All posts by Andy

Movie & TV Show Database Bombards Google With Bizarre Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-tv-show-database-bombards-google-with-bizarre-takedown-notices-200126/

First launched in 1993, France-based company AlloCiné aims to support the entertainment industries by providing information on movies and TV shows.

The company operates a portal located at Allocine.fr where users can research movies, TV series, actors and view a wide range of additional information such as release dates, for example. While less well-known than iMDb, for example, Allocine.fr is a huge draw with more than 46 million visits per month.

During December 2019 and for reasons that remain unclear, a new wave of DMCA takedown notices began appearing on Google’s Transparency Report, reportedly sent by AlloCiné and targeting a broad range of sites. All told and from a standing start, the company appears to have requested the removal of more than 6,300 URLs from third-party sites, claiming that they infringe AlloCiné’s rights.

Determining whether that’s actually the case is not easy since the notices submitted to Google don’t include links where original content can be found. The first notice, dated December 16, 2019, seems to target sites that give the impression of being streaming portals. They bear no close resemblance to AlloCiné and Google eventually rejected every single request.

This pattern largely continues across many copyright claims targeting thousands of URLs but then even more glaring errors start to appear.

While similar to those that preceded it, this notice asks Google to delete a page on rival entertainment database JustWatch featuring Game of Thrones. It also demands that a link to a Rotten Tomatoes page detailing The Mandalorian is deleted, just one of many targeting the site in the days that followed.

For reasons unknown, this notice targets the History Channel while another attempts to delist a Harley Quinn article published by Newsweek.

With Google refusing to take action for almost all URLs thus far, another notice persists by demanding the takedown of an information page relating to the TV series Asylum City published on the CanalPlus website. Another targets pages on both MetaCritic and Decider after they covered the Disney show The Imagineers.

Things only go down from here, with another notice targeting four more Rotten Tomatoes URLs, one belonging to Hulu, plus one owned by Paramount Network. Just a day later, another notice swooped back for another bite at Hulu (it is targeted in several notices) plus an attack on the site AllSeries.co.uk. While this might sound like a TV show platform, it is in fact a BMW-focused sales and repairs company in the UK.

Sadly, subsequent notices don’t offer any improvement, with one in particular standing out after targeting news site Le Parisien for writing about Netflix, Wired.com for reporting on The Witcher, and Vulture for recapping The Mandalorian.

Quite what AlloCiné is trying to achieve here isn’t clear but the very same notice also targets the New York Times, Netflix, KickStarter, IGN, Express.co.uk, Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, Wikipedia and – for good measure – AlloCiné’s very own domain.

TorrentFreak’s request for comment from AlloCiné remains unanswered.

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

Rivendell Has Now Sent Half a Billion DMCA Takedown Requests to Google

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/rivendell-has-now-sent-half-a-billion-dmca-takedown-requests-to-google-200125/

DMCA notices or their equivalents can be filed against websites, hosts, ISPs and other services almost anywhere in the world, with the majority of entities taking some action in response.

At Google, for example, the company receives DMCA notices requesting that allegedly-infringing URLs are delisted from search results and at this company alone, the scale is astonishing. At the time of writing, Google has processed requests to remove 4.43 billion URLs from its indexes across 2.77 million domains. These were filed by more than 196,100 copyright holders and 186,100 reporting organizations, which includes anti-piracy groups.

This week, one of those anti-piracy groups reached a historic milestone. French anti-piracy group Rivendell sent its 500 millionth URL delisting request to Google, breaking the half-a-billion barrier for a single reporting entity for the first time.

Hervé Lemaire is the owner of Rivendell’s sister company LeakID, a company he formed in 2006 after he left EMI/Virgin as Head of Digital. Speaking with TorrentFreak this week, he explained that Rivendell was launched in 2013 with a key focus to prevent unlicensed content appearing in Google’s indexes.

Lemaire didn’t provide specific details on Rivendell’s top clients but a cursory view of Google’s report shows many familiar names from the world of entertainment, including what recently appears to be a strong focus on sports content owned by the Premier League and Italy’s Serie A.

In common with all anti-piracy companies, Rivendell isn’t keen to give away its secrets. Lemaire did confirm however that patroling Google’s indexes is only part of the puzzle and that scanning piracy platforms to identify infringing material quickly plays a big part.

When it comes to dealing with Google itself, Lemaire bucks the trend by complimenting (rather than criticizing) the company for its anti-piracy work.

“We work closely with the Google team and we are very happy with them,” he told TF. “They are very cooperative and when we have a problem with a link we always have an answer and a solution from them.”

Google doesn’t impose any reporting limits on Rivendell either, with Lemaire noting that all Google wants is to work with “serious companies doing a serious job.”

While the sending of more than half-a-billion URL reports is certainly remarkable, it’s worth breaking down what type of action was taken in response to them. The image below shows what action Google took, with just under three-quarters of URL requests resulting in immediate removal.

That raises the question of why 25% of Rivendell’s URL reports failed to result in content being removed.

The red category – almost 20% – indicates content that didn’t actually exist in Google’s indexes at the time it was detected by Rivendell. The company suggests that because it acts so quickly, it can detect content before it appears in Google’s results.

“If you search the links only on Google, you have nothing to do with the protection of content,” Lemaire says.

“We do not expect Google to show us the pirated links [immediately]. To be effective we must go to where content is found before it appears on the search engine, especially for live content.”

This type of proactive takedown isn’t a problem for Google. As previously revealed, the company is happy to receive the URLs for content it hasn’t yet indexed for action when they do eventually appear.

“We accept notices for URLs that are not even in our index in the first place. That way, we can collect information even about pages and domains we have not yet crawled,” Google copyright counsel Caleb Donaldson previously explained.

“We process these URLs as we do the others. Once one of these not-in-index URLs is approved for takedown, we prophylactically block it from appearing in our Search results.”

Lemaire also has straightforward explanations for the other categories too. Requests labeled as ‘duplicate’ by Google have already been targeted by other anti-piracy companies while the 1% marked “No Action” can be the result of several issues including a lack of evidence, a homepage delisting request, hidden content, or even a ‘fake’ pirate website.

The big question, however, is whether all of these delisting efforts actually have any serious impact on the volumes of pirated content being consumed. Lemaire is clear: “It works.”

“For live events like football we were the first to work on removing links before, during and after matches. This is why several European leagues trust us in particular on this subject,” he says.

“In general, the removal of illegal links allows legal offers to occupy the top places in search results. There are still improvements to be made regarding the pagerank of illegal sites, however.”

Lemaire is brief when questioned on what measures are taken to avoid erroneous takedowns, stating that all domains are validated before they are notified to Google. Finally, he also appears to recognize the resourcefulness of his adversaries but says that countering them is enjoyable.

“Pirates are not stupid and are constantly finding new solutions. It’s up to us to work to outsmart them .. we love it,” he concludes.

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

Russia’s Anti-Piracy Deal to Delete Content From Search Engines Extended Until 2021

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-anti-piracy-deal-to-delete-content-from-search-engines-extended-until-2021-200124/

When leading content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum in 2018, new ground was broken in Russia.

Assisted by the creation of a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content, Internet platforms agreed to voluntarily query the resource in near real-time before deleting content from their search indexes. The plan was to make pirated content harder for users to find and within months, hundreds of thousands of links were being purged.

The end-game was to have the terms of the agreement written into local law but as some expected, things didn’t run entirely to plan. Early October 2019, with the memorandum a year old, it effectively timed out. Negotiations ensued and a short extension was agreed but a deadline of end October came and went without a draft being presented to parliament.

With another deadline missed, an automatic extension to end December 2019 came into play but it’s now clear that the plan to formalize the agreement in law is still a very long way off.

During a meeting at the Media and Communications Union, the industry association formed by the largest media companies and telecom industry players, the parties – with assistance from telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor – have now agreed to another extension. The voluntary agreement will now continue for at least another year, the clearest indication yet that this isn’t a straightforward matter.

According to industry sources cited by Vedomosti (paywall), the decision not to push ahead now towards legislation was taken jointly by the signatories and Roscomnadzor.

While many specifics aren’t being made public, sources indicate that the mechanism for resolving disputes between the copyright holders and Internet platforms has proven complex. Another area of disagreement centers around demands from rightsholders and content companies to have sites delisted on a permanent basis, if they are repeatedly flagged as offering links to infringing content.

Another key issue is that under the current system there is a clear bias towards video content and the largest copyright holders, while others have to take a back seat or are left out altogether. It will take a considerable period of time to overcome these hurdles, a situation that isn’t helped by a reported lack of time in the State Duma to deal with the legislation.

As a result, the memorandum will now be extended to the end of January 2021, to allow the parties and the government to come up with a credible framework before writing it into law.

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

Mystery as PortalRoms Disappears Leaving 4 Million Gaming Visitors in the Dark

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mystery-as-portalroms-disappears-leaving-4-million-gaming-visitors-in-the-dark-200123/

In Internet ‘piracy’ years, PortalRoms.com is pretty old domain, having first appeared as a very basic ROM download site way back in 2004, possibly even earlier.

Over the years it has undergone various transformations and possibly ownership changes too. Its now-dormant Twitter account was created back in 2010 but behind the scenes and after fairly slow initial growth, the last decade saw the site grow negligible traffic to become a decent-sized ROM, retro, and emulator player.

Up until just a few days ago, users of PortalRoms – who between them have been generating around four million visits per month – were able to download ROMs covering everything from arcade games to Dreamcast to Nintendo Switch. Rather than store this content on restrictive file-hosting platforms, PortalRoms created torrents instead, a rare move for a site of this type.

Right from the very beginning, PortalRoms operated from PortalRoms.com. However, for reasons that are not clear, last September or October the site made a surprise switch to the Swiss-based PortalRoms.ch domain. As data from SimilarWeb shows, most traffic managed to transfer to the new domain, with little to no disruption.

The same cannot be said of the past few days. With no public announcements to indicate the cause, PortalRoms went dark, leaving millions of users (especially in South America where the site was very popular) without their favorite download portal to fall back on.

When trying to determine the cause of the downtime, the site’s domain entries aren’t particularly useful.

TorrentFreak contacted the registrar in control of the .ch domain but the company advised us that the domain is actually controlled by one of their resellers – 1337 Services LLC. This is the business name of Njalla, the domain company connected to Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde, a company that strives to give up no useful information on any domain.

It remains possible that PortalRoms is experiencing yet another bout of domain problems but whether they are copyright-related is open to question. Indeed, one of the curious things about PortalRoms.com and PortalRoms.ch is that considering its extensive library and visitor count, anti-piracy groups working for gaming companies like Nintendo or Sony seem to be pretty disinterested.

Google’s Transparency Report reveals that PortalRoms.com received only 55 complaints targeting 115 URLs when it was in operation. Companies like EA, Rockstar, THQ and Activision got involved but never on any scale. For comparison, the relatively new PortalRoms.ch domain received only four complaints but those contained just over 1,000 URLs. All but a handful were filed by the Entertainment Software Association.

While it remains to be seen whether PortalRoms will ever return, it’s worth noting that its chosen method of content distribution (torrents, in this case) means that people will still be sharing the ROM and emulator files during the downtime. Indeed, a basic search for ‘portalroms’ on various meta-search engines reveals many active torrents with the phrase “visit www.PORTALROMS.ch for more games _.url” in their file lists.

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

Popular Pirate eBook Site Ebookee.org Has Domain Suspended

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-pirate-ebook-site-ebookee-org-has-domain-suspended-200122/

Alongside the mass uptake of digital readers such as Kindles, phones and tablets, plus a relatively small filesize, downloading of eBook and magazine content has gained in popularity over recent years.

There are plenty of sites catering to this popular niche but in common with platforms specializing in other areas, a handful of dedicated sites have found their way onto the preferred lists of many pirates.

One of those is eBookee, a download platform that doesn’t appear to carry content itself but indexes content hosted on other sites, notably file-hosting services. Indeed, a cursory review of eBookee’s traffic referral stats reveals that large volumes of users are directed to platforms such as Rapidgator and Nitroflare, for example.

During the past 24 hours, however, visitors to eBookee.org (the site’s main domain) were greeted not by links to eBooks or magazines (and less frequently videos and audio), but by a blank page. While temporary site downtime is nothing new in this space, it appears that eBookee has experienced a more significant problem relating to its main domain.

In common with The Pirate Bay’s main domain, eBookee’s .org domain is ultimately overseen by the Public Interest Registry with day-to-day business controlled by India-based Public Domain Registry. As the image below shows, the latter has suspended the domain.

While it seems likely that a significant action caused the suspension, the specific issue (such as a complaint from a third-party, for example) hasn’t been revealed in public. PDR did not immediately respond to TF’s request for comment but it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the issue was copyright related.

Companies including Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, Cambridge University Press, Amazon, and National Geographic have all filed copyright infringement complaints against the platform with Google during the first few weeks of this year.

Overall, Google’s Transparency Report reveals that over the past several years, it has processed requests from rightsholders and anti-piracy groups to have 858,782 eBookee.org URLs deleted from its search results. Just 52% resulted in content being taken down, with the remainder either not in Google’s indexes or duplicate requests.

The eBookee.org domain was first registered way back in 2007 but it hasn’t been a trouble-free ride. In 2015, publishers obtained an injunction from the High Court in England to have the site’s domain blocked by local ISPs. That resulted in many proxy sites springing up to service the platform, none of which appear to be working today.

Finally, several social media pages claiming to be connected to or operated by eBookee.org are suggesting a new domain for the site. Checks carried out by TF suggest that the site is probably not connected with the official platform.

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

Italian Court Orders ISPs to Block IPTV Sites Over Serie A Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/italian-court-orders-isps-to-block-iptv-sites-over-serie-a-piracy-200121/

In common with several top football leagues around Europe, Italy’s Serie A has an ongoing problem with piracy of its live broadcasts.

Sites with embedded streaming players regularly show Serie A matches but perhaps the biggest threat is posed by unlicensed IPTV services. These offer subscription packages that closely mimic and can even outdo those delivered by Serie A’s official broadcasting partners.

This has provoked a range of anti-piracy actions, such as the one now being reported by anti-piracy group FAPAV (Federazione Anti-Pirateria Audiovisiva). Following a complaint by Serie A and a request from the public prosecutor’s office, the Court of Rome has handed down a preventative ruling that requires 15 websites offering ‘pirate’ IPTV services to be blocked in Italy.

“Among the methods of access to pirated content, illegal IPTVs are a phenomenon of great importance and with a growing incidence linked not only to audiovisual content but also to live sporting events,” says FAPAV Secretary-General, Federico Bagnoli Rossi.

“According to FAPAV / Ipsos research, five million people use this method to watch movies, series and TV shows. As regards sports content in particular, 4.7 million people watched live sports events in a non-legal manner, a figure that has increased compared to 2017.”

FAPAV says that these types of pirate services not only cause damage to the entertainment industries but also to the economy as a whole. As a result, those affected cannot wait any longer before taking action to stem the tide.

While the ruling from the Court of Rome is yet to be published, the big question here is how effective these types of blockades can be, given the way that IPTV services are set up.

As previously reported, Sky has been working hard to have IPTV service management platform URLs removed from Google search. However, other than a reduction in search traffic, the tactic does little if anything to affect the underlying IPTV services which are generally not run from the domains in question.

Furthermore, the effect of blocking sales portal domains does nothing to counter the thousands of resellers funneling customers to the platforms either. It’s an important point that FAPAV appears to recognize, even going as far as suggesting that customers themselves could become part of their inquiries.

“The ongoing investigations have as a main objective the identification of the complex structure of the organization made up of dozens of ‘resellers’ as well as the hundreds of customers who, by purchasing the subscriptions, not only illegally take advantage of the vision of sporting events and pay-per-view television schedules, but also feed the criminal circuit,” the group says.

“The piracy market represents a very thriving business that rests on a large number of customers who feed it, probably unaware of the consequences to which they expose themselves and of the economic damage to the rights holders when compared to citizens who honestly buy regular products.”

It’s clear that no single aspect of anti-piracy activity, whether that’s sales site blocking or targeting some resellers, will bring all pirate IPTV services to their knees. Instead, groups like FAPAV are deploying a multi-pronged strategy that attempts to disrupt activity wherever it can, thus making life more difficult for pirates and their customers.

Blocking of IPTV services has been taking place in Italy since at least 2017 and in the summer of 2019, a “high-level” provider was taken down after providing Sky programming to the public.

Italian authorities were also heavily involved in the raids that targeted Xtream-Codes and others last year, an operation that caused the most disruption the IPTV scene has ever seen, even if it did eventually recover.

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

UFC 246 Twitch Piracy Fail Raises Questions For Amateur Pirates & UFC Alike

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ufc-246-twitch-piracy-fail-raises-questions-for-amateur-pirates-ufc-alike-200120/

Conor McGregor is without doubt the biggest star the world of mixed martial arts has ever seen. Often controversial but always entertaining, the Irishman’s name on a pay-per-view event represents a financial windfall for everyone involved.

As a result, any card displaying McGregor’s name as one half of the main event attracts huge attention and last Saturday’s UFC 246 was no different. Taking place in a sold-out T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and broadcast live on PPV, millions of people parted with money to enjoy the extravaganza. Of course, countless thousands didn’t pay a penny to the UFC or its official broadcasting partners.

UFC 246 was widely available on ‘pirate’ IPTV services and unlicensed sports streaming sites over the weekend. However, it was also broadcast on platforms that have less of a bad reputation for piracy such as Twitch, for example, with one particular instance ending in disaster for the person behind the illicit stream.

On Saturday night and for reasons best known to him, Twitch user SkarrsWorld streamed the UFC 246 PPV on his channel to what appears to have been a fairly limited audience. However, during a promo section of the event featuring UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, a personal message notification popped up on screen and was immediately broadcast along with the pirated PPV.

While the text in the message raises all sorts of questions, this disaster had the potential to go unnoticed to the wider public. However, an eagle-eyed viewer of the stream noticed the error and turned the section into a clip which was then shared around on social media.

Just a few hours ago it had already been seen at least 100,000 times and at the time of writing, more than 146,000 views are being reported. That’s a huge audience for what was originally a niche broadcast and while amusing for some, undoubtedly represents a serious breach for the streamer. Having private matters paraded in public is undesirable but in combination with intentional piracy of a PPV event, the gravity increases.

This rookie mistake raises questions of how easy it has become for Joe Public to get into live pirate streaming and the possible consequences for those who get into the game without considering their own security. This type of online infringement has traditionally been carried out by ‘professionals’ with experience of obtaining streams and broadcasting them securely but this Twitch debacle is miles apart. But the issues go deeper than that.

The clip featuring the private message is obviously terribly embarrassing but due to the manner in which the fight played out, the implications of streaming the Conor McGregor vs Donald Cerrone main event on a platform like Twitch are an even bigger cause for concern for the UFC.

From the moment the bell rang to the moment referee Herb Dean called off the fight following a McGregor onslaught, just 40 seconds had passed. To put that into perspective, a fight that had been hyped for weeks (and had dozens of hours of official broadcasting dedicated to it in the lead-up) was over in the space of a GIF. Or, more conveniently, in the Twitch clips that immediately spread like wildfire, even before McGregor could make his victory speech.

While those 40 seconds were just a small part of the pay-per-view, the rest of the card was relatively weak, especially for the casual fans the UFC hopes to scoop up every time McGregor fights. So, when viewed through the prism of considerable dollar costs to view, particularly in the United States, value for money probably wasn’t on the lips of many paying fans at the end of Saturday night.

A pirate Twitch stream or clip, on the other hand, is likely to have proven more than adequate for the passer-by looking for 40 seconds of pure mixed martial arts excitement. In a world where revenue is king, that’s not what the UFC ever wants to hear.

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

Ebook.bike Owner Risks Crippling Sanctions Over Piracy Case Discovery Failures

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ebook-bike-owner-risks-crippling-sanctions-over-piracy-case-discovery-failures-200119/

In March 2019, author John Van Stry filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States against former Pirate Party Canada leader Travis McCrea, the operator of eBook download platform eBook.bike.

The complaint alleged that McCrea infringed the copyrights of Van Stry by making “at least twelve” of his works available for download without his permission, along with other titles by Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Joanne Harris, Tom Clancy, and thousands more.

It took months for McCrea to file an answer to the complaint and progress since then has been pedestrian, with Van Stry’s legal team claiming that McCrea frustrated and failed to comply with the requirements of the discovery process.

As previously reported, Judge Bryson gave McCrea a December 2019 deadline to respond, warning that the court would take action if no significant progress was made. According to Van Stry’s team, nothing positive has happened since and as a result, the court should subject him to the most serious of sanctions.

In summary, the plaintiff is asking for a number of facts to be taken as a given in the case moving forward and it’s clear he wants no prisoners taken.

Among other things, in a proposed order Van Stry wants the court to find that McCrea was the sole operator of eBook.bike, wrote the site’s software, and reproduced copyrighted content (eBooks and covers) by shifting it from server to server and converting from one format to another.

He also wants the court to find that McCrea knowingly distributed millions of copyright-infringing works in the United States, knew that Van Stry’s copyrights were being violated via the site, and was aware that users of eBook.bike did not have permission to upload or download Van Stry’s works.

The proposed order further asks the court to rule that McCrea knew about the copyright infringement notices sent by Van Stry, could have taken the relevant content down quickly and easily in response but failed to do so, all while generating advertising revenue from the pirated copies.

On top, Van Stry asks the court to declare that McCrea was the domain registrant and administrator of a second site called Books.cat where he allegedly coordinated with “hunters” to obtain eBooks, remove their DRM, and upload the resulting files to eBook.bike.

In the face of no discovery to the contrary, the order also wants the court to find that McCrea made “hundreds of thousands of dollars” through eBook.bike, used the revenue to buy an airplane, and destroyed evidence after receiving a document retention notice. Finally, it demands that McCrea be prohibited from supporting the defenses he previously presented to the court.

“Given the discovery at issue is all of Plaintiff’s written discovery, Plaintiff found this motion a difficult exercise,” the motion reads.

“[H]owever, Plaintiff endeavored to (1) accurately capture the truth as Plaintiff understands it when proposing its summary of facts to be taken as a given; and (2) strike a balance by putting forth high-level facts without overwhelming with minutia, on one hand, while maintaining that the proposals remain facts rather than the ultimate conclusions of law, on the other.”

Only time will tell whether Van Stry will get all his own way on these proposals.

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

‘Casting Couch’ Movie Company Orders Cloudflare to Unmask Tube Site Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/casting-couch-movie-company-orders-cloudflare-to-unmask-tube-site-pirates-200118/

Before taking direct legal action against alleged copyright infringers, it helps if the identities of those people are known to the potential plaintiff. One method to obtain this information is to file an application for a DMCA subpoena.

Commonly filed against domain registries and Cloudflare, DMCA subpoenas can require such companies to give up the names of their allegedly-infringing customers, who are often the operators of ‘pirate’ sites. The process of obtaining a subpoena is attractive and relatively easy since the applications are rarely subjected to much scrutiny and can yield useful results.

Last week adult company AMA Multimedia (better known for its Casting Couch X and various other brands) filed an application at a Washington court demanding that Cloudflare provide identifying information of customers said to have infringed the company’s copyrights.

According to AMA, it previously asked Cloudflare to remove or disable access to around three dozen URLs, mostly JPG images and direct content links, on domains including the 12 million visits per month Pornmilo.com and the 15 million visits per month HLSMP4.com. With that content apparently still intact, AMA asked the court for permission to demand information from Cloudflare to identify the alleged infringers.

“For the period January 1, 2016 through the present, produce all documents and account records that identify the person(s) or entities that caused the infringement of the material described in the attached Exhibit B DMCA notifications to the DMCA Agent for Cloudflare, Inc. and/or who unlawfully uploaded AMA Multimedia LLC’s copyrighted works at the URLs listed in the notifications, including but not limited to identification by names, email addresses, IP addresses, user history, posting history, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying information,” the subpoena to Cloudflare reads.

In respect of the phrase “person(s) or entities that caused the infringement”, that could mean the operators of the various listed domains – pornmilo.com, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz, hlsmp4.com, o0-1.com, o0-2.com, o0-3.com, o0-4.com, and o0-5.com. However, when it comes to identifying the underlying infringers, that could be more tricky.

When one visits Pornmilo.com, the platform gives the initial impression of being a YouTube-like site, presumably one that hosts its own content. On closer inspection, however, the site claims not to host any video content at all.

Indeed, it appears that the videos are embedded having been supplied by Fembed, a service that advertises itself as an “All-in-one Video Platform Designed by webmasters, for webmasters.” Essentially, people can host their video files on Fembed and serve them on another site, with or without revenue-generating advertising.

Fembed.com isn’t mentioned in the DMCA subpoena but it appears to be connected to HLSMP4.com, which is mentioned multiple times. Furthermore, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz and indeed all the other domains redirect to Fembed.com, so it’s possible that they have the same owners. AMA seem pretty keen to find out exactly who they are.

That being said, it is far from clear how Cloudflare itself can establish who uploaded the infringing content on HLSMP4, Fembed, and the other sites so it can hand that information to AMA. At this early stage that may not concern AMA too much and it’s possible that outcome is already being anticipated. Nevertheless, the DMCA subpoena has the ability to get closer to the targets in a cheap and relatively easy fashion.

The DMCA subpoena documents can be found here and here (pdf, NSFW)

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

Manga Scanlation Teams Don’t Want War, They Want Accessible Content

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-scanlation-teams-dont-want-war-they-want-accessible-content-200117/

In recent months there has been a notable increase in publicised anti-piracy actions against services offering manga content. Publishers have pressured a range of sites, hoping to shut down or at least make life more difficult for these hugely popular platforms.

Among the targets was MandaDex, a so-called ‘scanlation’ platform that offers scanned and translated manga publications to an audience underserved by publishers offering restricted foreign language output. The site first reported domain issues and then revealed that its donation processing mechanism had also come under fire, a popular strategy among certain anti-piracy groups.

In the wake of our report, TorrentFreak spoke with an individual in charge of server administration for several scanlation groups including Mangazuki.co, MangaSushi.net, and LHTranslation.net. At least two of these sites process around three million requests per day, according to traffic reports shared with TF.

The source shared information that shows aggressive correspondence received from anti-piracy company RemoveYourMedia, including threats to target a PayPal account and instructions to either remove content or face being “disappeared” from search engines.

“We initially dismissed these emails as being spam, or most likely just some extortion scheme. However, the PayPal account that was listed publicly for donations has been taken down by a DMCA claim from VIZ,” our source revealed.

Documents sent by PayPal and reviewed by TF reveal the payment processor warning the LHT scanlation platform that it had received complaints from VIZ Media LLC and that certain actions needed to be taken, including the deletion of many URLs, in order to comply with PayPal’s acceptable use policy. The necessary action was taken and the PayPal account was restored. The groups also took the decision to remove all VIZ Media content from their sites.

Publisher VIZ Media has been at war with manga sites for many years and it was this publisher that recently targeted MangaDex, among others. However, the takedown demands against scanlation sites aren’t always cut and dried and in many cases don’t meet the accepted standards in respect of the DMCA.

“The stuff [LHTranslation] was hosting wasn’t a direct copy of VIZ’s work. In fact, it was a fan translation, and we had never received a proper DMCA takedown request. We’re quite certain extortion doesn’t count as a valid DMCA complaint,” our source added.

In broad terms, these scanlation platforms say they have to deal with three types of people filing complaints. The first group is labeled “DMCA trolls” and described as people who don’t hold any rights or licenses but file DMCA takedowns regardless.

“We’ve had those emails fly past every once in a while, with poorly worded ‘demands’ as well. Because we receive them every once in a while, we kind of assumed the email [threat sent on behalf of VIZ Media] was among them,” the server admin said.

Interestingly, the second category – genuine copyright holders who send proper DMCA notices – apparently aren’t an issue. There are no objections to these claims, content is taken down and users are directed to where the original material can be purchased instead.

However, those in the final category appear to be the greatest irritant, both in volume terms and the nature of the claims.

“The third kind, and sadly the one we see the most, are those that take our translations and file a claim on our content. Essentially if torrent leeches were to file complaints after leeching the content,” our source complained.

Faced with such issues, the server admin says that the groups he deals with have all moved to so-called ‘bulletproof’ hosting, not because they want to ignore the DMCA but to avoid the DMCA being abused as a weapon. In fact, the groups don’t appear averse to working with license holders to reach the goal of delivering manga to the public in English so it can be enjoyed by currently underserved fans.

All in all, however, it’s a time-consuming process.

After the raw manga images are obtained by the scanlation groups, members are tasked with translating the comics into English while others tidy up the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese text. Further fine-tuning then takes place including re-drawing some pages, applying proper fonts, and putting pages through a final editing process. After a quality control procedure, content is then released on the scanlation sites.

“After we’ve released a chapter on our own site, other people take our releases and re-upload them to aggregator sites, like MangaDex, spreading them to the wider masses,” our source revealed.

“Both our goal, and that of MangaDex in this process isn’t to make money, however. Most of this work is done free of charge. We’re all doing this because we simply love reading mangas and want to bring these series to the West. So other people can enjoy them and in the hope that English publishers see the demand for a certain series and pick them up for official translation.

“This is also why we always tell our readers to support the official releases and creators. And the reason why MangaDex points to the buy pages of both the official English prints and in some cases the Japanese prints. Because of all this, we often don’t see ourselves as pirates, but just as fans, as our goal is to simply make series accessible to others,” the source concluded.

If we take these claims on face value, there appears to be a fairly straightforward way to make progress and counter the perceived scanlation ‘threat’. By making translated content available officially, these groups would not only be out of a ‘job’ but manga could also reach a wider audience, presumably alongside increased revenue.

That sounds a little more progressive than shouty emails and having PayPal accounts shut down.

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

Kim Dotcom Wins Back K.im Domain After Dispute & $100K Sell-Back Offer

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-wins-back-k-im-domain-after-dispute-100k-sell-back-attempt-200116/

Kim Dotcom’s under-development file-sharing project K.im received a setback recently when its K.im domain fell into third-party hands.

As reported here on TF last Sunday, communication issues with the registry led to the domain expiring and it was quickly snapped up by Bulgarian expired domain specialist Kalin Karakehayov.

“[T]he domain k.im was registered by me, Kalin Karakehayov for personal use while it was in an available status. I intend to put nice, non-commercial stuff there like my Google awareness campaign,” Karakehayov informed TF.

Kim Dotcom, on the other hand, was less pleased with the acquisition. Describing Karakehayov as a “domain squatter”, he told us that a dispute was underway to reclaim the domain since “fraudulent behavior” had been displayed by its new owner. Having a trademark for the term ‘K.im’ would work in the project’s favor, he predicted.

Now, just a few days later, the K.im project has cause to celebrate. Documents shared with TorrentFreak by Kim Dotcom reveal that following a dispute process filed with the Isle of Man registry in charge of the domain, it has been ordered to be returned to the company behind the K.im project.

To get to this stage hasn’t been straightforward, however. The decision reviewed by TF reveals that the ‘Listed Correspondent’ for the K.im domain wasn’t initially Kalin Karakehayov himself but a third-party identified only as Max Guerin.

This individual reportedly entered into ‘negotiations’ with BitCache, the company behind the K.im project, to return the domain and during a December 9, 2019 conference call, set a price of $100,000 to sell it back. During a Telegram conversation a day later, the price was reportedly switched to $50,000 upfront followed by payments of $5,000 per month or the same value in BitCache stock.

Whether the K.im project had any real intention of buying the domain back is unclear but ultimately its operating companies decided to file a complaint to have the domain returned.

As part of the process, the .im registry contacted “Listed Correspondent” Max Guerin but received no response. However, on January 6, 2020, Kalin Karakehayov (since designated as the ‘Actual Correspondent’) provided evidence that he is the owner of the domain.

“The Actual Respondent states that the Listed Correspondent is not the proper party to the dispute and that he has had no personal contact with the Listed Correspondent in any shape or form,” the decision notes.

Karakehayov told the registry that the domain was registered for his personal, non-commercial use “with the idea to benefit humanity” and was not intended to breach K.im’s trademarks. In the end, however, the registry determined that the domain should be returned to BitCache’s holding company on the basis that the registration after expiry had been abusive.

“I conclude that the Domain Name k.im should be transferred to the Complainant immediately upon the expiry of the appeal period,” the registry’s designated official writes.

That appeal period is 10 days from January 15, 2020, and according to Karakehayov, he intends to put it to use by contesting the decision.

“[The decision] does not seem fair to me and I intend to appeal it,” Karakehayov informs TorrentFreak.

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

Jetflicks Piracy Trial Delayed After Canada Hands Over Masses of Discovery Data

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/jetflicks-piracy-trial-delayed-after-canada-hands-over-masses-of-discovery-data-200115/

In August 2019, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that eight men had been indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to violate criminal copyright law by running “two of the largest unauthorized streaming services in the United States.”

All of the defendants – Kristopher Lee Dallmann, Darryl Julius Polo, Douglas M. Courson, Felipe Garcia, Jared Edward Jaurequi, Peter H. Huber, Yoany Vaillant, and Luis Angel Villarino – were charged with running Jetflix, a subscription-based streaming service that reportedly carried more than 183,200 TV episodes.

Darryl Julius Polo, a former Jetflicks programmer, was additionally accused of launching and running iStreamitAll, a service carrying 18,479 TV episodes and 10,980 movies.

On December 12, 2019, Polo pleaded guilty to various copyright infringement and money laundering charges. The next day, former Jetflicks programmer Luis Angel Villarino pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

The remaining six defendants were set to go on trial during December 2019 but following acknowledgment by the court that the case is unusually complex, it was pushed back to February 2020. Due to fresh developments in the investigation, however, the trial will now be pushed back to the summer.

According to court documents filed by the US Government in December 2019, it was already in possession of a significant amount of discovery data (around 88 gigabytes) but following a March 2018 request under the US-Canada Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), law enforcement agencies in Canada had seized a great deal more.

It took around 21 months but on December 16, 2019, the data was finally handed over to the Department of Justice. The volume of evidence is reportedly “enormous” and includes reports from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, subscriber information documents, a list of tickets and messages pertaining to subscribers, plus five forensic images of computers located at OVH, a hosting provider in Canada.

Those five images are said to contain “well over” 2.3 million files which together total around 2.72 terabytes of data. The FBI reportedly took the evidence to the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section’s Cybercrime Lab in December 2019 which found information relating to Jetflicks, iStreamitAll and related services including SmackDownOnYou, Sincity Sports Cards, BlockBustersTV, Cardvision TV, and other entities and persons connected with the case.

An estimated 186,000 emails were also discovered, some with Excel and Word attachments. According to the US Government, the overall trove is so extensive it’s 30 times larger than the discovery provided to the defendants to date. So, given the scale of the task ahead, the US Government advised a Virginia court that all parties would be best served by a further trial delay.

“In our view, given that neither the government nor the defense has reviewed the data we just received from Canada, all parties would benefit from a continuance,” the filing reads.

“The government needs to understand the nature of this new evidence for purposes of our case, and we believe that defense counsel has an obligation to their clients to review this new evidence too.”

In closing, the Government requested that the trial be shifted to June 22, 2020. This delay was initially opposed by defendants Peter Huber and Yoany Vaillant but an agreement was later reached. As a result, in an order signed this week by District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, the trial was rescheduled for July 14, 2020.

The information provided by Canadian authorities may yet boost the US Government’s case against the Jetflicks defendants but its lawyers didn’t waste the opportunity to take a shot at Canada’s alleged poor conduct when it comes to dealing with pirate sites.

“The Court may wonder why Jetflicks and iStreamItAll — which were both based in the United States — used a hosting provider in Canada for their operations,” a footnote reads.

“According to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which represents over 3,200 U.S. companies producing and distributing materials protected by copyright laws throughout the world, among those engaged in piracy, Canada has had a ‘long-standing reputation as a safe haven for some of the most massive and flagrant Internet sites dedicated to the online theft of copyright material’.”

While the same footnote also states that Canada “has made some progress” in recent years, it’s obvious that hosting Jetflicks in Canada didn’t save its operators from prosecution or from having their data seized and handed to US authorities.

The related court filings can be found here and here (pdf)

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

TV Channel Owner Arrested For Airing ‘Pirate’ Movie Days After Theatrical Release

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tv-channel-owner-arrested-for-airing-pirate-movie-days-after-theatrical-release-200114/

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, better known as Rajinikanth, is a superstar of Indian cinema, having been active in the industry for decades.

During his time on the silver screen, piracy has been running rampant across India but even he will have been taken by surprise following the events of the past few days.

Rajinikanth’s latest movie, action thriller Darbar, was released theatrically on January 9, 2020, quickly recovering around 75% of its costs during its first weekend alone.

However, on January 12, just three days after its official release, local cable channel Saranya TV took the decision to broadcast a pirated copy of the movie, as illustrated in the image below obtained by Galatta.com.

In common with many local movies, infamous torrent site TamilRockers reportedly leaked Darbar online shortly after its release but subsequent ‘pirate’ broadcasting on cable TV is unusual, particularly during a theatrical window. This has caused outrage at Lyca Productions, the production company behind the movie, which responded by filing a complaint with local police.

“The movie has been receiving good response from the public and it is running successfully in all centers all over the world, in the meantime we are astounded and distressed to know, that the movie was telecasted illegally in a local TV Channel called Saranya TV at Madurai on 12.01.2020 evening,” a statement from Lyca reads.

“Having come to know this, we have officially filed a complaint against the said local TV Channel at The Commissioner Office, Law & Order, Madurai.”

According to the local distributor for the movie, police were swift to act against the operators of Saranya TV. After initial reports that the channel had been closed and its operators had gone on the run, it now appears arrests have been made.

“It is true that the offenders have been arrested, but FIR [First information report] is yet to be registered as the investigation is still in progress,” a statement obtained by Behindwoods reads.

“It appears that they have used 2-3 relay points for broadcasting the film. While a computer system [has] already been seized, the police are now in the process of probing and confiscating other types of equipment, including CPUs, relay hubs and other systems that they were using to telecast the movie.”

In addition to the action against the cable TV company, a Galatta source reports that after the movie was widely shared on Whatsapp, a complaint was filed by Lyca in that direction too.

No official announcement on that front has been made by Lyca but an anti-piracy company is working on its behalf to prevent piracy on the messenger application.

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

ACE Shuts Down UlangoTV ‘Pirate’ IPTV App, Seizes Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ace-shuts-down-ulango-tv-pirate-iptv-app-seizes-domain-200113/

There are dozens of apps available online today that act as straightforward players of IPTV streams. These usually cause no copyright infringement issues for their operators as they come with no pre-loaded content.

While many can be configured with a premium subscription so that infringing content can be received at the direction of users, others blur the lines by attempting to aggregate links to streams that exist in open form on the Internet.

One of these players was known as UlangoTV. Previously available via Google Play, Amazon, CNET, and many other third-party download sites, variants of the UlangoTV app acted as a search engine for live IPTV streams, which were color-coded to provide additional information.

“Every day thousands of new stream URLs are found, analyzed and classified,” the publisher’s description on CNET reads.

“For the safety of users and for the protection of the content owners, the search results are flagged with color codes: Yellow streams have been known to us for more than 6 months. Typically these ‘official’ streams are without license problems. All registered users can see these streams freely. Blue streams have been known to us for more than 6 weeks. Also these are usually ‘official’ streams without license problems.”

However, as acknowledged by its publisher, not all streams made available in the app could be considered trouble-free.

“Magenta streams are usually short-lived and have only been known to us recently. These streams are likely to originate from unlicensed sources,” the developer noted.

This type of link aggregation teeters fairly close to the edge of legality but with UlangoTV+, a premium and premium plus subscription option offered by the same developer, broadcasters may have considered the line had been crossed.

“So in this app UlangoTV+ we introduced a new option called Premium Plus, which is only available to a few users who want to pay a premium price and now receive handpicked streams with tightly controlled connectivity,” the marketing added.

With no user shortage for the popular app, during October last year an unexpected message appeared on UlangoTV’s Twitter account which indicated that the project had come to an end.

The tweet gave no clear indication of the reason behind the decision to close but now, several months later, we have the strongest message yet that legal threats from entertainment industry groups played a key role.

Users who visit the Ulango.TV domain today get an all-too-familiar message that due to claims of copyright infringement, the site and associated app have been shut down by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

After the usual countdown timer expires, visitors are redirected to the ACE anti-piracy portal. There is no mention there of the shutdown which tends to suggest that a relatively peaceful agreement was reached with the app’s developer, which would’ve included shutting down and handing over the Ulango domain.

Indeed, domain records show that Ulango.tv is now owned by the Motion Picture Association, which adds to a growing list of dozens of domains taken over as part of the Alliance’s ongoing anti-piracy activities.

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

Kim Dotcom’s K.im Domain Goes Up For Sale, Displays Google SEO Rant

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcoms-k-im-domain-goes-up-for-sale-displays-google-seo-rant-200112/

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has announced the development of many projects since the destruction of his file-hosting platform in 2012.

With a stated aim of revolutionizing the file-sharing space, one of the most prominent was initially dubbed Megaupload 2 (MU2). Utilizing investment platform BnkToTheFuture, in 2016 it raised over a million dollars from 354 investors in just two weeks.

MU2 and the associated BitCache platform were originally penciled in for a January 2017 launch but like many complex projects, ultimately missed its target. With the project still under development, MU2 was later renamed K.im, a clear reference to Kim Dotcom’s well-known name and its greatest marketing asset.

Conveniently, Kim Dotcom had previously bought ‘K.im’ back in 2013, acquiring the Isle of Man domain name for a reportedly record-setting $20,000 via Sedo. This was put to use as the project’s main homepage but now, several years later, things are not going to plan.

Visitors to K.im are no longer greeted by all the details of the K.im, Bitcache and associated Kimcoin project. Instead, they are treated to an insecure site (no https) that delivers an anti-Google SEO-based rant penned by Bulgarian expired domain specialist Kalin Karakehayov.

An almost identical piece to that shown above was previously published on Karakehayov’s own domain at Karakehayov.com but the version on K.im replaces references to the original domain with references to K.im.

Having previously used Cloudflare’s services as a front to its hosting, K.im now uses servers in Bulgaria to display the anti-Google sentiments. Unfortunately, due to the GDPR, it’s hard to state conclusively that the domain is now under Karakehayov’s personal control, despite hosting his content.

For the K.im team, however, that detail might be the least of their worries. The entire project has been built around the Kim Dotcom brand and it now seems fairly clear that the K.im domain isn’t under its control anymore. Awkwardly, that is also more than obvious on Twitter, with dozens of Dotcom’s posts mentioning the K.im project and linking to the K.im domain now showing the message “PURE SPAM”.

Whether this PR catastrophe can be reversed is currently unclear but adding insult to injury, the K.im domain has now been put up for sale by its owner on Sedo, the marketplace from where Dotcom bought it. There’s no reserve price but the domain is being offered by an account opened in 2014 with a stated location of ‘Georgia’.

While the apparent loss of this domain can probably be overcome, the future of the entire K.im project is somewhat up in the air.

In November 2019, Bitfinex declared that due to a rapidly evolving “regulatory environment”, the K.im token sale had been indefinitely postponed.

“After careful evaluation, we regret to announce that Bitfinex Token Sales and the K.im team have mutually agreed not to hold the token sale at this time. K.im will defer any decision on whether to create tokens on, or undertake a token issue in relation to the K.im platform until it is fully functional,” the statement read.

Since then, no one associated with the project, including Dotcom himself, has made any public statement on the future of K.im or the Kimcoin token. TorrentFreak has requested comments from both Kim Dotcom and Kalin Karakehayov and will update this article should they arrive.

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

‘Copyright Troll’ Malibu Media Gets Sued By its Former Law Firm

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-malibu-media-gets-sued-by-its-former-law-firm-200111/

Over the past several years, adult entertainment company Malibu Media has been one of the most active copyright litigants in the United States. Targeting large numbers of alleged file-sharers, the company has received potentially huge sums in cash settlements.

But while the company usually makes the headlines for its file-sharing cases, a dispute with a former business partner is now shining a light behind the scenes. This week, Florida-based The Lomnitzer Law Firm sued California-based Malibu Media over their business dealings.

According to the lawsuit, in May 2017 Lomnitzer and Malibu entered into an agreement for the former to provide legal services to the latter.

While the precise details are to be submitted under seal, the outline is that Lomnitzer would coordinate Malibu’s litigation against pirates across the United States, receive settlements and pay them into a trust account, pay court filing fees, pay process server fees and investigators, and pay expenses related to the deposition of Malibu.

The law firm claims that it issued invoices to Malibu on a regular basis, using money in the trust account to pay some while dispensing settlement funds back to Malibu. However, the lawsuit claims that a date currently unknown, Malibu “began a program of circumventing the agreement.”

According to the complaint, this came in the form of instructing attorneys in other jurisdictions, that were previously instructed by Lomnitzer, to “bypass” the law firm. This involved sending settlement money directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, “while still expecting the Firm to pay court filing fees, process server fees, etc., all incurred for and on behalf of and for the benefit of Malibu.”

Faced with these circumstances, on August 30, 2019, Lomnitzer terminated its representation of Malibu. Since then it claims to have received invoices from third-parties incurred as a result of its representation of Malibu while its own invoices to Malibu itself (totaling more than $262,500) remain unpaid.

The bottom line according to Lomnitzer’s suit is that Malibu owes the law firm $280,05.32 plus additional interest accruing after December 31, 2019. It is demanding a judgment from the court to that end, an order allowing it to use funds in the trust account towards that amount, plus an order “confirming the Firm’s lien against all proceeds of all pending litigation in which Malibu is a Plaintiff.”

To address the allegations that other law firms are paying settlements directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, Malibu’s former legal team are also seeking an order to prevent Malibu from “disbursing any settlement monies from any and all pending litigation nationwide to anyone other than the Firm.”

On top, of course, Lomnitzer is demanding attorney fees and costs plus any other relief the court deems “just and proper”.

The lawsuit filed by Lomnitzer against Malibu can be found here (pdf)

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

Kingdom Come Dev Warhorse Studios Decorates Office With Framed Codex ‘Pirate’ NFO

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kingdom-come-dev-warhorse-studios-decorates-office-with-framed-codex-pirate-nfo-200110/

For most game developers around the world, piracy is no laughing matter. Particularly on PC, games are pirated in their millions, diverting large revenues away from creators thus damaging the market, many believe.

But for Warhorse Studios, the developer behind Kingdom Come: Deliverance, having a laugh at piracy isn’t off-limits. The fun began early January 2020 when Daniel Vávra, a Czech video game designer and director who co-founded Warhorse Studios, took to Twitter to reveal a revamp of the company’s headquarters in Prague.

“So after a year, we finally decorated walls of our office. And since I hate looking at ‘work’ when going to toilets, I chose some old school classics,” Vávra wrote. “But since it’s impossible to get those covers in hi-res I had to upscale them with AI software and the results are unbelievable!”

The results of these efforts are indeed impressive but the best was yet to come. A special presentation, taking pride of place in what looks like a luxurious kitchen area at the developer’s offices, was this week posted to Twitter.

“Among posters with some classic old school games, we put this poster on a very special spot,” Vávra revealed along with a ‘crying/laughing’ emoji.

For those unfamiliar with this image, it’s an exact replica of the NFO file (information file) created by the infamous cracking group ‘Codex’ after the group cracked the minimal protection on Kingdom Come: Deliverance and placed a pirated version on the Internet.

Of course, this shows that Warhorse has a wicked sense of humor but perhaps the developer has already had the last laugh.

The pirated PC version of the game appeared online within hours of the official Steam release on February 13, 2018 but shortly after an official copy was put on sale completely DRM-free via GOG. This suggests that spending lots of money on something like Denuvo wasn’t on the agenda and the developer wasn’t overly concerned about the effects of piracy on the title.

In the event, sales were excellent. According to an IGN report published two days after launch, the game had already sold half a million copies including more than 300,000 on Steam, a feat that pushed it to the top of the best-sellers list. Within a week it had sold a million copies.

Then, on the first anniversary of the game’s release, two other interesting pieces of news landed at the same time.

The first was that despite day-and-date piracy, Kingdom Come: Deliverance had sold an impressive two million copies. The second was that Warhorse Studios had been acquired by THQ Nordic for €33.2 million after the Czech studio generated €42 million in revenue during 2018 alongside €28 million in pre-tax earnings.

Not bad at all when one considers that Kingdom Come: Deliverance was Warhorse’s first release after raising funding for the title via a 2014 Kickstarter campaign.

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

PrimeStreams IPTV Redirecting to ACE But its Not an Anti-Piracy Seizure

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/primestreams-iptv-redirecting-to-ace-but-its-not-an-anti-piracy-seizure-200109/

For the past several weeks, some ‘pirate’ IPTV services have been subjected to ‘hacks’ carried out by as-yet unidentified people.

In early December, Helix Hosting became the first reported case. Its homepage was defaced with a message explaining that the service had been asked to pay a ransom or face having its customer database leaked online.

Just a few days later, PrimeStreams became the victim of similar blackmail efforts. Its operator revealed that a weak password had been exploited and that 10 bitcoin was being demanded in order to prevent the service’s confidential data from being exposed to the world.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that other services were also targeted in December, which may or may not have settled in the face of similar threats. However, PrimeStreams’ situation appears to be ongoing as a quick visit to what used to be its main servicing domain (PrimeStreams.store) reveals a rather ominous message.

This countdown-timer message usually indicates that a domain has been taken over by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy coalition headed up by the MPA. It is currently displayed on dozens of file-sharing and IPTV platforms, commonly after they have reached some kind of settlement with the world’s largest entertainment groups. Vaders and Openload are two of the most obvious examples.

Of course, seeing that message will probably be enough to send many customers running for the hills but the truth is relatively easy to uncover. This isn’t a domain seizure carried out by ACE but most probably the work of a malicious actor, as a dive into the domain’s details reveal.

As the image above shows, at the time of writing the PrimeStreams domain is using the services of Njalla, the domain registration and hosting service closely associated with Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde. That doesn’t mean that Njalla has anything to do with the issue, of course, but it does indicate in a particularly clear way that ACE isn’t the entity in control here.

When ACE does take control of a domain, Openload.co for example, there are many tell-tale signs that the seizure is legitimate, including the use of the MPA’s own nameservers, redirection to certain banks of servers in the United States, not to mention contact details that relate to bodies and individuals at the MPA.

If we rule out the highly unlikely possibility that the operator of PrimeStreams redirected his own domain to ACE’s anti-piracy servers, then we’re left with a situation that was most probably engineered by a malicious actor. Whether that was the same person who threatened the site in December is unknown but losing a domain to an unauthorized third-party is an extremely serious matter.

The double-edged sword here is the involvement of Njalla. While there’s a possibility that there might be an element of sympathy at the sight of an unlawful hack (not to mention that some of the team were previously involved in The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån), Njalla is utterly militant when it comes to the privacy of its users so may not even be able to help.

That might have played a part in PrimeStreams’ decision to dump this domain entirely and transfer to a new one. The big question, however, was whether the service had any more big security headaches waiting to kick in. Sure enough, within hours of going live, incredibly that domain was ‘hacked’ as well.

In the meantime, ACE gets yet another traffic boost.

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

Manga Publisher Takeshobo Sues Cloudflare For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-publisher-takeshobo-sues-cloudflare-for-copyright-infringement-200108/

Founded in 1972, Takeshobo is major publisher based in Japan. The company distributes dozens of manga publications on monthly schedules, many under the Bamboo Comics label.

On Tuesday the company revealed that it had taken legal action to protect its titles being made available online by pirate sites. However, in common with an increasing number of companies in multiple spaces, its lawyers are going after Cloudflare.

Takeshobo revealed that on December 20, 2019, it filed a civil action against the CDN company at the Tokyo District Court.

“The nature of the complaint is that Cloudflare, Inc. provides a server to an illegal site where many copyrighted works, including those published by us, are illegally uploaded and made available for free,” a statement from Takeshobo reads.

“We asked directly to remove the uploaded copyrighted material from the company’s server, but because no action was taken, we requested the court to remove the copyright infringing page and pay damages.”

Since no court documents have yet been made available to the public and the publisher refers only to “an illegal site”, there’s no absolute confirmation of which ‘pirate’ site Takeshobo is referencing. The company does state, however, that “an order based on copyright infringement has been issued at a District Court in the United States.”

Another possible pointer can be found in Takeshobo’s statement, which further indicates that the legal case against Cloudflare in Japan was filed in collaboration with Mr. Hanamura, one of the authors of the ‘Dorukara’ comic distributed by the company.

With this information in hand, TorrentFreak was able to trace court documents filed in the United States during July 2019, which reveal Takeshobo asking Cloudflare to take action against various ‘pirate’ sites using its services, including those making the ‘Dorukara’ publication available to the public.

“Takeshobo Inc. is seeking a subpoena pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(h) to obtain information sufficient to identify the persons infringing its copyrighted works,” an application for a DMCA subpoena filed at a district court in California reads.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the alleged infringers. Such information will only be used for the purpose of protecting rights
under the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq.).”

Domains belonging to several ‘pirate’ sites are listed in the subpoena against Cloudflare – Hoshinoromi.org, Worldjobproject.org, Hanascan.com, Mangahato.com, and Manatiki.com.

Readers will recall that Hoshinoromi.org was presented by some as a ‘successor’ to the previously shuttered Mangamura platform, which at the time was considered one of the largest infringers of manga publishers’ copyrights.

However, after being sued last September at a federal court in New York by publishers Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan, Hoshinoromi.org and the related
Worldjobproject.org shut down.

That leaves Hanascan.com, Mangahato.com, and Manatiki.com, all of which are operating today. Manatiki is clearly the smallest player, pulling in around 327,000 visits per month according to SimilarWeb stats. Hanascan is considerably larger with around 3.2 million visits per month but Mangahato is in a clear lead with around 3.5 million.

An image presented as part of the DMCA subpoena application last year shows all three domains allegedly carrying ‘Dolkara’ content, which according to MyAnimeList is an alternative title for ‘Dorukara’.

Another curiosity can be found in the URLs highlighted above. Domain names aside, the URLs listed for all three sites are identical in construction and present content in more or less the same format.

We can also confirm that all of the content remains in place, via Cloudflare’s services, despite demands in Takeshobo’s DMCA subpoena to “remove or disable” the allegedly infringing works from the listed domains.

Whether Takeshobo is targeting one, all, or indeed none of these domains remains a question but it is crystal clear that Cloudflare did not remove or disable access to any of the above content as the earlier DMCA subpoena demanded.

Whether that dispute is also part of the lawsuit now underway in Tokyo against Cloudflare is still unconfirmed but the pieces seem to point in that direction.

The documents supporting the application for a DMCA subpoena, which was signed off by the court last year, are available here and here (pdf)

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

Cloudflare Sued For Failing to Terminate 99 ‘Repeat Copyright Infringing’ Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-sued-for-failing-to-terminate-99-repeat-copyright-infringing-sites-200107/

When copyright holders feel they have exhausted all options to have websites stop their allegedly-infringing activities, there is a growing trend to move further up the chain.

Sites now regularly have copyright complaints filed against their hosting companies and domain registries, for example, demanding that they take action to prevent contentious behavior. Since millions of websites now use Cloudflare’s services, that makes the CDN provider a prime candidate for pressure. A new case filed yesterday in a Tennessee district court provides yet another example.

American Clothing Express Inc., which does business as Allure Bridals and Justin Alexander, designs and manufactures wedding dresses. As part of the companies’ sales and marketing efforts, they claim to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on photoshoots featuring models wearing their creations.

According to the companies, however, the resulting photographic images are also being deployed by unauthorized overseas websites (sample below) in an effort to drive customers to unaffiliated bridal stores in local markets selling “cheap imitation” dresses.

The plaintiffs state that they lack a meaningful remedy against such sites, noting that the majority are hosted on servers in China, other locations in South East Asia, or on offshore servers that advertise their non-compliance with United States’ copyright laws.

“Complaints sent by Plaintiffs, or their agents, to the Infringing Website Defendants, or to the entities hosting them in these far-away jurisdictions, largely fall on deaf ears. Domestic judgments obtained against the Infringing Website Defendants are often unenforceable against them in their home jurisdictions,” the complaint reads.

The filing lists 99 websites (represented by Does 1-200) falling into these categories that all have something in common – they are or have been customers of US-based Cloudflare. As a result, the plaintiffs have resorted to filing infringement notices with the CDN company, hoping it will take action to restrict the availability of the infringing images.

Indeed, over the past three years the companies claim that they sent several thousand infringement notifications to Cloudflare which included the URLs of pages on the allegedly infringing sites where unlicensed images were being used. The complaint acknowledges that Cloudflare forwarded the complaints to its customers and their hosts but due to the nature of the clients, the hosting providers mostly ignored the takedown demands.

The complaint targets the operators of the 99 sample sites with claims of direct copyright infringement but additionally, due to Cloudflare’s involvement, the CDN company itself is accused of contributory copyright infringement.

“CloudFlare had actual knowledge of the specific infringing activity at issue here because anti-counterfeiting vendors retained by Plaintiffs delivered more than seven thousand notifications to CloudFlare of the ongoing infringement being prosecuted herein over the course of three years,” the complaint reads.

In common with a similar on-going case in California involving another bridal company, the plaintiffs in this matter also state that Cloudflare should have taken more permanent action when they realized that complaints were being made against the same customers time and again, as illustrated by the sample in the image below.

“CloudFlare could have stopped this infringement being perpetrated through its CDN by simply terminating the accounts of repeat infringers,” the complaint continues.

“CloudFlare has never terminated a repeat infringer in response to notifications sent by Plaintiffs or other bridal manufacturers. Consequently, an exceedingly disproportionate amount of websites infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights are optimized by CloudFlare, as opposed to other providers of CDNs, due to CloudFlare’s well-known policy of refusing to terminate repeat infringers.”

While the plaintiffs don’t mention Cloudflare’s competitors by name, the complaint alleges that in response to similar copyright infringement notices, other CDN providers told their clients that if the images weren’t removed, their entire website accounts would be terminated.

The term ‘repeat infringer’ is becoming increasingly common in United States copyright infringement cases.

In December 2019, Cox Communications was hit with a $1 billion copyright infringement verdict after a Virginia federal jury determined that the ISP didn’t do enough to stop repeat infringers. Cox was found to be contributorily and vicariously liable for the alleged pirating activities of its subscribers on more than 10,000 copyrighted works.

For comparison, Allure Bridals and Justin Alexander state that Cloudflare is liable for contributory copyright infringement relating to more than 5,000 infringing images published on 99 different websites. Overall, Cloudflare serves many thousands of pirate sites, making the outcome of this and similar cases of particular interest.

In respect of the “willful and intentional” direct infringement claims against the 99 websites themselves, Allure Bridals and Justin Alexander request actual or statutory damages, injunctive relief to prevent the ongoing infringements, and the destruction of all copies of copyright works made in violation of the bridal companies’ rights.

The contributory copyright infringement claim against Cloudflare asserts that the CDN company assisted the direct infringers by storing copies of the infringing images on servers in the United States, improving the performance of the infringing websites, while concealing their true locations.

As a result, Cloudflare’s behavior is also described as “willful and intentional”, with the plaintiffs demanding a similar injunction in addition to actual or statutory damages.

The complaint can be obtained here (pdf)

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