All posts by Andy

Google’s Top UK “Where to Watch” Searches Weren’t a Piracy Concern in 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/googles-top-where-to-watch-searches-werent-a-piracy-concern-in-2019-191211/

That Google knows every detail of what its users search for is no secret – after all, the company itself processes all of the requests.

Armed with this data, Google publishes its annual ‘Year in Search‘ report, the latest of which appeared yesterday. From our perspective, there were very few – if any – piracy-related aspects to report, something which should be encouraging to rightsholders.

However, after the BBC published its take on Google’s UK search statistics, noting that several questions in the “How to” category were directed at how to watch sports events and TV shows, the Federation Against Copyright Theft took to Twitter to issue a warning.

“Whether it’s a re-stream on social media, a piracy site, or using a TV-connected device, avoiding official providers to access content is illegal,” FACT wrote, linking to the BBC article.

Of course, it is FACT’s job to draw attention to such things but we wondered, given that Google is quite specific about the top titles searched for in 2019, whether Google’s search results were worthy of particular panic. Or, indeed, whether “where to watch” searches should always be considered dangerous and piracy related. But first, some background.

Over the past several years, copyright holders and anti-piracy groups have regularly complained that Google and other search engines help people find content online in a way that prioritizes pirated over legitimate content.

That isn’t the company’s intention, of course, but there have been numerous instances of pirate sites appearing higher in searches than those offering licensed content. In the UK, Google and various industry players agreed to tackle this and similar issues with the signing of a voluntary anti-piracy agreement back in 2017.

So, when placed alongside these top “how to” searches, has it worked?

#1: How to watch Champions League Final

This search clearly related to the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool from which the latter emerged victorious, two goals to nil. However, the related Google search is particularly interesting since all of the top results showed users how to watch the match for free.

While that might sound like a cause for concern, these results linked exclusively to completely legal streams offered via established broadcasters. Clearly, the incentive to pirate had been mostly eliminated by giving consumers what they want.

#2: How to watch Game of Thrones

As one of the most popular shows in living memory, it’s no surprise that Game of Thrones appears in Google’s top search lists for the UK. In past years, this kind of search would’ve likely displayed ‘pirate’ results prominently but that is no longer the case. In our tests we had to go through several pages of Google results with links to either buy the show or articles detailing how to watch the show legally first. Pirate results were not prominent.

#5: How to watch KSI vs. Logan

Given the controversy surrounding this pair of YouTube celebrities, searches on how to watch the fight were bound to score highly. However, a search for the fight yet again yielded pages and pages of legitimate sources or articles detailing how to access the bout legally.

#10: How to watch Chernobyl

The results displayed following a “where to watch Chernobyl” search are very similar to those that are returned following a similar Game of Thrones query. One has to skip through pages and pages of legitimate results to find any pirate sources and, on the way, the emphasis to go legal is clear.

The legal choices, as they appear in Google’s results, are as follows: YouTube, Google Play, Amazon, NowTV, HBO, Sky, Hulu, iTunes, Showmax, DirectTV, HBONordic, HBOGo, and Verizon. Admittedly, not all of those are available to UK users, but that’s four pages deep into the results and not one pirate link in sight.

Conclusion

While this is a very limited sample, there does appear to have been a notable change in the way that Google displays its results in the UK when faced with a basic query of “where to watch X”. There is now a pretty clear bias towards legitimate sources in results presented in the first few pages.

Of course, those that wish to refine their searches to actively seek out pirated content will have more immediate success, that’s the way searches work. However, it’s now more difficult to argue that users will be diverted to pirated sources when they’re seeking out legal options, at least for the samples listed above.

It’s worth noting, however, that pirate users’ viewing habits are probably shifting. There is now less reliance on search engines and more emphasis on apps and tools that are designed to produce infringing results by default, which is the exact opposite of what Google offers in respect of the above.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Helix IPTV: Hackers Threaten to Expose Resellers & Customers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/helix-iptv-hackers-threaten-to-expose-resellers-customers-191210/

Pirate IPTV providers have become a pretty big deal in recent years.

Offering cut-price access to otherwise subscription TV channels, PPVs, and video-on-demand archives, customers have flocked to them in their millions.

One popular provider operating in the space is Helix Hosting but if a message that appeared on the service’s homepage is anything to go by, the Christmas period may become memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The statement, published hours ago on the official Helix Hosting homepage, claimed that Helix had been hacked and was being held to ransom. The implication of the message was typical: Helix should pay up to appease the attackers or face potential damage to their business.

“Helix Hosting Has Been Hacked – They have had the option to pay a small amount to protect its customers or have all customer details leaked online putting you all at risk,” the message read.

“They have chosen to not accept this offer and would prefer your details to be leaked online.”

Pay up – or else

The overall threat was to release the personal details of all customers and resellers of Helix but to “make it fair”, the proposed leak would also expose “at the least” one owner and/or staff member of the service along with their name, address, phone numbers, and IP addresses.

While someone had clearly placed the message on the front page of the site, other areas of the Helix site remained functional for a while. At the time the ‘hacked’ notice appeared, Helix’s app and repo indexes were functioning normally and its web player login page was also accessible.

However, as the minutes passed by, other aspects of the web portal were apparently disabled and the ransom message disappeared too. This morning, however, the ‘hacked’ message is back for all to see.

Only time will tell how this episode will end and whether the threats to go nuclear on Helix over its failure to “pay a small amount” will be carried out. It’s also unclear what information Helix holds and what use that information would be to third-parties, even if it was leaked online.

The warning currently on display still mentions a 23:00 deadline to pay the ransom but there is no indication of which day, country, or time zone that refers to. So, depending on the timing, the leak could’ve happened already, could be about to happen, or may not even happen at all.

That said, giving in to blackmail is a big decision to make, especially when copies of data are easily made leaving attackers in a position to have a second bite at the cherry on a whim.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

The Pirate Bay is Trialing High-Quality Video Streaming Links

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-is-trialing-high-quality-video-streaming-links-191209/

The Pirate Bay is well known for its huge database of magnet links which allow users to download most types of content imaginable.

Over the past few days, however, the platform has been adding a brand new feature that will please those who prefer to access movies and TV shows instantly, rather than waiting for them to download.

As the image below shows, in addition to the familiar magnet and trusted uploader icons displayed alongside video and TV show releases, the site also features a small orange ‘B’ graphic.

In some cases (but currently not all), pressing these buttons when they appear next to a video release diverts users to a new platform called BayStream. Here, the chosen content can be streamed directly in the browser using a YouTube-style player interface.

Loading times appear swift when the content is actually available and as the screenshot below shows, the material appears to be sourced, at least in some cases, from torrent releases.

BayStream.co in-browser video player

The new feature appears to be in its early stages of development and in tests doesn’t always perform as planned. In particular, accessing the ‘B’ links using various Pirate Bay ‘proxy’ sites can cause them to break with various errors. Nevertheless, when things go to plan (usually when selecting more popular content) the system appears effective.

When one accesses the BayStream homepage directly, without using links found on TPB, what appears is a fairly plain file-hosting upload interface. It claims that files up to 20GB can be uploaded and stored on the platform and at least for now, there’s no mention of premium accounts or affiliate programs.

BayStream upload page

The big question, perhaps, is whether this is a Pirate Bay-operated platform or one run by outsiders. The familiar ‘Kopimi‘ logo at the bottom suggests that it could be someone who supports the ‘pirate’ movement but anyone can use the image freely, so that’s not the best pointer.

Public sources reveal that the site does have other links to Sweden and in some cases entities linked, however loosely, to the Kopimist movement. But again, those don’t provide solid pointers to the nature or identities of the operators of the site.

The Pirate Bay previously launched its own file-hosting platform, BayFiles, way back in 2011. That disappeared after the 2014 raid on a Stockholm datacenter but was later relaunched under new ownership.

The addition of BayStream links to The Pirate Bay isn’t the first time that the world’s most famous torrent site has dipped its toes into streaming waters. In 2016, the site experimented with ‘Stream It!” links next to all video torrents, playable via a browser plug-in called Torrents-Time.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

RIAA Shut Down DBR.ee, Now Obtains Subpoenas to Target Replacement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-shut-down-dbr-ee-obtains-subpoenas-to-target-replacement-191208/

In May 2019, TF discovered that the RIAA had obtained a DMCA subpoena which compelled CDN company Cloudflare to reveal the identities of several site operators using its services.

Among the several domains listed was DBR.ee, a file-hosting site that had was utilized by some of its users for hosting pre-release music leaks. This clearly didn’t sit well with the RIAA and within a month of the subpoena being obtained, DBR.ee shut itself down.

Initially it wasn’t clear if the subpoena and the closure were linked but soon after a message appeared on the site which advised that it had been shut down for copyright infringement following action by the RIAA, IFPI, and Music Canada.

The DBR.ee shutdown notice

Early September, however, a new site appeared. Sporting the DBREE name and graphics but located under a different URL (DBREE.co), the site seemed to want to pick up where the original had left off. It’s not currently known whether the same people are behind the resurrection but the RIAA appears keen to find out.

Late November the RIAA obtained a pair of DMCA subpoenas at a Columbia federal court, one targeting domain registrar Namecheap and the other CDN service Cloudflare. Their aim is to uncover the identities of several site operators, DBREE.co’s included.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the individual assigned to these websites who has induced the infringement of, and has directly engaged in the infringement of, our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization,” the subpoenas read.

DBREE.co stands accused of infringement on three tracks – Lover by Taylor Swift, Under the Graveyard by Ozzy Osbourne, and Thailand by Lil Uzi Vert.

FLACC.org, a music release blog that links to content hosted elsewhere, is also accused of infringing copyrights on three tracks from Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, and Tech N9ne.

Hiphopeasy.xyz, an album, single, and mixtape indexing site, is currently offline. Nevertheless, the RIAA claims it infringed the rights of Post Malone, Travis Scott, and Ed Sheeran. Another platform, identified by the RIAA as operating from Ovzy.xyz and its subdomains, is also inaccessible.

As usual, the subpoenas require Namecheap and Cloudflare to give up every piece of information they hold on the site’s alleged operators. Both companies are also asked to consider “the widespread and infringing nature” of the sites to determine whether they are in breach of terms of service agreements or repeat infringer policies.

Whether Namecheap or Cloudflare have any useful information to hand over to the RIAA remains to be seen but they are both expected to comply.

The DMCA subpoenas are available here and here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

WinRAR Nukes Pirate Keygen But is a “Good Guy” Towards Regular Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/winrar-locks-pirate-keygen-but-the-good-guy-towards-regular-users-191207/

There’s a high probability that most people reading this article will be familiar with the image on the right.

That’s because in computing terms, data compression tool WinRAR has been around for what seems like forever.

Indeed, with its 25th birthday coming up next April, WinRAR launched before many of its users were even born. Nevertheless, it has stood the tests of time and according to the latest estimates, now has around 500 million users.

Indeed, the company told us this week that WinRAR is the third most installed software in the world behind Chrome and Acrobat Reader. The reason for that, at least in part, is the company’s liberal business model.

Perhaps the most curious thing about this ubiquitous tool is that while WinRAR gives the impression of being free, technically it is paid software. Users get a 40-day period to trial the tool and then, if they like it, they can part with cash in order to obtain a license.

However, WinRAR never times out and relies completely on users’ inclination to pay for something that doesn’t need to be paid for to retain functionality. As a result, WinRAR has huge numbers of pirate users yet the company does pretty much nothing to stop them.

Those who do pay for a license get rid of a ‘nag’ screen and gain a couple of features that most people don’t need. But for pirates (and the tool is massively popular with pirates), an unlicensed WinRAR still does what it’s supposed to, i.e unpacking all those pesky compressed pirate releases.

Of course, there are people out there who would still rather not pay a penny to use a piece of software that is essentially free to use. So, in order to obtain a ‘license’ and get rid of the nag screen, they use a piece of software called a ‘keygen’ that generates one for them.

The company behind WinRAR doesn’t seem to care too much about casual piracy but it is bothered about keygens. This week we spotted a lawyer for the company Win.rar GmbH filing a complaint with code repository Github targeting such a tool.

“We have put in a licensing generation system that is impossible to decrypt (until now that is). This system works by our employees generating a unique .key file and the end user putting it in their WinRAR installation directory so in that way the product activates,” the notice states.

“It violates our technological measures by the repo holding the source code and the compiled application to a custom-created keygen which is built to bypass our licensing generation system and allows end users to create their own unique .key files for no charge which therefore bypasses our technological measures.”

The format of the DMCA notice is part of a growing trend. It doesn’t claim that the keygen copies WinRAR’s code but instead states that it violates the company’s rights by breaching the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. As such, the notice cannot be easily countered.

“This GitHub repository violates a section of 17 U.S.C. § 1201 which is a part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the notice adds.

“Since 17 U.S.C. § 1201 doesn’t have a counter-notification process if GitHub does not provide one then appealing of this notice is improbable. GitHub is legally not required to provide an appeals system for anti-circumvention cases.”

Github didn’t waste any time taking the repository down but before it disappeared, this is what it looked like. Notice the Chinese text at the top, which is of special interest.

The author of the tool identifies as Double Sine or DoubleLabyrinth, hailing from Tianjin University in China. He or she seems to have created the keygen as a technical challenge but there is some irony to be found in the coder’s location.

Since 2015, WinRAR has provided a completely free version of WinRAR for regular users in China. This, the company said, was to thank people for sticking with WinRAR over the years.

“We are proud to announce that after years of hard work, we now finally provide a completely free Simplified Chinese version of WinRAR to individual users in China,” a note on the local website reads.

“You can now officially download and use WinRAR completely free of charge from winrar.com.cn, without searching or downloading cracked products, or looking for illegal versions, or downloading from unsafe websites at risk of security.”

Speaking with TorrentFreak, a representative from WinRAR’s marketing team couldn’t immediately elaborate on the specifics of the DMCA notice but noted that people shouldn’t really have a need to pirate its product.

“Indeed this is an interesting case, as we also don’t see the necessity of using a pirated version of WinRAR instead of our trial version. We know that our licensing policy for end customers is not as strict as with other software publishers, but for us it is still important that WinRAR is being used, even if the trial period might be over,” the representative said.

“From a legal perspective, everybody should buy at the end of the trial, but we still think that at least uncompressing content should be still possible as unrar.exe is open source anyway.”

The company also highlighted the existence of cartoons and memes on the Internet which relate to WinRAR’s indefinite trial, noting that “we like all of them and it meets our sense of humor.”

Perhaps more importantly, however, the company understands the importance of maintaining the positive image it’s earned by not persecuting users who use the product beyond its trial period. Going after them isn’t on the agenda but they would prefer people not to go down the piracy route.

“[I]n the field of private users we have always been the ‘good guys’ by not starting legal actions against every private user using it beyond the trial period, thus we also don’t understand the need of pirated license keys for WinRAR,” the company concludes.

Rival open source tools such as 7-Zip offer similar functionality for free, no keygens needed or nag screens in sight. But, for the majority of users, WinRAR remains the tool of choice, even after a quarter of a century. It’s a remarkable achievement backed up by an intriguing business model.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

The Pirate Bay Moves to a Brand New Onion Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-moves-to-a-brand-new-onion-domain-191206/

The Pirate Bay has been operating one of its original domains – thepiratebay.org – for well over 15 years. During that same period, it has also burned through countless others due to anti-piracy action all around the globe.

The Pirate Bay is also one of the most blocked platforms on the planet for the same reason, something that has led to the creation of hundreds of proxy sites, set up to facilitate access to the index, regardless of which official domain is in use.

Last evening the operator of a site that indexes links to some of these proxies told TorrentFreak that their owners had noticed that The Pirate Bay’s Onion site had been down for several hours, which is unusual. After further investigation, it was discovered that the site had switched from the extremely messy uj3wazyk5u4hnvtk.onion to piratebayztemzmv.onion.

Accessible via the Tor browser, for example, Onion domains grant access to the so-called ‘dark web’, which is a fancy way of describing sites and services that aren’t visible using a normal search engine or accessible by regular means. In the case of TPB, being hidden inside the Tor network also provides extra security for the raid and lawsuit-prone index.

While there has been no official announcement from TPB’s operators about the Onion domain switch, the new address can now be seen when hovering over the ‘Tor’ link on the site. Exactly why the site’s operators made the change isn’t entirely clear, however.

The new Onion domain is certainly easier to read than the old one, but still not easy to remember. That being said, it is an improvement over its predecessor and now is probably a very good time to get everyone familiar with it.

As reported here recently, the Internet Society is in the process of selling the Public Interest Registry which currently controls The Pirate Bay’s .org domain. As a result, there are concerns that the new owners may throw the infamous domain overboard on copyright grounds.

If that does indeed happen, the Onion domain will certainly come in handy, as will the hundreds of pre-existing proxy sites currently doing a dance around dozens of blockades, all around the world.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Meet the Guy Behind the Libgen Torrent Seeding Movement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/meet-the-guy-behind-the-libgen-torrent-seeding-movement-191205/

Whenever Library Genesis (Libgen) or Sci-Hub hit the headlines, what tends to follow is a fracturing of opinion on where these sites sit in the piracy landscape.

Both are best known for their massive archives of scientific articles and research papers. They are also notable for their absolute commitment to the spread of knowledge for the betterment of society as a whole. This means that even some otherwise staunch opponents of piracy pause for thought.

While huge publishing companies want them gone, support for these platforms among the knowledge-thirsty can be robust. Just over a week ago, the passion for keeping Libgen alive became evident in a Reddit thread (posted by a user known as ‘shrine’) titled ‘Charitable seeding for nonprofit scientific torrents’

“Libgen is a 33 terabyte scientific library with 2.4 million free books covering science, engineering, and medicine,” ‘shrine’ began.

“It’s the largest free library in the world, servicing tens of thousands of scientists and medical professionals around the world who live in developing countries that can’t afford to buy books and scientific journals. There’s almost nothing else like this on Earth – they’re using torrents to fulfill World Health Organization and U.N. charters.”

However, the torrents used by Libgen were not in good shape so ‘shrine’ began a movement to boost the quality of their swarms. The project was quickly spotted and then supported by two companies (Seedbox.io and UltraSeedbox.com) that offer ‘seedboxes’, effectively server-based torrent clients with plenty of storage space and bandwidth available – perfect for giving swarms a boost.

The project gained plenty of traction and as a follow-up thread details, considerable success. Today we catch up with ‘shrine’ for some history, background information, and an interesting status report.

“Ironically this all started when I saw the TorrentFreak article about [Libgen] mirrors getting taken down. I immediately decided I wanted to find a way to preserve and protect the collection,” ‘shrine’ says.

“I started out, but realized that the Plex server in my living room wouldn’t be enough to back up the largest free library in the world. That’s when I wrote my plea to /r/datahoarder hoping for a few guys to help out. Once the project exploded my role since then has been coordinating the hundreds of seed donations out of my Google Doc and answering as many questions as I can.”

Shrine is completely unconnected to the Libgen site but says he’s been a user for years. Before his project began he didn’t have a clear idea of how the site operated or what it took to keep it online but he’s now focused on two primary goals – back up Libgen and distribute the data so that people can find new ways to utilize it.

“The collection we’re seeding now is 32TB (18%) of [Libgen’s] total collection, so it’s just the first step in preserving the project,” he says, pointing to Libgen’s stats page.

We asked ‘shrine’ if any stats on swarm strengths were taken when the project began, so a comparison can be made today. He told us that an index for the collection didn’t even exist a week ago, so planning and coordination was difficult. However, some stats are available.

“The first thing I did was find a way to scrape the torrents to motivate seeders and track progress. I started collecting data on November 30th using a very cool open source indexer on GitLab,” he reveals.

Project data (Nov 30 to Dec 4)

While the previously-mentioned seedbox suppliers provided a huge boost to the project, there are plenty of anonymous donors and supporters behind the scenes too, even people who had no previous experience of using BitTorrent.

“I am overjoyed with the outpour of support. I have PMs from people who’ve never torrented before, have 1GB to spare, and want to know the best torrent client,” ‘shrine’ notes.

“Scientists in the Reddit threads are sharing stories of how LibGen made their research possible. Unnamed cloud providers have pledged 100TB allocation on their servers. The response has been overwhelmingly positive from everyone.”

Although ‘shrine’ regularly uses the term “we” in respect of seeding, he points out that he’s the project evangelist and there’s “nothing but Linux ISOs” on his own server. Nevertheless, the project has now turned into a movement, one that could have a profound effect on the overall free availability of scientific research.

“I only know there is no way to take the books back once they’ve been seeded. It’s a permanent library card for the world,” ‘shrine’ concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Greece Jails First Pirate Site Operator For Five Years

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/greece-jails-first-pirate-site-operator-for-five-years-191204/

For almost a decade, an anti-piracy group in Greece has been trying to bring the elusive operator of pirate sites to justice.

EPOE protects the rights of entertainment industry companies including those in the film and television sectors. It filed criminal prosecutions against the alleged operator of the site Greekstars four times since 2009 but the processes were never straightforward.

According to EPOE, each time a complaint was filed, the operator closed down his site and then reappeared under new domain names, which were variations on the original Greekstar branding. The final criminal action was filed way back in 2012 but has taken years to come to a conclusion. Now, however, it is all over.

After a legal process of years, in November an Athens court rejected the defendant’s protests of innocence, including that he was simply a user of the sites in question and had been wrongly accused.

The court found the man guilty of criminal copyright infringement and sentenced him to five years in prison for running sites including Greekstars.net and Greekstars.co. He had previously been found guilty of running a pirate site located at Greekstars.biz. All of the sites linked to pirated content hosted on other platforms.

This is the first time that an individual has been sent to prison for running a pirate site in Greece, a landmark event according to EPOE spokesperson Theodoros Petsinis.

“This convicted criminal had been sued four times by us. Each time a lawsuit was filed and the investigation was initiated, he would change his domain name, that is, the name of the website, and continue illegal distribution,” Petsinis told local media. “Identical content with another website name. He has been elusive for four years sharing movies, music, books and video games.”

According to Petsinis, the presiding judges decided not to levy a fine as part of the man’s punishment due to “mitigating factors”, including that fining someone already in prison would be “meaningless”.

While this first prison sentence is a key moment for Greece’s entertainment companies, the problem of piracy in the country is far from solved. EPOE believes there are between 40 and 50 sites active in the country, with around five attracting the most traffic.

The anti-piracy group previously entered a request for 38 domains to be blocked by ISPs but Petsinis complains that most of the sites simply changed their domains, effectively out-maneuvering the action. And, despite the efforts, Greece remains under the scrutiny of the United States for not doing enough to counter copyright infringement.

In its latest Special 301 Report (pdf), the USTR opted to keep Greece on the ‘Watch List’. It accused the government itself of using unlicensed software while conducting ineffective IP investigations and prosecutions. The USTR also criticized the country for having “persistent problems with criminal enforcement delays”, which could certainly apply to the Greekstars case.

However, with this five-year prison sentence, Greece does seem to have addressed the complaints from the US that the scale of sentences for persistent large-scale copyright infringers is “insufficient”.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Russia Blocks Shutterstock Domain, Restricting Access to Legitimate Copyrighted Content

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocks-shutterstock-domain-restricting-access-to-legitimate-copyrighted-content-191203/

Many countries around the world have systems in place to block access to copyright-infringing content and even entire sites.

Russia’s system is particularly streamlined and has resulted in large volumes of pirate sites being rendered inaccessible to the country’s citizens.

However, Russia’s blocking system isn’t only used to protect rightsholders. It’s regularly used to prevent access to terrorism-related material and other content considered dangerous to the public or even insulting to the state.

On November 28, 2019, US-based stock footage site Shutterstock appeared on Russia’s registry of banned domains. Authority for the blocking was granted by the Prosecutor General’s Office on November 13, 2019, and as shown in the image below, covers one domain and two IP addresses.

At first view, one might consider this to be a copyright infringement issue. However, those who visit the URL detailed at the top of the notice will find what appears to be an image of a Russian flag placed in the middle of a pile of excrement. Russian authorities do not take kindly to their national symbols depicted in such a fashion and have laws in place to prevent it.

As a result, Russian ISPs are now blocking two Shutterstock-related IP addresses (one in Germany, one in the Netherlands) which are both operated by cloud company Akamai. Whether other sites using the same IP addresses are also being affected is currently unclear.

For good measure, Russia is also targeting the image.shutterstock.com domain. As highlighted by Russian digital rights group Roskomsvoboda, which first reported the news, this is particularly problematic since rather than tackling just a single URL, a whole HTTPS subdomain is in the register.

While overblocking is never welcome, the great irony here is that while the Russian blacklist is often used to protect the rights of content creators, it is now effectively restricting their ability to do legitimate business in Russia via Shutterstock. Whether the company will remove the image to resolve the matter remains to be seen.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Premier League Piracy Case Ends In ‘Record Damages’, Suspended Sentences

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-piracy-case-ends-in-record-damages-suspended-sentences-191202/

With the rise of convenient web-based live streaming, in recent years the Premier League has found itself on the front lines of anti-piracy enforcement.

While a significant proportion of its actions are targeted at illicit offerings available in the UK, the Premier League doesn’t shy away from tackling those who offer live games in other areas of the world too.

The group, which operates top-tier football in England, says it launched an investigation which was taken on by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation in 2015. That developed into a covert investigation in Hong Kong during 2017 targeting individuals behind various websites operating under the banner Expat.tv.

The trail eventually led back to an operation in Thailand which offered pirate streams and preloaded set-top boxes across southeast Asia including Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Raids were subsequently carried out by Thailand’s DSI at five locations including a residential address in Bangkok on May 11, 2017. Two British men were arrested and a Thai woman was detained at a later date.

One of the men subsequently skipped bail but the remaining pair faced charges, including copyright infringement, relating to the unlicensed distribution of Premier League content and running a major ‘piracy network’ across Asia. Both pleaded guilty and have now been sentenced.

The Premier League reports the pair have paid damages to them totaling THB 15 million (around £385,000) which, according to the League, is one of the highest damages awards for copyright infringement ever paid in Thailand.

This is an addition to funds of almost THB 7 million (£180,000) that were seized by the state, THB 3 million (£76,800) in fines, plus suspended prison sentences totaling 3.5 years.

“This is one of the most substantial compensations for piracy-related crimes in Thailand and is a stark warning to anyone involved in the illegal supply of Premier League streams,” says Premier League Director of Legal Services Kevin Plumb. 

“Attitudes towards, and acceptance of, these types of operators in Asia is changing, which is good news for fans who watch Premier League content through legitimate channels.”

This latest success for the Premier League can be added to the growing list of anti-piracy victories reported by the football group in recent times which include dynamic blocking injunctions and dealing with the sprawling problem of premium IPTV services.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

EBook Piracy Case Plaintiff Vents Frustrations, Judge Responds

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ebook-piracy-case-plaintiff-vents-frustrations-judge-responds-191201/

In March, US-based author John Van Stry filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Travis McCrea, the operator of eBook download platform eBook.bike.

To say early progress in the case was disorganized is something of an understatement. With a relatively inexperienced McCrea opting to defend himself, things were never likely to go particularly smoothly.

Nevertheless, in September things appeared to get back on track, with McCrea eventually filing an answer to the complaint, pushing matters on to the next stage. Since then, however, the plaintiff and his attorney have grown increasingly frustrated with McCrea’s alleged conduct and tactics.

Back in August during a scheduling conference, the court indicated a desire to keep costs as low as possible during the discovery process, to the benefit of both plaintiff and defendant. According to a motion to compel discovery filed by the plaintiff this week, however, McCrea is allegedly frustrating the discovery process.

“Defendant has been acting at cross-purposes with the Court; bringing all progress in the case to a standstill by providing no response to discovery requests, much less any discovery; delaying by habitually requiring weeks and numerous emails from Plaintiff before Defendant responds to simple inquiries, such as indicating whether Defendant received the discovery requests,” the motion reads.

What follows is a laundry list of complaints, too numerous to cover here in detail. In summary, however, there are many accusations that McCrea promised to do things he subsequently didn’t, including missing deadlines, failing to communicate properly, if at all, and generally bogging the process down.

Van Stry’s attorney further accuses McCrea of “needlessly” driving up costs by “propounding discovery that Defendant never collected, and proposing a settlement requiring Plaintiff’s counsel to draft an agreement quickly, and then ignoring communications from Plaintiff regarding the same once drafted.”

In respect of the settlement, McCrea is said to have proposed terms that suited Van Stry and a draft was drawn up and sent to McCrea in advance of the required date of October 11, 2019. On October 9, counsel for the plaintiff reached out to McCrea to confirm receipt of the agreement and asked when a reply could be expected.

After McCrea’s own deadline passed without communication, on October 15 Van Stry’s legal team set a deadline of their own – October 18. McCrea reportedly got in touch on the day but then requested an amendment to the agreement, which was accepted and redrafted within hours.

A new deadline of October 21 passed without communication so on October 23, counsel for the plaintiff asked McCrea, “If there is some impediment to executing the agreement, please let us know.” According to the filing, a response to that statement was never received.

“Plaintiff can only speculate why Mr. McCrea would propose a settlement, making Plaintiff’s counsel scramble in order to achieve the objective after Plaintiff agreed to the settlement, and then ignore communication regarding the same, but such speculation by Plaintiff leads only to harmful motives on Mr. McCrea’s part,” the motion reads.

According to counsel for Van Stry, McCrea “is simply failing to prioritize” the litigation he’s involved in. McCrea is reportedly moving house but the plaintiff believes that the case is “at least on par” with the former Pirate Party leader’s commitments in respect of moving and working.

To highlight that McCrea isn’t taking things seriously, Van Stry’s team indicate they have been watching McCrea’s Reddit activity, noting that he’s had time to post “over 100 times” on the platform during October and November but not deal with the lawsuit efficiently.

In closing, the author’s attorney asks the court to set McCrea a quick deadline to deliver his discovery responses.

“Plaintiff is asking the Court to recognize Mr. McCrea’s behavior as unacceptable, and asking that Mr. McCrea be given a tight and strict deadline to fully respond to the interrogatories and RFPs or face consequences,” the motion concludes.

The response from the court was swift. Two days later an order appeared on the docket ordering McCrea to take action or face the consequences.

“Because of the apparent lack of progress in the discovery process in this case and the impending deadlines for the close of discovery and the filing of dispositive motions, the defendant is ordered to respond to the motion by 5:00 pm, Central (U.S.) Time, on December 2, 2019,” Judge Bryson writes.

“In the absence of a response from the defendant by that time, the motion will be treated as unopposed, and the Court will take action based on the allegations in the motion.”

The motion to compel and subsequent order can be found here and here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

‘Pirate’ IPTV Reseller Boom Media Wants $250,000 in Donations to Fight Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-reseller-boom-media-wants-250000-in-donations-to-fight-lawsuit-191130/

Until recently, Boom Media was one of the most active and recognizable ‘pirate’ IPTV reseller brands available to the public.

Operating in the United States under the name Boom Media LLC, the company acted as a reseller for IPTV subscription services including MFG TV, Beast TV, Nitro TV, Murica Streams, Epic IPTV, Vader Streams, and OK2.

As reported early November, this attracted the unwanted attention of DISH Network and partner NagraStar, who teamed up to sue Boom Media LLC and son and mother team John and Debra Henderson.

The broadcaster claimed that the Boom Media service, which was allegedly operated from John’s home, received payments from customers via accounts operated by mother Debra. This operation, DISH said, resulted in willful violations of the company’s rights under the Federal Communications Act.

While some of DISH’s similar lawsuits have dragged on for some time in court, there’s evidence to suggest that in addition to obtaining cash settlements from targets such as Boom, the broadcaster views such litigation as a stepping-stone to further litigation against their associates. And, of course, more settlements.

John Henderson certainly believes this is the case. In an expletive-ridden video posted to YouTube this week, he says that DISH and NagraStar want to break him down in their hunt for information on others involved in the IPTV supply and consumption chain.

He says he’s not comfortable with that at all so he wants to take the fight to DISH in order to prevent that from happening. But of course, that will take money – lots of money – and he wants that to be donated by former customers and other interested parties.

“I set up a GoFundMe to help me pay for legal fees. The point of that is i’m gonna take this shit to a trial by jury, that’s my intent. So basically, the lawyer just to start is $15,000,” he says.

“The basic point is in order for me to get any kind of settlement, I have to turn over information on fucking everything, everything I’ve ever known, and I’m just not comfortable doing that. Yeah, so you bought [subscriptions to IPTV services through Boom] but they have the right to subpoena Google and PayPal.”

The $15,000 to get started is, well, just that. The GoFundMe currently has a target of $250,000 but whether that sizeable amount will cover the costs of lengthy litigation is up for debate. Nevertheless, Henderson says that by biting back, he can stop DISH from getting his customers’ details and sending them demands for cash settlements for alleged piracy.

“What they’ve done with these cookie-cutter lawsuits is that they’ve turned them into a stream of revenue for themselves. This isn’t really about fucking lawsuits and protecting anything at this point, it’s about getting information to send you a fucking letter demanding $3,500, which is what they’ve been doing with everyone.

“Everyone has settled, no one has taken them to trial, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it unfolds,” he says.

Henderson acknowledges that the legal process is going to cost “a shit-load of money” but if people don’t want to support him, “that’s fine”. However, he warns that these types of cases can set a precedent and handing over the information is something he wants to avoid, to protect everyone in the supply and consumption chain.

“I think I have some valid points why they shouldn’t be able to get that information at all. That’s really all there is to it, I’m asking for support. I think resellers across the fucking globe should be jumping on this because whatever happens to me, does affect you because now they can say ‘we got this from Boom Media’, this is the way it worked out, now you must settle,” he adds.

Henderson believes that IPTV providers themselves should also take an interest in a successful outcome to the case because if resellers are no longer a legal target, they won’t have any reason to give up information on their suppliers.

“The only reason that people are getting snitched on is because resellers are pussies, I mean that’s just the way it is,” he claims.

Boom Media: We need $250,000 to fight DISH lawsuit

“I have [the GoFundMe] up for $250,000. I know that when TVAddons was going through this, that’s pretty much how it went. They just bled them dry,” Henderson says.

While TVAddons did have a huge legal dispute with DISH that undoubtedly cost founder Adam Lackman a lot of money, Lackman insists that he never handed over his users’ data to DISH. That suggests there may be a way out of Henderson’s situation without compromising his suppliers and former customers but only time will tell if a jury trial can deliver the type of victory that avoids that.

If it even gets that far, that is.

While a quarter of a million dollars is a significant sum, Henderson fully expects to face tactics designed to break his ability to fight back. Already he claims that DISH is attempting to get a gag order to prevent him from telling the world “what garbage they are for suing an innocent woman, my mother, knowing goddamn well she had nothing to do with anything.”

Until he gets served with a gag order, however, he’s not shutting up at all, he insists. Meanwhile, he says that DISH is generating money from a “stupid tax”, a reference to all the IPTV and IKS (Internet Key Sharing) users to whom DISH sends letters and receives settlements in return.

The fundraiser’s goals

“They [DISH] want everything from me. They want my soul, they want all the information, they want me to roll on everyone, which isn’t even really possible but I’m not gonna do it,” Henderson adds.

“I’m fully prepared to go to war over this shit but I’m gonna need financial help. Obviously, everyone knows I’m out of business, that’s the way it is. I’m not a millionaire, I’m not a billionaire, I’m barely a thousandaire.”

Henderson doesn’t provide any proof, but claims that Vader Streams – a pirate IPTV provider that was targeted by the MPA-backed Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment earlier this year, “snitched on everyone, they snitched and they rolled over and they gave up everything.” Prior to the settlement agreement, Vader said it would not compromise customers.

Henderson says he doesn’t want to go down the disclosure route but DISH is on record wanting Boom Media to do just that. In addition to a permanent injunction against the company, it wants Boom’s domain name plus “all hard copy and electronic records” regarding persons involved in the entire “Rebroadcasting Scheme”.

At the time of writing, the GoFundMe has raised $700 of its $250,000 target.

The original complaint against Boom Media can be found here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Court of Appeal Denies Kim Dotcom Access to Illegal Spy Recordings

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-of-appeal-denies-kim-dotcom-access-to-illegal-spy-recordings-101129/

In the months leading up to the now infamous raid on Kim Dotcom’s New Zealand mansion and his cloud storage site Megaupload, the entrepreneur and his associates were under surveillance.

Between December 2011 and March 2012, New Zealand authorities used the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spy agency to snoop on the private communications of Kim and former wife Mona Dotcom, plus Megaupload co-defendant Bram van der Kolk.

Since the GCSB is forbidden from conducting surveillance on New Zealand citizens or permanent residents in the country, the spying carried out against Dotcom was illegal. The GCSB admitted liability and will at some point pay damages, but Dotcom also demanded access to the recordings.

In 2017, however, the High Court rejected Dotcom’s access request, stating that the release of the intercepted communications would not take place. Citing security concerns, the Court said that the public interest in not disclosing the information outweighed the benefits of disclosure.

This denial triggered a claim by Dotcom to the Court of Appeal. The result of that process is now in and it’s more bad news for the Megaupload founder.

“The intercepted communications are relevant, and there is a public interest in them being disclosed so they may be put to use in and for purposes of this proceeding. Natural justice and open justice are the two dimensions to the public interest in favor of disclosure,” a Court of Appeal statement reads.

However, the Court believes that disclosure is not absolutely necessary for justice to be done in this particular case. Furthermore, it must also weigh the broader public interest and potential fallout that could harm national security, if the GCSB’s methods are compromised.

“The GCSB has admitted liability; what is in issue is the quantum of damages for dignitary losses. Summaries of information already disclosed will permit a fair trial in this case. The GCSB’s claim that disclosure would harm national security and international relations is well-founded. The balancing exercise favors non-disclosure,” the Court concludes.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Gears Reloaded / OMI IN A HELLCAT IPTV Raid: Eye Witnesses Appear on TV

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/gears-reloaded-omi-in-a-hellcat-iptv-raid-eye-witnesses-appear-on-tv-191128/

If US-based anti-piracy groups needed a recognizable local icon to rival the flamboyance of Kim Dotcom, last week they appeared to get one.

Omar Carrasquillo – better known by his YouTube name OMI IN A HELLCAT – is the founder of ‘pirate’ IPTV service Gears Reloaded. Unlike his counterparts behind similar platforms, however, OMI never hid the fact that he was running one of the most recognizable brands in the business.

OMI’s wealth, which included a huge house, the most blingy of jewelry, and a supercar collection to die for, was paraded all over his YouTube channel for everyone to see. But last week it came to an abrupt end. Gears Reloaded unexpectedly closed down and hours later OMI claimed he’d been raided by the FBI and IRS, allegedly for copyright infringement and tax offenses.

When compared to any of OMI’s previous videos, his demeanor made it clear that something catastrophic had happened. Nevertheless, in the absence of any confirmation by the FBI, some people complained that the whole thing was an elaborate fake designed to generate clicks.

Today, following a TV report from Fox 29, any notion that the raid existed only in OMI’s imagination has been dispelled. In the segment, a Fox 29 reporter is seen knocking on OMI’s front door, a home that was previously owned by former Philadelphia Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins.

While the TV crew appears to have received no answer, the channel did manage to speak with some of OMI’s neighbors who confirmed what the YouTuber had been saying all along.

“[The FBI] had like bullet-proof vests on and they had guns drawn and they were very slowly approaching the house next door,” said neighbor Liz Ware.

In respect of OMI’s supercar collection, which some doubters claimed were either still sitting outside or had even been moved by OMI for effect, another neighbor who saw the whole thing recalled what happened.

“They loaded them off one by one through the course of about four or five hours,” said witness John Ware, who appears to be OMI’s next-door neighbor. “They took all the cars. Probably thirty of them.”

Other than OMI’s claims, that the case against him revolves around Gears Reloaded and tax issues, there is still no official confirmation of the allegations against him.

Last week the FBI refused to confirm or deny any operation and after prompting by Fox 29 yesterday, still declined to comment. It’s believed, however, that OMI is yet to be charged.

Interestingly, in a video posted to YouTube a few hours ago by OMI himself, which shows part of the Fox 29 report, the YouTuber said that just a few weeks ago his people asked the IRS “if they were after him” and he was told they were not. However, he’s certainly not happy with the way his accounts were prepared by his tax advisor.

“Back in September when I prepared my taxes, it just didn’t look right. I’m a 100% sure of this, I have 100% proof. I’m not just saying it, it just didn’t look right. My CPA [Certified Public Accountant] …she had access to all my bank accounts. She was only filing the 1099 [forms] that I received and shit didn’t look right,” OMI says.

“I [said] ‘i’m making more money than what you’re filing’. Thank God I didn’t sign them because that would’ve been hiding money, that would’ve been way worse, way worse. We contacted the IRS to see if they were after me, the IRS sent back a letter to my CPA and said no, they weren’t after me.”

OMI says that if he hadn’t been raided last week, there would be a payment plan in place by now, with around $2 million paid upfront in taxes and the rest paid in installments. Clearly, however, time had already run out and according to OMI, the assessment that streaming is something that won’t be acted on probably doesn’t stand anymore.

“To all the other streaming services out there, this is proof that this is not considered a great area,” he adds.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Telegram Faces Anti-Piracy Referral to US Over Cryptocurrency Plans

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/telegram-faces-anti-piracy-referral-to-us-over-cryptocurrency-plans-191127/

Telegram was founded in 2013 by brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov, who previously launched Russian social network VK (vKontakte).

The messaging service has grown from strength to strength and currently has around 300 million users. However, Telegram is increasingly associated with the spread of copyright-infringing material, as highlighted in October by the RIAA.

“Telegram offers many user-created channels which are dedicated to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted recordings, with some channels focused on particular genres or artists,” the RIAA wrote in its submission to the USTR.

While one submission to US authorities is problematic, Telegram could soon face a few more coming from Russia itself, where a court order exists to prevent ISPs from providing access to the service. The threat comes from the Internet Copyright Protection Association (AZAPI) which represents copyright holders including some of the largest book publishers.

AZAPI says it has identified at least 170 Telegram channels that help to distribute pirated content to an audience of several million users. A letter reportedly sent by AZAPI to Telegram (obtained by local news outlet Kommersant) has the anti-piracy outfit complaining that most channels, and indeed Telegram itself, are not responding to copyright complaints.

It’s a position shared by Aleksey Byrdin, Director General of the Internet Video Association.

“Since 2016, we have repeatedly encountered the absolute neglect of the Telegram administration to the claims of copyright holders on audiovisual content,” Byrdin says.

As a result, AZAPI wants Telegram to introduce digital fingerprinting technology to assist with the identification and removal of allegedly infringing content. However, the whole matter is being further complicated by Telegram’s cryptocurrency business plans.

According to AZAPI, Telegram’s upcoming TON Blockchain network (and its token ‘gram’) “will be an ideal tool for monetizing counterfeit content on an anonymous basis.”

As a result, if anti-piracy measures aren’t taken, AZAPI says it will be left with no choice but to file complaints with the US Chamber of Commerce, the SEC, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) and the American Book Publishers Association.

Whether any such referrals can deepen the quagmire Telegram already finds itself in the US is another matter, however.

On October 11, the SEC announced that it had “filed an emergency action and obtained a temporary restraining order against two offshore entities conducting an alleged unregistered, ongoing digital token offering in the U.S. and overseas that has raised more than $1.7 billion of investor funds.”

The two companies – Telegram Group and TON issuer – filed a response to the SEC just a day later, requesting that the court throw out the SEC’s case.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Movie Pirate Pleads Guilty, Faces Five Years in Prison, Forfeits Millions of Dollars

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-pirate-pleads-guilty-faces-five-years-in-jail-forfeits-millions-of-dollars-191126/

In October 2013, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents received information from PayPal concerning two ‘pirate’ websites, Noobroom.com and Noobroom7.com.

For a fee, the sites allowed subscribers to stream movies and TV shows, which was of particular interest to the MPAA. Their investigation concluded that the platforms distributed works in breach of their members’ copyrights.

In July the following year, the MPAA sent a cease-and-desist notice to Noobroom but within days, the site shifted its users to a new site, SuperChillin.com. The MPAA determined that the platforms – plus another pair named as Movietv.co and SitPlay.com – were operated by Oregon resident Talon White.

With White under suspicion of copyright and money laundering offenses, last November a magistrate judge in Oregon approved a search and seizure warrant targeting millions in cash and cryptocurrency.

On Monday, the Department of Justice revealed that after netting more than $8 million from his piracy activities, Talon had pleaded guilty to one count each of criminal copyright infringement and tax evasion.

According to the Department of Justice, White underreported his income by more than $4.4 million from 2013 through 2017, resulting in a willful underpayment of $1.9 million in taxes.

The penalties faced by White are severe. On top of a potential five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release on each of the two charges, the financial implications are already massive.

White has entered into a plea agreement which will see him forfeit $3.9 million seized from his bank accounts, $35,000 in cash, cryptocurrency worth around $424,000, plus his home in Oregon, currently valued at $415,000.

On top, he must pay $669,557 in restitution to the MPAA and $3,392,708 in restitution, which includes penalties and interest, to the IRS.

White will be sentenced on February 21, 2020, before U.S. District Court Judge Ann L. Aiken. In the meantime, however, the case raises additional interest in at least two other directions.

A case revealed at the weekend in New Zealand appears to have some similarities with White’s. Both involve a pirate movie site in the US, both received a PayPal referral for suspicious activity, and both resulted in the seizure of large volumes of cash and cryptocurrency.

Finally, the involvement of the IRS in a criminal copyright infringement case raises questions about what lies ahead for Gears Reloaded founder Omar Carrasquillo, aka YouTube OMI IN A HELLCAT.

Last week, he reported that he’d been raided by several FBI officers and a single IRS agent who seized “pretty much everything”, including millions of dollars, a huge car collection, and a large collection of jewelry. Ever since he’s been posting videos on the topic, one of which included a brief glimpse of a purported search a seizure warrant issued by a court in Pennsylvania.

Carrasquillo insists that what he did in respect of IPTV isn’t a crime in the United States but concedes that he didn’t pay his taxes in a timely manner and he’s learned his lesson. He hopes that the money seized will cover his back taxes but still expects to spend some time in prison.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

MPA & Roadshow-Led Coalition File Major Pirate Site-Blocking Application

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpa-roadshow-led-coalition-file-major-pirate-site-blocking-application-191125/

Despite a clear decrease in momentum in the UK in recent times, site-blocking remains a favored anti-piracy tool in many countries around the world.

Companies exploiting the Australian market seem convinced that the practice is good for business, as a brand new blocking application filed at the Federal Court shows. First reported by ComputerWorld, it features a broad coalition of movie, TV show, and anime companies, all of whom have previous blocking experience in Australia.

To keep the ‘feel’ of the application as local as possible, it’s no surprise that Roadshow Films is the lead applicant, despite having just one movie (The Lego Movie) listed in court documents. The remaining 11 include Disney, Paramount, Columbia, Universal, Warner and Netflix, plus Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited and anime distributor Madman Anime.

With the companies involved having trod the blocking injunction path many times before, the application itself now takes a very familiar form. It demands that 50 local ISPs including Telstra, Optus, TPG and Vodafone block a wide range of ‘pirate’ sites. In terms of content, however, this is one of the broadest applications yet.

In Australia legal-speak, pirate sites of all kinds are referred to as “Target Online Locations” (TOL), of which there are 87 (identified by their domains) in the current application.

There are several categories of ‘TOL’ – streaming platforms, download platforms, linking sites (including torrent sites), sites that offer software that allows streaming or downloads, those that provide subtitles for copyright works, plus sites that offer proxy access to pirate sites.

Some notable inclusions are the community-resurrected KickassTorrents site operating from Katcr.co, plus some less than authentic Kickass clones operating from around half a dozen additional URLs.

The same goes for a range of domains trading on the SolarMovie, YIFY and YTS brands, without being connected to the original sites. In fact, many domains listed in the application follow this copycat theme, including those featuring 123movies, Primewire, CouchTuner, Putlocker, WatchFree, ProjectFreeTV, and YesMovies-style wording.

An interesting addition is that of getpopcorntime.is. This isn’t the original Popcorn Time app download site but does offer a variant of the software that can be used to gain access to movies and TV shows. However, the domain itself doesn’t offer any infringing content, or any links to the same.

Subtitle download sites, including TVSubtitles.net and MSubs.net, are included in the application. These types of platforms were previously the topic of debate in a previous application but the court eventually conceded they can indeed be blocked.

In a sign of how far the net is now being cast (most of the major pirate sites are already blocked in Australia), this application also features Russian torrent giant Rutor.info and China-focused btbtdy.me. Both of these sites have plenty of alternative domains so blocking just these two is unlikely to achieve much.

Finally, no blocking application would be complete without an effort to block all the ‘proxy’ sites that have the sole purpose of facilitating access to sites blocked as a result of previous injunctions. The problem in respect of these proxies seems to be considerable, with at least 13 of the 87 domains in this application falling into that category.

The full list of domains requested for blocking is as follows:

Proxyportal.org, proxyportal.ws, mrunlock.space, nocensor.casa, nocensor.fun, unblockproject.icu, unblockproject.info, 123unblock.fun, 123unblock.icu, prox4you.pro, prox4you.info, unblocked.to, prostylex.org, torrents.io, katcr.co, katcr.to, kikass.to, kat.sx, kickass.sx, kickass1.to, kat.ag, ibit.to, onionplay.eu, onionplaynetwork.xyz, onionplay.co, p30download.com, torrentquest.com, rutor.info, btbtdy.me, lookmovie.ag, 037hdd.com, cuevana3.co, exsite24.pl, downduck.com, downloadha.com, emotionvideo-tv.com, movieon21.xyz, modufree.net, j20.hitjjal.com, phim33.com, tfp.is, tvsubtitles.net, msubs.net, dytt8.net, ttdytt.net, fast-torrent.ru, heroturko.net, imovies.cc, imovies.ge, getpopcorntime.is, toxicwap.com, english-films.com, topeuropix.net, topeuropix.com, poseidonhd.co, anakbnet.com, moviesjoy.net, filmlicious.net, proxybit.pro, 123movies.love, 1primewire.com, movies.cab, putlocker.digital, solarmoviefree.net, solarmovie.net, yifyddl.movie, yify.yt, yify-films.net, yifytorrentz.net, yifymovietorrent.com, ytsdownload.com, movie4k.ag, fmovies.org, 5movies.cloud, couchtuner2.com, couchtuner123.com, couchtuner.watch, couchtuner0.com, 1watchfree.me, putlockerstoworld2.com, putlocker.actor, zmz2019.com, m4ufree.tv, them4ufree.info, projectfreetv.xyz, yesmovies.gg, yesmovies.ai, yesmovies.cloud, 99kubo.tv, cayphim.net, dramacool.video, gimy.tv, kenh88.com, yeuphimmoi.com, Anime-sharing.com, Tokyotosho.info, animetosho.org, animebam.net, animebam.se, animelon.com, animejolt.com, project-gxs.com, eyeonanime.tv, animehd47.com, animereborn.io

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Millions in Crypto & Cash Seized in Movie Piracy Investigation

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/millions-in-crypto-cash-seized-in-movie-piracy-investigation-191124/

When New Zealand, alleged movie piracy, cash seizures, and a US-based investigation feature in the same sentence, what follows is usually information pertaining to Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom.

It transpires, however, that there are other pretty big players on the radars of authorities in both countries.

Back in June, software programmer Jaron David McIvor received an unwelcome visit from police in New Zealand who were investigating a movie piracy case in the United States. It took at least two visits but Ivor ultimately ended up handing over $1.1 million in cash and the keys to his cryptocurrency accounts containing almost $6.7 million.

The case, which has just been made public by NZHerald, centers around alleged money laundering. According to Detective Senior Sergeant Keith Kay, the head of the Asset Recovery Unit in Waikato, McIvor helped to create a movie piracy site in the United States from which he received an estimated $2m.

It’s reported that the money was deposited into various bank accounts from wire transfers, Stripe, and PayPal. It was the latter who identified “suspicious activity” on an account linked to McIvor and subsequently reported the matter to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the United States.

Since the funds were allegedly generated from crimes that took place in the United States, moving the funds into New Zealand was sufficient to trigger a money-laundering investigation and the seizure of the funds earlier this year.

The name of the pirate platform allegedly co-founded by McIvor has not been named. However, police have confirmed that other individuals are under investigation in the United States, Canada, and Vietnam.

The seizures that began in June in New Zealand came just a month after news broke in the United States that authorities had seized around $4 million worth of cash and cryptocurrency there as part of an investigation into alleged movie piracy.

The two cases are not currently being linked by authorities but they share some similarities. Both involve an alleged pirate movie site in the US, both received a PayPal referral for suspicious activity, and both resulted in the seizure of large volumes of cash and cryptocurrency.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Open Source LibreTorrent Client Kicked Out By Google Play

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/open-source-libretorrent-client-kicked-out-by-google-play-191123/

Broadly speaking, torrent clients come in two flavors; closed source (such as uTorrent or BitTorrent Mainline) or open-source, such as qBittorrent or BiglyBT, for example.

Many experienced torrent users often favor the latter, since the code of open-source clients is not only open to scrutiny but can give others the ability to learn about or further develop software. So of course, it’s never great when something bad happens to an open-source project.

Yaroslav Pronin, a student and Russia-based developer of Android torrent client LibreTorrent, is an advocate of Free Software. He informs TF that he began work on his tool in 2016 because he believed there wasn’t a “complete freedom” torrent client available for the platform.

Pronin says that he was also motivated by the fact that BitTorrent has been under pressure, with sites blocked both in Russia and overseas due to copyright issues.

“A Free Software torrent client is an important step in supporting BitTorrent technology for the free (as in Freedom) exchange of information between people,” he explains.

As a result, Pronin went down the open-source route (GNU GPLv3) for LibreTorrent and gathered a decent-sized following. But despite all his good intentions, he still found his software deleted from Google Play recently for a somewhat unusual reason.

LibreTorrent on Google Play before the deletion

What happened behind the scenes here is something of a mystery. Pronin says that he first became aware of an issue in early October when Google advised him that his software had been marked as ‘spam’, which indicates the client is considered “non-original” content.

“It was the morning of October 8, 2019, when I read the e-mail from Google that LibreTorrent was deleted. They wrote the reason: ‘Violation of Spam policy’,” Pronin explains.

“I was shocked, because I didn’t violate anything of the kind. Therefore, I turned to Google with the first appeal, so that they could clarify the situation, and also figure out that I didn’t violate the spam policy.”

It turned out that Google wasn’t interested in reconsidering its position.

Status of app LibreTorrent (org.proninyaroslav.libretorrent): Suspended from Google Play due to policy violation.

I’ve reviewed your appeal request and found that your app still violates Google Play Policy. During review, we found that your app violates the policy for Spam. We don’t allow apps that spam users or Google Play, such as apps that are duplicative and low-quality.

“As I can think, this was due to the fact that there were many LibreTorrent clones on Google Play and Google just uninstalled all the apps without understanding the essence of what was happening,” he says, commenting on the app’s deletion from Google Play.

Pronin informs TorrentFreak that thus far, Google has only responded to him once, informing him of the reason for deletion. He says he sent information confirming him as the developer of the original LibreTorrent but that achieved nothing.

“I filed an appeal, but in response I was told that they can not help in any way and the only option is to rename the application and lay it out again,” he explains.

Completely renaming an app and losing an established brand seems a draconian measure to force on a developer. Sadly, it may be that other developers who took LibreTorrent’s source and decided to abuse it may be to blame.

“Since 2016, a lot of LibreTorrent clones have appeared on Google Play. I understand that LibreTorrent is open source, but those who published these clones on Google Play didn’t modify the source code,” he says.

“They only added ads and changed the name of the application. Yes, there were authoring developments based on LibreTorrent, but there are much fewer of them than clones with advertising. Most of the clones were removed last year at my request, but they appear again and again.

“Google just decided that LibreTorrent is an application with non-original content, as many LibreTorrent clones are located on Google Play. It’s also possible that the author of one of the clones filed a complaint for the removal of the original LibreTorrent. We can only guess about it.”

Pronin is understandably upset and disappointed with Google. He says that the company has made no effort to understand the situation yet, meanwhile, leaves up actually malicious software for download until someone complains.

More importantly for him, however, is that with the removal of LibreTorrent, fewer people overall will learn about Free Software. He acknowledges that Google services are both non-free and have privacy problems but getting the Free Software message out to as many people as possible was one of his key goals.

It’s also a shame since after a year in development, LibreTorrent 2.0 is almost ready for launch. The source code has been rewritten to increase stability and there are around 20 new features, including an updated UI.

Whether Google will eventually relent remains to be seen but in the meantime, anyone wanting to download LibreTorrent can do so here and here.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

DISH Sues Multiple ‘Pirate’ TV Streaming Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-sues-multiple-pirate-tv-streaming-sites-191122/

When it comes to tackling ‘pirate’ sites and services, US broadcaster DISH Network is one of the most active litigants in the United States.

The company has targeted Kodi add-on repository TVAddons, Kodi add-on developers, IPTV suppliers, IPTV resellers, and players in the satellite card-sharing space.

This week the company filed a new lawsuit in a Texas district court targeting the operators of 15 domains that allegedly stream DISH content to the public without appropriate licensing.

DISH’s complaint says that 15 ‘Doe’ defendants are behind the websites Freetvall.net, Freetvall.xyz, Freetvall.me, Freetvall.live, Livetvcafe.com, Livetvcafe.net, Livetvcafe.me, Time4tv.com, Time4tv.net, Time4tv.me, Cricket-tv.net, Crickettv.me, Tv4embed.com, and A1livetv.com.

Checks against the domains indicate that the Freetvall domains are connected to the same platform, currently operating at Freetvall.xyz. The site is a goldmine of free embedded TV channels, not only from DISH, but from broadcasters around the world including Sky and ESPN, to name just two.

Freetvall.xyz

The second batch of ‘Livetvcafe’ domains appear to redirect to the same website, Livetvcafe.me. It bears a striking similarity to the site located at Freetvall.xyz albeit with slight variations in content. Cricket-tv.net and Crickettv.me triggered malware warnings in our tests, so were skipped.

In respect of streaming, A1livetv is currently non-functioning, likewise Cricket-tv.net and Cricket-tv.me. TV4embed.com currently offers no video content but does display a notice stating the following:

“DMCA: This site only contains links and embeds to TV channels from 3rd party sites which are freely available on all Internet. We are not affiliated in any way with the broadcasted channels nor responsible for their content. All content is copyright of their respective owners.”

Despite the seemingly hopeful position of this apparent disclaimer, the above statement is precisely what DISH considers to be infringing when it comes to these platforms.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants search the Internet for unauthorized sources of the Protected Channels and identify links to that content. Defendants then upload these links for the Protected Channels onto the Free TV Websites,” the broadcaster’s complaint reads.

It appears that DISH has been working since September 2013 to have all of these sites taken down. The company says it directly sent the platforms “at least” 49 notices of infringement demanding that they cease their activities but none were responded to.

DISH also sent the same number of notices to the sites’ hosts, at least some of which were passed on to the defendants. However, even when the service providers acted to remove content, DISH says it faced “interference”, such as the defendants switching hosts or links to content.

As a result, DISH says that the defendants have “actual knowledge” that the transmission of its channels infringes the broadcaster’s exclusive rights so are therefore liable for inducing and materially contributing to copyright infringement.

The company is demanding a permanent injunction against the defendants and anyone working in concert with them from “transmitting, streaming, distributing, publicly performing, linking to, hosting, promoting, advertising or displaying” any of DISH’s protected content in the United States, and/or inducing others in respect of the same.

DISH is also demanding statutory damages of up to $150,000 for each of 112 or more registered works and profits attributable to the infringement of any unregistered works. In addition to attorneys’ fees, the broadcaster also wants to seize all of the domains listed in the lawsuit.

A copy of DISH’s complaint can be found here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.