Tag Archives: 2013

EU Piracy Report Suppression Raises Questions Over Transparency

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eu-piracy-report-suppression-raises-questions-transparency-170922/

Over the years, copyright holders have made hundreds of statements against piracy, mainly that it risks bringing industries to their knees through widespread and uncontrolled downloading from the Internet.

But while TV shows like Game of Thrones have been downloaded millions of times, the big question (one could argue the only really important question) is whether this activity actually affects sales. After all, if piracy has a massive negative effect on industry, something needs to be done. If it does not, why all the panic?

Quite clearly, the EU Commission wanted to find out the answer to this potential multi-billion dollar question when it made the decision to invest a staggering 360,000 euros in a dedicated study back in January 2014.

With a final title of ‘Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU’, the completed study is an intimidating 307 pages deep. Shockingly, until this week, few people even knew it existed because, for reasons unknown, the EU Commission decided not to release it.

However, thanks to the sheer persistence of Member of the European Parliament Julia Reda, the public now has a copy and it contains quite a few interesting conclusions. But first, some background.

The study uses data from 2014 and covers four broad types of content: music,
audio-visual material, books and videogames. Unlike other reports, the study also considered live attendances of music and cinema visits in the key regions of Germany, UK, Spain, France, Poland and Sweden.

On average, 51% of adults and 72% of minors in the EU were found to have illegally downloaded or streamed any form of creative content, with Poland and Spain coming out as the worst offenders. However, here’s the kicker.

“In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements,” the study notes.

“That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect.”

For a study commissioned by the EU with huge sums of public money, this is a potentially damaging conclusion, not least for the countless industry bodies that lobby day in, day out, for tougher copyright law based on the “fact” that piracy is damaging to sales.

That being said, the study did find that certain sectors can be affected by piracy, notably recent top movies.

“The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally,” the study notes.

“People do not watch many recent top films a second time but if it happens, displacement is lower: two legal consumptions are displaced by every ten illegal second views. This suggests that the displacement rate for older films is lower than the 40 per cent for recent top films. All in all, the estimated loss for recent top films is 5 per cent of current sales volumes.”

But while there is some negative effect on the movie industry, others can benefit. The study found that piracy had a slightly positive effect on the videogames industry, suggesting that those who play pirate games eventually become buyers of official content.

On top of displacement rates, the study also looked at the public’s willingness to pay for content, to assess whether price influences pirate consumption. Interestingly, the industry that had the most displaced sales – the movie industry – had the greatest number of people unhappy with its pricing model.

“Overall, the analysis indicates that for films and TV-series current prices are higher than 80 per cent of the illegal downloaders and streamers are willing to pay,” the study notes.

For other industries, where sales were not found to have been displaced or were positively affected by piracy, consumer satisfaction with pricing was greatest.

“For books, music and games, prices are at a level broadly corresponding to the
willingness to pay of illegal downloaders and streamers. This suggests that a
decrease in the price level would not change piracy rates for books, music and
games but that prices can have an effect on displacement rates for films and
TV-series,” the study concludes.

So, it appears that products that are priced fairly do not suffer significant displacement from piracy. Those that are priced too high, on the other hand, can expect to lose some sales.

Now that it’s been released, the findings of the study should help to paint a more comprehensive picture of the infringement climate in the EU, while laying to rest some of the wild claims of the copyright lobby. That being said, it shouldn’t have taken the toils of Julia Reda to bring them to light.

“This study may have remained buried in a drawer for several more years to come if it weren’t for an access to documents request I filed under the European Union’s Freedom of Information law on July 27, 2017, after having become aware of the public tender for this study dating back to 2013,” Reda explains.

“I would like to invite the Commission to become a provider of more solid and timely evidence to the copyright debate. Such data that is valuable both financially and in terms of its applicability should be available to everyone when it is financed by the European Union – it should not be gathering dust on a shelf until someone actively requests it.”

The full study can be downloaded here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

What the NSA Collects via 702

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/09/what_the_nsa_co.html

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage writes about some bad statistics we’re all using:

Among surveillance legal policy specialists, it is common to cite a set of statistics from an October 2011 opinion by Judge John Bates, then of the FISA Court, about the volume of internet communications the National Security Agency was collecting under the FISA Amendments Act (“Section 702”) warrantless surveillance program. In his opinion, declassified in August 2013, Judge Bates wrote that the NSA was collecting more than 250 million internet communications a year, of which 91 percent came from its Prism system (which collects stored e-mails from providers like Gmail) and 9 percent came from its upstream system (which collects transmitted messages from network operators like AT&T).

These numbers are wrong. This blog post will address, first, the widespread nature of this misunderstanding; second, how I came to FOIA certain documents trying to figure out whether the numbers really added up; third, what those documents show; and fourth, what I further learned in talking to an intelligence official. This is far too dense and weedy for a New York Times article, but should hopefully be of some interest to specialists.

Worth reading for the details.

A Million ‘Pirate’ Boxes Sold in the UK During The Last Two Years

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/a-million-pirate-boxes-sold-in-the-uk-during-the-last-two-years-170919/

With the devices hitting the headlines on an almost weekly basis, it probably comes as no surprise that ‘pirate’ set-top boxes are quickly becoming public enemy number one with video rightsholders.

Typically loaded with the legal Kodi software but augmented with third-party addons, these often Android-based pieces of hardware drag piracy out of the realm of the computer savvy and into the living rooms of millions.

One of the countries reportedly most affected by this boom is the UK. The consumption of these devices among the general public is said to have reached epidemic proportions, and anecdotal evidence suggests that terms like Kodi and Showbox are now household terms.

Today we have another report to digest, this time from the Federation Against Copyright Theft, or FACT as they’re often known. Titled ‘Cracking Down on Digital Piracy,’ the report provides a general overview of the piracy scene, tackling well-worn topics such as how release groups and site operators work, among others.

The report is produced by FACT after consultation with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Intellectual Property Office, Police Scotland, and anti-piracy outfit Entura International. It begins by noting that the vast majority of the British public aren’t involved in the consumption of infringing content.

“The most recent stats show that 75% of Brits who look at content online abide by the law and don’t download or stream it illegally – up from 70% in 2013. However, that still leaves 25% who do access material illegally,” the report reads.

The report quickly heads to the topic of ‘pirate’ set-top boxes which is unsurprising, not least due to FACT’s current focus as a business entity.

While it often positions itself alongside government bodies (which no doubt boosts its status with the general public), FACT is a private limited company serving The Premier League, another company desperate to stamp out the use of infringing devices.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to argue with some of the figures cited in the report.

“At a conservative estimate, we believe a million set-top boxes with software added
to them to facilitate illegal downloads have been sold in the UK in the last couple
of years,” the Intellectual Property Office reveals.

Interestingly, given a growing tech-savvy public, FACT’s report notes that ready-configured boxes are increasingly coming into the country.

“Historically, individuals and organized gangs have added illegal apps and add-ons onto the boxes once they have been imported, to allow illegal access to premium channels. However more recently, more boxes are coming into the UK complete with illegal access to copyrighted content via apps and add-ons already installed,” FACT notes.

“Boxes are often stored in ‘fulfillment houses’ along with other illegal electrical items and sold on social media. The boxes are either sold as one-off purchases, or with a monthly subscription to access paid-for channels.”

While FACT press releases regularly blur the lines when people are prosecuted for supplying set-top boxes in general, it’s important to note that there are essentially two kinds of products on offer to the public.

The first relies on Kodi-type devices which provide on-going free access to infringing content. The second involves premium IPTV subscriptions which are a whole different level of criminality. Separating the two when reading news reports can be extremely difficult, but it’s a hugely important to recognize the difference when assessing the kinds of sentences set-top box suppliers are receiving in the UK.

Nevertheless, FACT correctly highlights that the supply of both kinds of product are on the increase, with various parties recognizing the commercial opportunities.

“A significant number of home-grown British criminals are now involved in this type of crime. Some of them import the boxes wholesale through entirely legal channels, and modify them with illegal software at home. Others work with sophisticated criminal networks across Europe to bring the boxes into the UK.

“They then sell these boxes online, for example through eBay or Facebook, sometimes managing to sell hundreds or thousands of boxes before being caught,” the company adds.

The report notes that in some cases the sale of infringing set-top boxes occurs through cottage industry, with suppliers often working on their own or with small groups of friends and family. Invetiably, perhaps, larger scale operations are reported to be part of networks with connections to other kinds of crime, such as dealing in drugs.

“In contrast to drugs, streaming devices provide a relatively steady and predictable revenue stream for these criminals – while still being lucrative, often generating hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, they are seen as a lower risk activity with less likelihood of leading to arrest or imprisonment,” FACT reports.

While there’s certainly the potential to earn large sums from ‘pirate’ boxes and premium IPTV services, operating on the “hundreds of thousands of pounds a year” scale in the UK would attract a lot of unwanted attention. That’s not saying that it isn’t already, however.

Noting that digital piracy has evolved hugely over the past three or four years, the report says that the cases investigated so far are just the “tip of the iceberg” and that many other cases are in the early stages and will only become known to the public in the months and years ahead.

Indeed, the Intellectual Property Office hints that some kind of large-scale enforcement action may be on the horizon.

“We have identified a significant criminal business model which we have discussed and shared with key law enforcement partners. I can’t go into detail on this, but as investigations take their course, you will see the scale,” an IPO spokesperson reveals.

While details are necessarily scarce, a source familiar with this area told TF that he would be very surprised if the targets aren’t the growing handful of commercial UK-based IPTV re-sellers who offer full subscription TV services for a few pounds per month.

“They’re brazen. Watch this space,” he said.

FACT’s full report, Cracking Down on Digital Piracy, can be downloaded here (pdf)

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

UK Copyright Trolls Cite Hopeless Case to Make People Pay Up

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-copyright-trolls-cite-hopeless-case-to-make-people-pay-up-170916/

Our coverage of Golden Eye International dates back more than five years. Much like similar companies in the copyright troll niche, the outfit monitors BitTorrent swarms, collects IP addresses, and then heads off to court to obtain alleged pirates’ identities.

From there it sends letters threatening legal action, unless recipients pay a ‘fine’ of hundreds of pounds to settle an alleged porn piracy case. While some people pay up, others refuse to do so on the basis they are innocent, the ISP bill payer, or simply to have their day in court. Needless to say, a full-on court battle on the merits is never on the agenda.

Having gone quiet for an extended period of time, it was assumed that Golden Eye had outrun its usefulness as a ‘fine’ collection outfit. Just lately, however, there are signs that the company is having another go at reviving old cases against people who previously refused to pay.

A post on Slyck forums, which runs a support thread for people targeted by trolls, reveals the strategy.

“I dealt with these Monkeys last year. I spent 5 weeks practically arguing with them. They claim they have to prove it based on the balance of probability’s [sic]. I argue that they actually have to prove it was me,” ‘Matt’ wrote in August.

“It wasn’t me, and despite giving them reasonable doubt it wasn’t me. (I’m Gay… why would I be downloading straight porn?) They still persuaded it, trying to dismiss anything that cast any doubt on their claim. The emails finished how I figured they would…. They were going to send court documentation. It never arrived.”

After months of silence, at the end of August this year ‘Matt’ says GoldenEye got in touch again, suggesting that a conclusion to another copyright case might encourage him to cough up. He says that Golden Eye contacted him saying that someone settled out of court with TCYK, another copyright troll, for £1,000.

“My thoughts…Idiots and doubt it,” ‘Matt’ said. “Honestly, I almost cried I thought I had got rid of these trolls and they are back for round two.”

This wasn’t an isolated case. Another recipient of a Golden Eye threat also revealed getting contacted by the company, also with fresh pressure to pay.

“You may be interested to know that a solicitor, acting on behalf of Robert Kemble in a claim similar to ours but brought by TCYK LLC, entered into an agreement to settle the court case by paying £1,000,” Golden Eye told the individual.

“In view of the agreement reached in the Kemble case, we would invite you to reconsider your position as to whether you would like to reach settlement with us. We would point out, that, despite the terms of settlement in the Kemble case, we remain prepared to stand by our original offer of settlement with you, that is payment of £500.00.”

After last corresponding with the Golden Eye in January after repeated denials, new contact from the company would be worrying for anyone. It certainly affected this person negatively.

“I am now at a loss and don’t know what more I can do. I do not want to settle this, but also I cannot afford a solicitor. Any further advice would be gratefully appreciated as [i’m] now having panic attacks,” the person wrote.

After citing the Robert Kemble case, one might think that Golden Eye would be good enough to explain the full situation. They didn’t – so let’s help them a little bit in that respect, to help their targets make an informed decision.

Robert Kemble was a customer of Sky Broadband. TCYK, in conjunction with UK-based Hatton and Berkeley, sent a letter to Kemble in July 2015 asking him to pay a ‘fine’ for alleged Internet piracy of the Robert Redford movie The Company You Keep, way back in April 2013.

So far, so ordinary – but here’s the big deal.

Unlike the people being re-targeted by Golden Eye this time around, Kemble admitted in writing that infringement had been going on via his account.

In a response, Kemble told TCYK that he was shocked to receive their letter but after speaking to people in his household, had discovered that a child had been downloading films. He didn’t say that the Redford film was among them but he apologized to the companies all the same. Clearly, that wasn’t going to be enough.

In August 2015, TCYK wrote back to Kemble, effectively holding him responsible for other people’s actions while demanding a settlement of £600 to be paid to third-party company, Ranger Bay Limited.

“The child who is responsible for the infringement should sign the undertakings in our letter to you. Please when replying specify clearly on the undertakings the child’s full name and age,” the company later wrote. Nice.

What took place next was a round of letter tennis between Kemble’s solicitor and those acting for TCYK, with the latter insisting that Kemble had already admitted infringement (or authorizing the same) and demanding around £2000 to settle the case at this later stage.

With no settlement forthcoming, TCYK demanded £5,000 in the small claims court.

“The Defendant has admitted that his internet address has been used to infringe the Claimant’s copyright whereby, through the Defendant’s licencees’ use of the Defendant’s internet address, he acquired the Work and then communicated the Work in a digital form via the internet to the public without the license or consent of the Claimant,” the TCYK claim form reads.

TorrentFreak understands that the court process that followed didn’t center on the merits of the infringement case, but procedural matters over how the case was handled. On this front, Kemble failed in his efforts to have the case – which was heard almost a year ago – decided in his favor.

Now, according to Golden Eye at least, Kemble has settled with TCYK for £1000, which is just £300 more than their final pre-court offer. Hardly sounds like good value for money.

The main point, though, is that this case wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near a court if Kemble hadn’t admitted liability of sorts in the early stages. This is a freak case in all respects and has no bearing on anyone’s individual case, especially those who haven’t admitted liability.

So, for people getting re-hounded by Golden Eye now, remember the Golden Rule. If you’re innocent, by all means tell them, and stick to your guns. But, at your peril tell them anything else on top, or risk having it used against you.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Съд на ЕС: такси, събирани от организация за колективно управление на авторски права и злоупотреба с господстващо положение

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/okup/

На 14 септември 2017  Съдът на ЕС се произнесе по дело  C‑177/16 с предмет преюдициално запитване, отправено на основание член 267 ДФЕС от Augstākā tiesa Administratīvo lietu departaments (Върховен съд, административно отделение, Латвия) в рамките на производство по дело Autortiesību un komunicēšanās konsultāciju aģentūra / Latvijas Autoru apvienība срещу Konkurences padome.

Преюдициалното запитване се отнася до тълкуването на член 102, втора алинея, буква а) ДФЕС.

AKKA/LAA е организация за колективно управление на авторски права върху музикални произведения и е единствената организация в Латвия, оправомощена да издава срещу заплащане лицензии за публичното представяне на музикални произведения, по отношение на които управлява авторските права. Тя събира такси, от които се изплащат възнаграждения на притежатели на авторски права.

Съветът по конкуренцията налага на AKKA/LAA глоба за злоупотреба с господстващо положение поради прилагането на прекомерно високи тарифи. Впоследствие AKKA/LAA приема нови тарифи,  по отношение на които Съветът по конкуренция започва  нова проверка. Съветът по конкуренцията сравнява таксите, които са в сила в около двадесет други държави от ЕС  и установява, че тарифите в Латвия надхвърлят с 50 %—100 % равнището на прилаганите в другите държави. По-специално, за търговски обекти или центрове за услуги с площ от 85,5 m² до около 140 m² прилаганите тарифи били по-високи само в Румъния.

Като приема, че таксите, които са в сила в Латвия, не са справедливи в сегментите, където те са чувствително по-високи отколкото в Естония и Литва, с решение от 2 април 2013 г. Съветът по конкуренцията налага на AKKA/LAA глоба в размер на 45 645,83 LVL (латвийски лата) (около 32 080 EUR) за злоупотреба с господстващо положение. Съветът по конкуренцията изчислява размера на посочената глоба въз основа на оборота на AKKA/LAA.

В условия на съдебен спор Върховният съд, административно отделение  решава да спре производството и да постави на Съда следните преюдициални въпроси:

„1)      Прилага ли се член 102, [втора алинея, буква a) от [ДФЕС] в спор относно тарифите, установени от национална организация за управление на авторски права, ако тази организация събира и такси за произведения на чуждестранни автори и установените от нея тарифи могат да препятстват ползването на тези произведения в съответната държава членка?

2)      Целесъобразно и достатъчно ли е — и съответно в кои случаи — с оглед на определянето на използваното в член 102, [втора алинея, буква a) ] ДФЕС понятие за несправедливи цени в областта на управление на авторските и сродните им права да се прави сравнение между цените (тарифите) на съответния пазар и цените (тарифите) на съседните пазари?

3)      Целесъобразно и достатъчно ли е с оглед на определянето на използваното в член 102, [втора алинея, буква а)] ДФЕС понятие за несправедливи цени в областта на управление на авторските и сродните им права да се използва основаният на брутния вътрешен продукт коефициент на паритетите на покупателната способност?

4)      Трябва ли да се прави сравнение на тарифите във всеки отделен техен сегмент или спрямо средното равнище на тарифите?

5)      Кога трябва да се счита, че разликата между тарифите, разглеждани за целите на използваното в член 102, [втора алинея, буква а)] ДФЕС понятие за несправедливи цени, е толкова значителна, че икономическият оператор, който има господстващо положение, трябва да докаже, че тарифите му са справедливи?

6)      Каква информация разумно може да се очаква от икономически оператор, за да докаже справедливия характер на тарифите по отношение на защитените с авторски права произведения в обхвата на член 102, [втора алинея, буква а)] ДФЕС, ако разходите за тези произведения не могат да се определят по същия начин като при продукти с материален характер? Става ли въпрос само за административните разходи на организацията за управление на авторски права?

7)      В случай на нарушение на конкурентното право целесъобразно ли е за целите на определянето на глобата от оборота на организация за управление на авторски права да се изключат платените от този икономически оператор възнаграждения на авторите?“.

Както се вижда, въпросите са сходни с възникващите и у нас съмнения за злоупотреба с господстващо положение поради прилагането на прекомерно високи тарифи, поради което решението е интересно и за местните дружества  и лицензополучатели.

Съдът

Търговията между държавите  може да бъде засегната от равнището на таксите, определени от организация за управление на авторски права, която има монопол и която управлява и правата на чуждестранни притежатели на права, поради което член 102 ДФЕС може да се приложи.

Злоупотребата с господстващо положение по смисъла на посочения член може обаче да се състои в прилагането на прекомерно високи цени, които не са разумни с оглед на икономическата стойност на предоставяната услуга. Как да се установи евентуално прекомерният характер на дадена цена?

Ако сравнителният метод покаже значителни разлики с другите държави, това е индикация за злоупотреба с господстващо положение – но при определени условия. В случая анализът обхваща 20 държави  – но не може да се твърди, че не е достатъчно представителен, защото не обхваща всички държави от ЕС, зависи:  не може да има минимален брой пазари, които да бъдат сравнявани, а изборът на подходящи сходни пазари зависи от конкретните обстоятелства във всеки отделен случай. Запитващата юрисдикция трябва да провери спозването на определени условия. Следователно за да се провери дали дадена организация за управление на авторските права прилага несправедливи цени по смисъла на член 102, втора алинея, буква a) ДФЕС, е целесъобразно посочените тарифи да се сравнят с приложимите в съседните държави, както и с приложимите в други държави членки, коригирани с коефициента ППС, при условие че референтните държави са били избрани съобразно обективни, подходящи и подлежащи на проверка критерии и че основата за сравнение е една и съща. Допустимо е да се сравняват прилаганите тарифи в един или повече отделни сегменти на използващите лица, ако има индиции, че прекомерният характер на таксите засяга тези сегменти.

Кога се приема, че разликата между сравняваните тарифи е чувствителна? Съдът казва, че разликата трябва да е значителна и трайнада продължава да съществува през определен период, а не да е временна или епизодична. Все пак разликата е само индиция, организацията за управление на авторските права има възможността да обоснове разликата, като посочи обективни различия между ситуацията в съответната държава членка и преобладаващата във всички останали държави членки ситуация  –  става дума за фактори, които оказват влияние върху разходите за управление или върху възнаграждението на притежателите на права (ако има такива).

Последният въпрос е за определянето на размера на глобата. Санкцията трябва да е ефективна, пропорционална и възпираща.  Предоставяните от AKKA/LAA услуги се състоят в събирането на такси, от които се изплащат възнаграждения на авторите на музикални произведения. Според Съда за целите на определянето на размера на глобата възнагражденията, предназначени за притежателите на права, трябва да се включат в оборота на съответната организация за управление на авторските права, при условие че тези възнаграждения са част от стойността на предоставените от тази организация услуги и включването им е необходимо, за да се гарантира ефективният, пропорционален и възпиращ характер на наложената санкция. Запитващата юрисдикция следва да провери с оглед на всички обстоятелства на конкретния случай дали посочените условия са изпълнени.

 

 

Filed under: EU Law, Media Law Tagged: съд на ес

Founder of Fan-Made Subtitle Site Convicted for Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/founder-of-subtitle-site-convicted-for-copyright-infringement-170914/

Every day millions of people enjoy fan-made subtitles. They help foreigners understand English-speaking entertainment and provide the deaf with a way to comprehend audio.

Quite often these subtitles are used in combination with pirated files. This is a thorn in the side to copyright holder groups, who see this as a threat to their business.

In Sweden, Undertexter was one of the leading subtitle resources for roughly a decade. The site allowed users to submit their own translated subtitles for movies and TV shows, which were then made available to the public.

In the summer of 2013, this reign came to an end after the site was pulled offline. Following pressure from Hollywood-based movie companies, police raided the site and seized its servers.

The raid and subsequent criminal investigation came as a surprise to the site’s founder, Eugen Archy, who didn’t think he or the site’s users were offering an illegal service.

“The people who work on the site don’t consider their own interpretation of dialog to be something illegal, especially when we’re handing out these interpretations for free,” he said at the time.

The arrest made it clear that the authorities disagreed. The Undertexter founder was prosecuted for distributing copyright-infringing subtitles, risking a possible prison sentence. While Archy was found guilty this week, luckily for him he remains a free man.

The Attunda District Court sentenced the now 32-year-old operator to probation. In addition, he has to pay 217,000 Swedish Kroner ($27,000), which will be taken from the advertising and donation revenues he collected through the site.

While there were millions of subtitles available on Undertexter, only 74 movies were referenced by the prosecution. These were carefully selected to ensure a strong case it seems, as many of the titles weren’t commercially available in Sweden at the time.

During the trial, the defense had argued that the fan-made subtitles are not infringing since movies are made up of video and sound, with subtitles being an extra. However, the court disagreed with this line of reasoning, the verdict shows.

While the copyright holders may have hoped for a heftier punishment, the ruling confirms that fan-made subtitles can be seen as copyright infringements. Prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson is satisfied with the outcome, IDG reports, but he will leave the option to appeal open for now.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

On the Equifax Data Breach

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/09/on_the_equifax_.html

Last Thursday, Equifax reported a data breach that affects 143 million US customers, about 44% of the population. It’s an extremely serious breach; hackers got access to full names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers — exactly the sort of information criminals can use to impersonate victims to banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, and other businesses vulnerable to fraud.

Many sites posted guides to protecting yourself now that it’s happened. But if you want to prevent this kind of thing from happening again, your only solution is government regulation (as unlikely as that may be at the moment).

The market can’t fix this. Markets work because buyers choose between sellers, and sellers compete for buyers. In case you didn’t notice, you’re not Equifax’s customer. You’re its product.

This happened because your personal information is valuable, and Equifax is in the business of selling it. The company is much more than a credit reporting agency. It’s a data broker. It collects information about all of us, analyzes it all, and then sells those insights.

Its customers are people and organizations who want to buy information: banks looking to lend you money, landlords deciding whether to rent you an apartment, employers deciding whether to hire you, companies trying to figure out whether you’d be a profitable customer — everyone who wants to sell you something, even governments.

It’s not just Equifax. It might be one of the biggest, but there are 2,500 to 4,000 other data brokers that are collecting, storing, and selling information about you — almost all of them companies you’ve never heard of and have no business relationship with.

Surveillance capitalism fuels the Internet, and sometimes it seems that everyone is spying on you. You’re secretly tracked on pretty much every commercial website you visit. Facebook is the largest surveillance organization mankind has created; collecting data on you is its business model. I don’t have a Facebook account, but Facebook still keeps a surprisingly complete dossier on me and my associations — just in case I ever decide to join.

I also don’t have a Gmail account, because I don’t want Google storing my e-mail. But my guess is that it has about half of my e-mail anyway, because so many people I correspond with have accounts. I can’t even avoid it by choosing not to write to gmail.com addresses, because I have no way of knowing if [email protected] is hosted at Gmail.

And again, many companies that track us do so in secret, without our knowledge and consent. And most of the time we can’t opt out. Sometimes it’s a company like Equifax that doesn’t answer to us in any way. Sometimes it’s a company like Facebook, which is effectively a monopoly because of its sheer size. And sometimes it’s our cell phone provider. All of them have decided to track us and not compete by offering consumers privacy. Sure, you can tell people not to have an e-mail account or cell phone, but that’s not a realistic option for most people living in 21st-century America.

The companies that collect and sell our data don’t need to keep it secure in order to maintain their market share. They don’t have to answer to us, their products. They know it’s more profitable to save money on security and weather the occasional bout of bad press after a data loss. Yes, we are the ones who suffer when criminals get our data, or when our private information is exposed to the public, but ultimately why should Equifax care?

Yes, it’s a huge black eye for the company — this week. Soon, another company will have suffered a massive data breach and few will remember Equifax’s problem. Does anyone remember last year when Yahoo admitted that it exposed personal information of a billion users in 2013 and another half billion in 2014?

This market failure isn’t unique to data security. There is little improvement in safety and security in any industry until government steps in. Think of food, pharmaceuticals, cars, airplanes, restaurants, workplace conditions, and flame-retardant pajamas.

Market failures like this can only be solved through government intervention. By regulating the security practices of companies that store our data, and fining companies that fail to comply, governments can raise the cost of insecurity high enough that security becomes a cheaper alternative. They can do the same thing by giving individuals affected by these breaches the ability to sue successfully, citing the exposure of personal data itself as a harm.

By all means, take the recommended steps to protect yourself from identity theft in the wake of Equifax’s data breach, but recognize that these steps are only effective on the margins, and that most data security is out of your hands. Perhaps the Federal Trade Commission will get involved, but without evidence of “unfair and deceptive trade practices,” there’s nothing it can do. Perhaps there will be a class-action lawsuit, but because it’s hard to draw a line between any of the many data breaches you’re subjected to and a specific harm, courts are not likely to side with you.

If you don’t like how careless Equifax was with your data, don’t waste your breath complaining to Equifax. Complain to your government.

This essay previously appeared on CNN.com.

EDITED TO ADD: In the early hours of this breach, I did a radio interview where I minimized the ramifications of this. I didn’t know the full extent of the breach, and thought it was just another in an endless string of breaches. I wondered why the press was covering this one and not many of the others. I don’t remember which radio show interviewed me. I kind of hope it didn’t air.

Digitising film reels with Pi Film Capture

Post Syndicated from Janina Ander original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/digitising-reels-pi-film-capture/

Joe Herman’s Pi Film Capture project combines old projectors and a stepper motor with a Raspberry Pi and a Raspberry Pi Camera Module, to transform his grandfather’s 8- and 16-mm home movies into glorious digital films.

We chatted to him about his Pi Film Capture build at Maker Faire New York 2016:

Film to Digital Conversion at Maker Faire New York 2016

Uploaded by Raspberry Pi on 2017-08-25.

What inspired Pi Film Capture?

Joe’s grandfather, Leo Willmott, loved recording home movies of his family of eight children and their grandchildren. He passed away when Joe was five, but in 2013 Joe found a way to connect with his legacy: while moving house, a family member uncovered a box of more than a hundred of Leo’s film reels. These covered decades of family history, and some dated back as far as 1939.

Super 8 film reels

Kodachrome film reels of the type Leo used

This provided an unexpected opportunity for Leo’s family to restore some of their shared history. Joe immediately made plans to digitise the material, knowing that the members of his extensive family tree would provide an eager audience.

Building Pi Film Capture

After a failed attempt with a DSLR camera, Joe realised he couldn’t simply re-film the movies — instead, he would have to capture each frame individually. He combined a Raspberry Pi with an old Super 8 projector, and set about rigging up something to do just that.

He went through numerous stages of prototyping, and his final hardware setup works very well. A NEMA 17 stepper motor  moves the film reel forward in the projector. A magnetic reed switch triggers the Camera Module each time the reel moves on to the next frame. Joe hacked the Camera Module so that it has a different focal distance, and he also added a magnifying lens. Moreover, he realised it would be useful to have a diffuser to ‘smooth’ some of the faults in the aged film reel material. To do this, he mounted “a bit of translucent white plastic from an old ceiling fixture” parallel with the film.

Pi Film Capture device by Joe Herman

Joe’s 16-mm projector, with embedded Raspberry Pi hardware

Software solutions

In addition to capturing every single frame (sometimes with multiple exposure settings), Joe found that he needed intensive post-processing to restore some of the films. He settled on sending the images from the Pi to a more powerful Linux machine. To enable processing of the raw data, he had to write Python scripts implementing several open-source software packages. For example, to deal with the varying quality of the film reels more easily, Joe implemented a GUI (written with the help of PyQt), which he uses to change the capture parameters. This was a demanding job, as he was relatively new to using these tools.

Top half of GUI for Pi Film Capture Joe Herman

The top half of Joe’s GUI, because the whole thing is really long and really thin and would have looked weird on the blog…

If a frame is particularly damaged, Joe can capture multiple instances of the image at different settings. These are then merged to achieve a good-quality image using OpenCV functionality. Joe uses FFmpeg to stitch the captured images back together into a film. Some of his grandfather’s reels were badly degraded, but luckily Joe found scripts written by other people to perform advanced digital restoration of film with AviSynth. He provides code he has written for the project on his GitHub account.

For an account of the project in his own words, check out Joe’s guest post on the IEEE Spectrum website. He also described some of the issues he encountered, and how he resolved them, in The MagPi.

What does Pi Film Capture deliver?

Joe provides videos related to Pi Film Capture on two sites: on his YouTube channel, you’ll find videos in which he has documented the build process of his digitising project. Final results of the project live on Joe’s Vimeo channel, where so far he has uploaded 55 digitised home videos.

m093a: Tom Herman Wedding, Detroit 8/10/63

Shot on 8mm by Leo Willmott, captured and restored by Joe Herman (Not a Wozniak film, but placed in that folder b/c it may be of interest to Hermans)

We’re beyond pleased that our tech is part of this amazing project, helping to reconnect the entire Herman/Willmott clan with their past. And it was great to be able to catch up with Joe, and talk about his build at Maker Faire last year!

Maker Faire New York 2017

We’ll be at Maker Faire New York again on the 23-24 September, and we can’t wait to see the amazing makes the Raspberry Pi community will be presenting there!

Are you going to be at MFNY to show off your awesome Pi-powered project? Tweet us, so we can meet up, check it out and share your achievements!

The post Digitising film reels with Pi Film Capture appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Russia Blocks 4,000 Pirate Sites Plus 41,000 Innocent as Collateral Damage

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocks-4000-pirate-sites-plus-41000-innocent-as-collateral-damage-170905/

After years of criticism from both international and local rightsholders, in 2013 the Russian government decided to get tough on Internet piracy.

Under new legislation, sites engaged in Internet piracy could find themselves blocked by ISPs, rendering them inaccessible to local citizens and solving the piracy problem. Well, that was the theory, at least.

More than four years on, Russia is still grappling with a huge piracy problem that refuses to go away. It has been blocking thousands of sites at a steady rate, including RuTracker, the country’s largest torrent platform, but still the problem persists.

Now, a new report produced by Roskomsvoboda, the Center for the Protection of Digital Rights, and the Pirate Party of Russia, reveals a system that has not only failed to reach its stated aims but is also having a negative effect on the broader Internet.

“It’s already been four years since the creation of this ‘anti-piracy machine’ in Russia. The first amendments related to the fight against ‘piracy’ in the network came into force on August 1, 2013, and since then this mechanism has been twice revised,” Roskomsvoboda said in a statement.

“[These include] the emergence of additional responsibilities to restrict access to network resources and increase the number of subjects who are responsible for removing and blocking content. Since that time, several ‘purely Russian’ trends in ‘anti-piracy’ and trade in rights have also emerged.”

These revisions, which include the permanent blocking of persistently infringing sites and the planned blocking of mirror sites and anonymizers, have been widely documented. However, the researchers say that they want to shine a light on the effects of blocking procedures and subsequent actions that are causing significant issues for third-parties.

As part of the study, the authors collected data on the cases presented to the Moscow City Court by the most active plaintiffs in anti-piracy actions (mainly TV show distributors and music outfits including Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music). They describe the court process and system overall as lacking.

“The court does not conduct a ‘triple test’ and ignores the position, rights and interests of respondents and third parties. It does not check the availability of illegal information on sites and appeals against decisions of the Moscow City Court do not bring any results,” the researchers write.

“Furthermore, the cancellation of the unlimited blocking of a site is simply impossible and in respect of hosting providers and security services, those web services are charged with all the legal costs of the case.”

The main reason behind this situation is that ‘pirate’ site operators rarely (if ever) turn up to defend themselves. If at some point they are found liable for infringement under the Criminal Code, they can be liable for up to six years in prison, hardly an incentive to enter into a copyright process voluntarily. As a result, hosts and other providers act as respondents.

This means that these third-party companies appear as defendants in the majority of cases, a position they find both “unfair and illogical.” They’re also said to be confused about how they are supposed to fulfill the blocking demands placed upon them by the Court.

“About 90% of court cases take place without the involvement of the site owner, since the requirements are imposed on the hosting provider, who is not responsible for the content of the site,” the report says.

Nevertheless, hosts and other providers have been ordered to block huge numbers of pirate sites.

According to the researchers, the total has now gone beyond 4,000 domains, but the knock on effect is much more expansive. Due to the legal requirement to block sites by both IP address and other means, third-party sites with shared IP addresses get caught up as collateral damage. The report states that more than 41,000 innocent sites have been blocked as the result of supposedly targeted court orders.

But with collateral damage mounting, the main issue as far as copyright holders are concerned is whether piracy is decreasing as a result. The report draws few conclusions on that front but notes that blocks are a blunt instrument. While they may succeed in stopping some people from accessing ‘pirate’ domains, the underlying infringement carries on regardless.

“Blocks create restrictions only for Internet users who are denied access to sites, but do not lead to the removal of illegal information or prevent intellectual property violations,” the researchers add.

With no sign of the system being overhauled to tackle the issues raised in the study (pdf, Russian), Russia is now set to introduce yet new anti-piracy measures.

As recently reported, new laws requiring search engines to remove listings for ‘pirate’ mirror sites comes into effect October 1. Exactly a month later on November 1, VPNs and anonymization tools will have to be removed too, if they fail to meet the standards required under state regulation.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Torrent Sites Suffer DDoS Attacks and Other Trouble

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-sites-suffer-ddos-attacks-and-other-trouble-170901/

It’s not uncommon for torrent sites to suffer downtime due to technical issues. That happens pretty much every day.

But when close to a dozen large sites go offline, people start to ask questions.

This is exactly what happened this week. As reported previously, The Pirate Bay was hard to reach earlier, after a surge of traffic and a subsequent DDoS attack overloaded its servers. And they were not alone.

TorrentFreak spoke to several torrent site admins who noticed an increase of suspicious traffic which slowed down or toppled their sites, at least temporarily. While most have recovered, some sites remain offline today.

TorrentProject.se, one of the most used torrent search engines, has been down for nearly three days now. The site currently shows a “403 Forbidden” error message. Whether this is a harmless technical issue, the result of a DDoS attack, or worse, is unknown.

TorrentFreak reached out to the owner of the site but we have yet to hear back.

403 error

Another site that appears to be in trouble is WorldWideTorrents. This site, which was started after the KAT shutdown last year, is a home to many comic book fans. However, over the past few days the site has become unresponsive.

Based on WHOIS data, the site’s domain name has been suspended. The name servers were changed to “suspended-domain.com,” which means that it’s unlikely to be reinstated. WorldWideTorrents will reportedly return with a new domain but which one is currently unknown.

Popular uploaders on the site such as Nemesis43, meanwhile, are still active on other sites.

WorldWireTorrents Whois

Then there’s also Isohunt.to, which has been unresponsive for over a week. The search engine, which launched in 2013 less than two weeks after isoHunt.com shut down, has now vanished itself.

With no word from the operators, we can only speculate what happened. The site has seen a sharp decline in traffic over the past year, so it could be that they simply lost interest.

Isohunt.to is not responding

Those who now search for IsoHunt on Google are instead pointed to isohunts.to, which is a scam site advising users to download a “binary client,” which is little more than an ad.

The above shows that the torrent ecosystem remains vulnerable. DDoS attacks and domain issues are nothing new, but after the shutdown of KAT, Torrentz, Extratorrent, and other giants, the remaining sites have to carry a larger burden.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-failure-stats-q2-2017/

Backblaze Drive Stats Q2 2017

In this update, we’ll review the Q2 2017 and lifetime hard drive failure rates for all our current drive models. We also look at how our drive migration strategy is changing the drives we use and we’ll check in on our enterprise class drives to see how they are doing. Along the way we’ll share our observations and insights and as always we welcome your comments and critiques.

Since our last report for Q1 2017, we have added 635 additional hard drives to bring us to the 83,151 drives we’ll focus on. In Q1 we added over 10,000 new drives to the mix, so adding just 635 in Q2 seems “odd.” In fact, we added 4,921 new drives and retired 4,286 old drives as we migrated from lower density drives to higher density drives. We cover more about migrations later on, but first let’s look at the Q2 quarterly stats.

Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017

We’ll begin our review by looking at the statistics for the period of April 1, 2017 through June 30, 2017 (Q2 2017). This table includes 17 different 3 ½” drive models that were operational during the indicated period, ranging in size from 3 to 8 TB.

Quarterly Hard Drive Failure Rates for Q2 2017

When looking at the quarterly numbers, remember to look for those drives with at least 50,000 drive hours for the quarter. That works out to about 550 drives running the entire quarter. That’s a good sample size. If the sample size is below that, the failure rates can be skewed based on a small change in the number of drive failures.

As noted previously, we use the quarterly numbers to look for trends. So this time we’ve included a trend indicator in the table. The “Q2Q Trend” column is short for quarter-to-quarter trend, i.e. last quarter to this quarter. We can add, change, or delete trend columns depending on community interest. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Good Migrations

In Q2 we continued with our data migration program. For us, a drive migration means we intentionally remove a good drive from service and replace it with another drive. Drives that are removed via migrations are not counted as failed. Once they are removed they stop accumulating drive hours and other stats in our system.

There are three primary drivers for our migration program.

  1. Increase Storage Density – For example, in Q3 we replaced 3 TB drives with 8 TB drives, more than doubling the amount of storage in a given Storage Pod for the same footprint. The cost of electricity was nominally more with the 8 TB drives, but the increase in density more than offset the additional cost. For those interested you can read more about the cost of cloud storage here.
  2. Backblaze Vaults – Our Vault architecture has proven to be more cost effective over the past two years than using stand-alone Storage Pods. A major goal of the migration program is to have the entire Backblaze cloud deployed on the highly efficient and resilient Backblaze Vault architecture.
  3. Balancing the Load – With our Phoenix data center online and accepting data, we have migrated some systems to the Phoenix DC. Don’t worry, we didn’t put your data on a truck and drive it to Phoenix. We simply built new systems there and transferred the data from our Northern California DC. In the process, we are gaining valuable insights as we move towards being able to replicate data between the two data centers.
During Q2 we migrated nearly 30 Petabytes of data.

During Q2 we migrated the data on 155 systems, giving nearly 30 petabytes of data a new, more durable, place to call home. There are still 644 individual Storage Pods (Storage Pod Classics, as we call them) left to migrate to the Backblaze Vault architecture.

Just in case you don’t know, a Backblaze Vault is a logical collection of 20 beefy Storage Pods (not Classics). Using our own Reed-Solomon erasure coding library, data is spread out across the 20 Pods into 17 data shards and 3 parity shards. The data and parity shards of each arriving data blob can be stored on different Storage Pods in a given Backblaze Vault.

Lifetime Hard Drive Failure Rates for Current Drives

The table below shows the failure rates for the hard drive models we had in service as of June 30, 2017. This is over the period beginning in April 2013 and ending June 30, 2017. If you are interested in the hard drive failure rates for all the hard drives we’ve used over the years, please refer to our 2016 hard drive review.

Cumulative Hard Drive Failure Rates

Enterprise vs Consumer Drives

We added 3,595 enterprise class 8 TB drives in Q2 bringing our total to 6,054 drives. You may be tempted to compare the failure rates of the 8 TB enterprise drive (model: ST8000NM005) to the consumer 8 TB drive (model: ST8000DM002), and conclude the enterprise drives fail at a higher rate. Let’s not jump to that conclusion yet, as the average operational age of the enterprise drives is only 2.11 months.

There are some insights we can gain from the current data. The enterprise drives have 363,282 drives hours and an annualized failure rate of 1.61%. If we look back at our data, we find that as of Q3 2016, the 8 TB consumer drives had 422,263 drive hours with an annualized failure rate of 1.60%. That means that when both drive models had a similar number of drive hours, they had nearly the same annualized failure rate. There are no conclusions to be made here, but the observation is worth considering as we gather data for our comparison.

Next quarter, we should have enough data to compare the 8 TB drives, but by then the 8TB drives could be “antiques.” In the next week or so, we’ll be installing 12 TB hard drives in a Backblaze Vault. Each 60-drive Storage Pod in the Vault would have 720 TB of storage available and a 20-pod Backblaze Vault would have 14.4 petabytes of raw storage.

Better Late Than Never

Sorry for being a bit late with the hard drive stats report this quarter. We were ready to go last week, then this happened. Some folks here thought that was more important than our Q2 Hard Drive Stats. Go figure.

Drive Stats at the Storage Developers Conference

We will be presenting at the Storage Developers Conference in Santa Clara on Monday September 11th at 8:30am. We’ll be reviewing our drive stats along with some interesting observations from the SMART stats we also collect. The conference is the leading event for technical discussions and education on the latest storage technologies and standards. Come join us.

The Data For This Review

If you are interested in the data from the two tables in this review, you can download an Excel spreadsheet containing the two tables. Note: the domain for this download will be f001.backblazeb2.com.

You also can download the entire data set we use for these reports from our Hard Drive Test Data page. You can download and use this data for free for your own purposes. All we ask are three things: 1) you cite Backblaze as the source if you use the data, 2) you accept that you are solely responsible for how you use the data, and 3) you do not sell this data to anyone. It is free.

Good luck, and let us know if you find anything interesting.

The post Hard Drive Stats for Q2 2017 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Steal This Show S03E07: ‘Connecting The Counterculture’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/steal-show-s03e07-connecting-counterculture/

stslogo180If you enjoy this episode, consider becoming a patron and getting involved with the show. Check out Steal This Show’s Patreon campaign: support us and get all kinds of fantastic benefits!

In this episode, we meet Steve Phillips of The Pursuance Project. Pursuance is a new tool for organising activists and journalists online which springs directly from the work of journalist Barrett Brown and Barrett’s experience handling the Stratfor HBGary leaks around 2012-2013, which resulted in him going to prison.

We discuss the tech behind the Panama Papers and Snowden leaks, the details behind the HB Gary leaks, how Steve was inspired by the story of Anonymous’ first big online hit and how organizational tools are the new frontier online – whether for corporate teams or activist groups.

Steal This Show aims to release bi-weekly episodes featuring insiders discussing copyright and file-sharing news. It complements our regular reporting by adding more room for opinion, commentary, and analysis.

The guests for our news discussions will vary, and we’ll aim to introduce voices from different backgrounds and persuasions. In addition to news, STS will also produce features interviewing some of the great innovators and minds.

Host: Jamie King

Guest: Steve Phillips

Produced by Jamie King
Edited & Mixed by Riley Byrne
Original Music by David Triana
Web Production by Siraje Amarniss

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Пушенето е вредно във всичките си форми, но явно не това е темата сега

Post Syndicated from Боян Юруков original https://yurukov.net/blog/2017/pusheneto-e-vredno/

В последната седмица един трагичен инцидент между деца изведнъж изтегли забраните за пушене и по-специално наргилетата на дневен ред. Темата колко вредни са те стана централна, което лесно може да се забележи по търсенията в интернет – Google показва двойно увеличение на търсенията на „наргиле“, а на места като София – дори тройно и четворно.

Забелязах сериозен интерес към две мои статии – увеличение с няколко хиляди посещения само за няколко дни. Първата статия е от 2008-ма, където правя прост тест с хартия и прахосмукачка, за да покажа каква мръсотия се гълта от една цигара и едно цяло наргиле. Именно този тест ме накара да се разровя в изследванията по темата и през 2013-та обобщих няколко от тях. Преди няколко дни блогът за наука 6nine също писа за подобни изследвания показващи аналогични резултати.

Изводите са ясни – вреда има при всяко пушене, но да се сравняват цигари и наргилета е просто глупаво. Както писах преди 4 години, вредата от наргилетата зависи много от използвания тютюн, типа наргиле, приготвянето, стила и продължителността на пушене и прочие. При цигарите има стандартизиране и тестовете са много по-лесни, но и там има разминавания. Изследванията ясно показват, че никотина при наргилетата е доста по-малък, а от там и пристрастяването. В същото време обаче карцерогенните вещества може да са много повече дори в най-добрия случай.

Сериозен недостатък при наргилетата е липсата на следене на качеството на тютюните, както и това колко лесно може да се приготви грешно наргилето. Съдейки по многото мейли и коментари под статиите ми за приготвяне на наргилета от преди 10 години, въпросът „защо наргилето е толкова тежко“ се среща притеснително често. Всъщност, именно заради тези ми статии в последните дни започнах да получавам странни съобщения защо съм бил подтиквал „младите“ към това „развращаващо нещо“.

Истината е, че има много митове за наргилетата и те са заради липсата на информация. Тютюнът не трябва да гори, а да се топи или пече, за да не излиза толкова сажди и въглероден монооксид. Наргилетата наистина са вредни. Водата не пречиства пушека от веществата – иначе нямаше да има какъвто и да е вкус. Водата наистина маха някои от едрите сажди и катрани, но доста все пак се вдишват. Истинската работа на водата е да изстудява пушека. Тя дори би добавяла мръсотии, ако не се сменя често и наргилето не се чисти. Всичко това съм описал в статиите си преди толкова много години. В никакъв случай, че са безвредни.

Целият дебат, който се завъртя около темата, обаче ме учудва. Никой никъде не е поставял под въпрос, че деца не бива да пушат наргиле или каквото и да е друго. Това обаче се прави от години насам и никой не контролира продажбата както на самите наргилета, така и на тютюна на деца. Бил съм свидетел как без проблем ученици взимат такива като подарък. Също така, пушенето на наргилета някак остана встрани от дебата за забраната за пушене на публични места. Отново – масово се пуши в заведения както цигари, така и наргилета. Ефектът на проверките е по-скоро пожелателен. Данни за това пуснах през февруари.

Законодатели и журналисти обаче се засилиха бързо към новия скандал. Започнаха изказвания как наргилетата са били 100 пъти по-вредни от цигарите, че са едва ли не новият наркотик за младите и прочие. Отново, никой не спори за вредата, но нито сравнението е възможно, нито проблемът е нов, нито изисква нови мерки – просто адекватното прилагане на вече съществуващите. За това обаче не може и да става дума, тъй като би навредило на бизнеса на едни определени структури в държавата. Предполагам, че затова се залита толкова по сензационни „разкрития“ вместо да се говори за нуждата от работещ регулатор в лицето на РЗИ и някакъв поне адекватен съдебен контрол над системните нарушители.

Без това всичко изговорено в последната седмица е безсмислено. Всички „спешни“ мерки за един масов феномен в последните 10 години са просто популизъм без реална цел как да се подобрят нещата. Не крия, че пуша наргиле с удоволствие, макар в последните години откакто се роди дъщеря ми да не съм пушил почти. Подкрепям изцяло забраната за пушене и подавам винаги сигнали, когато видя да се нарушава. Писал съм много и за другите опити за лобизъм и изместване на проблемът с цигарите. Пушенето от непълнолетни винаги е било забранено и независимо какво се пуши, проблемът е липсата на работещи институции. Именно за това трябва да говорим, а не да изкарваме цигарите едва ли не безвредни в сравнение. Явно обаче не това е целта сега.

Pirates Leak Copy of Kim Dotcom Documentary Online

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirates-leak-copy-of-kim-dotcom-documentary-online-170824/

In recent years, we have writen dozens of articles on Kim Dotcom, Megaupload’s shutdown, and all the intrigue surrounding the case.

It’s a story worth documenting and not just in writing. This is what the people behind the documentary Kim Dotcom: Caught in the Web realized as well.

With cooperation from the mastermind behind the defunct file-sharing site, they made a thrilling documentary that captures the essence of the story, which is far from over.

This week the film was released to the wider public, made available for sale on various online platforms including iTunes and Amazon Prime. Thus far things are going well, with the movie making its way into various top charts, including a second place in the iTunes documentary category.

However, if we believe entertainment industry rhetoric, this meteoric rise will soon be all over.

Earlier today the first pirated copies of “Caught in The Web” started to appear online. It is widely available on The Pirate Bay, for example, and shows up on various other “pirate” download and streaming sites as well.

The leaked documentary

Leaks happen every day, and this one’s not any different. That being said, people who followed the Dotcom saga may appreciate the irony, since Megaupload was a popular destination for pirates as well. So, a chunk of the site’s former users probably prefers to grab a free version. To sample, of course.

This is especially true for those who hit several roadblocks in trying to access the film from official outlets. Over the past few days, some people complained that “Caught in the Web” isn’t legally available through their preferred legal channel due to geographical restrictions.

Dotcom, still accused by the US Government of depriving copyright holders of $500 million in one of the country’s largest copyright infringement cases, responded appropriately when a Twitter follower pointed this out.

Not available

“They are wondering why people are pirating? If you’re willing to pay but you can’t find it legally, why is it your or my fault?” he wrote.

“If the Megaupload documentary is only available in the US iTunes store then I totally understand if you download or stream it elsewhere,” Dotcom added in another tweet.

The documentary is available in more countries, but not in all Amazon or iTunes stores. So, with the sympathy of the documentary’s main subject, people with no legal alternatives don’t have to feel as bad when they choose to pirate it instead.

That doesn’t make it less illegal, of course, but we doubt that the makers will actively pursue people for it.

Meanwhile, the people who were tasked with distributing the film may want to have another chat with Kim Dotcom. In recent years he has repeatedly sent out a concise list of tips on how to stop piracy.

Worth a read.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit Secures Funding Until 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-intellectual-property-crime-unit-secures-funding-until-2019-170823/

When compared to the wide range of offenses usually handled by the police, copyright infringement is a relatively rare offense.

Historically most connected to physical counterfeiting, in recent years infringement has regularly featured a significant online component.

Formed four years ago and run by the City of London Police, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has a mission to tackle IP crime wherever it may take place but with a special online focus. It is tightly linked to the music, movie, and publishing industries so can most often be viewed protecting their products from infringement.

PIPCU announced its arrival in the summer of 2013 and officially launched a few months later in December 2013, complete with £2.56million in funding from the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). However, the unit had been already in operation for some time, writing warning letters to torrent and streaming site advising them to shut down – or else.

PIPCU’s initial funding secured the future of the unit until June 2015 but in October 2014, well in advance of that deadline, PIPCU secured another £3m from the IPO to fund the unit to September 2017.

Having received £5.56 million in public funds over three years, PIPCU needed to show some bang for its buck. As a result, the unit publicised numerous actions including streaming arrests, attempted domain seizures, torrent site closures and advertising disruptions. PIPCU also shut down several sports streaming and ebook sites plus a large number of proxies

With August 2017 already upon us, PIPCU should be officially out of funds in a month’s time but according to the Law Gazette, the unit is going nowhere.

An Intellectual Property Office (IPO) spokesperson told the publication that PIPCU has received £3.32m in additional funding from the government which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019 – the unit’s sixth anniversary.

Much of PIPCU’s more recent activity appears to have been focused in two key areas, both operated under its ‘Operation Creative’ banner. The first concerns PIPCU’s Infringing Website List, which aims to deter advertisers from inadvertently finding ‘pirate’ sites.

Earlier this year, PIPCU claimed success after revealing a 64% drop in “mainstream advertising” revenue on 200 unauthorized platforms between January 2016 and January 2017. More recently, PIPCU revealed that gambling advertising, which is often seen on ‘pirate’ platforms, had reduced by 87% on IWL sites over the previous 12 months.

Finally, PIPCU has been taking action alongside local police forces, FACT, Sky, Virgin, BT, and The Premier League, against suppliers of so-called ‘fully loaded’ set-top boxes, many featuring Kodi bundled with illicit third party addons. However, after a fairly sustained initial flurry, the last publicized operation was in February 2017.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Spinrilla Refuses to Share Its Source Code With the RIAA

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/spinrilla-refuses-to-share-its-source-code-with-the-riaa-170815/

Earlier this year, a group of well-known labels targeted Spinrilla, a popular hip-hop mixtape site and accompanying app with millions of users.

The coalition of record labels including Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, and Universal Music Group, filed a lawsuit accusing the service of alleged copyright infringements.

Both sides have started the discovery process and recently asked the court to rule on several unresolved matters. The parties begin with their statements of facts, clearly from opposite angles.

The RIAA remains confident that the mixtape site is ripping off music creators and wants its operators to be held accountable.

“Since Spinrilla launched, Defendants have facilitated millions of unauthorized downloads and streams of thousands of Plaintiffs’ sound recordings without Plaintiffs’ permission,” RIAA writes, complaining about “rampant” infringement on the site.

However, Spinrilla itself believes that the claims are overblown. The company points out that the RIAA’s complaint only lists a tiny fraction of all the songs uploaded by its users. These somehow slipped through its Audible Magic anti-piracy filter.

Where the RIAA paints a picture of rampant copyright infringement, the mixtape site stresses that the record labels are complaining about less than 0.001% of all the tracks they ever published.

“From 2013 to the present, Spinrilla users have uploaded about 1 million songs to Spinrilla’s servers and Spinrilla published about 850,000 of those. Plaintiffs are complaining that 210 of those songs are owned by them and published on Spinrilla without permission,” Spinrilla’s lawyers write.

“That means that Plaintiffs make no claim to 99.9998% of the songs on Spinrilla. Plaintiffs’ shouting of ‘rampant infringement on Spinrilla’, an accusation that Spinrilla was designed to allow easy and open access to infringing material, and assertion that ‘Defendants have facilitated millions of unauthorized downloads’ of those 210 songs is untrue – it is nothing more than a wish and a dream.”

The company reiterates that it’s a platform for independent musicians and that it doesn’t want to feature the Eminem’s and Bieber’s of this world, especially not without permission.

As for the discovery process, there are still several outstanding issues they need the Court’s advice on. Spinrilla has thus far produced 12,000 pages of documents and answered all RIAA interrogatories, but refuses to hand over certain information, including its source code.

According to Spinrilla, there is no reason for the RIAA to have access to its “crown jewel.”

“The source code is the crown jewel of any software based business, including Spinrilla. Even worse, Plaintiffs want an ‘executable’ version of Spinrilla’s source code, which would literally enable them to replicate Spinrilla’s entire website. Any Plaintiff could, in hours, delete all references to ‘Spinrilla,’ add its own brand and launch Spinrilla’s exact website.

“If we sued YouTube for hosting 210 infringing videos, would I be entitled to the source code for YouTube? There is simply no justification for Spinrilla sharing its source code with Plaintiffs,” Spinrilla adds.

The RIAA, on the other hand, argues that the source code will provide insight into several critical issues, including Spinrilla’s knowledge about infringing activity and its ability to terminate repeat copyright infringers.

In addition to the source code, the RIAA has also requested detailed information about the site’s users, including their download and streaming history. This request is too broad, the mixtape site argues, and has offered to provide information on the uploaders of the 210 infringing tracks instead.

It’s clear that the RIAA and Spinrilla disagree on various fronts and it will be up to the court to decide what information must be handed over. So far, however, the language used clearly shows that both parties are far from reaching some kind of compromise.

The first joint discovery statement is available in full here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Foxtel Targets 128 Torrent & Streaming Domains For Blocking Down Under

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/foxtel-targets-128-torrent-streaming-domains-for-blocking-down-under-170808/

In 2015, Australia passed controversial legislation which allows ‘pirate’ sites located on servers overseas to be blocked at the ISP level.

“These offshore sites are not operated by noble spirits fighting for the freedom of the internet, they are run by criminals who profit from stealing other people’s creative endeavors,” commented then Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein.

Before, during and after its introduction, Foxtel has positioned itself as a keen supporter of the resulting Section 115a of the Copyright Act. And in December 2016, with the law firmly in place, it celebrated success after obtaining a blocking injunction against The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound and isoHunt.

In May, Foxtel filed a new application, demanding that almost 50 local ISPs block what was believed to be a significant number of ‘pirate’ sites not covered by last year’s order.

Today the broadcasting giant was back in Federal Court, Sydney, to have this second application heard under Section 115a. It was revealed that the application contains 128 domains, each linked to movie and TV piracy.

According to ComputerWorld, the key sites targeted are as follows: YesMovies, Vumoo, LosMovies, CartoonHD, Putlocker, Watch Series 1, Watch Series 2, Project Free TV 1, Project Free TV 2, Watch Episodes, Watch Episode Series, Watch TV Series, The Dare Telly, Putlocker9.is, Putlocker9.to, Torlock and 1337x.

The Foxtel application targets both torrent and streaming sites but given the sample above, it seems that the latter is currently receiving the most attention. Streaming sites are appearing at a rapid rate and can even be automated to some extent, so this battle could become extremely drawn out.

Indeed, Justice Burley, who presided over the case this morning, described the website-blocking process (which necessarily includes targeting mirrors, proxies and replacement domains) as akin to “whack-a-mole”.

“Foxtel sees utility in orders of this nature,” counsel for Foxtel commented in response. “It’s important to block these sites.”

In presenting its application, Foxtel conducted live demonstrations of Yes Movies, Watch Series, 1337x, and Putlocker. It focused on the Australian prison drama series Wentworth, which has been running on Foxtel since 2013, but also featured tests of Game of Thrones.

Justice Burley told the court that since he’s a fan of the series, a spoiler-free piracy presentation would be appreciated. If the hearing had taken place a few days earlier, spoilers may have been possible. Last week, the latest episode of the show leaked onto the Internet from an Indian source before its official release.

Justice Burley’s decision will be handed down at a later date, but it’s unlikely there will be any serious problems with Foxtel’s application. After objecting to many aspects of blocking applications in the past, Australia’s ISPs no longer appear during these hearings. They are now paid AU$50 per domain blocked by companies such as Foxtel and play little more than a technical role in the process.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

Font Maker Sues Universal Music Over ‘Pirated’ The Vamps Logo

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/font-maker-sues-universal-music-over-pirated-the-vamps-logo-170802/

Piracy comes in all shapes and sizes. While record labels regularly see themselves as victims, they can sometimes cross the line as well.

According to HypeForType, which designs, creates, and licenses various custom fonts, this is exactly what record label Universal Music Group did.

The font maker has filed a lawsuit accusing the major label of using its “Nanami Rounded” and “Ebisu Bold” fonts without permission.

The lawsuit centers around fonts used for the logo and merchandise of the popular British band The Vamps. According to a complaint, filed in a New York federal court, Universal failed to obtain a proper license for its use, so they are essentially using pirated fonts.

According to the complaint, designer Stuart Hardie did purchase a basic license in 2013. However, Universal itself hasn’t bought the additional and required license upgrade to use the Nanami Rounded or Ebisu Bold Font Software on a commercial scale.

“Plaintiff requires a license upgrade (‘Special Font License’) for use of its typeface font software in commercial, for-profit usage including, inter alia, on goods for sale,” the complaint reads.

“Upon information and belief, Defendant has used and/or caused others to use unauthorized copies of the Font Software in the creation of The Vamps goods for sale, including, inter alia, clothing, accessories, DVDs, and CDs,” it adds.

HypeForType says that unauthorized use of its font has caused the company significant damages, which it wants to recoup. In addition, the font maker claims any gains and profits Universal made using its fonts.

“At present, the amount of such damages, gains, profits, and advantages cannot be fully ascertained by Plaintiff but are believed to be not less than $1,251,235 together with prejudgment interest and reasonable costs and fees or Statutory Damages under Copyright Law, whichever is greater.”

On top of the damages, HypeForType also requests an injunction preventing Universal, and thus The Vamps, from using the fonts without a proper license. They also want all existing materials, including merchandise, to be destroyed.

While it seems unlikely that The Vamps will stop using their existing logo anytime soon, a substantial settlement might be warranted, if the copyright infringement claims hold up in court. But then again, that’s only fair when you’re ‘stealing’ someone’s work.

—-

A copy of HypeForType’s complaint is available here (pdf).

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

NSA Collects MS Windows Error Information

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/08/nsa_collects_ms.html

Back in 2013, Der Spiegel reported that the NSA intercepts and collects Windows bug reports:

One example of the sheer creativity with which the TAO spies approach their work can be seen in a hacking method they use that exploits the error-proneness of Microsoft’s Windows. Every user of the operating system is familiar with the annoying window that occasionally pops up on screen when an internal problem is detected, an automatic message that prompts the user to report the bug to the manufacturer and to restart the program. These crash reports offer TAO specialists a welcome opportunity to spy on computers.

When TAO selects a computer somewhere in the world as a target and enters its unique identifiers (an IP address, for example) into the corresponding database, intelligence agents are then automatically notified any time the operating system of that computer crashes and its user receives the prompt to report the problem to Microsoft. An internal presentation suggests it is NSA’s powerful XKeyscore spying tool that is used to fish these crash reports out of the massive sea of Internet traffic.

The automated crash reports are a “neat way” to gain “passive access” to a machine, the presentation continues. Passive access means that, initially, only data the computer sends out into the Internet is captured and saved, but the computer itself is not yet manipulated. Still, even this passive access to error messages provides valuable insights into problems with a targeted person’s computer and, thus, information on security holes that might be exploitable for planting malware or spyware on the unwitting victim’s computer.

Although the method appears to have little importance in practical terms, the NSA’s agents still seem to enjoy it because it allows them to have a bit of a laugh at the expense of the Seattle-based software giant. In one internal graphic, they replaced the text of Microsoft’s original error message with one of their own reading, “This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine.” (“Sigint” stands for “signals intelligence.”)

The article talks about the (limited) value of this information with regard to specific target computers, but I have another question: how valuable would this database be for finding new zero-day Windows vulnerabilities to exploit? Microsoft won’t have the incentive to examine and fix problems until they happen broadly among its user base. The NSA has a completely different incentive structure.

I don’t remember this being discussed back in 2013.

EDITED TO ADD (8/6): Slashdot thread.