Posts tagged ‘Torrent Sites’

TorrentFreak: Large Movie Distributor Grabs Popcorn Time Trademark

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

popcorntIn little more than a year Popcorn Time has amassed millions of users by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming in an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface.

The term Popcorn Time itself has also become a widely recognizable “brand,” something that hasn’t gone unnoticed in the movie industry.

Various copyright holders and anti-piracy groups have targeted Popcorn Time, with varying success. However, a new effort from film distributor Dutch Filmworks tops them all.

This June, Dutch Filmworks applied for Popcorn Time’s logo and word trademarks at the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, which officially approved the registration last month.

This means that the film distributor now owns the trademark to the term “Popcorn Time” in various categories including software, as well as the official logo pictured below.

An interesting move in a number of ways, not least since the logo wasn’t created by the company but by Popcorn Time’s developers. Also, the trademark application itself was submitted long after the application became known to the public.

The logo trademark

The developers of the popular fork inform TorrentFreak that they are aware of the issue but choose not to do anything about it at the moment. In addition, they also highlight that Dutch Filmworks claim on the trademarks is rather dubious.

“What we find interesting is that they registered a trademark on something that’d already been around online for over a year and clearly wasn’t owned by them, and the fact that they happened to submit our logo and trademark it, even though they do not own copyright on it.”

Nevertheless, the developers don’t see the trademarks as an immediate threat to their software.

“For the most part, we are not worried. We are curious about what they think they’re doing though,” the Popcorn Time team notes.

A spokesperson for Dutch Filmworks informs TorrentFreak that they have no plans to actively enforce the trademarks – yet.

“We registered the Popcorn Time trademarks for the Benelux. Mainly because, to our surprise, it hadn’t been done by Popcorn Time itself,” Dutch Filmworks’ spokesperson says.

“At this time we don’t plan to actively enforce the trademark. However, looking ahead to anticipated steps the Dutch government may take against streaming piracy, it seemed sensible to deprive them of the trademark rights in our market already.”

Needless to say, this is quite an innovative approach. Time will tell whether the trademarks will indeed help to stop the distribution of Popcorn Time in the future.

There’s also a separate Popcorn Time trademark application at U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This was requested last year by the developers of the aforementioned fork and is still pending.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Granted Australian Patent to Chase Pirates

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

California-based anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp is known for its pursuit of Internet pirates in the United States.

The company tracks infringements on BitTorrent networks and sends DMCA-style notices to ISPs in the hope they forward them to their customers. These notices have a sting in the tail in the form of a settlement demand, currently set at $30.

This year Rightscorp also began getting involved in litigation, with clients using the company’s monitoring and data gathering capabilities as the basis for John Doe lawsuits. In turn, these will almost certainly result in yet more (but substantially larger) cash settlements.

Rightscorp claims to have a sophisticated system which allows the anti-piracy outfit to profile Internet users and log them as repeat infringers. In fact, Rightscorp has even gone as far as patenting its system (1,2,3) in the United States.

It now transpires that the company has recently obtained a new patent (2012236069) from the Australian Patent Office, again titled ‘System to Identify Multiple Copyright Infringements’.


In a statement referencing comments by Attorney-General George Brandis that Australia is the “worst nation for piracy on the planet”, Rightscorp confirmed that the patent is the first registered to the company in Australia.

“There is a tremendous need in Australia for content protection. Our proven technology is effective, making it an ideal solution for artists and copyright holders in every region,” said CEO Christopher Sabec.

“Australia has been plagued by infringement over the years and is now taking key initiatives to curb piracy. We believe our technology will be an invaluable asset to the Australian entertainment industry.”

While Rightscorp has thus far refrained from announcing a full-on expansion into territories other than the U.S., the company did make a brief Canadian debut in January. That foray was marked by erroneous claims from the company that Canadians could be “liable for up to $150,000 per infringement in civil penalties.”

The claim immediately attracted the negative attention of the Canadian government with a statement that Rightscorp notices were “misleading” and couldn’t be used to demand money from Canadians. Surprisingly, Rightscorp appear to have made a similar faux pas in Australia.

The company’s press release announcing the Australian patent loosely advises statutory penalties “up to $150,000 per infringement”. While this position correctly reflects the U.S. market it has the potential to cause confusion locally since Australia uses a different dollar and statutory damages for infringement do not exist.

Rightscorp clearly views its “repeat infringer” patents as valuable assets for the future but in the short term the system has the company entangled in a costly legal battle between music industry client BMG Rights Management and U.S. ISP Cox Communications.

Filed in 2014, the lawsuit centers around the claim that despite Rightscorp advising Cox that the ISP has hundreds of repeat infringers as customers, the ISP failed to disconnect them from the Internet. The battle continues and it’s starting to get ugly.

Overall, Rightscorp sees disconnection of repeat infringers as the ultimate threat and one that can boost rates of settlement on its $30 ‘fine’ system. The big question now is when or if the system will arrive on Aussie shores.

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

TorrentFreak: New York Judge Puts Brakes on Copyright Troll Subpoenas

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

For the past seven or eight years alleged file-sharers in the United States have found themselves at the mercy of so-called copyright trolls and right at the very forefront are those from the adult movie industry.

By a country mile, adult video outfit Malibu Media (X-Art) is the most litigious after filing over 4,500 cases in less than 4 years, but news coming out of New York should give this notorious troll pause for thought.

Events began in June when Malibu filed suit in the Eastern District of New York against a so-called John Doe defendant known only by his Verizon IP address, The porn outfit claimed that the individual was responsible for 18 counts of copyright infringement between February and May 2015.

Early August the defendant received a letter from Verizon informing him that a subpoena had been received which required the ISP to identify the individual using the IP address on May 23, 2015. This caused the defendant to fight back.

“Since Defendant’s IP addresses were assigned dynamically by the ISP, even if Defendant was identified as the subscriber assigned the IP address,, at 03:31:54 on May 23, 2015, it doesn’t mean that Defendant is the same subscriber who was assigned the IP address at the other seventeen occasions,” the defendant’s motion to quash reads.

“If Defendant’s identifying information is given to Plaintiff, Plaintiff, as part of
their business model, will seek settlements of thousands of dollars claiming Defendant’s responsibility for eighteen downloads of copyright protected works under the threat of litigation and public exposure with no serious intention of naming Defendant.”

Case specifics aside, the motion also contains broad allegations about Malibu Media’s entire business model, beginning with the manner in which it collects evidence on alleged infringers using BitTorrent networks.

Citing a University of Washington study which famously demonstrated a printer receiving a DMCA notice for copyright infringement, the motion concludes that the techniques employed by Malibu for tracking down infringers are simply not up to the job.

“The research concludes that the common approach for identifying infringing users in the poplar BitTorrent file sharing network is not conclusive,” the motion notes.

“Even if Plaintiff could definitively trace the BitTorrent activity in question to the IP-registrant, Malibu conspicuously fails to present any evidence that John Doe either uploaded, downloaded, or even possessed а complete copyrighted video file.”

While detection is rightfully put under the spotlight, the filing places greater emphasis on the apparent extortion-like practices demonstrated by copyright trolls such as Malibu Media.

Citing the earlier words of Judge Harold Baer, the motion notes that “troll” cases not only risk the public embarrassment of a misidentified defendant, but also create the likelihood that he or she will be “coerced into an unjust settlement with the plaintiff to prevent the dissemination of publicity surrounding unfounded allegations.”

The motion continues by describing Malibu as an aggressive litigant which deliberately tries to embarrass and shame defendants in the aim of receiving cash payments.

“[Malibu] seeks quick, out-of-court settlements which, because they are hidden, raise serious questions about misuse of court procedure. Judges regularly complain about Malibu,” the motion reads.

“Malibu’s strategy and its business models are to extort, harass, and embarrass
defendants to persuade defendants to pay settlements with plaintiffs instead of paying for legal assistance while attempting to keep their anonymity and defending against allegations which can greatly damage their reputations.”

Following receipt of the motion, yesterday Judge Steven I. Locke handed down his order and it represents a potentially serious setback for Malibu.

“Because the arguments advanced in the Doe Defendant’s Motion to Quash raise serious questions as to whether good cause exists in these actions to permit the expedited pre-answer discovery provided for in the Court’s September 4, 2015 Order, the relief and directives provided for in that Order are stayed pending resolution of the Doe Defendant’s Motion to Quash,” Judge Locke writes.

If putting the brakes on one discovery subpoena wasn’t enough, the Judge’s order lists 19 other cases that are now the subject of an indefinite stay. However, as highlighted by FightCopyrightTrolls, the actual exposure is much greater, with a total of 88 subpoenas in the Eastern District now placed on hold.

As a result, ISPs are now under strict orders not to hand over the real identities of their subscribers until the Court gives the instruction following a ruling by Judge Locke. In the meantime, Malibu has until October 27 to respond to the Verizon user’s motion.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA and MPAA Report Notorious Piracy Sites to U.S. Government

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

piratkeybResponding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the RIAA and MPAA have sent in their annual list of rogue websites.

TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the submissions in which the entertainment industry groups target a wide variety of websites they say are promoting the illegal distribution of music, movies and TV-shows.

The lists include torrent sites, linking sites, cyberlockers and unauthorized streaming services, which are primarily hosted outside the United States. According to the industry groups these sites are costing U.S. companies millions of dollars in revenue.

The MPAA points out that many sites directly compete with legal services and are “stealing” revenue from the people who created the content.

“Content thieves take advantage of a wide constellation of easy-to-use online technologies, such as direct download and streaming, to create sites and applications with the look and feel of legitimate content distributors,” MPAA’s Joanna McIntosh writes (pdf).

The pirates sites are often able to offer their services in relative anonymity hosted outside of the United States. As targeting them directly is problematic, MPAA says other service providers, such as search engines and hosting companies, should help out.

“All stakeholders in the Internet ecosystem – including hosting providers, advertising networks, payment processors, and search engines – should be actively seeking to reduce support for notoriously infringing sites such as those we have nominated in these comments,” McIntosh notes.

Among the sites listed by the MPAA (attached to this article) are familiar names such as The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and Torrentz. is called out as well, and the Hollywood group mentions its connection to the release group formerly know as YIFY, as well as the popular Popcorn Time application.

The MPAA further highlights streaming sites including Primewire and Nowvideo, the popular Russian social network, and cyberlockers such as Putlocker and Uploaded.

Stressing the important of third-party services MPAA notes that domain name registrars can also be seen as possible “notorious markets.” It specifically calls out the Indian Public Domain Registry (PDR) which repeatedly refused to take action against pirate sites.

The responsibility of third party service providers is also highlighted in RIAA’s submission (odt). The group lists a total of 57 pirate websites, which in part overlaps with the MPAA.

The Pirate Bay and other popular torrent sites and cyberlockers are called out, as well as specialized music streaming and download sites such as MP3Skull, Stafaband and Albumkings.

In addition, the RIAA counters the argument of “apologists” who oppose stricter anti-piracy enforcement on the basis it could endanger freedom of expression.

“Many of those who profit from the status quo like to disguise their self-interest in rhetoric about free expression. It is long past time to end this dangerous charade. Defending the piracy of creative works in the name of freedom of expression is tantamount to foxes campaigning for open-range chickens,” RIAA’s Neil Turkewitz writes.

“Online enforcement efforts are complicated when intermediaries do not take adequate steps to ensure their services are not being used to facilitate copyright infringement, a problem compounded by the fact that some website operators and intermediaries operate anonymously and outside the boundaries of the law,” he adds.

One of the groups RIAA indirectly refers to as “apologists” is the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The civil rights group actively protests the MPAA and RIAA efforts and in their own submission to the USTR they warn that the obligations of third-party services such as domain name registrars is overstated.

According to the EFF, free speech is at risk when these companies respond to requests and complaints without a judicial order. The USTR already listed the Canadian domain registrar Tucows in its overview of notorious markets last year, a decision to which the EFF objects.

“We find it highly rash for the USTR to be calling for foreign domain name registrars to honor extra-judicial demands for the removal of domains, because it is obvious how such demands could backfire spectacularly against U.S. Internet companies, at the behest of foreign governments and special interests seeking to censor U.S. speech,” the EFF writes (pdf).

Below are the full lists as reported to the USTR by the MPAA and RIAA. These, and the other submissions will form the basis of the U.S. Government’s Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, which is expected to come out later this year.

MPAA’s list of notorious pirate sites (23) (in addition to .la, .mn, and .vg TLDs) and the “Movshare Group” – –

RIAA’s list of notorious pirate sites (57)

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

TorrentFreak: Pirate Bay Domains Clash Set For Court of Appeal

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

In 2013, famous anti-piracy prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad filed a motion targeting (the site’s main domain) and (a lesser used alternative).

Rather than take on the site itself, Ingblad filed a complaint against Punkt SE (IIS), the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain.

Ingbland argued that since The Pirate Bay is an illegal operation, the site’s domains are tools used to infringe copyright. The prosecutor said that as the supplier and controller of those domains, IIS should be held liable for the copyright infringements associated with them.

Not surprisingly, IIS held the position that a registry should not be held liable for infringement and that any decision on the fate of a domain should be decided by the courts. As such, IIS flat-out refused to suspend Pirate Bay’s domains.

The case was finally heard this April and in May the Stockholm District Court ruled that The Pirate Bay should forfeit its Sweden-based domains, and However, when considering his long-term aspirations beyond the Pirate Bay, the victory for the prosecutor lacked suitable punch.

All along, IIS said it understood the nature of The Pirate Bay and was prepared to take action against the site’s domains, if ordered to do so by a court. It’s a position taken by many organizations and companies, ISPs in particular, when asked to take anti-piracy actions in the absence of legal precedent.

Due to its refusal to terminate the Pirate Bay’s domains, the Stockholm Court found that IIS did indeed contribute to the copyright infringements of the site. However, as now explained by IIS counsel Elisabeth Ekstrand, it also noted the special circumstances of the case.

“[Unlike] an ISP that provides a service for financial gain, IIS has acted from a different point of view,” Ekstrand says.

“IIS has publicly announced and motivated its approach to the prosecutor’s motion, that is to say that we have no obligation to act but rather an obligation not to act without a direct order (for example, from a law enforcement agency).

“The statement is based on the view that the assignment of managing an important function in society does not include judging over whether an individual case can be considered illegal or not.”

Essentially, IIS believes that it wasn’t its responsibility to decide whether a domain should or should not be closed down and that requesting an official ruling from the court was the proper way of going about things. Ultimately the court agreed that the position taken by IIS was both legitimate and justified.

This meant that although The Pirate Bay’s domains were ordered to be seized, the case against IIS was rejected, with the District Court dismissing the prosecution’s case and awarding the registry close to $40,000 (SEK 332,000) in costs.

It’s now clear that the prosecution is unhappy with the outcome and will take the case to trial at the Court of Appeal. TorrentFreak has contacted Fredrik Ingblad in an effort to find out his precise grounds for appeal and will update this article when those arrive.

In the meantime, however, it seems likely that the prospect of heading to court each and every time the government wants to seize a ‘pirate’ domain is proving too much of a headache.

As it stands today, IIS is considered to be acting reasonably when it refuses to suspend a domain without an explicit instruction from a court or the police, for example. And having gone down that road with The Pirate Bay once before (and being quite vocal while doing so), all the signs point to the registry applying similar standards in future.

“A decision in the Court of Appeals trumps a decision in the District Court, which can mean that we, or the prosecution depending on who ‘wins’, will get a stronger support for their way of looking at it,” Ekstrand concludes.

No date has yet been set for the trial.

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

TorrentFreak: Google Must Expose eBook Pirate, Court Rules

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

google-bayEarlier this year the General Publishers Group (GAU) discovered that several eBooks belonging to its members were being sold illegally on Google Play.

Using the handle Flamanca Hollanda / Dragonletebooks, a Google Play ‘publisher’ was selling eBooks far below the regular price.

The publishers reached out to local anti-piracy group BREIN, who successfully asked Google to remove the files. However, Google refused to a separate request to identify the account holder.

Citing privacy concerns, Google noted that it would not hand over any data without a court order, which is a common stance for the company. This left BREIN with little other alternative than to take the case to court.

Yesterday a The Hague Court ruled that Google must hand over the personal details tied to the Google Play account as well as the Google account that was used to sign up.

The data includes the IP-address, home address, names, emails and bank account information, even if the person resides outside the European Union.

In its defense, Google had argued that BREIN’s request could violate international privacy laws, if the account holder turns out to be foreign. However, the court noted that it could not be the case that possible international violations prevent Dutch law from being applied.

The court further concluded that in this case the rights of copyright holders outweigh other rights, such as freedom of expression. However, the affected user will be given the opportunity to appeal the handover within two weeks, which the court will then review separately.

The order opens the door for BREIN and Dutch copyright holders to police Google Play and other online services more aggressively.

In the past BREIN has succeeded in obtaining the personal details of torrent site owners from hosting providers and payment providers, often without a direct court order.

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

TorrentFreak: RIAA Labels Want $22 Million Piracy Damages From MP3Skull

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

skullEarlier this year a coalition of record labels including Capitol Records, Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records and Universal Music Group filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull.

With millions of visitors per month the MP3 download site had been one of the prime sources of pirated music for a long time.

Several months have passed since the RIAA members submitted their complaint and since the owners of MP3Skull failed to respond, the labels are now asking for a default judgement.

In their motion filed last Friday at a Florida District Court, the record labels describe MP3Skull as a notorious pirate site that promotes copyright infringement on a commercial scale.

“Defendants designed, promote, support and maintain the MP3Skull website for the well-known, express and overarching purpose of reproducing, distributing, performing and otherwise exploiting unlimited copies of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings without any authorization or license.

“By providing to the public the fruits of Plaintiffs’ investment of money, labor and expertise, MP3Skull has become one of the most notorious pirate websites in the world,” the labels add (pdf).

Besides offering a comprehensive database of links to music tracks, the labels also accuse the site’s operators of actively promoting piracy through social media. Among other things, MP3Skull helped users to find pirated tracks after copyright holders removed links from the site.

Based on the blatant piracy carried out by operators and users, the labels argue that MP3Skull is liable for willful copyright infringement.

Listing 148 music tracks as evidence, the companies ask for the maximum $150,000 in statutory damages for each, bringing the total to more than $22 million.

“Under these egregious circumstances, Plaintiffs should be awarded statutory damages in the full amount of $150,000 for each of the 148 works identified in the Complaint, for a total of $22,200,000,” the motion reads.

In addition the RIAA labels request a permanent injunction to make it harder for MP3Skull from continuing to operate the site. The proposed injunction (pdf) prevents domain name registrars and registries form providing services to MP3Skull and orders the transfer of existing domains to the copyright holders.

While a default judgment would be a big hit to the site, most damage has already been done. Last year MP3Skull was listed among the 500 most-visited websites on the Internet according to Alexa, but after Google downranked the site it quickly lost its traffic.


The site subsequently hopped from domain to domain and is currently operating from the .ninja TLD with only a fraction of the number of users it had before.

Given that MP3Juices failed to appear before the court it’s likely that the District Court will approve the proposed default judgment. Whether the record labels will ever see a penny of the claimed millions is doubtful though, as the true owners of the MP3Skull site remain unknown.

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

TorrentFreak: Megaupload Accuses U.S. of Unfair Tactics, Seeks Stay

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

After suffering ten postponements the extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom, Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato and Bram van der Kolk was never likely to be a smooth, straightforward affair, even when it eventually got underway in the Auckland District Court.

The first few days of the hearing were spent by Crown lawyer Christine Gordon QC, who has been acting on behalf the U.S., painting a highly negative picture of the quartet. Incriminating correspondence, culled from their Skype accounts, suggested that there had been knowledge of infringement, she claimed.

After the U.S. finally wrapped up its case last Thursday, Judge Dawson was asked to decide when several applications filed by Dotcom’s team to drop the hearing would be heard. Would it be appropriate to deal with them before the accused took the stand to fight the extradition, or at another time?

In the event Judge Dawson decided that the stay applications – which cover the U.S. freeze on Dotcom’s funds and other ‘unreasonable’ behavior, plus allegations of abuse of process by Crown lawyers – should be heard first.

During this morning’s session defense attorney Grant Illingworth QC motivated the request to stay the case. Illingworth told the Court that due to the ongoing U.S.-ordered freeze on his clients’ funds (and the prospect that any funds sent to the U.S. would have the same fate), they are unable to retain experts on U.S. law.

“We say the issue is that they cannot use restrained funds to pay experts in US law, if those experts are not New Zealand citizens,” Illingworth said.

“Access to such expertise is necessary but being prevented by the US. It means not having the ability to call evidence but also the ability to get advice so counsel can present their case.”

Illingworth said the unfair tactics amounted to an abuse of process which has reduced New Zealand-based lawyers to a position of dealing with U.S. law on a “guess work” basis which could leave them open to accusations of being both negligent and incompetent.

“In any other case we would seek expert advice,” Illingworth said, but in this situation obtaining that is proving impossible. No defense means that the hearing is fundamentally unfair, he argued.

In this afternoon’s session, attention turned to claims by the United States that Bram van der Kolk uploaded a pre-release copy of the Liam Neeson movie ‘Taken’ to Megaupload and shared links with friends.

The U.S. says that nine people downloaded the thriller but lawyers for Van Der Kolk insist that whatever the case, the movie was not ‘pre-release’ since it was already available in more than two dozen countries during 2008. The movie was premiered in the United States during 2009. Pre-release movie piracy is a criminal offense under U.S. law.

The extradition hearing is now in its third week and is expected to last another three, but that could change. If the applications currently being heard are successful, the Judge could order a new case or might even stay the extradition hearing altogether.

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

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

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

jurassThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Jurassic World is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are BD/DVDrips unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
1 (…) Jurassic World 7.2 / trailer
2 (1) Tomorrowland 6.6 / trailer
3 (2) Terminator Genisys 6.8 / trailer
4 (3) San Andreas 6.2 / trailer
5 (4) Avengers: Age of Ultron 7.8 / trailer
6 (…) Southpaw 7.6 / trailer
7 (5) Minions (Webrip) 6.7 / trailer
8 (6) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (HDRip) 7.7 / trailer
9 (9) Magic Mike XXL 5.9 / trailer
10 (…) Inside Out (HDrip) 8.5 / trailer

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

TorrentFreak: The Confessions of a Camming Movie Pirate

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

Last week TF published an interview with Philip Danks, the West Midlands man handed the toughest ever UK sentence for recording a movie in a cinema and uploading it to the Internet. After receiving 33 months for his crimes, Danks’ message was one of caution.

“Simply put, prison isn’t worth the kudos you get from being the first to leak a movie, stay away from it all and be happy with your family!” he said last week.

But despite the words of warning, what Danks did is still pretty intriguing. So-called ‘movie camming’ is not only very dangerous but also shrouded in mystery. So what made this guy do what he did?

“My original motivation was to be the first to get a copy of a film worldwide, which would certainly drag thousands of new unique visitors to my website (Bit Buddy), increasing members and site activity, as at the time there was just over 200 members which is extremely small,” Danks informs TF.

“I decided on Fast 6 due to the popularity and demand for the film as it was by far the most highly anticipated and eagerly awaited film. It was hugely popular and I knew demand would be high for that film.”

After settling on a film to ‘cam’, Danks had to pick a location. In the end he chose a Showcase cinema, located not far from his Walsall home in central England.

Showcase – Walsall


“The cinema I chose was my local cinema just 4 – 5 miles away, and I chose the first available viewing with tickets available. I only decided on the day that I would do it, so it was spur and heat of the moment thing,” he explains.


“I went into town and brought a second hand camcorder from a pawn shop for £70, however it only had a 60 minute battery life and I had to return to get a better camcorder. The second one I chose had brilliant reviews online for battery life and quality, so I chose that one for £80.”

The digital camera had no storage medium, so to capture the whole thing in decent quality Danks had to spend a little extra on 16GB SD card. However, other problems quickly raised their head and would need attention if his cover wasn’t to be immediately blown.

“I realized quite quickly that the device was extremely visible in the dark, so I covered all LED lights with insulation tape,” Danks says.

Also proving troublesome was the brightness of the camera’s LCD screen. Covering that so early on would mean that focusing on the cinema screen would be a hit-and-miss affair and at worse a complete disaster. Danks decided to take the risk on the initial focusing setup and then used a small black bag to cover the LCD.

Location and position

As anyone who has watched a ‘cam’ copy will know, the positioning of the ‘cammer’ is vital to a decent recording. Too far to the left or right of the big screen and angles can creep in. Too far forward or back raises other issues, including other movie goers causing annoying black silhouettes every time they move in front of the camera.

To avoid the latter and of course detection, Danks decided to enroll some accomplices.

“I decided that a few friends in front, to the side and to the back of me, was enough cover to keep the staff from seeing me, so I invited a few friends along, one of which was Michael Bell, my co-defendant,” Danks says.

“I got the focus right while the camcorder was in my lap, meaning I could hold it with my legs and keep it fairly steady, also providing a little more cover from staff as I looked like I just had my hands in my lap.”

For readers putting themselves in Danks’ shoes, fear of getting caught during the next two hours would probably be high on the list of emotions. However, Danks says he wasn’t really concerned about being discovered and was more interested in the end result.

“While I was actually recording my only thoughts were whether or not the quality would be good enough for a release, and if the sound would be in sync with the video. I blocked out any thoughts of getting caught and just got on with the job at hand,” he explains.

The Great Escape

Soon enough the movie was over. Danks hadn’t been caught in the act but there was still a possibility that he’d been monitored and a welcoming party was waiting for him in the cinema lobby. With that in mind, he set about mitigating the risks.

“As soon as the movie was over I concealed the camcorder down my trousers and the memory chip was hidden in a separate place – in my sock. I knew cinema staff could not perform a search without a police officer present,” he says.

But what if staff were outside ready to give him a hard time? Danks had thought about that too and already had an escape strategy in mind.

“I planned to simply run if I got caught. I know that any attempt to detain me without the authorities would be unlawful arrest and kidnap, so that was no concern,” he says.

In the event his exit from the cinema was trouble free. All that remained was to get the video off the card and onto the Internet.

Conversion and uploading

“I had an SD card reader on my laptop, so transferring the file was no issue, although encoding was. I had problems with audio synchronization and had to adjust the sound offset by around 0.8s to get it just right after conversion to AVI,” he recalls.

“Another problem I ran into was file size. Because the movie was so long the total file was around 6GB separated into 1GB chunks, so I first had to use a video joiner to combine all the chunks in the right order before I could compress and reduce the final size. In total it took over six hours to convert and upload the file for the first person apart from me to have a copy.”

The whole point of recording Fast 6 was for Danks to be able to claim first place in the race to upload the movie to the Internet and he wanted his own site, Bit Buddy, to share in the glory.

“I decided to first upload the movie to Bit Buddy, date stamps would then prove my site was the first in the world to have a real copy. I then decided the best place for it to be picked up was on, KickAssTorrents and ThePirateBay, because I know dump sites scrape all three on a regular basis,” he says.

“Afterwards I simply went to sleep, but by this time it was 6am and I was back up at 10am to check on things. The amount of visitors to my site caused it to crash my home servers (three of them) because I simply wasn’t prepared for the traffic.”

So far so good

Danks says that in the aftermath he felt happy with what he’d done. The movie had been recorded, he hadn’t been caught, and his site had been placed on the map. That desire to be first had paid off with the feelings he’d expected.

“The next day I felt great. I felt like I had achieved something, something no one else could do, and that was get the tightest film of the year security-wise and plaster it over the Internet. By the time I checked it lunch time it had around 50,000 seeders and was on every worthy site going, so I was very proud,” he recalls.

Game over

As detailed in our earlier article, the Federation Against Copyright Theft had been watching Danks’ activities online. That led to an oversized police response and his subsequent arrest.

“It was only five days later when I was arrested that it dawned on me and I realized how much trouble I was in. However at the time I just simply didn’t care, I had one up on the fatcats in Hollywood and that was all I was bothered about,” he recalls.

“It wasn’t until over a year later when I was actually in court that I realized I was facing a lengthy custodial sentence for what I had done, and that the Hollywood fatcats had actually beaten me at my own game.

“Going to prison is technically the ultimate punishment, and that’s what they did to me. So really I was the one who lost out long term, losing my home, my job, my car and my freedom. That’s not winning.”

Moving on

Danks is now out of prison and on license, which means he has to be home by 7pm and cannot leave again until 7am. He spends his free time programming and playing poker in an attempt to build up his funds to pre-prison levels. And, since there has been so much interest in his case, he’s also hoping to commit his experiences to film via his own documentary.

Unless someone already in the field is interested in working with him, in which case TF will be happy to forward their details.

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

TorrentFreak: Thousands of “Spies” Are Watching Trackerless Torrents

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

spyThe beauty of BitTorrent is that thousands of people can share a single file simultaneously to speed up downloading. In order for this to work, trackers announce the IP-addresses of all file-sharers in public.

The downside of this approach is that anyone can see who’s sharing a particular file. It’s not even required for monitoring outfits to actively participate.

This ‘vulnerability’ is used by dozens of tracking companies around the world, some of which send file-sharers warning letters, or worse. However, the “spies” are not just getting info from trackers, they also use BitTorrent’s DHT.

Through DHT, BitTorrent users share IP-addresses with other peers. Thus far, little was known about the volume of monitoring through DHT, but research from Peersm’s Aymeric Vitte shows that it’s rampant.

Through various experiments Vitte consistently ran into hundreds of thousands of IP-addresses that show clear signs of spying behavior.

The spies are not hard to find and many monitor pretty much all torrents hashes they can find. Blocking them is not straightforward though, as they frequently rotate IP-addresses and pollute swarms.

“The spies are organized to monitor automatically whatever exists in the BitTorrent network, they are easy to find but difficult to follow since they might change their IP addresses and are polluting the DHT with existing peers not related to monitoring activities,” Vitte writes.

The research further found that not all spies are actively monitoring BitTorrent transfers. Vitte makes a distinction between level 1 and level 2 spies, for example.

The first group is the largest and spreads IP-addresses of random peers and the more dangerous level 2 spies, which are used to connect file-sharers to the latter group. They respond automatically, and even return peers for torrents that don’t exist.

The level 2 spies are the data collectors, some if which use quickly changing IP-addresses. They pretend to offer a certain file and wait for BitTorrent users to connect to them.

The image below shows how rapidly the spies were discovered in one of the experiments and how quickly they rotate IP-addresses.


Interestingly, only very few of the level 2 spies actually accept data from an alleged pirate, meaning that most can’t proof without a doubt that pirates really shared something (e.g. they could just be checking a torrent without downloading).

According to Vitte, this could be used by accused pirates as a defense.

“That’s why people who receive settlement demands while using only DHT should challenge this, and ask precisely what proves that they downloaded a file,” he says.

After months of research and several experiments Vitte found that there are roughly 3,000 dangerous spies. These include known anti-piracy outfits such as Trident Media Guard, but also unnamed spies that use rotating third party IPs so they are harder to track.

Since many monitoring outfits constantly change their IP-addresses, static blocklists are useless. At TF we are no fans of blocklists in general, but Vitte believes that the dynamic blocklist he has developed provides decent protection, with near instant updates.

This (paid) blocklist is part of the Open Source Torrent-Live client which has several built in optimizations to prevent people from monitoring downloads. People can also use it to built and maintain a custom blocklist.

In his research paper Vitte further proposes several changes to the BitTorrent protocol which aim to make it harder to spy on users. He hopes other developers will pick this up to protect users from excessive monitoring.

Another option to stop the monitoring is to use an anonymous VPN service or proxy, which hides ones actual IP-address.

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

TorrentFreak: Anti-Piracy Activities Get VPNs Banned at Torrent Sites

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

spyFor the privacy-conscious Internet user, VPNs and similar services are now considered must-have tools. In addition to providing much needed security, VPNs also allow users to side-step geo-blocking technology, a useful ability for today’s global web-trotter.

While VPNs are often associated with file-sharing activity, it may be of interest to learn that they are also used by groups looking to crack down on the practice. Just like file-sharers it appears that anti-piracy groups prefer to work undetected, as events during the past few days have shown.

Earlier this week while doing our usual sweep of the world’s leading torrent sites, it became evident that at least two popular portals were refusing to load. Finding no complaints that the sites were down, we were able to access them via publicly accessible proxies and as a result thought no more of it.

A day later, however, comments began to surface on Twitter that some VPN users were having problems accessing certain torrent sites. Sure enough, after we disabled our VPN the affected sites sprang into action. Shortly after, reader emails to TF revealed that other users were experiencing similar problems.

Eager to learn more, TF opened up a dialog with one of the affected sites and in return for granting complete anonymity, its operator agreed to tell us what had been happening.

“The IP range you mentioned was used for massive DMCA crawling and thus it’s been blocked,” the admin told us.

Intrigued, we asked the operator more questions. How do DMCA crawlers manifest themselves? Are they easy to spot and deal with?

“If you see 15,000 requests from the same IP address after integrity checks on the IP’s browsers for the day, you can safely assume its a [DMCA] bot,” the admin said.

From the above we now know that anti-piracy bots use commercial VPN services, but do they also access the sites by other means?

“They mostly use rented dedicated servers. But sometimes I’ve even caught them using Hola VPN,” our source adds. Interestingly, it appears that the anti-piracy activities were directed through the IP addresses of Hola users without them knowing.

Once spotted the IP addresses used by the aggressive bots are banned. The site admin wouldn’t tell TF how his system works. However, he did disclose that sizable computing resources are deployed to deal with the issue and that the intelligence gathered proves extremely useful.

Of course, just because an IP address is banned at a torrent site it doesn’t necessarily follow that a similar anti-DMCA system is being deployed. IP addresses are often excluded after being linked to users uploading spam, fakes and malware. Additionally, users can share IP addresses, particularly in the case of VPNs. Nevertheless, the banning of DMCA notice-senders is a documented phenomenon.

Earlier this month Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today revealed his frustrations when attempting to get so-called “revenge porn” removed from various sites.

“Once you file your copyright or other notice of abuse, the host, rather than remove the material at question, simply blocks you, the submitter, from accessing the site,” Bailey explains.

“This is most commonly done by blocking your IP address. This means, when you come back to check and see if the site’s content is down, it appears that the content, and maybe the entire site, is offline. However, in reality, the rest of the world can view the content, it’s just you that can’t see it,” he notes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bailey advises a simple way of regaining access to a site using these methods.

“I keep subscriptions with multiple VPN providers that give access to over a hundred potential IP addresses that I can use to get around such tactics,” he reveals.

The good news for both file-sharers and anti-piracy groups alike is that IP address blocks like these don’t last forever. The site we spoke with said that blocks on the VPN range we inquired about had already been removed. Still, the cat and mouse game is likely to continue.

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

TorrentFreak: Torrent Sites Remove Millions of Links to Pirate Content

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

deleteEntertainment industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA view BitTorrent sites as a major threat. The owners of most BitTorrent sites, however, believe they do nothing wrong.

While it’s common knowledge that The Pirate Bay refuses to remove any torrents, all of the other major BitTorrent sites do honor DMCA-style takedown requests.

Several copyright holders make use of these takedown services to remove infringing content, resulting in tens of thousands of takedown requests per month.

Bitsnoop is one of the prime targets. The site boasts one of the largest torrent databases on the Internet, more than 24 million files in total. This number could have been higher though, as the site has complied with 2,220,099 takedown requests over the years.

The overview below shows that most of the takedown notices received by Bitsnoop were sent by Remove Your Media. Other prominent names such as the RIAA and Microsoft also appear in the list of top senders.


As one of the largest torrent sites, KickassTorrents (KAT) is also frequently contacted by copyright holders.

The site doesn’t list as many torrents as Bitsnoop does, but with tens of thousands of takedown notices per month it receives its fair share of takedown requests.

The KAT team informs TF that they removed 26,060 torrents over the past month, and a total of 856,463 since they started counting.

Torrent sites are not the only ones targeted. Copyright holders also ask Google to indirectly remove access to infringing torrents that appear in its search results. Interestingly, Google receives more requests for Bitsnoop and KAT than the sites themselves do.

Google’s transparency report currently lists 3,902,882 Bitsnoop URLs and several million for KickassTorrents’ most recent domain names. The people at TorrentTags noticed this as well and recently published some additional insights from their own database.

Despite the proper takedown policies it’s hard for torrent sites to escape criticism. On the one hand users complain that their torrents are vanishing. On the other, copyright holders are not happy with the constant stream of newly uploaded torrents.

Not all torrent sites are happy with the takedown procedure either. ExtraTorrent doesn’t keep track of the number of takedown requests the site receives, but the operator informs TF that many contain errors or include links that point to different domains.

Still, most torrent sites feel obligated to accept takedown notices and will continue to do so in order to avoid further trouble.

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

TorrentFreak: Comcast User Hit With 112 DMCA Notices in 48 Hours

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

Every day, DMCA-style notices are sent to regular Internet users who use BitTorrent to share copyrighted material. These notices are delivered to users’ Internet service providers who pass them on in the hope that customers correct their behavior.

The most well-known notice system in operation in the United States is the so-called “six strikes” scheme, in which the leading recording labels and movie studios send educational warning notices to presumed pirates. Not surprisingly, six-strikes refers to users receiving a maximum of six notices. However, content providers outside the scheme are not bound by its rules – sometimes to the extreme.

According to a lawsuit filed this week in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (pdf), one unlucky Comcast user was subjected not only to a barrage of copyright notices on an unprecedented scale, but during one of the narrowest time frames yet.

The complaint comes from Rotten Records who state that the account holder behind a single Comcast IP address used BitTorrent to share the discography of Dog Fashion Disco, a long-since defunct metal band previously known as Hug the Retard.

“Defendant distributed all of the pieces of the Infringing Files allowing others to assemble them into a playable audio file,” Rotten Records’ attorney Flynn Wirkus Young explain.

Considering Rotten Records have been working with Rightscorp on other cases this year, it will come as no surprise that the anti-piracy outfit is also involved in this one. And boy have they been busy tracking this particular user. In a single 48 hour period, Rightscorp hammered the Comcast subscriber with more than two DMCA notices every hour over a single torrent.

“Rightscorp sent Defendant 112 notices via Defendant’s ISP Comcast from June 15, 2015 to June 17, 2015 demanding that Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiff’s work,” the lawsuit reads.

“Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiff’s work.”


While it’s clear that the John Doe behind IP address shouldn’t have been sharing the works in question (if he indeed was the culprit and not someone else), the suggestion to the Court that he or she systematically ignored 112 demands to stop infringing copyright is stretching the bounds of reasonable to say the least.

trolloridiotIn fact, Court documents state that after infringement began sometime on June 15, the latest infringement took place on June 16 at 11:49am, meaning that the defendant may well have acted on Rightscorp’s notices within 24 hours – and that’s presuming that Comcast passed them on right away, or even at all.

Either way, the attempt here is to portray the defendant as someone who had zero respect for Rotten Record’s rights, even after being warned by Rightscorp more than a hundred and ten times. Trouble is, all of those notices covered an alleged infringing period of less than 36 hours – hardly a reasonable time in which to react.

Still, it’s unlikely the Court will be particularly interested and will probably issue an order for Comcast to hand over their subscriber’s identity so he or she can be targeted by Rotten Records for a cash settlement.

Rotten has targeted Comcast users on several earlier occasions, despite being able to sue the subscribers of any service provider. Notably, while Comcast does indeed pass on Rightscorp’s DMCA takedown notices, it strips the cash settlement demand from the bottom.

One has to wonder whether Rightscorp and its client are trying to send the ISP a message with these lawsuits.

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

TorrentFreak: Copyright Trolls Announce UK Anti-Piracy Invasion

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

trollsignSo-called copyright trolls were a common occurrence in the UK half a decade ago, when many Internet subscribers received settlement demands for allegedly downloading pirated files.

After one of the key players went bankrupt the focus shifted to other countries, but now they’re back. One of the best known trolling outfits has just announced the largest anti-piracy push in the UK for many years.

The renewed efforts began earlier this year when the makers of “The Company You Keep” began demanding cash from many Sky Broadband customers.

This action was spearheaded by Maverick Eye, a German outfit that tracks and monitors BitTorrent piracy data that forms the basis of these campaigns. Today, the company says that this was just the beginning.

Framed as one of the largest anti-piracy campaigns in history, Maverick Eye says it teamed up with law firm Hatton & Berkeley and other key players to launch a new wave of settlement demands.

“Since July this year, Hatton & Berkeley and Maverick Eye have been busy working with producers, lawyers, key industry figures, investors, partners, and supporters to develop a program to protect the industry and defend the UK cinema against rampant piracy online,” Maverick Eye says.

“The entertainment industry can expect even more from these experts as they continue the fight against piracy in the UK.”

The companies have yet to announce which copyright holders are involved, but Maverick Eye is already working with the makers of the movies Dallas Buyers Club, The Cobbler and Survivor in other countries.

Most recently, they supported a series of lawsuits against several Popcorn Time users in the U.S., and they also targeted BitTorrent users in Canada and Australia.

Hatton & Berkeley commonly offers administrative services and says it will provide “essential infrastructure” for the UK anti-piracy campaign.

“Hatton and Berkeley stands alongside our colleagues in an international operation that has so far yielded drastic reductions in streaming, torrenting and illegal downloads across Europe,” the company announces.

In the UK it is relatively easy for copyright holders to obtain the personal details of thousands of subscribers at once, which means that tens of thousands of people could be at risk of being targeted.

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

TorrentFreak: Verizon Fights Copyright Troll Demands in Court

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

verizon-progressMalibu Media, the Los Angeles based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is one of the most active copyright trolls in the United States.

The company has filed thousands of lawsuits in recent years, targeting Internet subscribers whose accounts were allegedly used to share Malibu’s films.

These cases generally don’t go to trial. Instead, the adult movie studio obtains a subpoena from the court so it can ask Internet providers to expose the accused subscribers.

Verizon is one of the ISPs which is often targeted, and the company has responded to thousands of subpoenas from Malibu alone, without complaining. However, a broad subpoena that arrived a few days ago is a bridge too far for Verizon.

The subpoena was issued in a case currently before the Southern District of New York.

To prove that a Verizon subscriber is guilty, Malibu Media requested additional information from the ISP including private communications with the subscriber, technical details about its modems and a deposition of Verizon employees.

Verizon, however, does not plan to comply and has asked the court for support. The ISP begins its reply with a general overview of how copyright trolls work, noting that their practices cost providers a lot of time and resources.

“These ‘Doe’ cases impose undue burdens upon the ISPs, including Verizon, who have been asked to respond to thousands of subpoenas from Malibu Media. The subpoenas have required a large amount of Verizon’s employees’ time to evaluate and respond to competing and sometimes overlapping requests for information,” the ISP writes (pdf).

Verizon points out that these piracy lawsuits are increasingly being scrutinized by the courts, some of which have compared it to an “extortion scheme.”

Aside from the general burdens Verizon notes that Malibu should not be allowed to call in Verizon employees from another state for a deposition on such a short notice.

“The subpoena here improperly demanded that Verizon’s employees, who work in Arlington, Virginia, and reside nearby, travel to San Angelo, Texas, on short notice for a deposition and to bring documents with them.”

In addition, the information requested by Malibu Media is not relevant or outside the scope of the Cable Act, which prevents certain privacy sensitive data from being shared.

“The additional information now sought by Plaintiff’s subpoena — correspondence between Verizon and the subscriber, information about the rental of modems or other equipment, and Verizon’s general policies and procedures — is either irrelevant, more properly sought from a party to litigation, or outside the scope of discovery contemplated by the Cable Act,” Verizon writes.

The above clearly shows that Verizon is taking a stand. This could mean that Malibu Media’s request may hurt the company’s litigation efforts in the long run, as copyright troll watcher SJD suggests.

“The critical gear of the well-oiled extortion machine is the relationship between the troll and ISPs. We see a small crack in this gear, and I really hope this crack will grow over time,” she writes.

Currently, Verizon and other ISPs don’t oppose subpoenas that request personal details of subscribers based on an IP-address, but this may change in the future.

It’s now up to judge Katherine Forrest to decide whether the requested subpoena for additional information indeed goes too far. Forrest previously likened Malibu’s practices to “harassment,” which may be factored into the decision.

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

TorrentFreak: The Pirate Bay Suffers Downtime

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

pirate bayThe Pirate Bay has become unreachable since this morning.

It’s currently not clear what’s causing the problems. There was a similar outage yesterday which lasted a few hours.

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

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


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

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

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

TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay team for a comment on the situation and we will update this article if we hear back.

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

TorrentFreak: Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Microsoft ‘Shamed’ as Piracy Sponsors

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

ford-logoAs part of increasing efforts by the world’s largest entertainment companies to crack down on Internet piracy, various initiatives are seeking to deprive so-called ‘pirate’ sites of their income.

In addition to making it difficult for sites to process payments using credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard, and receive and pay out funds using PayPal, pressure is also being applied to advertisers. Since many sites rely on advertising for much of their income the theory is that once those funds dry up, sites will begin to close.

The latest country indicating a readiness to take action on this front is Russia. Despite having a reputation for harboring dozens of large unlicensed sites, the Russian government says it is now preparing to ‘out’ some of the world’s largest companies as sponsors of piracy portals.

In the weeks to come the Ministry of Communications says it will publish a list of 100 companies that often advertise on pirate sites but in the meantime has provided a small sample of the kind of international businesses people should expect to find on the list.

Car manufacturers including Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Mazda and Volvo are all being accused of being pirate sponsors by the government, alongside technology giant Microsoft and personal grooming product company Gillette.

“We encourage people to come to their senses. Brands are proud of the fact that they are white and fluffy. We will publish a list of all those who advertise on pirate sites,” says Deputy Communications Minister Alexei Volin.

The Ministry says that together with representatives from the media industry it will create a “board of shame” which will publicize the names of companies who fail to pull their ads from sites.

The revelations were made during the ‘Cinema Expo’ film industry conference in St. Petersburg this week, where it was claimed that advertisers such as those detailed above are pumping in excess of $70m per year into local unlicensed sites.

In order to stop ads from reaching such sites in future, the government says it is ready to draw up a list of ‘banned’ domains.

“We are ready to take responsibility and to establish a commission at the Ministry, which, at the request of holders, will make sites blacklisted,” Minister Volin said.

A new industry group called “Media” formed by the Russian Association of Electronic Communications says it will then negotiate with agencies to stop them placing ads on sites appearing on the blacklist.

“If we can agree with the agencies, the pirate business will die by itself,” says Media chief Marina Surygina.

While the government and local industry may indeed succeed in forcing large companies to withdraw their support for pirate sites, there are plenty of smaller operations that are only too willing to take up the slack.

Emails recently obtained by TorrentFreak reveal that several ad networks are proudly promoting their partnerships with pirate sites and are very happy to take on more.

It has to be said, however, that the products these networks help advertise have much less kudos than those advertised by the companies detailed above. Ads for Ford cars are much more desirable than the typical ‘male enhancement’ offer, and Gillette definitely offers a better kind of close-shave than the kind associated with a barrage of aggressive popups.

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

TorrentFreak: Paramount Pictures Fails to Silence uTorrent Discussions

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

paramountWeek in and week out copyright holders scour the Internet to detect and report millions of alleged infringements.

Most attention goes out to Google which receives around a dozen million takedown requests per week for its search engine alone.

Many of the reported links are from torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and point to pirated content. However, some of the URLs copyright holders complain about to Google are not infringing at all.

Last week Paramount Pictures asked for the removal of various discussions at the forums of the popular torrent client uTorrent. The notices claim that the discussions are “infringing” but the threads themselves show no evidence of that.

For example, Paramount sent a takedown notice to protect the 2009 movie “Imagine That.” The list of allegedly infringing URLs includes a uTorrent forum thread, as shown below.


After reading the topic we could find no mentions of a pirated movie. Instead, the only mention of “imagine that” was in the post below, which doesn’t appear to be infringing at all.


The same error was repeated several times in other targeted discussions on One notice lists a forum thread that allegedly offers an infringing copy of “Ghost,” but again the topic itself is completely unrelated to the movie.


This also happened to a thread where a user pointed out that he was “clueless” about something. This apparently rang alarm bells at Paramount’s content protection company who assumed that this person was referring to a pirated copy the film “Clueless.”

Talking about clueless, the same notice also targets the Disqus profile of the user “Clueless°,” simply because he or she shares a name with the movie title.


The most likely explanation for the errors is a lack of oversight. Paramount’s content protection company scans the Internet for keyword combinations and when movie titles are used in combination with other ‘suspicious’ terms such as “torrent,” URLs may be flagged automatically.

Unfortunately these mistakes are not isolated incidents. In recent years we’ve highlighted countless examples of takedown requests that censor legitimate content, often hurting traffic for the affected sites.

The good news is that Google appears to have white-listed several domains, including and Disqus. This means that while the links reported on behalf of Paramount Pictures were not removed, less prominent sites may not be so lucky.

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

TorrentFreak: MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Delayed Until 2016

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

megaupload-logoNearly four years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown but aside from Andrus Nomm’s plea deal there has been little progress in the criminal proceedings.

Dotcom and several of his fellow Megaupload defendants are currently in the midst of an extradition hearing to determine whether they will be sent to the U.S. to stand trial.

But regardless of the outcome there’s more legal trouble ahead for Kim Dotcom and the defunct file-hosting service. In addition to the criminal case, Megaupload and Dotcom were sued last year by the major record labels and Hollywood’s top movie studios.

Fearing that they might influence criminal proceedings, Megaupload’s legal team previously managed to put these civil actions on hold and this week it requested another six month stay.

Yesterday U.S. District Court Liam O’Grady granted Megaupload’s request in the RIAA lawsuit under the same conditions as the earlier orders.

Judge O’Grady’s order


A similar order is also expected in the MPAA case, as the movie studios haven’t objected to another extension.

The ruling means that both the MPAA and RIAA cases will now be delayed until April 2016, given that the criminal proceeding has progressed by then. A stay was also granted in a third civil suit filed by the music group Microhits on similar grounds.

Considering the legal action on multiple fronts and the fact that civil cases can take over half a decade to complete, Megaupload is likely to be tied up in legal proceedings for years to come.

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

TorrentFreak: Rightscorp Retains Dallas Buyers Club Copyright Troll Lawyer

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

When the anti-piracy activities of Rightscorp became a topic for public discussion around four years ago (under the name Digital Rights Corp), the company was taking a fresh look at solving the piracy problem.

Rather than going down the RIAA route of aggressive and ruinous litigation, the company began asking for $10 from Internet users found to be downloading and sharing their clients’ content.

Ten bucks was hardly a big deal but it took just 12 months for the fees to be increased to $20 when the company felt account holders could be squeezed for a bit more cash.

The company is currently going through a financial crisis and as a result wants $30 for each alleged offense. The escalation is an indication of a business under pressure and a fresh announcement from Rightscorp suggests that it’s about to get even more aggressive in order to force settlement.

Yesterday the company revealed it has signed an agreement with lawyer Carl D. Crowell of Crowell Law in Salem, Oregon. While he works with other companies too, Crowell is perhaps best known for his work with notorious copyright troll Dallas Buyers Club.

According to Rightscorp, Crowell will be working with the anti-piracy firm’s clients to raise awareness and “educate people” about the effects of piracy. He will also be sending notices to infringers while pursuing litigation against “persistent and egregious infringers.”

Retaining Crowell might be the clearest sign yet that Rightscorp understands the current limitations of its “pay $30″ business model. Rightscorp sends its notices via ISPs and has no idea of the true identity of the people they’re trying to force a payment from. As a result and without a credible threat of litigation, Rightscorp’s targets are simply free to ignore the company’s emailed threats.

Should they subsequently receive correspondence from Mr Crowell, however, who has a track record with companies like Dallas Buyers Club, then the situation could very well take on a more urgent tone, forcing a payment and keeping Rightscorp and its clients happy.

“Crowell has been recognized by the courts for his successful targeting of the worst offenders that illegally download films and TV shows to make sure they are held accountable for their actions with dozens of judgments and injunctions against infringers,” says Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec.

“This agreement will be beneficial to both parties and our clients and we hope with our continued efforts to see an increase in public awareness and recognition of the problems with online piracy and greater respect and appreciation for the value and work of the artists we represent.”

The team up with Crowell, who last month claimed it was impossible for BitTorrent users to remain anonymous online, is the second legal partnership publicly announced by Rightscorp.

In August the company said it had signed an agreement with lawfirm Flynn Wirkus Young to target users who ignore DMCA notices and settlement offers sent by copyright holders. Cases filed earlier in the year on behalf of Rotten Records targeted Comcast users, among others.

While Rightscorp appeared to start out with fresh ideas, it appears that the company is now well and truly on the path to becoming yet another aggressive copyright troll outfit. The big question now is how this new approach will sit with ISPs in the United States, many of whom willingly forward Rightscorp DMCA notices settlement threats to their customers.

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

TorrentFreak: RUTracker Says Copyright Holders Can Moderate its Torrents

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

rutrackerLast week Russian telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor marked the two-year anniversary of a 2013 amendment to copyright legislation by releasing details of how many times the law has been used to block sites.

Since August 1, 2013, Roskomnadzor received 189 copyright-related complaints from rights holders and access to 282 sites was restricted as a result.

Unsurprisingly, several torrent sites have been targeted over the past 24 months including The Pirate Bay, the world’s most controversial index. This week, however, the spotlight falls on Russia’s most popular torrent site.

Known as before a controversial domain seizure in 2010, RUTracker is a huge site with a thriving community. According to Alexa it is the 17th most popular site in the whole of Russia and as a result attracts a lot of attention.

This week the National Federation of the Music Industry (NFMI), a group which counts Sony, Universal, Warner and EMI among its members, will attempt to have RUTracker permanently blocked by local ISPs. According to NFMI CEO Leonid Agronov, his group tried to negotiate with RUTracker over the removal of content but the effort came to nothing, leaving legal action as the only option.

Nevertheless, RUTracker says the site is still prepared to work with NFMI, initially on the basis of traditional notice-and-takedown, in an effort to stave off a nationwide blockade.

“Of course, we are ready for talks, but it is not clear what we can arrange. If we receive from rightsholders links to the data that violates their rights, we can remove them during the day,” a site spokesperson said.

“If copyright holders act in accordance with established practices, by sending us an email notice referencing the items that violate their rights, we would long ago have removed them, as we do in thousands of similar cases. But they chose the court instead.”

However, RUTracker says it is actually prepared to go way beyond standard takedowns, by effectively giving copyright holders torrent moderation rights on the site.

“If there are many links [that breach copyright] we can give the rightsholders their own special account, and they can remove links that violate their rights. Similar to [the system available] on YouTube, for example,” the source added.

At this late stage it seems unlikely that the record labels will back away from their efforts to have RUTracker blocked, but even if successful that may only serve to discourage the site from cooperating fully on takedowns in the future.

In any event, RUTracker appears prepared for the long haul. After being founded in 2004 the site has just celebrated its 11th birthday, a somewhat rare achievement in the torrent world.

“Over the years everything has happened – bad and good,” the site said in a statement.

“We’ve tried to block the whims of some copyright holders, although we are always ready for constructive cooperation on copyright, and most of them have reached a compromise that would accommodate the interests of both the authors of the content and its consumers.

“They are trying to drown out the various computer hooligans, but our friends help us to cope with it. We are told that ‘RUTracker is not the same, and will die soon’, and we smile at the skeptics, increasing our audience with petabytes of content!” the site concludes.

RUTracker is mostly popular with Russians although on-site language options now encourage visits by many thousands of users from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. English speakers are also enjoying the tracker in increasing numbers, thanks to Google Translate and a little patience.

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

TorrentFreak: Russian Facebook Ordered to Crack Down on Piracy

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

In 2014, Universal Music and Warner Music ran out of patience with Russian social networking giant VKontakte.

Alongside claims that VK facilitates large-scale copyright infringement, the labels filed a copyright complaint with the Saint Petersburg & Leningradsky Region Arbitration Court.

“VK’s music service, unlike others in Russia, is an unlicensed file-sharing service that is designed for copyright infringement on a large-scale. To date the company has taken no meaningful steps to tackle the problem,” IFPI’s Frances Moore said at the time.

Today, more than a year later, a decision has been handed down. According to Russian news agency TASS, the Court largely upheld the claims of the labels. As a result, VKontakte is now obliged to implement “effective” filtering technology to prevent infringement of Universal’s and Warner’s rights.

According to IFPI this means that VK will not only need to remove the labels’ music from its service, but also prevent the re-uploading of the same in the future.

“This is a very important and positive decision for the Russian music market and for music creators in Russia. VK’s infringing music service has been a huge obstacle to the development of a licensed business in Russia, making available hundreds of thousands of copyright infringing tracks to more than 70 million daily users,” says IFPI CEO Frances Moore.

“Now, the Russian court has ordered VK to use technology to stop infringements. This is good news for rights holders in Russia. We now look to VK to implement the court’s decision and stop these ongoing infringements.”

While the labels will be content with what could amount to a significant victory, they didn’t have things entirely their own way. The Court rejected their calls for 36 million rubles ($547,000) in compensation.

Sony Music was originally involved in the action against VKontakte but dropped out after agreeing a confidential settlement last summer.

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

TorrentFreak: Dutch Filmmakers Claim Piracy Damages From Government

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

pirate-cardCompared to many other countries around the world, pirating movies and TV-shows is hugely popular in the Netherlands.

Up to a third of the population is estimated to download and stream copyrighted content without paying for it.

This high percentage is not surprising as the Netherlands has traditionally been a relative safe haven for pirates. Downloading movies without permission was not punishable by law until last year when the European Court of Justice spoke out against the tolerant stance.

As a result the Dutch Government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading. However, breaking the habits of a large section of the population will take more than that and local piracy rates still remains high.

This prompted Dutch filmmakers’ association SEKAM to hold the Government responsible and demand compensation for the piracy losses they claim to have suffered.

FD reports that SEKAM submitted their claim to the Ministry of Security and Justice earlier this year. The request was denied but the filmmakers intend to press on. They maintain that their demands are legitimate and want the Government to compensate them for 10 years of piracy damages.

SEKAM lawyer Bas Le Poole points out that despite the new ban on illegal downloading, not much has changed. Piracy is still rampant and there haven’t been any prosecutions of individual downloaders.

This stance is shared by film producer San Fu Maltha. He notes that the Government has actually encouraged the public to pirate, costing the industry millions in revenue.

“Downloading pirated movies has only been outlawed recently in the Netherlands. Previously, the Government not only tolerated but even encouraged illegal downloading. As a result the industry has been severely damaged”

Critics often argue that the film industry itself can do more to counter piracy by making sure that content is widely available for a decent price. Maltha admits that improvements can be made on the supply side but adds that this should coincide with stronger enforcement.

“The Government has already decided that consumers should not be prosecuted. I understand that it’s not a popular move and electoral suicide, but they shouldn’t rule it out,” he says.

SEKAM is now calling for an accurate estimate of the damages the industry has suffered. Determining this is hard, but the association points to a recent Considerati study which estimated the losses at 78 million euros per year.

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

TorrentFreak: Aurous Dev Fires Back at “Fearmongering, Babbling” Rightscorp

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

aurous-logoEarlier this month, news of an upcoming piece of music software began to cause waves.

Centered around a media player supporting a wide array of audio formats, Aurous will leverage content on the BitTorrent network and other web sources to bring a Spotify-like experience to users.

With its clean and tidy interface, it’s no wonder that Aurous has already been likened to a “Popcorn Time for music”, a branding that could yet prove to be both blessing and curse in equal amounts, depending on one’s perspective.

The software, which TF tested in pre-alpha, is not yet available to the public but that hasn’t stopped anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp jumping into the fray with both feet. Last Friday the troubled company issued a press release, claiming to have a solution to the threat supposedly posed by Aurous.

Highlighting the decentralized approach taken by developer Andrew Sampson, Rightscorp warned potential customers that Aurous could not be dealt with by regular means. Monetizing piracy will be their only chance, the company argued.

“Aurous’ technology will be unaffected by take-down notices, site blocking and will not use Pirate Bay or any domain names that can be blocked,” the company warned.

“It will distribute the music search metadata via the peer-to-peer networks, allowing the ability to stream large amounts of free music illegally and providing a very easy-to-use interface to the BitTorrent network.”


Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec added that there is a “lot of concern” over the impending Aurous launch but noted that his company can provide a solution.

“The Aurous app allows for access to a large amount of free music, acting like a Spotify, however, offering zero payments to the rightsholder,” Sabec said.

“Rightscorp’s ability to get individual seeders to stop seeding will be the only scalable way to stop this next explosion of free music,” he added.

TorrentFreak asked Sampson to comment on Rightscorp’s announcement and the somewhat irritated developer responded.

“Rightscorp has no idea how our technology works, nor our plans at protecting right holders from copyright infringement and giving copyright holders the tools for managing their content, monetizing and/or protecting work their work,” he told TF.

“We announced earlier through Twitter [well before the Rightscorp announcement] that we will be creating a content-id system and DMCA portal so we can ensure Aurous does not infringe on anyone’s copyrights. Because this system is still so premature in its development, we can’t give more details, however, we can assure you Rightscorp is wrong.”

Sampson insists that first and foremost Aurous is a music player, albeit one with search engines that leverage existing APIs from “completely legal and licensed services” backed up by the power of P2P.

“The P2P portion of Aurous is nothing more than a comprehensive and cached list of these searches so results can be delivered faster to users as spoken about in our tech blog. While you can search across P2P, it is not a default option, our P2P search option is there for hard to find copy-left content, but in that regard, is still a search engine.”

Sampson feels that by announcing an anti-piracy solution for a product that hasn’t even been released yet Rightscorp has jumped the gun somewhat. However, the likelihood that this is almost certainly an attempt to grab publicity isn’t lost on the developer.

“The fear mongering by Rightscorp is nothing more than babble and attempts to garner clients to ‘protect’ them from our application which hasn’t even been released,” Sampson says.

“Maybe Rightscorp should read this piece. A French economist predicted the current state of music 40 years ago. The music industry is killing itself. We live in a world were licensed material can be streamed close to 200,000,000 times from Spotify and the writer for that song receives a pitiful $5,600.

“But according to many studies, sells are still at an all time high. Aurous is here to change the music industry for the better,” Sampson concludes.

This isn’t the first time that Rightscorp has attempted to ride on the tails of a ‘new’ sharing phenomenon. Late August the company launch its Popcorn Time ‘mitigation service’ but in reality its offering was the same old model with a new coat of promotional paint.

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