All posts by Andy

BREIN, MPA, and ACE Shut Down Massive ‘Pirate CDN’

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-mpa-and-ace-shut-down-massive-pirate-cdn-191021/

Earlier this year, cyber-security company Group-IB shared an interesting report with TorrentFreak.

The company told us that “large monopolists” were supplying huge amounts of content to thousands of websites via dedicated ‘pirate’ Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

Group-IB provided specific details on a CDN called ‘Moonwalk’ which reportedly began operating in 2013. According to the company, at the time the system carried 33,490 movies and TV shows, paying out $0.60 per 1000 views.

Group-IB complained that since most of Moonwalk’s servers were outside Russia, the Netherlands in particular, enforcement by local rightsholders was proving difficult. Several months later, it now transpires that Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has stepped up in an effort to deal with the problem.

BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak that on Friday, bailiffs acting on its behalf served ex parte court orders on five hosting providers requiring them to disconnect streaming servers and preserve evidence in relation to Moonwalk.

Three court orders targeted Dutch companies and two “ostensibly foreign companies” whose servers are located in the Netherlands. While the action is being headed up by BREIN, the anti-piracy group is working with both the Motion Picture Association and the global Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

BREIN describes Moonwalk as a “video load balancer” which provides both the back-end and also huge volumes of pirated content to around 80% of known Russian streaming sites.

“The top 50 of these websites entertain 395 million visits from 89.9 million unique visitors per month causing hundreds of millions of euros/dollars in losses,” BREIN says.

BREIN’s estimates of the amount of content being provided by Moonwalk exceed the figures provided by Group-IB earlier this year. Overall, the Dutch anti-piracy outfit says that the system was recently providing more than 26,000 movies and 10,000 TV shows. That’s around 2,500 additional pieces of video entertainment which suggests growth over recent months.

The ex parte court orders were obtained by BREIN following a joint investigation with ACE, which counts almost three dozen of the world’s leading content and broadcasting companies as members. It’s clear the orders were intended to cause the shutdown of Moonwalk while providing evidence on its operations and presumably, its operators.

“The fight against piracy is global and we are going after operators of these services and their hosting infrastructure as well as other intermediaries supporting these illegal services”, says BREIN chief Tim Kuik.

Jan Van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Content Protection at the Motion Picture Association, stressed that cooperating internationally is crucial to dealing with today’s piracy issues.

“Effectively fighting piracy today requires strong partnerships at global and local level,” he says.

“This action coordinated between BREIN, ACE and the MPA is a significant win and another step towards preserving a healthy and vibrant ecosystem in which the creative community can produce, distribute and protect their content so that audiences can enjoy them.”

What happens next in the investigation isn’t clear but a website associated with Moonwalk currently states that due to this action, the service is not only down, but down for good.

Gone forever?

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

‘Sharing is Caring’ Once Described Piracy But Things Have Probably Changed

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sharing-is-caring-once-described-piracy-but-things-have-probably-changed-191020/

For those old enough to remember, the early days of what would become mainstream Internet piracy were an enlightening time to be around.

With few, if any, legal alternatives available, sharing music and later movies online offered an early and exciting glimpse into the future of media consumption.

The entertainment industries hated all kinds of piracy back then and they still hate it now, that’s not up for debate. But today, almost 20 years after peer-to-peer burst onto the scene, there’s mixed opinion even among pirates as to whether things have changed for the better.

TorrentFreak recently caught up with the former operator of a BitTorrent tracker that launched to the public in 2005. The site itself shut down before 2010, ostensibly after its operators decided family life was more important. Its founder tells us that was only part of the story – money was the real issue.

“When we got into this we started a quiet private club where people could share (and I do mean SHARE) stuff with each other,” he explains.

“The staff and members were squirrels gathering up nuts and whatnot and sharing them on the tracker. All of us could snatch what we wanted and didn’t even feel obliged to return the favor but we all did because we knew each other already and it just worked. Guess giving felt good as getting.”

With a few thousand members at its peak, the site was intentionally never big. Hosted on a free shared server with two other sites thanks to a friendly website designer, the limitations were in place right from the start. Unfortunately, the site’s users became restless. Other trackers were bigger, faster, easier to seed on, but more crucially had a wider range of content.

“Can’t tell you when precisely (a few years later) but we started to tear ourselves apart. Some of the best uploaders found other sites and drifted off which had a big effect on the rest of the site. We managed to find a couple of people who were willing to upload but they wanted new stuff in return and we didn’t have it.

“Someone with access to a pay dump offered to help but they wanted paying as well and I noped right out of paying for warez. Most of our rivals did and it hurt us.”

Even when the site got fresh content, that didn’t really help things either, the former admin says. Users with access to other sites uploaded the content on those immediately and some members didn’t like it and wanted it stopped. That didn’t sit right with the admin because behind the scenes his people were doing exactly the same. What they really needed was money to improve the site to get more people in, who would hopefully bring content with them.

“We stuck out for years not asking for donations but at the end of the day we were in limbo. You build this thing and you’re watching it die. There’s still no question in my mind that we should’ve let it die gracefully in its sleep but hindsight and all that.”

The donations helped for a while but the former admin says that things were never the same. He says that most of the time the amount coming in exceeded the running costs of the site which then made it “morally hard” to keep asking for money. However, he said donations were still requested regularly because when people got out of the habit of giving, they were hard to get back, especially when other sites were offering bang for their buck.

“Pay to leech. That was the beginning of the end for me and I still get emotional about it now. To keep up with [site names redacted] we had to boost [sharing] ratios. It was wrong. We’d gone from a family affair to barely more than a pay site. The older members felt they didn’t know us anymore but the newer ones seemed to want it and cultures clashed and I got the blame.”

So-called ‘pay-to-leech’ is a term most often used to explain how a torrent site can raise revenue by manipulating sharing ratios. If a site has enough seeders and excess upload bandwidth, users can pay to be exempted from strict sharing rules. While rules on various sites differ, in general terms it means that members can download content with relative impunity without giving back, i.e not sharing.

The former admin didn’t want to go into detail about what happened in the wake of the decision to start accepting donations but things didn’t go well. What he did reveal is that it changed the mood on the site. In exchange for their money, people flat-out demanded better service and became more and more vocal when they didn’t get it. They felt they’d paid for a service.

“We had angry posts in the forums with people pasting details of their donations and even private conversations about them with the moderators. I had my wee baby crying downstairs, a pissed-off girlfriend who I never saw and man babies crying on the site over a pittance. I took it and took it and took it and then one day a five minute chat on IRC later with another admin and i’d gone. ‘Here’s the keys to the frontdoor.’ Best thing i’d ever done.”

The striking thing about our discussion with the former admin is that he says that while arguments are commonplace on the Internet these days, they were the exception when his site was first launched. He says there was a sense of belonging to something special and people didn’t want to spoil it because they were not only part of it, they’d helped to create and maintain it too. These days, he complains, things are different because ‘sharing and caring’ have been forgotten.

“Is there a file-sharing family anymore because if there is I don’t know where to find them. People still share alright but it’s pictures of them or their food on Facebook and Instagram. You can’t find people sharing files for fun as we did back in the day because the cat’s out of the bag and it’s an earner and you can’t turn back the clock. Why do you think all the kids dumped torrents for upload sites unless it was about the payback?

“I don’t know if it’s me that’s stuck in the past and this had to happen for piracy to exist as it does now but it’s a shame because all I see now is greed. You tell me, but is sharing out of kindness almost dead?” he asked.

With an entirely different experience, millions of users and uploaders to The Pirate Bay and similar sites would probably beg to differ.

After more than 15 years online, people are still uploading content as they did in the early days, each with their own reason for doing so. The site is still widely accessible and people can take whatever they like for free. The site obviously makes money though, using ads and a crypto-miner, so money remains part of the loop.

More elitist and/or discerning users will always point to professionally organized private trackers as being more community-based, more reliable, much better organized, and with greater emphasis placed on quality control. Old-style sharing can still be found on many but they are certainly not immune to change and the pressures of commerce.

Invites, when they become available, are sometimes handed out for free but in an increasing number of cases, sites charge for the privilege. One can’t make sweeping statements about all of them because there are many and they’re secretive. However, there can be no doubt that a significant number have developed into money-making machines, both for their operators and in some cases their uploaders too.

That raises the question: is there any way to turn back the clock? Is there a way to remove money or other financial incentives out of the equation? With streaming, the most popular form of piracy currently, apparently not.

“You are not realistic,” the operator of a streaming site told TF.

“You write it every day that someone is arrested or blocked or PayPal closed. I can do this for nothing then. Nobody is doing this for nothing. Servers are free so show me where I can buy?”

The owner of a smaller public torrent site (who has operated several other piracy-focused sites in the past) was more talkative.

“My motivation is purely money related. I would not run any piracy related sites if they didn’t earn anything. Just too much risk involved,” he explained.

“Personal issues left me to rely on income from the sites to support my family. I would simply not run the sites if they didn’t make anything. Making money from piracy is so easy so that’s why I think people do it. Rarely you’ll see a site not using any ads. When I was younger things felt a lot different to what they do now. They don’t do it for the love now. But for the money.”

We posed similar questions to a long-standing major site operator – what motivates people to run torrent, hosting and streaming sites these days? He told us that the latter pair make “lots of money” but in respect of torrent sites, he believes there’s no point in running one anymore. The only exception would be for small sites that might still operate for ‘fun’ or on a break-even basis.

“[Some people might run] some small ones [for no profit] – sure – but the user base will be small because the time spent on development will be low,” he said.

For anyone running a bigger site, making nothing or even breaking even isn’t a realistic option, he added. Costs increase every month and if you don’t keep balancing the books, “it won’t work out.”

Ultimately, the operator insisted that going completely back to old-style “sharing is caring” won’t be possible. There’s a new type of demanding consumer out there that is very difficult and increasingly expensive to keep happy.

“That’s never going to happen. The Netflix generation is used to content ready to use, they don’t think about what’s involved in the process of reaching them.”

Tim Kuik of Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN says that he hasn’t seen platforms that aren’t in it for the money for a long time.

“Even if there are uploaders or subtitlers who do it for the kudos, the platforms they post on are making money out of it. We see illegal link aggregators that are supported by platforms that make money off downloaders or streamers by selling them higher download speed,” he says.

But for anti-piracy groups like BREIN, motivation probably doesn’t make much difference to the end result. Piracy is piracy and whatever drives it, it still means illegal content ends up online for free.

“Even if it were for a hobby, would that make it alright to cause damage with it?” Kuik asks.

But ultimately, in the final reckoning, do today’s consumers of pirated content even care what goes on behind the scenes financially, as long as they get it free or at least on the cheap?

One can’t put words into the mouths of millions of individuals but given the popularity of online piracy, especially the astronomic growth of premium IPTV, the suggestion is that largely, people don’t. In fact, for newer entrants to the piracy scene, the fact that people make money is probably the accepted standard.

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

Google Play Removes Perfect Player After “Bogus” Copyright Complaint

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-play-removes-perfect-player-after-bogus-copyright-complaint-191019/

‘Pirate’ IPTV services make the news every week, mostly in connection with streaming movies, TV shows, and sports without obtaining permission from rightsholders.

Enforcement actions against these entities are certainly on the increase and in most instances it’s easy to see why copyright holders have a problem with them. However, it’s clear that some companies either don’t understand what they’re dealing with or simply don’t care.

Case in point, the popular Android app Perfect Player. This software is effectively a network-capable media player that enables users to enter a playlist from an IPTV provider and watch video, no matter what the source. In common with Windows Media Player, it doesn’t involve itself with end-user conduct and can be used to watch legitimate streams.

This week, however, the software – which has in excess of a million downloads from Google Play – was removed by Google because of a copyright complaint. It was filed by a major pay-TV provider, the name of which we’ve agreed not to publish while the complaint is ongoing.

It states that the software allows users to watch channels from unauthorized sources and is therefore illegal. However, there appears to be a considerable flaw in the pay-TV company’s arguments.

In common with the developers behind various torrent clients, Perfect Player’s developer doesn’t dictate how the software is used because no control can be exercised over that. Just like Windows Media Player, uTorrent, or even VLC (which has similar capabilities), it can be used for entirely legal purposes – or not, depending on the choice of the user.

To support its complaint, we understand that the pay-TV provider supplied screenshots showing Perfect Player playing content to which the company holds the rights. This is particularly odd because any content being played is actioned by and is the responsibility of the user.

To have received the content in the first place, the company (or whoever they obtained the app from) must’ve actively configured Perfect Player to infringe by loading it with the playlist from an illicit IPTV provider. Perfect Player contains no playlists when supplied directly from Google Play, it’s content-neutral.

To strike an analogy, you can’t put a bullet in a gun, shoot someone in the head, and then blame the gun manufacturer. Likewise, if you don’t want illicit streams turning up in a software player, don’t have someone load it with infringing playlists from third-parties and then blame a software developer.

“These guys told me that they own ‘Premier’ channels and we should stop transmitting these channels. I answered that the app doesn’t contain any content or channels,” Perfect Player’s developer informs TorrentFreak.

“They then sent another email with a screenshot, showing that they are able to watch their channels in the app.”

TorrentFreak contacted the TV company’s anti-piracy team asking why they chose to target Perfect Player while gently pointing out the playlist issue detailed above. Unfortunately, at the time of publication, the company had not responded to our request for comment.

Giving the TV company the benefit of the doubt for a moment, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it acquired a ready-configured copy of Perfect Player from a third-party that already contained a URL for a ‘pirate’ service. That could give the impression it’s a dedicated pirate app.

That being said, downloading a copy from Google Play would’ve highlighted the important differences between a non-configured player and one set up for piracy. That’s impossible now, of course, because Google has taken Perfect Player down.

With the help of a lawyer, the developer is now filing a DMCA counter-notice with Google Play which will require the pay-TV company to either double down or back off. Unless Google chooses to restore Perfect Player in the meantime, of course.

Earlier this month, Google also took down the IPTV Smarters app from its Play Store following a “false complaint”, according to its developer. The company’s lawyers are reportedly working to have the software restored but at the time of writing, it remains unavailable on copyright grounds.

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

Mega Overturns Brazilian ISP Copyright Block

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mega-overturns-brazilian-isp-copyright-block-191018/

The inevitable situation facing any site that hosts user-uploaded files is that some users will attempt to store copyright-infringing content.

The bigger the site, the bigger the problem, as YouTube’s copyright department knows only too well. But while few rightsholders would attempt to take on YouTube by filing for an ISP blocking order, plenty of other sites are considered fair game, Mega for example.

After a standing start in 2013, Mega is now a major player in the file-hosting market. Due to its early connections with Kim Dotcom, the site was under huge scrutiny from the very beginning and as such, has always insisted that it is fully compliant when it comes to copyright issues.

Nevertheless, earlier this month it was discovered that users in Brazil could no longer access the service. ISPs in the country had begun blocking the site following a copyright complaint initiated by the Brazilian Association of Subscription Television (ABTA).

Following a September decision, the São Paulo Court of Justice ordered four Internet service providers – Claro Brasil, Vivo-Telefonica, Oi and Algar Telecom – to prevent their subscribers from accessing several domains on copyright grounds, Mega.nz included.

“With respect to the block in Brazil, we respectfully believe that the order is wrong and that the Court has been misled. MEGA has excellent compliance. We are working on a solution,” the company told its customers.

The nature of that solution wasn’t specified at the time but Mega Executive Chairman Stephen Hall says that the company mounted a legal challenge to a process that had actually begun months earlier and didn’t initially include Mega.

“The case started in January 2019 with various sites but not Mega,” Hall informs TorrentFreak.

“The case has been held in secret, apparently because the ABTA submitted that various sites included could change settings in order to evade the block.”

Hall says that Mega was added to the case in September 2019 based on the allegation that a single URL on the site led to infringing content. However, that URL had never been reported to the company as posing a problem.

“We submitted to the Appeal Court details of our rigorous compliance activity such as fast response to copyright takedown requests, suspension of accounts with repeat allegations of copyright infringement etc, as reported in our Transparency Report,” Hall says.

Mega’s Executive Chairman notes that Brazilian law only allows courts to suspend access to a service if it fails to respond to legal requests so Mega eventually came out on top.

“The Appeal Court ordered the block of Mega.nz to be reversed. I believe the lower Court will now reconsider its inclusion of Mega. We are confident that access won’t be blocked again,” Hall concludes.

Reports posted by Mega users to Twitter suggest that at least some previously-blocked users are now able to access the site once again but the company is urging that any still experiencing difficulties should contact their providers.

“Contact your ISP if you still cannot access https://mega.nz,” the company says.

According to SimilarWeb stats, there are more visitors to Mega from Brazil than any other country, together making up almost 10% of Mega’s traffic and making it the country’s 108th most popular site.

A report by Mega in January revealed the massive scale of its global operations since its launch six years ago.

“To date, more than 130 million registered MEGA users have uploaded over 53 billion files, utilizing the user-controlled end-to-end encryption we provide,” the company said.

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

Police Raids Shut Down Share-Online.biz, Germany’s Largest File-Hoster

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-raids-shut-down-share-online-biz-germanys-largest-file-hoster-191017/

Share-Online.biz was popular in many regions as a platform where users could upload all kinds of media. It was particularly popular in Germany, with around 72% of its users coming from the country, according to SimilarWeb stats.

Unregistered users could upload files up to a gigabyte but those paying for a premium account were given double the allocation. Yesterday, however, the site suddenly disappeared from the web, leading to the usual speculation about potential legal troubles.

This morning those fears were confirmed. According to local anti-piracy outfit GVU, at 14:00 Wednesday afternoon, the platform was raided and shut down following a joint investigation with the prosecutor’s office in Cologne and police 38 miles away in the city of Aachen.

“This unprecedented procedure was initiated by the GVU, whose employees filed a criminal complaint against the service providers in 2017 and have been supporting the authorities ever since,” GVU explains.

“Where previously all criminal and civil law approaches by various actors seemed to be going nowhere, the GVU was now able to achieve a groundbreaking success for its members and the creative industries as a whole.”

In Germany, both residential and business properties were raided in several regions. In France and the Netherlands, officers targeted data centers connected to the file-hosting platform. Precisely how many servers were seized isn’t clear but Share-Online.biz was a considerable operation, with GVU stating that it served up to 10 million visitors a month with millions of files stored across “hundreds” of servers.

Three individuals aged 40, 48, and 54 are currently under investigation for copyright infringement offenses.

According to GVU, just one of its anti-piracy partners sent in excess of eight million takedown notices to Share-Online in 2017 but the allegedly-infringing content reappeared shortly after it was apparently “deleted” by the platform.

This prompted GVU to file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. Government investigators subsequently supported GVU’s investigation by carrying out their own analysis along with documented test downloads to substantiate claims that the site’s operators “aided and abetted” copyright infringement.

GVU says that infringing files stored on Share-Online were accessed via links posted to various file sharing forums which to a greater or lesser extent, collaborated with the platform.

“For the first time, file-hoster operators are the focus of a criminal copyright procedure because they use portal pages and forums such as DDL-Warez, Boerse, Movie-Blog and MyGully, supported by affiliate programs and commission payments,” says Evelyn Ruttke, Managing Director of GVU.

At the time of writing, Share-Online.biz is completely down, as is DDL-Warez. Two other sites cited by GVU as prominent users of Share-Online – Serienjunkies.org and Canna.to – remain operational.

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

Comcast Becomes First ISP to Join ACE Global Anti-Piracy Coalition

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/comcast-becomes-first-isp-to-join-ace-global-anti-piracy-coalition-191016/

In the summer of 2017, one of the most important anti-piracy initiatives of recent years was born.

After years of protecting their own content from unlicensed reproduction and distribution, 30 of the world’s most powerful media companies came together to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).

Led by the MPAA (now MPA), the companies declared a pooling of resources to tackle piracy more efficiently and on a global scale. Since then, ACE has added several new members to bolster the ranks and this week added two more, one of which is particularly notable.

“We are excited to have Comcast and Viacom join ACE – our leading global content protection organization,” says Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association.

“As the parent companies of two of our original members, they have been supporters of our efforts and numerous successes, but now as members, they will strengthen the legal and operational work we’re able to do to reduce the threat of piracy and support creators.”

Viacom is the parent company of Paramount Pictures, which in turn is a current member of both the MPA and ACE. It also owns UK-based Channel 5, which joined ACE in March 2019.

Comcast owns ACE members NBCUniversal, Sky, and Telemundo, all of which have been with the alliance from its inception. Comcast also operates telecoms giant Comcast Cable, which under the Xfinity brand is one of the largest telecoms companies in the United States.

The addition of Comcast to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment is intriguing. Among almost three dozen other current members, it is the first Internet service provider to commit to the global anti-piracy initiative. How that will play out on the ground is currently unclear.

Given that three of its subsidiaries are already members, the addition of Comcast seems a logical move. ACE, however, seems to be placing emphasis on Comcast’s position as a major ISP which, with imagination, could have all kinds of implications when it comes to anti-piracy enforcement.

ACE plays its cards very close to its chest and we know it only publicizes a small percentage of its actions. As previously reported, many others are kept deliberately quiet. What we know thus far though, is that ACE tends to focus on the provision and distribution of infringing content, rather than targeting end-users – customers of ISPs for example.

Nevertheless, that Comcast and by extension Xfinity are now part of the world’s largest anti-piracy coalition should give pause for thought. If nothing else it shows clear intent by an ISP to positively participate in the global fight against movie and TV show piracy, in all its forms. ACE will no doubt consider this a major achievement.

The full list of members of the ACE anti-piracy coalition now reads as follows: Amazon, AMC Networks, BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada and Bell Media, Canal+ Group, CBS Corporation, Channel 5, Comcast, Constantin Film, Discovery, Foxtel, Grupo Globo, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Millennium Media, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, SF Studios, Sky, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Star India, Studio Babelsberg, STX Entertainment, Telefe, Telemundo, Televisa, Univision Communications Inc., Viacom, Village Roadshow, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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

Twitter Suspends Trump Meme Creator…But Not For the ‘Kingsman’ Bloodbath Video

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/twitter-suspends-trump-meme-creator-but-not-for-the-kingsman-bloodbath-video-191015/

There was uproar in the media this past weekend after a violent video meme was reportedly shown at a pro-Trump conference.

The video, a doctored version of the famous church scene from the movie Kingsman, depicts Trump killing his critics, from both the media and politics.

The video was made by TheGeekzTeam, an entity that creates content for a website run by Carpe Donktum, a prolific pro-Trump supporter and meme-maker. During the fallout on Monday, Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account was suspended, an event which led various media outlets to connect the events of the weekend with the suspension.

A Twitter spokesperson effectively confirmed that the suspension was DMCA related, noting that it responds to “valid copyright complaints sent us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

Twitter made no mention of which content had caused the suspension but the actual DMCA notice obtained by TorrentFreak confirms it had nothing to do with the ‘Kingsman’ meme published over the weekend.

The DMCA notice, served not only against Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account but also around two dozen others, was actually filed by Universal Music Group. The offending Twitter URL is highlighted below.

The Tweet in question dates back to February 5, 2018, and remains online, along with the text “In case you missed the T-Mobile Superbowl Commercial. Here it is!” However, the embedded video has been removed, indicating that this was the source of the DMCA complaint.

Comparing uploads on Carpe Donktum’s YouTube account on the very same day we find a video entitled “T-Mobile Superbowl Commercial Fixed“, which is a doctored version of T-Mobile’s official Superbowl commercial.

It’s pretty clear why Carpe Donktum’s video was taken down. While it contains other copyrighted music throughout not contained in the original video (a lullaby rendition of Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ according to Shazam), it’s the last 14 seconds of the 80-second video causing the problems.

With Trump wearing a ‘Thug Life’ hat, obligatory sunglasses and sporting a huge joint in his mouth, the track ‘Ultimate’ by Denzel Curry booms from the video. This isn’t what Universal Music wanted and judging by comments made by Curry in 2017, it probably isn’t what he wanted either.

“I felt like I was part of the problem honestly. Being disillusioned and thinking, ‘nah, that’s not gonna happen, this nigga ain’t gonna be president.’ Then this nigga became president. So what the fuck just happened? I don’t get all the choices I want, but I definitely didn’t want this nigga to be my president,” Curry said.

One copyright complaint isn’t usually enough for Twitter to suspend an account but Carpe Donktum now has at least three against his. In addition to the notice sent Monday, two others are on record, one sent in April and another in June. Only the one sent by Universal Music has a listed sender, the other two have their details redacted.

Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account has now been restored but for how long remains open to question and probably dictated by future conduct.

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

DISH Threatens to Sue IPTV Subscribers Because Suppliers Are Snitching

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-threatens-to-sue-iptv-subscribers-because-suppliers-are-snitching-191014/

When they don’t use protection such as VPNs, pirates who use BitTorrent-like peer-to-peer systems are relatively easy to track down. Their IP addresses are publicly viewable meaning that one subpoena later, content companies can obtain their names and addresses from ISPs.

The situation is quite different when it comes to users of regular ‘pirate’ IPTV services. Their IP addresses and personal details are usually only known to their provider, so proving infringement is more difficult. Of course, if the IPTV provider itself is targeted by a company like DISH, it may decide to squeal to lessen the pain of its own demise.

In the summer it was revealed that NagraStar had been sending out settlement letters to people it accused of pirating DISH and Bell content using pirate IPTV services. The company reportedly asked for around $3,500 in compensation to make a potential lawsuit disappear.

Now, according to sources cited by CordCutters News, NagraStar and DISH are upping the tempo by threatening yet more IPTV users with lawsuits.

The publication says that it has received multiple reports of people who have been tracked down and provided with copies of their PayPal transactions which showed they purchased a subscription from illicit IPTV services.

Which IPTV services are involved this time around isn’t currently public knowledge but a user of RocketIPTV was previously forced to apologize on NagraStar’s website as part of a settlement.

Sorry…

None of this should come as a surprise. There are plenty of stories from users around the web indicating that NagraStar has obtained their records from a ‘pirate’ supplier, whether that was an IPTV provider or, more commonly, someone dealing in Internet Key Sharing (IKS) servers or codes.

In fact, when examining some of DISH’s ongoing lawsuits last week, TF noticed a statement from the broadcaster clearly indicating that it had obtained business records from a company called Digital TV that was helping it to sue. An excerpt from the case (pdf), filed on October 1, 2019, provides the details.

Achievement unlocked: Business Records

While this is a new case, other cases involving DISH, NagraStar, NFusion Private Server, and its resellers have been ongoing for a very long time.

One case, which dates back six years, shows that handing over information to NagraStar is part of the plan and that the company is very thorough in chasing people right down the chain.

More records obtained…

While obtaining satellite programming using IKS was once rampant and is still an issue for broadcasters, IPTV is arguably a bigger problem today. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that DISH and its partners are branching out to target customers of IPTV services in the same manner.

And with IPTV resellers being asked to pay around $7,500 in settlements, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when they hand over subscribers’ personal details either. After all, the skin-saving game is hardly new when people are faced with damages claims in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

TorrentFreak was previously informed that most providers rarely care whether people supply their correct information when signing up for a service. But when PayPal addresses are involved, in most cases DISH is already too close to home.

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

Battle Against IPTV Continues As MPA & ACE Take Over Four More Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/battle-against-iptv-mpa-ace-take-over-four-more-domains-191013/

If the figures that were cited following the recent international police operation against Xtream Codes are any yardstick, providers and sellers of ‘pirate’ IPTV providers currently number in their thousands.

While there are relatively few sources at the very top of the pyramid, there could be in excess of 5,000 players selling IPTV subscriptions to the public, which by recent estimates could dwarf even the five million accounts cited by the authorities.

In common with the task of removing every torrent, streaming and similar site from the Internet, the possibility of handing a death blow to the entire IPTV industry seems a distant dream for content providers. But that doesn’t mean incremental efforts aren’t underway.

As previously documented, the massive Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, which comprises dozens of the world’s largest content companies, is quietly taking down sellers and providers of IPTV. Today we can reveal that another four have had their domains commandeered by MPA America, the organization previously known as the MPAA.

VStreamTV.com first appeared to gain traction back in 2015, selling an inconspicuous set-top box to the public. Promising no contract and no monthly fees, the $349 device boasted 100,000 movies and TV shows, plus 1,000 channels of live entertainment.

Also say ‘Yes’ to an ACE takeover, apparently….

By 2019, the site was offering its latest ‘VS4+’ device, promising unlimited entertainment to customers looking to permanently cut the cord. Then, a few weeks ago, it all came to an end. The site shut down without notice after its domain was taken over by the MPA. Like many before it, it now directs to the anti-piracy portal operated by ACE.

According to web records, MaxTVLive.com only appeared on the scene in 2018. Among other things, the site seems to have offered a custom Android APK to be installed on users’ own devices. For the price of $25 per month, Max TV users could enjoy live TV and other content on a single device, with extra devices costing an extra $5 per month.

However in common with VStreamTV, a few weeks ago the party came to an abrupt end. It seems likely that ACE came knocking with demands to shut down the business as the service’s website is now owned by the MPA and redirects to the ACE portal.

What ultimately happened with MyIQXTV.com isn’t in question – it was taken over by the MPA and now redirects to the ACE portal. We weren’t able to recover a copy of the operation’s website but if it was in any way connected to the IXQtv service (note subtle difference in spelling), it’s no surprise it appeared on the MPA/ACE radar.

IXQtv shut down August 1st and was no ordinary operation. While many IPTV providers operate via resellers, IXQtv operated a ridiculously full-blown multi-level-marketing (MLM) scheme which paid affiliates not only on sales of streaming packages but also commissions for recruiting yet more affiliates. Think Amway for IPTV.

Finally, the obviously-named JailbrokenBlackBox.co takes last place on today’s update of recent domain takeovers. Information on precisely what packages, services or tools the site offered isn’t clear but like the others, it clearly attracted the negative attention of the world’s biggest entertainment companies.

Details of earlier domain takeovers carried out by ACE and the MPA against IPTV-related operations can be found here (1,2,3,4)

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International Day Against DRM 2019 Focuses on Education

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/international-day-against-drm-2019-focuses-on-education-191012/

The Free Software Foundation’s Defective by Design campaign International Day Against Digital Restrictions Management is here again.

It’s been 12 months since the campaign celebrated the 12th anniversary of its quest to prompt, pressure and prevent companies from restricting what we can do with legitimately bought content and products.

This year the main focus is perhaps the noblest to date – the right to an education.

“Defective by Design is calling on you to stand up against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) on the International Day Against DRM (IDAD) on October 12th, 2019,” the campaign site reads.

“This year we will be focusing specifically on everyone’s right to read, particularly by urging publishers to free students and educators from the unnecessary and cumbersome restrictions that make their access to necessary course materials far more difficult.”

The campaign homes-in on publishers including Pearson, which individually stands accused of placing “digital handcuffs” on students with a “Netflix-like” textbook model that requires constant Internet connections to validate purchases, limits how many pages of a title that can be read at a time, and monitors reading habits.

Defective By Design wants publishers to remove every piece of DRM from their educational materials, a lofty but particularly noble aim. There can be few students or educators out there who still believe that locking up papers, studies and similar material is the best way to impart knowledge and as a result, improve society.

Only time will tell whether that particular quest will bear fruit but reading the campaign’s notes one can’t help but feel there’s a mountain to climb in respect of the broader picture. While those with plenty of energy are invited to join in the chorus or even stage their own events, the section detailing how people can offer basic support is unintentionally depressing.

“The easiest way to participate is to join us in going a Day Without DRM, and resolve to spend an entire day (or longer!) without Netflix, Hulu, and other restricted services to show your support of the movement,” it reads.

“Document your experiences on social media using the tags ‘#idad’ or ‘#dbd,’ and let us know at [email protected] if you have a special story you’d like us to share.”

While a day without Netflix should be achievable, the site lists plenty of other companies that should be avoided, if one wants to seriously protest the spread of DRM. Doing without all of them will be a herculean task for any digital native.

For example, the black hole left by Netflix abstinence cannot be filled by listening to Spotify or Amazon Music, which are labeled by the campaign as “worst offenders” when it comes to DRM. Even with the benefit of music-free silence, people are encouraged not to use Amazon’s Kindle either.

It’s at this point you begin to realize how deeply entrenched DRM is and how difficult it will be to extract ourselves from it. The situation is further compounded when the list reveals that we should avoid using an iPad or indeed any Apple or Microsoft products.

Considering most desktop users are running Windows and millions of mobile users are Apple-based, spreading the hashtags ‘#idad’ or ‘#dbd’ on social media while strictly following the “boycott if possible” rules could rule out millions of participants. That is not what is needed today but so compromises will have to be made.

The moderately good news is that Android isn’t on the list as a “worst offender” but unfortunately it still incorporates DRM. And its developer, Google, has a page all of its own on the Defective By Design site, called out for being a promoter of DRM and for lobbying in favor of restrictive web standards.

We wish the International Day Against Digital Restrictions Management every success because very few people are still fighting this battle and the education element, in particular, is hard to understate. But in a world where profit trumps moral ideals at every turn, this war becomes more difficult to win with every passing year.

And in many cases, it’s arguably our own fault.

Support the 2019 campaign by visiting Defective By Design here

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Trump’s Sons, Attorney, & Social Media Chief All Got DMCA Notices Over ‘Photograph’ Meme

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/trumps-sons-attorney-social-media-chief-all-got-dmca-notices-over-photograph-191008/

Last week, US President Donald Trump made headlines when he tweeted a short video meme aimed at discrediting political rival Joe Biden.

It contained a clip of Nickelback’s video ‘Photograph’ which resulted in the tweet being taken down for copyright infringement.

Soon after, a copy of the DMCA notice that caused the takedown was published on the Lumen Database, which revealed that the sender was Warner Music Group. However, TF has learned that wasn’t the only takedown notice to target Trump and his supporters over the now-controversial clip.

Trawling through the latest notices sent to Lumen by Twitter we can see that not only were some of Trump’s closest allies also sent takedowns for copyright infringement, but also that other music companies got in on the act too.

The original complaint against Trump’s account (here) was quickly followed by another against the account of his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The notice was sent by Nickelback’s management at Union Entertainment Group on behalf of Roadrunner Records, which in turn is owned by Warner.

As the DMCA notice below shows, the cited copyrighted material is “The Master Recording of ‘Photograph’ by Nickelback and the accompanying music video.”

Two other DMCA complaints were also filed at Twitter detailing a pair of allegedly-infringing tweets posted Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. and Dan Scavino, the White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President.

These were sent on October 3, 2019 by anti-piracy company GrayZone on behalf of Warner Music. In common with the complaint filed against their father’s account, YouTube was cited as the source of the material.

Finally, the second son of Donald Trump, Eric, also received an additional notice from Union Entertainment Group, again on behalf of RoadRunner Records.

While plenty of other people tweeted and retweeted the allegedly-infringing video, a flood of additional takedown notices doesn’t appear to be in the archives at Lumen. That doesn’t mean to say they don’t exist, however, since it’s certainly possible Twitter doesn’t pass everything on.

Interestingly, there is an ongoing debate as to whether the use of the video in the clip was actually fair use, with many Trump supporters claiming that as a parody, it should be protected from takedowns. Countering firmly, former RIAA executive vice president of communications Jonathan Lamy believes otherwise.

“This one was a clear cut no-brainer,” he said on Twitter. “On copyright grounds and also perhaps falsely implied endorsement.”

Since Giuliani also got a notice and presumably a strike against his Twitter account, it would be very interesting if – as an attorney – he decided to send a counter-notification. As fair use battles go it might get a little messy but things are pretty messy already.

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

Ebook Pirate Fined & Handed 20-Day Suspended Sentence

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ebook-pirate-fined-handed-20-day-suspended-sentence-191010/

EBooks are widely available and relatively cheap in many cases but there is still a thriving market for pirated copies.

This can be down to straightforward convenience but when it comes to textbooks, titles aren’t always available digitally and in many cases are extremely expensive.

To fill this demand, various sites offer textbooks for free download but in some instances, members of the public provide more personal services to access them at reduced rates. The downside is that anti-piracy companies are sometimes lying in wait.

A student from Denmark was one of the unlucky ones. After he and some fellow students pirated a few books to save money, the 26-year-old went on to launch a company with a friend after leaving college. However, when that venture failed and he ended up on benefits, he found himself selling eBooks on Den Blå Avis (The Blue Newspaper), Denmark’s largest buying and selling site.

Unfortunately for him, Danish anti-piracy outfit Rettighedsalliancen (Rights Alliance) noticed his activities. Under the alias “Michael R”, he sold one of their investigators an eBook that he’d previously converted to a PDF. After paying using MobilePay, the anti-piracy group collected it from Google Drive and reported the case to the police.

A couple of days ago, Avisen obtained information indicating that following an investigation, the Court of Frederiksberg would hear the case this week. The former student, who is trained in IT and marketing, had been charged with selling 228 copies of pirated textbooks related to his specialties.

He reportedly sold the books on The Blue Newspaper for between $12.50 and $88.00 each, a crime for which the prosecution sought a jail sentence for copyright infringement.

On Wednesday, Judge Poul Bisgaard-Frantzen at the Court of Fredericksberg handed the man, who currently lives in Copenhagen, a 20-day suspended jail sentence for copyright and financial offenses, Politiken reports.

After admitting selling 155 copies of textbooks, the Court also ordered the confiscation of 27,640 kroner, around $4,075.

“[I]t is devastating for the copyright that the authors have, and also for the publishers, when the basis for their business is taken away. Therefore, the gain must be confiscated,” the Judge said.

During the hearing, the former student, who will now have to abstain from illegal activities if he is to avoid prison, entered into a settlement arrangement with Rights Alliance, agreeing to pay the anti-piracy group 34,870 kroner ($5,123) in compensation.

Wednesday’s verdict could be just the start as the police reportedly have several similar cases pending.

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

Back to Piracy For Adobe Users in Venezuela But Most Pirate Anyway

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/back-to-piracy-for-adobe-users-in-venezuela-but-most-pirate-anyway-191009/

This week, Adobe delivered a worrying message to legitimate users of its software and services in Venezuela.

In response to a sanctions-related executive order (pdf) handed down by the US Government, the software company said it would have to terminate business relations with subscribers in the country.

This means that legitimate users of Photoshop and other Adobe software and services will lose access to the tools they’ve paid for. With all accounts set to be terminated on October 29, 2019, many customers will be left high and dry, with only a refund to look forward to – hopefully.

“If you purchased directly from Adobe, we will refund you by the end of the month for any paid, but unused services. We are working with our partners on the same,” the company announced.

The withdrawal of Adobe from Venezuela will no doubt deliver serious inconvenience for the country’s licensed users. However, they are in the minority. Licensing software doesn’t appear to be a mainstream activity, even in the face of decreasing price tags for Adobe products, for example.

According to Giampiero Posa of Posa Studio Creativo, a certified Adobe training center in Venezuela, the annual $200 fee for Adobe suite is still a luxury given the dire economic situation in the country. Just a few years ago, the cost was $1,780, a headline figure which did nothing to help piracy rates in the country.

The most recent Global Software Survey (pdf) published in 2018 by the Software Alliance (BSA) shows that in the previous year, Venezuela had the world’s joint second-highest rate of unlicensed software installation. At 89%, the country tied with Zimbabwe and was edged out only by Libya with 90%.

Figures from the trade group show that the situation hasn’t improved at all in eight years. In 2011, unlicensed installs accounted for 88% of the Venezuelan market, a figure that remained stubbornly stable until a 1% increase in 2017 made the situation marginally worse.

Clearly, the removal of offerings from Adobe and other companies offers no hope of a decline anytime soon but of course, alternatives do exist. Open-source tools provide a legal alternative but given high piracy rates and the comfort with which unlicensed software is apparently consumed, even more piracy seems the likely outcome.

And the possibility of consequences for that, especially factoring in hostility from the United States, seem more distant than ever.

A review of Venezuelan copyright litigation, published by Manuel Rodriguez of the Antequera Parilli & Rodriguez law firm, states that to date “there have been few cases of copyright infringements being sued before the courts.”

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

Popular IPTV Smarters App Removed From Google Play Following Complaint

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-iptv-smarters-app-removed-from-google-play-following-complaint/

People who want to view IPTV services on their mobile or set-top devices need a software player with which to do so.

IPTV Smarters is one of the most impressive and popular applications in the niche and is used by large numbers of users on both Android and iOS-based devices.

Up until today, people could just head off to Google’s Play Store to download a copy. However, visitors to the page are now advised that the URL no longer exists, a pretty clear indication that IPTV Smarters has been deleted from the service.

The IPTV Smarters page before the deletion

Given the popularity of the software, TorrentFreak spoke with New Spark Technology, the company behind IPTV Smarters. Amanpreet Singh, who is listed as the person behind the Android app, says that the tool was indeed removed from Google Play following a complaint.

Singh says that he prefers not to share the details of the complaint, or reveal who sent it, because “it’s just a false complaint as usual.” The developer informs TF that this is the third time that the app has been deleted from Google Play and the company’s legal team is on the case.

“It’s normal [to receive such complaints] and [it has] happened three times so far. We had it sorted out last time and this time. We have executed the same procedure with the help of our lawyers,” he says.

The last time the app was taken down earlier this year it remained offline for 10 days. This time the company says it will “try to get it back as soon as possible.”

“As it’s just a video player, that’s why it will be back very soon,” Singh says.

While many people understand that IPTV Smarters doesn’t provide any content or IPTV streams to users, there are plenty out there who don’t seem to appreciate how it all works. They see IPTV Smarters getting recommended as a good IPTV-viewing solution and then expect the company to provide the streams as well.

In response, the company says it added a popup disclaimer to its site a few days ago, unconnected to the current disappearance of its app from Google Play, explaining that it doesn’t “endorse or guarantee” the use of its software by third parties “for streaming and subscriptions.”

“We respects the Intellectual Property rights of others and does not endorse any of the Intellectual Property violation by third parties. Linking of New Spark Technology, WHMCS & IPTV softwares to any of the third party links or platforms does not constitute any of the its endorsement or sponsorships [sic], it reads.”

“We put the disclaimer on our website because many users keep asking for a subscription ( username / password and url ), that is what we don’t offer,” Singh informs TF.

“Also, many customers keep asking us why their channels are not working blah blah blah. So, to prevent us getting unnecessary questions, we updated the disclaimer.” 

At the time of writing, the App Store variant for Apple devices is still online via the web and installable on iOS devices, suggesting that the problem is, at least for now, isolated to the Android variant.

Precisely when that will return for download is uncertain but Singh appears confident it won’t take too long.

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

Landmark Russian Anti-Piracy Agreement Extended Until End October 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/landmark-russian-anti-piracy-agreement-extended-until-end-october-191007/

Last year, leading Russia-based content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum.

It would see search engines voluntarily query a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content before deleting links to the same from their search results. However, while waiting for the terms of that agreement to be written into law, last Monday the time-limited memorandum expired.

As reported last week, content companies hoped that search engines would continue the deletions, despite the agreement expiring. It now transpires that following further negotiations, the parties have agreed to an official extension of the memorandum.

According to sources cited by Vedomosti, leading search engine Yandex didn’t disappoint rightsholders since it continued to delete ‘pirate’ links even after the expiry date. One of the signatories to the agreement added that the parties now intend to carry on with the terms of the memorandum until the end of October 2019.

The official four-week extension has been put in place so that the draft law can be finalized and introduced to the State Duma before the end of the month.

If this happens as planned, the anti-piracy memorandum will receive an automatic secondary extension until the end of the year, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor reports.

“The memorandum has been extended until October 31, 2019. If the bill is submitted to the State Duma no later than October 31, 2019, the memorandum will be automatically extended until December 31, 2019,” a spokesperson told TASS.

While the extra month’s worth of breathing space will be useful, there is still no news of agreement on the issue said to have played a key role in the delay.

Rightsholders and content companies have demanded the introduction of a so-called ‘repeat infringer’ clause, which would see sites permanently removed from search results if they are continually flagged as hosting or linking to ‘pirate’ content.

Internet companies are strongly in opposition so a compromise may be needed, especially if the end-of-the-month deadline is to be met.

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

The Day Shall Come…When Content Companies Address the Streaming Farce

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-day-shall-come-when-content-companies-address-the-streaming-farce-191006/

Image result for chris morris
Credit: Petr Novák

British writer, director, and satirical genius Chris Morris has been body-slamming the media and establishment with biting dark, satirical comedy for decades in the UK.

With his groundbreaking The Day Today series and the polarizing but brilliant Brass Eye, Morris has established himself as a force to be reckoned with.

For those out of the loop, this is a man who managed to convince Conservative MP David Amess — who was later appointed chair of the Psychoactive Substances Bill Committee — to bring up the horrors of a new street drug in a Parliamentary debate. The drug was a giant dinner plate-sized yellow pill called ‘Cake’ and it didn’t even exist.

Adding to his notoriety, Morris also flashed a message containing one of the world’s most offensive words during the eventual TV airing of a show canceled by the UK’s Channel 4, declaring the channel’s then-chief executive to be that four-letter uttering. Morris is scared of no one, and that’s why people love him.

So, after waiting nine long years for Morris to follow up on his daring and unflinching 2010 terrorism-farce movie masterpiece Four Lions, you might understand why the build-up to his new movie The Day Shall Come has been excruciating for his fans, especially those who want to financially support him.

“Based on 100 true stories, the explosive new film from Chris Morris (Four Lions, Brass Eye) is an emotionally gripping, laugh out loud thriller that exposes the dark farce at the heart of the homeland security project: It is harder to catch a real terrorist than it is to manufacture your own,” the movie’s homepage reads.

Sadly, I — one of Morris’s most enduring and fervent fans — will have to take his word for it. I shall indeed be in the UK when the movie goes on general theatrical release on October 11 but as I write this on Tuesday, Oct 1, frustration has set in like never before. And that really shouldn’t have happened.

On my regular news-tour of torrent sites I could see that the movie had already appeared online. It’s a so-called WEBRip release, meaning that it was ripped from a legitimate streaming service. Considering that Morris has built his celluloid history and fanbase, not to mention infamy in the UK, that means it must have been ripped from a UK source and available to buy, right?

Industry anti-piracy initiatives such as the UK’s GetitRight (from a Genuine Site) are 100% targeted at people who have the ability to pirate but might be persuaded to part with their money instead, so this was a great opportunity to test the system with something I actually care about.

So, with cash in hand, seeking out a source for a legitimate purchase, I headed off to the portal. It couldn’t help me directly and I was subsequently directed to FindAnyFilm.com, where the movie is indeed listed.

With options to ‘Buy to Own’ turning up nothing for Blu-ray, DVD, or Digital, the ‘Watch Now’ option (streaming) seemed the final but perfect option. Unfortunately, both ‘buy’ and ‘rent’ turned up absolutely nothing. No options whatsoever, with no idea provided when they might become available.

It’s not FindAnyFilm’s fault, it’s not GetitRight’s fault, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I was already two websites into this mission and it was not going well.

A direct search on Amazon.co.uk did reveal a DVD listing for £10.00 but that was accompanied by a message stating that “This title has not yet been released. You may pre-order it now and we will deliver it to you when it arrives.” Even if I wanted a DVD, which I do not, no release date was provided. Which is absolutely useless. Three websites in.

After various inquiries it soon became clear that Amazon.com was the only straightforwardly obvious place where Morris’s new film might be streamed in the UK. So I tried to log in and surprise — Amazon.com didn’t like it one bit.

The company sent me a one-time validation code, to prove I am indeed me, which I used after receiving it via email. Once logged-in I tried to ‘rent’ the movie but of course, it was unavailable for purchase because I wasn’t in the United States and my payment method was apparently “invalid”. It wasn’t, I’d used it minutes earlier. Four websites in, and an email. No movie.

In my opinion, the steps taken above go way beyond reasonable. Exactly how many hoops do these companies, that combine to present these content distribution machines to the public, expect people to jump through to willingly part themselves from their money in order to support the industry?

For those who know Morris and appreciate his work, this is the kind of ridiculous situation he himself might dismantle with glee, particularly considering The Day Shall Come was in part funded by the UK National Lottery/BFI Film Fund. The citizens of that country, who helped to fund it, cannot see it online at the same time as their US counterparts.

There will be pirates out there laughing to themselves wondering why I didn’t click on the magnet link I saw earlier and simply download the movie, there and then, and save all the headaches. After all, that would’ve been one site visited, one movie watched. For free.

But for someone who actually wants to support Chris Morris and in industry-speak, “make sure he can make more movies in the future”, why shouldn’t I be able to pay if I want to?

The answer is simple: ‘they’ — whoever they are — won’t let me. The Day Shall Come when this nonsense gets sorted out but people’s patience may have run out by then, if they can be bothered to expend any at all. The content is available legally so for the sake of sanity, let us — the fans — buy it.

Our Shatner’s Bassoons — even without Cake — can’t take any more.

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

As RIAA Targets Yet More YouTube-Ripping Sites, Here’s the State of Play

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/as-riaa-targets-yet-more-youtube-ripping-sites-heres-the-state-of-play-191005/

Over the past few years, users ripping music from sites like YouTube has been portrayed by the industry as a bigger problem than torrent sites.

According to stats published by industry group IFPI last year, 32% of all Internet users were stream rippers, up from 30% in 2016. This, according to the group, made it the leading form of music piracy.

Last week, however, a new report revealed that the practice is actually on a downward trend, with 23% of those surveyed admitting to using stream-ripping services. Despite the big decrease, the RIAA isn’t likely to step away from its enforcement efforts anytime soon, as evidenced by a new application filed at a US court.

The application for a DMCA subpoena filed in the District of Columbia targets three sites that are either directly or indirectly linked to YouTube-ripping.

In common with several previous applications, this one also requires domain registry Namecheap to hand over the personal details of their operators, providing names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, payment information and more.

The first, YouTubeMP4.biz, recently suffered a drop in traffic according to SimilarWeb stats but that blip aside, has been pulling in up to 1.2 million visits per month throughout 2019. It is most popular in the United States, followed by the UK, Thailand, India and Turkey.

Next up is Keepvid.ws, which at around three million visits per month is the most popular in the application. Perhaps unusually given the close interest of the RIAA, the YouTube-ripping platform is most popular in South Africa, with around 16% of its traffic coming from the region. India and the United States follow with around 10% each.

The last of the RIAA’s latest targets is HDMP4.net, which on the surface seems different from the rest. When accessing the site’s URL directly, visitors are greeted with a blank page, which is unusual for a stream-ripping platform.

Furthermore, Google reveals that HDMP4.net has had just a handful of DMCA notices filed against it over the past several years, the last in 2015, with none coming from the music industry. However, checking in Google’s indexes reveals that the site isn’t indexed, so that makes sense.

The RIAA does mention some specific URLs carrying its content, including tracks by Cyndi Lauper and ZZ Top, which raises the question of whether other sites are using it in some way. Indeed, checks using various resources indicate that the site, which only gained significant traffic in June this year, seems connected to a number of other ripping services.

The big question remains whether the raft of DMCA subpoenas obtained by the RIAA against companies such as Namecheap and Cloudflare are having any direct effect on the operations of these platforms. While things are probably going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, in the main most previously-targeted sites seem unaffected.

In May, the RIAA tried to extract the personal details of huge ripping site Y2Mate.com from Cloudflare and Namecheap. At the time the site had around 60 million monthly visits and despite the efforts, remains stubbornly online today.

The only real difference now is that SimilarWeb reports the site enjoying in excess of 130 million monthly visits, more than double the traffic reported back in May. The company recently changed the way it calculates traffic but it seems unlikely to have had this much of an effect, particularly since other online measurement sites also show a big upward trend.

On the flip side, a separate effort in May to unmask the operator of YouTubNow.com, a site with 15 million monthly visits, may have paid off. The site currently carries a “maintenance” message and its traffic has tanked to almost zero. That can probably go in the success column for the RIAA.

Back in June, the RIAA homed-in on 10Convert.com, Amoyshare.com, AnythingtoMP3.cc, IMP3Juices.com, BigConverter.com, YouTubeMP4.to, QDownloader.net, GenYouTube.net, Break.TV, DL-YouTube-MP3.net, ConvertBox.net, and Downloaders.io.

At the time of writing, only ConvertBox.net seems completely down while BigConverter.com might have resorted to blocking UK traffic for reasons unknown. The rest are operational, which doesn’t sound like a notable success rate. That being said, the RIAA may have other goals in mind so the bigger picture may play out in time.

By the industry’s own accounting, stream-ripping is on a downward trend but whether that’s attributable to the RIAA’s takedown efforts remains open to speculation. That being said, the RIAA will argue it has to do something, so the pressure is likely to continue.

The latest DMCA subpoena granted by the court can be found here (pdf)

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French Govt. Has Sent 644,000+ Piracy Notices in 2019, Secured 86 Criminal Convictions

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/french-govt-has-sent-644000-piracy-notices-in-2019-secured-86-criminal-convictions-191003/

In 2010, France became a pioneer of the so-called “graduated response” system for dealing with online piracy.

The plan was to deter users of peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent to refrain from sharing copyrighted content by sending them escalating warnings, with the ultimate threat of Internet disconnection or other punitive measures.

The system is overseen by government agency Hadopi, the High Authority for the Distribution and Protection of Intellectual Property on the Internet. Periodically the agency publishes its progress in the field, with the latest report made public this week.

Covering the period between January 2019 to August 2019, the report shows that Hadopi has been kept busy. The headline figure is that 479,177 Internet users received an email indicating they’d received a ‘first strike’ after allegedly sharing copyrighted material online without permission.

The next step up the ladder, the so-called ‘second strike’ notices, are sent to individuals who reportedly carried out a repeat infringement within six months of the first. Hadopi says it sent 165,683 of these to France-based Internet users by both email and physical letter, making a grand total of 644,860 notices sent overall.

The so-called ‘graduated response’ means that after each warning there is an escalation of seriousness with the authorities. So, after a ‘third strike’ in a 12 month period, Hadopi can refer cases to the public prosecutor.

Between January and August this year, 1,149 such cases were sent to the judicial authority. This is a considerable increase over the last set of published figures which showed that 1,045 similar cases were referred during the whole of 2018.

Of the 1,149 cases referred, Hadopi reports there are 387 known outcomes thus far. A total of 301 cases were settled without criminal prosecutions, with 199 people being cautioned. 64 cases were settled with fines of between 100 euros and 500 euros alongside a citizenship course, with the remainder dealt with in other ways.

A total of 86 cases ended in a criminal conviction. These included 31 sentences for “gross negligence” resulting in fines averaging 350 euros plus 300 euros in damages. These appear to have been cases where Internet connections were repeatedly used to infringe, without the connection owner taking preventative measures.

Of the 86 convictions, 47 concluded with repeat infringers receiving fines ranging from 150 euros to 1,000 euros.

Hadopi’s report for the first eight months of 2019 can be found here (pdf)

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DMCA Notice Confirms Trump Tweet Was Taken Down By Warner Music

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-notice-confirms-trump-tweet-was-taken-down-by-warner-music/

President of the United States Donald Trump is well-known for his love of Twitter.

He currently has well in excess of 65 million followers and regularly uses the platform to promote himself and attack his critics.

Earlier today, Twitter erupted when a tweet by the President, which contained a video attacking the integrity of political rival Joe Biden, received some serious editing thanks to Twitter.

While the words “LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH!” remained, the actual video had been removed following a copyright infringement complaint.

No photograph to see…

Trump’s tweet contained a video that has been doing the rounds featuring a photograph central to the recent Biden/Ukraine controversy. However, the photograph itself wasn’t the reason the video was taken down by Twitter.

The viral video contains a clip from Nickelback’s 2005 video ‘Photograph’, prompting speculation that the band itself was behind the takedown sent to Twitter. While they may have had a hand in it, the actual DMCA served on Twitter and obtained by TorrentFreak reveals that the notice was sent by Warner Music.

The DMCA notice sent to Twitter by Warner Music (Lumen Database)

The cited source material for the takedown indeed points to the ‘Photograph’ video on YouTube, confirming the Nickelback link to the takedown.

Unfortunately, if Trump wanted to legally use the track in a political context, this would usually mean requesting permission from not only the publisher but also Nickelback, who may or may not wish to be associated with the effort. The copyright takedown suggests that the required pieces probably weren’t in place.

Perhaps the most interesting thing when one ignores the political angle of Trump’s tweet is that the President has been in this and similar positions several times before.

The Lumen Database, a repository to which Twitter sends its takedown notices, currently lists at least seven DMCA complaints filed against Trump this year alone, all of which have resulted in the removal of content.

On the other hand, people receiving DMCA notices from the IFPI, which acts as a copyright enforcer for Warner on Twitter and elsewhere, get their accounts terminated for fewer strikes. Perhaps there’s a presidential exemption from the DMCA repeat infringer policy at Twitter.

Notices filed against Trump on Twitter in 2019 can be found here 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 (pdf)

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Russia Anti-Piracy Agreement Expires, Now Relies on Goodwill of Search Engines

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-anti-piracy-agreement-expires-now-relies-on-goodwill-of-search-engines-191002/

Following intense pressure on local Internet companies, particularly search giant Yandex, last year an important meeting took place at the headquarters of Russian telecom watchdog Roscomnadzor.

Held between search engines and major copyright holders, the aim was to find a solution to the online proliferation of copyrighted content. By early November consensus had been reached, with Channel One, the National Media Group, Gazprom-Media, the Internet Video Association, the Association of Film and Television Producers, Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signing up to a memorandum.

The voluntary agreement, which was timetabled to run until September 30, 2019, saw the creation of a centralized database of infringing content, maintained by rightsholders. Search companies agreed to query this database every few minutes in order to obtain the URLs of ‘pirate’ material so that they could be removed from search results.

Since the agreement was voluntary and time-limited, it was envisioned that the terms would be written into law, before the memorandum ran out. However, there have been a few points of contention, including a requirement from rightsholders that some continuously-infringing sites should be completely delisted from results, without a court process.

These things naturally take time to work out but in this case, too much time. On Monday, as per the original timetable, the memorandum expired. According to local news outlet RBC, the necessary amendments to copyright law were not submitted to the State Duma before that day, meaning that none of the signatories are bound by the agreement.

Sources at the companies involved told the publication that the memorandum has indeed timed-out but added that an informal agreement has now been reached by the parties to continue compliance for another two weeks. An extension of the agreement until December 31, 2019 had previously been agreed but its terms were not met by September 30.

According to Leonid Levin of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy, the bill to write the terms of the memorandum into law was submitted to the State Duma in a non-finished form. There will reportedly be another meeting between the parties this week.

“As soon as we finalize the document, it will be submitted to the State Duma,” Levin said. “Until then, we hope that all interested parties will continue to adhere to those provisions that were enshrined in the so-called anti-piracy memorandum, which meets all the interests of the industry.”

Roscomnadzor declined to comment on the delay but the Internet Video Association said that it would be “very disappointed” if Internet companies stopped removing links to pirated content due to the memorandum expiring.

At the moment, it appears that the memorandum is surviving on goodwill but according to reports the issue is in the balance. The so-called ‘repeat infringer’ clause, which would see sites permanently removed from search results, is still a point of contention moving into this week’s planned meeting.

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