All posts by Ernesto

Copyright Alliance Warns U.S. About Pirate Streaming Apps and Devices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-alliance-warns-u-s-about-pirate-streaming-apps-and-devices-190825/

This week the US Customs and Border Protection Bureau hosted a meeting discussing various copyright enforcement efforts.

During the meeting, various stakeholders were invited to submit input for the Presidential Memorandum on Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods, set to be released later this year.

A similar request was previously made by the US Department of Commerce. While we already covered some of these responses, the views of the Copyright Alliance, which were sent in response to the latest meeting, haven’t been mentioned yet.

In a detailed submission the Copyright Alliance, which says it represents 1.8 million creators and 13,000 pro-copyright organizations in the United States, mainly focuses on online piracy. Specifically, the non-profit group urges the Trump administration to prioritize enforcement against online piracy.

“Online digital piracy has been and continues to be a plague on the creative community that harms both large and small copyright owners. Established channels of digital piracy, such as peer-to-peer file sharing and cyberlockers, remain popular, while emerging threats such as stream ripping services gain ground,” the group writes.

Another ’emerging’ piracy problem, one that involved physical products, is the growing threat of piracy devices and apps, which the Copyright Alliance abbreviated to PDAs. Kodi-based devices are most prevalent among this category, the group notes, but it adds that the Kodi software itself is legal.

Problems arise when people configure Kodi-devices with add-ons that give people easy and direct access to pirated movies, TV-shows, and other video content.

“Distributors of PDAs make it easy to stream and download pirated content at the push of a button. Their devices essentially allow purchasers to watch for free what legitimate streaming services charge you to access, and they advertise it as such,” the Copyright Alliance writes.

The group points at various examples including advertisements for the now-defunct Dragon Box, which encouraged potential customers to “Get rid of your Premium Channels” and to “Stop paying for Netflix and Hulu”.

These devices and services threaten the revenue of copyright holders, the group states. Not just those who produce the content, but also various legitimate distribution platforms.

“The widespread use of PDAs not only infringes upon the copyrights of creators of films and TV shows, but also harms competition by harming legitimate streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, that are licensed to provide content and increasingly produce their own works,” the Alliance writes.

The Copyright Alliance encourages the US Government to address these problems where possible. In addition, it also would like to see the criminal penalties for streaming piracy to be increased from a misdemeanor to a felony. This would bring it on par with the criminal penalties for downloading.

This argument has been made by several parties in recent months, and the Copyright Alliance backs it as well.

“We agree that copyright criminal penalties should reflect the realities of how infringing conduct is occurring and believe the presence of meaningful criminal penalties plays a significant role in deterring willful and egregious infringement.

“We urge the Administration to continue working on harmonizing criminal penalties for the most common types of infringement,” the Alliance adds.

A full overview of the recommendations sent to the Customs and Border Protection Bureau, which also supports the pending CASE ACT and calls for measures against textbook counterfeiting, 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.

Pirate Site Blocking Boosts Netflix Subscriptions, Research Suggests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-boosts-netflix-subscriptions-research-suggests-190824/

In recent years website blocking has become one of the most widely-used anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms in the world.

ISPs in several dozen countries are now required to prevent subscribers from accessing a variety of ‘pirate’ sites. While new blocks are added every month, research on their effectiveness has been rather scarce.

Most ‘studies’ promoted by copyright holders conclude that blocking a site does indeed reduce traffic to the affected domains. While this is hardly surprising, less is known about where ‘blocked’ subscribers go instead.

Do they simply give up and stop pirating? Are they finding ways to circumvent blockades? Do they decide to sign up for a paid streaming service such as Netflix? As it turns out, all of the above can be answered positively, according to one of the most details studies on site blocking.

In a paper titled The Effect of Piracy Website Blocking on Consumer Behavior, researchers connected to the Carnegie Mellon University’s IDEA program thoroughly researched the effect of various blocking orders in the UK.

The latest version of the peer-reviewed paper, which will soon be published in the Management Information Systems Quarterly, builds on earlier findings that we’ve reported on in the past.

For example, the researchers found that when ISPs only blocked The Pirate Bay in the UK in 2012, not much happened. Pirates were still pirating but simply switched to alternative sites or Pirate Bay mirrors. Others circumvented the blockades by using VPNs.

Follow-up research, looking at the effect of 19 additional sites that were blocked by UK ISPs in 2013, revealed a different trend. Blocking more sites decreased the numbers of visits to pirate sites, but only cyberlockers.

This was later confirmed with data from an even larger blocking wave from 2014, which also found that visits to other unblocked pirate sites decreased. These data also revealed another interesting trend. The broader blocking effort also increased the number of visits to paid streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix.

2014 block effects

The latest article expands on the last finding by estimating whether the blockades actually increased the number of subscriptions. This, opposed to the possibility that pirates were already subscribed and simply used the legal services more after the blocks.

To do this, the researchers looked at ‘pirates’ who repeatedly visited legal services after the blockades, but didn’t before, and compared this to people who were not pirating. This shows that the blocks increased the number of paid subscriptions to streaming services.

“We show that blocking 53 sites in 2014 caused treated users to decrease piracy and to increase their usage of legal subscription sites by 7-12%. It also caused an increase in new paid subscriptions,” the researchers write in their paper.

“Together, these results imply that supply-side antipiracy enforcement can be effective in turning users of illegal piracy channels toward paid legal
consumption,” the paper adds.

It has to be noted that the estimated increase in subscriptions is relatively small. It’s just 1.1 percentage points higher than in the control group of people who were not affected by the blocks. That said, this translates to around 50,000 new subscribers in the UK, which is pretty significant.

Overall the research finds that there are varying responses to pirate site blockades. Some may circumvent them by using alternative pirate sites or signing up for a VPN, while others increasingly turn to legal alternatives.

In addition to this, one of the main messages is that blocking multiple sites at once is more effective than blocking just a single site. Broader blocks are likely to make it harder for people to find pirated content and, as a result, some people appear to give up.

The researchers illustrate this by pointing at the ‘Hydra’ comparison, which has been used by The Pirate Bay as well in the past. In Greek mythology, the Hydra is a beast that’s particularly hard to kill, as it has multiple heads that can grow back.

“Blocking a single site is akin to decapitating only one of the Hydra’s heads. The result will only be a more diffuse network of piracy sites, with no curb on pirating activity,” the researchers write.

Stabbing the Hydra in the hard is the only way to kill it effectively. While that may be impossible in the pirate ecosystem, cutting off as many heads as possible comes close. Especially if these heads are important sources for other sites.

“Blocking multiple sites at once is akin to decapitating several of the Hydra’s heads. With the network of sites significantly disrupted, this could possibly be a mortal wounding. We have shown that users’ behavior is sufficiently disrupted and that some increase the use of legal channels, and reduce illegal ones,” the paper concludes.

The website blocking research was carried out as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics (IDEA), which received a generous donation from the MPAA. However, the researchers stress that their work is carried out independently.

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Bill Aims to Deter Piracy by Teaching Copyright in Philippine Schools

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bill-aims-to-deter-piracy-by-teaching-copyright-in-philippine-schools-190823/

Like many other countries in the world, the Philippines are struggling with a relatively high piracy rate.

To counter this threat, lawmakers have started to propose new legislation.

For example, earlier this year we reported that a new bill proposes to strip the licenses of ISPs which fail to bar ‘pirate’ sites. While that goes quite far, it doesn’t address the root of the problem.

According to local Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, the law already makes it clear that piracy is illegal. However, many people simply ignore this position. Among other things, this has previously resulted in the United States adding the country to its annual ‘piracy’ watch list.

“In spite and despite of various laws and regulations in the Philippines on Intellectual Property, intellectual infringement and piracy of intellectual rights are rampant in the country,” Rodriguez writes.

“Due to these situations, the Philippines is under the watch list as one of the countries where intellectual property rights are ignored and piracy of intellectual creations is widespread,” he adds.

Interestingly, the Philippines were removed from the US watch list in 2014, but Rodriguez nonetheless believes that more has to be done. He’s therefore proposing to add ‘intellectual property’ to the country’s mandatory school curriculum. Not just for the older children, but starting at primary school.

According to the representative, it is crucial that the importance of copyright is taught at an early age as well as later in life. By doing so, the Philippine people may gain more respect for rightsholders as well as the law.

“With proper education, it is hoped that piracy will be curtailed and our laws will be strictly implemented,” Rodriguez writes.

The bill, which also proposes several other changes to the national curriculum, was adopted after the first reading in the House of Representatives and is now with the Committee on Basic Education and Culture.

The relevant copyright part of the proposal, which is included in House Bill 3749, reads as follows:

“The teaching of intellectual property ownership, particularly copyright law, is hereby required to be a part of the curriculum of all primary, secondary and tertiary schools in the country.”

While the bill is progressing through the legislative process, it still has a long way to go before being adopted. Rodriguez previously proposed similar copyright-related changes to the curriculum, but these didn’t pass, despite support form the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA).

While copyright classes are not something most people associate with a mandatory curriculum, this type of education is not new. A few years ago several California schools voluntarily added copyright lessons to the curriculum, starting at kindergarten.

This effort, which was backed by major copyright holder groups, was initially criticized for being one-sided and was later upgraded to include more examples of fair use.

A copy of the bill and the associated exemplary note, received by the House of Representatives on August 8, is available here (pdf).

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Can YouTube Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos? EU Court to Decide

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/can-youtube-be-liable-for-copyright-infringing-videos-eu-court-to-decide-190822/

Week in and week out YouTube’s users upload millions of hours of videos. As with any user-generated content site, this also includes copyright-infringing content.

YouTube tackles this by processing takedown notices and using its Content-ID system to automatically remove allegedly infringing content. However, according to some prominent copyright holders, this is not good enough.

In Austria, this complaint is at the center of a lawsuit between the local television channel Puls 4 and YouTube. In an initial order last summer, the court ruled that the video platform can be held directly liable for users’ copyright infringements. YouTube was not seen as a neutral intermediary and should do more to prevent infringing uploads.

The court noted that YouTube takes several motivated actions to actively organize and optimize how videos are displayed. By doing so, it becomes more than a neutral hosting provider. Therefore, it can’t rely on a safe harbor defense.

This ruling was overturned by the Higher Regional Court of Vienna earlier this year. According to the appeal court, YouTube doesn’t have an “active role” as its search, categorization, and advertising service are seen as part of the normal business models of hosting platforms, which do not make the company liable.

Puls4 was disappointed with this ruling and immediately decided to take the case to the Supreme Court. This case is still pending but before it rules on the matter, the highest Austrian court is seeking input from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on several crucial questions.

The questions haven’t been published publicly on CJEU’s website yet, but TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the Portuguese versions and IP KAT did the same with the German questions. These questions reveal, as expected, that the EU’s highest court will have to decide the boundaries of Europe’s safe harbors.

The first question, for example, asks if a video host, under Article 14 of the EU’s Electronic Commerce Directive 2000, takes on an “active role” that can make it liable for copyright infringements when it categorizes videos, makes suggestions by topic, and uses targeted advertising, among other things. 

The EU Court is further asked to clarify whether Articles 12 to 14 of the EU’s Electronic Commerce Directive mean that providers are shielded from liability, even when their activity is seen as a communication to the public.

In addition, the Austrian Supreme Court wants to know if a court-ordered injunction only applicable if a service provider has actual knowledge of infringements which have been confirmed by a court?

The latter appears to deal with the question of whether sites such as YouTube have to remove content merely based on metadata (to prevent repeated uploads), as opposed to pointing out specific infringing content. That’s important because, in the Puls4 case, YouTube was not aware of any the contested infringements.

The CJEU’s decision will be a crucial one in the ongoing legal debate about the potential liability of third-party intermediaries such as video hosting providers.

Puls4 previously stressed that it believes that EU law is on its side. Among other things, the company pointed out other relevant CJEU decisions, including the case regarding the infringing nature of The Pirate Bay. In addition, it believes that recent developments regarding liability under the proposed Article 17 of the new EU copyright directive will help its cause.

Interestingly, this isn’t the only YouTube-related case on CJEU’s agenda. A German court also referred various copyright infringement-related questions last year. The Austrian Supreme Court was aware of this referral but believes that its questions deserve to be handled separately.

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Omniverse Fears Criminal Investigation Into Alleged IPTV Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/omniverse-fears-criminal-investigation-into-alleged-iptv-piracy-190821/

In February, several major Hollywood studios filed a lawsuit against Omniverse One World Television.

Under the flag of anti-piracy group ACE, the companies accused Omniverse and its owner Jason DeMeo of supplying of pirate streaming channels to various IPTV services.

Omniverse sold live-streaming services to third-party distributors, such as Dragon Box and HDHomerun, which in turn offered live TV streaming packages to customers. According to ACE, the company was a pirate streaming TV supplier, offering these channels without permission from its members.

Omniverse disagreed with this characterization and countered that it did everything by the book. It relied on a deal from the licensed cable company Hovsat, which has a long-standing agreement with DirecTV to distribute a broad range of TV-channels with few restrictions.

As time went on, however, it transpired that the streaming provider was clearly worried about the legal threat. After several of its distributors distanced themselves from the service, Omniverse decided to wind down its business.

An earlier statement that the service was “fully licensed” was replaced by more reserved language. In a court filing in June, Omniverse said that if any infringement took place, it was without the company’s explicit knowledge.

“To the extent there was any infringement, such infringement was, on information and belief, without malice or bad intent by Omniverse or its management and was caused or contributed to by third-parties such as HovSat,” the company stated.

Fast forward a few weeks and the case remains unresolved. According to recent court records, Omniverse would like to settle the matter. It has made several offers to do so, but the Hollywood studios were not interested. Instead, ACE would like to know all the ins and outs of the alleged infringements.

To break this impasse, Omniverse asked the court to compel the Hollywood studios to engage in a mediation process yesterday. At the same time, the company would like to bring the ongoing discovery efforts to a halt.

According to the court filing, the ACE members were willing to agree to a stipulated judgment where the streaming provider would admit certain wrongdoings. However, this goes too far according to Omniverse, which fears that the rightsholders could use this to fuel a criminal investigation.

“The parties have exchanged drafts of a stipulated judgment, but the parties reached an impasse when Plaintiffs demanded that Defendants admit to what amounts to egregious conduct in exchange for settlement,” Omniverse writes.

“Defendants fear Plaintiffs intend to use such a stipulated judgment as part of a criminal investigation against Defendants. To resolve the impasse, Defendants proposed a mediation, which Plaintiffs have flatly refused,” the company adds.

The mention of a potential criminal investigation is new. While it’s not a secret that Hollywood studios have referred several streaming piracy cases to the Department of Justice, Omniverse was never mentioned in this regard. Whether the streaming provider has any concrete indication that it’s a criminal target is unknown.

The request to compel mediation was submitted “ex parte,” meaning that ACE’s members weren’t made aware of it beforehand. However, the rightsholders were quick to respond.

In a filing submitted a few hours ago they object to the request. Instead, the Hollywood studios want to complete the discovery process, so they can find out more about the infringing activity. When that’s done, they are open to mediation.

The rightsholders further point out that, while the Omniverse brand may have ceased operating, the company’s CEO appears to be involved in another potentially troublesome IPTV service, OSTV Now, which is set to launch next month.

“While Defendants represented to the Court that they have ceased operations, it appears that Defendant DeMeo is merely shifting from one infringing operation (Omniverse) to another (OSTV Now), advertised as a new ‘One-Stop For TV Entertainment’ to launch on September 1.

“Whatever the branding, Defendants appear to be continuing their infringing practices. These and other important facts are exactly why discovery needs to move forward,” the studios add.

The new “OSTV Now” service doesn’t mention Omniverse CEO Jason DeMeo by name. However, as Lightreading pointed out previously, the service is promoted on DeMeo’s personal website.

Given the potential threat and several outstanding questions the studios have, they ask the court to deny Omniverse’s request to compel mediation at this stage of the case.

“Only when the facts are known to both sides (not just Defendants) can the parties meaningfully engage in a mediation. Defendants’ ex parte is a transparent attempt to avoid the very discovery that would reveal those facts, seemingly so they can continue infringing in the meantime,” they write.

Unlike Omniverse, the rightsholders make no mention of a potential criminal case. Whether that threat is indeed warranted, has yet to be seen.

A copy of Omniverse’s ex parte request to compel mediation is available here (pdf) and a copy of the Hollywood studios’ response can be found here (pdf).

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Cox Asks Court to Sanction Labels Over Destroyed Tracking Evidence

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-asks-court-to-sanction-labels-over-destroyed-tracking-evidence-190820/

Last year, Cox ended its piracy liability lawsuit with music company BMG, agreeing to a “substantial settlement.”

The ISP is now in the clear, however, Cox is still caught up in another lawsuit filed by a group of major music companies, all members of the RIAA.

The music outfits, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music, argue that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that the ISP substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

Over the past several months, both parties have conducted discovery and the case is currently scheduled to go to trial in December. While there were talks of a potential settlement a few weeks ago, things look rather different now.

Last week we reported that the ISP canceled a scheduled settlement discussion. As a result, the music outfits called for sanctions, accusing the ISP of gamesmanship. Now, it’s Cox’s turn to ask for sanctions, this time with a formal request.

Cox submitted a motion for discovery sanctions at the Virginia federal court, where it accuses the plaintiffs of relying on unsubstantiated evidence.

The concerns relate to the piracy evidence which the music companies are relying on. This is the data that was used to send copyright infringement notices to Cox, pointing out how its subscribers allegedly shared infringing material. As such, it is the basis of the “repeat infringer” claims that are central to the lawsuit.

The data in question was collected by the anti-piracy firm MarkMonitor, which keeps a close eye on global BitTorrent activity. For the lawsuit, these infringement allegations were summarized in two spreadsheets. However, Cox notes that underlying evidence has since been deleted.

“MarkMonitor failed to retain critical portions of this evidence, and the document that Plaintiffs intend to rely on is, at best, a partial and inaccurate summary of these analyses,” Cox informs the Court.

As such, Cox requests sanctions. Specifically, it asks the court for a ruling that the piracy evidence in question can’t be used to back up any claims.

“Because Plaintiffs’ agent destroyed the underlying data, leaving no way to assess the accuracy of this summary, Cox respectfully requests that the Court enter discovery sanctions against Plaintiffs in the form of a preclusion order prohibiting Plaintiffs from relying on the incomplete and unreliable MarkMonitor evidence.”

According to Cox, MarkMonitor deleted data which showed that claimed copyright infringements were indeed linked to copyrighted files. These data concern the “matching” logs it received from the fingerprinting service Audible Magic.

During discovery, Cox learned that MarkMonitor used data from Audible Magic to reach its infringement conclusions. A subsequent subpoena explained how this worked, and a deposition of Audible Magic later revealed that MarkMonitor deleted the transaction logs.

“Ultimately, Cox learned in a deposition on the last day of discovery that MarkMonitor did not produce the transaction logs at issue or the relevant database because it had destroyed them,” Cox informs the Court.

The deleted data was crucial according to the ISP, as it’s the only way to prove that the alleged infringements detailed in the spreadsheet are correct. In addition, the routinely deleted data “strongly suggests” that MarkMonitor’s spreadsheet is inaccurate.

“The destroyed Audible Magic data was undeniably material and foundational to the MarkMonitor Spreadsheet,” Cox notes.

The ISP backs up its ‘inaccuracy’ claims in redacted parts of its memorandum, mentioning that it was a “coin flip” whether or not a claimed infringement actually took place.

Coin flip

Cox argues that the record labels withheld unfavorable information so sees no other option than to scrap the spreadsheets as evidence. In their current form, they can’t be backed up.

“Because Plaintiffs failed to preserve and produce the best and most complete—indeed, the only—evidence of the alleged direct infringements, the Court should preclude Plaintiffs from relying on the ‘236 and ‘431 Spreadsheets, and any derivative documents, which are merely incomplete and inaccurate summaries of what the data would have shown,” Cox concludes.

It the Court agrees with Cox and excludes the piracy data as evidence, the case could be severely impacted.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Cox has complained about spoilt evidence. The company did the same a few years ago in the BMG case, after it found out that anti-piracy company Rightscorp destroyed older versions of its piracy tracking code.

At the time the Court ruled that sanctions were indeed appropriate. However, the copyright infringement claims were not disregarded and Cox’s request to dismiss the case in its entirety was denied.

A copy of Cox’s memorandum in support of the motion for discovery sanctions and to preclude the MarkMonitor evidence is available here (pdf).

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Court Denies Default Judgment Against ‘Cheating’ Fortnite Kid, In Spite of Mom’s ‘Defense’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-denies-default-judgment-against-cheating-fortnite-kid-190819/

Two years ago, Epic Games decided to take several Fortnite cheaters to court, accusing them of copyright infringement.

Several of these lawsuits have been settled but there is one that proved to be somewhat of a challenge.

One of the alleged cheaters turned out to be a minor who’s also accused of demonstrating, advertising and distributing the cheat via his YouTube channel. The game publisher wasn’t aware of this when it filed the lawsuit, but the kid’s mother let the company know in clear terms.

“This company is in the process of attempting to sue a 14-year-old child,” the mother informed the Court back in 2017.

The letter was widely publicized in the press but Epic Games didn’t back off. Due to his young age, the Carolina District Court ordered that the kid, who operated the “Sky Orbit” YouTube channel, should only be referred to by his initials C.R. The case itself continued, however, albeit slowly.

Since C.R. didn’t retain an attorney or otherwise respond in court, Epic filed a motion for default judgment. The court didn’t accept this right away, however, instead deciding that the mother’s letter should be treated as a motion to dismiss the case.

Among other defenses, the mother highlighted that the EULA, which the game publisher relies heavily upon in the complaint, isn’t legally binding. The EULA states that minors require permission from a parent or legal guardian, which was not the case here.

The court reviewed these arguments but concluded that they were not sufficient to dismiss the case. After that ruling things went quiet. Neither C.R. nor his mom responded, which prompted Epic Games to file a motion for a default judgment again.

Epic isn’t looking for any massive damages, but it mainly wants C.R. to refrain from any future infringing activities. This includes cheating as well as posting videos on YouTube where this type of activity is promoted.

Generally speaking, such motions are easily granted, since there is no opposing party to dispute any claims. However, in this case, the court decided differently, with the age of the alleged cheater playing an important role.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not allow default judgments against minors who haven’t been represented. Epic tried to cover this by arguing that the mother’s letter counted as representation, but the North Carolina Court disagrees.

In his order denying the motion for default judgment, US District Court Judge Malcolm J. Howard mentions that the court previously emphasized that the letter in question was not seen as an “official appearance by anyone on behalf of the minor defendant.”

“In light of the circumstances herein, based on the facts currently before the court, and pursuant to Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the court must deny plaintiff’s motion for default judgment,” Judge Malcolm J. Howard concludes.

This means that after roughly two years, Epic is back to square one and that the accused cheater will ‘walk’ free.

Whether C.R. is still involved in any cheating activity is unknown. His original “Sky Orbit” YouTube account is no longer active though, and a backup was deleted as well, due to “multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement.”

A copy of the order denying the motion for a defauly judgment is available here (pdf).

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Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 08/19/19

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-most-pirated-movies-of-the-week-on-bittorrent-08-19-19/

This week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Aladdin 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)Aladdin7.3 / trailer
2(8)Godzilla: King of the Monsters6.5 / trailer
3(3)Avengers: Endgame8.7 / trailer
4(2)The Hustle5.3 / trailer
5(…)The Secret Life of Pets 26.5 / trailer
6(5)Rocketman7.6 / trailer
7(4)Brightburn6.2 / trailer
8(…)Ma5.8 / trailer
9(…)John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum7.8 / trailer
1010)Shazam!7.3 / trailer

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Anti-Piracy Efforts Are Unlikely to Beat Sci-Hub

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-efforts-are-unlikely-to-beat-sci-hub/

Sci-Hub has often been referred to as “The Pirate Bay of Science,” but that description really sells the site short.

While both sites are helping the public to access copyrighted content without permission, Sci-Hub has also become a crucial tool that arguably helps the progress of science.

The site allows researchers to bypass expensive paywalls so they can read articles written by their fellow colleagues. The information in these ‘pirated’ articles is then used to provide the foundation for future research.

What the site does is not permitted, according to the law, but in the academic world, Sci-Hub is praised by many. In particular, those who don’t have direct access to expensive journals but aspire to excel in their academic field.

This leads to a rather intriguing situation where many of the ‘creators,’ the people who write academic articles, are openly supporting the site. By doing so, they go directly against the major publishers, including the billion-dollar company Elsevier, which are the rightsholders.

Elsevier previously convinced the courts that Sci-Hub is a force of evil. Many scientists, however, see it as an extremely useful tool. This was illustrated once again by a ‘letter to the editor’ Dr. Prasanna R Deshpande sent to the Journal of Health & Allied Sciences recently.

While Deshpande works at the Department of Clinical Pharmacy at Poona College of Pharmacy, his latest writing is entirely dedicated to copyright and Sci-Hub. In his published letter (no paywall), the researcher explains why a site such as Sci-Hub is important for the scientific community as a whole.

The Indian researcher points out that Sci-Hub’s main advantage is that it’s free of charge. This is particularly important for academics in developing countries, who otherwise don’t have the means to access crucial articles. Sci-Hub actually allows these people to carry out better research.

“A researcher generally has to pay some money ($30 or more per article on an average) for accessing the scholarly articles. However, the amount may not be ‘small’ for a researcher/research scholar, especially from a developing country,” Deshpande notes.

Aside from the cost issue, Sci-hub is often seen as more convenient as well. Many professors use the site and a recent survey found that it’s used to conduct research by 62.5% of all medical students across six countries in Latin America.

According to Deshpande, these and other arguments lead to the conclusion that Sci-Hub should be supported, at least until there is a good alternative.

“Reading updated knowledge is one of the essential parts of lifelong learning. Currently, Sci‑Hub is the only answer for this. Therefore, Sci‑Hub has various advantages because of which it should be supported,”
Deshpande concludes.

This is of course just the opinion of one researcher, but the web is riddled with similar examples. A simple Twitter search shows that many academics are sharing Sci-Hub links among each other, and some have even created dedicated websites to show some of the latest working Sci-Hub mirrors.

The major publishers are obviously not happy with this. Aside from lawsuits against Sci-Hub, they regularly send takedown notices to sites that link to infringing articles, including Google.

Recently Elsevier took it a step further by going after Citationsy, a tool that allows academics and researchers to manage citations and reference lists. The service previously published a blog post summing up some options for people to download free research articles.

This blog post also linked to Sci-Hub. Elsevier clearly didn’t like this, and sent its lawyer after Citationsy, requesting it to remove the link.

Citantionsy founder Cenk Özbakır initially wasn’t sure how to respond. Linking to a website isn’t necessarily copyright infringement. However, challenging a multi-billion dollar company on an issue like this is a battle that’s hard to win.

Eventually, Özbakır decided to remove it, pointing to a Google search instead. However, not without being rather critical of the move by Elsevier and its law firm Bird & Bird.

“I have of course taken down any links to Sci-Hub on Citationsy.com. @ElsevierLabs obviously thinks making money is more important than furthering science. Congratulations, @twobirds! We all now that the only thing this will achieve is less people reading papers,” Özbakır wrote on Twitter.

The ‘linking’ issue was later picked up by BoingBoing which also pointed out that many of Elsevier’s own publications include links to Sci-Hub, as we also highlighted in the past.

While not all researchers are unanimously backing Sci-Hub, it appears that this type of enforcement may not be the best way forward.

Pressuring people with cease and desist notices, filing lawsuits, and sending takedown notices certainly isn’t sustainable in the long term, especially if they target people in the academic community.

Perhaps Elsevier and other publishers should use the massive popularity of Sci-Hub as a signal that something is clearly wrong with what they are offering. Instead of trying to hide piracy by sweeping it under the rug, Elsevier could learn from it and adapt.

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

Disney and Charter Team Up on Piracy Mitigation

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/disney-and-charter-team-up-on-piracy-mitigation/

With roughly 22 million subscribers, Charter Communications is one of the largest Internet providers in the US.

The company operates under the Spectrum brand and offers a wide variety of services including TV and Internet access.

In an effort to provide more engaging content to its customers, this week Charter signed a major new distribution agreement with The Walt Disney Company.

The new partnership will provide the telco’s customers with access to popular titles in Disney’s services, including Hulu, ESPN+ and the yet-to-be-launched streaming service Disney+.

The fact that these giant companies have teamed-up is a big deal, business-wise and for consumers. Most Spectrum subscribers will likely be pleased to have more options, but there may also be a subgroup that has concerns.

Away from the major headline, both companies also state that they have agreed to partner up on piracy mitigation.

“This agreement will allow Spectrum to continue delivering to its customers popular Disney content […] and will begin an important collaborative effort to address the significant issue of piracy mitigation,” says Tom Montemagno, EVP, Programming Acquisition for Charter.

The public press releases give no concrete details of what this “piracy mitigation” will entail. It does mention that the two companies will work together to “implement business rules” and address issues such as “unauthorized access and password sharing.”

TorrentFreak reached out to Charter for further details, but the company said that it’s not elaborating beyond the press release at this time.

The term “mitigating” suggests that both companies will actively work together to reduce piracy. This is interesting because Charter is currently caught up in a major piracy liability lawsuit in a US federal court in Colorado.

Earlier this year the Internet provider was sued by several music companies which argued that the company turned a blind eye to piracy by failing to terminate accounts of repeat infringers. In addition, Charter stands accused of willingly profiting from these alleged copyright infringements.

Charter’s new agreement with Disney suggests that there could be a more proactive anti-piracy stance going forward. One possibility might be a more strict repeat infringer policy but, without further details, it remains unclear what the “piracy mitigation” entails precisely.

In any case, it will be interesting to see how the two companies plan to put a dent in current piracy levels, and what that means for Charter customers.

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

YouTube Forbids Monetizing Short Music Clips Through Manual Content-ID Claims

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-forbids-monetizing-short-music-clips-through-manual-content-id-claims-100816/

Millions of people use YouTube to share their creations with the world, as commentary, entertainment, education, or for any other purpose they see fit.

In most cases, these videos remain online without any issues. However, for some creators, YouTube’s copyright enforcement is causing a mess, one that severely affects their day-to-day activities.

We’ve repeatedly covered problems with YouTube’s Content-ID system dating as far back as eight years ago. Most of these issues are the result of overbroad filters, often when YouTube finds a copyright match where it shouldn’t.

However, the problems go much deeper than random ‘bot’ mistakes. YouTube allows certain copyright holders to make “manual” Content-ID claims as well. This allows them to flag content that’s not caught by Content-ID. However, despite the fact that these claims are reviewed by a person, some are rather frivolous.

In some instances, it appears that just mentioning the title of an artist or song can result in a manual copyright claim, even though the audio itself isn’t used in the video.

After many YouTube creators bitterly complained about these types of abuse, which deprives them of revenue, YouTube is beginning to change its policies.

“One concerning trend we’ve seen is aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetized videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed,” the YouTube team explains.

Last month the video service took the first step by requiring copyright holders to provide timestamps for all manual claims, precisely identifying what they see as infringing. This week, the company goes a step further.

In an effort to create a fairer creator ecosystem, YouTube will soon forbid copyright holders from using the manual claiming process to monetize videos that feature short or unintentional music fragments.

This means, for example, that a three-second music clip in a longer video can no longer be claimed this way. The same would likely be true for a song that unintentionally plays in the background on a TV or radio.

The YouTube team notes that these additional changes are intended to improve fairness in the creator ecosystem. The company hopes that it will ultimately lead to fewer unfair and aggressive practices by some rightsholders.

In addition, the policy update also copes with a stick for rightsholders, which is relatively rare for YouTube. Those rightsholders who repeatedly violate the new policy can lose their manual Content-ID claiming rights.

“Once we start enforcement, copyright owners who repeatedly fail to adhere to these policies will have their access to Manual Claiming suspended,” YouTube writes.

While this change is a big step, it only impacts a relatively small number of claims. Automated Content-ID claims, which represent the vast majority, are not affected by the policy update.

In addition, copyright holders can still manually claim short or unintentional uses of their work. However, instead of taking the monetization option, they can choose to prevent any type of monetization of the video, or block it altogether.

It remains to be seen how happy video creators will be with this new policy once it goes into effect mid-September. In theory, the result could see more videos get blocked, as YouTube recognizes.

“We acknowledge that these changes may result in more blocked content in the near-term, but we feel this is an important step toward striking the right balance over the long-term. Our goal is to unlock new value for everyone by powering creative reuse and content mashups, while fairly compensating all rightsholders,” the YouTube team concludes. 

Time will tell whether the changes have the intended effect, or if the current problems will persist.

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‘Google Blocked TorrentFreak From Appearing in Search Feature’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-blocked-torrentfreak-from-appearing-in-search-feature-190815/

At TorrentFreak, we have written hundreds of articles about website blocking and censorship. Today, we’re featured in one ourselves.

Leaked Google documents reveal that TorrentFreak.com shows up in one of Google’s previously unknown blocklists, which actively hides our domain from the Google Now service.

Google Now was a Google search feature that presented users with informational cards, to provide users with more details on subjects of interest to them. While the brand no longer exists, the feature is still present in the Google Android app and its feed.

The controversial blocklist is part of a treasure trove of files that were leaked by whistleblower Zachary Vorhies, who shared them with Project Veritas. The entire collection of files uncovers many previously unknown policies and actions from Google.

“These documents were available to every single employee within the company that was full-time. And so as a fulltime employee at the company, I just searched for some keywords and these documents started to pop up,” Vorhies said.

The Google Now blocklist, which is available here, contains nearly 500 domain names. The file starts with APKMirror, eBay and some Google sites, and then continues with several torrent related sites including The Pirate Bay, RARBG and EZTV, as well as some that no longer exist.

TorrentFreak.com is grouped in with the torrent sites. While the list doesn’t give a reason for the block, it appears that it’s related to the subject of piracy.

Torrent blocks

The list then continues with sites that are tagged due to having a “high user block rate.” These include quite a few conservative websites. As the description suggests, they may have been filtered because a lot of users block these sites.

Further down the list, there are also a dozen sites that are supposedly “flagged for peddling hoax stories.”

High user block rate

This isn’t the first Google leak story by Project Veritas. The outlet previously published internal Google documents about what it described as “algorithmic unfairness.”

Google obviously wasn’t happy with the leaks. The company reportedly sent a threatening letter to Vorhies after it uncovered his identity, and the San Fransisco police later visited the Google insider for a “mental health” check.

The turn of events triggered Vorhies to release the documents in public and step out of the shadows. In addition to sharing the information publicly, he also sent the data dump to the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

TorrentFreak is not able to independently verify the authenticity of the blocklist or any of the other materials that were leaked. It’s also not clear whether the list is up-to-date and still actively used.

We reached out to a Google spokesperson to find out more. including why our site appears on this list, but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

A full copy of all the leaked files, which also contains other documents about censorship, hiring practices, and psychological research, is accessible via Project Veritas. The site also published a detailed video interview with the whistleblower.

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

Ads on Pirate Sites Can Hurt Sales, Survey Finds

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ads-on-pirate-sites-can-hurt-sales-survey-finds-190814/

In recent years, various copyright holder groups embraced a “follow-the-money” approach in the hope of cutting off funding to so-called pirate sites.

Major copyright holder groups such as the RIAA and MPAA see this as an effective strategy. Their ultimate goal is to drain these infringing sites of their revenue.

Several voluntary initiatives have been set up to facilitate this process. This includes the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG), an anti-piracy certification program operated by giants including Amazon, Google, Facebook, Disney and Warner.

TAG’s goal is to get as many advertisers and advertising networks on board as possible, to effectively prevent ads from showing up on ‘dubious’ websites. This isn’t just so these companies can have a clear conscience. A new survey, conducted by TAG and Brand Safety Institute (BSI), suggests that it’s a wise business decision as well.

The survey in question polled 1,017 adults in the United States. These respondents were asked whether they believe that advertisers should prevent their ads from showing up on dubious sites. In addition, the survey asked whether they would buy less if they saw a brand’s ads on these sites.

The results of the survey, perhaps unsurprisingly, show that many people would like advertisers to prevent their ads from appearing on ‘dangerous’ sites. Hate speech, porn, and hacked sites were seen as most troublesome, and pirate sites follow at a distance, with 53% of the respondents urging advertisers to take action for this category.

When asked whether people would actually buy less should they encounter ads on such sites, the results are clear as well. Here, a new category of “terrorist training videos” tops the list, with 90% of the respondents stating that they would buy less. For piracy sites, this goes down to 82%.

Buy less? (image credit TAG)

While it’s clear that advertising on the wrong sites can lead to reputational damage and potentially fewer sales, it’s worth taking a closer look at the full survey results to provide some nuance.

When asked whether people would buy less after seeing ads on pirate sites, 18% actually said that they would buy the same amount. It wouldn’t be a surprise if this includes pretty much all the people who actually use these sites, and then some.

Conversely, the vast majority, if not all of the remaining 82% might never visit any pirate sites to begin with, so they won’t see the ads anyway.

However, Mike Zaneis, CEO of TAG and co-founder of BSI, stresses that their survey shows the danger of advertising on inappropriate sites. “This survey drives home the real and measurable risk to a company’s bottom line from a preventable brand safety crisis,” he says.

“While reputational harm can be hard to measure, consumers said that they plan to vote with their wallets if brands fail to take the necessary steps to protect their supply chain from risks such as hate speech, malware, and piracy.”

For TAG the results of the survey are a great promotional message. The organization would like to see more companies come aboard as members, which in increase its cash flow.

Becoming a certified TAG member is not cheap. The basic membership package starts at $10,000 and this can go up to 65,000 if an advertiser is accepted for the ‘Thought Leadership’ package. Advertising agencies and ‘ad tech’ companies can also join, with TAG requiring some to pay even more.

While several major brands are willing to pay these amounts in order to be on the safe side, not all are. Aside from the cost issue, some brands and ad agencies are actually not interested in banning ads on pirate sites.

As we pointed out in the past, there are also plenty of advertising outfits that still love to work with pirate sites. In fact, there are many advertisers and ad agencies that specifically target them.

DMCAForce is such a company. The CEO, Mark Bauman, previously explained that his company seeks solutions to keep both copyright holders and website operators happy.

Bauman said that his advertising company prefers not to ban or block any sites. It doesn’t want to reward piracy either but sees cooperation between site operators and copyright holders as a win-win.

At the end of the day, pirate site visitors are also consumers. While TAG’s survey is probably right that advertising on such sites will be frowned upon by the general public, one has to question whether the users of these sites share the same opinion.

In that regard, it’s worth noting that participants in the TAG survey couldn’t indicate that they would buy more after seeing ads on pirate sites. That may have provided some valuable extra insight.

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

Music Companies Accuse Cox of Gamesmanship, Asks Court for Sanctions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/music-companies-accuse-cox-of-gamesmanship-asks-court-for-sanctions-190813/

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.

Following this defeat, several major record labels including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music followed suit by filing a similar lawsuit in a Virginia District Court. With help from the RIAA, they also sued Cox for allegedly turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers.

According to the rightsholders, the Internet provider knew that some of its subscribers were frequently distributing copyrighted material, accusing the company of failing to take any meaningful action in response.

Over the past months, both parties have conducted discovery and the case is currently scheduled to go to trial in December. For a moment it appeared that things wouldn’t get that far. In June, both parties indicated that there were open to a settlement discussion which was scheduled to take place in Court last week.

While the music companies and the ISP both agreed to the hearing, Cox canceled it two days in advance, with its attorney stating that his client does not believe the settlement discussions would be productive.

This cancellation didn’t go down well with the music companies. In a status report, they now complain about Cox’s behavior. According to the filing, several of the music company representatives incurred traveling costs and one person was already in the air at the time the hearing was canceled.

The music companies don’t buy the ISP’s explanation either. They say nothing has changed since Cox agreed to the settlement discussions several weeks ago.

“Between the final pretrial conference and Cox’s unilateral cancelation yesterday, absolutely nothing had happened between the parties to justify Cox’s about-face,” the plaintiffs inform the court.

“Had Cox taken this process seriously, it would have known long before yesterday that it thought settlement discussions would not be productive. Instead, Cox misled the Court and Plaintiffs for more than six weeks, forcing both to expend resources and distract from other important matters,” they add.

According to the music companies, Cox is deliberately delaying and obstructing the case. In the status report, they accuse the Internet provider of gamesmanship.

“Throughout the case, Cox has demonstrated a consistent pattern of obstruction, delay and gamesmanship. Plaintiffs thus have concern that Cox’s approach to the settlement conference was just a ruse to distract Plaintiffs at a critical time. In discovery, Cox took absurd positions, objecting to basic discovery,” they write.

Taken together, Cox’s actions deserve a sanction from the court, the music companies argue. While they haven’t submitted a formal motion for sanctions, they point out that this situation warrants one.

“The Court has broad discretion to enter sanctions pursuant to its inherent authority, including without the formality of a motion. This situation clearly calls for it,” the music companies conclude.

If the court doesn’t wish to take any actions of its own accord, the music companies are willing to submit a formal request for sanctions. However, they note that this would only be an added distraction to them.

Whether Cox is sanctioned or not, it is clear that both parties are not on speaking terms at the moment. That will only raise the tension leading up to the forthcoming trial.

A copy of the status report, filed by the music companies, is available here (pdf).

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Bell and Rogers to Request ‘Pirate’ Site Blocking Order in Canada

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bell-and-rogers-to-request-pirate-site-blocking-order-in-canada-190812/

Last year, a coalition of copyright holders and major players in the telco industry asked the Canadian Government to institute a national pirate site blocking scheme.

The Fairplay coalition argued that such measures would be required to effectively curb online piracy. Canada’s telco regulator CRTC reviewed the request but eventually denied the application, noting that it lacks jurisdiction.

While the denial came as a setback, the main players pushing for site blocking are not letting the matter go easily. Bell and Rogers, two of the main proponents of the mechanism, later tried to get a blocking regime instituted through the planned revision of the Copyright Act.

Thus far there are no signs that they’re getting what they want, but there is another path to site-blocking that the two companies, together with Groupe TVA, are about to explore.

Last month we reported on a lawsuit the three companies filed against the operators of ‘pirate’ IPTV service operating from the domain names GoldTV.ca and GoldTV.biz. The companies argued that the service provides access to their TV content without licenses or authorization.

“The GoldTV.biz Service provides unauthorized access to hundreds (if not thousands) of live television channels and video-on-demand content,” the complaint filed at the Federal Court reads.

Among other things, the companies requested an interim injunction to stop the operator(s), who remain unidentified, from continuing to offer the allegedly-infringing IPTV service. This request was reviewed by the Federal Court in Ontario, which granted it late last week.

According to Justice Catherine Kane, the telecom companies would suffer “irreparable harm” if the two GoldTV sites were to continue.

The interim order will remain in place until a final determination of the claims is made. Among other things, the operator(s) are forbidden from operating, maintaining, promoting, or selling any infringing services, including GoldTV.

While the copyright holders are likely to be happy with this preliminary ruling, the follow-up step may prove to be even more interesting. According to The Wire, the copyright holders will move for a website blocking order next month.

This order, which they plan to formally request in September, will request various ISPs including Bell Media, Eastlink, Cogeco Inc., Rogers’ Fido, Shaw Communications Inc., TekSavvy Solutions Inc., Telus Corp., and Videotron to block the GoldTV sites.

To our knowledge, this will be the first time that these companies have requested a pirate site blocking order in Canada. Interestingly, several of the ISPs that are targeted are connected to the copyright holders. As such, it is unlikely that there will be any protests from their side.

However, other ISPs, such as Techsavvy, may object to the requested order, if it’s formally submitted. This could then turn into a test case for court-ordered pirate site blockades in Canada.

The question remains, however, if the rightsholders will push through with their request. While GoldTV.ca was still operational yesterday, the site has now become unreachable. The same is true for GoldTV.biz, which doesn’t load either. That said, both sites could of course reappear.

It is clear, however, that after requests to get a blocking regime instated through the CRTC, Bell, Rogers, and others are now considering filing a blocking order through the court. And if they are successful, more will likely follow.

A two-day hearing on the GoldTV case is currently scheduled for September 11/12, and we will likely hear more after that.

A copy of the interim injunction that was issued by the Federal Court last week is available here (pdf).

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Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 08/12/19

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-most-pirated-movies-of-the-week-on-bittorrent-08-12-19/

This week we have four newcomers in our chart.

Aladdin 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(…)Aladdin7.3 / trailer
2(…)The Hustle5.3 / trailer
3(1)Avengers: Endgame8.7 / trailer
4(…)Brightburn6.2 / trailer
5(…)Rocketman7.6 / trailer
6(5)Alita: Battle Angel7.5 / trailer
7(2)The Red Sea Diving Resort6.4 / trailer
8(3)Godzilla: King of the Monsters6.5 / trailer
9(4)Hellboy5.3 / trailer
10(6)Shazam!7.3 / trailer

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

Rightsholders Remove Google Results of Legal Search Engine ‘JustWatch’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/rightsholders-remove-google-results-of-legal-search-engine-justwatch/

The entertainment industries have gone head to head with Google over the past years, demanding tougher anti-piracy measures from the search engine.

Ideally, several industry groups would like Google to completely remove pirate sites from its search results. In addition, they argue that the search engine should boost the rankings of legal services and sites that allow the public to find legal content.

JustWatch is one of these legal options. While it doesn’t offer any content itself, it provides a great search tool for people who want to find legal entertainment on dozens of services. As such, it is widely recommended by industry insiders.

When Fox alerts ISPs and hosting companies of alleged pirates, for example, it specifically recommends JustWatch as a good starting point.

“We encourage you to refer your account holder to the website justwatch.com where they will find an array of legal choices,” Fox notes.

Given this reputation, it’s rather unfortunate that copyright holders repeatedly ask Google to remove JustWatch URLs from its search engine. While these requests are likely made in error, the result is that these companies make it harder for people to find legal alternatives.

Take this copyright infringement notice from anime producer Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) for example. The takedown request, directed at Google, lists dozens of infringing URLs, as well as two from JustWatch.

Takedown notice

While KBS probably identified these URLs by mistake, thinking that JustWatch is a pirate site, Google did in fact take action. As a result, the site’s official page of “The King’s Face” is no longer showing up in the search results.

“In response to a complaint that we received under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint that caused the removal(s) at LumenDatabase.org,” Google explains.

JustWatch removed…

This isn’t an isolated incident either. Since the start of this year, Google has been asked to remove more than a hundred JustWatch URLs. These notices are attributed to a variety of rightsholders, including KBS, CJ, AMC Networks, Zee Entertainment, and Toei Animation.

In the example given earlier, as well as several other instances, the links have been removed. However, Google also managed to prevent some takedowns, including this one AMC sent for “Fear The Walking Dead.”

What’s clear, however, is that many JustWatch links are no longer appearing in Google’s search results. While this is unlikely to be intentional, it is rather unfortunate, especially since rightsholders themselves have asked Google to promote such services.

Perhaps it’s a good idea to prevent these clear errors, before demanding Google to “do more”?

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‘Copyright Troll’ Files Over 1,000 Piracy Lawsuits in Half a Year

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-files-over-1000-piracy-lawsuits-in-half-a-year/

While most piracy activity has shifted to streaming in recent years, US courts are still overloaded with BitTorrent related lawsuits.

This phenomenon, often dubbed as copyright trolling, started roughly a decade ago and remains ongoing.

The process is fairly simple. Rightsholders file complaints against “John Does,” who are initially only known by an IP-address. They then request a subpoena to obtain the subscriber details from the associated ISP, which are then used to request a settlement.

This ‘revenue’ model has been widely criticized and increasingly courts have become more reserved as well. Last year, there was an important Appeals Court ruling which clarified that rightsholders need “something more” than an IP-address alone, to make their case.

Nonetheless, the traditional boilerplate complaints are far from over. This week we decided to take a look at the number of file-sharing lawsuits filed in the first half of 2019. This showed that one company has been particularly active.

The adult entertainment production company Strike 3 Holdings, which distributes its adult videos via the Blacked, Tushy, and Vixen websites, takes the crown. In the first six months of this year, it filed 1,071 complaints. That’s up from last year when it filed 976 new cases in the same period.

Strike 3 filings

The second most litigious rightsholder is Malibu Media, another adult entertainment outfit. The company, known for its X-Art brand, has been an established player in US courts for a few years. During the first half of 2019 it filed 337 new cases, which is down from 681 last year.

Aside from the two adult companies, there were also some regular movie companies active. Hunter Killer Productions, for example, filed 25 cases, Bodyguard Productions was good for 16, and LHF Productions added three new complaints.

All filers have been active in previous years as well, so there aren’t any surprises on that front.

While there have been slightly fewer cases than in the first half of 2018, this year has already surpassed the total number of piracy lawsuits that were filed in 2017, which were little over 1,000. Whether last year’s record high of more than 3,300 new cases will be broken, has yet to be seen.

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

RIAA: Ebay and Amazon Sell a Lot of Copyright Infringing Music

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-ebay-and-amazon-sell-a-lot-of-copyright-infringing-music-190809/

Responding to a request from the US Department of Commerce, the RIAA submitted its views on several copyright infringement matters.

Specifically, it informed the Government about counterfeit and pirated goods that pass through online third-party marketplaces, and what can be done about that.

The music group sent a letter that encourages the Government to take action where possible. For example, by encouraging online platforms to share names and contact information of possible infringers.

In addition, the Government can also clarify when online intermediaries should be held liable for acts carried out by sellers of counterfeit and pirated goods.

When it comes to piracy and e-commerce platforms, the RIAA believes that any such changes should apply to mobile, Kodi or browser apps, and to the storefronts that distribute them. This refers to pirate apps on mobile stores, but also devices that are sold through Amazon and eBay.

“As online commerce goes increasingly mobile and distributed, there shouldn’t be different rules that apply to apps that can access the Internet via any connected device, as opposed to just the traditional website,” the RIAA writes.

When it comes to counterfeit goods, the RIAA is particularly concerned with large platforms that sell unauthorized music recordings. These counterfeit products are sold very frequently by large retailers, the music group explains.

This year, the RIAA conducted two studies into the sale of counterfeit music. For the first, it made various tests buys on Amazon and eBay, focusing on current and evergreen album titles released by major U.S. record labels.

This revealed that a significant portion of the CDs on these platforms are unauthorized. This is also true for the CDs that were marked as “fulfilled by Amazon.”

“The study showed that 16% of the CDs purchased via eBay were counterfeit, and 11% of the CDs purchased via Amazon were counterfeit. Alarmingly, 25% of the purchased CDs that were ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ were counterfeit,” the RIAA writes.

In another study, the RIAA searched for “brand new” box sets of selected titles on eBay and AliExpress, and then bought the four lowest-priced box sets on each platform. The result, again, revealed that copyright infringement is rampant.

“On both eBay and AliExpress, 100% of the test buys of the box sets were counterfeit. This is of particular concern as box sets are premium physical music products designed for the superfan that often contain the most significant sound recordings in an artist’s repertoire,” the RIAA notes.

Where appropriate, platforms that willingly distribute copyright-infringing content should be held liable. At a minimum, these platforms should deter repeat infringers, the RIAA argues.

The music group hopes that the US Department of Commerce will take its findings and comments into account and come up with possible solutions to curb piracy and counterfeiting on online platforms.

A copy of the RIAA’s letter, providing input for the upcoming report on the state of counterfeit and pirated goods trafficking and recommendations, 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.

Torrent Mogul YTS is Being Sued By Yet Another Movie Company

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-mogul-yts-is-being-sued-by-yet-another-movie-company-190808/

This week many avid torrenters were taken by surprise when two of the largest pirate sites stopped adding fresh content.

Both EZTV.io and YTS.lt didn’t have any new torrents for several days. This unusual hiatus, which eventually ended a few hours ago, remains unexplained thus far.

While some were ready to call the end of the sites, it’s more likely that they were hit by some kind of technical hiccup. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no other issues behind the scenes at the moment.

As we reported earlier, YTS has already been hit by two separate complaints filed by movie companies in US courts this year. While it may not be directly related to this week’s problems, another lawsuit has just been added to this growing list.

In a complaint filed at a Hawaii federal court, Wicked Nevada, the company behind the biographical thriller “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” accuses the site of contributing to widespread copyright infringement of the film.

In addition to going after the site’s unnamed operator, the lawsuit also targets 16 “John Does” who are accused of downloading and sharing a copy of the movie that was uploaded by YTS. These “Does” are subscribers of ISPs Spectrum, Hawaiian Telcom and Verizon.

“Defendant JOHN DOE has made the torrent file ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile (2019) [WEBRip] [720p] [YTS.AM]’ available to users in Hawaii such as Defendants DOES 1-16, the United States and the entire World to download from its interactive YTS website,” the complaint reads.

The complaint displays a lot of similarities with the lawsuits that were filed earlier. For example, it mentions that the YTS.lt domain was registered by the now-dissolved UK company Techmodo Limited. In addition, it mentions that the torrent site uses the services of a variety of US-based companies.

Cloudflare, for example, is mentioned as a hosting and nameserver provider. The movie company used this US connection to obtain a subpoena and find out more about the alleged operator of the torrent site. This revealed that the Cloudflare account in question was logged into by AT&T, Spectrum, and Verizon Wireless IP-addresses.

Whether these IP-addresses have anything to do with the operator remains a question, of course, as this person could also have used an IP-obfuscation tool such as Hola, which routes traffic over the IP-addresses of other people. That would actually make sense, as the account was also logged into by a VPN IP-address and from the TOR network.

“Defendant JOHN DOE further uses the Virtual Private Network provider London Trust Media (Colorado) and even the Onion Router exit relays of the US Naval Research Labs in Washington, DC and an individual in Texas to conceal its login records to its Cloudflare account when operating the interactive websites,” the complaint reads.

With the lawsuit, the movie company hopes to recoup some of its alleged losses. It accuses the YTS operator and its users of contributory and direct copyright infringement, while tagging on a claim of intentional inducement against the former.

Wicked Nevada also requests an injunction to stop the defendants’ infringing activities and to prevent third-party intermediaries such as hosting companies, domain registrars, and search engines, from facilitating access to the YTS domains. Ultimately, the company hopes to shut the site down.

Again, these claims are very similar to those made in the previously filed cases against YTS.

All in all, the three lawsuits make YTS the most sued pirate site in the US that we know of. It’s worth noting that all these cases are filed in the state of Miami by the same attorney, Kerry Culpepper, who represents quite a few movie outfits.

It’s not entirely clear to us what the reason is for filing separate lawsuits, as these companies could also bundle their powers. However, with every added lawsuit, the rightsholders may believe that they are getting closer to the operator.

This week, Wicked Nevada requested two new ex-parte motions for a subpoena. These motions are sealed, so we don’t know which companies it targets, but it will likely be another effort to obtain more information.

That brings us back to the issues YTS and EZTV faced over the past several days. While we can only speculate at this point, it’s possible that the legal pressure caused the sites, which may be interconnected, to lose a hosting provider. That could explain the temporary lack of new content.

For now, however, we can only speculate. That said, with YTS being the most visited torrent site on the Internet, the lawsuits are well worth keeping a close eye on.

A copy of the complaint filed by Wicked Nevada at the US District Court for the District of Hawaii is available here (pdf).

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