All posts by Andy

Former Police Officer Handed 12 Month Sentence For Selling Pirate TV Devices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/former-police-officer-handed-12-month-sentence-for-selling-pirate-tv-devices-200602/

IPTVOver the years there have been many claims that people involved in piracy are linked to other areas of criminality but a case concluded yesterday probably wasn’t the leading example the authorities had in mind.

In 2017, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) assisted by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) launched an investigation into Daniel Aimson, who at the time was a serving officer with the force. Another matter, which we’ll come to shortly, triggered an investigation into Aimson’s finances and his connection to A1MSN Ltd, a company registered in the UK during October 2016 directed by his then-wife, Rachel Aimson.

It transpired that this company, which described itself as being involved in the “retail sale of audio and video equipment in specialized stores”, was being used to supply piracy-configured IPTV devices providing access to sport and movies for a monthly subscription.

According to GMP, the company also sold pirate streaming subscriptions that allowed users to log into a web-based portal where the content could be viewed without the need for a dedicated device.

“Over a seven-month period between January to August 2017, the turnover for just one of the accounts linked to the company was in excess of £300,000, none of which was declared to HMRC,” GMP said in a statement.

“Further analysis of the account revealed that between September 2016 and May 2017, approximately 1,640 illicit IPTV devices were sold.”

Alleged losses for SKY TV

In September 2017, Aimson was arrested at his home under suspicion and fraud and he was suspended from his role with the police. An analysis by Sky TV suggested it could have lost around £5 million in official subscriptions but a figure of $2.124m is now being cited by GMP.

Yesterday, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, a judge at Manchester Crown Court sentenced the former police officer to 12 months in prison.

“Aimson was making enormous amounts of money from what he knew to be an illegal activity,” commented Detective Constable Paul Bayliss of Greater Manchester Police.

“He was a police employee with a good career. That is now in tatters and he’s facing a lengthy prison sentence during which to contemplate his foolish and deceitful actions.”

While 12 months may sound like a long time in prison, many offenders spend just half of their sentences behind bars. However, Daniel Aimson’s case goes much deeper than that, something that went unmentioned in the force’s statement this morning.

Already Serving a Six-Year Sentence for Drugs Offenses

According to the archives of the Manchester Evening News, in 2015 when Daniel Aimson was still a serving officer, he and several other individuals were producing cannabis on a commercial scale. One of the growing locations was leased using the identity of the member of the public after Aimson stole the individual’s driving license during a spot check.

Aimson’s farms continued to produce cannabis for at least 30 months but in June 2017 the operation was raided by police and shut down.

“He (Aimson) was seen at various stages on his own CCTV hard drive to wear a t-shirt depicting the lead character Walt in the hit TV series called Breaking Bad,” Prosecutor Owen Edwards previously commented.

“In his various text messages it is clear that Aimson reveled in his double life as officer and criminal.”

IPTV Piracy Continued While Aimson Was On Bail

While Aimson was on bail for the drugs offenses, financial investigators found links to his still-operating set-top box business, his wife’s limited company through which they were sold, and bank accounts operated by other family members used to handle the money.

In 2017, Aimson was handed a prison sentence of six years and four months for running the cannabis operation. Yesterday, just two and a half years into that sentence, he was handed an additional 12 months inside for selling the pirate TV devices.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

BREIN Shut Down 564 Pirate Sites & Blocked 258 Pirate Bay Proxies in 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-shut-down-564-pirate-sites-blocked-258-pirate-bay-proxies-in-2019-200602/

BREIN logoFounded in 1998, BREIN is one of the world’s most recognizable anti-piracy groups and has taken on some of the largest names in piracy, including the infamous Pirate Bay.

BREIN has a laundry list of significant anti-piracy victories under its belt, not only by introducing site blocking to the Netherlands via a case against The Pirate Bay but also winning a landmark decision in the Filmspeler case, which found that selling piracy-configured set-top boxes is illegal under EU law.

Many of BREIN’s achievements aren’t so widely publicized in real-time but via its annual report, the Dutch anti-piracy group shines a light on its activities of the preceding 12 months. Its latest publication reveals that 2019 was a busy year, as BREIN sought to protect the rights of copyright holders in the fields of movies, TV shows, music and publishing, plus games and images.

BREIN Investigations Increase Year on Year

The global anti-piracy landscape is huge and almost impossible to map comprehensively given its fluid nature. However, BREIN is certainly taking on its fair share of cases and looking into a surprising number of matters at any one time.

During 2019, BREIN said it completed 596 investigations, up from the 511 it concluded during the previous year. The anti-piracy group doesn’t provide a precise overview of the nature of each of these investigations or the reasons for discontinuing each of them. Nevertheless, at the close of last year, 243 were still active, up from the 97 that remained ongoing at the end of 2018.

The War Against Downloading and Streaming Platforms

For many years, BREIN has reported successes against pirate platforms, often taking down hundreds in a 12 month period and 2019 was no exception. When downloading and streaming platforms are combined, BREIN says that it disabled 564 overall during the period. Sites targeted by the anti-piracy group commonly operate in the torrent, Usenet, linking, and cyberlocker niches.

Continuing to Tackle The Pirate Bay

After unrelenting pressure by BREIN, in 2012 a Dutch court issued an order for ISPs to block The Pirate Bay in the Netherlands. While that decision was overturned two years later, BREIN took the matter to the Supreme Court, which led to an EU Court of Justice referral.

In 2017, Europe’s highest court ruled that The Pirate Bay could indeed be blocked. The case in the Netherlands is still pending but with an interim injunction in place, ISPs are blocking the site. That has led to the emergence of hundreds of mirrors and proxies, all of which keep BREIN busy.

According to the group’s annual report, 258 mirrors and proxies of The Pirate Bay were blocked by ISPs using IP address and DNS methods while 333 proxies “ceased their service” during 2019.

Illegal IPTV and VOD suppliers

One of BREIN’s most notable achievements in 2019 took place in partnership with the MPA. Together the groups took legal action against Russian pirate CDN ‘Moonwalk’ (1,2) which reportedly serviced around 80% of Russia-based streaming sites.

Lower down the chain of supply, BREIN reports it also curtailed the activities of “23 illegal dealers” in ‘pirate’ IPTV and VOD subscriptions plus another 12 sellers operating via Facebook. A seller of piracy-configured IPTV devices offered through an online marketplace agreed to pay a settlement to BREIN after being tracked down by the group. During the past several years, BREIN has taken down around 300 pirate IPTV sellers and obtained settlements worth tens of thousands of euros.

BREIN also took on a more unusual case targeting the operator of a so-called ‘Plex share’ offering 5,700 movies and 10,000 TV-shows. That individual agreed to shut down and pay a settlement to the anti-piracy group.

Uploaders and other distributors

BREIN doesn’t have a history of regularly targeting small-time ‘personal’ file-sharers but does take action against people who supply content for download or devices designed for copyright infringement on a larger scale.

During 2019, BREIN targeted several Facebook and other social media-based groups offering eBooks, shutting them down and obtaining settlements from their operators. The anti-piracy outfit also concluded a case against a seller of Nintendo R4 cartridges pre-loaded with up to 100 games after the seller signed a cease-and-desist with a financial penalty clause. A similar agreement was reached with a Usenet uploader.

In a sign that BREIN expects these types of settlements to be adhered to, the anti-piracy group reports that it took action against at least two offenders who previously agreed to comply and then reneged.

In response, a repeat eBook pirate who continued her activities had her house and assets seized by BREIN before payments were resumed. A major uploader who did not comply with the terms of his settlement was summoned to court, with additional legal and collection costs.

Upcoming Activities in 2020

After being granted permission to monitor BitTorrent users several users ago, BREIN indicated that it might be prepared to demand cash settlements from people who repeatedly upload infringing content. While that never appeared at any scale, the anti-piracy group does have something up its sleeve for the months ahead.

“The dealing with frequent uploaders includes an awareness program of 6 months in which a maximum of 1000 accounts a month will receive an educational warning by email. For research into its effect, funding has been obtained,” BREIN says.

“The start of the education is planned mid-2020. Whether enforcement will eventually take place is subject to the effect of the awareness program.”

The full BREIN Review 2019 report can be obtained here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Publishers Sue the Internet Archive Over its Open Library, Declare it a Pirate Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/publishers-sue-the-internet-archive-over-its-open-library-declare-it-a-pirate-site-200601/

Internet ArchiveBack in March, the Internet Archive responded to the coronavirus pandemic by offering a new service to help “displaced learners”.

Combining scanned books from three libraries, the Archive offered unlimited borrowing of more than a million books, so that people could continue to learn while in quarantine.

While the move was welcomed by those in favor of open access to education, publishers and pro-copyright groups slammed the decision, with some describing it as an attempt to bend copyright law and others declaring the project as mass-scale piracy.

Today, major publishers Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and Penguin Random House LLC went to war with the project by filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive and five ‘Doe’ defendants in a New York court.

The plaintiffs, all member companies of the Association of American Publishers, effectively accuse the Internet Archive (IA) of acting not dissimilarly to a regular pirate site. In fact, the complaint uses those very words.

“The Open Library Is Not a Library, It Is an Unlicensed Aggregator and Pirate Site”

“Defendant IA is engaged in willful mass copyright infringement. Without any license or any payment to authors or publishers, IA scans print books, uploads these illegally scanned books to its servers, and distributes verbatim digital copies of the books in whole via public-facing websites. With just a few clicks, any Internet-connected user can download complete digital copies of in-copyright books from Defendant,” the complaint reads.

“The scale of IA’s scheme is astonishing: At its ‘Open Library,’ located at www.openlibrary.org and www.archive.org.., IA currently distributes digital scanned copies of over 1.3 million books. And its stated goal is to do so for millions more, essentially distributing free digital copies of every book ever written.”

Internet Archive Does “Violence to the Copyright Act”, Publishers Claim

Since the library was launched there has been discussion over whether the library itself is legal, with the Internet Archive firmly believing that it sits on the right side of the law. However, the publishers’ lawsuit stresses that they aren’t suing over the “occasional transmission of a title under appropriately limited circumstances”. What they are concerned with is their belief that the IA’s library is a tool for mass infringement.

“[The lawsuit] is about IA’s purposeful collection of truckloads of in-copyright books to scan, reproduce, and then distribute digital bootleg versions online. IA’s Website includes books of every stripe — from bestsellers to scholarly monographs, from entertaining thrillers and romances to literary fiction, from self-help books to biographies, from children’s books to adult books,” it reads.

The publishers also counter IA’s assertions that it only offers older 20th-century books for download, stating that is neither “accurate nor a defense.” IA scans, uploads and distributes huge numbers of in-copyright titles, the publishers state, including those published in the last few years.

“IA’s unauthorized copying and distribution of Plaintiffs’ works include titles that the Publishers are currently selling commercially and currently providing to libraries in ebook form, making Defendant’s business a direct substitute for established markets. Free is an insurmountable competitor,” they write.

Controlled Digital Lending is an “Invented Theory”, Complaint Alleges

At the heart of IA’s reasoning that its library is both legitimate and legal is that it offers content via Controlled Digital Lending, with titles only loaned for a limited period and on a controlled volume basis. However, opponents claim that scanning and lending can not be used as a cover for copyright infringement and distribution. It’s a position held by the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

Claiming that IA is hiding behind “an invented theory” simply labeled Controlled Digital Lending, the publishers maintain there is nothing in copyright law that allows anyone to systematically copy and distribute digital book files simply because they claim to own an original physical copy.

Furthermore, IA’s loosening of its own CDL rules at the time of the pandemic only made matters worse, as it came precisely when book market players were also under pressure to survive.

“IA’s blatant, willful infringement is all the more egregious for its timing, which comes at the very moment that many authors, publishers, and independent bookstores, not to mention libraries, are both struggling to survive amidst economic uncertainty and planning deliberatively for future, changing markets,” the lawsuit adds.

In summary, the publishers state that the function of the library is similar to that of the publishers themselves. Both distribute entire books to the public for reading but unlike the publishers, the IA avoids having to invest any money in order to do so.

“In short, Defendant merely exploits the investments that publishers have made in their books, and it does so through a business model that is designed to free-ride on the work of others. Defendant pays for none of the expenses that go into publishing a book and is nothing more than a mass copier and distributor of bootleg works.”

Damages Could Run Into Tens, Perhaps Hundreds of Millions of Dollars

The publishers are going straight for the jugular with their claim, alleging direct copyright infringement for each of the publishers’ copyright works offered by the library at a rate of $150,000 in statutory damages per infringement. In the alternative, should IA “attempt to evade responsibility” by blaming its own users for infringement, the lawsuit also alleges secondary copyright infringement.

“Defendant is secondarily liable under theories of contributory liability, inducement liability, and vicarious liability for the underlying reproduction, distribution, public display, and public performance of Plaintiffs’ Works, as well as the making of infringing derivatives of Plaintiffs’ Works,” it adds.

Summing up, the plaintiffs seek a declaration that the Internet Archive’s actions in respect of the Open Library constitute willful copyright infringement. On top, they demand preliminary and permanent injunctions to restrain it from offering their copyrighted works alongside a judgment for a yet-to-be-determined amount in statutory damages.

A copy of the complaint can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

ACE/MPA Seize Four More Sites For Facilitating Movie & TV Show Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ace-mpa-seize-four-more-sites-for-facilitating-movie-tv-show-piracy-200531/

MPA logoDomain takeovers and seizures have been part of the piracy landscape for at least 15 years.

Previously implemented mostly by government agencies, including the Department of Justice and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of criminal investigations, seizure banners are used as messages to deter former and would-be pirates.

Given the finite resources of law enforcement agencies and their tendency to focus on high-profile targets, domain seizures/takeovers are now much more likely to be actioned privately. This usually involves an approach to a site owner by entertainment industry lawyers, who politely request that all infringing activity ceases and domains are handed over to avoid more punishing action.

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is now emerging as the leader in this type of enforcement tactic. Comprised of the world’s leading video-focused entertainment companies, ACE has shut down dozens of platforms in this manner. However, instead of shouting its achievements from the rooftops, ACE prefers to conduct most of this activity behind the scenes.

Four More Domains Officially ‘Seized’ by ACE/MPA This Month

1. Rokuenmexico.com

Until recently, visitors to ‘Roku in Mexico’ were greeted with an offer to buy what appears to have been an unlicensed IPTV product called Future TV.

“Premium TV at the best price. Forget about SKY and Netflix,” the site declared. “The largest catalog of films including some that are still in the cinema. Access the latest movies from your home.”

Priced at 230 pesos (around $10) per month, the service claimed to be compatible with Android, iOS, Windows and Mac devices, playable on up to three at any one time. The service could be ‘activated’ via WhatsApp with payments accepted via PayPal and other means.

Curiously, however, the underlying Future TV portal seems to have been unaffected by the MPA’s seizure of the Rokuenmexico.com domain. That remains available today, as the image below shows.

Future TV

2. Android-Latino.com

The MPA’s takeover of Android-Latino.com is more difficult to decipher. The minimal volume of cached pages available on the Wayback Machine suggest that the site published news and reviews of pirate IPTV services and apps. It may have also published links to URLs where people could watch IPTV channels for free.

In any event, the original page (which wasn’t professionally presented) is long gone and now diverts to the ACE anti-piracy portal.

3. TVnota10.net

In common with the above seizure, the takeover of TVnota10.net isn’t immediately straightforward either. While the main site is down and redirecting to ACE citing breaches of copyright law, it appears to have functioned as a sales/promotional platform for a similarly-named service, TVN10.com.

That site appears to be completely functional, offering access to an almost certainly unlicensed IPTV service offering everything from live TV channels and movies, to TV shows and international sports.

4. Crowdstream.ml

To complete this weird quartet of domain takeovers we have Crowdstream.ml. Not only had we never heard of this platform before, it seems that the major companies of ACE may have only heard of it recently too. Google’s Transparency Report reveals that Twentieth Century Fox and Disney sent a handful of takedown notices in December 2019 with French free-to-air television channel TF1 taking an interest at roughly the same time.

Major search engines only have a handful of Crowdstream pages indexed but the suggestion is that the service hosted or linked to mainstream movies and may have been directed at the French market.

Coverage of previous ACE/MPA domain seizures can be found here.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Watch Tower DMCA Subpoena Row Settled After Judge Hands Out Vulgarity Warning

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/watch-tower-dmca-subpoena-row-settled-after-judge-hands-out-vulgarity-warning-200530/

Back in March we reported that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, the publisher for the Jehovah’s Witness religious group, had gone to court to obtain a DMCA subpoena.

The aim of the group was to discover the personal details of a self-declared ‘apostate’ who uploaded Jehovah’s Witness sermons to YouTube in breach of copyright. These are usually open-and-shut cases but when an anonymous movant stepped in to contest the application, things got pretty stormy to say the least.

As reported in April, the anonymous individual filed a series of documents with the court, branding leaders of the religious group as ‘pedophiles’ and suggesting that Judge Cathy Seibel’s alleged friendship with Watch Tower’s attorney could be undermining the judicial process. While largely irrelevant to our copyright-focused reporting, it should be noted that those claims were just the tip of the iceberg.

Profanities aside (and they were present in abundance), the anonymous movant declared protection under fair use doctrines and drew attention to the fact that despite filing applications for 59 DMCA subpoenas, Watch Tower had never followed up with an actual copyright lawsuit. These matters and more were subsequently addressed by Watch Tower and Judge Seibel.

Watch Tower: DMCA Subpoena Process Was Used in Good Faith

In a memorandum and declaration, Watch Tower attorney Paul D. Polidoro said that beginning June 2018, the religious group undertook “concentrated efforts” to address the “global theft” of its intellectual property. Part of this was exercising its rights under the DMCA, including applying for subpoenas. According to Polidoro, however, these didn’t bear much fruit.

Using the words of the anonymous movant against him, the attorney noted that things like “VPNs, anonymous proxies, and TOR exit nodes” frustrate Watch Tower’s enforcement efforts to discover the true identities of alleged infringers.

“When some identifying information was obtained, usually the infringer resided outside of the United States, such as in South America or Europe,” Polidoro wrote.

“At the end of last year, Watch Tower’s Legal Department was finally able to identify a few potential domestic defendants to bring a copyright infringement action. Undertaking litigation with its attendant expenses was and is carefully considered because Jehovah’s Witnesses’ efforts are ‘supported entirely by voluntary donations’.”

In the end, however, Watch Tower decided that legal action against someone was required and in December 2019 took the decision to sue an alleged copyright infringer. According to the filing, work on the case has been taking place since the beginning of 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the complaint was delayed.

“Watch Tower’s forthcoming copyright infringement lawsuit will not end its efforts to take steps to address other ongoing continued infringements. To this end, Watch Tower will continue to avail itself of its statutory rights to pursue DMCA subpoenas to identify other potential defendants,” Polidoro warned.

Watch Tower: No Fair Use in This Case

What followed was a case-by-case analysis of five videos posted by the movant to YouTube. In previous filings, the movant stated that the videos were “undercover” recordings of Jehovah’s Witness sermons but according to the religious group, they were all posted in their entirety and without criticism, as might be the case when attempting to make a fair use claim.

Only making matters more complicated was a subsequent motion to quash by the anonymous movant which stated that the DMCA subpoena itself was invalid because the five videos referenced by Watch Tower had already been removed from YouTube by YouTube itself, before the notices had been issued.

“[B]y the time Watch Tower had issued its DMCA notices for the five allegedly infringing videos in the case at hand, the five videos had already been removed by Google/YouTube because Google is a huge piece of shit who doesn’t have to do their fucking jobs right,” the motion notes.

“So ‘Hooray for the pieces of shit at Google for being so quick on the trigger and heavy-handed with their ban hammer!’ But I guess that means that this subpoena must be quashed.”

No, Possibly, and Mind Your Language, Judge Declares

“Having heard further from the parties, I deny the motion to quash,” Judge Siebel wrote in her recent order settling the matter.

“Watch Tower has provided an explanation for why it has not pursued more cases, as well as evidence that the alleged infringement would not constitute fair use because the videos are full-length and not accompanied by criticism. That there may be criticisms in the comments section [on YouTube] does not render the initial postings fair use.”

On the validity of the DMCA subpoena, the anonymous movant may enjoy more success, but only within tight parameters.

“Movant argues that the subpoena is unenforceable because the videos were all taken down before Google received notice. I am dubious, because this allegation contradicts what Movant alleges elsewhere — that the videos were taken down only after the notices were received — and because in Watch Tower’s initial declaration, it attached a letter it sent to Google asking it to take down the videos,” the Judge notes.

“But the subpoena would be unenforceable if the material had been taken down before the notices were received, so Watch Tower’s counsel should provide Google with a copy of this text order, and Google is advised that compliance with the subpoena is not required if in fact the videos were taken down before Google received any notice of the possible infringement.”

With the matter of the DMCA subpoena now apparently over, Judge Siebel took the time to add some personal advice to conclude her order. Having made no attempt to rein in any of the language used in the dispute thus far, she had the last word indicating she was far from happy.

“Finally, some free advice for Movant: Inflammatory, vulgar and abusive language in court filings is not a good idea.”

Related court filings can be found here and here (pdf)

Image credit: Pixabay

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

US Court Hands Down Preliminary Injunction Against Pirate IPTV Provider

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/us-court-hands-down-preliminary-injunction-against-pirate-iptv-provider-200529/

IPTVPirate IPTV services have flourished in the past few years with little to hold them all back.

To counter the threat, however, US-broadcaster DISH Network hasn’t taken its foot off the gas, filing numerous lawsuits in local courts in an effort to shut at least some of them down.

DISH seems to pick its targets wisely, enjoying success in many of not all of its lawsuits. This week the company added another victory to its collection after obtaining a preliminary injunction to prevent a pirate IPTV service from infringing its rights.

Filed under seal back in late January at a Florida court, the complaint targeted Robert Reich, an alleged resident of Riviera Beach, Florida. Reich’s IPTV service reportedly operates under various business names including Channel Broadcasting Corporation of Belize Ltd, Channel Broadcasting Cable, CBC Cable, and CBC.

The ‘Pirate’ Rebroadcasting Scheme

According to DISH, Reich is the owner and operator of the ‘CBC X-View Cable Service’ which does business at CBC.bz. DISH alleges that the service is actually a pirate TV operation that utilizes official DISH subscriber accounts (many of which have Florida addresses) to steal the company’s programming before retransmitting it via the Internet.

The image below shows around half of the channels offered by the service, many of which are licensed exclusively by DISH.

“Defendant sells subscriptions to the CBC pirate television service for $60 per month plus a $55 installation fee. To purchase a subscription, customers can contact CBC through a variety of means according to CBC’s website, including telephone, email, Facebook, and WhatsApp VOIP service,” the complaint reads.

In addition to regular subscribers, DISH alleges that the service is also being used in several hotels in Belize including the Radisson Fort George. DISH claims that error messages from its services were observed on television sets in the hotels showing that the programming had indeed been retransmitted from its platform.

DISH commonly files anti-IPTV lawsuits under copyright law or the Federal Communications Act, with the latter being used in this case. The company alleges breaches of 47 U.S.C. § 605(a) and 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4) which covers the sale of device codes (aka subscriptions) and piracy devices such as configured set-top boxes.

Statutory damages of between $1,000 and $10,000 are available for each violation of Section 605(a) and up to $100,000 if the violation was committed willfully and for financial gain. Section 605(e)(4) allows for statutory damages up to $100,000 for each violation.

Defendant Tracked Down and Served in Belize

The docket shows that on April 24, 2020, a former police officer and process server hired by DISH served documents on Robert Reich at his residence in Belize, including an ex parte motion for temporary restraining order and motion for preservation order and asset freeze previously granted by the court.

In response, Reich filed a motion to quash, arguing that the court that it had no jurisdiction over him because he hadn’t been properly served. After highlighting conflicting statements submitted by Reich and his wife, earlier this month Judge Rodney Smith dismissed the motion and sided with DISH.

Temporary Restraining Order Converted to Preliminary Injunction

This week the court noted that it had previously granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Reich based on several findings, including that since DISH was likely to succeed in its claims under the FCA, the continued distribution of pirate subscriptions and devices would cause “irreparable injury” to the company.

Since then, however, the court acknowledged that the parties had met and agreed to convert the TRO into a preliminary injunction to be formalized by the court, in advance of an upcoming hearing.

As a result, Judge Smith was happy to carry that out by restraining Reich and all of his businesses from continuing to infringe DISH’s rights. That includes receiving and/or distributing DISH programming without permission and selling or distributing devices “marketed, designed or intended for receiving or assisting others” in receiving DISH programming.

Reich was further restrained from destroying, hiding or transferring any computer servers, satellite equipment, software, set-top boxes and documentation that have been used (or could be used) to support his pirate IPTV service.

Finally, Reich had severe restrictions placed on his assets, including physical items, cash and bank accounts, preventing any transfer beyond what’s required for “reasonable” living and business expenses. The court told Reich that he must now “keep detailed records” of all his expenditures.

“Defendant, and anyone acting in active concert or participation with Defendant or Defendant’s CBC TV Service at issue in this action who receives actual notice of this Order, is warned that any act in violation of any of the terms of this Order may be considered and prosecuted as contempt of this Court,” Judge Smith warned.

The complaint and supporting documents can be found here (1,2,3,4 pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Russia Adopts Law to Block Pirate Apps and if Necessary, App Stores Too

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-adopts-law-to-block-pirate-apps-and-if-necessary-app-stores-too-200528/

Pirate AppleAs torrent indexes and streaming portals continue to provide access to copyrighted content, there has also been a considerable increase in the availability of software applications that facilitate access to movies, TV shows and similar content.

These tools, which can be installed with minimal effort, often act as aggregators of content and presenting it in easy-to-use interfaces on mobile phones, tablets and similar devices. While the sources for this content can be handled with traditional takedown and blocking mechanisms, authorities in Russia have been seeking to take direct action against the apps themselves.

Following its third reading, Russia’s State Duma adopted new legislative amendments yesterday that will allow them to do just that.

How the New Law to Tackle Piracy Within Apps Will Work

After receiving a complaint from a copyright holder, local telecoms watchdog Roscomnadazor will have 72 hours to determine where the allegedly-infringing application is being hosted. This might typically be an official repository such as Google Play or Apple’s App Store but could also be a third-party distributor or website offering a similar service or functionality.

Roscomnadzor will then send an infringement notice to the platform informing it of the alleged violation while highlighting a requirement to limit the availability of the content identified in the notice. The app distribution platform will then have 24 hours following the receipt of the complaint to notify the application’s owner that an infringement complaint has been filed.

Within 24 hours of the developer being made aware of the details of the complaint, they will be required to prevent the specified content from being made available in their application. If they do not comply, the responsibility to prevent ongoing infringement will then fall back on the app distribution platforms themselves, requiring them to stop distributing the entire application.

In the event that the application distributor fails to take the mandated removal or blocking steps, Roscomnadzor will then be able to issue an instruction to have the distributor itself blocked by all Internet service providers in Russia, thereby preventing consumers from having access to the platform in its entirety.

“If the owner of the information resource [Google Play, Apple’s App Store] has not limited access to the software application, the information necessary for taking measures to restrict access to the software application is sent to telecom operators,” an announcement from the State Duma reads.

Last-Ditch Efforts to Soften the Law Were Ignored

In the original draft of the legislation, responsibility for blocking access to pirated content was limited to the developers/operators of the allegedly-infringing applications themselves. However, subsequent amendments expanded liability to application distribution platforms too.

Several trade groups made last-minute appeals to the State Duma requesting that measures to block distribution platforms be removed from the legislation but their calls went unheeded. As a result, there are now fears that key app distribution players could be negatively affected by the measures due to additional requirements to monitor for the alleged infringements of third-parties.

After two years in the making, the new law will be signed by President Vladimir Putin and into force on October 1, 2020.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Vapor Store Looks a Lot Like a Popcorn Time For Pirated Steam Games

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vapor-store-looks-a-lot-like-a-popcorn-time-for-pirated-steam-games-200527/

Vapor StoreWebsites are some of the most popular hangouts for pirates but over the past several years there’s been an increased appetite for app-based solutions.

Modified Kodi installations, for example, have proven popular for close to a decade but in 2014 Popcorn Time sparked a revolution by providing a Netflix-like experience for movie and TV show consumers.

Since then, dozens of Popcorn Time-like applications have appeared on the scene with varying levels of success but most have stuck to providing access to video content. This week, however, a new tool called Vapor Store debuted online targeting the video games niche.

As the image below shows, a fully-configured Vapor Store looks very much like a Popcorn Time for pirated games.

Vapor Store

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Vapor Store developer ‘Sushy’ (who appears to be still at school) says that he’d always liked the idea of having a simple-to-use program to download games. So, putting his newly-acquired coding skills to the test, he embarked on this “challenging and rewarding” open-source project.

“Vapor Store is a program that simplifies downloading and installing games on Windows,” Sushy informs TF.

“All games are direct downloads [not torrents as is the case with Popcorn Time] and to use Vapor Store you will need to find a source that already has a list of games with download links and import them into Vapor Store. Vapor Store will generate a list based on the data from the site the user inserted.”

For legal reasons, this step is pretty important. While Popcorn Time comes ready-configured with all pirate sources and resources, Vapor Store does not. Users are required to input a source site to render it useful and it’s already an open secret that the software currently only works with video game download site Steamunlocked.

Once connected to that site, Vapor Store utilizes the database at IGDB, presenting game titles, previews and screenshots along with cover art.

Vapor Store meta data

“When you click on a game you get even more information such as a short description and some screenshots. To install a game the user simply needs to click on the ‘Download’ button and then Vapor Store will do its thing,” Sushy explains.

“Once the install is complete the game will automatically get added to the user’s library and from there they will be able to run the game.”

Vapor Store is still very much in development over at Github, with updates to its interface, storefront and ability to work with ROM sites on the horizon. The developer acknowledges that there are things still to be fixed but believes the tool has reached the stage where it can be tested by the public.

Vapor Store is currently limited by the slow download speeds associated with file-hosting sites and due to the nature of games themselves (which cannot be streamed in the same way video can), it does not enjoy the immediacy of its movie and TV show equivalents. From a technical perspective, people shouldn’t begin holding their breath anytime soon for that kind of functionality.

That being said, Vapor Store is an interesting concept that could be built upon in the future. It’s no Steam replacement at this early stage but has the potential to spark plenty of curiosity.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Cloudflare Ordered to Reveal Operators of Popular Pirate Sites Manga1000.com

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-ordered-to-reveal-operators-of-popular-pirate-sites-manga1000-com-200526/

Obtaining the personal details of individuals behind pirate sites is rarely straightforward.

When they’re visible at all, domain registrations can be hidden behind privacy services, faked, or even both, while hosting companies tend not to comply with demands to reveal information when they’re unsupported by a valid court order.

One of the methods increasingly deployed in recent times is to target a potential weak spot. Thousands of pirate sites use the services of CDN company Cloudflare and as a US-based entity, Cloudflare is compelled to comply with the orders of the court. So, with copyright infringement allegations in hand, rightsholders apply for a so-called DMCA subpoena to force Cloudflare to hand over site operators’ personal details.

This tactic was recently used by Shogakukan, one of Japan’s largest publishers of manga content. In an application for DMCA subpoena filed at a California district court this month, lawyers for the company explained that in order to protect its copyrighted content, Shogakukan needs to identify the people behind two domains – manag1000.com and manga1001.com.

Manga1000.com screenshot

“It has recently come to Shogakukan’s attention that certain users of your services have unlawfully published and posted certain contents on the website located at [manga1000.com and manga1001.com],” the application reads.

“We demand that you immediately disable access to the Infringing Work [detailed in the image below] and cease any use, reproduction, and distribution of the Original Work. Specifically, we request that you remove or disable the Infringing Work from [the websites] or any of your system or services.”

Shogakukan Infringed Works

In all but a slight domain difference, manga1000.com and manga1001.com seem identical. They both offer manga titles in ‘raw’ format and enjoy a decent number of visitors – around five million per month per domain according to SimilarWeb stats.

Manga1000 enjoys slightly more traffic at around 5.1 million visits per month which means it’s almost ready to break into the list of Top-500 most-visited sites in Japan, period.

Shogakukan has taken interest in both domains more recently, filing DMCA takedown complaints with Google to delist more than 500 URLs. Now, however, it appears to have more concrete legal plans on the horizon, demanding that Cloudflare spills the beans on its allegedly pirating customers.

The DMCA subpoena, which was duly signed off by the court, now compels Cloudflare to hand over highly-detailed information.

That includes all information sufficient to identify the operator and/or owner of both sites who “uploaded, hosted, and/or contracted with another provider to host the infringing content” owned by the publisher. Shogakukan also demands billing and administrative records that reveal the infringers’ names, physical addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, credit card numbers, and hosting providers, plus any and all logs of IP addresses.

Cloudflare is required to present the relevant details to Shogakukan’s legal team in San Francisco by June 5, 2020, but whether that request will lead to any useful information remains to be seen.

As reported last September, Shogakukan and three other major manga publishers previously sued Mangamura ‘replacement’ site Hoshinoromi in a New York federal court, noting that Cloudflare was helping the site’s operators to conceal their identities.

Earlier this month, however, the publishers filed a notice of voluntary dismissal after months of work trying to identify the operators of the site ended without bearing fruit. Back in February, a lawyer for the plaintiffs told the court (pdf) that the defendants had “gone to considerable lengths to conceal their identities and avoid legal process.”

After the court granted the publishers’ request for expedited discovery, the publishers served subpoenas on four Internet companies that provided services to Hoshinoromi, demanding that they hand over information on the defendants. While they received plenty of information back, things didn’t go especially well.

After receiving dozens of files including technical logs containing 1,000 unique records and more than 100 unique IP addresses spanning a 16-month period, the publishers were forced to hire an outside consulting company to perform an analysis of the data. In the end, however, none of the data personally identified the operators of Hoshinoromi.

Shogakukan will be hoping for a better result this time around.

Shogakukan’s application for DMCA subpoena against Cloudflare be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

DISH Sues Canada-Based Pirate IPTV Provider ‘Voodoo IPTV’

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-sues-canada-based-pirate-iptv-provider-voodoo-iptv-200525/

IPTVTV broadcaster DISH Network has filed more lawsuits against ‘pirate’ IPTV providers and resellers than any other company in the world. Depending on how the services operate, the company either brings cases under the Copyright Act or the Federal Communications Act (FCA).

This week DISH won a $3.3 million default judgment against pirate IPTV reseller Boom Media and its operators John and Debra Henderson. The case was actioned under the FCA and before the judge’s ink was dry, DISH was in court again filing a similar lawsuit against Voodoo IPTV and its alleged operators.

“The Voodoo IPTV pirate streaming service is, and has been, retransmitting the DISH Programming without authorization from DISH. The DISH Programming was received from DISH’s satellite television service without authorization,” the complaint alleges.

Unlike many other cases filed by DISH, the defendants in this matter aren’t based in the United States. Cren Motasaki, Atta Ur Rauf, Rafayet Alam and Pepin Woolcock are all said to be based in Ontario, Canada. A fifth defendant, Sajan Kyubi Shrestha, is reportedly a resident of Nepal while the locations of 11 ‘Doe’ defendants are yet to be determined.

Filed in a Texas court this week, the complaint alleges that Motasaki is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of Voodoo IPTV and has overall decision-making power. He is said to have a history of involvement with piracy-related activities and was identified as a member of the WorldofIPTV.com forum having made posts in an Xtream Codes-related thread.

Alam (aka Rafa Abdul) is reportedly in charge of sales at Voodoo, with DISH claiming that he operated CDN.tm which hosted VOD content for the JadooTV service, including DISH programming.

Woolcock, a programmer and developer for Voodoo, reportedly controls another domain offering IPTV services while Shrestha, who has the same role at Voodoo, is said to run four piracy-related repos on Github including Stalker, Xtream-Codes-2.2.0-Nulled, and eurekatv.

Rauf is said to be the person who manages sales and finance at Voodoo while several others are accused of being the sources for some of its content.

“Defendants Does 1-11 are one or more persons responsible for eleven DISH subscription accounts that were created with false information and used to receive DISH’s channels for retransmission on the Voodoo IPTV pirate streaming service without authorization. An Internet Protocol (‘IP’) address located in Toronto, Canada was used to access at least seven of these eleven DISH subscription accounts,” the complaint reads.

DISH says that all defendants act in concert to steal its programming and as a result requests relief that holds them jointly and severally liable. The company says that the court has jurisdiction over the defendants because they have purposefully directed their conduct towards the United States while causing injury there.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants sold subscriptions to approximately 50,000 users of the Voodoo IPTV pirate streaming service, many of whom are located in the United States,” DISH notes.

The complaint alleges that ‘device codes’ (aka IPTV subscriptions) were sold on various websites including IPTVVoodoo.com, VoodooTV.in, and BuyIPTVOnline.net. At the time of writing only the latter is still available, offering monthly subscriptions at US$15 or CAD$20 up to US$75 or CAD$100 for six months.

Voodoo IPTV subscription

As the image above shows, processors including PayPal are used to buy and sell the Voodoo service and DISH indicates it has identified at least three connected email accounts that were also used to pay for computer servers running the Voodoo platform.

“Defendants’ sale and distribution of Android TV Boxes and Device Codes [subscriptions] for accessing the Voodoo IPTV pirate streaming service assists end users to receive the DISH Programming or the content therein, without having authorization from DISH and for the benefit of the Voodoo IPTV end users, in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605(a),” the complaint notes, adding:

“Defendants sell and distribute Android TV Boxes and Device Codes used for accessing the Voodoo IPTV pirate streaming service in violation of 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4). The Android TV Boxes and Device Codes are knowingly provided by Defendants for purposes of enabling customers access to the servers that are used to stream the television programming on the Voodoo IPTV pirate streaming service, including the DISH Programming.”

In addition to a permanent injunction, DISH predictably requests a damages award to compensate for the activities of Voodoo in the United States.

Statutory damages of between $1,000 and $10,000 are available for each violation of Section 605(a) and up to $100,000 if the violation was committed willfully and for financial gain.

Section 605(e)(4) allows for statutory damages up to $100,000 for each violation which at least on paper has the potential to push any damages award into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The complaint filed by DISH this week can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Spotify Launches Crackdown on Tools Offering Premium Service For Free

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/spotify-launches-crackdown-on-tools-offering-premium-service-for-free-200524/

Spotify is currently the most popular music streaming platform in the world with 286 million users. An impressive 130 million subscribe to the company’s premium service with the remainder using the ad-supported tier.

Somewhere in those figures are a small minority who enjoy the features of Spotify Premium but yet manage to do so without paying the subscription fees charged by the company. This is achieved by deploying various hacks and workarounds that remove the restrictions imposed on users of the ad-supported service.

In many cases this means users obtaining a hacked variant of the Spotify software, often on the Android platform. These applications don’t subject users to adverts and in some cases claim to enable other features such as unlimited track skipping and a departure from enforced shuffling.

Needless to say, Spotify views these applications as a threat to its business model. The company has previously taken action against specific tools in an effort to make them harder to find but more recently the Swedish streaming service appears to have stepped up its efforts.

Beginning back in March but increasing as the weeks have passed, Spotify AB has been sending DMCA notices to Google targeting domains that appear to be offering the types of tools highlighted above. Torrentfreak learned of the complaints from a third-party and we were able to track many of them down using the Lumen Database repository.

The majority targeted at Google’s search indexes contain similar wording, with claims that the domains in question are infringing on Spotify’s intellectual property rights. However, the company goes further still with allegations that the tools are designed for fraudulent purposes.

“This site uses Spotify intellectual property in its content without authorization and this falsely suggests Spotify sponsorship or endorsement of the website and violates Spotify exclusive rights,” many read.

“We reasonably believe that it is the intention of its owners to use it as an instrument of fraud.”

Spotify DMCA complaint to Google

At the time of writing Spotify has targeted at least 20 domains with requests like this one to remove more than 60 URLs. Many seem to be so-called APK download sites or similar platforms giving hints and tips about how to obtain Spotify and indeed other services for free, with accompanying links.

However, when testing the domains in the numerous takedown notices our interest was piqued by at least one that triggered a Malwarebytes ‘fraud’ alert. Spotify took a particular interest in this domain by targeting 14 of its URLs, which raises the question of what type of fraud is taking place on the site.

SpotifyPlus.com blocked

Spotify appears to use the term in connection with using its intellectual property and accessing its platform in an unauthorized manner but it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to think that something even more nefarious might be at play with some modified APK files available online today.

In the vast majority of cases, Google has complied by delisting the requested URLs. At the time of writing there are a handful of more recent Spotify complaints marked as pending a decision (1,2,3)but it would be no surprise if they were removed during the days to come.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Hacker Mods Old Calculator to Access the Internet, CASIO Files DMCA Complaint

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hacker-mods-old-calculator-to-access-the-internet-casio-files-dmca-complaint-200523/

Hobbyist electronics hacker and YouTuber ‘Neutrino’ only has 10 videos on his channel but many are extremely popular.

Back in April he constructed his own interactive and contactless handwash dispenser to help people avoid the coronavirus and earlier this month published an absolute gem, transforming an old CASIO scientific calculator into something better.

After a not inconsiderable amount of work, Neutrino’s device was able to communicate with similar devices nearby and even connect to the Internet. Pretty impressive for a supposed amateur.

As standard, the CASIO calculator chosen for the project can be picked up on eBay for just a few dollars but other components are also required, as listed on Neutrino‘s YouTube channel. After desoldering the solar panel and various other steps, Neutrino managed to squeeze an OLED display into the space, along with a WiFi module and other goodies.

“Since we were in lockdown I wanted to do something really fun, which can keep me occupied for a week or two,” Neutrino informs TF.

“I did not have many components to work with so using this calculator (CASIO fx-ms991) was not a problem, because it was roughly 5+ years old and it was given by my uncle.”

Gizmodo published an article on the invention earlier this month, highlighting that it could potentially be used to cheat in exams. Neutrino says he doesn’t want that but does hope that the hack will inspire others to learn and participate in the ‘maker community’.

But now, just a couple of weeks after winning plenty of praise, the project has also attracted the attention of an anti-counterfeiting organization working for CASIO.

REACT describes itself as a not-for-profit organization with over 30 years experience in fighting counterfeit trade. “One of our main objectives is to keep the costs of anti-counterfeiting actions affordable,” its site reads. A wide range of high-profile companies are listed as members, from Apple to Yves Saint Laurent and dozens in between.

This week REACT wrote to Github, where Neutrino has his ‘Hack-Casio-Calculator‘ repository, with a demand that it should be completely taken down for infringing its client’s intellectual property rights.

“I am writing on behalf of CASIO, which is a member of REACT (also known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Network ). REACT actively fights the trade-in counterfeiting products on behalf of its members,” the complaint reads.

“It came to our attention that the below-mentioned repository is using copyrighted source code in order to modify Casio’s copyrighted program.

“The code the repository contains is proprietary and not to be publicly published. The hosted content is a direct, literal copy of our client’s work. I hereby summon you to take expeditious action: to remove or to disable access to the infringing content immediately, but in any case no later than ten days as of today.”

The full DMCA notice submitted to Github is available here and claims that the “entire repository is infringing” and that hosted content is a “direct, literal copy of [CASIO’s] work.

The repository has been disabled by Github in response to the complaint so validating the notice’s claims is not straightforward. That being said, Neutrino informs TF that the claim is nonsense and all work is his own.

“They accuse me of using copyrighted source code in order to modify CASIO’s copyrighted program. But my code has nothing to do with it,” he explains.

“The code was written completely from scratch and all the libraries included in my source file were open-source. Everything was clearly mentioned in the [now removed] readme file of my GitHub repository. They also allegedly accuse me by stating that ‘The entire repository is infringing’, but in reality whatever the original content they pointed out has nothing to do with my code.”

Neutrino informs us that he has already filed a DMCA counternotice with Github to get his project back. While he may yet be successful, this is just the type of action that has ‘freedom-to-tinker’ proponents throwing their hands up in despair wondering why big corporations have nothing better to do.

Unfortunately, these types of complaints can discourage people from being innovative or sharing their ideas and knowledge, the exact opposite of what Neutrino hoped to achieve. CASIO may somehow feel it’s in the right here but it does seem just a little bit petty.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

YouTube Faces Permanent ISP Blocking in Repeat Copyright Infringer Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-faces-permanent-isp-blocking-in-repeat-infringer-lawsuit-200522/

Sad YouTubeFive years ago, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that 400 hours of video were being uploaded to the platform every minute. Today that volume has increased to a staggering 500 hours per minute, a vast amount of content by any standard.

While the majority of the video uploaded to YouTube isn’t problematic for the company or third-parties, some users breach copyright law by uploading content that infringes on the rights of others. When that content is discovered by YouTube’s Content ID system or is manually claimed by a rightsholder it can be monetized or removed, but not everything goes smoothly.

In 2018, Russia-based HR-solutions company OnTarget obtained a ruling from the Moscow City Court which compelled Google-owned YouTube to remove some of its content uploaded without permission. Among other things, the company creates personnel assessment test videos and some of these had been uploaded to YouTube by channels that reportedly assist people to obtain jobs by gaming the system.

According to a report from Kommersant, Google appealed in 2019, stating that the content was no longer on YouTube. However, the court dismissed the case, stating that the platform had “not eliminated the threat” of the plaintiff’s rights being violated in the future. It now appears that prediction has come to pass.

OnTarget has now filed another copyright infringement complaint against Google at the Moscow City Court. Founder and CEO of the company Svetlana Simonenko says that YouTube channels informing job seekers on how to “trick future employees and pass tests for them” has posted video tests developed by OnTarget to the platform in breach of copyright.

Speaking with Kommersant, Simonenko says that the lawsuit demands that YouTube should be completely blocked by local ISPs as the violations against her company continue. She claims that Google has not deleted the infringing content and this means YouTube should be considered a repeat infringer under Russia’s anti-piracy laws.

The permanent blocking of websites is a measure only usually taken against the most blatant of infringing platforms, such as massive torrent site RuTracker that despite repeated warnings, fails to remove any copyrighted content following complaints.

As written, Russia’s copyright laws require that sites that repeatedly infringe copyright should be completely blocked in the country but according to experts, demands to have a site like YouTube blocked across Russia over a few videos are likely to fail under pressure.

“It is clear that the requirement to block the whole of YouTube due to several videos is excessive, and the Moscow City Court should reject the normal course of events due to the fact that it is not proportional to the violation,” says Anatoly Semenov, Deputy Head of the IP Committee of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP).

Semenov says that due to the way the law is written the Court isn’t in a position to push aside the requirement to block the entire site and replace that with a requirement to block individual links to content. However, it could simply refuse to apply it in this case or even refer the matter to the Constitutional Court.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Pirate IPTV Reseller Boom Media Ordered to Pay $3.3m in Damages

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-reseller-boom-media-ordered-to-pay-3-3m-in-damages-200521/

Last October, DISH Network filed a lawsuit in the United States targeting Boom Media LLC, a reseller of IPTV services sourced from a number of well-known ‘pirate’ suppliers.

Filed in a New York district court, the complaint also named John Henderson of New York and Debra Henderson of North Carolina as defendants, stating that the LLC was operated from John’s home (with him as the sole member) while his mother provided key support for the operation by receiving customer payments.

“The codes [DISH terminology for subscriptions] are designed and produced to enable a set-top box or other Internet-enabled device to access servers used to transmit DISH programming to customers of the MFG TV, Beast TV, Nitro TV, Murica Streams, Epic IPTV, Vader Streams and OK2 services,” the complaint read.

DISH claimed that subscriptions were sold to customers for between $10 and $20 per month with an option to buy a “pre-loaded” set-top box for $150. Boom Media’s sales efforts were high-profile, with DISH pointing to YouTube videos of John Henderson telling his customers that “[y]ou guys are buying pirated streams, this shit is not Hulu, it’s not Netflix, it’s pirated f**cking streams. It’s no different than buying f**king knockoff shoes. It’s black market shit.”

As reported in November 2019, John Henderson said he would take the case all the way to trial but to finance that he would need at least $250,000 in donations. In the end his fundraiser made just $1,029.

The case has simmered along in the background ever since but for all parties the show is now over after Boom Media and the Hendersons failed to mount a defense.

In a memorandum decision and order handed down yesterday by District Court Judge Mae D’Agostino, the Court found that the defendants violated Section 605(a) of the Federal Communications Act after they “retransmitted DISH Programming originating from DISH’s satellite communications to customers of the Services, or worked closely with others to do so.”

Additionally, the defendants were found liable under Section 605(e)(4), which makes it unlawful to distribute “any electronic, mechanical, or other device or equipment”, knowing or having reason to know that the device or equipment is primarily of assistance in the unauthorized decryption of direct-to-home satellite services.

“The Device Codes [IPTV subscriptions], which Defendants sold individually and preloaded onto a set-top box, were designed and produced for purposes of allowing access to the servers that support the Services, and thus are a ‘device; or ‘equipment’ for purposes of Section 605(e)(4),” the judgment reads.

Having established defendants’ liability in response to DISH’s request for default judgment, Judge D’Agostino turns to the question of appropriate damages.

Statutory damages of between $1,000 and $10,000 are available for each violation of Section 605(a) and up to $100,000 if the violation was committed willfully and for financial gain. Section 605(e)(4) allows for statutory damages of between $10,000 and $100,000 for each violation.

In the event, DISH sought statutory damages of ‘just’ $1,000 for each violation of Section 605(e)(4) but given that amount relates to each subscription, that figure was always set to explode. However, since DISH didn’t have access to enough information to put a precise figure on the number of subscriptions, it was forced to get creative.

Back in June 2019, John Henderson took to YouTube to complain that a credit card processor Boom used between February 2019 and May 2019 had refused to release $50,000 owed to Boom following the sale of IPTV subscriptions. Hoping to get revenge on the processor, he asked Boom subscribers to initiate chargebacks with their credit card issuers to get a refund, without risking the accounts they had with Boom.

“Defendants sold Device Codes [IPTV subscriptions] for an average price of $15.00 for each month of service. Accordingly, Defendant John Henderson’s statement that Defendants were waiting for $50,000 in payments owed to them for Device Codes previously distributed to customers is evidence of 3,333 Device Codes sold by Defendants,” the judgment reads.

“Given that Plaintiffs ‘are entitled to all reasonable inferences from the evidence they presented’ when seeking damages against a party in default…the Court finds that this number represents a fair approximation of the total number of Device Codes sold during this time frame (February through May of 2019).”

Multiplying 3,333 device codes by $1,000 damages per violation, the Court awarded DISH $3.33 million in statutory damages, with Boom Media LLC and John and Debra Henderson held jointly and severally liable.

The Court found this to be a reasonable amount, given that the $50,000 represented a fraction of Boom Media’s sales. Also, the Court acknowledged that DISH could’ve demanded much more, given the willfulness of John Henderson’s behavior generally and his comments posted to YouTube mentioning DISH.

Boom Media - Henderson comments

While DISH did not seek attorneys’ fees or costs, it did demand a permanent injunction.

The Court was happy to oblige, enjoining all defendants and anyone acting in concert with them from “conducting the Rebroadcasting Scheme, or otherwise receiving or assisting others in receiving DISH’s satellite communications or the television programming that comprises such communications without authorization from DISH.”

The Court also ordered the defendants to stop selling IPTV subscriptions granting unauthorized access to DISH programming.

The memorandum decision and order can be downloaded here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

The Simpsons Writer Promotes Disney+ Premiere With Pirate Movie Screenshot

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-simpsons-writer-promotes-disney-premiere-with-pirate-movie-screenshot-200520/

bart simpson illegal downloadingIn 2012, the short film ‘The Longest Daycare’ hit the big screen attached to screenings of the 20th Century Fox release Ice Age: Continental Drift.

At just five minutes long it’s much shorter than a standard The Simpsons episode but, according to Al Jean who has worked on the show for more than 30 years, it was a “thank you” note to Simpsons fans who had stuck with the show for two-and-a-half decades. And things went well.

The Longest Daycare was nominated for an Oscar and now, more than eight years later, is about to make its debut on the streaming platform Disney+. That was pointed out by Al Jean himself just an hour ago on Twitter, who posted the following in celebration.

Al Jean Simpsons tweet

While that presents nothing out of the ordinary at first view, those who take the time to scratch below the surface will find something amusing. Clicking on the image to expand it fully reveals that the screenshot was taken from a pirate release of the show that was released more than seven years ago on torrents and then uploaded to YouTube.

The Longest Daycare

The release, Maggie.Simpson.in.The.Longest.Daycare.720p.HDTV.x264-2HD, is still being seeded today and can be found without too much difficulty on The Pirate Bay. The upload date on TPB is February 18, 2013 and the copy on Youtube, which currently has 88,337 views, was uploaded a day later on February 19, 2013.

We won’t embed it here but as the screenshot below illustrates, this is the exact pirate release showcased in Jean’s tweet, which is available all over the place for download albeit in much lower quality than will be available on Disney+ next week – hopefully.

Maggie SImpson YouTube

The big question perhaps is whether this was intentional. The writers of The Simpsons haven’t shied away from the topic of piracy in the past, that’s for certain.

In addition to Bart scrawling, “I must not illegally download this movie” on a school blackboard as penance for his sins, he has also been seen surfing ‘The Bootleg Bay’ on his laptop. The writers of the show have also been happy to poke fun at the heavy-handed tactics of Hollywood in their mission to chase down TV show and movie pirates.

All that being said, it could have been a good old-fashioned blunder. After all, Jean couldn’t get a screenshot from Disney+ yet and YouTube is way more convenient, even if it does reveal a little bit more than perhaps intended.

DOH!

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Take That’s Gary Barlow: Use a VPN to Bypass YouTube Geoblock of Lockdown Concert

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/take-thats-gary-barlow-use-a-vpn-to-bypass-youtube-geoblock-of-lockdown-concert-200519/

The coronavirus pandemic has managed to spread its misery to every corner of the earth, with millions out there feeling there’s little to look forward to. For fans of Take That, however, there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel.

This Friday 29th May at 8:00pm, Take That’s Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, and Mark Owen – together with former band member Robbie Williams – will perform a charity concert directly from their own homes. The event is being put together by insurance company Compare the Market (Compare the Meerkat) at a reported cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds, without an official venue in sight.

Instead, the quartet will broadcast to fans via the Meerkat Music YouTube channel and Facebook Live and considering the absolute dearth of new programming currently on TV (not to mention the massive popularity of Take That and Robbie Williams), millions are expected to tune in.

That, however, comes with a caveat. The one-off event is reportedly only going to be available for residents of the UK, so for fans across the rest of Europe, the United States and beyond, the concert will be off-limits. This is already proving a source of frustration for international fans and there have been a number of complaints that restricting the show, especially at such a sensitive time, is really unfair.

Of course, people aren’t just going to sit back and accept that so, inevitably, there have been many people posting online on how to access the show on YouTube from outside the UK. VPNs are the logical choice since they allow people to change their online locations and convince YouTube that they’re in good old Blighty.

What was slightly unexpected was for Gary Barlow himself to give the movement his support. After receiving advice on VPN use from a fan on Twitter, Barlow gave a shout out to fans, asking “the army” to spread the word on how to bypass YouTube’s restrictions.

Gary Barlow VPN

That Gary Barlow himself is encouraging fans to skirt geo-blocking is interesting for a number of reasons, not least that given the planned restrictions, music licensing is probably at the root of the issue. The details of the Compare the Market / Take That / Williams / YouTube deal aren’t public but if the concert isn’t planned for worldwide broadcast, it probably isn’t licensed for that eventuality.

Of course, millions of fans around the world could care less about that and it’s difficult not to have sympathy with them.

“How about just make it global like other artists are? You have fans worldwide. We want to support you. It’s sometimes like you don’t believe you have that many fans. It’s the same with gigs on iTunes. Can’t get them in NZ,” a fan wrote on Twitter. ”

“It’s a shame things like that are necessary for ‘the army’ outside the UK,” added another.

While the VPNs suggested in the tweet may very well do the job, there should be concerns that Take That fans who aren’t so tech-savvy will head off to Google Play to download any old VPN in the hope that they grant access to the event. That isn’t advisable.

Given the numerous reports that free VPNs can be a privacy and security nightmare, fans should exercise caution by doing their research before choosing one for long-term use.

In summary, Take That fans should never forget that picking the right VPN could help them rule the world, even if they do take a little patience to set up. These days, fortunately, most only take a minute, so for many fans Friday might turn out to be the greatest day after all.

I’ll get my coat…

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

The Music Mission Campaign Aims to Shut Down 200 Music Piracy Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-music-mission-campaign-aims-to-shut-down-200-music-piracy-sites-200519/

The Music MissionThe existence of torrent indexes and streaming portals is broadly acknowledged online. Equally, people are well aware of the hundreds of lower-quality music sites that often pull their content from YouTube for download.

However, there is another class of music piracy sites that are mentioned in public much less often. These are professionally presented, so much so that many consumers could be forgiven for thinking they are official platforms. While that may sound attractive to pirates, users soon find that access to the content on offer is conditional on paying a fee, albeit at a fraction of the rates offered by officially-sanctioned distributors.

This combination of highly-polished interfaces, advanced features, alongside a broad range of content means that these pirate platforms represent direct competition for digital platforms such as Beatport, Juno, and Traxsource, undermining their business models and those of the labels that rely upon them.

To illustrate how similar these platforms are and the type of advanced features they offer, the images below show the same track – the first on Beatport and the second on a pirate competitor. From cover art, genre, artist tags, BPM and even a DJ-friendly track key, the pirate platform has everything covered.

Beatport track image

Beatport pirate competition

In response to this threat, a new anti-piracy initiative has just been launched. Spearheaded by anti-piracy company AudioLock and digital label service LabelWorx, The Music Mission campaign aims to tackle around 200 of these unlicensed competitors.

After mapping and investigating the underlying infrastructure and dependencies of these sites, the project will target their hosting providers but perhaps more importantly, seek to cut off their source of revenue by disrupting their payment gateways, thus preventing them from taking orders from subscribers.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, AudioLock founder and CEO Ben Rush explains that with well-architected structures designed to funnel traffic to other resources and provide protection from takedowns, the mission to take these sites won’t be straightforward. However, given that they are mostly professional paysites, there is a determination to do whatever is needed to disrupt their activities and return revenue to official distributors.

“The expectation is that pirate means free and when discussing piracy with rights holders such a belief is often followed by ‘How can you fight free?’,” Rush says.

“The awareness of what is occurring and the size of it needs to be pushed because not only are the majority of the sites not providing a free option, so users can only access the music by paying, but there is a section of users who have been paying infringing sites without knowingly doing so. So this should mean that more of the money being paid to these infringing sites can be redirected to legitimate platforms.”

While some coordinated anti-piracy initiatives struggle to gain support, the same cannot be said for The Music Mission. As its supporter page shows, the project currently boasts hundreds of distributors, labels and other industry players, including the UK’s PRS For Music, an entity that has previously undertaken successful anti-piracy operations of its own.

For operational reasons AudioLock doesn’t want to make the full list of targeted sites public at this stage but a sample shared with TorrentFreak reveals sites making revenue via at least two mechanisms.

While some present ‘download’ buttons that link to file-hosting platforms where content can be downloaded, that can only be achieved by taking out a premium account with the file-hosting provider. However, the main goal, it appears, is to have site users sign up to a subscription with the platforms themselves, with packages ranging from one months’ access right up to a discounted one year plan.

Considering these are pirate platforms, those reviewed by TF request a lot of personal information even before an account can be obtained. This includes full name, email address, country of origin, and even links to valid social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and SoundCloud, with the suggestion that platforms will vet prospective customers.

Despite apparent barriers to entry, The Music Mission believes that these sites are causing considerable financial damage to their partners. While Beatport, Juno Download and Traxsource alone pull in around 9.4 million visitors to their portals every month, it’s estimated that these pay-piracy sites trump that with around 11 million visits.

“The subscriptions on these infringing sites range from £8.50 to £41 per month, in comparison to our legitimate dance music stores charging between £1 to £2 per track and are paying the content owners,” Rush explains.

“While it is impossible to be sure, even if you assume that out of those 11 million visits to pay-for-access pirate sites, that only 35,000 visitors (0.32%) decide to pay for a subscription (at an average of £15 per month), that is still over £500,000 paid to the pirates currently per month. This cash injection back to our industry would make a substantial difference.”

In order to bring more labels on board, The Music Mission site has a tool they can use to see how much of their content is currently being made available illegally via these platforms. Rush informs TF that the scanner is being developed all the time and from tomorrow will be updating daily to scan for the latest releases.

Scan for Defected releases

Targeting payment gateways is not a new anti-piracy strategy but The Music Mission hopes that by attracting a large volume of labels keen to support the cause, leverage against payment processors and server companies will be more effective. And with more scanning and information tools just around the corner, we are informed that this is just the beginning.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Ubisoft Sues Google & Apple For Copyright Infringement Over Rainbow Six: Siege Clone

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ubisoft-sues-google-apple-for-copyright-infringement-over-rainbow-six-siege-clone-200518/

French video game company Ubisoft is one of the most well-known brands in the industry.

Its franchises including Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Just Dance, and the Tom Clancy series contributed to revenues of almost 1.6 billion euros in its last financial year but according to the gaming giant, one of its competitors is trading off that success.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege (R6S) has a reported 60 million players clocking up more than a billion session days in 2019-2020. However, the emergence of a direct clone of this smash-hit produced by a Hong Kong-based company has prompted Ubisoft to file a copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States.

Filed in a California district court on Friday, the complaint targets game developer Ejoy which conducts business under the brand Qookka Games. Ubisoft alleges that the company’s mobile game Area F2 is an illegal direct rip-off of R6S from the ground up, from the story to gameplay mechanics and beyond.

“That AF2 is a near carbon copy of R6S cannot seriously be disputed. Virtually every aspect of AF2 is copied from R6S, from the operator selection screen to the final scoring screen, and everything in between,” the complaint reads.

“This copying includes, but is not limited to, R6S’s storytelling as expressed in the way in which games unfold in real-time; the player-controlled ‘operators’ (including their special abilities and weapons loadouts) and the selection and arrangement of those operators; the collection, selection, and arrangement of weapons, gadgets, and equipment available to players and specific operators.”

Many games in the same niche can share a lot of similarities but Ubisoft says AF2 goes much further by copying the design of its maps, gaming surfaces, object interactions, sound effects and animations, even going as far as closely duplicating the advertising and marketing material for RS6.

Comparison between R6S and Area F2

While the main target of the lawsuit is Ejoy (which according to the complaint is owned by Alibaba), both Google and Apple are also named as defendants. According to Ubisoft, this is because despite filing complaints with the companies, neither removed AF2 from their stores and instead continued to profit from its distribution.

Ubisoft alleges that it informed Google on April 28/29 via a DMCA complaint that AF2 infringed its copyrights in R6S and that by continuing to distribute the title via Google Play, Google was infringing those rights too. On May 11, however, Google told Ubisoft that it would not be removing the game from the Play store.

Around the same time, Ubisoft filed a similar DMCA complaint with Apple which reportedly forwarded the complaint to Ejoy. In common with Google, Apple also failed to remove the game from its App Store.

Ubisoft says that both Google and Apple are profiting from every copy of AF2 distributed via their platforms. AF2 is free to play but according to the lawsuit the game actively targets the existing userbase for R6S, relying on revenue generated by in-app purchases of which Google and Apple take around 30%.

“Ubisoft is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Google and Apple have received (and as long as AF2 remains available will continue to receive) substantial revenue in connection with the game, and further, that each either has sent or intends to send a portion of that revenue to a foreign bank account maintained by Ejoy and to retain the remainder for itself as profit,” the complaint notes.

Ubisoft says that by creating and distributing AF2, all defendants are willfully infringing its copyrights in R6S and authorizing others to reproduce the title in violation of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101.

In respect of Google and Apple, their failure to remove AF2 from their respective stores, despite receiving notice from Ubisoft, means that they have “actual and constructive knowledge” of the infringement and since they obtain a financial benefit from that infringement, are not able to claim safe harbor under Section 512 of the DMCA.

As a result, Ubisoft says it is entitled to statutory damages up to a maximum of $150,000 for each copyright infringed (or actual damages and defendants’ profits) plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

To curtail the ongoing infringement, Ubisoft is also demanding preliminary and permanent injunctions against all defendants and anyone acting in concert with them, including but not limited to Internet service providers.

The complaint can be obtained here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also help you to find the best anonymous VPN.

Do Justifications For Content Piracy Really Hold Up Under Scrutiny?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/do-justifications-for-content-piracy-really-hold-up-under-scrutiny-200517/

There are hundreds of places around the Internet inhabited by content pirates. From dedicated forums and chat channels attached to file-sharing sites to more public entities like Reddit, discussion about piracy isn’t difficult to find.

Reddit’s /r/piracy sub-Reddit, for example, is both huge, public, and intriguing. To outsiders, its 534,000+ members are hardcore content pirates who will copy anything digital, in any way humanly possible. But that only describes a sub-set of the population.

For those who stick around long enough, a more diverse mix can be discerned. While the place is clearly inhabited by some who flat-out refuse to buy anything, there are also plenty of contributors who appear to buy content but pirate on the odd occasion, to supplement an already expensive monthly outlay. Reasons to pirate can be seen everywhere and are often expressed by posters.

Some of the most common and recurring posts are now titled/flaired “dAtS wHy I pIrAtE!!!” These can range from a picture of an empty wallet to memes bemoaning security systems such as Denuvo. Dozens of variants can be found, such as the timeless classic of depriving increasingly ‘greedy’ corporate entities of cash to ensure they don’t “take over the world”.

When put under the microscope, however, do they stand up to scrutiny? As personal reasons to pirate, they are all legitimate, as legitimate as something can be when it’s illegal, of course. But as strict justification, as a solid argument that piracy is actually a reasonable response to a complicated set of negative circumstances and perceptions, things begin to get interesting.

This week one Reddit user attempted to put every reason why someone might pirate into a single post and while the list seems pretty comprehensive, it fails – as this article will too – to cover every possible angle. That is because everyone is different or, as some will argue, the reasons aren’t reasons at all but merely excuses to pirate.

It will come as no surprise that not being able to afford content comes at the top of the list. It is the most enduring reason for piracy since piracy began but one that can be viewed from another angle too. Is it always about not having the money, period, or is it often about saving that money so it can be spent elsewhere on things that can’t be obtained for free?

This leads to another infamous theory, the one regarding the so-called ‘lost sale’. If people genuinely have no money, then there isn’t a lost sale. If they do have money but choose not to spend it, that raises questions of whether something was lost as a result of that instance of piracy and why another business sector, one selling alcohol or sneakers, for example, has more right to that revenue than content creators.

Ah, content creators…and distributors. Now there’s an interesting bunch. There can be little doubt that video services like Netflix and Disney+ and gaming platforms like Steam are smash-hits with consumers. They appear to offer content not only at a fair price but also surrounded by a user-friendly experience. At least to some extent they are solving the piracy puzzle by hitting that sweet spot of being pocket-friendly and a pleasure to use. Until they aren’t.

While Netflix aims to release its own content around the world simultaneously, its country-specific libraries are a constant pain in the neck for consumers. How many times have Netflix customers read online that a show is available to stream and yet when they try to find it, it’s unavailable in their region? These geo-restrictions seem absolutely ridiculous to Joe Public and while they don’t provide a cast-iron reason to pirate, some people – arguably quite rightly – feel justified in obtaining that content for free.

After all, they’re being short-changed, aren’t they?

The problem here is that while there are genuine business reasons for geo-blocking due to licensing issues, people with access to piracy sources have very little time or sympathy for them. The same is true for DRM on games, which may prevent a certain amount of piracy but only affects legitimate buyers. By their very nature, pirated games come without DRM. It isn’t difficult to see why people feel aggrieved at being punished for being a loyal customer and why excuses for piracy suddenly become justifications.

Justification for piracy is perhaps most keenly witnessed among people who already invest significant sums on official content and media every month but then find themselves backed into a corner on specific items they’d like to experience. With budgets only stretching so far, why would anyone be happy to subscribe to yet another service to access a single TV show ‘exclusive’ when that is all they want from the platform?

Equally, why would someone happily subscribe to a massive TV package in order to access a single channel that gets watched for an hour each week, purely because the TV company insists on selling an overpriced bundle that it refuses to split? Is this a reason to pirate or is it a justification? Indeed, after spending all of their available funds on official media, does accessing this TV channel for free even represent a ‘lost sale’ now?

Like all of the other questions in this niche, the answer is not straightforward. In fact, we’re dealing with a moving target here. Once we determine that this is a lost sale in the example above and then decide to shift the available funds from one company to another, the consumer loses out by paying for things he doesn’t want, loses out by losing access to things that he does, and generally walks away feeling disappointed.

And disappointed customers are bad things. Disappointed customers, those who feel like they’ve been exploited or taken for granted, can turn against companies long-term. Then, as if by magic, their excuses to pirate suddenly become their personal and solid justifications to pirate, which could last for a very long time. But, not only that, it might lead them down the track of paying for even less media, media that they are now particularly militant about obtaining for free.

So, do justifications for content piracy really hold up under scrutiny? Well, it’s a question of personal perspective but broadly, some do and some don’t. Others absolutely don’t, while others are borderline. The argument always remains that if someone has created something the least people can do is pay for it, or not “steal it” in industry parlance. Perhaps the real question is this: does it really make any difference why people pirate to the people who do it?

Multi-billion dollar content companies and smaller players alike already know what they must do to win and maintain business while converting pirates. They have to deliver the best product they can and ensure that the offer is perceived as good value for money by customers. Perhaps most importantly of all, they must never offer a product that is inferior to piracy in any significant way and then, when they have customers on board, they shouldn’t take them for granted.

Because when they do, reasons to pirate are tossed aside and people start to feel justified in not buying the real thing. That’s when the real problems begin.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also help you to find the best anonymous VPN.

DISH Sues Pirate IPTV Suppliers Who Sold Through Amazon and Walmart

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-sues-pirate-iptv-suppliers-who-sold-through-amazon-and-walmart-200516/

DISH logoGiven the huge number of pirate IPTV providers, sellers and resellers operating all around the world today, shutting them all down must seem like an impossible dream for copyright holders.

Nevertheless, the MPA, anti-piracy coalition ACE, plus companies like DISH Network persist in their quest, targeting operators large and small in the hope that a combination of lawsuits and threats will eventually prove a suitable deterrent.

This week DISH filed yet another lawsuit in the United States targeting several individuals and companies said to be behind the capture of DISH content, the manufacture of infringing devices, and the sale of pirate IPTV subscriptions in the US.

Filed in a Texas district court, the complaint begins by detailing the activities of defendant and Texas resident Yahya Alghafir. According to DISH, he distributes, sells and promotes Super Arab IPTV (also known as Super IPTV, herein SAIPTV) using a variety of aliases and companies including Texas Communication and Technology LLC (TCT), one of the other defendant entities named in the suit.

Two other defendants, Shenzhen Street Cat Technology Co. and Shenzhen Jiemao Technology Co., are described as companies operating out of Shenzhen City in China.

According to DISH, Street Cat plays a key role by capturing broadcasts of exclusively-licensed DISH content and retransmitting it over the Internet to subscribers of the SAIPTV service.

“Street Cat captures live broadcast signals of the Protected Channels, transcodes these signals into a format useful for streaming over the Internet, transfers the transcoded content to one or more servers provided, controlled, and maintained by Street Cat, and then transmits the Protected Channels to Service Users through OTT delivery,” the complaint reads.

The company is further accused of manufacturing, distributing and selling SAIPTV set-top boxes and subscriptions, including to Jiemao Technology Co. which in turn sells them to Alghafir and TCT, the provider’s distributor in the United States.

“No need to install Dish” and “Best after-sales service” were phrases allegedly used to promote the devices and service to customers.

Super Arab IPTV devices

In 2017, DISH says it sent numerous copyright infringement notices to Jiemao Technology. A response received from the company claimed that it was “only rebranding and reselling” the IPTV devices and had disabled the websites used to sell them. Its reseller in the United States would soon run out of boxes to sell so the matter would be closed, the company added.

DISH says that the sales didn’t stop with devices and subscriptions continued to be offered on a number of dedicated websites, Amazon.com and Walmart.com, plus via a network of distributors and resellers throughout the United States.

DISH also reveals that in response to copyright infringement notices sent to Street Cat, the manufacturer of the devices and the apparent IPTV service supplier, the company offered a “business deal” with DISH. The company said it could stop assembling and activating the SAIPTV devices but never followed through on that promise.

In 2018, the company did acknowledge that DISH has the rights to its exclusive channels but refused to capitulate, claiming that as a non-US-based company with no servers in the US, it didn’t need to. Street Cat also suggested that a big company like DISH wouldn’t be negatively affected by the sale of SAIPTV devices.

DISH claims that it matched Alghafir and TCT to numerous domains used to sell the pirate devices and service to customers in the United States. The TV provider then sent “numerous” copyright infringement notices to which Alghafir responded on August 29, 2017.

“I do not sell any service for any of the channels you have listed,” he claimed. In follow-up correspondence, Alghafir demanded that DISH should remove references to TCT and his email address from any future notices.

Overall, DISH says it sent at least 34 copyright infringement notices to the defendants between May 2017 and this week, demanding that defendants “cease transmitting the Protected Channels identified in the notices, or otherwise cease distributing, selling, and promoting” the SAIPTV service in the United States.

At least 27 additional complaints were sent to CDN companies utilized by the service plus numerous targeted at Amazon and Walmart to remove listings for the product.

As recently as January 2020, the devices and accompanying service were still being sold in the US. DISH says that one of its investigators bought one from Alghafir and TCT via Amazon for $299.00, which included a two-year subscription.

With no progress to report, this week’s lawsuit claims that Street Cat is liable for direct copyright infringement in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 501 after distributing and publicly performing DISH programming.

It further seeks to hold Alghafir, TCT and Jiemao liable for inducing and materially contributing to copyright infringement by providing their customers with illegal access to DISH content. For a sample of 21 or more registered works, DISH demands statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work. It also seeks a broad injunction preventing future infringement of its rights.

Finally, DISH wants to seize any remaining pirate devices and have the defendants transfer over all domain names used to infringe the TV company’s rights.

The DISH complaint and supporting documents can be found here (pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also help you to find the best anonymous VPN.