Tag Archives: Addons

Неделя, 3 Юни 2018

Post Syndicated from georgi original http://georgi.unixsol.org/diary/archive.php/2018-06-03

Всеки има нужда да бъде спасен от свинщината, наречена “реклама” във
всичките и форми. За хората с компютър и бразуер, това отдавна е решен
проблем благодарение на AdBlock и подобни плъгини (стига да не
използвате браузер като Chrome, но в този случай си заслужавате
всичко дето ви се случва).

По-принцип не оставям компютър без инсталиран AdBlock, това си е направо
обществено полезна дейност. Кофтито е, че на мобилния телефон, дори и да
използвате Firefox и да имате подходящите Addons, програмчетата пак
се изхитряват и ви спамят.

Сега, ако сте root-нали телефона (което никой не прави), можете да
направите нещо по въпроса, но си е разправия, а както всички знаем,
удобството винаги печели пред сигурността.

За щастие има има много лесен начин, да се отървете от долните
спамери в две прости стъпки:

1. Инсталирате си Blokada.

2. Активирате я.

Et voilà – никъде повече няма да ви изкача спам,

Как работи нещото? Прави се на vpn защото това му дава възможност
да филтрира dns заявките и съответно когато някоя програма пита
за pagead.doubleclick.net и подобни – просто му отговаря с 0.0.0.0

Просто, ефективно, не изисква root и бърка директно в джоба на
всичката интернет паплач, която си въобразява, че може да ви залива
с лайна 24/7.

FCC Asks Amazon & eBay to Help Eliminate Pirate Media Box Sales

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fcc-asks-amazon-ebay-to-help-eliminate-pirate-media-box-sales-180530/

Over the past several years, anyone looking for a piracy-configured set-top box could do worse than search for one on Amazon or eBay.

Historically, people deploying search terms including “Kodi” or “fully-loaded” were greeted by page after page of Android-type boxes, each ready for illicit plug-and-play entertainment consumption following delivery.

Although the problem persists on both platforms, people are now much less likely to find infringing devices than they were 12 to 24 months ago. Under pressure from entertainment industry groups, both Amazon and eBay have tightened the screws on sellers of such devices. Now, however, both companies have received requests to stem sales from a completetey different direction.

In a letter to eBay CEO Devin Wenig and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first spotted by Ars, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly calls on the platforms to take action against piracy-configured boxes that fail to comply with FCC equipment authorization requirements or falsely display FCC logos, contrary to United States law.

“Disturbingly, some rogue set-top box manufacturers and distributors are exploiting the FCC’s trusted logo by fraudulently placing it on devices that have not been approved via the Commission’s equipment authorization process,” O’Rielly’s letter reads.

“Specifically, nine set-top box distributors were referred to the FCC in October for enabling the unlawful streaming of copyrighted material, seven of which displayed the FCC logo, although there was no record of such compliance.”

While O’Rielly admits that the copyright infringement aspects fall outside the jurisdiction of the FCC, he says it’s troubling that many of these devices are used to stream infringing content, “exacerbating the theft of billions of dollars in American innovation and creativity.”

As noted above, both Amazon and eBay have taken steps to reduce sales of pirate boxes on their respective platforms on copyright infringement grounds, something which is duly noted by O’Rielly. However, he points out that devices continue to be sold to members of the public who may believe that the devices are legal since they’re available for sale from legitimate companies.

“For these reasons, I am seeking your further cooperation in assisting the FCC in taking steps to eliminate the non-FCC compliant devices or devices that fraudulently bear the FCC logo,” the Commissioner writes (pdf).

“Moreover, if your company is made aware by the Commission, with supporting evidence, that a particular device is using a fraudulent FCC label or has not been appropriately certified and labeled with a valid FCC logo, I respectfully request that you commit to swiftly removing these products from your sites.”

In the event that Amazon and eBay take action under this request, O’Rielly asks both platforms to hand over information they hold on offending manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers.

Amazon was quick to respond to the FCC. In a letter published by Ars, Amazon’s Public Policy Vice President Brian Huseman assured O’Rielly that the company is not only dedicated to tackling rogue devices on copyright-infringement grounds but also when there is fraudulent use of the FCC’s logos.

Noting that Amazon is a key member of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) – a group that has been taking legal action against sellers of infringing streaming devices (ISDs) and those who make infringing addons for Kodi-type systems – Huseman says that dealing with the problem is a top priority.

“Our goal is to prevent the sale of ISDs anywhere, as we seek to protect our customers from the risks posed by these devices, in addition to our interest in protecting Amazon Studios content,” Huseman writes.

“In 2017, Amazon became the first online marketplace to prohibit the sale of streaming media players that promote or facilitate piracy. To prevent the sale of these devices, we proactively scan product listings for signs of potentially infringing products, and we also invest heavily in sophisticated, automated real-time tools to review a variety of data sources and signals to identify inauthentic goods.

“These automated tools are supplemented by human reviewers that conduct manual investigations. When we suspect infringement, we take immediate action to remove suspected listings, and we also take enforcement action against sellers’ entire accounts when appropriate.”

Huseman also reveals that since implementing a proactive policy against such devices, “tens of thousands” of listings have been blocked from Amazon. In addition, the platform has been making criminal referrals to law enforcement as well as taking civil action (1,2,3) as part of ACE.

“As noted in your letter, we would also appreciate the opportunity to collaborate further with the FCC to remove non-compliant devices that improperly use the FCC logo or falsely claim FCC certification. If any FCC non-compliant devices are identified, we seek to work with you to ensure they are not offered for sale,” Huseman concludes.

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

Court Orders Pirate IPTV Linker to Shut Down or Face Penalties Up to €1.25m

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-pirate-iptv-linker-to-shut-down-or-face-penalties-up-to-e1-25m-180911/

There are few things guaranteed in life. Death, taxes, and lawsuits filed regularly by Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN.

One of its most recent targets was Netherlands-based company Leaper Beheer BV, which also traded under the names Flickstore, Dump Die Deal and Live TV Store. BREIN filed a complaint at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht, claiming that Leaper provides access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies.

The anti-piracy outfit claimed that around 4,000 live channels were on offer, including Fox Sports, movie channels, commercial and public channels. These could be accessed after the customer made a payment which granted access to a unique activation code which could be entered into a set-top box.

BREIN told the court that the code returned an .M3U playlist, which was effectively a hyperlink to IPTV channels and more than 1,000 movies being made available without permission from their respective copyright holders. As such, this amounted to a communication to the public in contravention of the EU Copyright Directive, BREIN argued.

In its defense, Leaper said that it effectively provided a convenient link-shortening service for content that could already be found online in other ways. The company argued that it is not a distributor of content itself and did not make available anything that wasn’t already public. The company added that it was completely down to the consumer whether illegal content was viewed or not.

The key question for the Court was whether Leaper did indeed make a new “communication to the public” under the EU Copyright Directive, a standard the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) says should be interpreted in a manner that provides a high level of protection for rightsholders.

The Court took a three-point approach in arriving at its decision.

  • Did Leaper act in a deliberate manner when providing access to copyright content, especially when its intervention provided access to consumers who would not ordinarily have access to that content?
  • Did Leaper communicate the works via a new method to a new audience?
  • Did Leaper have a profit motive when it communicated works to the public?
  • The Court found that Leaper did communicate works to the public and intervened “with full knowledge of the consequences of its conduct” when it gave its customers access to protected works.

    “Access to [the content] in a different way would be difficult for those customers, if Leaper were not to provide its services in question,” the Court’s decision reads.

    “Leaper reaches an indeterminate number of potential recipients who can take cognizance of the protected works and form a new audience. The purchasers who register with Leaper are to be regarded as recipients who were not taken into account by the rightful claimants when they gave permission for the original communication of their work to the public.”

    With that, the Court ordered Leaper to cease-and-desist facilitating access to unlicensed streams within 48 hours of the judgment, with non-compliance penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros.

    But the Court didn’t stop there.

    “Leaper must submit a statement audited by an accountant, supported by (clear, readable copies of) all relevant documents, within 12 days of notification of this judgment of all the relevant (contact) details of the (person or legal persons) with whom the company has had contact regarding the provision of IPTV subscriptions and/or the provision of hyperlinks to sources where films and (live) broadcasts are evidently offered without the permission of the entitled parties,” the Court ruled.

    Failure to comply with this aspect of the ruling will lead to more penalties of 5,000 euros per day up to a maximum of 250,000 euros. Leaper was also ordered to pay BREIN’s costs of 20,700 euros.

    Describing the people behind Leaper as “crooks” who previously sold media boxes with infringing addons (as previously determined to be illegal in the Filmspeler case), BREIN chief Tim Kuik says that a switch of strategy didn’t help them evade the law.

    “[Leaper] sold a link to consumers that gave access to unauthorized content, i.e. pay-TV channels as well as video-on-demand films and series,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak.

    “They did it for profit and should have checked whether the content was authorized. They did not and in fact were aware the content was unauthorized. Which means they are clearly infringing copyright.

    “This is evident from the CJEU case law in GS Media as well as Filmspeler and The Pirate Bay, aka the Dutch trilogy because the three cases came from the Netherlands, but these rulings are applicable throughout the EU.

    “They just keep at it knowing they’re cheating and we’ll take them to the cleaners,” Kuik concludes.

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

    YouTube Won’t Put Up With Blatant Piracy Tutorials Forever

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-wont-put-up-with-blatant-piracy-tutorials-forever-180506/

    Once upon a time, Internet users’ voices would be heard in limited circles, on platforms such as Usenet or other niche platforms.

    Then, with the rise of forum platforms such as phpBB in 2000 and Invision Power Board in 2002, thriving communities could gather in public to discuss endless specialist topics, including file-sharing of course.

    When dedicated piracy forums began to gain traction, it was pretty much a free-for-all. People discussed obtaining free content absolutely openly. Nothing was taboo and no one considered that there would be any repercussions. As such, moderation was limited to keeping troublemakers in check.

    As the years progressed and lawsuits against both sites and services became more commonplace, most sites that weren’t actually serving illegal content began to consider their positions. Run by hobbyists, most didn’t want the hassle of a multi-million dollar lawsuit, so links to pirate content began to diminish and the more overt piracy tutorials began to disappear underground.

    Those that remained in plain sight became much more considered. Tutorials on how to pirate specific Hollywood blockbusters were no longer needed, a plain general tutorial would suffice. And, as communities matured and took time to understand the implications of their actions, those without political motivations realized that drawing attention to potential criminality was neither required nor necessary.

    Then YouTube and social media happened and almost overnight, no one was in charge and anyone could say whatever they liked.

    In this new reality, there were no irritating moderator-type figures removing links to this and that, and nobody warning people against breaking rules that suddenly didn’t exist anymore. In essence, previously tight-knit and street-wise file-sharing and piracy communities not only became fragmented, but also chaotic.

    This meant that anyone could become a leader and in some cases, this was the utopia that many had hoped for. Not only couldn’t the record labels or Hollywood tell people what to do anymore, discussion site operators couldn’t either. For those who didn’t abuse the power and for those who knew no better, this was a much-needed breath of fresh air. But, like all good things, it was unlikely to last forever.

    Where most file-sharing of yesterday was carried out by hobbyist enthusiasts, many of today’s pirates are far more casual. They’re just as thirsty for content, but they don’t want to spend hours hunting for it. They want it all on a plate, at the flick of a switch, delivered to their TV with a minimum of hassle.

    With online discussions increasingly seen as laborious and old-fashioned, many mainstream pirates have turned to easy-to-consume videos. In support of their Kodi media player habits, YouTube has become the educational platform of choice for millions.

    As a result, there is now a long line of self-declared Kodi piracy specialists scooping up millions of views on YouTube. Their videos – which in many cases are thinly veiled advertisements for third party addons, Kodi ‘builds’, illegal IPTV services, and obscure Android APKs – are now the main way for a new generation to obtain direct advice on pirating.

    Many of the videos are incredibly blatant, like the past 15 years of litigation never happened. All the lessons learned by the phpBB board operators of yesteryear, of how to achieve their goals of sharing information without getting shut down, have been long forgotten. In their place, a barrage of daily videos designed to generate clicks and affiliate revenue, no matter what the cost, no matter what the risk.

    It’s pretty clear that these videos are at least partly responsible for the phenomenal uptick in Kodi and Android-based piracy over the past few years. In that respect, many lovers of free content will be eternally grateful for the service they’ve provided. But like many piracy movements over the years, people shouldn’t get too attached to them, at least in their current form.

    Thanks to the devil-may-care approach of many influential YouTubers, it won’t be long before a whole new set of moderators begin flexing their muscles. While your average phpBB moderator could be reasoned with in order to get a second chance, a determined and largely faceless YouTube will eject offenders without so much as a clear explanation.

    When this happens (and it’s only a question of time given the growing blatancy of many tutorials) YouTubers will not only lose their voices but their revenue streams too. While YouTube’s partner programs bring in some welcome cash, the profitable affiliate schemes touted on these channels for external products will also be under threat.

    Perhaps the most surprising thing in this drama-waiting-to-happen is that many of the most popular YouTubers can hardly be considered young and naive. While some are of more tender years, most – with their undoubted skill, knowledge and work ethic – should know better for their 30 or 40 years on this planet. Yet not only do they make their names public, they feature their faces heavily in their videos too.

    Still, it’s likely that it will take some big YouTube accounts to fall before YouTubers respond by shaving the sharp edges off their blatant promotion of illegal activity. And there’s little doubt that those advertising products (which is most of them) will have to do so sooner rather than later.

    Just this week, YouTube made it clear that it won’t tolerate people making money from the promotion of illegal activities.

    “YouTube creators may include paid endorsements as part of their content only if the product or service they are endorsing complies with our advertising policies,” YouTube told the BBC.

    “We will be working with creators going forward so they better understand that in video promotions [they] must not promote dishonest activity.”

    That being said, like many other players in the piracy and file-sharing space over the past 18 years, YouTubers will eventually begin to learn that not only can the smart survive, they can flourish too.

    Sure, there will be people out there who’ll protest that free speech allows citizens to express themselves in a manner of their choosing. But try PM’ing that to YouTube in response to a strike, and see how that fares.

    When they say you’re done, the road back is a long one.

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

    Under-Fire “Kodi Box” Company “Sold to Chinese Investor” For US$8.82m

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/under-fire-kodi-box-company-sold-to-chinese-investor-for-us8-82m-180426/

    Back in 2016, an article appeared in Kiwi media discussing the rise of a new company pledging to beat media giant Sky TV at its own game.

    My Box NZ owner Krish Reddy told the publication he was selling Android boxes loaded with Kodi software and augmented with third-party addons.

    Without any hint of fear, he stated that these devices enabled customers to access movies, TV shows and live channels for free, after shelling out a substantial US$182 for the box first, that is.

    “Why pay $80 minimum per month for Sky when for one payment you can have it free for good?” a claim on the company’s website asked.

    Noting that he’d been importing the boxes from China, Reddy suggested that his lawyers hadn’t found any problem with the business plan.

    “I don’t see why [Sky] would contact me but if they do contact me and … if there’s something of theirs that they feel I’ve unlawfully taken then yeah … but as it stands I don’t [have any concerns],” he said.

    At this point, Reddy said he’d been selling the boxes for just six weeks and had shifted around 80 units. To get coverage from a national newspaper at this stage of the game must’ve been very much appreciated but Reddy didn’t stop there.

    In a bulk advertising email sent out to 50,000 people, Reddy described his boxes as “better than Sky”. However, by design or misfortune, the email managed to land in the inboxes of 50 Sky TV staff and directors, something that didn’t go unnoticed by the TV giant.

    With Reddy claiming sales of 8,000 units, Sky ran out of patience last April. In a letter from its lawyers, the pay-TV company said Reddy’s devices breached copyright law and the Fair Trading Act. Reddy responded by calling the TV giant “a playground bully”, again denying that he was breaking the law.

    “From a legal perspective, what we do is completely within the law. We advertise Sky television channels being available through our website and social media platforms as these are available via streams which you can find through My Box,” he said.

    “The content is already available, I’m not going out there and bringing the content so how am I infringing the copyright… the content is already there, if someone uses the box to search for the content, that’s what it is.”

    The initial compensation demand from Sky against Reddy’s company My Box ran to NZD$1.4m, around US$1m. It was an amount that had the potential rise by millions if matters got drawn out and/or escalated. But despite picking a terrible opponent in a battle he was unlikely to win, Reddy refused to give up.

    “[Sky’s] point of view is they own copyright and I’m destroying the market by giving people content for free. To me it is business; I have got something that is new … that’s competition,” he said.

    The Auckland High Court heard the case against My Box last month with Judge Warwick Smith reserving his judgment and Reddy still maintaining that his business is entirely legal. Sales were fantastic, he said, with 20,000 devices sold to customers in 12 countries.

    Then something truly amazing happened.

    A company up to its eyeballs in litigation, selling a commodity product that an amateur can buy and configure at home for US$40, reportedly got a chance of a lifetime. Reddy revealed to Stuff that a Chinese investor had offered to buy his company for an eye-watering NZ$10 million (US$7.06m).

    “We have to thank Sky,” he said. “If they had left us alone we would just have been selling a few boxes, but the controversy made us world famous.”

    Reddy noted he’d been given 21 days to respond to the offer, but refused to name the company. Interestingly, he also acknowledged that if My Box lost its case, the company would be liable for damages. However, that wouldn’t bother the potential investor.

    “It makes no difference to them whether we win or lose, because their operations won’t be in New Zealand,” Reddy said.

    According to the entrepreneur, that’s how things are playing out.

    The Chinese firm – which Reddy is still refusing to name – has apparently accepted a counter offer from Reddy of US$8.8m for My Box. As a result, Reddy will wrap up his New Zealand operations within the next 90 days and his six employees will be rendered unemployed.

    Given that anyone with the ability to install Kodi and a few addons before putting a box in the mail could replicate Reddy’s business model, the multi-million dollar offer for My Box was never anything less than a bewildering business proposition. That someone carried through with it an even higher price is so fantastic as to be almost unbelievable.

    In a sea of unhappy endings for piracy-enabled Kodi box sellers globally, this is the only big win to ever grace the headlines. Assuming this really is the end of the story (and that might not be the case) it will almost certainly be the last.

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

    MPAA Chief Says Fighting Piracy Remains “Top Priority”

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-chief-says-fighting-piracy-remains-top-priority-180425/

    After several high-profile years at the helm of the movie industry’s most powerful lobbying group, last year saw the departure of Chris Dodd from the role of Chairman and CEO at the MPAA.

    The former Senator, who earned more than $3.5m a year championing the causes of the major Hollywood studios since 2011, was immediately replaced by another political heavyweight.

    Charles Rivkin, who took up his new role September 5, 2017, previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs in the Obama administration. With an underperforming domestic box office year behind him fortunately overshadowed by massive successes globally, this week he spoke before US movie exhibitors for the first time at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

    “Globally, we hit a record high of $40.6 billion at the box office. Domestically, our $11.1 billion box office was slightly down from the 2016 record. But it exactly matched the previous high from 2015. And it was the second highest total in the past decade,” Rivkin said.

    “But it exactly matched the previous high from 2015. And it was the second highest total in the past decade.”

    Rivkin, who spent time as President and CEO of The Jim Henson Company, told those in attendance that he shares a deep passion for the movie industry and looks forward optimistically to the future, a future in which content is secured from those who intend on sharing it for free.

    “Making sure our creative works are valued and protected is one of the most important things we can do to keep that industry heartbeat strong. At the Henson Company, and WildBrain, I learned just how much intellectual property affects everyone. Our entire business model depended on our ability to license Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the Muppets and distribute them across the globe,” Rivkin said.

    “I understand, on a visceral level, how important copyright is to any creative business and in particular our country’s small and medium enterprises – which are the backbone of the American economy. As Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, I guarantee you that fighting piracy in all forms remains our top priority.”

    That tackling piracy is high on the MPAA’s agenda won’t comes as a surprise but at least in terms of the numbers of headlines plastered over the media, high-profile anti-piracy action has been somewhat lacking in recent years.

    With lawsuits against torrent sites seemingly a thing of the past and a faltering Megaupload case that will conclude who-knows-when, the MPAA has taken a broader view, seeking partnerships with sometimes rival content creators and distributors, each with a shared desire to curtail illicit media.

    “One of the ways that we’re already doing that is through the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment – or ACE as we call it,” Rivkin said.

    “This is a coalition of 30 leading global content creators, including the MPAA’s six member studios as well as Netflix, and Amazon. We work together as a powerful team to ensure our stories are seen as they were intended to be, and that their creators are rewarded for their hard work.”

    Announced in June 2017, ACE has become a united anti-piracy powerhouse for a huge range of entertainment industry groups, encompassing the likes of CBS, HBO, BBC, Sky, Bell Canada, CBS, Hulu, Lionsgate, Foxtel and Village Roadshow, to name a few.

    The coalition was announced by former MPAA Chief Chris Dodd and now, with serious financial input from all companies involved, appears to be picking its fights carefully, focusing on the growing problem of streaming piracy centered around misuse of Kodi and similar platforms.

    From threatening relatively small-time producers and distributors of third-party addons and builds (1,2,3), ACE is also attempting to make its mark among the profiteers.

    The group now has several lawsuits underway in the United States against people selling piracy-enabled IPTV boxes including Tickbox, Dragon Box, and during the last week, Set TV.

    With these important cases pending, Rivkin offered assurances that his organization remains committed to anti-piracy enforcement and he thanked exhibitors for their efforts to prevent people quickly running away with copies of the latest releases.

    “I am grateful to all of you for recognizing what is at stake, and for working with us to protect creativity, such as fighting the use of illegal camcorders in theaters,” he said.

    “Protecting our creativity isn’t only a fundamental right. It’s an economic necessity, for us and all creative economies. Film and television are among the most valuable – and most impactful – exports we have.

    Thus far at least, Rivkin has a noticeably less aggressive tone on piracy than his predecessor Chris Dodd but it’s unlikely that will be mistaken for weakness among pirates, nor should it. The MPAA isn’t known for going soft on pirates and it certainly won’t be changing course anytime soon.

    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? Music Biz Wants App Blocking Too

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-music-biz-wants-app-blocking-too-180415/

    In some way, shape or form, Internet piracy has always been carried out through some kind of application. Whether that’s a peer-to-peer client utilizing BitTorrent or eD2K, or a Usenet or FTP tool taking things back to their roots, software has always played a crucial role.

    Of course, the nature of the Internet beast means that software usage is unavoidable but in recent years piracy has swung more towards the regular web browser, meaning that sites and services offering pirated content are largely easy to locate, identify and block, if authorities so choose.

    As revealed this week by the MPA, thousands of platforms around the world are now targeted for blocking, with 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains blocked in Europe alone.

    However, as the Kodi phenomenon has shown, web-based content doesn’t always have to be accessed via a standard web browser. Clever but potentially illegal addons and third-party apps are able to scrape web-based resources and present links to content on a wide range of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to set-top boxes.

    While it’s still possible to block the resources upon which these addons rely, the scattered nature of the content makes the process much more difficult. One can’t simply block a whole platform because a few movies are illegally hosted there and even Google has found itself hosting thousands of infringing titles, a situation that’s ruthlessly exploited by addon and app developers alike.

    Needless to say, the situation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has spent the last year (1,2,3) targeting many people involved in the addon and app scene, hoping they’ll take their tools and run, rather than further develop a rapidly evolving piracy ecosystem.

    Over in Russia, a country that will happily block hundreds or millions of IP addresses if it suits them, the topic of infringing apps was raised this week. It happened during the International Strategic Forum on Intellectual Property, a gathering of 500 experts from more than 30 countries. There were strong calls for yet more tools and measures to deal with films and music being made available via ‘pirate’ apps.

    The forum heard that in response to widespread website blocking, people behind pirate sites have begun creating applications for mobile devices to achieve the same ends – the provision of illegal content. This, key players in the music industry say, means that the law needs to be further tightened to tackle the rising threat.

    “Consumption of content is now going into the mobile sector and due to this we plan to prevent mass migration of ‘pirates’ to the mobile sector,” said Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry.

    The same concerns were echoed by Alexander Blinov, CEO of Warner Music Russia. According to TASS, the powerful industry player said that while recent revenues had been positively affected by site-blocking, it’s now time to start taking more action against apps.

    “I agree with all speakers that we can not stop at what has been achieved so far. The music industry has a fight against illegal content in mobile applications on the agenda,” Blinov said.

    And if Blinov is to be believed, music in Russia is doing particularly well at the moment. Attributing successes to efforts by parliament, the Ministry of Communications, and copyright holders, Blinov said the local music market has doubled in the past two years.

    “We are now in the top three fastest growing markets in the world, behind only China and South Korea,” Blinov said.

    While some apps can work in the same manner as a basic web interface, others rely on more complex mechanisms, ‘scraping’ content from diverse sources that can be easily and readily changed if mitigation measures kick in. It will be very interesting to see how Russia deals with this threat and whether it will opt for highly technical solutions or the nuclear options demonstrated recently.

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

    Roku Bans Popular Social IPTV Linking Service cCloud TV

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/roku-bans-popular-social-iptv-linking-service-ccloud-tv-180409/

    Despite being one of the more popular set-top box platforms, until last year Roku managed to stay completely out of the piracy conversation.

    However, due to abuse of its system by third-parties, last June the Superior Court of Justice of the City of Mexico banned the importation and distribution of Roku devices in the country.

    The decision followed a complaint filed by cable TV provider Cablevision, which said that some Roku channels and their users were infringing its distribution rights.

    Since then, Roku has been fighting to have the ban lifted, previously informing TF that it expressly prohibits copyright infringement of any kind. That led to several more legal processes yet last month and after considerable effort, the ban was upheld, much to Roku’s disappointment.

    “It is necessary for Roku to make adjustments to its software, as other online content distribution platforms do, so that violations of copyrighted content do not take place,” Cablevision said.

    Then, at the end of March, Roku suddenly banned the USTVnow channel from its platform, citing a third-party copyright complaint.

    In a series of emails with TF, the company declined to offer further details but there is plenty of online speculation that the decision was a move towards the “adjustments” demanded by Cablevision. Today yet more fuel is being poured onto that same fire with Roku’s decision to ban the popular cCloud TV service from its platform.

    For those unfamiliar with cCloud TV, it’s a video streaming platform that relies on users to contribute media links found on the web, whether they’re movie and TV shows or live sporting events.

    “Project cCloud TV is known as the ‘Popcorn Time for Live TV’. The project started with 50 channels and has grown over time and now has over 4000 channels from all around the world,” its founder ‘Bane’ told TF back in 2016.

    “The project was inspired by Popcorn Time and its simplicity for streaming torrents. The service works based on media links that can be found anywhere on the web and the cCloud project makes it easier for users to stream.”

    Aside from the vast array of content cCloud offers, its versatility is almost unrivaled. In an addition to working via most modern web browsers, it’s also accessible using smartphones, tablets, Plex media server, Kodi, VLC, and (until recently at least) Roku.

    But cCloud and USTVnow aren’t the only services suffering bans at Roku.

    As highlighted by CordCuttersNews, other channels are also suffering similar fates, such as XTV that was previously replaced with an FBI warning.

    cCloud has had problems on Kodi too. Back in September 2017, TVAddons announced that it had been forced to remove the cCloud addon from its site.

    “cCloud TV has been removed from our web site due to a complaint made by Bell, Rogers, Videotron and TVA on June 12th, 2017 as part of their lawsuit against our web site,” the site announced.

    “Prior to hearing of the lawsuit, we had never received a single complaint relating to the cCloud TV addon for Kodi. cCloud TV for Kodi was developed by podgod, and was basically an interface for the community-based web service that goes by the same name.”

    Last week, TVAddons went on to publish an “blacklist” that lists addons that have the potential to deliver content not authorized by rightsholders. Among many others, the list contains cCloud, meaning that potential users will now have to obtain it directly from the Kodi Bae Repository on Github instead.

    At the time of publication, Roku had not responded to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

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

    Police Assisted By MPAA Shut Down Pirate TV Box Sellers

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-assisted-by-mpaa-shut-down-pirate-tv-box-sellers-180404/

    Piracy configured set-top boxes are the next big thing, today. Millions have been sold around the world and anti-piracy groups are scrambling to rein them in.

    Many strategies are being tested, from pressurizing developers of allegedly infringing addons to filing aggressive lawsuits against sites such as TVAddons, a Kodi addon repository now facing civil action in both the United States and Canada.

    Also under fire are companies that sell set-top boxes that come ready configured for piracy. Both Tickbox TV and Dragon Media Inc are being sued by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) in the US. At this stage, neither case looks promising for the defendants.

    However, civil action isn’t the only way to deal with defendants in the United States, as a man and woman team from Tampa, Florida, have just discovered after being arrested by local police.

    Mickael Cantrell and Nancy Major were allegedly the brains behind NBEETV, a company promising to supply set-top boxes that deliver “every movie, every tv show that’s ever been made, plus live sports with no blackouts” with “no monthly fees ever.”

    As similar cases have shown, this kind of marketing spiel rarely ends well for defendants but the people behind NBEE TV (also known as FreeTVForLife Inc.) were either oblivious or simply didn’t care about the consequences.

    A company press release dated April 2017 advertising the company’s NBPro 3+ box and tracked down by TF this week reveals the extent of the boasts.

    “NBPRO 3+ is a TV box that offers instant access to watch every episode of any TV show without paying any monthly bill. One just must attach the loaded box to his TV and stream whatever they want, with no commercials,” the company wrote.

    But while “Free TV for Life” was the slogan, that wasn’t the reality at the outset.

    NBEETV’s Kodi-powered Android boxes were hellishly expensive with the NBPRO 1, NBPRO 3, NBPRO 5 costing $199.00, $279.00 and $359.00 respectively. This, however, was presented as a bargain alongside a claim that the “average [monthly] cable bill across the country is approximately $198.00” per month.

    On top of the base product, NBEETV offered an 800 number for customer support and from their physical premises, they ran “training classes every Tuesday and Thursdays at 11:00” for people to better understand their products.

    The location of that building isn’t mentioned in local media but a WHOIS on the company’s FreeTVForLife domain yields a confirmed address. It’s one that’s also been complained about in the past by an unhappy customer.

    “Free TV for LIFE [redacted]..(next to K-Mart) Hudson, Fl.. 34667. We bought the Little black box costing $277.00. The pictures were not clear,” Rita S. wrote.

    “The screen froze up on us all the time, even after hooking straight into the router. When we took the unit back they kept $80 of our money….were very rude, using the ************* word and we will not get the remainder of our money for 14-28 days according to the employee at the store. Buyers beware and I am telling everyone!!!”

    While this customer was clearly unhappy, NBEETV claimed to be a “movement which is spreading across the country.” Unfortunately, that movement reached the eyes of the police, who didn’t think that the content being offered on the devices should have been presented for free.

    “We saw [the boxes] had Black Panther, The Shape Of Water, Jumanji was on there as well,” said Detective Darren Hill.

    “This is someone blatantly on the side of the road just selling them, with signage, a store front; advertising on the internet with a website.”

    Detective Hill worked on the case with the MPAA but even from TorrentFreak’s limited investigations this week, the couple were incredibly easy to identify.

    Aside from providing accurate and non-hidden address data in WHOIS records, Mickael Cantrell (also known as Michael Cantrell) put in his real name too. The listed email address is also easily traced back to a company called Nanny Bees Corporation which was operated by Cantrell and partner Nancy Major, who was also arrested in the NBEETV case.

    Unfortunately for the couple, the blundering didn’t stop there. Their company YouTube channel, which is packed with tutorials, is also in Cantrell’s real name. Indeed, the photograph supplied to YouTube even matches the mugshot published by ABC Action News.

    The publication reports that the Sheriff’s Office found the couple with around 50 ‘pirate’ boxes. The store operated by the couple has also been shutdown.

    Finally, another curious aspect of NBEETV’s self-promotion comes via a blog post/press release dated August 2017 in which Cantrell suddenly ups the ante by becoming Michael W. Cantrell, Ph. D alongside some bold and unusual claims.

    “Dr. Cantrell unleashes his latest innovation, a Smart TV Box that literally updates every ten minutes. Not only does the content (what you can view) but the whole platform updates automatically. If the Company changes an icon you receive the change in real time,” the release reads.

    “Thanks to the Overlay Processor that Dr. Cantrell created, this processor named B-D.A.D (Binary Data Acceleration Dump) which enhances an Android unit’s operating power 5 times than the original bench test, has set a new industry standard around the world.”

    Sounds epic….perhaps it powered the following video clip.

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

    Streaming Joshua v Parker is Illegal But Re-Streaming is the Real Danger

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/streaming-joshua-v-parker-is-illegal-but-re-streaming-is-the-real-danger-180329/

    This Saturday evening, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker will string up their gloves and do battle in one of the most important heavyweight bouts of recent times.

    Joshua will put an unbeaten professional record and his WBA, IBF and IBO world titles on the line. Parker – also unbeaten professionally – will put his WBO belt up for grabs. It’s a mouthwatering proposition for fight fans everywhere.

    While the collision will take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff in front of a staggering 80,000 people, millions more will watch the fight in front of the TV at home, having paid Sky Sports Box Office up to £24.95 for the privilege.

    Of course, hundreds of thousands won’t pay a penny, instead relying on streams delivered via illicit Kodi addons, Android apps, and IPTV services. While these options are often free, quality and availability on the night is far from guaranteed. Even those paying for premium ‘pirate’ access have been let down at the last minute but in the scheme of things, that’s generally unlikely.

    Despite the uncertainty, this morning the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and Federation Against Copyright Theft took the unusual step of issuing a joint warning to people thinking of streaming the fight to their homes illegally.

    “Consumers need to be aware that streaming without the right permissions or subscriptions is no longer a grey area,” PIPCU and FACT said in a statement.

    “In April last year the EU Court of Justice ruled that not only was selling devices allowing access to copyrighted content illegal, but using one to stream TV, sports or films without an official subscription is also breaking the law.”

    The decision, which came as part of the BREIN v Filmspeler case, found that obtaining a copyright-protected work “from a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder” was an illegal act.

    While watching the fight via illicit streams is undoubtedly illegal, tracking people who simply view content is extremely difficult and there hasn’t been a single prosecution in the UK (or indeed anywhere else that we’re aware of) against anyone doing so.

    That being said, those who make content available for others to watch illegally are putting themselves at considerable risk. While professional pirate re-streamers tend to have better security, Joe Public who points his phone at his TV Saturday night to stream the fight on Facebook should take time out to consider his actions.

    In January, Sky revealed that 34-year-old Craig Foster had been caught by the company after someone re-streamed the previous year’s Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko fight on Facebook Live using Foster’s Sky account.

    Foster had paid Sky for the fight but he claims that a friend used his iPad to record the screen and re-stream the fight to Facebook. Sky, almost certainly using tracking watermarks (example below), traced the ‘pirate’ stream back to Foster’s set-top box.

    Watermarks during the Mayweather v McGregor fight

    The end result was a technical knockout for Sky who suspended Foster’s Sky subscription and then agreed not to launch a lawsuit providing he paid the broadcaster £5,000.

    “The public should be aware that misusing their TV subscriptions has serious repercussions,” said PIPCU and FACT referring to the case this morning.

    “For example, customers found to be illegally sharing paid-for content can have their subscription account terminated immediately and can expect to be prosecuted and fined.”

    While we know for certain this has happened at least once, TorrentFreak contacted FACT this morning for details on how many Sky subscribers have been caught, warned, and/or prosecuted by Sky in this manner. FACT told us they don’t have any figures but offered the following statement from CEO Kieron Sharp.

    “Not only is FACT working closely with broadcasters and rights owners to identify the original source of illegally re-streamed content, but with support from law enforcement, government and social media platforms, we are tightening the net on digital piracy,” Sharp said.

    Finally, it’s also worth keeping in mind that even when people live-stream an illegal yet non-watermarked stream to Facebook, they can still be traced by Sky.

    As revelations this week have shown only too clearly, Facebook knows a staggering amount about its users so tracking an illegal stream back to a person would be child’s play for a determined rightsholder with a court order.

    While someone attracting a couple of dozen viewers might not be at a major risk of repercussions, a viral stream might require the use of a calculator to assess the damages claimed by Sky. Like boxing, this kind of piracy is best left to the professionals to avoid painful and unnecessary trauma.

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

    ACE Warns Kodi Addon Developer to Sign Settlement Agreement, Or Else

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ace-warns-kodi-addon-developer-to-sign-settlement-agreement-or-else-180306/

    The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is a coalition of 30 companies that reads like a who’s who of the global entertainment market.

    All of the major Hollywood studios are members, plus Amazon, Netflix, BBC, Hulu, and Village Roadshow, to name a few.

    ACE was launched last year to present a united front against online infringement and since then has been involved in various anti-piracy actions.

    ACE has made the third-party Kodi addon scene one of its early priorities, targeting developers with home visits and lengthy letters demanding that they cease and desist their activities. This has led to several pulling back from the scene but in some instances, this doesn’t appear to have been enough for ACE.

    The letters received by the developers also include a requirement for them to sign a settlement agreement which binds them to a particular course of future behavior set out by ACE. It’s unclear how many developers have signed but TorrentFreak is aware that several have not.

    One of those is JSergio123 who last November announced he would be discontinuing development of several Kodi addons after being targeted by ACE.

    “Sorry to say but I am stopping all development of the urlresolver, metahandler, and my other addons,” he said.

    JSergio123’s reluctance to sign an agreement with ACE hasn’t gone unnoticed by the anti-piracy group. In a letter dated March 5, 2018 and signed by Kelly Klaus of US-based lawfirm Munger, Tolles & Olson, the developer is reminded of what transpired last year and what is expected of him moving forward.

    “I understand that ACE counsel have discussed with you various of your “Addon” software applications and related software and services, including URLResolver (collectively, the “[redacted] Addons”) and other actions you have undertaken to induce and contribute to the mass infringement of the ACE members’ copyrighted works,” Klaus writes.

    “I also understand that ACE counsel have provided you with a proposed settlement agreement, pursuant to which you would end your infringing activities and provide cooperation and other consideration in exchange for ACE agreeing not to pursue legal action against you arising out of your infringing activities. To date, you have not signed the settlement agreement.”

    JSergio123’s precise reasons for not signing the settlement agreement aren’t being made public. However, TorrentFreak understands that some of the terms presented to addon developers last year have caused considerable concern. In some cases they are difficult to meet, not to mention unpalatable to the people involved.

    They include promises to ensure that specified addons and indeed any developed in the future can no longer infringe copyright. For those that scrape third-party sources, this could prove impossible to absolutely guarantee. This could effectively put developers out of the addon game – legitimate or otherwise – for good.

    TF is also informed that ACE demanded a high-level of cooperation, including that the developers should supply what amounts to a full confession, detailing all the projects they’ve been involved in, past and present.

    Furthermore, the ACE agreement reportedly requires developers to inform on their colleagues by providing personal information such as identities and contact details. There’s also a requirement to indicate whether and how developers been making money from their activities.

    The new letter from ACE, which is shown below after being published by JSergio, refers to a “most recent draft of the settlement agreement that ACE members would be willing to sign.”

    Whether this contains any amendments from the settlement agreements sent out last year isn’t clear but Mr Klaus, who is a veteran of several large infringement lawsuits in the US, says that JSergio should take the offer seriously.

    “I strongly urge you to consider the gravity of this situation and sign the agreement,” the lawyer concludes.

    ACE Letter (credit: JSergio123)


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

    TVAddons Suffers Big Setback as Court Completely Overturns Earlier Ruling

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tvaddons-suffers-big-setback-as-court-completely-overturns-earlier-ruling-180221/

    On June 2, 2017 a group of Canadian telecoms giants including Bell Canada, Bell ExpressVu, Bell Media, Videotron, Groupe TVA, Rogers Communications and Rogers Media, filed a complaint in Federal Court against Montreal resident, Adam Lackman.

    Better known as the man behind Kodi addon repository TVAddons, Lackman was painted as a serial infringer in the complaint. The telecoms companies said that, without gaining permission from rightsholders, Lackman communicated copyrighted TV shows including Game of Thrones, Prison Break, The Big Bang Theory, America’s Got Talent, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and dozens more, by developing, hosting, distributing and promoting infringing Kodi add-ons.

    To limit the harm allegedly caused by TVAddons, the complaint demanded interim, interlocutory, and permanent injunctions restraining Lackman from developing, promoting or distributing any of the allegedly infringing add-ons or software. On top, the plaintiffs requested punitive and exemplary damages, plus costs.

    On June 9, 2017 the Federal Court handed down a time-limited interim injunction against Lackman ex parte, without Lackman being able to mount a defense. Bailiffs took control of TVAddons’ domains but the most controversial move was the granting of an Anton Piller order, a civil search warrant which granted the plaintiffs no-notice permission to enter Lackman’s premises to secure evidence before it could be tampered with.

    The order was executed June 12, 2017, with Lackman’s home subjected to a lengthy search during which the Canadian was reportedly refused his right to remain silent. Non-cooperation with an Anton Piller order can amount to a contempt of court, he was told.

    With the situation seemingly spinning out of Lackman’s control, unexpected support came from the Honourable B. Richard Bell during a subsequent June 29, 2017 Federal Court hearing to consider the execution of the Anton Piller order.

    The Judge said that Lackman had been subjected to a search “without any of the protections normally afforded to litigants in such circumstances” and took exception to the fact that the plaintiffs had ordered Lackman to spill the beans on other individuals in the Kodi addon community. He described this as a hunt for further evidence, not the task of preserving evidence it should’ve been.

    Justice Bell concluded by ruling that while the prima facie case against Lackman may have appeared strong before the judge who heard the matter ex parte, the subsequent adversarial hearing undermined it, to the point that it no longer met the threshold.

    As a result of these failings, Judge Bell vacated the Anton Piller order and dismissed the application for interlocutory injunction.

    While this was an early victory for Lackman and TVAddons, the plaintiffs took the decision to an appeal which was heard November 29, 2017. Determined by a three-judge panel and signed by Justice Yves de Montigny, the decision was handed down Tuesday and it effectively turns the earlier ruling upside down.

    The appeal had two matters to consider: whether Justice Bell made errors when he vacated the Anton Piller order, and whether he made errors when he dismissed the application for an interlocutory injunction. In short, the panel found that he did.

    In a 27-page ruling, the first key issue concerns Justice Bell’s understanding of the nature of both Lackman and TVAddons.

    The telecoms companies complained that the Judge got it wrong when he characterized Lackman as a software developer who came up with add-ons that permit users to access material “that is for the most part not infringing on the rights” of the telecoms companies.

    The companies also challenged the Judge’s finding that the infringing add-ons offered by the site represented “just over 1%” of all the add-ons developed by Lackman.

    “I agree with the [telecoms companies] that the Judge misapprehended the evidence and made palpable and overriding errors in his assessment of the strength of the appellants’ case,” Justice Yves de Montigny writes in the ruling.

    “Nowhere did the appellants actually state that only a tiny proportion of the add-ons found on the respondent’s website are infringing add-ons.”

    The confusion appears to have arisen from the fact that while TVAddons offered 1,500 add-ons in total, the heavily discussed ‘featured’ addon category on the site contained just 22 add-ons, 16 of which were considered to be infringing according to the original complaint. So, it was 16 add-ons out of 22 being discussed, not 16 add-ons out of a possible 1,500.

    “[Justice Bell] therefore clearly misapprehended the evidence in this regard by concluding that just over 1% of the add-ons were purportedly infringing,” the appeals Judge adds.

    After gaining traction with Justice Bell in the previous hearing, Lackman’s assertion that his add-ons were akin to a “mini Google” was fiercely contested by the telecoms companies. They also fell flat before the appeal hearing.

    Justice de Montigny says that Justice Bell “had been swayed” when Lackman’s expert replicated the discovery of infringing content using Google but had failed to grasp the important differences between a general search engine and a dedicated Kodi add-on.

    “While Google is an indiscriminate search engine that returns results based on relevance, as determined by an algorithm, infringing add-ons target predetermined infringing content in a manner that is user-friendly and reliable,” the Judge writes.

    “The fact that a search result using an add-on can be replicated with Google is of little consequence. The content will always be found using Google or any other Internet search engine because they search the entire universe of all publicly available information. Using addons, however, takes one to the infringing content much more directly, effortlessly and safely.”

    With this in mind, Justice de Montigny says there is a “strong prima facie case” that Lackman, by hosting and distributing infringing add-ons, made the telecoms companies’ content available to the public “at a time of their choosing”, thereby infringing paragraph 2.4(1.1) and section 27 of the Copyright Act.

    On TVAddons itself, the Judge said that the platform is “clearly designed” to facilitate access to infringing material since it targets “those who want to circumvent the legal means of watching television programs and the related costs.”

    Turning to Lackman, the Judge said he could not claim to have no knowledge of the infringing content delivered by the add-ons distributed on this site, since they were purposefully curated prior to distribution.

    “The respondent cannot credibly assert that his participation is content neutral and that he was not negligent in failing to investigate, since at a minimum he selects and organizes the add-ons that find their way onto his website,” the Judge notes.

    In a further setback, the Judge draws clear parallels with another case before the Canadian courts involving pre-loaded ‘pirate’ set-top boxes. Justice de Montigny says that TVAddons itself bears “many similarities” with those devices that are already subjected to an interlocutory injunction in Canada.

    “The service offered by the respondent through the TVAddons website is no different from the service offered through the set-top boxes. The means through which access is provided to infringing content is different (one relied on hardware while the other relied on a website), but they both provided unauthorized access to copyrighted material without authorization of the copyright owners,” the Judge finds.

    Continuing, the Judge makes some pointed remarks concerning the execution of the Anton Piller order. In short, he found little wrong with the way things went ahead and also contradicted some of the claims and beliefs circulated in the earlier hearing.

    Citing the affidavit of an independent solicitor who monitored the order’s execution, the Judge said that the order was explained to Lackman in plain language and he was informed of his right to remain silent. He was also told that he could refuse to answer questions other than those specified in the order.

    The Judge said that Lackman was allowed to have counsel present, “with whom he consulted throughout the execution of the order.” There was nothing, the Judge said, that amounted to the “interrogation” alluded to in the earlier hearing.

    Justice de Montigny also criticized Justice Bell for failing to take into account that Lackman “attempted to conceal crucial evidence and lied to the independent supervising solicitor regarding the whereabouts of that evidence.”

    Much was previously made of Lackman apparently being forced to hand over personal details of third-parties associated directly or indirectly with TVAddons. The Judge clarifies what happened in his ruling.

    “A list of names was put to the respondent by the plaintiffs’ solicitors, but it was apparently done to expedite the questioning process. In any event, the respondent did not provide material information on the majority of the aliases put to him,” the Judge reveals.

    But while not handing over evidence on third-parties will paint Lackman in a better light with concerned elements of the add-on community, the Judge was quick to bring up the Canadian’s history and criticized Justice Bell for not taking it into account when he vacated the Anton Piller order.

    “[T]he respondent admitted that he was involved in piracy of satellite television signals when he was younger, and there is evidence that he was involved in the configuration and sale of ‘jailbroken’ Apple TV set-top boxes,” Justice de Montigny writes.

    “When juxtaposed to the respondent’s attempt to conceal relevant evidence during the execution of the Anton Piller order, that contextual evidence adds credence to the appellants’ concern that the evidence could disappear without a comprehensive order.”

    Dismissing Justice Bell’s findings as “fatally flawed”, Justice de Montigny allowed the appeal of the telecoms companies, set aside the order of June 29, 2017, declared the Anton Piller order and interim injunctions legal, and granted an interlocutory injunction to remain valid until the conclusion of the case in Federal Court. The telecoms companies were also awarded costs of CAD$50,000.

    It’s worth noting that despite all the detail provided up to now, the case hasn’t yet got to the stage where the Court has tested any of the claims put forward by the telecoms companies. Everything reported to date is pre-trial and has been taken at face value.

    TorrentFreak spoke with Adam Lackman but since he hadn’t yet had the opportunity to discuss the matter with his lawyers, he declined to comment further on the record. There is a statement on the TVAddons website which gives his position on the story so far.

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

    ‘Pirate’ Kodi Addon Devs & Distributors Told to Cease-and-Desist

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-kodi-addon-devs-distributors-told-to-cease-and-desist-180214/

    Last November, following a year of upheaval for third-party addon creators and distributors, yet more turmoil hit the community in the form of threats from the world’s most powerful anti-piracy coalition – the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).

    Comprised of 30 companies including the studios of the MPAA, Amazon, Netflix, CBS, HBO, BBC, Sky, Bell Canada, CBS, Hulu, Lionsgate, Foxtel, Village Roadshow, and many more, ACE warned several developers to shut down – or else.

    The letter: shut down – or else

    Now it appears that ACE is on the warpath again, this time targeting a broader range of individuals involved in the Kodi addon scene, from developers and distributors to those involved in the production of how-to videos on YouTube.

    The first report of action came from TVAddons, who noted that the lead developer at the Noobs and Nerds repository had been targeted with a cease-and-desist notice, adding that people from the site had been “visited at their homes.”

    As seen in the image below, the Noobs and Nerds website is currently down. The site’s Twitter account has also been disabled.

    Noobs and Nerds – gone

    While TVAddons couldn’t precisely confirm the source of the threat, information gathered from individuals involved in the addon scene all point to the involvement of ACE.

    In particular, a man known online as Teverz, who develops his own builds, runs a repo, and creates Kodi-themed YouTube videos, confirmed that ACE had been in touch.

    An apparently unconcerned Teverz….

    “I am not a dev so they really don’t scare me lmao,” he added.

    Teverz claims to be from Canada and it appears that others in the country are also facing cease and desist notices. An individual known as Doggmatic, who also identifies as Canadian and has Kodi builds under his belt, says he too was targeted.

    Another target in Canada

    Doggmatic, who appears to be part of the Illuminati repo, says he had someone call the people who sent the cease-and-desist but like Teverz, he doesn’t seem overly concerned, at least for now.

    “I have a legal representative calling them. The letters they sent aren’t legal documents. No lawyer signed them and no law firm mentioned,” Doggmatic said.

    But the threats don’t stop there. Blamo, the developer of the Neptune Rising addon accessible from the Blamo repo, also claims to have been threatened.

    SpinzTV, who offers unofficial Kodi builds and an associated repository, is also under the spotlight. Unlike his Canadian counterparts, he has already thrown in the towel, according to a short announcement on Twitter.

    For SpinzTV it’s all over…

    TorrentFreak contacted the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, asking them if they could confirm the actions and provide any additional details. At the time of publication they had no information for us but we’ll update if and when that comes in.

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

    New Kodi Addon Tool Might Carry Interesting Copyright Liability Implications

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/new-kodi-addon-tool-might-carry-interesting-copyright-liability-implications-180124/

    Kodi is the now ubiquitous media player taking the world by storm. In itself it’s a great piece of software but augmented with third-party software it can become a piracy powerhouse.

    This software, known collectively as ‘add-ons’, enables Kodi to do things it was never designed for such as watching pirated movies, TV shows, and live sports. As a result, it’s the go-to media platform for millions around the globe, but for those distributing the add-ons, there can be risks attached.

    As one of the most prominent Kodi-related sites around, TVAddons helped to distribute huge numbers of add-ons. The platform insists that if any add-on infringed copyright, it was only too willing to remove them under a DMCA-like regime. Last year, however, it became clear that copyright holders would prefer to sue TVAddons (1,2) than ask for takedowns.

    With those lawsuits still ongoing, the site was left with a dilemma. Despite add-ons being developed and uploaded by third-parties, rightsholders are still trying to hold TVAddons responsible for what those add-ons can do. It’s a precarious situation that has led to TVAddons not having its own repository/repo (a place where the addons are stored for users to download) since the site ran into trouble last summer.

    Now, however, the site has just launched a new tool which not only provides some benefits for users looking for addons, but also attempts to shift some liability for potential infringement away from the service and onto a company with much broader shoulders.

    TVAddons’ Github Browser was released yesterday and is available via the platform’s Indigo tool. Its premise is simple.

    Since many third-party Kodi add-ons are developed and first made available on Github, the world’s leading software development platform, why don’t users install them directly from there instead?

    The idea is that this might reduce liability for distributors like TVAddons but could also present benefits for users, as they can be assured that they’re getting add-ons directly from the source.

    Github Browser welcome screen

    “Before the GitHub Browser, when an end user wanted to install a particular addon, they’d first have to download the necessary repository from either Fusion Installer or an alternative,” a TV addons spokesperson informs TF.

    “This new feature gives the end user the ability to easily install any Kodi addon, and empowers developers to distribute their addons independently, without having to align themselves with a particular release group or web site.”

    Aside from the benefits to users, it also means that TVAddons can provide its users with access to third-party add-ons without having to curate, store, or distribute them itself. In future, storage and distribution aspects can be carried out by Github, which has actually been the basic behind-the-scenes position for some time.

    “GitHub has always been the leading host of Kodi addons, and also respects the law. The difference is, they are big enough to not be bullied by draconian legal maneuvers used by big corporations to censor the internet. We also felt that developers should be able to develop without having to comply with our rules, or any other Kodi web site’s rules for that matter,” TVAddons explain.

    The screenshot of the Github Browser below reveals a text-heavy interface that will probably mean little to the low-level user of Kodi who bought his device already setup from a seller. However, those more familiar with the way Kodi functions will recognize that the filenames relate to add-ons which can now be directly installed via the browser.

    The Github Browser

    While the approach may seem basic or even inaccessible at first view, that wrongfully discounts the significant resources available to the sprawling third-party Kodi add-on community.

    Dozens of specialist blogs and thousands of YouTube videos report in detail on the most relevant addons, providing all of the details users will need to identify and locate the required software. Developer usernames could be a good starting point, TVAddons suggests.

    “We have already seen many social media posts, blogs and developers advertising their GitHub usernames in order to make it easier for users to find them,” the site explains.

    From our tests, it appears that users really have to do all the work themselves. There doesn’t appear to be any add-on curation and users must know what they’re looking for in advance. Indeed, entering the Github usernames of developers who produce software that has nothing to do with Kodi can still present zip file results in the browser. Whether this will prove problematic later on will remain to be seen.

    While most keen users won’t have a problem using the Github Browser, there is the question of whether redirecting the focus to the development platform will cause copyright holders to pay more attention to Github.

    This has certainly happened in the past, such as when the Federation Against Copyright Theft targeted the SportsDevil add-on and had it removed from Github. It’s also worth noting that Github doesn’t appear to challenge takedown requests, so add-ons could be vulnerable if the heat gets turned up.

    Nevertheless, TVAddons believes that the open source nature of most addons coupled with Github’s relative strength means that they’ll be able to stand up to most threats.

    “Open source code lives on forever, it’s impossible to scrub the internet of freely distributed legitimate code. I think that GitHub is in a better position to legitimately assess and enforce the DMCA than us. They won’t be sued out of nowhere in circumvention of the DMCA in similar fashion to what we have been the victim of,” TVAddons says.

    Several years ago, when The Pirate Bay got rid of torrents and relied on magnet links instead, the platform became much more compact, thus saving on bandwidth. The lack of a repository at TVAddons has also had benefits for the site. Previously it was consuming around 3PB (3,000,000 gigabytes) of bandwidth a month, with a hosting provider demanding $25,000 per month not to discontinue business.

    Finally, the team says it is working on new browser features for the future, including repository distribution over torrents. Only time will tell how this new system will be viewed by copyright holders but even with add-on hosting taken care of externally, any form of curation could be instantly frowned upon, with serious consequences.

    Details of the browser can be found here.

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

    US Govt Brands Torrent, Streaming & Cyberlocker Sites As Notorious Markets

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/us-govt-brands-torrent-streaming-cyberlocker-sites-as-notorious-markets-180115/

    In its annual “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets” the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has listed a long list of websites said to be involved in online piracy.

    The list is compiled with high-level input from various trade groups, including the MPAA and RIAA who both submitted their recommendations (1,2) during early October last year.

    With the word “allegedly” used more than two dozen times in the report, the US government notes that its report does not constitute cast-iron proof of illegal activity. However, it urges the countries from where the so-called “notorious markets” operate to take action where they can, while putting owners and facilitators on notice that their activities are under the spotlight.

    “A goal of the List is to motivate appropriate action by owners, operators, and service providers in the private sector of these and similar markets, as well as governments, to reduce piracy and counterfeiting,” the report reads.

    “USTR highlights the following marketplaces because they exemplify global counterfeiting and piracy concerns and because the scale of infringing activity in these marketplaces can cause significant harm to U.S. intellectual property (IP) owners, consumers, legitimate online platforms, and the economy.”

    The report begins with a page titled “Issue Focus: Illicit Streaming Devices”. Unsurprisingly, particularly given their place in dozens of headlines last year, the segment focus on the set-top box phenomenon. The piece doesn’t list any apps or software tools as such but highlights the general position, claiming a cost to the US entertainment industry of $4-5 billion a year.

    Torrent Sites

    In common with previous years, the USTR goes on to list several of the world’s top torrent sites but due to changes in circumstances, others have been delisted. ExtraTorrent, which shut down May 2017, is one such example.

    As the world’s most famous torrent site, The Pirate Bay gets a prominent mention, with the USTR noting that the site is of “symbolic importance as one of the longest-running and most vocal torrent sites. The USTR underlines the site’s resilience by noting its hydra-like form while revealing an apparent secret concerning its hosting arrangements.

    “The Pirate Bay has allegedly had more than a dozen domains hosted in various countries around the world, applies a reverse proxy service, and uses a hosting provider in Vietnam to evade further enforcement action,” the USTR notes.

    Other torrent sites singled out for criticism include RARBG, which was nominated for the listing by the movie industry. According to the USTR, the site is hosted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has changed hosting services to prevent shutdowns in recent years.

    1337x.to and the meta-search engine Torrentz2 are also given a prime mention, with the USTR noting that they are “two of the most popular torrent sites that allegedly infringe U.S. content industry’s copyrights.” Russia’s RuTracker is also targeted for criticism, with the government noting that it’s now one of the most popular torrent sites in the world.

    Streaming & Cyberlockers

    While torrent sites are still important, the USTR reserves considerable space in its report for streaming portals and cyberlocker-type services.

    4Shared.com, a file-hosting site that has been targeted by dozens of millions of copyright notices, is reportedly no longer able to use major US payment providers. Nevertheless, the British Virgin Islands company still collects significant sums from premium accounts, advertising, and offshore payment processors, USTR notes.

    Cyberlocker Rapidgator gets another prominent mention in 2017, with the USTR noting that the Russian-hosted platform generates millions of dollars every year through premium memberships while employing rewards and affiliate schemes.

    Due to its increasing popularity as a hosting and streaming operation, Openload.co (Romania) is now a big target for the USTR. “The site is used frequently in combination with add-ons in illicit streaming devices. In November 2017, users visited Openload.co a staggering 270 million times,” the USTR writes.

    Owned by a Swiss company and hosted in the Netherlands, the popular site Uploaded is also criticized by the US alongside France’s 1Fichier.com, which allegedly hosts pirate games while being largely unresponsive to takedown notices. Dopefile.pk, a Pakistan-based storage outfit, is also highlighted.

    On the video streaming front, it’s perhaps no surprise that the USTR focuses on sites like FMovies (Sweden), GoStream (Vietnam), Movie4K.tv (Russia) and PrimeWire. An organization collectively known as the MovShare group which encompasses Nowvideo.sx, WholeCloud.net, NowDownload.cd, MeWatchSeries.to and WatchSeries.ac, among others, is also listed.

    Unauthorized music / research papers

    While most of the above are either focused on video or feature it as part of their repertoire, other sites are listed for their attention to music. Convert2MP3.net is named as one of the most popular stream-ripping sites in the world and is highlighted due to the prevalence of YouTube-downloader sites and the 2017 demise of YouTube-MP3.

    “Convert2MP3.net does not appear to have permission from YouTube or other sites and does not have permission from right holders for a wide variety of music represented by major U.S. labels,” the USTR notes.

    Given the amount of attention the site has received in 2017 as ‘The Pirate Bay of Research’, Libgen.io and Sci-Hub.io (not to mention the endless proxy and mirror sites that facilitate access) are given a detailed mention in this year’s report.

    “Together these sites make it possible to download — all without permission and without remunerating authors, publishers or researchers — millions of copyrighted books by commercial publishers and university presses; scientific, technical and medical journal articles; and publications of technological standards,” the USTR writes.

    Service providers

    But it’s not only sites that are being put under pressure. Following a growing list of nominations in previous years, Swiss service provider Private Layer is again singled out as a rogue player in the market for hosting 1337x.to and Torrentz2.eu, among others.

    “While the exact configuration of websites changes from year to year, this is the fourth consecutive year that the List has stressed the significant international trade impact of Private Layer’s hosting services and the allegedly infringing sites it hosts,” the USTR notes.

    “Other listed and nominated sites may also be hosted by Private Layer but are using
    reverse proxy services to obfuscate the true host from the public and from law enforcement.”

    The USTR notes Switzerland’s efforts to close a legal loophole that restricts enforcement and looks forward to a positive outcome when the draft amendment is considered by parliament.

    Perhaps a little surprisingly given its recent anti-piracy efforts and overtures to the US, Russia’s leading social network VK.com again gets a place on the new list. The USTR recognizes VK’s efforts but insists that more needs to be done.

    Social networking and e-commerce

    “In 2016, VK reached licensing agreements with major record companies, took steps to limit third-party applications dedicated to downloading infringing content from the site, and experimented with content recognition technologies,” the USTR writes.

    “Despite these positive signals, VK reportedly continues to be a hub of infringing activity and the U.S. motion picture industry reports that they find thousands of infringing files on the site each month.”

    Finally, in addition to traditional pirate sites, the US also lists online marketplaces that allegedly fail to meet appropriate standards. Re-added to the list in 2016 after a brief hiatus in 2015, China’s Alibaba is listed again in 2017. The development provoked an angry response from the company.

    Describing his company as a “scapegoat”, Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said that his platform had achieved a 25% drop in takedown requests and has even been removing infringing listings before they make it online.

    “In light of all this, it’s clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results,” Evans said in a statement.

    The full list of sites in the Notorious Markets Report 2017 (pdf) can be found below.

    – 1fichier.com – (cyberlocker)
    – 4shared.com – (cyberlocker)
    – convert2mp3.net – (stream-ripper)
    – Dhgate.com (e-commerce)
    – Dopefile.pl – (cyberlocker)
    – Firestorm-servers.com (pirate gaming service)
    – Fmovies.is, Fmovies.se, Fmovies.to – (streaming)
    – Gostream.is, Gomovies.to, 123movieshd.to (streaming)
    – Indiamart.com (e-commerce)
    – Kinogo.club, kinogo.co (streaming host, platform)
    – Libgen.io, sci-hub.io, libgen.pw, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.bz, libgen.info, lib.rus.ec, bookfi.org, bookzz.org, booker.org, booksc.org, book4you.org, bookos-z1.org, booksee.org, b-ok.org (research downloads)
    – Movshare Group – Nowvideo.sx, wholecloud.net, auroravid.to, bitvid.sx, nowdownload.ch, cloudtime.to, mewatchseries.to, watchseries.ac (streaming)
    – Movie4k.tv (streaming)
    – MP3VA.com (music)
    – Openload.co (cyberlocker / streaming)
    – 1337x.to (torrent site)
    – Primewire.ag (streaming)
    – Torrentz2, Torrentz2.me, Torrentz2.is (torrent site)
    – Rarbg.to (torrent site)
    – Rebel (domain company)
    – Repelis.tv (movie and TV linking)
    – RuTracker.org (torrent site)
    – Rapidgator.net (cyberlocker)
    – Taobao.com (e-commerce)
    – The Pirate Bay (torrent site)
    – TVPlus, TVBrowser, Kuaikan (streaming apps and addons, China)
    – Uploaded.net (cyberlocker)
    – VK.com (social networking)

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

    Pirate Streaming on Facebook is a Seriously Risky Business

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-streaming-on-facebook-is-a-seriously-risky-business-180114/

    For more than a year the British public has been warned about the supposed dangers of Kodi piracy.

    Dozens of headlines have claimed consequences ranging from system-destroying malware to prison sentences. Fortunately, most of them can be filed under “tabloid nonsense.”

    That being said, there is an extremely important issue that deserves much closer attention, particularly given a shift in the UK legal climate during 2017. We’re talking about live streaming copyrighted content on Facebook, which is both incredibly easy and frighteningly risky.

    This week it was revealed that 34-year-old Craig Foster from the UK had been given an ultimatum from Sky to pay a £5,000 settlement fee. The media giant discovered that he’d live-streamed the Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko fight on Facebook and wanted compensation to make a potential court case disappear.

    While it may seem initially odd to use the word, Foster was lucky.

    Under last year’s Digital Economy Act, he could’ve been jailed for up to ten years for distributing copyright-infringing content to the public, if he had “reason to believe that communicating the work to the public [would] cause loss to the owner of the copyright, or [would] expose the owner of the copyright to a risk of loss.”

    Clearly, as a purchaser of the £19.95 pay-per-view himself, he would’ve appreciated that the event costs money. With that in mind, a court would likely find that he would have been aware that Sky would have been exposed to a “risk of loss”. Sky claim that 4,250 people watched the stream but the way the law is written, no specific level of loss is required for a breach of the law.

    But it’s not just the threat of a jail sentence that’s the problem. People streaming live sports on Facebook are sitting ducks.

    In Foster’s case, the fight he streamed was watermarked, which means that Sky put a tracking code into it which identified him personally as the buyer of the event. When he (or his friend, as Foster claims) streamed it on Facebook, it was trivial for Sky to capture the watermark and track it back to his Sky account.

    Equally, it would be simplicity itself to see that the name on the Sky account had exactly the same name and details as Foster’s Facebook account. So, to most observers, it would appear that not only had Foster purchased the event, but he was also streaming it to Facebook illegally.

    It’s important to keep something else in mind. No cooperation between Sky and Facebook would’ve been necessary to obtain Foster’s details. Take the amount of information most people share on Facebook, combine that with the information Sky already had, and the company’s anti-piracy team would have had a very easy job.

    Now compare this situation with an upload of the same stream to a torrent site.

    While the video capture would still contain Foster’s watermark, which would indicate the source, to prove he also distributed the video Sky would’ve needed to get inside a torrent swarm. From there they would need to capture the IP address of the initial seeder and take the case to court, to force an ISP to hand over that person’s details.

    Presuming they were the same person, Sky would have a case, with a broadly similar level of evidence to that presented in the current matter. However, it would’ve taken them months to get their man and cost large sums of money to get there. It’s very unlikely that £5,000 would cover the costs, meaning a much, much bigger bill for the culprit.

    Or, confident that Foster was behind the leak based on the watermark alone, Sky could’ve gone straight to the police. That never ends well.

    The bottom line is that while live-streaming on Facebook is simplicity itself, people who do it casually from their own account (especially with watermarked content) are asking for trouble.

    Nailing Foster was the piracy equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel but the worrying part is that he probably never gave his (or his friend’s…) alleged infringement a second thought. With a click or two, the fight was live and he was staring down the barrel of a potential jail sentence, had Sky not gone the civil route.

    It’s scary stuff and not enough is being done to warn people of the consequences. Forget the scare stories attempting to deter people from watching fights or movies on Kodi, thoughtlessly streaming them to the public on social media is the real danger.

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

    Dish Network Files Two Lawsuits Against Pirate IPTV Providers

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-network-files-two-lawsuits-against-pirate-iptv-providers-180103/

    In broad terms, there are two types of unauthorized online streaming of live TV. The first is via open-access websites where users can view for free. The second features premium services to which viewers are required to subscribe.

    Usually available for a few dollars, euros, or pounds per month, the latter are gaining traction all around the world. Service levels are relatively high and the majority of illicit packages offer a dazzling array of programming, often putting official providers in the shade.

    For this reason, commercial IPTV providers are considered a huge threat to broadcasters’ business models, since they offer a broadly comparable and accessible service at a much cheaper price. This is forcing companies such as US giant Dish Networks to court, seeking relief.

    Following on from a lawsuit filed last year against Kodi add-on ZemTV and TVAddons.ag, Dish has just filed two more lawsuits targeting a pair of unauthorized pirate IPTV services.

    Filed in Maryland and Texas respectively, the actions are broadly similar, with the former targeting a provider known as Spider-TV.

    The suit, filed against Dima Furniture Inc. and Mohammad Yusif (individually and collectively doing business as Spider-TV), claims that the defendants are “capturing
    broadcasts of television channels exclusively licensed to DISH and are unlawfully retransmitting these channels over the Internet to their customers throughout the United States, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.”

    Dish claim that the defendants profit from the scheme by selling set-top boxes along with subscriptions, charging around $199 per device loaded with 13 months of service.

    Dima Furniture is a Maryland corporation, registered at Takoma Park, Maryland 20912, an address that is listed on the Spider-TV website. The connection between the defendants is further supported by FCC references which identify Spider devices in the market. Mohammad Yusif is claimed to be the president, executive director, general manager, and sole shareholder of Dima Furniture.

    Dish describes itself as the fourth largest pay-television provider in the United States, delivering copyrighted programming to millions of subscribers nationwide by means of satellite delivery and over-the-top services. Dish has acquired the rights to do this, the defendants have not, the broadcaster states.

    “Defendants capture live broadcast signals of the Protected Channels, transcode these signals into a format useful for streaming over the Internet, transfer the transcoded content to one or more servers provided, controlled, and maintained by Defendants, and then transmit the Protected Channels to users of the Service through
    OTT delivery, including users in the United States,” the lawsuit reads.

    It’s claimed that in July 2015, Yusif registered Spider-TV as a trade name of Dima Furniture with the Department of Assessments and Taxation Charter Division, describing the business as “Television Channel Installation”. Since then, the defendants have been illegally retransmitting Dish channels to customers in the United States.

    The overall offer from Spider-TV appears to be considerable, with a claimed 1,300 channels from major regions including the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

    Importantly, Dish state that the defendants know that their activities are illegal, since the provider sent at least 32 infringement notices since January 20, 2017 demanding an end to the unauthorized retransmission of its channels. It went on to send even more to the defendants’ ISPs.

    “DISH and Networks sent at least thirty-three additional notices requesting the
    removal of infringing content to Internet service providers associated with the Service from February 16, 2017 to the filing of this Complaint. Upon information and belief, at least some of these notices were forwarded to Defendants,” the lawsuit reads.

    But while Dish says that the takedowns responded to by the ISPs were initially successful, the defendants took evasive action by transmitting the targeted channels from other locations.

    Describing the defendants’ actions as “willful, malicious, intentional [and] purposeful”, Dish is suing for Direct Copyright Infringement, demanding a permanent injunction preventing the promotion and provision of the service plus statutory damages of $150,000 per registered work. The final amount isn’t specified but the numbers are potentially enormous. In addition, Dish demands attorneys’ fees, costs, and the seizure of all infringing articles.

    The second lawsuit, filed in Texas, is broadly similar. It targets Mo’ Ayad Al
    Zayed Trading Est., and Mo’ Ayad Fawzi Al Zayed (individually and collectively doing business as Tiger International Company), and Shenzhen Tiger Star Electronical Co., Ltd, otherwise known as Shenzhen Tiger Star.

    Dish claims that these defendants also illegally capture and retransmit channels to customers in the United States. IPTV boxes costing up to $179 including one year’s service are the method of delivery.

    In common with the Maryland case, Dish says it sent almost two dozen takedown notices to ISPs utilized by the defendants. These were also countered by the unauthorized service retransmitting Dish channels from other servers.

    The biggest difference between the Maryland and Texas cases is that while Yusif/Spider/Dima Furniture are said to be in the US, Zayed is said to reside in Amman, Jordan, and Tiger Star is registered in Shenzhen, China. However, since the unauthorized service is targeted at customers in Texas, Dish states that the Texas court has jurisdiction.

    Again, Dish is suing for Direct Infringement, demanding damages, costs, and a permanent injunction.

    The complaints can be found here and here.

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

    Is Your Kodi Setup Being Spied On?

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/is-your-kodi-setup-being-spied-on-180101/

    As quite possibly the most people media player on earth, Kodi is installed on millions of machines – around 38 million according to the MPAA. The software has a seriously impressive range of features but one, if not configured properly, raises security issues for Kodi users.

    For many years, Kodi has had a remote control feature, whereby the software can be remotely managed via a web interface.

    This means that you’re able to control your Kodi setup installed on a computer or set-top box using a convenient browser-based interface on another device, from the same room or indeed anywhere in the world. Earlier versions of the web interface look like the one in the image below.

    The old Kodi web-interface – functional but basic

    But while this is a great feature, people don’t always password-protect the web-interface, meaning that outsiders can access their Kodi setups, if they have that person’s IP address and a web-browser. In fact, the image shown above is from a UK Kodi user’s setup that was found in seconds using a specialist search engine.

    While the old web-interface for Kodi was basically a remote control, things got more interesting in late 2016 when the much more functional Chorus2 interface was included in Kodi by default. It’s shown in the image below.

    Chorus 2 Kodi Web-Interface

    Again, the screenshot above was taken from the setup of a Kodi user whose setup was directly open to the Internet. In every way the web-interface of Kodi acts as a web page, allowing anyone with the user’s IP address (with :8080 appended to the end) to access the user’s setup. It’s no different than accessing Google with an IP address (216.58.216.142), instead of Google.com.

    However, Chorus 2 is much more comprehensive that its predecessors which means that it’s possible for outsiders to browse potentially sensitive items, including their addons if a password hasn’t been enabled in the appropriate section in Kodi.

    Kodi users probably don’t want this seen in public

    While browsing someone’s addons isn’t the most engaging thing in the world, things get decidedly spicier when one learns that the Chorus 2 interface allows both authorized and unauthorized users to go much further.

    For example, it’s possible to change Kodi’s system settings from the interface, including mischievous things such as disabling keyboards and mice. As seen (or not seen) in the redacted section in the image below, it can also give away system usernames, for example.

    Access to Kodi settings – and more

    But aside from screwing with people’s settings (which is both pointless and malicious), the Chorus 2 interface has a trick up its sleeve. If people’s Kodi setups contain video or music files (which is what Kodi was originally designed for), in many cases it’s possible to play these over the web interface.

    In basic terms, someone with your IP address can view the contents of your video library on the other side of the world, with just a couple of clicks.

    The image below shows that a Kodi setup has been granted access to some kind of storage (network or local disk, for example) and it can be browsed, revealing movies. (To protect the user, redactions have been made to remove home video titles, network, and drive names)

    Network storage accessed via Chorus 2

    The big question is, however, whether someone accessing a Kodi setup remotely can view these videos via a web browser. Answer: Absolutely.

    Clicking through on each piece of media reveals a button to the right of its title. Clicking that reveals two options – ‘Queue in Kodi’ (to play on the installation itself) or ‘Download’, which plays/stores the content via a remote browser located anywhere in the world. Chrome works like a charm.

    Queue to Kodi or watch remotely in a browser

    While this is ‘fun’ and potentially useful for outsiders looking for content, it’s not great if it’s your system that’s open to the world. The good news is that something can be done about it.

    In their description for Chorus 2, the Kodi team explain all of its benefits of the interface but it appears many people don’t take their advice to introduce a new password. The default password and username are both ‘kodi’ which is terrible for security if people leave things the way they are.

    If you run Kodi, now is probably the time to fix the settings, disable the web interface if you don’t use it, or enable stronger password protection if you do.

    Change that password – now

    Just recently, Kodi addon repository TVAddons issued a warning to people using jailbroken Apple TV 2 devices. That too was a default password issue and one that can be solved relatively easily.

    “People need to realize that their Kodi boxes are actually mini computers and need to be treated as such,” a TVAddons spokesperson told TF.

    “When you install a build, or follow a guide from an unreputable source, you’re opening yourself up to potential risk. Since Kodi boxes aren’t normally used to handle sensitive data, people seem to disregard the potential risks that are posed to their network.”

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

    Our ‘Kodi Box’ Is Legal & Our Users Don’t Break the Law, TickBox Tells Hollywood

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/our-kodi-box-is-legal-our-users-dont-break-the-law-tickbox-tells-hollywood-171229/

    Georgia-based TickBox TV is a provider of set-top boxes that allow users to stream all kinds of popular content. Like other similar devices, Tickboxes use the popular Kodi media player alongside instructions how to find and use third-party addons.

    Of course, these types of add-ons are considered a thorn in the side of the entertainment industries and as a result, Tickbox found itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit in the United States.

    Filed in a California federal court in October, Universal, Columbia Pictures, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros, Amazon, and Netflix accused Tickbox of inducing and contributing to copyright infringement.

    “TickBox sells ‘TickBox TV,’ a computer hardware device that TickBox urges its customers to use as a tool for the mass infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the complaint reads.

    “TickBox promotes the use of TickBox TV for overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, infringing purposes, and that is how its customers use TickBox TV. TickBox advertises TickBox TV as a substitute for authorized and legitimate distribution channels such as cable television or video-on-demand services like Amazon Prime and Netflix.”

    The copyright holders reference a TickBox TV video which informs customers how to install ‘themes’, more commonly known as ‘builds’. These ‘builds’ are custom Kodi-setups which contain many popular add-ons that specialize in supplying pirate content. Is that illegal? TickBox TV believes not.

    In a response filed yesterday, TickBox underlined its position that its device is not sold with any unauthorized or illegal content and complains that just because users may choose to download and install third-party programs through which they can search for and view unauthorized content, that’s not its fault. It goes on to attack the lawsuit on several fronts.

    TickBox argues that plaintiffs’ claims, that TickBox can be held secondarily liable under the theory of contributory infringement or inducement liability as described in the famous Grokster and isoHunt cases, is unlikely to succeed. TickBox says the studios need to show four elements – distribution of a device or product, acts of infringement by users of Tickbox, an object of promoting its use to infringe copyright, and causation.

    “Plaintiffs have failed to establish any of these four elements,” TickBox’s lawyers write.

    Firstly, TickBox says that while its device can be programmed to infringe, it’s the third party software (the builds/themes containing addons) that do all the dirty work, and TickBox has nothing to do with them.

    “The Motion spends a great deal of time describing these third-party ‘Themes’ and how they operate to search for and stream videos. But the ‘Themes’ on which Plaintiffs so heavily focus are not the [TickBox], and they have absolutely nothing to do with Defendant. Rather, they are third-party modifications of the open-source media player software [Kodi] which the Box utilizes,” the response reads.

    TickBox says its device is merely a small computer, not unlike a smartphone or tablet. Indeed, when it comes to running the ‘pirate’ builds listed in the lawsuit, a device supplied by one of the plaintiffs can accomplish the same task.

    “Plaintiffs have identified certain of these thirdparty ‘builds’ or ‘Themes’ which are available on the internet and which can be downloaded by users to view content streamed by third-party websites; however, this same software can be installed on many different types of devices, even one distributed by affiliates of Plaintiff Amazon Content Services, LLC,” the company adds.

    Referencing the Grokster case, TickBox states that particular company was held liable for distributing a device (the Grokster software) “with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright.” In the isoHunt case, it argues that the provision of torrent files satisfied the first element of inducement liability.

    “In contrast, Defendant’s product – the Box – is not software through which users can access unauthorized content, as in Grokster, or even a necessary component of accessing unauthorized content, as in Fung [isoHunt],” TickBox writes.

    “Defendant offers a computer, onto which users can voluntarily install legitimate or illegitimate software. The product about which Plaintiffs complain is third-party software which can be downloaded onto a myriad of devices, and which Defendant neither created nor supplies.”

    From defending itself, TickBox switches track to highlight weaknesses in the studios’ case against users of its TickBox device. The company states that the plaintiffs have not presented any evidence that buyers of the TickBox streaming unit have actually accessed any copyrighted material.

    Interestingly, however, the company also notes that even if people had streamed ‘pirate’ content, that might not constitute infringement.

    First up, the company notes that there are no allegations that anyone – from TickBox itself to TickBox device owners – ever violated the plaintiffs’ exclusive right to perform its copyrighted works.

    TickBox then further argues that copyright law does not impose liability for viewing streaming content, stating that an infringer is one who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright holder, in this case, the right to “perform the copyrighted work publicly.”

    “Plaintiffs do not allege that Defendant, Defendant’s product, or the users of Defendant’s product ‘transmit or otherwise communicate a performance’ to the public; instead, Plaintiffs allege that users view streaming material on the Box.

    “It is clear precedent [Perfect 10 v Google] in this Circuit that merely viewing copyrighted material online, without downloading, copying, or retransmitting such material, is not actionable.”

    Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, TickBox insists that if its users aren’t infringing copyright, it’s impossible to argue that TickBox induced its customers to violate the plaintiffs’ rights. In that respect, plaintiffs’ complaints that TickBox failed to develop “filtering tools” to diminish its customers’ infringing activity are moot, since in TickBox’s eyes no infringement took place.

    TickBox also argues that unlike in Grokster, where the defendant profited when users’ accessed infringing content, it does not. And, just to underline the earlier point, it claims that its place in the market is not to compete with entertainment companies, it’s actually to compete with devices such as Amazon’s Firestick – another similar Android-powered device.

    Finally, TickBox notes that it has zero connection with any third-party sites that transmit copyrighted works in violation of the plaintiffs’ rights.

    “Plaintiff has not alleged any element of contributory infringement vis-à-vis these unknown third-parties. Plaintiff has not alleged that Defendant has distributed any product to those third parties, that Defendant has committed any act which encourages those third parties’ infringement, or that any act of Defendant has, in fact, caused those third parties to infringe,” its response adds.

    But even given the above defenses, TickBox says that it “voluntarily took steps” to remove links to the allegedly infringing Kodi builds from its device, following the plaintiffs’ lawsuit. It also claims to have modified its advertising and webpage “to attempt to appease Plaintiffs and resolve their complaint amicably.”

    Given the above, TickBox says that the plaintiffs’ application for injunction is both vague and overly broad and would impose “imperssible hardship” on the company by effectively shutting it down while requiring it to “hack into and delete content” which TickBox users may have downloaded to their boxes.

    TickBox raises some very interesting points around some obvious weaknesses so it will be intriguing to see how the Court handles its claims and what effect that has on the market for these devices in the US. In particular, the thorny issue of how they are advertised and promoted, which is nearly always the final stumbling block.

    A copy of Tickbox’s response is available here (pdf), via Variety

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

    Kodi Piracy and Addon Predictions for 2018

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-piracy-and-addon-predictions-for-2018-171228/

    During 2017, Kodi and its sea of third-party addons hit the headlines hundreds of times.

    Streaming in this fashion became a massive deal throughout the year and eventually, copyright holders decided to take action, cracking down on groups such as TVAddons, ZemTV, and addons offered by jsergio123 and The_Alpha.

    In November, the problems continued when the Ares Project, the group behind the hugely popular Ares Wizard and Kodi repository, threw in the towel after being threatened by the MPA-led anti-piracy coalition Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

    The combined might of Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner, Netflix, Amazon, and Sky TV was too much, leading to Ares Project leader Tekto shutting everything down.

    This was a significant development. Over a two year period, Ares serviced an estimated 100 million users. After interviewing Tekto last month, today we catch up with the developer again, listening to his thoughts on how the scene might further develop in 2018 and what threats lie ahead.

    TF: Could you tell us a bit about Kodi’s suitability as an unauthorized streaming platform moving forward? Is it flexible enough to deal with threats, is its current development effort sufficient, do addon developers like the way it works, and how could it be improved?

    Tekto: The public awareness of Kodi and the easy ways with which it can be customised via builds and its open source nature makes it the perfect platform for Python coders. It’s easy to fork, copy, adapt and learn, and it’s good for “builders” who modify, personalize, and “brand”.

    It’s also easy for users to obtain, install, and work with the plethora of wizards and addons etc, all backed by up blogs and YouTube tutorials. It’s the perfect open source platform to develop and customise to access a massive range of content. Content that may well be contentious but regardless, it is publicly available all over the web.

    TF: Obviously Kodi is the big thing at the moment but other apps, such as Showbox, TerrariumTV, and similar products are carving a decent niche for themselves. Where do you see the market sitting on these kinds of products moving forward and are they a threat to Kodi’s dominance?

    Tekto: The apps and other services don’t offer the same level of personalization. That’s what will keep a certain dedicated following happy with Kodi. We’ve had Plex, Streamio, Emby and so on, but none offer the flexibility of Kodi.

    TF: Does Kodi have any major weaknesses that you know of? Is it under threat from other systems perhaps?

    Tekto: Lets not forget we had CCcam [card sharing] for a decade and with Sky [UK TV provider] changing their encryption to end that source, a myriad of IPTV providers sprung up to replace it. All that killing the CCcam method has done, is moved people off CCcam to IPTV. It hasn’t stopped piracy or access to “premium content”, it just moved somewhere else. It probably also makes the providers more money than CCcam accounts ever did.

    TF: There have been a lot of legal threats in 2017. Are third-party addon developers and their community under serious threat?

    Tekto: If Kodi third-party devs “stopped”, something else would take over. All the Android apps that have sprung up (some have been around a while anyway) are already filling some gaps or giving options for those looking to stream.

    Having tried some of these, I have to say for non-tech users there are two or three apps that will suit them perfectly. Others need more work and fewer invasive ads to be more successful. Will Kodi stop? No. It is evolving and finding a new path. It has to. Well, the coders have to, at least.

    TF: What is your overall assessment of the various legal attacks this year?

    Tekto: What is being missed by all these legal “efforts” is the removal of the sources being accessed. Whilst the sources exist, apps and Kodi add-ons will find ways to access them.

    Did taking out a few Kodi devs and a wizard remove any content? Did it stop just one movie from being accessed? No. It did nothing to stop piracy. It did, however, give those receiving HUGE fees to act for the various movie and broadcasters, something to write on their “success” boards and reports.

    It just upset users for a few days whilst things adapted to the new situation. The Kodi builds listed on Ares all had their own wizards anyway – so they all carried on working. All the add-ons on Ares were mostly linked to Github, so they carried on working anyway.

    The takedown of guys working on the URL resolver for Covenant didn’t work at all. The code still works and if you add, let’s say, Real Debrid, it won’t ever stop working, even Exodus still works! Let’s add to this that Covenant was then forked five or six times and re-marketed.

    I’d say it probably increased “acts of copyright infringement” or at least access to “copyright infringing material”. TV Addons immediately took over development of the “URL resolver”, so it will be maintained and fixes for it released.

    The URL resolver module uses regex – regular expressions to emulate a web browser (for the most part). Let that sink in; A URL resolver is a way to bypass a web browser, as most of the content is hosted on “publicly accessible” websites, that still remain publicly available with or without Covenant or whatever the forks are called.

    TF: Sp there isn’t a Doomsday scenario?

    Tekto: If the Kodi third-party scene is somehow stopped – all Wizards, builds, etc were all stopped this very second – there would be a dozen new apps for Android in weeks. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of websites you could switch to, to watch the same content. ACE, MPA etc need to wake up to that fact.

    TF: One of the big deals this year, as far as the legal position goes, has been the clarification of “communication to the public” following cases at the European level featuring [pirate box seller] Filmspeler and The Pirate Bay. How do you think this will affect the addon and build scenes moving forward?

    Tekto: I’ve long believed that Kodi wizards and scraper addons operated in a way that wasn’t illegal, in that they never provided content, never actually handled the copyright protected files themselves.

    It still remains my belief that the recent efforts to use the Ziggo [Pirate Bay] ruling concerning “communicating to the public” is directly linked to torrents or at the very least actually providing content itself. It may be legal “saber rattling” – however standing your ground in the face of a well-funded legal behemoth is beyond hobbyists.

    TF: An addon developer I spoke with recently said that fellow addon developers will need to be smarter in future, perhaps by developing addons that aren’t so obviously infringing and are more general in their functionality. Do you feel this is a route they’re likely to take and will it make any difference? How do you think a more ‘underground’ scene will affect the situation on the ground?

    Tekto: Going Underground? Most will say grab a VPN and you’re safe – take note that a VPN isn’t enough. They may not get your logs, but they will get your payment info, or the times you are online tagged against another log etc. Anything like PayPal, Gmail, AdSense, etc is 100% out too – they will give people up in a heartbeat. People will have to avoid Facebook, Twitter and so on, as again, they will also link back to the “real you”.

    I expect more will move to Tor as a first level of hiding their identities. Hosting via Tor-only sites might be a way to avoid some obvious methods of tracing people. Add-on devs could access Github and release code without ever having to reveal who they are.

    Let’s not get into the whole “freedom of speech” etc scenario, however. It should mean that any developer should realistically make much greater efforts to hide their identities.

    TF: Thank you for your time, Tekto. Any final messages for the readers?

    Tekto: Yes, our Ares Wizard has returned. It’s a mainentance tool now.

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