While copyright holders and many governments see site-blocking as a reasoned and measured response to copyright infringement, some people view it as overkill.
People should be able to access whatever content they want without rich corporations deciding what should and should not appear on computer screens, the argument goes.
For former student Pavel Kopylov, blocking of pirate sites in Russia has gone too far. So, to make his displeasure obvious to Roscomnadzor, the government entity responsible for carrying it out, last year he attempted to burn one of its offices down – three times.
On April 2, 2018, reportedly dissatisfied that his favorite torrent tracker had been blocked, Kopylov went to the local offices of Roscomnadzor, smashed a window, and threw a bottle of flammable liquid inside together with a burning match. The attempt was a failure – the fire didn’t ignite and a guard was alerted by the noise.
Almost two weeks later, Kopylov returned for a second try. This time a fire did ensue but it was put out, without causing catastrophic damage. A third attempt, on May 9, 2018, ended in complete failure, with a guard catching the would-be arsonist before he could carry out his plan.
Nevertheless, the prosecutor’s office saw the attacks as an attempt to destroy Roscomnadzor’s property by arson, an offense carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison. The prosecution sought two years but in the end, had to settle for considerably less.
Interfax reports that a court in the Ulyanovsk region has now sentenced the man for repeatedly trying to burn down Roscomnadzor’s regional office. He received 18 months probation but the prosecution intends to appeal, describing the sentence as excessively lenient.
As a CDN and security company, Cloudflare currently serves around 20 million “Internet properties”, ranging from domains and websites through to application programming interfaces (APIs) and mobile applications.
At least hundreds of those properties, potentially more, are considered ‘pirate’ platforms by copyright groups, which has resulted in Cloudflare being sucked into copyright infringement lawsuits due to the activities of its customers.
On Thursday, Cloudflare filed to go public by submitting the required S-1 registration statement. It contains numerous warnings that copyright infringement lawsuits, both current and those that may appear in the future, could present significant issues of liability for the company.
Noting that some of Cloudflare’s customers may use its services in violation of the law, the company states that existing laws relating to the liability of service providers are “highly unsettled and in flux”, both in the United States and further afield.
“For example, we have been named as a defendant in a number of lawsuits, both in the United States and abroad, alleging copyright infringement based on content that is made available through our customers’ websites,” the filing reads.
“There can be no assurance that we will not face similar litigation in the future or that we will prevail in any litigation we may face. An adverse decision in one or more of these lawsuits could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.”
Cloudflare goes on to reference the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, noting that they may not offer “complete protection” for the company or could even be amended in the future to its detriment.
“If we are found not to be protected by the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, CDA [Communications Decency Act] or other similar laws, or if we are deemed subject to laws in other countries that may not have the same protections or that may impose more onerous obligations on us, we may face claims for substantial damages and our brand, reputation, and financial results may be harmed. Such claims may result in liability that exceeds our ability to pay or our insurance coverage,” Cloudflare warns.
As a global company, it’s not only US law the company has to consider. Cloudflare references the recently-approved Copyright Directive in the EU, noting that also has the potential to expose Cloudflare and other online platforms to liability.
As recently as last month and in advance of any claims under that particular legislation, Cloudflare experienced an adverse ruling in an Italian court. Local broadcaster RTI successfully argued that Cloudflare can be held liable if it willingly fails to act in response to copyright infringement notices. In addition, Cloudflare was ordered to terminate the accounts of several pirate sites.
Of course, it’s not uncommon for S-1 filings to contain statements that can be interpreted as impending doom, since companies are required to be frank about their business’s prospects. However, with single copyright cases often dealing with millions of dollars worth of alleged infringement, Cloudflare’s appraisal of the risks seems entirely warranted.
Last month, TorrentFreak reported that the Creative Content UK (CCUK) “Get it Right” anti-piracy campaign had ended the practice of sending infringement notices to ‘pirating’ Internet users in the UK.
“The educational emails sent by ISPs upon detection of infringing file-sharing activity have served their purpose and are ceasing, with the focus instead increasing the broader engagement with fans based around their passion for music, TV, film and all other kinds of creative content,” a CCUK spokesperson told us.
The wider campaign, which is funded by the UK government and run by music and movie industry groups BPI and MPA, launched a new phase today. It aims to educate consumers on the efforts expended during the creation of original content in the hope that will lead to a natural decline in piracy rates. Hearts and minds, if you will.
It begins with the first installment of a new mini-series featuring creators (social influencers) talking about their own content and what it takes to produce it, including the work put in by those behind the scenes.
Quite smartly, CCUK has gone down the “accessible superstar” route in its first episode by featuring popular YouTuber Caspar Lee and ‘influencer’ Snoochie Shy, who together have more than 10 million followers on various platforms.
Given that this writer had to Google for information on both Lee and Shy, it seems clear that the target audience of the campaign is relatively young. We spoke to CCUK who confirmed our suspicions.
“The principal target audience of the Get it Right campaign overall is 16-34, but the focus of this particular influencer video (and others to come) is more 16-24 — so Millennials and early Gen Z essentially. It may also resonate with some younger, early-teen Caspar and Snoochie followers too,” a CCUK spokesperson explained.
As the video notes, Caspar Lee starred in a movie (Laid in America) which according to CCUK was heavily pirated to the tune of 500,000 downloads/streams in a single month. This in itself raises an interesting question.
If Lee’s followers are his biggest fans, presumably they already have some level of respect for him. If that’s the case, why did so many of them pirate his movie, even after having semi-direct ‘personal’ contact with him through his social media channels? That’s something CCUK hopes to address with its campaign.
“One of the paradoxes of Internet/social media led fandom is arguably that there can be huge love and passion for the artist/influencer, their content and what they do and have to say, but this doesn’t always translate into their content being accessed from the right sources,” CCUK told TF.
“Some fans may even think — ‘this guy must be making loads of money — he’s not going to miss if I don’t pay for it.’ But the reality is that artists and creators do feel it, particularly new ones trying to break through.
“Think how many young creators are looking to make a living from the Internet and from creating content, and all the people that work with them, who can all be seriously impacted. Caspar and the people that worked with him didn’t get to make a sequel for example.”
CCUK add that some of this unofficial consumption may be down to a genuine lack of awareness, with people having difficulty differentiating between official and pirate platforms, for example. But whatever the reasons for piracy, the group’s leaders hope to use their education campaign to encourage a change in both behavior and attitudes.
“It’s encouraging to see Get It Right quietly but surely having a positive effect, and that its core message is getting through,” says Ian Moss, BPI Director of Public Affairs.
“Fans have a clear choice – If they value the creative process, and access content legally from licensed sources, creators will be able to invest more of their time and creativity into producing the music, film and other entertainment we love. If they don’t, and creators feel less able to take risks and invest, this rich choice will diminish for us all.”
Marianne Grant, who co-leads on the campaign for the MPA, believes that people who have been exposed to the Get it Right campaign are now more willing to see how their own actions can make a difference by spending more time considering whether to consume from legitimate sources.
“Since Get it Right was launched, more people are taking that time, with the almost 30 per cent of the population who have been exposed to Get it Right materials reducing significantly their use of infringing content,” Grant says.
“Our task now is to reach further into the population with these interesting and important messages – to provide more engaging and informative content to improve people’s understanding about the creative process and all the people who are involved in it — and to encourage further change.”
A CCUK spokesperson informs TF that this first ‘influencer’ video is “effectively a pilot”, the results of which will shape the direction of future videos in the series. They will target the same age group, so expect to see similar “influencers” playing a key role in future productions.
Whether the campaign will make a real difference “on the ground” remains to be seen. However, reading between the lines and given the target audience, older pirates may not be considered the biggest problem in the UK right now. And of course, they’ll be more set in their ways, so molding younger minds may be the easier option.
They’ll also know who Caspar Lee is, which is a big plus and a good start.
Changes to the law now make it relatively straightforward to have blatant ‘pirate’ sites blocked by ISPs in Australia.
Entertainment industry groups have targeted dozens of sites using the streamlined system, including many of the top torrent and streaming platforms. For reasons that remain unclear, however, one application for a blocking order now appears to have hit the stops.
Back in February, an application for injunction filed in Federal Court saw TV distributor International Media Distribution (IMD) targeting Reelplay, an IPTV provider that specializes in Italian, Greek, and Arabic programming.
Luxembourg-registered IMD describes itself as the single largest provider of ethnic channels to US-based multi-billion dollar TV distributor, Dish Network, and the “leading aggregator and marketer of niche television services to various ethnic communities around the globe.”
In the application for an injunction(pdf), IMD was joined by two other companies – Netherlands-based distributor Overlook Management BV and Lebanon-based pan-Arab TV station Al Jadeed. Together they complained that Reelplay offered 15 TV channels for which they are the exclusive licensee.
Given that Reelplay indicates on its site that it is “not responsible for the content and do not guarantee nor claim any rights to the content”, this seemed like a fairly straightforward case for the applicants, at least on the surface. However, something appears to have gone wrong.
ComputerWorld reports that during a case management hearing in March, the Judge indicated he would be looking closely at a couple of points of interest.
“Justice Burley told the applicants that he would pay ‘particularly close attention’ to proof of service in the matter and said that [the applicants] needed to ensure they fulfilled the requirements of Section 115a of the Copyright Act,” writes Rohan Pearce.
Since then the Judge issued several orders which required, among other things, for Overlook Management to be joined as an applicant, and the applicants to serve affidavit and schedules of evidence.
On June 28, 2019, the Judge noted that the matter had been listed for hearing on August 16, 2019. However, a subsequent order, dated August 8, stated that the applicants had been granted leave to file a notice of discontinuance. Yesterday, the court indicated that a final order had been handed down, terminating the case.
No details to explain the move are on record at the court, so it remains open to question whether some kind of agreement has been reached with Reelplay or if the case hit some kind of technical or legal block. Reelplay doesn’t list the channels it offers to the public on its site but discontinuing the disputed channels would at least have the potential to undermine the action.
Either way, the Reelplay site appears to be fully functional and capable of taking orders for the Arabic package in question. It features an Android-based box loaded with 450+ channels plus a 24-month subscription, priced at AUS$230. Only time will tell if the companies in question will return for a second bite at the cherry.
India is no stranger to blocking pirate sites. Just last week, a court ordered local Internet service providers to block more than 1,200 sites to prevent the spread of a single movie.
Now, however, it appears that there additional legal moves underway to ensure that sites are not only blocked temporarily but also on a more permanent basis.
Over the past several weeks the High Court in Delhi has been handling many separate applications for permanent injunction filed by US-based Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
In all cases, the company states that several of its copyrighted works – movies Aquaman, A Star is Born, Wonder Woman, plus TV show Arrow – were made available via a broad range of torrent, streaming, linking, and proxy-type sites.
The complaints also cite works by studios including Columbia, Paramount, Universal, and Netflix as further examples of content being infringed on the platforms.
In just one of the complaints the list of infringing domains runs to 124 and includes some very well known names including local giant Tamilrockers, TorrentDownload.ch, TorrentDownloads.me and EZTV, iStole.it, Zoink.it, Torrents.me, Torrents.io, Zooqle, MovieRulz, LimeTorrents, Bolly4u, KatMovie, Monova, and 9xMovies.
In many cases, multiple domains are listed for the above sites, including alternates, proxies and other variants that are accessible via various unblocking platforms. All are accused of infringing the rights of Warner Bros. by providing access to its movie and TV shows content without authorization.
“[D]efendant Websites are primarily and substantially engaged in communicating to the public, hosting, streaming and/or making available to the public Plaintiff’s original content without authorization, and/or facilitating the same,” one order reads.
The order covering the above sites notes that Warner investigated and then served legal notices on the platforms ordering them to cease-and-desist. However, it’s reported that none acted to prevent their infringing activities.
To boost its case, Warner also informed the Court that some of the sites have already been blocked in other jurisdictions (including the UK, Portugal, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Russia, and Italy) for similar behavior.
After consideration, the Court found that there is a prima facie case and Warner should be awarded an interim injunction to prevent the sites from continuing their infringing activities. Furthermore, the sites should have their domains blocked by ISPs in India, to prevent further damage and losses.
The Court also addressed the issue of additional domains or platforms appearing to circumvent any blocking, by granting Warner permission to file additional updates with the Court that will allow for such mechanisms to be disabled by ISPs via an expedited process.
The example order detailed above is very specific, in that it orders ISPs to block the domain names of the sites plus a list of IP addresses. However, the vast majority appear to be using Cloudflare, so it remains to be seen whether the ISPs will use discretion or blindly block, which could cause considerable disruption to other sites using the same IP locations.
In some of the orders, it appears that domain registrars are also required to suspend domain names belonging or connected to various sites, including TamilRockers, Hindilinks4u, Otorrents, Filmlinks4u, Mp4Moviez, Series9.io, uWatchFree, OnlineWatchMovies, MovieRulzFree, and SkyMovies.
Several additional applications from Warner are on record at the Delhi High Court but are yet to be published as interim orders.
The main order detailed above can be found here (pdf), the rest here 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
After being targeted by the US government in 2012, it seems possible that Kim Dotcom may yet slip through the hands of at least two presidents and potentially more.
It’s now seven years since the raids that dismantled his Megaupload empire yet Kim Dotcom is still in New Zealand and leading what appears to be a very privileged life.
At the same time as fighting with every legal bone in his body, he is clearly determined to stir up a political storm in the United States too, a country he will remind you again and again that he has never even been to. For Dotcom, you see, there are old scores to be settled.
Dotcom is convinced that current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was the political driving force behind the fate of Megaupload. The former vice president burnt the file-hosting site to the ground as a “gift” to his friends in Hollywood, Dotcom insists. And soon, it will be payback time.
In a series of tweets this morning, Dotcom said that next year he will be mirroring his infamous campaign against former candidate Hillary Clinton to ensure that Joe Biden never sets foot in the White House.
“Like @HillaryClinton he’s corrupt to the core and can never become US President. Watch me in 2020,” he warned.
Dotcom usually plays some of his cards close to his chest, while teasing others well in advance of their production. However, he’s now on record that he’ll be using a database of former Megaupload users apparently still in his possession to mobilize against Biden.
“Still waiting to get access to your Megaupload files?” he wrote.
“I will email 30 million former US Megaupload users a video link in 2020 explaining how @JoeBiden destroyed your favorite website. Most of you were teenagers or students then but now you’re voters. Let’s retire Biden together,” the Megaupload founder added.
Putting the two parts together suggests that Dotcom not only has uploaders’ IP addresses to geo-locate them but their corresponding email addresses too. With the statute of limitations long exceeded in cases of alleged copyright infringement, errant users probably shouldn’t be too concerned, even if those can be matched to uploads.
While it seems extremely unlikely that any will ever get access to their files again, Dotcom says they will be receiving something else from him, something that he hopes will undermine both Biden and his campaign.
“Everyone who ever uploaded a file to Megaupload from a US IP address will receive this video link about how @JoeBiden abused his power to destroy Megaupload, incl. commentary from an insider and Biden bragging to a lawyer we planted at a fundraiser that HE destroyed MU,” Dotcom added.
Although the content of the forthcoming video is yet to be seen, the allegations against Biden certainly aren’t new. They are almost as old as the case against Dotcom himself, which has been moving at a glacial pace since its inception more than three-quarters of a decade ago.
And according to Dotcom, it might still only be at its halfway point.
In June, after a tortuous path through the lower courts, New Zealand’s Supreme Court heard the extradition case against Dotcom. It is yet to hand down any decision but even at this stage, the Megaupload founder is making his predictions. In tweets over the past several weeks, Dotcom has predicted that he will lose by a slim margin.
“I can tell you from my experience with the Courts that relationships are more important than laws. Judges are appointed to support the govt of the time and not for guardianship of the law. My upcoming 2-3 Supreme Court judgment will prove my point,” he wrote last week.
At the time of writing, Dotcom claims that he’s has already been on bail longer than anyone in New Zealand’s history but he’s vowing to stick it out “until the end” while making as much mud stick as he can – both at home and in the United States.
“My case is the biggest stain on New Zealand’s rule of law. My gift to the ‘independent’ Judiciary,” he concludes.
There can be little doubt that the wide availability of unlicensed streaming portals and IPTV services is causing grave concern among football leagues all over Europe.
The Premier League has been particularly vocal about this growing form of piracy and has taken matters to the UK High Court, obtaining blocking orders which enable it to take action in real-time, with the help of Internet service providers.
With the new season about to start this month, Italy’s top-tier football league Serie A has launched an anti-piracy campaign of its own, declaring that “Piracy Kills Football” alongside the hashtag #STOPIRACY which it hopes fans will spread across social media.
“The Serie A League is at the forefront of addressing the scourge of piracy, we must defend football against this criminal attack and make it clear to those who use illegal decoders that they are committing a real crime,” says Serie A president Gaetano Miccichè.
“The problem is global and damages football at all levels. We are strengthening the tools to identify and counter acts of piracy in real-time, but it is essential for us to create a system together with the help of the Government and the telecoms operators.”
However, it’s the comments of Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo that serve to raise a wry smile when viewed from a wider angle to encompass all kinds of video piracy and a Serie A sponsorship deal in particular.
“Piracy is a criminal phenomenon, implemented by people who do not realize the seriousness of what they are doing,” the CEO writes. “Continuing will end up destroying the content creation industry, the cinema, TV, print media, but also and above all football, the quintessential premium product.”
Citing the potential destruction of the cinema is an interesting choice.
Readers may recall our recent article which detailed the activities of Russia-based gambling company, 1XBET. In a nutshell, the majority of CAM-copies of movies (those filmed in cinemas and released online during their theatrical release), currently contain lots of advertising and promo codes for 1XBET.
According to SportBusiness Sponsorship, 1XBET is actually an official presenting partner for Serie A and as a result, its ads can be found almost everywhere on Serie A’s site. It even has its own ‘Player Profile’ page where the betting company is the star of the show. But there’s more.
“The three-year deal will run until 2021, making 1XBet the league’s International Presenting Partner, covering Europe, Africa, the Middle East, North Africa and the Americas,” the publication notes.
“As part of the deal, 1XBet will be featured in all match graphics, idents and virtual goal mat advertising in all live Serie A broadcasts.”
Bizarrely, given the coverage that 1XBET has received in relation to piracy and CAM copies of movies, its ads are also running on the very same page as Serie A’s anti-piracy campaign, right across the bottom of the screen and under the comments claiming that piracy is destroying cinema.
We’ve embedded some of the Serie A page below, so the context is clear in respect of the anti-piracy language (particularly that involving the cinema) and the positioning of the 1XBET advertising.
“1XBET is a gambling company originating from Russia that uses cam copies to advertise itself internationally,” Dmitry Tyunkin, Deputy Director of Anti-Piracy and Brand Protection at cyber-security firm Group-IB, previously told TorrentFreak.
As noted earlier, there’s no overwhelming evidence available to the general public that 1XBET itself is driving camming ‘sponsorship’ directly, even though the prevalence of the branding and advertising in pirate movie releases tends to suggest otherwise. Maybe pirates have taken it upon themselves to advertise the company in releases just for kicks., who knows.
Having said all that, Serie A doesn’t appear to consider any of this a problem, even when the same advertising appears on the same page as their very own anti-piracy campaign. Strange times indeed.
Finally, Serie A team Juventus promoted the campaign on Twitter. See for yourself how it went down with fans. Many cited much bigger issues as responsible for the impending death of football, not least (but not limited to) the extortionate prices fans are expected to pay to watch matches.
Like many countries in Europe, Bulgaria is home to large numbers of pirate sites operating in multiple niches, from torrent and streaming platforms, to dedicated IPTV services.
In recent times authorities there have indicated that they are taking a tougher line to combat infringement in the country and yesterday announced results on that front.
According to an announcement from the Ministry of the Interior, a “special operation” was carried out this week to take down dozens of streaming platforms said to be involved in the unlicensed distribution of copyright works.
Carried out under the direction of the Sofia District Prosecutor’s office, the Cybercrime Specialized Unit at the State Security Service detained a 40-year-old man said to be the owner/operator of dozens of pirate sites, which appear to have focused on the streaming sector.
The authorities claimed that the man ran more than 40 websites which distributed movies online without obtaining permission from copyright holders. He allegedly got one site off the ground and then used the content from that to fuel the others, which were then supported financially by adverts provided by Google.
“He originally published the films on one of the sites he controlled. After reaching a certain number of visitors and the traffic generated – for which he was paid for by Google respectively – he downloaded the works and shared them again, but on some other domains,” the statement from the Ministry reads.
“The procedure was repeated 4-5 times until the resource was exhausted from the sites he controlled. Thus, for the same copyright sites, the capitalist received multiple payments from Google.”
According to the statement, most of the sites were “hosted” on the Internet by one of the largest cloud service providers in the United States. This, the authorities claimed, led the man to believe he was anonymous. However, international investigations carried out by Bulgaria’s General Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime (GDBOP) uncovered his identity.
The full list of sites attributed to the man by the authorities reads as follows:
Piracy of football (or soccer for those in the US) is currently one of the hottest copyright infringement related topics.
The major leagues – the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, and Serie A, to name just four – see piracy as an existential threat, with millions of fans favoring unlicensed platforms over their expensive official offerings.
But while Europe is currently the key battleground, broadcasters and their anti-piracy partners are cracking down elsewhere too. South America, where football is followed by some of the most passionate fans in the world, is now seeing action after the police targeted two men this week.
Following an investigation launched in 2017, officers of the Intellectual Property Brigade (BRIDEPI) of the Chilean Investigative Police arrested one man in the port city of Valparaíso while the other was detained in the Santiago Province commune Maipú.
Aged between 20 and 30-years-old, they are the alleged administrators of FutbolChile.net and VeoPartidos.com, sites which aired live matches to fans without permission from rightsholders.
Head of BRIDEPI Marco León told Chile’s 24horas that the men operated independently but generated money from advertising placed on their respective sites. According to the police unit, losses to local cable broadcasters run to several million dollars.
The original signals were allegedly obtained from companies including Fox Sports via a subscription but were then captured in the suspects’ homes and transmitted to the sites via the Internet. One of the men is believed to have been operating for around five years.
“We are talking about 100,000 or 200,000 monthly visits [to the websites], where all the content was offered absolutely for free,” León said.
BRIDEPI added that it was “technically very difficult” to determine where the original signals were coming from. It was the first case of its type in the country and as a result, the police had to call in expert support from Brazil and Argentina.
The police unit warns that piracy is a moving target and today’s techniques may not work as well in the future. Technology is moving so quickly that in a year’s time, something else will come along to complicate investigations.
“[T]echnological progress is faster than us,” BRIDEPI concludes.
Over the years, dozens of ‘pirate’ sites have suspended their operations for a wide range of reasons.
Pressure from rightsholders is perhaps the most common problem, but issues with hosting, domains, or even lack of time or resources have appeared high on the list.
Music search engine Slider.kz has a now cited a reason never heard before.
Slider.kz has been around for approximately nine years, having first appeared in 2010. It certainly doesn’t have the profile of some of today’s popular “stream-ripper” type sites but until recently has been quietly sourcing, indexing and making available for download thousands of tracks from its base in Kazakhstan.
Now, however, the site has problems. The issues are briefly outlined in a popup message when users first visit the site, which references problems with encryption.
Once the message goes away, users are met with the most recent version of the Slider.kz homepage, complete with the usual search box. But those hoping to download or stream music in the browser (Slider previously offered both options) are presented with a disappointing message.
The problems appear related to the news last month that the government in Kazakhstan has recently begun intercepting HTTPS traffic. According to reports, local Internet service providers have been ordered to force their subscribers to install root certificates issued by the government, something which would allow various agencies to intercept what would otherwise be secure web traffic.
“Pursuant to the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan On Communications and clause 11 of Rules for Issuing and Applying Security Certificates, Kcell JSC informs its customers of the need to install Security Certificate on devices capable of connecting to the Internet,” service provider Kcell told its customers in a recent announcement.
“According to law, telecom network operators are to ensure that customers with whom the operators have service contracts are able to install the security certificate on their mobile devices.”
The provider goes on to explain that the security certificate must be installed on all devices used to access the Internet (whether mobile or desktop-based) because if not, customers may face “technical limitations when accessing certain websites.”
Slider.kz does not currently have a security certificate and is running on basic HTTP, meaning that simply accessing the site isn’t a problem. However, Slider appears to index music sourced from elsewhere so it’s possible that the new regime in Kazakhstan is interfering with that in some way.
We have been unable to reach Slider’s operator for a more detailed explanation but we can confirm that at least some the 499 sample tracks compiled by the site’s operator (a small selection of what is usually available) stream directly from the site’s server, not from third-party sources.
All that being said, it’s possible that Slider may return, sooner rather than later. Local media reports are now suggesting that the government may be backtracking on its earlier requirement for citizens to install the security certificate. Only time will tell if this will completely solve Slider’s problems.
Blocking orders to prevent the distribution of copyright content are commonplace in several regions around the world.
In India, however, blocking injunctions are regularly handed down to protect specific movies, oftentimes before those movies are even released.
That is also the case with the movie ‘Nerkonda Paarvai’, a legal drama set to hit big screens worldwide today. In anticipation of this release, copyright holder Bayview LLP headed off to the Madras High Court, seeking a pre-emptive injunction to prevent the movie from being spread to the public for free via the Internet and other means.
The High Court hasn’t published the full details of the application, meaning that the list of sites set to be targeted hasn’t yet been revealed in public. It almost certainly contains one, if not many domains, operated by the notorious torrent site Tamilrockers, but the rest remain open to speculation.
What we do know is that a total of 39 Internet service providers were named as defendants in the order handed down this week by Justice Krishnan Ramasamy in the Madras High Court. The Judge acknowledges that the Bayview LLP production has been the subject of significant investment and is set to be released on more than 2,000 screens worldwide.
While it’s not uncommon to list ISPs as defendants in such cases, often noting that they play an unwitting role in the distribution of infringing content, the wording in the Judge’s order, which cites the plaintiff’s case, seems to go considerably further. Whether that’s entirely intentional is open to question.
“The learned counsel for applicant contended that the various cable and internet services provided by various persons (respondents 1–9) across the world are involved in activities of recording, cam-cording and reproducing the audio songs, audio-visual clips, audio-visual songs and full cinematographic films that are screened in theatres and then copying/reproducing them through various medium including but not limited to CDs, DVDs, VCDs, Blu-ray Discs, computer hard drives, pen drives etc.,and distribute the same for selling at a meager sum to the general public without any leave or authorization of the production houses/copyright holders/right holders such as the applicant herein,” the order reads.
Citing the above and referencing the application, the Judge said that in his opinion a prima facie case had been made for him to award a preliminary injunction which will continue until August 20, 2019.
The order, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf). The full list of ISPs is detailed below.
1) BHARAT SANCHAR NIGAM LIMITED 2) Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. 3) Bharati Airtel Ltd. 4) Vodafone Idea Ltd. (Formerly Idea Cellular Ltd.) 5) Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. 6) Atria Convergence Technologies Pvt. Ltd. 7) Hathway Cable and Datacom Ltd. 8) Tata Docomo 9) Asianet Satellite Communications 10) Tikona Digital Networks Pvt. Ltd. 11) You Broadband And Cable India Ltd. 12) Reliance Communications Infrastructure Ltd. 13) Rail Tel Corporation of India Ltd. 14) Shyam Spectra Pvt. Ltd. 15) Sify Technologies Ltd. 16) AT And T Global Network Service India Pvt. Ltd. 17) Peak Air Pvt. Ltd. 18) Knet Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (Cherrinet) 19) Limras Eronet Broadband Services Pvt. Ltd. 20) SITI Networks Limited 21) Andhra Pradesh State Fibre Net Ltd., 22) Raaj Internet (I) Pvt. Ltd. 23) Joister Infoserve Pvt. Ltd. 24) GTPL Hathway Ltd. 25) Ready Link Internet Service Ltd. 26) Nettlinx Limited 27) Excitel Broadband Pvt. Ltd. 28) Southern Online Bio Technologies Ltd. 29) Dawn Supports Pvt. Ltd. 30) Thalainagar Digital Cables (P) Ltd. 31) Cable Cast New Media Pvt. Ltd. 32) C32 Cable Net Pvt. Ltd. 33) Team 5 Network 34) SND Satellite Vision 35) Kerala Communicators Cable Ltd. 36) Asianet Digital Network Pvt. Ltd. 37) DEN Networks Ltd. 38) Starvision Cable TV Network 39) Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)
Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is famous for taking on pirates both large and small. From The Pirate Bay to people dealing in IPTV boxes and sundry media, BREIN is rarely out of the headlines for long.
One of BREIN’s current strategies is to track down pirates, make them admit to their crimes, and then negotiate a settlement. This usually involves agreeing to cease-and-desist and handing over some kind of cash payment, to go towards any supposed losses incurred by its copyright holder partners and the costs of pursuing the case.
While some people keep to the agreed terms, others do not. BREIN says it doesn’t let these cases lie. Case in point, a man who sold pirated copies of eBooks in the Netherlands.
According to BREIN, the 38-year-old operated under the name Ebookplaza and Alexnav, selling thousands of eBooks via sites including Marktplaats.nl, Speurders.nl and Tweedehands.nl. This caught the attention of BREIN, who tracked the man down.
“Taking into account the man’s capacity to pay, BREIN reached a settlement consisting of a declaration of abstention with a penalty clause and a contribution to the costs of 450 euros,” BREIN said in a statement this morning.
BREIN believes its original offer to settle was reasonable but still, no payment was forthcoming. The man did not respond to reminders and a summons was returned marked as “address unknown.” But despite the relatively small settlement amount, BREIN wasn’t prepared to let the case go.
After discovering the man had protected his data with the authorities, BREIN took steps to find out where he now lived and after a procedure discovered he hadn’t moved away at all. BREIN sent in the bailiffs who were handed email ‘evidence’ that the case had been dismissed. According to the anti-piracy group, that email was faked.
“That the email was forged was not only apparent from the incorrect terminology – after all, it is not a criminal case – but in particular because the sender’s address was not in use at the time. BREIN then summoned the man. He did not appear at the session,” the anti-piracy group explained.
As a result, a judge sitting in Eindhoven has now awarded BREIN an even higher amount plus costs – 1,421 euros – with interest added on top until the date the amount is settled in full.
“This man got a very reasonable settlement and now he has to pay a lot more. We will not let him escape that,” says BREIN chief Tim Kuik.
“Whoever burns his buttocks must sit on the blisters.”
In many countries around Europe and further afield, blocking pirate sites is carried out with permission from the courts.
The process is often long and expensive in the first instance but once a precedent has been set, subsequent blocking of additional sites should – at least in theory – be a much more simple affair.
Japan has been struggling to introduce a similar system for some time now but has continually come up against opposition from those who believe that monitoring Internet users’ traffic in order to block various domains amounts to a privacy breach.
The Telecommunications Business Act guarantees privacy of communications and prevents censorship, as does Article 21 of the Constitution.
Additional proposals suggested that Internet users could be confronted with popup warnings when they visit pirate sites, either as an alternative to blocking, a deterrent, or to help people differentiate them from legal offerings. However, that plan is being viewed as a potential invasion of privacy too.
Asahi reports that in order to make this kind of system work, Internet service providers would first need to obtain consent from their subscribers so that monitoring their attempts to access certain sites would remain legal.
The publication says that after the panel sought opinions from the public on the proposal, it was “bombarded by emails” sent by people calling for the plan to be rejected on privacy grounds.
Given that ISPs in other regions have complained that they shouldn’t bear the costs associated with blocking and similar regimes, it’s no surprise that some in Japan are taking a similar stance. Other providers indicate that they’re not ready from a technological standpoint, which of course is also closely connected with costs.
Nevertheless, some ISPs have agreed to begin trialing a popup warning system during the fall, in order to assess its effectiveness. That will mean them first having to explain to their users that they wish to monitor their online behavior and then obtain legal permission to do so.
Given a choice between being monitored by their ISP or not, it seems unlikely that many Internet users – if they actually understand the proposition – will willingly have someone watch over their communications.
And surely, visitors to pirate sites – the obvious targets of the campaign – will reject the offer immediately, if the purpose of the offer is made to clear to them in the beginning. That calls into question the entire point of the campaign, which is to assess whether warnings on pirate sites will deter their use.
Another day, another senseless mass shooting in the United States, claiming the lives of yet more innocent victims.
While the authorities attempt to sift through this catastrophe and work out what drives people to carry out such terrible acts, attention is being placed on how their messages of evil are spread. Somewhat inevitably, parts of the Internet are set to shoulder at least some of the blame.
Not at all unsurprisingly, service providers are usually reluctant to take any responsibility for the actions of their users or some cases, customers. However, in an announcement early this morning, CDN company Cloudflare said it would cease its work with 8chan, the “cesspool of hate” messaging board where it’s alleged the shooter shared his manifesto.
“8chan is among the more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare’s service. We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a statement.
“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”
While other publications will quite rightly focus on the human aspect of this weekend’s awful events, our reporting of issues affecting Cloudflare always center on the company’s involvement in copyright infringement actions. And there are several, almost every month.
Cloudflare is not a copyright infringer and always acts within the law but if 8chan is guilty of violating “the spirit” of the law and ripe for termination, it will be no surprise that copyright-focused groups will now be quietly rubbing their hands in anticipation.
The Pirate Bay, perhaps the most high-profile ‘pirate’ customer of Cloudflare, provides the most obvious example of a site with a stated aim of violating the law – copyright law, to be specific.
Yet to date nothing has been done to prevent the site from being a Cloudflare customer, because from Cloudflare’s side – perhaps counterintuitively – the CDN service itself hasn’t broken any laws. A similar argument can be made for the many hundreds or even thousands of comparable ‘pirate’ platforms which use Cloudflare in the same way.
It would be distasteful to compare the events of this past weekend with the sharing of movies, TV shows, and music, but copyright holders have had no problem using that as leverage in the past.
In a case brought against Cloudflare by ALS Scan, the adult publisher reminded the court that Cloudflare had previously terminated its business dealings with the Daily Stormer but hadn’t terminated its pirate site customers. Cloudflare didn’t want that discussion to take place at trial but its arguments were rejected by the judge.
In the end, Cloudflare and ALS Scan agreed to settle their case, meaning that a claim for contributory copyright infringement – through the prism of the Daily Stormer disconnection – didn’t get placed in front of a jury. But here we are, a little over a year later, with 8chan also having been terminated by Cloudflare under broadly similar circumstances.
In his message this morning, CEO Matthew Prince highlighted the fact that Cloudflare realizes that having policies that are more conservative than those of their customers would undermine customers’ abilities to run their ships as they see fit. This, the CEO says, means that the company sometimes has to bite its tongue – up to a point.
“We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services,” Prince added.
Copyright holders regularly argue that pirate sites are “lawless” by their very nature but none have ever caused or inspired the kind of tragic events inflicted upon innocents in recent times.
All that being said, Cloudflare’s decision to terminate a site it states may have only violated “the spirit” of the law will eventually come back to haunt it, even if it was absolutely right to do so. No brand wants to be associated with those reveling in murder, but the clock is already ticking to see which copyright holder brings it up first, to support a case against Cloudflare and its customers.
When Megaupload was shut down in 2012, chaos ensued in the international file-hosting scene.
While Megaupload undoubtedly stored a lot of copyright-infringing content, it also cooperated with rightsholders and executed takedown demands, not unlike YouTube, for example.
Fearing the same fate, some sites shut down. Others, like fellow file-hosting sites Uploaded and Turbobit, reacted by preventing visitors from the United States from accessing their sites, at least temporarily. While both sites are still around today more than seven years later, the latter is now getting some attention from the RIAA, one of the plaintiffs in the currently-frozen Megaupload civil case.
On July 26, the RIAA filed for and obtained a DMCA subpoena which compels US CDN company Cloudflare to hand over the personal details of Turbobits’ operator, including names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, payment information, and account histories.
Turbobit stands accused of offering for distribution the album ‘Hurts 2B Human’ by American singer Pink. Another site listed in the subpoena, Hotsahiphop.org, is similarly accused of offering Mike Posner’s ‘Look What I’ve Become ft. Ty Dolla $ign’ without authorization.
However, it’s two fairly anonymous URLs listed in the same subpoena that offer a coincidental loop-around to the earlier Megaupload case of 2012.
321hiphop.is and gotth.is (Got This) are two pretty low-traffic sites that appear to be used as hosting platforms for various tracks and mixtapes. Since there are much bigger targets around today, it isn’t clear why they’re on the RIAA’s radar.
Nevertheless, the RIAA wants Cloudflare to hand over the personal details of their operators for the offense of hosting two copies of the 2010 Jay-Z track ‘Ultra’ which features none other than Swizz Beatz, the man Megaupload claimed was their CEO at the time of the raid in 2012.
It’s unclear why Swizz Beatz was listed as the company’s CEO all of those years ago since the artist was never mentioned by name in any of the legal documentation connected to the raids or subsequent lawsuits. It was later confirmed by Ira Rothken, counsel for Megaupload, that Beatz was in negotiations to become the CEO, but it never came to pass.
However, Beatz did admit to working with Megaupload, possibly in connection with Megabox, the service that planned to give fans free music in return for their advertising clicks while giving most of the money back to the artists.
Megabox never came to light and here we are, seven years later, with the RIAA trying to tackle sites, not unlike Megaupload, with similar strategies, in order to protect his music.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems.
Mindgeek owns some of the most popular porn brands on the Internet. ‘Tube’ sites Pornhub, RedTube, and YouPorn are all company-owned, as are adult production companies Brazzers and Digital Playground, to name just two.
One of its subsidiaries, MG Premium Ltd, operates the latter two brands and many more like them. As content producers, they also get involved in sending takedown requests to Google. In fact, MG Premium is one of the most prolific senders of DMCA notices on the Internet today, after sending notices targeting more than 215 million URLs on Google search alone.
Despite all the takedowns targeting various domains, MG Premium appears particularly interested in the activities of several adult-focused ‘tube’ sites.
Via applications filed in a federal court in Washington last week, the company says it is attempting to obtain the identities of people who illegally uploaded its content to Waxtube.com, Vivud.com, Veporns.com, Tubezx.com, Siska.tv, Redwap.me, and Pornbraze.com. It says it can do this by issuing a subpoena to Cloudflare, which all of the sites use.
“MG is the owner of numerous copyrighted audiovisual works. In the course of protecting its works, MG has determined that infringing copies of these works, posted at the direction of individual users and without authorization from MG, appear on Cloudflare’s website, Waxtube.com,” the subpoenas read, substituting the site name at the end as appropriate.
“Such infringements have been ongoing and MG has issued DMCA notifications to Clouflare’s DMCA Agent. All notifications have met the requirements of 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A) by setting forth, inter alia, a representative list of the copyrighted works that have been infringed and the identification and location on Cloudflare’s website of the infringing material. MG now seeks to obtain a DMCA Subpoena to learn the identity of the individuals who are posting the infringing content.”
The list and descriptions of allegedly-infringing URLs on Waxtube (which are detailed at the rate of roughly five per page in Waxtube’s case) run to six pages. The second site, Vivud.com, is backed up with more than 580 pages of URLs, with Tubezx.com and Redwap.com weighing in at close to 400 pages and 190 respectively.
The existence of the subpoenas raises a number of questions, not least how useful Cloudflare can be in these cases. The subpoenas specifically state that MG Premium wants to “identify alleged infringers who, without authorization from MG, posted material to..” the sites in question.
It’s not clear whether Cloudflare will be in a position to do that but it should be able to provide the details of the operators of the various sites, which may or may not provide a useful stepping stone for MG Premium to achieve its stated aim. Whether the adult company has further but as yet unstated plans will remain to be seen.
All of the Waxtube subpoena documents can be found here 1,2,3,4 (pdf)
Threats of legal action backed up by litigation was once regular news in the torrent site arena but as streaming has begun to take over, particularly among more casual pirates, it’s IPTV grabbing most of the headlines.
DISH Networks is rapidly becoming one of the most litigious companies around and this week, in collaboration with partner NagraStar – a joint venture between Dish Network and Kudelski – it added yet another anti-IPTV lawsuit to its growing roster.
Filed in a New Jersey federal court, the suit targets individuals and companies said to be behind what appears to be at least six IPTV providers and/or brands.
“Defendant [Wilmey] Jimenez created and operates and/or operated unauthorized pirate television streaming services under various brand names including BimoTV, TVStreamsNow, OneStepTV, IbexTV, and MagnumStreams,” the complaint reads.
“Defendant [Fernandez Manuel] DaRocha created and operates and/or operated unauthorized pirate television streaming services under the brand name SolTV, and Defendant DaRocha also uses SoITV to provide unauthorized and pirated programming content to Defendant Jimenez, which Defendant Jimenez then retransmits.”
The heart of the complaint centers around the unlicensed distribution of DISH’s programming. The company says that it believes that the defendants worked in concert with others with similar aims and this is where things begin to get a little tangled.
DISH claims that Jimenez and DaRocha “have a history in trafficking in similar piracy streaming services”, claiming that they sold access to the now-defunct SetTV, the IPTV provider that was ordered to settle with DISH for an eye-watering $90 million.
Previously, SetTV was also sued by the Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a case that ended in a $7.6m default judgment just this week. There are some interesting ACE cross-overs in this case too.
While the domain of BimoTV appears to have disappeared out of use, the same cannot be said about those previously linked to TVStreamsNow and OneStepTV. As reported here in May and July, those domains are already in the hands of the MPAA. They display a copyright infringement warning before diverting to ACE’s website, which is also operated by the MPAA.
While unconfirmed by any official sources, this type of domain ‘seizure’ behavior usually points to some kind of settlement, in this case potentially with ACE and/or the MPAA. DISH is not a member of ACE, however, which suggests that settling with one group doesn’t grant immunity from another.
Unlike other cases involving IPTV providers, the DISH lawsuit isn’t based in copyright law. The company alleges violations of the Federal Communications Act (FCA) while demanding a permanent injunction to prevent the defendants from receiving and redistributing DISH content, and selling/distributing subscriptions and any associated reception devices.
DISH also requests an order to have the defendants’ social media pages removed, along with any advertising for the ‘pirate’ IPTV services. DISH further demands that their websites are handed over to the broadcaster. Of course, the company wants damages on top, which could reach $100,000 for each violation of the FCA. Very big numbers indeed.
Many governments around the world regularly complain that their countries are negatively affected by piracy. The only thing that differs is how seriously the problem is treated on the ground and how far they’re prepared to go in order to deal with unlicensed consumption.
There are many strategies available but the government in Malaysia is currently considering something unheard of anywhere on the planet. While it hasn’t shied away from ordering ISPs to block pirate sites, it now wants to hit consumers of content too, specifically those using Android-style set-top boxes.
Malaysia already has legislation in place which typically requires such devices to comply with national standards, with the Standard and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) responsible for product quality assurance and subsequent certification.
Without certification from SIRIM, devices are considered illegal and those found in breach of the rules could be fined or handed up to six months in prison. This is a big deal because many imported devices, which are often used for piracy purposes, do not have the necessary certification. But Malaysia is now planning to step things up another notch.
The mission of the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS) is sometimes compared to that of the MPAA in the US. Unlike the MPAA, however, FINAS is a government department within the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. Its chairman, Datuk Hans Isaac, says that it’s time to hold the public accountable for piracy.
“I’m putting a paper together to propose that the owner of the house is responsible for the use of illegal Android TV boxes,” he said at the Fast Track 2019 Creative Digital Economy Forum in Cyberjaya.
In the United States, Europe and elsewhere it’s not uncommon for copyright trolls to blame Internet subscribers (often the homeowner) for Internet piracy. However, it seems that FINAS wants to take things a whole lot further by placing the responsibility for piracy on those who may be innocent and/or completely absent.
“It doesn’t matter if the person is renting the house to another person who bought the device,” the FINAS chairman clarified.
According to The Star, FINAS is planning to set up a “war room” at its offices to deal with online piracy. It’s unclear how the department will obtain the ability to determine whether citizens are using pirate boxes in their homes (or indeed someone else’s home) but the department is certainly talking tough.
“[The war room is] where we will discuss what to do when we receive reports about digital piracy so we can take action immediately,” Hans said. “A day of the content being illegally streamed online is a loss of income for the investors or stakeholders.”
Media and entertainment company KRU Studios is a supporter of government proposals to target consumers who support online piracy.
“What the industry expects of the government now is to address the real problem, not just the pirates online. It is high time that the users are also punished. What is illegal offline, should be illegal online too,” says executive president Datuk Norman Abdul Halim.
Norman believes that when tackling the problem, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) should consider restricting Internet access to those who utilize pirate services.
Again, it remains unclear how the government could determine who these people are. The main problem cited isn’t easily-trackable BitTorrent users but those who frequent streaming sites, portals, and other services.
The MCMC, which earlier this year claimed to have blocked 246 sites supplying pirate boxes, also supports a change in the law, noting that it has already expended a lot of its resources dealing with piracy.
However, according to recent reports, the MCMC has also been spending its money where it shouldn’t, including “donating” around US$24,000 to buy 50,000 copies of former prime minister Najib Razak’s books.
While many pirate site users already know the direct URLs of their favorite free movie resources, entertainment industry groups feel that search engines still play a key role in unlicensed content discovery.
As a result, anti-piracy companies are continuously tasked with having allegedly-infringing results removed from search results offered by companies such as Google, in an effort to minimize traffic to pirate sites.
In Russia, which is rapidly emerging as world-leader in anti-piracy strategies, the government now wants to take things a step further by modifying search results to include a ‘tag’ or marker that clearly identifies legal video platforms.
According to local news outlet Vedomosti, the proposal forms part of an amendment to copyright law penned by Russia’s Ministry of Culture.
“We expect that in this way users will make a more informed choice not in favor of pirates, but in favor of legal platforms,” says Olga Lyubimova, director of the cinematography department of the Ministry of Culture.
While having a gold star or similar marker next to a site’s listing may help users to better identify legal offerings, the government isn’t planning to hand out endorsements on a whim. Movie and TV companies want to get a better idea of what content is being viewed and in what volumes. As a result, sites to be considered for preferential marking will have to give something back.
Russian cinemas are already required to report data on all tickets sold but there is no equivalent for online viewing resources, leaving production companies to complain that they need more information. The current proposals would require legal online providers to provide such data to content companies and the government.
If they do not, it’s suggested they could be declared illegal with various repercussions, not least the inability to be highlighted in search results as a legitimate provider.
The proposal to highlight legal platforms in search results is in addition to a ground-breaking agreement reached in Moscow last year. Signed by major rightsholders, Internet companies, and search providers, the pact sees Internet platforms query a centralized database of infringing content to ensure that none of it is presented on their platforms.
It’s expected to be written into law but in common with the search tagging proposal, the precise details are still being hammered out.
In theory at least, running a content upload site should be relatively straightforward. Put the necessary infrastructure in place, wait for users to upload files, then make those files available for download or streaming.
This works extremely well for sites like YouTube, for example, because they have teams of lawyers in place that ensure that the company operates to the letter of the law while standing by to swat away any irritating lawsuits over allegedly-infringing content.
Smaller sites tend not to have these luxuries, so there’s always the chance that groups like the RIAA will come knocking, threatening legal action for copyright infringement failings. This appears to be part of the puzzle facing popular upload site Picosong.
Picosong has been around for more than ten years. Its Twitter account dates back to May 2009, a lifetime for many similar sites operating in the same niche. For much of that time, the platform has provided a simple solution for users to host music files. Soon, however, that will come to an end.
A notice currently displayed on the site’s homepage says that Picosong has reached the end of the road. There are better alternatives for hosting musicians’ content, the announcement reads, so as a result, Picosong will close in October.
While the stated aim was to assist musicians to host (presumably) their own content, it’s clear that many uploaders to the site have been sharing content that doesn’t belong to them. A cursory skim around the web reveals plenty of links to content that is almost certainly copyrighted, a situation that affects Picosong and YouTube alike.
Whether Picosong’s impending shutdown was prompted by anything other than a lack of desire to compete with Soundcloud and Bandcamp is unclear. However, a filing at a federal court in Columbia reveals that the site is firmly on the radar of the RIAA after a leaked Kanye West track was uploaded to the site.
In common with similar efforts in 2019, the RIAA applied for and obtained a DMCA subpoena compelling domain registrar Namecheap to hand over the personal details of the site’s operator. Dated July 23, the application lists three infringing tracks;
Ed Sheeran & Travis Scott – Antisocial
Tyler, the Creator – 435
Kanye West feat. XXXTentacion, Ty Dolla Sign – The Storm
While the first two songs are already widely available, the latter appears to be an unreleased Kanye West track that hit the web earlier this month as part of a batch of similarly-leaked titles.
Pre-release content appearing online is a particularly sensitive matter for the labels. According to a contributor on Genius.com, the leak may even put the track’s album release at risk.
“‘The Storm’ is a leaked collaboration between Kanye West, Ty Dolla $ign and the late XXXTENTACION. On the track, Ty and Kanye encourage a female listener to take control of their life. X’s rowdy verse, which was picked from his unreleased ‘Yes Indeed Remix,’ features him boasting about fighting, his sex life, and his expensive taste,” the review reads.
“‘The Storm’ is believed to be a cut from West’s upcoming album, Yandhi. However, since the track leaked online on July 12, 2019, its standing on the album is unsure.”
The Storm was previously uploaded to many hosting sites, including YouTube (where it remains at the time of writing) and Soundcloud, which appears to have responded to a takedown notice.
TorrentFreak requested comment from the operator of Picosong but at the time of publication, we were yet to receive a response.
The RIAA’s demand for a DMCA subpoena can be found here (pdf)
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