Tag Archives: afeat

Kendall Jenner Posts Video of Herself on Instagram, Gets Sued For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kendall-jenner-posts-video-of-herself-on-instagram-gets-sued-for-copyright-infringement-200402/

A paper published back in 2007 pondered the possibility that on any given day, regular people may commit dozens of copyright infringements, without really knowing it.

While all pitfalls are difficult to predict, the public is much better informed 13 years on and tech-savvy individuals are now more likely to spot potential pitfalls, especially when they carry out more obvious acts such as uploading copyrighted content to social media.

But despite the millions of takedown notices filed every year alongside thousands of lawsuits, even those with massive legal teams and vast resources can make costly errors. Case in point – Kendall Jenner, her Instagram account, and a video for which the model allegedly doesn’t own the copyrights.

Titled ‘bye nyc’ and posted to Instagram on September 13, 2019, it features Jenner leaving a building and being greeted by the usual crowd of photographers aiming to get a shot of the superstar model. It lasts just a few seconds but was nevertheless gobbled up by Jenner’s army of fans who, to date, have viewed the clip almost 22.8 million times.

While many of these kinds of clips attract no negative attention from the people who took them, that isn’t the case here. A lawsuit filed Tuesday in a California district court has New York resident Angela Ma suing Jenner (and her company Kendall Jenner, Inc.) for blatant copyright infringement.

“This is an action for copyright infringement under Section 501 of the Copyright Act,” the complaint reads.

“This action arises out of Defendants’ unauthorized publication and public display of a copyrighted video (the ‘Video’) of defendant Kendall Jenner. The Video and the copyright in the Video are owned and registered by Plaintiff.”

Ma says she has registered the video with the Copyright Office (Reg. # PA 2-211-871) which is important as without an application she wouldn’t be able to sue. But sue she is.

Claiming that the video was viewed “over 13 million times” (a figure that is soon set to double), Ma says that the clip wasn’t licensed to anyone for any use and therefore Jenner did not have permission to post the video on Instagram.

“Defendants infringed Plaintiff’s copyright in the Video by reproducing and publicly displaying the Video on the Website. Defendants were not, and have never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the Video,” the complaint notes.

“The acts of Defendants complained of herein constitute infringement of Plaintiff’s copyright and exclusive rights under copyright in violation of Sections 106 and 501 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 106 and 501.”

The lawsuit says that Jenner’s infringement wasn’t accidental. On the contrary, it was “willful, intentional, and purposeful” and in disregard of Ma’s rights as the copyright holder. As a result, Jenner must now compensate for the damage caused in one of two ways.

On the one hand, Jenner could pay damages and hand over all the income generated by the infringement. In that case, Ma wants Jenner to “account for all profits, income, receipts” so that can be entered into the calculation.

On the other, Ma states that she is entitled to statutory damages of up to $150,000 for the “willful” nature of the infringement. In any event, the New York resident also wants to be compensated for attorneys’ fees and full costs.

In addition, Ma’s attorneys want the court to order Jenner to remove the video from Instagram. Why that wasn’t actioned earlier directly with the social media company isn’t detailed.

Angela Ma is demanding a trial by jury but it seems unlikely that the case will progress that far. Like many such actions, it will probably disappear into the ether following a private settlement.

The copyright infringement lawsuit filed in California can be found here (pdf)

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

ETTV Moves to New Domain Name After Operator Goes Missing

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ettv-moves-to-new-domain-name-after-operator-goes-missing-200104/

Three years ago, the torrent community was hit hard when the popular torrent site ExtraTorrent suddenly shut its doors.

The site provided a safe harbor for millions of file-sharers and was also the birthing ground for several popular releasers and distribution groups. This includes ETTV, which is short for ExtraTorrent TV.

With its home gone, ETTV decided to carry on independently by launching its own website. Over the past years, this has grown out to become a medium-sized torrent site with a dedicated and vetted group of regular uploaders.

Although the site has operated as usual in recent months, behind the scenes staff faced a critical problem. The main ETTV operator who controlled the domains, servers, and ads, suddenly went missing.

TorrentFreak spoke to ETTV administrator ‘sidekickbob’ who informed us that the operator last logged in December last year. Around the same time, he also sent out an email telling the staffer that he had experienced health issues.

After almost four months had passed without an official word from the operator, ‘sidekickbob’ decided to step into action. The first step was to disable the ads since he had no control over them. Coincidence or not, two days later someone canceled the server.

The admin doesn’t believe that ETTV’s operator did this. However, someone clearly was responding, as the server that hosted the torrents was also canceled. After paying the bills, Sidekickbob was able to get the site’s server back, but for the time being ETTV will use magnet links only.

To guarantee that he retained full control, Sidekickbob then decided to switch to a new domain name, ETTVdl.com. While he has access to the registrar login of the other domains, as well as root access to the server, he wants to prevent a ‘third-party’ from taking over.

“I redirected all traffic from ettv.to,” sidekickbob tells us, adding that the other domains are set to expire later this year.

This domain change was also communicated in the forums, without any further background detail.

Unless the original operator reappears, the ‘new’ admin will also reinstate some ads so he can pay the bills. However, sidekickbob has no intention of steering the ship any longer than needed. He is currently looking for a trusted person to take the lead, or else he will shut it down.

“It’s all left to me, and if I don’t manage to ‘transfer’ it to somebody else I will eventually shut it down, most likely at the end of this year,” he says, adding that he doesn’t have enough time to manage the site himself.

This means that ETTV’s future is highly uncertain. In any case, the new admin doesn’t simply plan to sell the site to the highest bidder. If a third-party takes over, it has to be someone with a good track record and some experience

“Ultimately my intention is to sell it to somebody that wants to run the torrent site. Preferably somebody that has experience in running a medium traffic torrent site. I’m not going to give it to some random kids,” sidekickbob concludes.

Shutting down ETTV will certainly have an impact. While the site is not crucial, the ETTV and ETHD bots supply torrents to a wide variety of even more popular torrent sites. If these go down as well, it will surely be noticed.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Disney Deletes Print-on-Demand Sale Claiming Rights to Denmark’s The Little Mermaid Statue

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/disney-deletes-print-on-demand-sale-claiming-rights-to-denmarks-the-little-mermaid-statue-200401/

With the world in turmoil right now, today is not the ideal time for jokes, pranks, and frivolity usually associated with April 1. That being said, US-resident Dani Payson could be forgiven for thinking that someone was yanking her chain this morning.

Payson (who uses the handle Andrea Marie on Twitter) operates a store on Australia-founded print-on-demand site RedBubble. She’s currently selling printed mugs, shower curtains and phone cases – plus t-shirts, of course. Visitors to her page today, however, will discover a notable omission – the removal of a photograph of the world-famous Copenhagen statue The Little Mermaid.

According to Payson, she took the photograph herself with her own DSLR camera during a visit to Denmark and uploaded it to RedBubble so that people could have it printed to an item of their choice. Given the subject matter, the photograph is similar in many respects to thousands of others online, as this image of the listing shows.

The problem for her is that the listing has now been deleted by RedBubble following a takedown request by a rightsholder.

“We’re sorry, but we had to remove some of your artwork from the RedBubble marketplace because it may contain material that violates someone’s rights,” RedBubble told the entrepreneur. “We identified this material in your artwork based on guidance provided to us by the owner of those rights.”

The owner of the rights in question was none other than Disney Enterprises, Inc. The basis for the movie giant’s claim is that Payson’s image depicts one of its “Disney Princesses”.

“Because Disney likes to show how evil they can be they’re trying to remove my personal photos from the internet of this statue stating they own it,” Payson complained this morning.

The claim is laughable, of course. Not only is Payson the copyright holder of the image in question, but the subject matter is a statue that is 107-years-old, is not animated, and is not owned by Disney. Only adding to the ridiculous mix are several other awkward facts.

The statue was unveiled in Copenhagen to celebrate the fairy tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ that was published in Denmark by Hans Christian Andersen on April 7, 1837 – almost 183 years ago. Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ was released in 1989 and is actually based on the original story by the Danish author.

It’s noteworthy that despite claiming the rights to an image that has nothing to do with them, Disney paid absolutely nothing to Hans Christian Andersen for his story because his book fell into the public domain long ago. The same is true for Disney’s ‘Frozen’, which is based on Anderson’s ‘Ice Queen’.

These movies, based on someone else’s work, have together made hundreds of millions of dollars and will be vigorously protected, by Disney, for decades to come. This is the basis upon which Disney took down the RedBubble listing, which was probably actioned following a basic and bungled keyword search.

April Fools…..

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

RIAA Denies ‘False Takedown’ Allegations, Asks Court to Dismiss Case

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-denies-false-takedown-allegations-asks-court-to-dismiss-case-200331/

Earlier this year, popular hip-hop mixtape website and app Spinrilla filed a lawsuit against the RIAA.

Spinrilla accused the music industry group of sending false DMCA takedown notices that waste resources and harm the site’s goodwill and reputation.

“False takedown notices needlessly waste Spinrilla’s time, disrupts its personnel’s work and puts at risk for terminating a user as a ‘repeat infringer’ when in fact the user uploaded non-infringing content,” Spinrilla wrote.

Yesterday the RIAA responded to the complaint in court. In its filing, the music group reminds the court of the legal history between both parties, which are involved in a separate and ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit.

According to the RIAA, the original lawsuit has demonstrated Spinrilla’s “persistent and flagrant pattern of facilitating and encouraging massive copyright infringement.” The new case is “an obvious and baseless attempt” to draw the court’s attention away from this matter.

These references clearly set the tone but are irrelevant for the new case. However, the RIAA is convinced that Spinrilla’s false DMCA notice allegations are baseless so is asking the court to dismiss the case.

Spinrilla’s complaint only referenced one file that was falsely claimed, this mix, which allegedly infringed the copyrights for the Big Sean & Jhené Aiko track ‘2 Minute Warning.’ In its reply, RIAA explains that this wasn’t a false takedown notice.

According to the music group, Spinrilla doesn’t present any evidence that the RIAA knew that the contested audio file was not infringing. In addition, it says that the site fails to allege that the contested file was actually removed, as is required for such as claim.

“[The complaint] does not allege that Spinrilla ever removed or disabled access to the sole audio file it identifies, or that Spinrilla suffered injury as a result of removing or disabling access to the file,” RIAA writes.

In addition, Spinrilla’s allegation that the music group relies on a faulty text-searching purely speculative and unsupported, RIAA notes.

RIAA’s reply comes with a declaration from Traci Crippen, the group’s Vice President of Operations, Content Protection. She mentions that the contested file was reviewed by both a Universal Music Group (UMG) employee and herself.

From Crippen’s declaration

“Before sending the takedown notice, Ms. Crippen was informed that a UMG employee listened to the Audio File and determined that it infringed copyrighted UMG sound recordings. Ms. Crippen herself then listened to the Audio File and concluded it was infringing,” RIAA writes.

Although the track in question is mostly absent of any sound, the RIAA doesn’t believe that it can be classified under fair use. And even if it is non-infringing, Spinrilla’s false takedown claims are unwarranted because Ms. Crippen had “good faith belief” that it was.

Based on these and other arguments, the RIAA asks the court to dismiss the complaint. Or alternatively, issue a summary judgment in favor of the music group because it was not aware of any wrongdoing.

Whether Spinrilla has more examples of false takedown notices is unknown. If it does, it will likely present these in reply to RIAA’s response.

A copy of RIAA’s response to Spinrilla’s complaint is available here (pdf).

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library is “Vile” Says Copyright Alliance

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/internet-archives-national-emergency-library-is-vile-says-copyright-alliance-310331/

Millions of people around the planet rely on public libraries to seek out books and the knowledge and education they provide. Libraries operating in the physical realm are bound by obvious restrictions, including that they can only lend out as many books as they have to hand.

After a book is removed from a shelf, for example, it can only be re-lent once it has been returned by the borrower. In the digital space, on the other hand, more copies can be generated in an instant, resulting in a potentially inexhaustible supply – should no artificial ‘wait’ times be implemented, of course.

The Internet Archive (IA) operates one such a library offering a massive repository of scanned books that generally restricts lending in line with “wait time” guidelines. Last week, however, the resource announced an unprecedented response to the challenges being faced by learners due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than users having to wait for digital books to be ‘returned’, the IA revealed that at least until the end of June 2020, it would “suspend waitlists” for the 1.4 million books in its newly-formed National Emergency Library.

“This is a response to the scores of inquiries from educators about the capacity of our lending system and the scale needed to meet classroom demands because of the closures,” wrote IA’s Director of Open Libraries Chris Freeland.

The response among borrowers, especially given the hard times currently being faced by all, was immediately positive. “You are an angel on earth,” one wrote. “Y’all have digitized a book that one of my faculty wants his students to read (by tomorrow! when they will virtually meet the author!). Author and professor will be thrilled,” another responded.

Perhaps inevitably, however, groups representing the rights of authors were less pleased with the new ground rules. Within days the initiative was slammed by the Authors Guild, which declared that it was “appalled” by the Internet Archive’s decision to expand the scope of the library.

“IA has no rights whatsoever to these books, much less to give them away indiscriminately without consent of the publisher or author,” the Guild wrote. “We are shocked that the Internet Archive would use the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse to push copyright law further out to the edges, and in doing so, harm authors, many of whom are already struggling.”

The group says that while large swathes of the world are suffering due to the pandemic, authors should not be deprived of sales that might otherwise have taken place, had the IA not taken the decision to give free books to all, in whatever volumes are necessary to fulfill demand. This, the Authors Guild says, is contrary to federal law and even affects in-copyright books that authors rely upon for “critical revenue”.

“Acting as a piracy site — of which there already are too many — the Internet Archive tramples on authors’ rights by giving away their books to the world,” the group wrote.

The Internet Archive believes it is staying on the right side of the law, with the process of supplying temporary copies of books to users falling under the banner of ‘Controlled Digital Lending’ (CDL). Opponents, including some authors, authors’ groups, and publishers, vigorously disagree.

The National Writers Union (NWU), for example, insists that “CDL infringes authors’ and publishers’ copyrights and deprives them of revenues that they would earn if readers obtained their works though other, legitimate channels.”

But even when considering the Public Lending Right, which already exists in several countries around the world but not the United States, NWU remain unhappy. PLR ensures that authors are paid whenever their books are borrowed from libraries (in the UK authors should receive around 8.5p for each withdrawal) but IA’s library even tramples on that concept according to NWU.

“[I]n addition to its other harms, CDL deprives authors of PLR compensation by diverting readers who would otherwise borrow books from foreign libraries to ‘borrow’ bootleg CDL copies served up from the U.S. by the Internet Archive or other U.S. institutions,” NWU adds.

But of course, physical libraries aren’t operating as they should at the moment due to the pandemic, a point not lost on the Internet Archive.

“Right now, today, there are 650 million books that tax-paying citizens have paid to access that are sitting on shelves in closed libraries, inaccessible to them. And that’s just in public libraries,” IA wrote in a response to criticism last evening, adding that statements by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers “contain falsehoods that are being spread widely online.”

IA insist that the fair user doctrine underlies its system, as explained in the Position Statement on Controlled Digital Lending. The organization also reiterates that there are restrictions in place to prevent loans from being any more permanent than they were before the crisis took hold.

“Readers who borrow a book from the National Emergency Library get it for only two weeks, and their access is disabled unless they check it out again. Internet Archive also uses the same technical protections that publishers use on their ebook offerings in order to prevent additional copies from being made or redistributed,” IA explains.

But despite the fact that the Internet Archive believes it is on safe ground, yet more pro-copyright groups have been piling on in disgust. In a scathing attack on IA founder Brewster Kahle, last night the massive Copyright Alliance likened the lending library to looters taking advantage at a time of crisis.

“Unfortunately, while most people are doing the right thing and rallying in support of one another, there are also those who are taking advantage of the mayhem to throw bricks through store windows and make things much worse for those that need our help. There is no better example of this than Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive,” Copyright Alliance chief Keith Kupferschmid wrote.

“At a time when authors, like many others, are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table, Kahle and the Internet Archive, are throwing bricks through their windows and looting their houses.”

Noting that people including Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and the Clintons have all dipped into their own pockets to offer help to those in need, the library operated by Kayle is funded by “money out of the pockets of those who need it the most – American authors.”

“Under normal circumstances his actions would be reprehensible,” Kupferschmid added, “but given the current situation and Kahle’s enormous wealth, his actions are particularly vile.”

While most of the attacks on the National Emergency Library thus far have either declared it flat-out illegal or worthy of criticism for trying to expand the limits of copyright law, no one is yet putting their head above the parapet with a legal team in tow. The perils here are clear, of course.

Few copyright holders will want to get drawn into an ugly battle at a time of national crisis and even fewer will relish the prospect of emerging the other side with a defeat. Like the pandemic itself, that too would go down in history and would not be easily forgotten.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Affordable Legal Options Are the Best Anti-Piracy Tool, US Senators Are Told

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/affordable-legal-options-are-the-best-anti-piracy-tool-us-senators-are-told-300320/

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is currently in the process of finding ways through which the U.S. can better address online piracy.

The initiative, launched by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, aims to hear experts from various sides, to get a balanced view of the challenges and opportunities.

During a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee earlier this month, key movie industry players argued that pirate site blocking and upload filtering are viable and effective options. However, not everyone agreed with this conclusion.

The senators also heard Julia Reda, former MEP for the Pirate Party, who currently works as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. In her initial testimony, Reda pointed out that the EU’s ‘indirect’ upload filter requirements, which are part of last year’s copyright reform, are problematic.

Reda’s comments and presentation triggered several follow up questions from senators, who asked her to address some issues in more detail. These answers, which came in a few days ago, caution against stringent measures such as site blocking and upload filters.

Responding to a question from Committee Chairman Tillis, Reda stresses that instead of focusing on restrictions and legislation, the best answer to piracy lies in the hands of copyright holders and the broader entertainment industry.

“When it comes to reducing copyright infringement online, I am convinced that the availability of affordable, attractive legal streaming services is paramount,” Reda writes, adding that legal options have made music piracy less relevant.

The former MEP acknowledges that piracy continues to be a major challenge in the TV and movie industries. However, she attributes this in large part to increased fragmentation and the lack of an affordable all-in-one video platform.

“While legal video streaming services have grown rapidly in popularity and revenue over the recent years, there is still a lack of comprehensive video streaming services that give users access to all the content they want to see in one place,” Reda writes.

“Exclusive deals between rightsholders and streaming services are much more common than in the music industry, therefore users have to choose between a large number of different streaming services with distinct offerings. Subscribing to all major streaming services is not affordable to the average consumer,” she adds.

Next up is the response to Senator Chris Coons, who asked Reda specifically about her views on website blocking and upload filtering. These measures were presented as effective anti-piracy tools by copyright holders.

Reda, however, sees things differently. While she mentions that legal scholars are best placed to evaluate the applicability in the US context, caution against site-blocking measures is warranted.

For example, it can raise free speech concerns when there is overblocking, which has happened in the EU on a few occasions.

“From a free speech perspective, it is very difficult to implement site blocking that only blocks illegal content without adversely affecting users’ rights to access legal content,” Reda writes.

In addition, blocking can make security measures more difficult. This includes the use of DNSSEC, which can be used against phishing attacks but uses the same re-routing techniques as website blockades.

Free speech is also a problem with upload filters, Reda warns. She points out that automated filters can’t check for factors such as fair use, something even the providers of filtering tools themselves openly admit.

“I don’t think there is any possibility, neither today nor in the near to medium-term future, to automate these decisions,” Reda writes.

“Therefore, upload filters for copyrighted content will always lead to many instances of overblocking of legal speech, as many examples of automated notices sent under the current notice-and-takedown regime illustrate.”

Instead, Reda again points out that facilitating the development of affordable legal sources is a more reliable strategy.

This is also the message in response to questions from Senator Richard Blumenthal, who asked whether there are any examples of statutes or technological tools that have proven to curb online piracy.

Instead of focusing on enforcements or restrictions, Reda once again turns the tables, highlighting that the entertainment industry holds the key.

“When tracking the history of online copyright infringement over the course of the last 25 years, the single most successful intervention to increase industry revenues and reduce copyright infringement has been the introduction of affordable, convenient legal alternatives.

“I believe that rather than a legislative intervention, the support of better legal offers for online content is the more successful strategy to curb online copyright infringement and produce new revenue streams,” Reda adds.

These views are obviously one side of the debate. As we previously highlighted, copyright holders see things quite differently. It will be interesting to see if and how the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property can find some common ground.

Julia Reda’s full answers to the senators’ questions are available here (pdf).

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Anime Fans Find ‘Pirate’ Subtitles in Netflix Streams of City Hunter

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anime-fans-find-pirate-subtitles-in-netflix-streams-of-city-hunter-203003/

Every day massive volumes of movies and TV shows are shared on the Internet without the permission of copyright holders.

While the majority will be viewed by speakers of the default language, the addition of subtitles allows content to be consumed across continents and on a global scale.

As a result, anti-piracy groups often claim that the existence of subtitles – whether from original sources or so-called ‘fansub’ creations – helps to drive up piracy levels everywhere. So, in response, several have taken legal measures in an effort to reduce their spread.

Of course, they can’t plug all of the holes but interestingly, it’s not just unlicensed consumers and platforms that can benefit from these leaks, as an incident reported on Twitter at the weekend revealed.

When translated, the tweet in question asks the following rhetorical question: “We agree that the inscription at the top is fan-made stuff? On Netflix. Well done Dybex.”

The screenshot is from the 1999 anime movie ‘City Hunter: Death of the Vicious Criminal Ryo Saeba‘ which in common with other anime titles is alternatively titled in various regions. However, what is unusual here is the caption at the top of the screen.

Rizon.net is an IRC (Internet Relay Chat) network that has been around for approximately 17 years. Anyone can set up a channel (denoted by hashtag #channelname) for free to discuss any topic they like, uncensored. So, in this case, the caption relates to the channel #anime101 on the Rizon network, which means that the subtitles used by Netflix were obtained from an unofficial and unlicensed source.

TF visited the #anime101 channel on Rizon to ask questions but we found only a ghost town. A single user was idling in the channel so as a result, no conversation was taking place. It seems likely that the channel has been all-but-dead for some time, which raises the question of exactly how old these subtitles are.

Momo, the Twitter user who made the discovery on Netflix France, ‘credited’ Dybex with the apparent subtitling ‘oversight’. Founded in the mid-nineties, Dybex is a company involved in the distribution of anime, originally on videotapes and DVD (City Hunter was available on this format just after the turn of the century) and more recently blu-ray and platforms like Netflix.

Thanks to Netflix having different libraries in various regions, the movie isn’t available everywhere. However, we managed to access the show this morning and tracked down the precise frame reported by Momo. The French subtitles were still there but as the image below shows, the marker indicating that they had been sourced from Rizon’s #anime101 had been removed.

This development was also noted by Twitter user ViCklatereur who describes him/herself as an ‘audiovisual professional’. After confirming that the report by Momo was accurate at the weekend, now confirms that the ‘problem’ has been fixed.

“The problem is solved,” ViCklatereur writes. “The pirate channel irc address has disappeared.”

This isn’t the first time that ‘pirate’ subtitles have inadvertently found their way onto Netflix and other platforms. Back in 2012, subtitles created by fansub community “DivX Finland” were shown to Netflix viewers of Canadian-American science fiction series Andromeda.

More recently, Comcast-owned Sky Switzerland managed to show pirated subtitles alongside the hit series Chernobyl. These were sourced from fansubbing site Addic7ed.com, a platform that is blocked by ISPs in Australia for breaching copyright law.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Copyright Holders Continue to Report Fewer Piracy Links to Google Search

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-holders-continue-to-report-fewer-piracy-links-to-google-search-200329/

For most people, search engines such as Google are an essential tool to discover and enjoy the web in all its glory.

With help from complicated algorithms, the company offers a gateway to billions of sites, many of which would otherwise remain undiscovered.

This also includes many ‘pirate’ sites. While there are plenty of people who don’t mind seeing these show up in search results, their presence is a thorn in the side of copyright holders.

Roughly a decade ago this was hardly recognized as a problem. At the time, Google was asked to remove a few dozen URLs per day. In the years that followed, that changed drastically.

In 2012, Google was asked to remove more than 50 million URLs and by 2016, the search engine processed more than a billion reported URLs a year. This increase in notices coincided in large part with heavy critique from copyright holders, which asked Google to do more to curb piracy.

These comments didn’t go unnoticed at the Googleplex in Mountain View. In recent years, the search engine has taken a variety of measures to ensure that pirate sites are less visible. This includes demoting known offenders in search results.

Around the same time, the number of takedown requests from copyright holders started to drop. While we don’t know if that’s directly related to Google’s anti-piracy measures, it is clear that the number of reported URLs has gone down significantly.

According to Google’s transparency report, the company processed little over 500 million takedown requests over the past 12 months. That’s a 50% decrease compared to the billion it received a few years ago, and a 25% decrease compared to two years ago, when we first noticed the shift.

The decrease is in large part caused by the most active senders of takedown requests. For example, three years ago UK music group BPI sent in an average of two million URLs per week, with peaks of over three million. This year, the same group is averaging less than a million per week.

Similarly, the Mexican music group APDIF previously reported over four million pirate links to Google every week. This has now dropped to a few thousand, including some weeks with zero requests.

Also, MarkMonitor, which works with many Hollywood studios, reduced its takedown requests by roughly half.

While the data can’t be linked directly to Google’s anti-piracy measures, BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor informed us earlier this month that demotion of known pirate sites “has significantly improved the quality of results presented to consumers.”

After years of animosity between copyright holders and Google, both in public and behind closed doors, that’s certainly a major change in attitude.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

YesPornPlease Restricts Access as PayPal & Cloudflare Are Asked to Unmask Operators

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/yespornplease-restricts-access-as-paypal-cloudflare-asked-to-unmask-operators-200329/

In September 2019, MG Premium went to court in the United States requesting a DMCA subpoena against Cloudflare.

Alleging mass infringement, the adult giant wanted the CDN company to hand over the personal details of the people behind ‘tube’ site YesPornPlease and partner platform VShare.io.

With 100 million visitors in January 2020 alone, YesPornPlease is a huge player in the space. It reportedly carries huge volumes of MG Premium content, including videos published under the Reality Kings, Brazzers, MOFOS, Babes.com, and Twistys brands.

Progress on the earlier subpoena is unknown but in February, MG Premium filed a full-blown lawsuit in a Washington court potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

In the wake of that legal action both YesPornPlease and VShare went offline. At the time it appeared that the sites may not return but the situation was temporary. Now, however, visitors to the platform are being greeted by a strange ‘welcome’ page.

“Our website is banned in your country,” the greeting claims. “Please use Tor Browser, VPN or if you don’t have any get this for free.”

The “this for free” is a VPN called VPN4Test and the suggestion is that it can unlock the site. However, there are a number of confusing aspects to the message and the recommendation.

Aside from countries where porn may be illegal in general, we’re not aware that YesPornPlease is ‘banned’ in any country it was previously accessible from. That tends to suggest that the website hasn’t been banned by any authority and it’s the site’s operators that have put measures in place at their end to ensure access is hindered.

Furthermore, after extended testing with various VPNs and Tor, on what grounds access is granted by the site remains unclear. For example, in some cases UK IP addresses are allowed through yet VPN IP addresses in the same country are blocked. The same is true for those located in other regions, US and mainland Europe, for example.

After cycling through a dozen or so Tor IP addresses, access was granted roughly 50% of the time, which will please users of the site. However, people shouldn’t be streaming lots of unnecessary videos using Tor – it isn’t designed for it, especially in the volumes required to service a massive adult video site.

That leads to the question of whether one of the main aims of the blocking is to drive traffic to the promoted VPN. While it is reportedly free to use, it should come with all the usual warnings that other free VPNs carry – in a nutshell, free is rarely free and there are probably strings attached.

Nevertheless, VPN4Test is doing well out of the referrals. From very little traffic at all in December 2019, the service is now clocking up more than 1.5 million visits per month. Meanwhile, MG Premium is pressing ahead with its legal action.

It’s clear from its numerous filings that the main challenge the company faces is positively identifying the people who run the defendant sites. In a motion for early discovery, the adult giant says that can only be achieved with the assistance of several US-based companies that are doing or have done business with the site.

“Plaintiff seeks a Court order allowing it to serve discovery demands on PayPal, Inc.; Domain Protection Services; Name.com, Inc.; Cloudflare, Inc.; Namecheap.com; Tucows Domains, Inc.; Internet Security Research Group; and, Comodo, Inc. for identifying information of their customers, the Defendants in this case,” the filing reads.

According to MG, Domain Protection Services in Colorado anonymizes the YesPornPlease domain, while Name.com and Cloudflare provide registrar and DNS services. Vshare uses Namecheap and Cloudflare, with the latter being used by both sites to serve content in the United States. It’s further alleged that the affiliate program operated by VShare pays out through PayPal while using an SSL certificate from New Jersey-based Comodo, Inc.

MG says that its representatives contacted all of the companies with requests for cooperation but without exception they either “ignored requests for information or previously instructed that information will only be produced upon subpoena.”

“Plaintiff is aware of no available information that would identify the infringing users, other than information maintained by the domain privacy service, registrar service and
other service providers,” the motion for early discovery notes.

“Due to the nature of on-line transactions which in this case includes in certain instances of the crypto currency Bitcoin, Plaintiff has no way of determining Defendants’ identities except through immediate discovery, and follow-up discovery.”

As a result, MG requests that the court issues an order allowing it to serve subpoenas on the companies listed above, compelling them to turn over “all information pertinent to the identity of the owners, operators, and principals operating the YesPornPlease.com, VShare.io, and ezcgwym5xp7ty.com websites, domain names, and relevant accounts for each.”

The motion for early discovery can be found here (pdf)

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Remain on Hold

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-and-riaas-megaupload-lawsuits-remain-on-hold-200328/

When the U.S. Government shut down Megaupload in 2012, Internet traffic volumes dropped all over the world.

The destruction of one of the largest file-hosting services came as a shock to hundreds of millions of users, but particularly to the key players involved.

While the authorities had hoped to resolve the case swiftly, the opposite happened. Aside from Andrus Nomm’s plea deal years ago, there hasn’t been any progress in the criminal proceedings against Megaupload’s founder and his co-indicted associates.

After more than eight years, it is still not clear whether Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his associates will ever stand trial in the US. They have and continue to fight this request tooth and nail in New Zealand.

While all parties await the outcome, which could take several more years, the criminal case in the United States remains pending. The same goes for the civil cases launched by the MPAA and RIAA in 2014.

This brings us to two new filings Megaupload’s legal team submitted at a Virginia federal court this week. The defunct file-sharing platform requests to keep the RIAA and MPAA cases on hold for at least six more months, noting the lack of movement in the criminal case.

“The Criminal Action is still pending, and none of the individual defendants have been extradited,” writes Megaupload attorney Craig C. Reilly, asking the court to stay the cases.

This request and the court’s swift approval to extend the delay until October doesn’t come as a surprise. The MPAA and RIAA didn’t object to it and similar requests have been granted more than a dozen times already.

The civil cases are not expected to start until after the criminal case in the U.S. has been ‘resolved.’ That can take several more years. Meanwhile, data from Megaupload’s servers remains securely stored, possibly to serve as evidence in the future.

Previously there have been attempts to make it possible for millions of former Megaupload users to retrieve their personal files. However, in recent years there hasn’t been any update on this front.

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice announced eight years ago that it would work on a solution to allow rightsholders to check whether their content was shared on Megaupload or related sites. Today, this feature is still listed as being “under construction.”

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

YouTube Refuses to Process DMCA Counternotice for ‘Creepy Bugs’ Cartoon

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-refuses-to-process-dmca-counternotice-for-creepy-bugs-cartoon-200328/

Earlier this week we reported on a dark parody cartoon depicting a washed-out Bugs Bunny as a sex pest. The controversial video was created by Hunter Hancock, the person behind the MeatCanyon channel.

It was hit with a copyright complaint by Warner Bros. As a result, the MeatCanyon channel received a copyright strike and the cartoon was taken down.

When a video is targeted by a copyright holder with a manual complaint (i.e one not actioned as a result of ContentID matching), users can generally refer to the DMCA for guidance. This means that if they believe their content was not infringing (under fair use guidelines, for example), they can submit a DMCA counternotice to YouTube explaining why the content should not have been taken down.

This is exactly what Hancock did in response to the Warner complaint.

“This is my own creation. I animated every frame, composed the music, recorded the audio and made the backgrounds,” he told YouTube in his counternotice shared with TorrentFreak.

“This creation is under fair use,” he continued. “The characters have been stylized by myself to not reflect directly with the traditional characters. There is no branded logo to incite that this is a real video owned by Warner Brothers, but is in fact a parody video created by none other than by myself.”

As required under the law, Hancock swore that he had a “good faith belief” that the material had been removed due to a mistake and also consented to the jurisdiction of his local federal court, in case Warner chose to sue him – something it must do within two weeks to prevent the content from being restored. Should that time pass with no lawsuit, then the content would’ve been put back up and the strike removed.

In the event, however, none of those things happened. In short, YouTube declined to accept the apparently valid DMCA counternotice filed by Hancock and refused to pass it on to Warner.

“Based on the information you provided, it appears that you do not have the necessary rights to post the content on YouTube. Therefore, we regretfully cannot honor your request. It has not been forwarded to the original claimant, and we will not be able to restore your video,” YouTube’s correspondence reads.

While this response from YouTube runs counter to what most people would expect under the DMCA counter-claim process, it is not unprecedented. The EFF previously reported that agreements YouTube has with rightsholders may effectively deny access to the system.

“In many instances, even if you successfully submit a DMCA counter-notice, the video will not be reinstated. These agreements are opaque, and scope of what’s allowed under them is unknown. They may be short-term, or long-term,” the EFF previously explained.

In this case, the refusal of YouTube to allow a counter-claim represents a double-edged sword. While Hancock submitted the notice in good faith, genuinely believing he was in a good position to put his side of the argument by insisting he was protected under fair use doctrines, the reality of dealing with a lawsuit, should one be initiated, is a serious proposition and not to be underestimated.

After being denied by YouTube and further consideration, he decided that fighting probably wasn’t the best option after all.

“I am in no place to fight this in court due to financial reasons. It seems unnecessary to start a GoFund me or ask for help, because it’s between me and Warner Brothers,” he told TF.

“It also made me think YouTube wanted the video off the platform. It is a very crude video so I can’t blame them for that, but it would’ve been nice to have been given more information on why this video was unacceptable to stay up on my page. It’s very disheartening.”

While the decision by YouTube will be viewed by some as anti-consumer and a denial of due process, in this case the platform arguably did the animator a favor. Instead of expending resources he doesn’t have on a legal process that could go either way and could even prove financially ruinous, he can now concentrate on creating new content for fans.

Some battles are worth fighting but it’s definitely worth weighing the costs first.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Anti-Piracy Campaign Against YouTube-Rippers Has Very Little Effect

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-campaign-against-youtube-rippers-has-very-little-effect-200327/

Nowadays, most popular music is legally accessible on YouTube. While everyone is allowed to play it, downloading tracks without permission is strictly forbidden.

YouTube itself also prohibits downloading or ripping unless the uploader specifically allows it. However, there are third-party sites that have found ways around these restrictions.

These ‘YouTube-rippers’ have been around for many years, much to the frustration of the music industry. The RIAA, in particular, is actively cracking down on these sites.

In recent months, the music group has filed subpoenas to identify several site operators. In addition, it sends takedown requests to search engines hoping that this will make the sites harder to find.

The latter strategy is relatively new and started just a few months ago. The RIAA doesn’t use standard DMCA notices since most YouTube-rippers don’t host content. Instead, the sites are reported for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.

Through this route, the RIAA has managed to remove thousands of URLs from Google’s search results. While that sounds effective, a closer look at the estimated traffic data, kindly shared with us by piracy tracking company MUSO, shows that the measures have surprisingly little effect.

Below is an overview of the worldwide traffic to stream-ripper sites in the music category. It runs from September 2019, before the RIAA’s mass takedown campaign started, all the way to the end of January 2020. This reveals that traffic to these sites has remained relatively stable, without any sign of declining visitor numbers.

Global traffic in the music category to stream-rippers

The lack of movement by itself doesn’t say much about search traffic, so we decided to take a detailed look at that as well. MUSO reports search traffic separately, and this shows a similar pattern. In fact, search traffic to stream-rippers briefly appeared to grow at the end of last year.

In September, search engines were sending roughly 7.5 million visitors to stream-rippers per day, and at the end of January, that figure was pretty much the same.

Global search traffic in the music category to stream-rippers

These data are not entirely unexpected as YouTube-rippers are actively fighting back against the RIAA’s anti-piracy campaign. As we highlighted earlier, several sites are switching to new URL structures, to make sure that they remain visible in search engines.

And indeed, if we search on Google for the phrase “YouTube to MP3,” we see several YouTube-rippers in the top results.

Google search for “YouTube to MP3″”

Looking at the traffic statistics of individual sites we see some movement here and there. The two most popular stream-rippers, y2mate.com and ytmp3.cc, increased their traffic, while the third in line, flvto.biz, lost some visitors.

Flvto.biz’s sister site 2conv.com, however, saw its traffic go up. Both sites are also currently involved in a legal battle with the RIAA. While they won their first round, this case is currently on appeal.

The above shows that, thus far, the RIAA’s takedown efforts have had little effect. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to celebrate at all. Onlinevideoconverter.com, which was the most popular stream-ripper just a year ago, is no longer a major threat.

The site saw its traffic drop from 207 million visitors in March 2019, to 15 million last month. This loss in visitors isn’t directly linked to the RIAA’s efforts, however. Instead, it’s the result of the site’s decision to disable YouTube ripping, after YouTube started to block its servers.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Bad Boys For Life Leads Wave of Early Movie Releases Flooding Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bad-boys-for-life-leads-wave-of-early-movie-releases-flooding-pirate-sites-200327/

As the planet struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic, businesses around the world are looking at ways to mitigate the disruption caused by voluntary and in some cases mandatory isolation.

Social distancing is now vital to the health of billions of people and as a result, visiting cinemas is no longer an option. Instead, movie companies are bringing forward digital release dates for many movies, hoping that people will rent or buy these titles, as a temporary replacement for venturing out to the big screen.

Somewhat inevitably these releases are now appearing on pirate sites, available to download or stream depending on the platform. Last Friday, The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma were readily available for viewing and this week many new titles can be added to the list.

Despite the movie only hitting cinema screens in mid-January, the much-anticipated Bad Boys For Life is now pulling in considerable numbers on unofficial platforms. It wasn’t expected until March 31 but this morning there are various HD copies culled from a digital source doing the rounds on torrent and streaming platforms.

Switching back and forth between second and third place in this batch is superhero movie Bloodshot. Starring Vin Diesel, the title was released early on March 13 but just a handful of days later, Sony Pictures said it would appear digitally on March 24 in response to the outbreak.

Next up is the Guy Ritchie action/comedy The Gentleman. Available in 1080p WEBRip format after being captured from platforms such as Amazon, the movie was previously slated for a home release on April 7. In the event, it appeared March 24 and almost immediately found itself on unlicensed platforms.

In no particular order (our regular weekly download chart will determine that in due course), several other titles are also readily available after early digital releases.

After being released digitally last Friday, animated release Onward was quickly made available unofficially. The same thing happened to the Harrison Ford movie The Call of the Wild today, just hours after being made available on Disney Plus.

Another Disney movie, Downhill starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, also appeared this morning but doesn’t appear to be particularly popular, at least for now.

Finally, after a February theatrical release, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn was slated for a digital release on March 24 by DC. In the event, it actually appeared on pirate sites as early as March 21.

Quite how this state of play is being received at the studios is unclear. However, these are unprecedented times and since the vast majority of the public buy, rent or stream their movies legally, sales figures may yet be respectable – for the good films at least.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

‘Hellboy’ Must Explain Calculation For the $270,000 Piracy Damages Claim

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hellboy-must-explain-calculation-for-the-270000-piracy-damages-claim-200326/

Last summer, the makers of the movie “Hellboy” (HB Productions) filed a complaint against torrent site MKVCage at a Hawaii federal court.

The movie company accused the site and its operator of promoting and distributing pirated copies of the Hellboy movie while demanding an end to the activity.

The lawsuit quickly had an effect as MKVCage became unreachable. At the same time, the uploader stopped pushing torrents to other sites as well. This meant that part of the plan had succeeded, without the torrent site putting up a defense.

But HB Productions wanted more. The company argued that the site caused irreparable damage and demanded compensation from the operator, a Pakistani man named Muhammad Faizan.

Since Faizan didn’t show up in court, the movie company’s attorney Kerry Culpepper requested a default judgment totaling more than $270,000 in infringement damages.

“The certain sum of $270,902.58 […] was calculated by multiplying the number of instances of infringement in the United States logged by Plaintiff’s agent by the price for purchasing a copy of the motion picture in Hawaii,” Culpepper wrote to the court.

Despite a hefty damages award hanging over his head, Faizan remained quiet. This generally means that the court will side with the plaintiff but in this case, Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield is reluctant.

In a recently issued report and recommendations, Mansfield advises the court to deny the damages request, as the “sum” is not as “certain” as Hellboy’s attorney makes it out to be.

“The First Amended Complaint and the Motion do not indicate how Plaintiff calculated its asserted $270,902.58 damages amount. Nor does Plaintiff’s Motion include documents setting forth amounts necessary to calculate a certain damages sum,” Judge Mansfield writes.

“Without such information, the Court is unable to determine the formula Plaintiff used to calculate its alleged damages. The Court thus finds that Plaintiff fails to establish that its claim is for a ‘sum certain’ and recommends that the district court deny the Motion,” he adds.

This recommendation serves as guidance to the federal court, which has yet to rule on the matter. However, before it could do so, HB Production’s attorney already withdrew his request for a default judgment.

The movie company now plans to file a new motion in the near future where it will provide more detail on its calculations. Among other things, it will have to explain in detail how many infringements were logged, and what retail price for the movie the company chose.

By law, the maximum statutory damages are $150,000 per work. Since HB Productions asked for a substantially higher amount here, these details are crucial in order to determine whether it will be granted, or not.

A copy of Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield’s report and recommendations is available here (pdf)

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Anti-Piracy Chief: Pirated Content is Now Harder to Find in Search Engines

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-chief-pirated-content-is-now-harder-to-find-in-search-engines-200326/

In 2018, leading content companies and distributors plus Yandex, Rambler Group, Mail.Ru Group, vKontakte, and RuTube signed up to a landmark anti-piracy memorandum in Russia.

The aim of the voluntary agreement was to make pirated content harder to find in search engines. This, the organizers said, would be achieved by the creation of a centralized database of allegedly-infringing content to be regularly queried by Internet platforms so that delistings could take place.

The ultimate aim is to have the memorandum written into law but in the meantime, it’s being claimed that the system is already having the desired effect.

Formed in 2013 to protect the interests of several licensed online distribution platforms, the Internet Video Association has grown to become one of the most vocal anti-piracy groups in Russia. Its members support the memorandum and according to director general Alexei Byrdin, it is now considered to be achieving its aims.

Byrdin says a certain level of piracy comes hand-in-hand with any legal content business and achieving a complete victory over piracy can’t be achieved in Russia or anywhere else in the world. However, by removing infringing content from search engines, easy access to unlicensed content is being reduced.

“The correct measurement of the effect of the fight against piracy is a decrease or increase in the availability of pirated content. It is this indicator and approach that I consider the most correct,” Byrdin told Regnum.

“Pirated products in the Russian Federation have become less accessible. And by accessible, we mean the easy discovery of pirated content through search services. It was at this point that our anti-piracy memorandum struck home. Last year there were several high-profile premieres that managed to be practically shielded from the effects of pirate consumption, thanks to the memorandum.”

While the memorandum is indeed powerful (search engines have agreed to remove pirated content within six hours of it being reported in the centralized database), other factors have also played a part in reducing pirate consumption. Reducing piracy rates is of limited use if potential consumers have few viable options to buy licensed products but according to Byrdin, local consumers now see official platforms as an attractive proposition.

“There is a certain cumulative effect. For a very long time services have explained that they really have everything conveniently, inexpensively, with a large assortment, and users are finally believing this,” the anti-piracy chief explained.

“This is also due to the fact that in Russia the audience of smart TV users is growing year-on-year, and these consumers appreciate the convenience of such services. This really is simple and affordable home entertainment. Not much can be compared in terms of user experience.”

Like many countries around the world trying to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, Russia is also shutting down its entertainment venues, including cinemas. Byrdin will be hoping that consumers frustrated by the lack of options in search results will flock to licensed platforms for their entertainment fix. Whether this transpires will remain to be seen.

Nevertheless, those involved in the licensed distribution of entertainment content clearly see the memorandum as a great tool to achieve their aims. Writing it into law hasn’t been easy and delays caused it to time out in October 2019.

After a short extension, the signatories agreed to keep the system running until the end of January 2021, by which time it’s hoped that agreement will be reached on some of the more contentious points, including the permanent delisting of entire sites considered to be repeat offenders.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

The Pirate Bay’s Oldest Active Torrent Turns 16 Years Old Today

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bays-oldest-active-torrent-turns-16-years-old-today-200325/

The Pirate Bay has weathered quite a few storms since its inception.

The notorious torrent site, which is a piracy icon today, was originally founded by Swedish anti-copyright think tank Piratbyrån during the summer of 2003.

In the years that followed, a lot has happened. The site was raided twice, had various changes in ownership, and the original co-founders were sentenced to prison. And in recent years, prolonged downtime issues, as the site currently faces, are the rule rather than the exception.

Despite all these setbacks and challenges, TPB is still here. It remains accessible on the Tor network, where the latest blockbusters, as well as some rare old torrents, remain readily available.

While torrents rely on at least one active seed to keep them alive, some files have proven to be quite resilient. In fact, quite a few torrents are older than some of the site’s younger users.

Today, The Pirate Bay’s oldest active torrent celebrates its sixteenth anniversary. The honor goes to an episode of the Swedish comedy show “High Chaparral,” which was uploaded by ‘kbdcb’ on March 25, 2004. At the time of writing, the file has one seeder according to TPB’s statistics, but various public trackers list more.

The oldest active torrent on TPB

The High Chaparral episode has been marked as the oldest active Pirate Bay torrent for a while. In the video category, it is currently followed by a copy of the 2001 documentary Revolution OS, which still has over a dozen seeders.

Looking at other categories, we see that the oldest active music torrent is an album from the Swedish pop group Gyllene Tider, titled “Samtliga hits!” The oldest game torrent is a copy of the Lord of the Rings strategy game War of the Ring, while a torrent for a really old version of ArcSoft’s photo editing software Funhouse leads the applications category.

If anything, this shows that no matter how much downtime a site like The Pirate Bay suffers, these torrents still survive.

That the High Chaparral episode is the longest surviving torrent on the site is remarkable for another reason as well. A few weeks after the torrent was uploaded, several people complained that they were stuck at 99%, which means that there was no seeder around at the time.

Years later, people started to notice that it had become the oldest torrent on The Pirate Bay, including MasterWAV, who dedicated an entry in his or her diary to this discovery.

“Dear diary, my heart burst of excitement to discover the oldest torrent in The Pirate Bay. I am happy to comment on this book and be part of the history of TPB. It’s like climbing Everest. Sincerely, thanks.”

Other commenters promised to keep seeding the file “forever,” which may be the prime reason why it’s still around today.

While sixteen years is impressive, there are even older torrents available on the Internet. “The Fanimatrix” torrent file holds the all-time record. It was created in September 2013 and, after being previously resurrected, continues to be available today with more than 100 people seeding.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

AMD Uses DMCA to Mitigate Massive GPU Source Code Leak

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/amd-uses-dmca-to-mitigate-massive-gpu-source-code-leak-200325/

Graphics cards are big business and AMD is one of the leading brands with an estimated 32% share of the discrete desktop market.

In July 2019, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, AMD released its Radeon RX 5000 series powered by ‘Navi’ GPUs (Graphics Processing Unit). The source code for these devices is extremely sensitive and considered secret but perhaps not for much longer.

This week rumors began to circulate that an unnamed individual had somehow obtained the source for Navi 10, Navi 21 and Arden devices, the latter representing the rumored GPU for the yet-to-be-released Xbox Series X. Confirming whether such leaks are genuine is difficult but yesterday AMD took action which tends to support the theory.

In a DMCA notice sent to development platform Github, AMD identified the recently-created ‘xxXsoullessXxx’ repository and a project titled “AMD-navi-GPU-HARDWARE-SOURCE” as the location of its “stolen” intellectual property.

“This repository contains intellectual property owned by and stolen from AMD,” the semiconductor company wrote. “The original IP is held privately and was stolen from AMD.”

Github responded by immediately taking the repository down, as per AMD’s request. That prompted us to try and find the person behind the repo and to ask some questions about what AMD was trying to suppress. The individual informed TorrentFreak that AMD’s GPU source code was the content in question. (Responses edited for clarity)

“In November 2019, I found AMD Navi GPU hardware source codes in a hacked computer,” the person explained. “The user didn’t take any effective action against the leak of the codes.”

Questioned further on the route of extraction, we were told that a combination of factors led to the leak.

“The source code was unexpectedly achieved from an unprotected computer//server through some exploits. I later found out about the files inside it. They weren’t even protected properly or even encrypted with anything which is just sad.”

The individual, who claims to be female, told us that the package included code for Navi 10 and Navi 21 devices. She also confirmed that the source for the Xbox Series X GPU ‘Arden’ was part of the haul.

When asked whether the person had spoken to AMD about the leak, the answer was negative.

“I haven’t spoken to AMD about it because I am pretty sure that instead of accepting their mistake and moving on, they will try to sue me. So why not just leak it to everyone?” we were told.

The alleged leaker further told us that one “source code packet” had already been released. Whether that is limited to the material made available via Github remains unclear but TF was able to find links to a file-hosting site where an archive claiming to be the content was stored. Given the potentially criminal route via which the content was obtained, we did not download the package.

That AMD is concerned about the leak was underlined once again late yesterday. Having indicated in its initial complaint to Github that the source couldn’t be found anywhere else, the company later backtracked, identifying at least four other locations on Github where the project had been forked. All of those repos have been taken down.

While taking down the repositories is a logical first step for AMD, the gravity of this leak is hard to underestimate. The claimed hacker told TF that she valued the source at $100m but how that calculation was arrived at is unknown. While AMD considers its next steps, an even bigger storm may be heading the company’s way.

“If I get no buyer I will just leak everything,” the leaker concluded, adding that the files would be secured with passwords that will only be handed out to select individuals.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

‘Copyright Troll Identified the Wrong Facebook Account in Piracy Case’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-identified-the-wrong-facebook-account-in-piracy-case-200324/

Over the past three years, adult entertainment company Strike 3 Holdings has filed thousands of cases in US federal courts.

These lawsuits target people whose Internet connections were allegedly used to download and share copyright-infringing content via BitTorrent.

While many of these cases resulted in private settlements, Strike 3 has also experienced some setbacks. For example, in the ‘Cobbler’ case, the Court of Appeals previously ruled that copyright holders need “something more” than an IP-address for a viable case.

These and other rulings have motivated Strike 3 to adapt its business. As reported earlier this month, we noticed that the company had started to add information from social media services to its complaints, to ‘prove’ that the defendant is likely the infringer.

In theory, this could be a fruitful strategy but it is certainly not without flaws. This is what defense attorney Steven C. Vondran highlights in a recent BitTorrent piracy-related filing.

Vondran represents a defendant who is being sued by Strike 3 in a California federal court. This happened after the company first tried to expose this person at a Florida state court, through a controversial discovery request.

Among other things, the attorney argues that Strike 3 engages in “cut and run” tactics and that it fails to present “something more” than just an IP-address.

In making this argument, Vondran also draws attention to the social media tactic. While that wasn’t used in the case at issue, the attorney highlights it to show what can go wrong when Strike 3 tries to find “something more” than just an IP-address.

“If they can line up or match or correlate the movies being downloaded with a person’s Facebook ‘likes’ they figure this will overcome Cobbler and give them the ‘something more’ needed,” he points out.

According to the defense attorney, “this is total junk science” which he plans to make clear in a separate case he’s handling. Apparently, in that case the defendant’s interest in “Star Wars” on Facebook was brought up as relevant information.

“For example, in one case they stated that a Defendant is more likely to have downloaded their clients Blacked, Tushy, and Vixen videos because their social media likes indicate they have an interest in ‘Star Wars’,” Vondran writes.

Vondran informs the court that this is “a total joke.” Not just that, Strike 3 apparently also managed to identify the wrong account on Facebook, from someone who happens to carry a similar name.

“Making matters worse for them, the Defendant in that case will show that the Facebook account used was that of another person with a similar same,” Vondran writes.

“These are the type of callous intentional abuses that are going on and the Courts have the inherent power to quash the subpoena and dismiss the case for improper delay,” the attorney adds.

If this is indeed true, Strike 3’s attempt to present “something more” to the court has the potential to backfire. In any case, it’s worth keeping an eye on this motion to quash, as well as the upcoming filings about the wrongly identified Facebook account.

A copy of Steven C. Vondran reply to Strike 3’s opposition to the motion to quash is available here (pdf).

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Nintendo Shuts Down Kickstarter Campaign For Violating Animal Crossing Copyrights

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/nintendo-shuts-down-kickstarter-campaign-for-violating-animal-crossing-copyrights-200324/

Anyone with a cool idea that could potentially develop into a great product or business can raise funding on Kickstarter.

Launched in 2009, the crowdfunding platform has helped to fund almost 180,000 projects with an impressive $4.85 billion in pledges. But while many projects go on to enjoy success, others can fail at an early stage due to basic errors.

The ‘New Adventures Passport Travel Holder’ fundraiser launched with a modest target of just £1,000. The aim was to offer an RFID-protected passport holder and luggage tags along with a matching lanyard, which doesn’t sound especially exciting in the grand scheme of things.

Nevertheless, the project quickly amassed 1,823 backers pledging more than £34,000 between them, 34 times the original target. While there may have been other factors contributing to this success, a quick view of the promotional material provides a fairly obvious clue as to why it was so popular.

For reasons best known to those behind the crowdfunding campaign, creating original artwork for the products wasn’t high on the agenda. As the image shows, all of the products are adorned with characters from the highly successful Animal Crossing video game series created by Nintendo.

History has shown us that this kind of move is a bad idea. Nintendo is known to aggressively protect its copyrights and trademarks and this case was no different. In a letter and DMCA notice to Kickstarter, a law firm acting for Nintendo explained that the project must be shut down.

“Nintendo owns copyrights in all aspects of its Animal Crossing video game franchise, including but not limited to the audio-visual work, imagery, and fictional character depictions covered by [various U.S. Copyright Registration numbers relating to Animal Crossing, Animal Crossing: City Folk, New Leaf, and Wild World],” the complaint reads.

“The reported campaign displays images of Nintendo’s copyright-protected Animal Crossing characters and images in connection with the creation of products that make unauthorized use of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing characters and images, all in violation of Nintendo’s rights.”

In response, Kickstarter swiftly shut down the campaign, noting that it had been rendered unavailable due to an “intellectual property dispute”.

Considering the text used to draw attention to the UK-launched campaign, the use of Nintendo’s works appears to have been intentional.

Advertising the “New Adventures” travel holder, those behind the project described their product as a “cute animal pattern passport cover for your new adventures crossing the horizons!” Almost all words in that description relate to Animal Crossing which makes the project easy to find in search engines by gaming fans.

“All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Tue, March 31 2020,” the campaign read before being taken down. Clearly, that will not happen now.

At any one time, Nintendo is involved with multiple intellectual property disputes which are tackled using various means.

In recent months the gaming company has resorted to site-blocking measures in the UK to tackle Switch piracy, filed a complaint against Github to tackle a remake developer, obtained an injunction in the US to restrain a mod seller, filed DMCA anti-circumvention notices, and continued with a full-blown lawsuit against download portal RomUniverse.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

YouTube Cartoon Featuring Creepy Bugs Bunny Copyright Claimed By Warner Bros.

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-cartoon-featuring-creepy-bugs-bunny-copyright-claimed-by-warner-bros-200323/

Despite racking up to close to 67 million views on its popular YouTube account, MeatCanyon’s cartoons are not yet mainstream fodder.

Thanks to the actions of a copyright holder, however, more publicity is certainly on the horizon.

Many of MeatCanyon’s cartoons are extremely dark, featuring a creepy Ronald McDonald and Jimmy Fallon as a previously-masked character in Scooby-Doo, to give just two examples. But when Patreon-funded MeatCanyon released a two-minute cartoon entitled ‘Wabbit Time’ recently, the end result was a copyright strike on its YouTube account.

The parody cartoon is dark — super dark — and features a character that looks broadly like Bugs Bunny but is both predatory, washed-out, and a shadow of his usual self.

With horrible teeth, drooping teats and a foul mouth, this is clearly not the Bugs everyone is used to, despite sharing the same name. Following his opening line (“What’s up Doc?” which is trademarked but not copyrighted) he attempts to do something awful to a man resembling Elmer Fudd, which reinforces the disconnect from the original ten times over.

Reading between the lines, this was all too much for Warner Bros. As can be seen in the image below, the company filed a copyright complaint with YouTube and had the video taken down.

“Warner brothers just copyright claimed my wabbit season vid….so it’s removed and now I have a strike on my channel….but why [YouTube?],” MeatCanyon wrote on Twitter before the weekend.

With Warner claiming its rights had been infringed and YouTube effectively agreeing, it was the end of the road for the Wabbit Season video.

“It is unfortunate that Youtube decided to side with Warner Brothers. Deleting my video, and giving my channel a strike. I worked very hard on that video and its honestly pretty sad to see it go. There was a lot of people who really enjoyed that video, and it at least makes me happy to know that so many people out there will miss it being on this channel,” MeatCanyon wrote.

But the channel wasn’t done just yet.

In a new cartoon uploaded yesterday titled ‘RIP Wabbit Season’, numerous grotesque characters mourn the ‘death’ of the sinister Bugs Bunny while raising a pretty dark question: Why would Warner claim a video depicting Bugs Bunny as a “struggling rapist” as their own?

The truth, of course, is that Warner didn’t claim the video as its own but claimed copyright infringement instead. There’s little doubt that the cartoon is intended as a parody but that intent in itself doesn’t provide absolute protection under US law.

Should MeatCanyon choose to take the matter further, the intricacies of fair use would need to be examined by a court, including (but not limited to) whether Wabbit Season represented a comedic commentary relating to the original work that necessarily required copying its elements.

There’s also the matter of whether the new work has a detrimental effect on the market (or potential market) for the original work(s). No one could reasonably argue that MeatCanyon’s variant represents direct market competition for Warner’s version but the nature of the former could potentially cast the latter in a different light, at least in some eyes.

These are complex and potentially massively expensive matters to definitively conclude (a reference list of ‘fair use’ case outcomes can be found here) so it seems likely that MeatCanyon will accept the strike and move on. TorrentFreak reached out to MeatCanyon for comment but at the time of publication, we were yet to hear back.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.