All posts by Ernesto

Spammers Abuse Medium.com to Spread ‘Pirate’ Scams

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/spammers-use-medium-to-spread-pirate-scams-191110/

Founded in 2012 by former Twitter CEO Evan Williams, online publishing platform Medium.com swiftly became the go-to place for many authors.

The site has featured works of renowned writers, politicians, high profile activists, major companies, as well as average Joes.

Today, Medium has millions of daily visitors, making it one of the 100 most visited websites in the world. The majority of these are drawn to the compelling and informative writings, but the site has proven a draw to scammy ‘pirates’ as well.

Every week, hundreds, if not thousands of articles appear that promise people the latest pirated movies and TV-shows. Whether it’s a high-definition copy of Joker, Terminator: Dark Fate, or Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, it’s available. Supposedly.

Here’s an example of a Joker movie that was promoted this week, but there are many more.

People who click on the links are often disappointed though. They typically point to a page where people can start a stream instantly, but after a generic intro, they are required to sign up for a “free account,” that requires a credit card for ‘validation’ purposes.

Needless to say, this isn’t a good idea. Aside from the obvious copyright issues, these services don’t promise what they offer. After all, many of the pirated films they advertise are not available in high-quality formats yet.

The goal of this strategy is to have these links show up high in search results. A site like Medium has a good reputation in search engines, and as a result, the articles promoting these scams are more visible in search results than the average pirate site.

This appears to be an effective strategy, especially since Google has started to push down results from known pirate platforms.

This practice is not new either. Many other reputable sites, including Facebook, Google Maps, Change.org, Steam, and others, have been abused in a similar fashion in the past.

TorrentFreak reached out to Medium and the company informed us that it’s a free and open platform that allows anyone to share stories and ideas. However, it takes swift action after any alleged infringements are reported.

“We fully comply with the DMCA and all other relevant copyright laws,” a Medium spokesperson said, pointing to its DMCA policy.

“When we discover bad actors, both through manual and automatic detection, they are assessed in terms of our policies and rules against those behaviors, and removed from Medium.”

These types of scams aren’t a major problem for copyright holders, as it will mostly result in disappointed and frustrated pirates. However, prospective pirates who fall for them may eventually be charged for something they didn’t sign up for.

For Medium this scam practice could lead to unexpected problems as well. Google received hundreds of takedown notices for Medium.com links over the past several weeks which, in theory, makes it a candidate for a downranking penalty. Unless Google reviews sites manually before applying a penalty, of course.

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

Cox and Music Companies Battle Over Piracy Evidence Ahead of Trial

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-and-music-companies-battle-over-piracy-evidence-ahead-of-trial-191109/

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Music rights company BMG got the ball rolling a few years ago when it won its piracy liability lawsuit against Cox Communications.

The ISP was ordered to pay $25 million in damages and another $8 million in legal fees. Hoping to escape this judgment, the company filed an appeal, but the case was eventually settled with Cox agreeing to pay an undisclosed but substantial settlement amount.

The landmark case signaled the start of many similar lawsuits against a variety of ISPs, several of which are still ongoing. In fact, just days after the settlement was announced, Cox was sued again, this time by a group of RIAA-affiliated music companies.

In simple terms, the crux of the case is whether Cox did enough stop pirating subscribers. While the ISP did have the policy to disconnect repeat infringers, the music companies argue that this wasn’t sufficient.

Over the past several months, both parties have conducted discovery and they are currently gearing up for a jury trial which is scheduled for December.

Most recently, both parties have presented their motions in limine, requesting the court to exclude certain testimony from being presented to the jury. This is typically material they see as irrelevant, misleading, or confusing.

One of the music companies’ motions focuses on a document (DX 74) Cox wants to present which indicates that the ISP’s own graduated response system worked pretty well.

Apparently, internal Cox research showed that 96% of subscribers stop receiving notices after the 5th warning. This was concluded in 2010 and resulted in the ISP’s belief that its “graduated response” system was effective.

The number was also brought up to the plaintiffs, as it was mentioned during the Copyright Alert System negotiations. Cox says that it chose not to join this voluntary piracy notice agreement because it already had a functional anti-piracy system in place.

The music companies don’t want this evidence to be shown to the jury. In a reply to Cox’s objections, they argue that the facts and figures in the document are a confusing mess of misleading calculations that lack data to support them.

The reply, which also rebuts other issues, is aggressively worded and redacts the 96% figure at the center of the dispute.

“The mere utterance of the so-called ‘study’ and its misleading and unsupported conclusion will lend it an air of credibility in the jury’s mind. The proverbial bell cannot be un-rung. The only adequate solution is exclusion,” the music companies write.

Cox has also submitted a variety of motions in limine. Among other things, the ISP doesn’t want the plaintiffs to present the millions of infringement notices tracking company MarkMonitor sent to Cox on behalf of other rightsholders.

The music companies disagree, however, arguing that the jury is allowed to know that potential copyright infringements are not limited to their own complaints. The other notices are also relevant to determine crucial issues such as liability, willfulness, and statutory damages, they add.

According to Cox, however, these third-party infringements notices are irrelevant to the present case and don’t prove anything.

“Plaintiffs’ attempt to litigate this case with evidence from an unrelated case concerning acts of infringement that are not at issue is inappropriate, improper, and prejudicial. Plaintiffs’ evidence of third-party infringement allegations should be excluded from trial.”

The docket is littered with back and forths on issues one party wants to exclude while being considered vital evidence by the other. This process is generally the last major clash before the trial starts.

The court has yet to rule on the various motions. When that is done the case will move forward. If all goes according to the current schedule, the verdict will be announced in a few weeks.

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

Tech Companies Warn U.S. Against Harmful Copyright Laws Worldwide

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/tech-companies-warn-u-s-against-harmful-copyright-laws-worldwide-191109/

In recent years many countries around the world have tightened their copyright laws to curb the threat of online piracy.

These new regulations aim to help copyright holders, often by creating new obligations and restrictions for Internet service providers that host, link to, or just pass on infringing material.

Rightsholders are happy with these developments, but many Silicon Valley giants and other tech companies see the new laws as threats. This was made clear again this week by the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and the Internet Association.

The two groups both submitted stark warnings to the US Trade Representative (USTR). The submissions were sent in response to a request for comments in preparation for the Government’s yearly report on foreign trade barriers.

The CCIA, which includes prominent members such as Amazon, Cloudflare, Facebook, and Google, lists a wide variety of threats, several of which are copyright-related.

One of the main problems is the increased copyright liability for online intermediaries. In the US, online services have strong safe harbor protections that prevent them from being held liable for users’ infringements, but in other countries, this is no longer the case, CCIA warns.

“Countries are increasingly using outdated Internet service liability laws that impose substantial penalties on intermediaries that have had no role in the development of objectionable content. These practices deter investment and market entry, impeding legitimate online services,” CCIA writes.

These countries include France, Germany, India, Italy, and Vietnam. In Australia, for example, several US platforms are excluded from liability protections, which goes against the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement, CCIA notes.

Another major point of concern is the new EU Copyright Directive, which passed earlier this year. While individual member states have yet to implement it, it’s seen as a looming threat for US companies and users alike.

“[T]he recent EU Copyright Directive poses an immediate threat to Internet services and the obligations set out in the final text depart significantly from global norms. Laws made pursuant to the Directive will deter Internet service exports into the EU market due to significant costs of compliance,” CCIA writes.

“Despite claims from EU officials, lawful user activities will be severely restricted. EU officials are claiming that the new requirements would not affect lawful user activity such as sharing memes, alluding to the exceptions and limitations on quotation, criticism, review, and parody outlined in the text.”

The Internet Association also warns against the EU Copyright Directive in its submission. According to the group, which represents tech companies including Google, Reddit, Twitter, as well as Microsoft and Spotify, Europe’s plans are out of sync with US copyright law.

“The EU’s Copyright Directive directly conflicts with U.S. law and requires a broad range of U.S. consumer and enterprise firms to install filtering technologies, pay European organizations for activities that are entirely lawful under the U.S. copyright framework, and face direct liability for third-party content,” the Internet Association writes.

Aside from the EU plans, other countries such as Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, and Ukraine are also proposing new “onerous” copyright liability proposals for Internet services. In many cases, these plans conflict with promises that were made under U.S. free trade agreements, the Internet Association writes.

“If the U.S. does not stand up for the U.S. copyright framework abroad, then U.S. innovators and exporters will suffer, and other countries will increasingly misuse copyright to limit market entry,” the group warns.

Both the CCIA and the Internet Archive urge the US Government to push back against these developments. They advise promoting strong and balanced copyright legislation, which doesn’t put US companies at risk when following US law.

While it makes sense that the US would back its owns laws and policies abroad, the comments made by both groups come at a time where changes to intermediary liability are on the agenda of local lawmakers as well.

Copyright holders see these foreign developments as inspiration, as they want increased liability for intermediaries. As such, MPAA recently asked lawmakers not to include current safe harbor language in future trade agreements.

This is also the advice of the House Judiciary Committee. While the committee isn’t taking a position on a future direction just yet, it wants to await current developments before porting current US liability exceptions into international deals.

The CCIA’s submission to the USTR is available here (pdf) and the Internet Association’s submission 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.

Police Shut Down Thailand’s Most Popular Pirate Site Following Hollywood Request

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/police-shut-down-thailands-most-popular-pirate-site-following-hollywood-request-191108/

With millions of views per day, Movie2Free.com was one of the largest pirate sites on the Internet, particularly popular in south-east Asia.

In the west, the site doesn’t ring a bell with most people. In Thailand, however, it was listed among the top 15 most visited websites in the country, only beaten by Google, YouTube, and a few others.

The site’s popularity didn’t go unnoticed by Hollywood. Earlier this year the MPA listed the site in its yearly overview of notorious pirate sites, which it submitted to the US Trade Representative.

“The site provides access to an array of movie and TV content and comes replete with high-risk ads with malware,” the group wrote.

The MPA also informed local authorities about the site’s activities. This triggered a high-profile investigation by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) which led to the site’s shutdown this week, the Bangkok Post reports.

Movie2Free.com, which was founded in 2014, is reportedly owned by a 30-year-old Thai man who lives abroad. He hired an operator, a 22-year-old man from the north of Thailand, who was arrested at his house a few days ago.

“The DSI has found that the Thai man who was running the pirated movie website… was living abroad,” DSI director-general Paisit Wongmuang said, commenting on the news.

According to the DSI director “the site had used sophisticated equipment that made it hard for authorities to track it down, and had set up a server abroad.”

Interestingly, the site’s domain name is still active, now linking to what appears to a page promoting local charities.

A few days ago, however, the site was still offering access to thousands of movies. The owner generated revenue from various advertisements and reportedly earned more than $160,000 (5 million baht) per month. Whether that’s an estimate or a confirmed figure is unknown.

While no charges have been announced yet, authorities plan to hold the operator liable for copyright infringement. Potential tax violations are being investigated too, as well as a violation of the local gambling ban since the site had several gambling-related ads.

The Thai examiner further notes that Movie2fFree.com was used extensively by retailers who sell pirated DVDs. Whether the shutdown will have any effect on these sales has yet to be seen, as there are plenty of alternatives still online.

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

USPTO Questions if Artificial Intelligence Can Create or Infringe Copyrighted Works

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/uspto-questions-if-artificial-intelligence-can-create-or-infringe-copyrighted-works-191107/

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a buzzword that’s frequently used by startups and established businesses in the tech industry.

In some cases, it refers to little more than advanced algorithms, but complex self-learning computer systems with human-like traits are actively being developed as well.

As these AI technologies become increasingly advanced, they raise more ethical and legal questions. This was recognized by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently, which launched a public consultation on the matter.

“Artificial Intelligence technologies are increasingly becoming important across a diverse spectrum of technologies and businesses. AI poses unique challenges in the sphere of intellectual property law,” USPTO writes.

The USPTO is part of the US Department of Commerce and deals with various intellectual property rights issues. It previously raised questions on how AI technology impacts patent law and is now expanding this to copyright matters.

The consultation starts off by asking whether anything created by an AI, without human involvement, can be copyrighted. This can refer to any type of content, including music, images, and texts.

“Should a work produced by an AI algorithm or process, without the involvement of a natural person contributing expression to the resulting work, qualify as a work of authorship protectable under U.S. copyright law? Why or why not?” the Office asks.

The technology and code that makes any AI work obviously relies on human interaction, but USPTO’s question is destined to raise a lively debate. Since it’s expected that more and more creations will rely heavily on AI in the future, the US Government requests guidance on these issues.

AI composed music?

In a follow-up question, the Office zooms in further still by asking what kind of human involvement is required to make something copyrightable. Yet another question deals with possible copyright infringements by an AI. Or in other words, can an AI pirate?

This is a relevant question since these technologies can rely on input from other copyrighted works. A simple example would be where an AI ‘decides’ to use hundreds of music tracks to create a new one.

If that’s the case, should this simply be allowed under fair use, or should the original authors have the right to be compensated?

“To the extent an AI algorithm or process learns its function(s) by ingesting large volumes of copyrighted material, does the existing statutory language (e.g., the fair use doctrine) and related case law adequately address the legality of making such use? Should authors be recognized for this type of use of their works? If so, how?” USPTO questions.

The Office notes that further guidance is needed on these and other topics so it’s asking the public for input. USPTO says that it’s not predisposed to any particular views and also welcomes additional AI feedback, beyond the questions it asked.

The full set of questions is available in the Federal Register notice, which includes additional background information. For those who want to chime in, the comment period closes December 16.

Update: IPKAT published an article today showing that similar issues are being discussed in Europe as well.

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

Court Denies Entry of Default Motion Against Torrent Site YTS, Cautions Attorney

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-denies-entry-of-default-motion-against-torrent-site-yts-191106/

Popular torrent site YTS has become the target of three different copyright infringement lawsuits in the U.S. this year.

The most recent one was filed by HB Productions, the makers of the movie Hellboy, owned by parent company Millennium Funding.

The complaint in question lists a “John Doe” as the defendant who supposedly operates YTS. However, HB Productions believes that a person named Senthil Vijay Segaran and the company Techmodo Limited are involved.

The latter two were recently ‘summoned’ to respond to the complaint but neither did. This prompted the Hellboy makers to request an ‘entry of default‘ against YTS.

If granted, this would open the door to default judgment where the movie company can request damages, without any defense from the opposing party. In this case, however, it didn’t get that far.

In a recently issued order, Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield denied the motion. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require the defendants to be officially named, which didn’t happen in this case, the Judge points out. 

“As a practical matter, it is impossible to serve a summons and complaint on an anonymous defendant. The Ninth Circuit therefore disfavors the use of doe defendants, and Plaintiff’s tactics highlight the problems in proceeding with doe defendants,” Judge Mansfield writes.

This means that the movie company can’t submit a motion for default judgment yet. As such, it can’t demand damages or request a permanent injunction to target the site’s domain registrar. And that wasn’t all.

A few days after the denial, Judge Mansfield cautioned HB Production’s attorney, Kerry Culpepper, noting that the court doesn’t permit him to summon persons or entities who are not named defendants.

“It is improper for Plaintiff to attempt to effect service on a person or entity Plaintiff believes to be a doe defendant without properly amending its complaint to identify the doe defendant by name. It is equally improper for Mr. Culpepper to direct summonses to persons and/or entities who are not named defendants in an action,” the Judge notes.

As a result, the proofs of service for these summonses were stricken from the record. The same is true in two other related cases, which center around YTS as well.

In one of these cases, filed by Millennium Funding and several related movie outfits, Culpepper filed an amended complaint last week, naming three defendants, including Senthil Vijay Segaran and the company Techmodo Limited. In the two other cases, no amended complaint has been filed thus far.

With three separate and similar cases, the movie companies will likely push for some kind of compensation. Whether that’s through a default judgment, a trial, or a private settlement has yet to be seen. In any case, YTS is under pressure.

Anticipating possible domain issues, YTS previously moved from YTS.am to YTS.lt, where it is still operating from today. For now, it will likely continue to do so.

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

Dutch ISP Does Not Have to Identify Alleged Pirates, Appeals Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-isp-does-not-have-to-identify-alleged-pirates-appeals-court-rules-191105/

Piracy settlement letters have become a serious threat in several countries.

Dutch Internet users have been spared from this practice, but local movie distributor Dutch Filmworks (DFW), planned to change that.

Two years ago the movie company received permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to track the IP-addresses of BitTorrent users who shared pirated movies.

However, that was only the first hurdle, as Dutch Internet provider Ziggo refused to share any customer data without a court order.

The case went to court, where the movie company requested the personal details of 377 account holders whose addresses were allegedly used to share a copy of the movie “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”.

Dutch Filmworks lost this case but swiftly announced an appeal. This ruling was initially expected during this summer, but the Court of Appeal postponed it due to the complexity of the case. After additional deliberation, the Court announced its verdict today.

The Court of Appeal in Arnhem sided with the lower court, rejecting the request for subscriber details. In its ruling, the Court explains that it must find a balance between the privacy rights of subscribers and Dutch Filmworks’ intellectual property rights.

In this specific case, copyright doesn’t outweigh the privacy rights of Internet subscribers. This is, in part, because it remains uncertain what the movie company plans to do with the personal data it obtains. Dutch Filmworks explained that it could either warn subscribers or request damages, but that it would decide this on a case-by-case basis.

“By not being transparent about the criteria it applies when carrying out its intended actions, the interests of the involved Ziggo customer are harmed,” the Court notes.

“In the opinion of the Court of Appeal, this leads to a disturbance of the [rights] balance, in particular in the situation that it is uncertain whether the Ziggo customer involved is actually the infringer,” the Court adds, noting that the subscriber in question may be a third-party.

In addition, it remains unclear how large the proposed settlements will be. An initial figure of €150 per infringement has been mentioned in the past, but this number could also be significantly higher. Transparency is lacking here as well, which means more uncertainty for the potential targets.

After weighing all evidence, the Court of Appeal concludes that the lower court made the right decision. Based on the presented information, the Court can’t grant the request to hand over the personal details of alleged infringers.

“There are no clear and comprehensible criteria based on which an estimate can be made of the consequences for the relevant Ziggo customers, if their personal data is disclosed. It cannot be checked whether the intended measures are in reasonable proportion to the importance that it serves DFW and the privacy interest of the Ziggo customer whose privacy is violated.”

In addition, the Court ordered the movie company to pay €4,000 in costs. Whether Dutch Filmworks will continue to appeal the case is unknown at the time of publication. For now, however, Ziggo customers don’t have to worry about a settlement letter from Dutch Filmworks.

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

MPA Wants Pirated Content Removed Proactively, Just Like Hate Speech

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpa-wants-pirated-content-removed-proactively-just-like-hate-speech-191104/

The entertainment industries are becoming increasingly frustrated by major Internet platforms that are, in their view, not doing enough to tackle online piracy.

While legitimate user-generated content platforms respond to takedown requests, which they are legally required to, most don’t go any further. This, despite repeated calls from industry groups for help.

Over the past several years, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) has made some progress, partnering with several intermediaries, including payment providers and advertising companies. However, it has struggled to persuade major user-generated platforms and social media sites to be more proactive.

This frustration is fueled by more recent developments which have seen these same platforms take voluntary action against hate speech, fake news, violence, and other offensive content that populates social media timelines.

Twitter, for example, took action against more than half a million accounts over “hateful content” during the first half of the year, helped by ‘artificial intelligence’. YouTube and Facebook also report that they are doing more to proactively detect hate speech, while other online services are taking voluntary action as well.

The MPA has followed this trend. The group recently brought the topic up during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on “Fostering a Healthier Internet to Protect Consumers.” The hearing dealt with an ongoing examination of Section 230 of the Communications Act.

Section 230 shields online services from liability. However, Congress also intended it to encourage these platforms to take reasonable steps to deter undesirable behavior. While Section 230 doesn’t apply to copyright, the MPA’s SVP and Senior Counsel, Neil Fried, chimed in with a written testimony for the record.

Fried notes that the liability protections are similar to those of the DMCA, where copyright is at the center. Also, the complaint that Internet services are not doing enough to prevent harmful content from spreading, is similar to the MPA’s complaint that they do too little to prevent copyright infringement.

The MPA’s General Senior Vice President highlights these hate-speech enforcement efforts and acknowledges there are complex issues to address – especially with subjects that are not by definition illegal in law, since free speech is a great good.

“A few companies have recently developed systems to proactively identify posts promoting hate and violence, and have invoked their terms of service to terminate accounts of those engaged in such activity, although not before wrestling with concerns over the impact on expression,” Fried writes.

However, that’s not much of a problem when it comes to copyright, the MPA believes.

“If online intermediaries and user-generated content platforms can proactively identify such content and terminate service in these cases, surely they can terminate service and take other effective action in cases of clearly illegal conduct, which present brighter lines and don’t raise the same speech concerns,” Fried adds.

Fried suggests that online services should use the same tools they employ to detect hate speech and other harmful content to proactively remove pirated content too. Copyright infringement is prohibited in the terms of services of these companies, so they would have room to do so.

While Fried is right that copyright infringement is more clearly defined than harmful content, dealing with it proactively is not without challenges. Unlike harmful content, some people may have the right to post some copyrighted content, while others do not. And fair use is hard to capture by an algorithm as well.

The MPA nonetheless hopes that online platforms will cooperate. In addition, it wants to see if current liability exemptions can be overhauled, using legislation to motivate Internet companies to do more.

This was also made clear to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. And while possible legal fixes are being considered, the US should not include such liability provisions into new trade agreements, the MPA’s SVP notes.

“In the meantime, as Congress reexamines online liability limitations, the United States should refrain from including such limitations in future trade agreements, which runs the risk of freezing the current framework in place,” Fried writes.

This follows an earlier recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee. Last month the Committee urged lawmakers not to include DMCA-style safe harbors in trade agreements while alternatives are being discussed.

A copy of Neil Fried’s statement before the House Committee on Energy & Commerce is available 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.

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 11/04/19

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-most-pirated-movies-of-the-week-on-bittorrent-11-04-19/

This week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the articles of the recent weekly movie download charts.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie RankRank last weekMovie nameIMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1(2)Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw6.7 / trailer
2(1)The Lion King7.1 / trailer
3(…)The King7.4 / trailer
4(3)Spider-Man: Far from Home7.8 / trailer
5(5)Toy Story 48.1 / trailer
6(…)Good Boys6.8 / trailer
7(4)The Angry Birds Movie 26.4 / trailer
8(…)The Peanut Butter Falcon7.9 / trailer
9(6)Dark Phoenix6.0 / trailer
10(back)Joker (Cam)8.8 / trailer

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

RIAA Targets Music Hosting Service Wi.to, But Leaves Pirated Files Untouched

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-music-hosting-service-wi-to-but-leaves-pirated-files-untouched-191102/

This year the RIAA has discovered DMCA subpoenas as a useful enforcement tool against alleged pirate sites.

The music industry group has repeatedly obtained these subpoenas against Cloudflare, ordering the CDN provider to hand over the personal details of its customers.

The latest target is Wi.to, a file-hosting site that specializes in music. In fact, that’s the only content that can be shared on the platform. However, like any user-generated content platform, people abuse it by sharing pirated files as well.

This didn’t sit well with the RIAA which, armed with three URLs of infringing music as evidence, sent a subpoena to Cloudflare. The music group specifically asked for the physical address, IP address, e-mail address, payment information, account updates, and other info of the customer connected to Wi.to.

This is the same boilerplate language we’ve seen in similar requests that were made in the past, which Cloudflare generally complies with. While the RIAA doesn’t specify what it intends to do with the information, it will generally be used to enforce the copyrights of its members.

To hear the other side of the story we reached out to the operator of Wi.to, Sergey, who resides in Estonia. He was informed about the RIAA’s subpoena last week but doesn’t feel directly threatened.

“We are not criminals,” Sergey says.

“Wi.to is a service that makes it easy to publish music files DJs have created themselves. It’s true that the service is sometimes abused. But that’s something the users do. Also, services like Soundcloud or Dropbox are abused as well.”

Sergey says that, as an Estonian, the DMCA doesn’t apply to him, however, the site does process abuse complaints. In response to these notices, infringing files are regularly removed.

This is where things get interesting. The RIAA subpoena identifies three of these infringing music tracks. However, when we checked these URLs we found out that all three files are still online, including this Harleys in Hawaii track by Katy Perry.

According to Sergey, the RIAA never asked for these files to be removed.

“The RIAA hasn’t even contacted me and it looks to me like they’re acting arbitrarily. They deliberately want to get everything out of the way they can’t make money from,” Sergey tells us.

Wi.to’s operator believes that the RIAA is overreacting. If they see any infringing files they should file an abuse complaint instead of going to court to request personal details through a third party company, while keeping the infringing files unaddressed.

To Cloudflare, the RIAA wrote that any disclosed information will only be used to protect the copyrights of its members. However, sending an abuse complaint seems to be a more direct and effective way to do so.

Intriguingly, the RIAA has asked Google to remove these three URLs from its search engine. However, these requests were pointless, for now, as the tracks were not indexed by the search engine.

TorrentFreak reached out to the RIAA to find out what the purpose of the DMCA subpoenas is, but the organization prefers not to comment. Thus far, these efforts have had mixed results, but Wi.to isn’t planning to change its course.

As outsiders, we can’t judge how Wi.to processes its abuse complaints. We did notice, however, that the site has a “pendejo” link in the footer, pointing to the Narcos theme song by Rodrigo Amarante, without permission.

According to Sergey, this was a birthday present for one of his colleagues, which will be removed in due course or sooner, if an abuse notice comes in.

A copy of RIAA’s subpoena to Cloudflare is available 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.

‘Demonoid’ Moves Away From .to Domain to Distance Itself From Scam Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/demonoid-moves-away-from-to-domain-to-distance-itself-from-scam-site-191102/

For many old-school torrent users, Demonoid is a familiar name. The site was founded sixteen years ago, which made it one of the oldest BitTorrent sites around.

However, last year things changed when Deimos, the site’s founder, went missing. After months of uncertainty and downtime, it became clear that the site wasn’t coming back this time. Deimos is believed to have passed away in a tragic accident, marking the end of an era.

As time went on it became obvious that Demonoid would not return in its original state. However, many of the site’s staffers and users were eager to build a new home. Not so much to replace the old Demonoid, but more as a tribute, and to keep the name alive.

This vision came to fruition a few months ago when Dnoid.to, a Demonoid successor, was launched. The new site has the same look and feel as the old site, but started over with a completely new user database.

The new site doesn’t operate a tracker either. Instead, the most important goal of the site was to bring the old community back together.

“Demonoid always had a special spot in people’s hearts. Keeping a memento of it without letting others ruin it by making copycats and phishing sites from it is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to him and keeping his legacy alive,” Demonoid staffer ‘phaze1G’  told us at the time.

In the weeks that followed the site’s new userbase slowly started to grow but it also became apparent that the domain name choice was far from ideal.

The .to domain is also used by another site, Demonoid.to, which is a well-known scam site. Instead of offering torrents, Demonoid.to urges people to download a binary client. The client download URL redirects to an affiliate link for a paid Usenet service.

Demonoid scam

Because of the dnoid.to / demonoid.to confusion, many users ended up at the wrong site. According to phaze1G, more than 800 emails with complaints about this issue were received in recent weeks.

This volume wasn’t something the staff could ignore. As such, the team registered a new domain name, Demonoid.is, which is the new home from now on. For the time being, visitors to the old domain will be automatically redirected.

“The Tonic registry is not as reliable as it used to be with their redacted whois. They are handing over owner details, even following DMCA complaints, as we were told by some people from other sites,” phaze1G says.

Indeed, as we have covered previously, the Tonic registry does comply with DMCA subpoenas from US Courts, but that’s something it has always done. The change here may be that DMCA subpoenas are more often used as an enforcement tool nowadays.

With the fresh domain name, the ‘new’ Demonoid hopes to avoid any confusion and other domain troubles. Meanwhile, it will continue to keep the site going, something that went relatively well over the past weeks.

“The site itself is doing fine. It’s not oversaturated, which is our goal. Many former users returned and lots of newcomers are stopping by too,” phaze1G notes.

“We are trying to keep a moderated size of visitors, so the infrastructure doesn’t include more cost as the revenue from ads is not enough to cover the costs itself,” he adds.

While Demonoid remains a big name that for many is surrounded by nostalgia, it’s a small player in the larger ecosystem today. With roughly half a million monthly visits, according to SimilarWeb, it pales in comparison to the larger torrent sites.

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

Twitter Copyright Notices Have Doubled in Half a Year

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/twitter-copyright-notices-have-double-in-half-a-year-191101/

In common with many other online services, copyright holders regularly ask Twitter to remove tweets that link to pirated material.

Whether it’s a tweet from the U.S. President or some random pirate site, the social media platform investigates the claims and takes action, if needed.

A few hours ago Twitter published a new update to its transparency report, highlighting the latest takedown trends. This reveals that the number of copyright notices received during the first half of the year skyrocketed compared to the previous six months.

“We received a 101% increase in DMCA takedown notices since our last report,” Twitter reports, noting that this includes a high volume of fraudulent DMCA notices from Turkey and Japan.

From January to June of this year a total of 106,951 DMCA notices were received, compared to 53,094 during the last half of 2018. This is a notable increase. However, it doesn’t directly translate to an equal change in removed tweets or withheld content.

The number of tweets that were removed increased by 46% to 113,015. At the same time, there was a 4% decrease in withheld media in the same period, 266,699 files in total.

This suggests that the average notice today includes fewer tweets and media files.

The percentage of notices for which Twitter took action also dropped significantly. On average, less than half of the notices (45%) resulted in material being removed, down from 62% last period.

The above applies to notices that were sent to Twitter, but the company also owns and operates Periscope. The number of copyright notices received by the streaming platform increased by roughly ten percent to 26,331 over the past six months.

Taken together, more than a third of the Twitter and Periscope copyright notices were sent in by a handful of reporters. Music industry group IFPI is the most prolific sender, followed by Netresult, LeakID, Athletia Sports and LaLiga.

The most spectacular increase we see in the report is the number of counternotices that were submitted by people who disputed a copyright claim. This number jumped 285% to 3,966.

This uptick is in part linked to an increase in fraudulent DMCA notices, which Twitter also highlights in its report. The company says that it will continue to keep a close eye on this trend and has put safeguards in place to help protect people on Twitter and Periscope.

Earlier this year TorrentFreak was also hit by inaccurate DMCA takedown complaints, targeting our news coverage. American entertainment giant Starz removed ours and several other tweets, pointing to an article about leaked TV-shows.

While Twitter accepted these takedowns, the reporting organization lifted the claim after we and many others complained.

Twitter’s complete transparency report, which also addresses trademark notices, information requests, rules enforcement, and other removal requests, is available here.

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

Openload and Streamango Shut Down by Anti-Piracy Alliance ACE (Updated)

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/openload-and-others-taken-down-by-anti-piracy-alliance-ace-191031/

With millions of regular visitors, file-hosting site Openload generates more traffic than popular streaming services such as Hulu or HBO Go.

While the site has plenty of legal uses it is also a thorn in the side of many copyright holders, due to the frequent appearance of pirated content.

This pirate stigma most recently resulted in a mention on the US Government’s list of “Notorious Markets”. 

Today the site’s regular users are welcomed by a rather unpleasant surprise. Instead of the usual interface, allowing them to access the latest videos, they see a message from the global anti-piracy alliance ACE.

“The website is no longer available due to copyright infringement. You will be redirected to alliance4creativity.com,” it reads.

The notice

A closer look at the DNS information shows that the domain name now points to the ns3.films.org and ns4.films.org nameservers, which have been used in the past for similar seizures.

(This article has been amended after additional information came in)

Initially, ACE didn’t immediately reply to our request for comment but the coalition has now confirmed that it reached an agreement with the operator of the site. As a result, many related Openload domains such as oload.cc, oload.club and oload.download, openload.pw and oloadcdn.net are offline as well.

The same is true for Streamango.com, which is believed to be connected to Openload. Streamcherry.com also shows the same ACE copyright notice, although ACE has not confirmed that this domain is part of the deal.

According to ACE, the shutdown is a major win.

“Prior to this ACE action, Openload and Streamango were massive piracy outfits. Openload alone had more than 1,000 servers in Romania, France, and Germany, and generated more traffic than many leading sources of legal content,” ACE writes.

With millions of daily visitors, the redirects are causing trouble for the ACE website too, which is slowing down and returning errors regularly. This is no surprise, as Openload.co alone has an estimated 65 million visits per month, according to SimilarWeb.

This is a breaking story, we will update the article if and when new information becomes available.

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

Global Anti-Piracy Coalition Takes On Password Sharing

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/global-anti-piracy-coalition-takes-on-password-sharing-191031/

The online piracy ecosystem is constantly evolving.

Ten years ago the entertainment industries were mostly concerned with torrent sites. Today, different types of unauthorized online streaming are the main challenge.

To tackle this threat, some of the largest companies in the world bundled their powers. In 2017 they formed the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), which lists prominent members including major Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and other entertainment giants.

More recently, Internet providers started to join the alliance. Earlier this month Comcast was presented as the first ISP to join, but the Canadian company Bell is also a member. Yesterday, Charter was added to the growing group.

The addition of these names isn’t a complete surprise as most telecom companies are content companies as well nowadays. As such, they have a vested interest in limiting online piracy. Thus far, ACE has done so by focusing on bringing down unauthorized streaming services, including Set TV and Dragon Box.

However, there’s another threat on the horizon that needs to be addressed: password sharing. While it is is far removed from the typical piracy scenario where someone shares a file without permission, sharing a password is also seen as facilitating unauthorized access.

Most media platforms haven’t strictly enforced this type of unauthorized use but, according to ACE, the issue is now on the agenda.

A working group will focus on reducing unauthorized access to content. While this is a rather broad description, ACE adds that it will offer opportunities to share “best practices” on issues including “improper password sharing” and “inadequate encryption.”

Tom Rutledge, CEO of ACE’s newest member, Charter, immediately embraced the password sharing topic, which the company is looking forward to addressing.

“We are very pleased that ACE and its coalition of members have committed through this initiative to take on unauthorized password sharing and other content security practices, and we look forward to working together on this important issue,” Rutledge said.

According to Charter, both creators, distributors, and consumers will benefit from a unified strategy to tackle this and other ‘piracy’ threats.

“Consumer, creators, and distributors alike will benefit from collaborative solutions that make content more secure and curtail unauthorized copyright use and distribution, while preserving the customer’s ability to enjoy the content rights they’ve purchased on the network, platform, device, and locations to which they subscribe,” Rutledge adds.

This isn’t the first time Charter has mentioned password sharing as a problem. Last week, the company also highlighted this as part of a new content distribution deal with Fox.

Also, ACE’s focus on password sharing comes roughly two weeks after its member Netflix addressed the issue in its latest quarterly earnings call. There, Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters said that the company will continue to monitor the situation, adding that no concrete actions are planned yet.

“So we’re looking at the situation and, you know, we’ll see, getting those consumer-friendly ways to push on the edges of that, but I think we’ve got no big plans to announce at this point in time in terms of doing something differently there,” Peters said.

According to research published by Magid last year, Netflix alone could miss out on roughly $135 million in subscriptions alone due to password sharing, which is a rather substantial amount.

However, as is often the case with “unauthorized” access, these one-on-one calculations are not very reliable. It’s unrealistic to think and all the people who share passwords now will suddenly pay for a subscription if they can’t. In fact, some people may simply cancel theirs, if they can’t share a password.

This may be where ACE comes in. With all the major streaming players combined in a single anti-piracy coalition, they have the opportunity to streamline their strategies in “best practices”, so consumers don’t simply walk over to the next competitor.

With ACE’s focus on password sharing, it’s clear that the problem is being taken seriously, and that countermeasures are being considered.

TorrentFreak reached out to ACE for further details on password sharing and how it compares to traditional piracy, but the organization has yet to provide a comment.

We also asked the group about Charter’s involvement in a rather prominent piracy lawsuit, where several major music labels accuse the ISP of not doing enough to curb piracy. We have yet to hear back on that as well.

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

Criminal Pirate Bay Investigation Closed After Statute of Limitations Expired

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/criminal-pirate-bay-investigation-closed-after-statute-of-limitations-expired-191030/

On December 9, 2014, the file-sharing world was in turmoil.

Swedish police raided the Nacka station, a nuclear-proof datacenter in Stockholm, and confiscated dozens of servers.

The raid caused downtime at many popular torrent sites including The Pirate Bay. While a TPB insider later denied that its servers were taken, it remained offline for nearly two months.

After the raid, it became clear that The Pirate Bay was indeed the main reason for the enforcement effort. Similar to the earlier raid in 2005, a criminal investigation was launched to hold the operators responsible and keep the site offline.

However, where the first enforcement action resulted in several criminal convictions, the most recent investigation had limited success.

Last week we reported that the police ended the investigation into Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij, who was seen as a prime suspect. Today, we can report that the entire criminal investigation is now closed.

While the prosecution gathered a substantial amount of evidence, the case can’t continue, simply because time ran out.

“The investigation was closed because the statute of limitations expired,” Anna Ginner, Prosecutor at the National Intellectual Property Crime Unit tells us.

There was enough evidence to pursue a case against a suspect, which we believe is Fredrik Neij. However, the prosecution was unable to reach this person for “final serving,” a process where defendants can review the evidence, which is mandatory in Sweden.

“The investigation was finished. However, we did not manage to contact the suspect to give him the possibility to review the investigation on final serving,” Ginner notes.

Although there are no criminal convictions, the police and prosecution did book some results, Ginner says. The investigation led to a legal battle over the thepiratebay.se domain name, which was registered to Neij. This case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which forfeited the domain to the Swedish state last year.

The prosecution may have hoped for more but the lack of a conviction doesn’t come as a complete surprise. In 2017, the then leading prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson already warned that time was running out and that oral evidence was weakening.

Due to secrecy provisions, the prosecution can’t comment on whether The Pirate Bay remains a topic of interest, but it’s clear that the investigation following the 2014 raid is now closed.

Last week Neij told us that he is pleased that the case was dropped.

“Now that the investigation is closed, I’m looking forward to being compensated for them unnecessarily holding all my computer equipment for four years and ten months,” he said.

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

Pirate Bay Downtime ‘Caused by Malicious Attack, Proxies May be to Blame’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-downtime-caused-by-malicious-attack-proxies-may-be-to-blame/

Over the past several weeks, The Pirate Bay has suffered prolonged downtime. For many people, the popular torrent site was completely unreachable.

The reason for the persistent issues has not been revealed directly by the site’s operators. Users and staffers, including the moderators, had no idea what was wrong.

This lack of communication is nothing new. Usually, the site returns to normal after a while, to continue as if nothing ever happened. And indeed, starting a few hours ago some people were able to access the site again.

TorrentFreak spoke to someone who directly communicated with the operators. According to this reputable source, the recent Pirate Bay problems were likely caused by malicious actors who DDoSed the site’s search engine with specially crafted search queries.

This person, or persons, overwhelmed The Pirate Bay with searches that break the Sphinx search daemon, effectively crashing the site. Sphinx is an open-source search server and The Pirate Bay reportedly used an older version of the software.

Data corruption…

Due to the high volume of malicious search queries, it wasn’t possible to log the errors and send a bug report, which complicated matters. However, our contact informed us that the Pirate Bay updated Sphinx to a newer version yesterday, which resolved the crashes.

TorrentFreak was unable to independently confirm the above, but our source is generally well informed.

When we tried accessing The Pirate Bay this morning, it was still returning a Cloudflare 522 error in some regions. However, elsewhere the site was coming through fine with plenty of new uploads being listed. It’s unclear why it doesn’t work everywhere, but the site appears to be recovering.

The question that remains is who targeted The Pirate Bay with these harmful search queries and why?

We didn’t speak to The Pirate Bay’s operators directly, but our source believes that this isn’t the work of anti-piracy outfits. Instead, he suspects that a malicious proxy site (or sites) is likely to blame.

Taking The Pirate Bay out drives more traffic to proxy sites. And by holding off the attacks for a while every now and then, there would be enough time for new scripted uploads to be added to the site, so the proxy site could still scrape fresh content.

For now, this remains speculation, but all the signs suggest that someone was purposefully targeting The Pirate Bay.

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

US Court Shields Internet Subscribers From Futile Piracy Complaints

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-court-shields-internet-subscribers-from-futile-piracy-complaints-191028/

For more than a decade, alleged file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees.

These so-called ‘copyright-trolling’ efforts are pretty straightforward. Copyright holders obtain a list of ‘pirating’ IP-addresses and then request a subpoena from the court, compelling ISPs to hand over the associated customer data.

This scheme can be rather lucrative. With minimal effort, rightsholders can rake in hundreds or thousands of dollars per defendant. That is, if a court grants expedited discovery, allowing the companies to request the personal details of alleged infringers from ISPs.

In the past, it has been relatively easy to pursue these cases, but the tide is slowly turning. Most prominent was a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from last year in the Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales case. Here, the court ruled that identifying the registered subscriber of an IP-address is by itself not enough to argue that this person is also the infringer.

While the Cobbler case wasn’t about a subpoena request, it certainly said something about the strength of the underlying complaints.

As the most prolific filer of piracy lawsuits in the US, Strike 3 Holdings has come under fire as well. For example, last November Columbia District Judge Lamberth accused the company of being a “copyright troll,” that uses “famously flawed” technology to prey on “low-hanging fruit,” flooding the
courthouse “with lawsuits smacking of extortion.”

That didn’t stop Strike 3, which produces adult content, from continuing its legal campaign. The company filed has more than 1,150 lawsuits already this year, many of which are believed to have resulted in profitable settlements. However, there have been setbacks as well.

Last week, New Jersey District Court Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider denied Strike 3 expedited discovery in four cases. This means that it’s not allowed to subpoena ISPs for the personal details of account holders whose IP-addresses were used to share pirated videos via BitTorrent.

In a very detailed 47-page opinion, the Judge takes apart various aspects of Strike 3’s enforcement efforts. He makes it clear that these cases should not be allowed to go forward, as the complaints are futile.

“The most fundamental basis of the Court’s decision is its conclusion that, as pleaded, Strike 3’s complaints are futile. The Court denies Strike 3 the right to bootstrap discovery based on a complaint that does not pass muster,” Judge Schneider writes.

The futility lies in the fact that the complaints themselves include very few facts. The only thing that the company really knows is that an IP address is associated with downloading copyrighted works. Strike 3 doesn’t know whether the subscriber is involved in the actual infringements.

Courts have previously ruled both in favor and against allowing discovery to expose the account holders in these situations, but the New Jersey Court clearly sides with the latter.

“The Court sided with the cases that hold it is not sufficient to merely allege in a pleading that the defendant is a subscriber of an IP address traced to infringing activity. Consequently, the Court will not authorize Strike 3 to take discovery premised on a futile John Doe complaint.”

The decision is partly based on the aforementioned “Cobbler” ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. However, the Court makes it clear that even if there was a properly pleaded infringement claim, the requests for expedited discovery would still be denied.

In the opinion, Judge Schneider sums up the other issues as follows:

(1) Strike 3 bases its complaints on unequivocal affirmative representations of alleged facts that it does not know to be true.
(2) Strike 3’s subpoenas are misleading and create too great of an opportunity for misidentification.
(3) The linchpin of Strike 3’s good cause argument, that expedited discovery is the only way to stop infringement of its works, is wrong.
(4) Strike 3 has other available means to stop infringement besides suing
individual subscribers in thousands of John Doe complaints.
(5) The deterrent effect of Strike 3’s lawsuits is questionable.
(6) Substantial prejudice may inure to subscribers who are misidentified.
(7) Strike 3 underestimates the substantial interest subscribers have in the constitutionally protected privacy of their subscription information.

For example, Strike 3 has argued that these cases do not really raise any substantial privacy concerns, but the Court clearly disagrees. Being named in a lawsuit is an invasion of people’s constitutional privacy rights, which should not be underestimated.

“[G]iven the expansive view of individual privacy under New Jersey law, there should be a good reason before subscriber information is turned over. This is especially true in a situation where questionable averments are relied upon to obtain discovery,” Judge Schneider writes.

Another point the Judge brings up is Strike 3’s claim that it has no other available means to stop copyright infringements. According to the Court, this is not true. The DMCA allows the company to send takedown notices to ISPs, but Strike 3 doesn’t use this option.

While the company is by no means required to issue takedown notices, the Court finds it unreasonable for Strike 3 to argue that it has no other options when it ignores the DMCA.

“One would think that Strike 3 would be eager to notify ISPs that its subscribers are infringing their copyrights, so that an infringer’s internet service would be interrupted, suspended or terminated and infringement would stop. However, Strike 3 does not take this simple step but instead files thousands of lawsuits arguing that it has no other recourse to stop infringement,” Judge Schneider writes.

Even if Strike 3 believes that these notices don’t have any direct effect, it could at least try. If an ISP willfully ignores DMCA notices or fails to follow its repeat infringer policy, it could even consider suing the Internet provider, as other rightsholders have done, the Court adds.

Adding to that, Judge Schneider points out that the current legal campaigns against individual file-sharers are not very effective. There doesn’t seem to be a substantial deterrent effect, as Strike 3 admits that the infringements of its works have only increased.

All in all the Court sees no other option than to deny the request for expedited discovery. This is good news for the people who were targeted by these lawsuits, as they won’t be identified. At the same time, it means that Strike 3 can’t continue these cases, as it can’t name a defendant.

The Court realizes that this makes it nearly impossible to track down the alleged infringers, but sometimes that’s how the law works.

“The Court is not unmindful that its ruling may make it more difficult for Strike 3 to identify copyright infringers. To the extent this is the price to pay to assure compliance with the applicable law, so be it,” Judge Schneider writes.

“A legal remedy does not exist for every wrong, and it is unfortunately the case that sometimes the law has not yet caught up with advanced technology. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, where a party who believes it was wronged was denied discovery,” he adds.

A copy of the full opinion issued by US Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider is available 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.

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 10/28/19

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-most-pirated-movies-of-the-week-on-bittorrent-10-28-19/

This week we have three newcomers in our chart.

The Lion King is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the articles of the recent weekly movie download charts.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie RankRank last weekMovie nameIMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1(1)The Lion King7.1 / trailer
2(2)Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw6.7 / trailer
3(6)Spider-Man: Far from Home7.8 / trailer
4(…)The Angry Birds Movie 26.4 / trailer
5(4)Toy Story 48.1 / trailer
6(5)Dark Phoenix6.0 / trailer
7(…)The Nightingale7.2 / trailer
8(3)El Camino7.6 / trailer
9(8)It: Chapter Two6.9 / trailer
10(…)Dolemite Is My Name7.5 / trailer

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

MPA’s Piracy Claims Caused Financial Damage, VOD Site Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpas-piracy-claims-caused-financial-damage-vod-site-says-191027/

Every year the US Trade Representative (USTR) asks interested stakeholders to identify ‘notorious’ foreign piracy markets.

The responses that come in list the Pirate Bay’s of this world, but also sites and services that don’t see themselves as pirate markets.

The Polish video-on-demand (VOD) platform CDA.pl falls in the latter category. Last year the video service was already branded a pirate site by MPA America (formerly the MPAA), and this year the movie industry group submitted pretty much the same remarks.

“Cda.pl is Poland’s most popular piracy website, eclipsing several legitimate VOD services in the country,” MPA wrote in its submission.

The movie and video industry group further informed the USTR that the “notorious” site is operated by “Comedian S.A.” and uses the services of Cloudflare to mask its IP-address, making it harder for copyright holders to identify the hosting location.

This is all nonsense, according to CDA.pl. The company that owns the VOD service makes this clear in a rebuttal sent to the USTR late last week. For starters, it points out that the site is not managed by Comedian S.A., which may not even exist, but by another Polish company aptly named CDA S.A.

This is not some shady website that’s run from someone’s basement, but a tax-paying joint-stock company.

“CDA S.A. is a public joint-stock company, with its business seat in Wroclaw (Poland), operating in full transparency, fulfilling all of its legal obligations and publishing all relevant information in the way determined by the law and internal stock exchange regulations,” the rebuttal reads.

The company accuses MPA of spreading false information. It assures the US government that it is not a piracy website, adding that it operates in full accordance with the Polish and European legal regulations.

CDA.pl says that it shares its profits directly with rightsholders. They pay commissions that are based on subscription revenues, which make up over 90% of the site’s income.

The site also has a subscription-free section where users can upload files. This part is monetized through advertisements. MPA’s complaints are likely related to the latter, but CDA.pl stresses that ads are only displayed on content uploaded by verified users and partners.

The rebuttal also stresses that the VOD platform has a fully functional notice and takedown system that allows rightsholders to remove infringing content. Some companies, including Warner Bros. and Fox, are even permitted to remove content directly, without CDA getting in the way.

According to CDA, the pirate label is grossly inaccurate. The company is a fully-functional legal entity that’s even listed on the NewConnect stock exchange. This means that, in addition to tax reporting obligations, it’s also subject to various EU stock exchanges and financial regulations.

That the MPA persists in branding the site as a notorious market, hurts the company’s image and causes financial damage, CDA notes. Among other things, CDA’s listing on the New Connect stock exchange was delayed earlier this year.

This year’s renewed allegations are bound to cause trouble as well, the company predicts.

“The MPAA’s letter which indicates CDA.pl website as a pirate site and unfairly lists it along with other websites widely known for their notoriety in copyright violations […] negatively affect the image of the Company and thus negatively influence the interest of potential investors which may lead to occurring significant financial losses by my Client,” the rebuttal reads.

According to CDA, it was never approached directly by the MPA(A), nor did the industry group respond to a letter the company sent in response to last year’s allegations.

The Polish VOD service makes it clear that it wants the false accusations to stop. It believes that this may not even be about piracy per se, but more an attempt to quash the competition. Several MPA members have their own VOD platforms, CDA mentions.

“lt is also worth noting that some of the members of the MPAA can be considered as competitors of the Company and its services, who develop their own VOD services on the Polish market, where CDA.pl currently has the biggest share (sVOD section). Therefore, MPAA’s opinion re. CDA.pl presented to this Office cannot be treated as objective but rather as a means of pressure on competition.”

The full rebuttal sent by CDA is available here (pdf). Last year the USTR decided not to include the service in its final overview of notorious markets and the company hopes to achieve the same result again.

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

RomUniverse Admin Asks Court to Dismiss Nintendo’s Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/romuniverse-admin-asks-court-to-dismiss-nintendos-piracy-lawsuit-191026/

Last month, Nintendo filed a lawsuit against the game download portal RomUniverse.

The website, which also allows users to download movies and books, stands accused of massive copyright infringement, including that relating to many Nintendo titles.

“The Website is among the most visited and notorious online hubs for pirated Nintendo video games. Through the Website, Defendants reproduce, distribute, monetize, and offer for download thousands of unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games,” the Japanese gaming giant wrote.

According to the game company, “hundreds of thousands of copies” have been illegally downloaded through RomUniverse. The site, meanwhile, profits from this by offering premium memberships that allow users to download as many games as they want.

This week, the operator of RomUniverse, California resident Matthew Storman, responded to Nintendo’s claims. Instead of hiring an attorney, he is defending himself in court, starting with a detailed motion to dismiss the complaint.

Storman doesn’t deny that he is involved in the operation of RomUniverse. However, he sees himself as a Service Provider, who is not part of the ‘forum’ itself. On the contrary, the admin argues that he’s protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.

“Since DMCA protects SP from any liability, and only limits Plaintiff to only injunctive relief, the Plaintiff complaints are without basis and potentially an abuse of process,” the motion to dismiss reads.

The motion doesn’t clearly name who is responsible for the files that are uploaded to the site, but it suggests that they are copies of games from people who obtained them legally.

Taking matters a step further, RomUniverse’s operator argues that Nintendo is not the owner of the files and therefore has no standing in this case. Citing the First Sale Doctrine, Storman argues that those who buy games have the right to sell, destroy, or give them away.

“The First Sale Doctrine permits non-copyright or trademark owner to dispose of their copies as they see fit. The Plaintiff does not own copies on websites,” the motion reads.

As mentioned before, Storman further argues that he is protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor. In the motion, he explains that takedown requests that were sent on behalf of Nintendo were honored in the past.

Some of the takedown notices that were sent suggested that this was enough to prevent any legal action. This includes the following passage from a Nintendo DMCA notice.

“Therefore I request you to take immediate action to remove or disable access to unauthorised copies of the Nintendo Game listed at the URLs below and in order to prevent further legal actions against your company.”

According to Storman, this is an implied contract suggesting that any potentially infringing copies that were removed will not result in further legal action.

Based on these and many other arguments, the RomUniverse operator (/service provider) asks the US District Court for the Central District of California to dismiss the complaint.

While Storman makes several interesting arguments, the question is whether any of these will hold up in court. On top of that, waging a legal battle against a billion-dollar gaming empire is already a challenge with a good lawyer. Doing so without any legal representation will be even harder.

Nintendo will likely file its response during the coming weeks, and after that, it will be up to the court to make a decision. In the meantime, RomUniverse remains online.

A copy of the memorandum in support of the motion to dismiss, filed pro se by Matthew Storman, is available here (pdf).

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