Furthermore, each PAC file has its own dedicated URL on RPINAC’s servers which users can revisit in order to add additional URLs for unblocking. PAC ‘unblock’ files can also be shared among like-minded people.

“When someone creates a PAC file they are redirected to a /view/ endpoint e.g. https://routingpacketsisnotacrime.uk/view/b718ce9b276bc2f10af90fe1d5b33c0d. This URL is not ephemeral, you can email it, tweet it (there is a tweet button on the left hand side of the site) etc and it will provide the recipient with the exact same view.

“It’ll show which URLs are specified to be proxied, which have been detected as blocked (using the https://blocked.org.uk database) and if the author passed along the password (assuming the PAC was password protected) they can add or remove URLs too,” Gareth explains.

“Each view page also has a comments section, this could allow for a small collection of individuals to co-ordinate with a smaller subset of password possessing moderators to create a crowd sourced PAC file in an autonomous fashion. There is also a ‘Clone’ button allowing anybody to create their own copy of the PAC file with their own name, description and password if the PAC file they’ve received isn’t quite what they need.”

This user-generated element of the process is important. While dedicated ‘pirate’ proxy sites specifically unblock sites already deemed illegal by the UK courts (and can be deemed to be facilitating their ‘crimes’), RPINAC leaves the decision of which sites to unblock completely down to the user. And since no High Court injunction forbids any user from accessing a blocked domain, both service and user remain on the right side of the law.

In terms of use, RPINAC is unobtrusive, has no popups, promotions or advertising, and will not ask for payment or donations, a further important legal point.

“To avoid any accusations of fraud and to avoid any tax implications RPINAC will never ask for donations,” the dev explains. “The current platform is pre-paid for at least a year, the domain for 10. At a bare minimum PAC file serving and education for creating local proxies will continue indefinitely.”

Finally, Gareth notes that without free and open source software his anti-censorship platform wouldn’t have been possible. So, in return, he has plans to release the source code for the project under the GPL 3.0 license.

RoutingPacketsIsNotACrime can be found here and is compatible with Firefox, Chrome, Safari and IE. Additional information can be sourced here.

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

TorrentFreak: UFC Pirate Apologizes & Settles Following $32m Lawsuit

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

ufcAccording to fans around the world, MMA is the fastest growing sport, bar none. The planet’s premier MMA production company is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, more often known as simply UFC.

In addition to events broadcast on regular TV, each month the UFC puts on special PPV cards. These cards attract a lot of attention and are a major money spinner for the martial arts organization. However, there are thousands of fans out there who prefer not to pay to view. For them, torrent sites are the answer.

Until the first few months of this year one of the most prolific releasers of UFC content was an individual known online as Secludedly. However, during April his activities came to an abrupt halt after he was targeted in a $32 million lawsuit filed by UFC parent company, Zuffa.

Secludedly was soon revealed to be Steven A. Messina, a 27-year-old from Staten Island, New York.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t understand the laws and all that around this type of thing, so I’m a little lost here and overwhelmed,” Messina told TorrentFreak at the time. “I don’t even know what is going on. I think people on the Internet know more than me.”

With a default judgment looming TorrentFreak further interviewed Messina who told us that he’d decided to launch a funding campaign to defend himself against Zuffa. He raised a few hundred dollars, nowhere near enough to take on the multi-billion valued company.

Then the inevitable happened. On June 4, 2014, a default judgment was entered against Messina and his fight with the UFC was over. The question now was how badly they’d choose to beat him up financially after the final bell.

All went quiet until early September when Zuffa filed for a permanent injunction to stop Messina pirating UFC content in the future. Behind the scenes the UFC and their arch-enemy had settled their case, with the only public record being the injunction jointly signed by the martial arts organization and Messina.

As can be seen from the excerpt from the injunction below, the UFC are keen to learn from Messina’s operation, and that means collecting all data they can from the New Yorker.

“This Court hereby enters an injunction requiring Defendant, Steven A Messina, to turn over to the plaintiff, Zuffa..[..].. any readily available information, processes, records accounts, bills received for the purchase of any UFC event, user profile names and identifications, domains utilized by Defendant and any user information for any website or computer used by, owned or controlled by Defendant that was used or assisted in the unauthorized access, streaming, copyright, uploading, downloading, distributing or public performance of any UFC event, including, but not limited to, the events that are the subject of the instant litigation,” the injunction reads.

Also of interest to Zuffa is the equipment used by Messina to pirate their content. The injunction cites a 2013 TorrentFreak article in which Messina explained how he captured super-smooth video. All equipment related to that must be surrendered to Zuffa including various pieces of software, scripts and storage devices.

In addition to restraining Messina from future piracy acts, the UFC are also allowed to check up on him to ensure compliance.

“Plaintiff shall be entitled to conduct all discovery permitted under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for the period of six (6) months from the date of the filing of this stipulation for the purpose of monitoring Defendant’s compliance with the terms of this permanent injunction,” the injunction reads.

There is no mention of a cash settlement and even if there was one it wouldn’t amount to much, certainly not $32 million. However, to act as a deterrent, the UFC has had Messina come out in public to both apologize and warn others away from the perils of piracy.

“I apologize to the UFC for any damages incurred as a result of my actions in illegally distributing copyrighted UFC broadcasts. As a result of my confession for piracy of UFC’s protected content, I fully accept the terms of the settlement with the UFC,” Messina said.

“I now realize the harm caused by my actions. It is my hope that I can use this difficult period as a learning experience as I move on with my life. I would also like to tell anyone pirating UFC broadcasts, either through illegal downloading or non-authorized streaming, that it is illegal and not worth the risk.”

Kirk Hendrick, UFC’s Chief Legal Officer, said the MMA organization was satisfied with the result.

“The UFC organization is pleased with the outcome of this case and Messina’s willingness to assist the UFC’s efforts in protecting our intellectual property and broadcasts. With Messina’s apology and understanding, the UFC organization will learn more to help us continue uncovering illegal distribution of our content.”

But while Messina may have been brought under control, the lawsuit against him has done nothing to stop content appearing online. Following last weekend’s Jacare vs Mousasi card, no less than five separate release groups uploaded the event online.

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

TorrentFreak: Tribler Makes BitTorrent Anonymous With Built-in Tor Network

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

boxedThe Tribler client has been around for more nearly a decade already, and during that time it’s developed into the only truly decentralized BitTorrent client out there.

Even if all torrent sites were shut down today, Tribler users would still be able to find and add new content.

But the researchers want more. One of the key problems with BitTorrent is the lack of anonymity. Without a VPN or proxy all downloads can easily be traced back to an individual internet connection.

The Tribler team hopes to fix this problem with a built-in Tor network, routing all data through a series of peers. In essence, Tribler users then become their own Tor network helping each other to hide their IP-addresses through encrypted proxies.

“The Tribler anonymity feature aims to make strong encryption and authentication the Internet default,” Tribler leader Dr. Pouwelse tells TF.

For now the researchers have settled for three proxies between the senders of the data and the recipient. This minimizes the risk of being monitored by a rogue peer and significantly improves privacy.

“Adding three layers of proxies gives you more privacy. Three layers of protection make it difficult to trace you. Proxies no longer need to be fully trusted. A single bad proxy can not see exactly what is going on,” the Tribler team explains.

“The first proxy layer encrypts the data for you and each next proxy adds another layer of encryption. You are the only one who can decrypt these three layers correctly. Tribler uses three proxy layers to make sure bad proxies that are spying on people can do little damage.”

Tribler’s encrypted Tor routing
wtvTMix

Today Tribler opens up its technology to the public for the first time. The Tor network is fully functional but for now it is limited to a 50 MB test file. This will allow the developers to make some improvements before the final release goes out next month.

There has been an increased interest in encryption technologies lately. The Tribler team invites interested developers to help them improve their work, which is available on Github.

“We hope all developers will unite inside a single project to defeat the forces that have destroyed the Internet essence. We really don’t need a hundred more single-person projects on ‘secure’ chat applications that still fully expose who you talk to,” Pouwelse says.

For users the Tor like security means an increase in bandwidth usage. After all, they themselves also become proxies who have to pass on the transfers of other users. According to the researchers this shouldn’t result in any slowdowns though, as long as people are willing to share.

“Tribler has always been for social and sharing people. Like private tracker communities with plenty of bandwidth to go around we think we can offer anonymity without slow downs, if we can incentivize people to leave their computers on overnight and donate,” Pouwelse says.

“People who share will have superior anonymous speeds,” he adds.

Those interested in testing Tribler’s anonymity feature can download the latest version. Bandwidth statistics are also available. Please bear in mind that only the test file can be transferred securely at the moment.

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

TorrentFreak: KickassTorrents Goes Secure, Encrypts Traffic For All Visitors

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

KATLike most Internet users, torrent site visitors prefer not to have their browsing habits exposed to third parties.

One way to prevent this from happening is by using SSL encryption. This is supported by more and more sites, and last year Google even went as far as encrypting all searches by default.

Most of the larger torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and Torrentz also offer SSL support. However, KickassTorrents is the first to force encryption. This means that everyone who visits the site will now be sending data over a secure https connection.

TorrentFreak spoke with the KickassTorrents team who told us that the new feature was implemented by popular demand.

“We’re just thinking about those people who will feel safer when they know all the data transferred between them and KAT is completely encrypted. People requested it, so we respond,” the KAT team informs TF.

SSL encryption will prevent one’s boss, school, or ISP from monitoring what pages are visited what data is sent or retrieved from the site. However, it’s still possible to see that the KickassTorrents domain was accessed, and how much time was spent there.

Also, it’s worth emphasizing that it doesn’t anonymize the visitor’s IP-addresses in any way, as a VPN or proxy might.

That said, enabling encryption is a good way for KickassTorrents to offer its users a little more security. On top of that, Google recently noted that it would prioritize SSL encrypted sites in its search results, something the site’s operators probably wont mind either.

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

TorrentFreak: Four ISPs Sued For Failing To Block Pirate Movie Sites

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

pirate-cardFavorable rulings in both the European Court of Justice and the local Supreme Court earlier this year gave Austrian anti-piracy groups the power they needed to move forward on site-blocking.

What transpired was an attack from two directions. The first involved VAP, the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry. The second was launched by the local branch of IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

In late July, VAP wrote to UPC, Drei, Tele2 and A1 with a request for the ISPs to block ThePirateBay.se plus streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. Days later in a letter dated August 4, the IFPI asked five local ISPs to block access to four torrent sites – ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to.

Unfortunately for VAP and the IFPI, the ISPs were going to need more than just a letter to begin censoring the Internet. By mid August, with their deadlines expired, none had initiated blockades. That led to threats of lawsuits from both anti-piracy groups.

With August now drawing to a close, VAP has made good on its word. CEO Werner Müller confirmed to German media that his organization has now sued four Austrian ISPs. Müller would not be drawn on their names, but DerStandard spoke with UPC and A1 who both confirmed receiving letters.

“[The decision on blocking] should be left to the judgment of a judge, since in a specific case the rights of Internet users and the movie / music industry can be weighed more,” said A1 spokeswoman Livia Dandrea-Böhm. “We will now take a position in the time allowed by the court. Thereafter, the judge has to decide.”

Of further interest is VAP’s decision to exclude The Pirate Bay from their legal action and only sue for blockades against kinox.to and movie4k.to. There are suggestions that this could prove an easier legal route for VAP as the local Supreme Court is already familiar with the operations of Kinox and Movie4K, sites similar in structure to the now defunct Kino.to, the site which originally prompted calls for blocks in Austria.

However, The Pirate Bay will not escape so easily. The IFPI will tackle the infamous torrent site alongside others including isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to. The music group is expected to sue several ISPs to force a blockade, although papers are still being drawn up.

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

TorrentFreak: Major Torrent Sites and Google Purge The Expendables 3

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

With The Expendables 3 now officially released in theaters, the autopsy over its leak last month and the potential effects on box office figures has begun.

Many news outlets reported yesterday that the first weekend’s takings represent a flop for the third in the Expendables franchise and, of course, those closest to Hollywood are pointing the figure firmly at piracy.

But on the ground, on some of the very sites accused of facilitating piracy of the action movie, there are signs which suggests that this leaked title is being treated somewhat differently to any that have gone before.

LimeTorrents

Noting that the site was named in a Lions Gate lawsuit, TF monitored for the presence of The Expendables 3 torrents on popular torrent site LimeTorrents. The result is shown in the image below.

Lime-Expend

While the site lists 14 torrents, not a single working Expendables 3 torrent appears in the search results. The three that do appear are sponsored links that do not lead to anything useful.

But while LimeTorrents are clearly doing all they can to comply with the terms of a lawsuit, other sites that have not been named by Lions Gate also appear to have been taking action.

KickassTorrents

KickassTorrents is the world’s second largest torrent site and the go-to place for many looking for fresh content. However, anyone searching for leaked Expendables 3 torrents will be going home disappointed. There are currently nine torrents returned in results, all of which are trailers. The leaked movie cannot be found.

Kick-expend

It’s worth noting that like many of the leading torrent sites, Kickass removes torrents following copyright holder requests, so that goes someway to explaining why the Expendables 3 torrents have all disappeared. What is notable, however, is that no fresh ones seem to be reappearing as is usually the case.

RARBG

There’s a similar story over at RARBG, the site placed 10th in our Top Torrent Sites 2014 post. A search produces the two torrents shown in the screenshot below and as they clearly point out, these definitely ain’t The Expendables.

rarbg

BitSnoop

The effect of these takedowns, whether from rightsholders or introduced on a voluntary basis, can also be seen on torrent sites that specialize in indexing torrents found elsewhere. BitSnoop, the 9th most popular torrent site online with an index of 23 million torrents, currently has none related to The Expendables 3.

bitsnoop-expend

Torrentz

Over at Torrentz, a meta-search engine that indexes content on other sites, we can see that just four torrents are returned following an Expendables 3 search, none of which are the movie in question.The links at the top are sponsored and don’t relate to torrents.

The note at the bottom reveals that 41 torrent links have been removed following DMCA notices and their euro equivalent. Again, no more torrents seem to be reappearing.

torrentz-expend

Google

While torrents disappearing and not reappearing within major torrent sites is quite unusual in itself, perhaps the most dramatic effect can be seen in Google search results.

As previously documented, Lions Gate has put in a herculean effort to have listings removed. This, combined with any torrent site self-censorship efforts, has resulted in a tiny number of usable entries in the first 20 pages of Google results for common searches such as ‘The Expendables 3 + download + torrent’.

Of course, more experienced downloaders and those who persevere through a few searches can still find torrents and other ways to watch the movie. Torrents still remain on The Pirate Bay too, but there are clear signs that the leak of this movie is being treated differently from any other in recent memory, and not only by those involved in its legal distribution either.

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

TorrentFreak: I Visited Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde in Prison, Here’s What he Had to Say

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

sunde-small— by Julia Reda

It wasn’t easy to meet Peter in prison. Initially, his request for the approval of my visit was rejected, as have been requests on behalf of other friends. It was only when he read up on the regulations and filed a complaint – pointing out my status as an elected representative of the European Parliament – that my visit was approved.

He tells me that this is par for the course in prison. “If you don’t constantly insist upon your rights, you will be denied them”. Repeatedly, he had to remind the guards that they’re not allowed to open confidential mail he receives from journalists. His alleged right to an education or occupation during his jail time in practice amounted to being given a beginners’ Spanish book.

“Prison is a bit like copyright,” Peter remarks. In both areas, there is a lack of transparency and the people in power profit from the fact that the average person doesn’t pay a lot of attention to the issue. That opens the door to misuse and corruption.

Few people feel directly affected by these systems (even though a lot of Internet users commit copyright infringements, many don’t even realize that they are breaking laws and suffer no repercussions). Hence it is difficult to get traditional politics to change even the most blatant injustices that these systems produce. I ask him whether his imprisonment has changed his political views.

“It has confirmed them,” he replies. “I knew the system was broken before, but now I know to what extent.”

“The worst thing is the boredom”, Peter informs me when I ask him about life in prison. He gives an account of his daily routine: “I have soy yoghurt and muesli for breakfast, which I was recently allowed to buy from my own money, as the prison doesn’t offer any vegan food.”

That is followed by one hour of exercise – walking around the yard in circles – and sometimes the chance to play ping-pong or visit the prison library in the afternoon, before Peter is locked in his cell for the night. The only other distraction comes from the dozens of letters Peter receives every day.

Not all the books that his friends and supporters send make their way to him – they are screened for “inappropriate content” first. Other items that arrive in the mail, such as vegan candy, won’t be handed out to him until after his release, “but at least the prison has to catalog every single thing you send me, which pisses them off,” Peter says with a wink.

While his notoriety mostly comes from his role in founding the Pirate Bay, Peter has been critical of the platform’s development for a long time and has been focusing his energy on other projects.

“There should be 10,000 Pirate Bays by now!” he exclaims. “The Internet was built as a decentralized network, but ironically it is increasingly encouraging centralization. Because The Pirate Bay has been around for 11 years now, almost all other torrent sites started relying on it as a backbone. We created a single point of failure and the development of file sharing technology got stuck.”

In Peter’s eyes, the Pirate Bay has run its course and turned into a commercial enterprise that has little to do with the values it was founded on. Nowadays, the most important battles for an open Internet take place elsewhere, he says, noting that the trend towards centralization is not limited to file sharing.

Facebook alone has turned into its own little walled-garden version of the Internet that a lot of users would be content using without access to the wider Net. At the same time, services from Google to Wikipedia are working on distribution deals that make their services available to people without real Internet access.

One step to counter this trend towards centralization could be data portability, the right to take all one’s personal data from a service such as Facebook and bring it along to a competitor. The right to data portability is part of the proposed European data protection regulation that is currently stuck in negotiations among the EU member states.

“Having data portability would be a great step forward, but it’s not enough. Portability is meaningless without competition.” Peter says.

“As activists and entrepreneurs, we need to challenge monopolies. We need to build a Pirate social network that is interoperable with Facebook. Or build competition to small monopolies before they get bought up by the big players in the field. Political activism in parliaments, as the Pirate Party pursues it, is important, but needs to be combined with economic disruptions.

“The Internet won’t change fundamentally in the next two years, but in the long-term, the effects of the decisions we take today can be dramatic.”

According to Peter, establishing net neutrality, especially on mobile networks, will be one of the crucial fights. The Internet may have started out as a non-commercial space, but is entirely ruled by business arguments nowadays, and without net neutrality, large corporations will be able to strengthen their monopolies and stifle innovation. A pushback will be needed from small enterprises as well as civil society – but those groups struggle to be heard in political debates as they often lack the financial resources for large-scale lobbying efforts.

Although Peter is visibly affected by his imprisonment and talks about struggling with depression, he has not stopped making plans for the future. “Things will get easier once I get out. I’ve been a fugitive for two years and could hardly go to conferences or would have to show up unannounced.”

Once his eight month sentence has come to an end, Peter wants to get back to activism. When I ask about his upcoming projects, he starts grinning and tells me to be patient.

“All I can say now is that I’m brimming with ideas and that one of my main goals will be to develop ethical ways of funding activism. You often need money to change things. But most ways of acquiring it require you to compromise on your ideals. We can do better than that.”

Peter is now hoping for his prison sentence to eventually be transformed into house arrest, which would allow him to see his critically ill father and spend less time in isolation. Whether that happens will largely depend on whether the Swedish state will continue to view a file-sharing activist as a serious threat to the public. In a society where the majority of young people routinely break copyright law simply by sharing culture, that view seems entirely unsustainable.

About The Author

Julia Reda is a German politician for the Pirate Party Germany and a member of the European Parliament since 2014, where she serves as a Vice-President of the Greens/EFA group. She is also the chairperson of the Young Pirates of Europe.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time Hit By Massive DDoS Attack

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

popcornEvery year sees periods when sites in the file-sharing sector are subjected to denial of service attacks. The attackers and their motives are often unknown and eventually the assaults pass away.

Early in 2014 many torrent sites were hit, pushing some offline and forcing others to invest in mitigation technology. In May a torrent related host suffered similar problems.

Today it’s the turn of the main open source Popcorn Time fork to face the wrath of attackers unknown. TorrentFreak spoke with members of the project including Ops manager XeonCore who told us that the attack is massive.

“We are currently mitigating a large scale DDoS attack across our entire network. We are currently rerouting all traffic via some of our high bandwidth nodes and are working on imaging and getting our remaining servers back online to help deal with the load,” the team explain.

The attack is project-wide with huge amounts of traffic hitting all parts of the network, starting with the site hosting the Popcorn Time source code.

Attack on the source code site – 980Mbps

source

Also under attack is the project’s CDN and API. The graph below shows one of the project’s servers located in France. The green shows the normal traffic from the API server, the blue represents the attack.

Attack on the France API server – 931Mbps

france-api

Not even the project’s DNS servers have remained untouched. At one point two of three DNS servers went down, with a third straining under almost 1Gbps of traffic. To be sure, a fourth DNS server was added to assist with the load.

Attack on the Dutch DNS server – peaking at 880Mbps

dutch-dns

All told the whole network is being hit with almost 10Gbps of traffic, but the team is working hard to keep things operational.

“We’ve added additional capacity. Our DNS servers are currently back up and running but there is still severe congestion around Europe and America. Almost 10Gbps across the entire network. Still working on mitigating. API is still online for most users!” they conclude.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and it’s certainly possible things will remain that way. Only time will tell when the attack will subside, but the team are determined to keep their project online in the meantime.

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

TorrentFreak: Exploring the Legal Basis for the New ‘Pirate’ Proxy War

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

Since the launch of Operation Creative last year, UK police have contacted a range of so-called ‘pirate’ sites while giving their operators the opportunity to shut down quietly to avoid further action. It was pretty much certain that torrent and streaming sites would be prime targets, and we’ve seen that play out in recent months.

This week, however, PIPCU delivered a surprise. Instead of going after sites that host or link to infringing material, they targeted a series of sites that have never done so, arresting their alleged operator in the process.

Reverse Proxies

So-called ‘reverse proxies’ are not file-sharing sites, they merely restore access to third-party sites that have been rendered inaccessible by ISPs, as the result of a court order for example. The sites that were closed down this week enabled users to access The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, even if their ISP actively blocks the site.

The police intervention raises many questions, none of which will be officially answered while an investigation is underway. So, in order to try and fill in some of the blanks, TorrentFreak spoke with expert intellectual property lawyer Darren Meale to explore a possible basis for this week’s arrest of a proxy site operator.

“Internet users have sought ways to continue to access the sites by getting round the blocking put in place by the ISPs. One of the ways to do this is to use proxy servers. This operation is a major step in tackling those providing such services.” – FACT director Kieron Sharp commenting this week on the proxy shutdowns.

Breach of a High Court order?

Darren Meale: “The individual has been accused of helping Internet users access websites which the English High Court has ordered the major UK ISPs to block. That order arose in a civil, not a criminal action, and only applies to the ISPs in question. If it applied to the individual and he ignored the Court order, he would be in contempt of court and a judge could commit him to prison. But I don’t understand that to be what is going on here.”

Assisting a criminal enterprise?

So, with the High Court blocks a potential red herring, our attention is turned to the activities of the sites being unblocked by the proxies, and how merely facilitating access to those sites might be perceived as an offense by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit.

Darren Meale: “Sites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents have been the subject of all sorts of civil and criminal actions around the world, but are tricky to target because of where they are based and the way they operate. That’s why initiatives like site blocking have become popular in the UK.

“The rights owners, police and other authorities can’t get their hands on the sites directly, at least not practically. Of course, that doesn’t mean that those sites aren’t still committing criminal offenses.

“Although we tend to think of copyright infringement as a civil wrong, it is also a criminal offense provided it is carried out ‘in the course of business’. Sites like KAT run as a commercial enterprise and make a lot of money out of advertising, so there is a pretty strong case that they are committing criminal offenses, including in the UK.”

If sites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents are committing crimes, others can also commit crimes by helping them, Meale says.

Darren Meale: “The Serious Crime Act 2007 makes it a crime to intentionally encourage or assist someone else committing a crime, in the same way as it used to be a crime to ‘incite’ someone to commit a crime.

“The UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has previously accused operators of file-sharing websites of committing crimes of this nature. PIPCU’s statement in this matter also refers to its intention to ‘come down hard on people believed to be committing or deliberately facilitating such offenses’.

“These kinds of ‘inchoate‘ offenses are, in my view, the most likely candidate for what this individual has been arrested for.”

But other ISPs are facilitating access to illegal sites too..

Only six ISPs in the UK have been ordered to block sites like The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents, the others are, at this very moment, knowingly facilitating access to these potentially criminal sites. How is it that a proxy service operator now finds himself in hot water while these ISPs continue with no repercussions?

Meale points out that the L’Oreal v eBay decision found that service providers (eBay in that case) had no duty to police their services for infringement. Also, service providers benefit from safe harbors under the E-commerce Directive, rendering them immune from prosecution in certain circumstances.

Darren Meale: “However, there is a difference between providing Internet access generally (which ISPs do) and providing a service or website which sets out to link to another, illegal, website. An attempt to make ISPs liable for what flows through them in the same way as someone running a file-sharing site failed in Australia in a case called iiNet. I think the same distinction would be drawn in Europe and the UK.

“Providing general Internet access: OK subject to exceptions such as if the ISP is hosting. But setting up a service designed to help people access illegal websites: that’s much more dubious. That’s not to say that the legal issues that surround all this are straightforward – they’re not.”

Conclusion

What shines through following the events of this week is how untested the waters are in cases such as these. Whether PIPCU intends to follow this matter through to the bitter end (risking a potentially unfavorable outcome) remains to be seen, but it’s possible that won’t be needed.

At this point they have already achieved the total closure of all targeted sites along with the seizure of their domains. That, along with a clear message to others mulling the same course of action might, in the overall scheme of things, be considered “mission accomplished.”

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

TorrentFreak: Blocking Pirate Bay is Not Censorship, IFPI Chief Says

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

censorshipEarlier this year a landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice confirmed that ISPs can be forced to block “infringing” websites, providing it’s done in a proportionate manner.

The ruling was prompted by a movie distributor case originating in Austria, so it comes as no surprise that local record companies are now seeking to make the most of it.

Earlier this week the local branch of the IFPI wrote to local ISPs with a demands that they block The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, 1337x and H33t within days. While the development was welcomed by many pro-copyright entities, among many in the Internet community the feeling persists that site blocking amounts to censorship.

Now, IFPI Austria CEO Franz Medwenitsch has countered with his opinion, explaining that the term “Internet blocking” is both misleading and controversial, and that web blockades cannot be considered a restriction of free speech.

“Barring is misleading and downright polemical. No one wants to deny access to the Internet!” the IFPI chief explains.

“[Our action is] therefore isolated to prevent access to specific websites that offer illegal content and massively engage in copyright infringement. This is a legitimate means of legal protection, the Austrian Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union have justified it.”

In his FutureZone piece, Medwenitsch discusses critics’ perception that blocking websites interferes with fundamental rights such as freedom of information.

“Blocking access to illegal sites is explicitly compatible with the Charter of Fundamental Rights,” he contends, adding that comments to the contrary cannot be equated with the those shared by “the people of Europe.”

“According to a GfK survey last year, 83 percent of those surveyed in Austria alone – equivalent to more than six million people – held the opinion that artists have a right to their intellectual property and to be paid for the use of their works,” Medwenitsch notes.

But just as it’s clear that the blocking of websites has many opponents on fundamental rights grounds, the notion that blockades amount to censorship is an even more thorny issue. Medwenitsch does not share those feelings.

“Censorship is the suppression of free speech and everyone who lives in a democratic society categorically rejects censorship,” the IFPI chief says.

“But what has freedom of expression got to do with generating advertising revenues by illegally offering tens of thousands of movies and music recordings on the Internet with disregard for creators and artists? And yet the freedom of the author to determine the use of their works themselves is trampled!”

Medwenitsch says that individual freedoms have their limits and must be brought to an end when they begin to limit the freedoms of others. In other words, people can have free access to sites while those operating them aren’t infringing on the rights of the recording industry.

Finally, Medwenitsch criticizes those who accuse the industry of concentrating on blocking sites like The Pirate Bay while failing to adapt their business models. The industry has indeed adapted, the IFPI chief insists, but unauthorized services inhibit growth and need to be dealt with.

“The fact is the digital music services on the Internet today carry 37 million songs. There are 230 digital platforms in Europe – in Austria there are 40 – and the European user numbers have already reached 100 million,” he explains.

“The development of the digital market will take a long time due to the inhibiting factors of illegal offerings. Therefore, on the one hand we will investment in new platforms, and on the other hand, take measures against illegal sites.”

It remains unclear whether site blocking is having any effect on the availability of infringing content or the numbers of people consuming it. Safe to say, no group has yet put their head above the parapet and presented sales figures to clearly show that is the case.

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

TorrentFreak: BTindex Exposes IP-Addresses of BitTorrent Users

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

spyUnless BitTorrent users are taking steps to hide their identities through the use of a VPN, proxy, or seedbox, their downloading habits are available for almost anyone to snoop on.

By design the BitTorrent protocol shares the location of any user in the swarm. After all, without knowing where to send the data nothing can be shared to begin with.

Despite this fairly common knowledge, even some experienced BitTorrent users can be shocked to learn that someone has been monitoring their activities, let alone that their sharing activity is being made public for the rest of the world to see.

Like it or not, this is exactly what the newly launched torrent search engine BTindex is doing.

Unlike most popular torrent sites BTindex adds new content by crawling BitTorrent’s DHT network. This is already quite unique as most other sites get their content from user uploads or other sites. However, the most controversial part without doubt is that the IP-addresses of BitTorrent users are being shared as well.

People who download a file from The Pirate Bay or any other torrent site expose their IP-addresses via the DHT network. BTindex records this information alongside the torrent metadata. The number of peers are displayed in the search results and for each file a selection of IP-addresses is made available to the public.

The image below shows a selection of peers who shared a pirated copy of the movie “Transcendence,” this week’s most downloaded film.

Some IP-addresses sharing “Transcendence.”
btindexips

Perhaps even more worrying to some, the site also gives an overview of all recorded downloads per IP-address. While the database is not exhaustive there is plenty of dirt to be found on heavy BitTorrent users who have DHT enabled in their clients.

Below is an example of the files that were shared via the IP-address of a popular VPN provider.

Files shared by the IP-address of a popular VPN provider
btindexvpnips

Since all data is collected through the DHT network people can avoid being tracked by disabling this feature in their BitTorrent clients. Unfortunately, that only gives a false sense of security as there are plenty of other monitoring firms who track people by gathering IP-addresses directly from the trackers.

The idea to index and expose IP-addresses of public BitTorrent users is not entirely new. In 2011 YouHaveDownloaded did something similar. This site generated considerable interest but was shut down a few months after its launch.

If anything, these sites should act as a wake up call to people who regularly share files via BitTorrent without countermeasures. Depending on the type of files being shared, a mention on BTindex is probably the least of their worries.

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

TorrentFreak: IFPI Wants Major Torrent Sites Blocked in Days

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

A long-running legal case involving an Austrian anti-piracy group, a local ISP, and both the Supreme Court and European Court of Justice came to an end this July.

The case, which centered around the now-defunct movie site Kino.to, concluded with both courts agreeing that provided any action is both balanced and proportional, Internet service providers could be forced to block copyright-infringing websites.

Taking that decision and running with it, the IFPI in Austria has now written to the country’s largest Internet service providers with demands that they block several of the world’s largest torrent sites.

In a letter dated today, five ISPs were given less than two weeks to block subscriber access to ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to.

IFPI says the sites are “internationally known piracy portals” which have already been blocked in UK, Belgium, Ireland, Finland and Denmark.

The music industry group, which protects the rights of the world’s largest recording labels, notes that its blocking request is reasonable given that the sites’ engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material for profit.

“The foundation for website-blocking in Austria was created following a four year process involving the European Court of Justice,” IFPI’s Franz Medwenitsch added in a statement.

“The sites are all internationally known, structurally-infringing BitTorrent portals. Of course, we do not want to have access to the Internet itself blocked, only access to these four sites.”

The ISPs have been given until August 14 to implement the blockades, but whether they will have any effect remains to be seen. The Pirate Bay, the world’s most-blocked torrent site, recently informed TF that despite years of blockages, its traffic has doubled overall.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Sites Stay Blocked Long After World Cup Ends

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

stopstopWhile news of site blockades breaks every month (oftentimes more frequently) reports that sites have been unblocked are far less regular events.

In fact, it’s becoming apparent that aside from isolated instances, once websites get put on national blocklists in the UK or Italy, for example, it is unlikely that they will become readily available again.

Since no one in power is lobbying for blocked sites to be removed from censorship filters, sites such as The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents will probably remain blocked indefinitely. There are no immediately obvious time-out events attached to these injunctions and there’s certainly no one prepared to go to court to argue over the details.

Such sunset clauses are important though, as India is finding out.

Back in July a TV network owned by Sony went to court in India to have hundreds of sites blocked at the ISP level after they allegedly made World Cup matches available online without permission.

The 472 sites requested was reduced to 219 after an appeal by ISPs, but the injunction was still one of the broadest to date anywhere in the world. Whether it reduced piracy or placed money in Sony’s back pocket is anyone’s guess, but now – long after the World Cup ended – the blockades are still in place.

Medianama says it has carried out tests and discovered that The Pirate Bay, Mega.co.nz, TorrentHound, LimeTorrents and TorrentFunk among dozens of others are still inaccessible through local ISPs.

The news outlet also contacted Multi Screen Media, the Sony company behind the blocks, asking whether the company had asked for the blocks to be removed and why Dotcom’s Mega was targeted. The company did not respond.

While some will argue that having sites blocked is a legitimate response to online piracy, it is difficult to maintain that stance long after any infringements cited in court cases have ended. That said, ex parte hearings are by their nature one-side, so it’s unlikely anyone will be looking out for the rights of their rivals anytime soon.

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

TorrentFreak: BitTorrent to Crowdfund TV-Show Through New Paywall

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

bundleFollowing in the footsteps of FrostWire and VODO, BitTorrent Inc. launched an artist promotion program a few years ago.

The idea was to let artists share their work for free, exposing it to millions of BitTorrent users all around the world.

Helped by a massive user base of more than 170 million the program has been very successful. But, aside from promotion some artists would also like to see some hard cash in return. This is now an option thanks to the “paygate” uTorrent’s parent company will launch this September.

The walled content can only be accessed and shared after a user pays a fixed fee to the creator. To prevent users from sharing it without permission there will be some restrictions in place.

The paywall idea was initially announced last year and film producer Marco Weber will be one of the first to try it in the wild. Through BitTorrent, Weber will release a pilot of the new TV-series “Children of the Machine” and those who like it can pay $9.95 to buy the entire series.

“If viewers fall in love with the show, they can purchase the entire series in advance via Bundle paygates. Once the funding threshold is reached — 250K subscribers — the first season will be produced, and delivered back to the fans who kicked in to support the project,” BitTorrent announces.

The filmmaker chose the crowdfunding format, which means that if the project is not funded the series will never see the light of day. This is a serious possibility as no artists have ever raised more than a few thousand dollars, even though many have tried.

The film producer is nevertheless confident that the the project will turn into a success.

“With over 170 million users, BitTorrent is a powerhouse. Add in paygates, and you have a fantastic tool to distribute content to a growing, influential youth audience,” Weber says.

The good news is that many of these millions of BitTorrent users are already familiar with downloading TV-shows, be it without permission. However, an often heard excuse for this deviant behavior is that it takes too long before an episode becomes available through legal channels, so whether these people will be patient enough to prepay a series months in advance will remain to be seen.

Both Weber and BitTorrent Inc. have to be applauded for giving it a try and it will be interesting to see the results.

BitTorrent isn’t the first to experiment with these new models though. The VODO platform has used a similar paywall system for quite some time, and together with The Pirate Bay and several other torrent sites they helped to crowdfund the TV-series Pioneer One.

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

TorrentFreak: Adobe Says Piracy is Down, But Photoshop Still Rules Pirate Bay

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

There can be little doubt that Adobe products are a crowd pleaser among digital creatives. Designers love them, photographers and videographers do too, and Adobe’s Photoshop, Flash and Acrobat brands are recognized worldwide.

But while millions of people use Adobe’s premium products, not everyone pays for that privilege. Unauthorized Photoshop releases have been appearing on computers worldwide for 25 years and other Adobe products are regularly pirated close to their launch. Over time this has led Adobe to invest substantial sums of money on anti-piracy measures including DRM and even legal action. But there are other ways to deal with the problem.

In May last year and much to the disappoint of Adobe’s millions of pirate ‘customers’, the company announcemend that it would be changing the way it does business. Boxed products, a hangover from the last decade and earlier, would be phased out and replaced with a cloud-based subscription model.

On the one hand, many pirates heard the word “cloud” and associated that with a lack of local machine control, something that can cause issues when trying to run unlicensed software. Adobe, on the other hand, appeared to be looking at product development and the piracy problem from a different angle.

While attempts at hacking its cloud service would present another technical barrier to piracy, with its new offering the tech giant also looked towards making its product more affordable. A few dollars a month rather than $700 in one go was aimed at providing an economic reason for even the most budget-restricted not to pirate. But has the strategy worked?

According to new comments from Fabio Sambugaro, VP of Enterprise Latin America at Adobe, unauthorized use of the company’s products is definitely down since the cloud switch.

“Piracy has fallen,” Sambugaro says. “It’s hard to measure, but we’ve seen many companies seeking partnerships that in the past wouldn’t have done so.”

According to information released to investors last month, Adobe exited quarter two this year with 2,308,000 subscribers of its Creative Cloud service, an increase of 464,000 over the first quarter of 2014. The company attributed 53% of the company’s quarter two revenue to “recurring sources” such as its Creative and Marketing Cloud services.

So have the pirates given up on Adobe? In a word, no.

One only has to scour the indexes of the world’s most popular torrent sites to see that Photoshop, Photoshop Lightroom, Illustrator, Premiere, Indesign, After Effects and Acrobat Pro all take prominent places in the charts of most-popular torrents. No surprise then that on The Pirate Bay, Photoshop CS6 – the last version of Photoshop before the cloud switch – is king of the software downloads by a long way.

Also, and contrary to fears aired by pirates alongside Adobe’s original strategy change announcement, the cloud has not made it impossible to run unauthorized versions of Photoshop CC 2014, for example. Expected functional restrictions aside, torrent sites have plenty of working copies of Creative Cloud releases, but is this necessarily a bad thing?

There are those who believe that some level of piracy is useful as a try-before-you-buy option on a traditionally expensive product such as Photoshop. But what makes this notion even more interesting today is that Adobe’s switch to the cloud – and its much lower price point for entry – may see people investing a few dollars a month for increased functionality and a simple life, instead of one spent jumping through hoops with an inferior and oftentimes awkward product.

And Adobe knows it.

“I do not think people who pirate our software do it because they are bad people, or because they like to steal things. I just think that they decided that they can not afford it,” said Adobe’s David Wadhwani previously.

“And now, with the switch to subscriptions and with the ability to offer software at a cheaper price, we see that the situation is beginning to change and we’re excited.”

Richard Atkinson, Corporate Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy, admitted last year that the company would move away from “enforcement-led anti piracy” to a “business-focused pirate-to-pay conversion program.”

If the company is to be believed, that is now paying off.

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

TorrentFreak: Hollywood Fails to Add Torrent Sites to Child Abuse Filter

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

stop-blockedWebsite blocking has become one of the music and movie industries’ favored weapons in their seemingly endless fight against online piracy. Blocks of torrent and other sharing sites are in place in many countries around Europe, mainly due to court injunctions forcing ISPs to take action against copyright infringement.

While legal action is one way of introducing a blockade, other methods require much less time, effort and money. This week the spotlight was placed on the UK, where the government has pressured ISPs to introduce default-on filtering for their subscribers, ostensibly for the protection of children. The result is huge overblocking and conveniently for the entertainment industries, hundreds – possibly thousands – of file-sharing sites wiped out with the correct settings.

With the right level of knowledge these filters can be turned off, but other more serious national anti-child abuse mechanisms cannot.

The UK’s Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) maintains a blocklist of URLs that point to sexual child abuse content. Over in New Zealand the Department of Internal Affairs maintains DCEFS, the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System. Both are run in cooperation with the countries’ ISPs with the sole aim of keeping the most objectionable material away from public eyes.

Today, however, it’s been revealed that Hollywood attempted to broaden the remit of New Zealand’s DCEFS in order to protect their own interests.

The Motion Pictures Distributors Association (MPDA) has a familiar sounding name and unsurprisingly has some well-known backers. Fox, Sony, Paramount, Disney, Universal and Roadshow are all members of the group which coordinates the distribution of movies in New Zealand.

According to a RadioLIVE report, in order to prevent copyright infringement the studios requested access to the DCEFS child abuse filtering system.

After obtaining government permission, Hollywood hoped to add their own list of sites to DCEFS so that by default subscribers to New Zealand’s main ISPs would be prohibited from accessing torrent and other file-sharing type sites.

But in the face of objections from both the ISPs and the Kiwi government, Hollywood was forced to scrap its plans.

“[The ISPs] were not prepared to agree to that extension and in any case it would have shifted the mandate somewhat from [the Department of Internal Affairs'] primary focus on preventing sexual abuse of young children,” Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne told the show.

There can be little doubt that Hollywood believes web filtering is an effective mechanism to reduce infringement – MPAA chief Chris Dodd explicitly said so during his speech at the International IP Enforcement Summit last month. But the notion that governments should treat the filtering of copyrighted content and child abuse in the same way is not only controversial but unlikely to win sympathy with the public.

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

TorrentFreak: Flixtor Finds Anti-Piracy Investigator on Its Doorstep, Shuts Down

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

This weekend the website of the movie torrent streaming application Flixtor suddenly went offline, and the same happened to search engine TorrentLookup.com.

Both projects were run by the same team, which is based in Canada, and were slowly but steadily expanding their user bases. This suddenly changed a few days ago when a message posted on both sites announced that the streaming app and search engine were being discontinued.

“We voluntarily decided to close all services of torrentlookup.com. Thanks to everybody that used Flixtor and bought the mobile version. We have reached the finish line,” a message now displays on both sites.

The decision came as a total surprise to users of the site and app. Flixtor, a custom-built Popcorn Time alternative based on the same Peerflix engine, was just a few weeks old.

The Flixtor app had a user interface similar to Popcorn Time, but was not a fork. Instead, it used its own code and the movies/series API from TorrentLookup.com, which claimed to have the latest releases faster.

Flixtor
flixtor

TorrentFreak got in touch with one of the developers, who informed us that the decision to close was the result of movie industry pressure. The developer in question had an investigator from the MPAA-funded Motion Picture Association Canada come by his house, and it didn’t stop there.

“They were annoying me with phone calls repeatedly, and I talked to them quite a few times,” the developer explained.

The movie industry group only had one goal, and that was to shut down the streaming application and the torrent site. The investigator threatened the developer with legal action if he refused to comply.

“They wanted me to close Flixtor/Torrentlookup and then they would drop the charges against me, which are $20,000 per copyrighted file,” the developer told us.

With the threat of a massive lawsuit on their shoulders, the people behind the two projects decided to pull the plug this weekend. Even if they wanted to, they lack the funds to properly defend themselves in court.

The above shows that, behind the scenes, a lot of pressure is being put on the people who operate torrent sites and related services. It may also explain why some sites simply disappear, or why some of the “Popcorn Time” developers ceased their activities.

TorrentFreak contacted the Motion Picture Association Canada for a comment yesterday, but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

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

TorrentFreak: Italy Orders Blockade of Three More Torrent Sites

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

After coming under intense criticism, this year Italy was removed from the Watch List in the USTR’s Special 301 Report. Part of the formula for that achievement was to be found in telecoms regulator AGCOM.

Instead of legislating against piracy, the Italian government gave the watchdog the power to deal with infringement, up to and including the removal of infringing content and even the blocking of allegedly copyright-infringing domains.

In May and following complaints from the entertainment industry, AGCOM ordered the blocking of four torrent sites – LimeTorrents, TorrentDownload.ws, Torrentz.pro and TorrentDownloads.me. Just over a month later and yet more sites have fallen victim to its blocking regime.

This time around it’s the turn of Torrent.cd, Torrentvia and TorrentRoom to land on the AGCOM blacklist. None of the sites are large, quite the opposite in fact, but a dig down into their traffic stats reveals why Italy is interested in them.

The largest of the trio, Torrent.cd, has the greatest proportion of its visitors arrive from India, closely followed by the United States. Just a fraction of a percent behind are Italian visitors, making Torrent.cd fairly popular with locals.

In mid 2012, TorrentRoom.com was among the top 5000 sites in the world, but traffic to the site diminished to a near all time low in mid 2013. A recovery in the early part of 2014 reversed the trend for a while, but traffic is currently the worst it has ever been. However, stats from Alexa show that Italian visitors to the site are only outnumbered by those from the United States, again making the site relatively popular with locals.

TorrentVia.com is a very small site indeed with a global Alexa rank of 178,400. Traffic is so low in fact that it’s difficult to obtain stats. That said, Google.it is the site’s second most-popular referrer, something which again reflects local interest.

For now it seems that AGCOM are going after sites that are enjoyed more locally, but that could very well change once the regulator runs out of targets.

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

TorrentFreak: Popcorn Time For Music Really Has To Be Pretty Epic

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

ilovemusic]At this very moment, anyone with a keyboard and access to the Internet can listen to pretty much any track currently available.

Much to the annoyance of the music industry, most of that music can be found with a simple Google search and if it’s already been deleted from there, switching to Yahoo does the trick. Hundreds of sites lie a click away, many offering access to millions of free MP3s.

While there’s no doubt that plenty of people use them, there’s no absolute need to access music from unauthorized sources anymore, even if the listener is payment averse. YouTube, for example, works very well indeed, even for the biggest selling tracks.

The story for movies is quite different. Sure, there are unauthorized services a few clicks away but even the hottest torrent sites represent a daunting prospect for Joe Public. Streaming sites bridge the usability gap somewhat with their advanced presentation and simple interfaces but often spoil the viewing experience with waves of popups, fake download buttons and other intrusive advertising.

Then earlier this year Popcorn Time arrived, offering the power of torrents under the hood and a Netflix-style quality interface on top. Unlike its legal competitor, however, the latest spinoff versions of the software have no restrictions on content availability. When all the angles are considered, this software pretty much beats the professionals at their own game – no wonder Hollywood wants to kill it.

It was with excitement, then, that news of a “Popcorn Time for music” reached our ears recently. Called HipHop, the tool has actually been out for a number of weeks already but recently received renewed exposure on Hacker News. The tool has a decent interface and boasts free access to 45 million tracks, that’s better than iTunes and most of the official streaming services around today.

HipHop

So where are the dozens of news articles charting HipHop’s rise to fame in the way they did with Popcorn Time? Thing is, apart from a token mention here and there, there aren’t any. This isn’t because people don’t like music or that HipHop doesn’t do what it claims, because it does. Maybe it’s because free access to music and music alone simply doesn’t cut it these days.

While pirates have run rings around Hollywood for some time and in some ways continue to do so, in the music sector services like Spotify and even YouTube are doing a much better job than the majority of mainstream pirate alternatives. Sure, anyone can head over to MP3Skull, MP3Juices or GoSong and grab free MP3s all day, but aren’t we demanding more these days?

YouTube provides not only the music but the videos to accompany them. Spotify provides great content discovery opportunities, unrivaled multi-device convenience and is completely free at entry level. It’s been in development for years and it performs better than HipHop in every way. It’s competing with free and winning.

While a Popcorn Time or similar for movies is likely to prove attractive for many years to come due to Hollywood’s archaic release restrictions and unfriendly pricing, pirates are really going to have to up their game to make a Spotify beater for music.

While someone might appear with something amazing, at this point we have to consider that it might never happen. That in itself is quite extraordinary.

Image credit

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

TorrentFreak: PublicHD Disappears, Twitter & Facebook Accounts Gone

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

publichd-logoWhile new file-sharing sites appear on a regular basis, it’s reasonably rare for fresh torrent sites to fill a niche in an effective and public fashion. PublicHD was a site that bucked that trend, in part by delivering focused content rather than simply making existing material searchable.

From a standing start, during the last quarter of 2012 PublicHD’s popularity skyrocketed. Concentrating on movie rips at the higher end of the quality spectrum, PublicHD grew steadily throughout 2013, a trend that continued – blips aside – into the first few months of this year.

PublicHD-stats

Then yesterday, without warning, PublicHD simply disappeared and into today the site is still inaccessible via its main Swedish domain, .EU alternative, or official proxy. There has been no official announcement or explanation. Needless to say, currently there are plenty of worried users.

Of course, sites go offline for technical reasons all the time, and it may yet transpire that PublicHD has had some serious technical issues. The signs, however, are less than encouraging. The first logical places for users to check for status updates are PublicHD’s Twitter and Facebook accounts but just like the main site, they have completely disappeared.

PublicHD-twitter

Since PublicHD is, as its name suggests, a public site, its activities can be seen not only on its own domain but on other torrent sites too. For example, The Pirate Bay has a user account by the name of DibyaTPB, which is believed to be a PublicHD auto-uploading bot. After making hundreds of releases and rarely if ever having a break, yesterday DibyaTPB fell silent, indicating that the site is indeed completely offline.

Public-dibya

Furthermore, BOZX, another Pirate Bay account associated with PublicHD, also went quiet on Saturday. And, after 19,199 uploads, the corresponding account for BOZX on KickassTorrents was silenced too. At some point, it’s not clear when, the account was also renamed.

The disappearance of PublicHD is even more puzzling given that earlier this month the site’s operators were planning new and bigger things.

“Soon we are a going to have a makeover and a brand new PublicHD with tons of new features and stronger security system,” they said in an announcement.

It’s certainly feasible that the upgrades are underway now, but why that would go hand in hand with PublicHD’s decision to disappear themselves from social media thus keeping their users entirely in the dark makes little sense.

Rightsholders have issued a steady stream of complaints against PublicHD to Google since late 2012 but since the start of 2014 the number being processed has steadily increased, with April and May being the most active months in the site’s history.

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