Tag Archives: afeat

‘Local’ Pirate Sites Are Thriving Around the World

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/local-pirate-sites-are-thriving-around-the-world-200118/

When the hugely pirate site IndoXII announced that it would shut down a few weeks ago, drama ensued in Indonesia where most of its multi-million-user audience was based.

This fuss was hardly noticeable in other countries, where even some of the most die-hard piracy ‘experts’ had never heard of it.

Apparently, piracy habits are not as global as the Internet itself. Many countries have their local favorites. Sometimes because these are in the native tongue, but different piracy habits also play a role.

Today we’re going to illustrate this phenomenon by pointing out the most popular pirate sites in a wide variety of regions. Helped by data from piracy tracking firm MUSO and public tracking websites, highlight some local favorites.

Our quest starts in Europe, Bulgaria to be precise, where torrent site Zamunda.net takes the lead. This is a typical example of a local pirate site, with most visitors coming from Bulgaria, where it’s listed among the country’s 10 most-visited websites.

If we cross the border into Romania, a different picture emerges. Local streaming site Filmeserialeonline.org comes out on top there. More than two-thirds of the site’s visitors come from Albania, making it the most popular pirate site in the country.

Staying in the region, we find that Albania favors Filma24.cc, which appears to be a linking site. More than half of the site’s visitors come from Albania.

Local favorites emerge in other European countries as well. In France, Zone-telechargement.net is very popular, Spain goes for Elitetorrent.li, and Portugal favors Mrpiracy.site. All these sites are not commonly known outside these borders.

Moving to another continent, Africa, we see a similar trend in several countries. In Nigeria, for example, 9jaflaver.com, is extremely popular. The site also offers news but is listed as a pirate site by industry experts.

In Nigeria’s neighbor Chad, sports streaming site Yalla-shoot.com comes out on top. This is also the most-visited site in Egypt. Libya, which sits between Chad and Egypt, prefers the streaming site Cimaclub.com, which is also loved in Saudi Arabia.

Over in the Middle East, we see that Iranians prefer the local site Nex1music.ir. On the other side of the border, in Iraq, Kurdcinama.com is doing very well as the country’s 33rd most visited website.

Going further east, we see more of the same. Many countries have clear local favorites, which are often in native languages. This includes torrent portal torrentwal2.com in South Korea, as well as b9good.com in Japan.

When we move over to the Americas things get less interesting. While there are local pirate sites there as well, it is mostly familiar names that come out on top.

In the US the most popular ‘pirate’ site is Kissanime.ru, for example. Mexico also favors an anime site with animeflv.net coming out on top there. In fact, if we go further south, anime sites are on top in pretty much every country, all the way to Argentina.

Haiti is one of the few exceptions, as torrent9.pl is most popular there. While it’s not a local site, Haiti is the site’s second-largest traffic source, close behind Cameroon.

The above clearly shows that even though the Pirate Bays of the world make most news headlines, smaller sites can still be massively popular locally, perhaps more than most people realize. It also reveals that preferences for different types of piracy vary from country to country.

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

‘Casting Couch’ Movie Company Orders Cloudflare to Unmask Tube Site Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/casting-couch-movie-company-orders-cloudflare-to-unmask-tube-site-pirates-200118/

Before taking direct legal action against alleged copyright infringers, it helps if the identities of those people are known to the potential plaintiff. One method to obtain this information is to file an application for a DMCA subpoena.

Commonly filed against domain registries and Cloudflare, DMCA subpoenas can require such companies to give up the names of their allegedly-infringing customers, who are often the operators of ‘pirate’ sites. The process of obtaining a subpoena is attractive and relatively easy since the applications are rarely subjected to much scrutiny and can yield useful results.

Last week adult company AMA Multimedia (better known for its Casting Couch X and various other brands) filed an application at a Washington court demanding that Cloudflare provide identifying information of customers said to have infringed the company’s copyrights.

According to AMA, it previously asked Cloudflare to remove or disable access to around three dozen URLs, mostly JPG images and direct content links, on domains including the 12 million visits per month Pornmilo.com and the 15 million visits per month HLSMP4.com. With that content apparently still intact, AMA asked the court for permission to demand information from Cloudflare to identify the alleged infringers.

“For the period January 1, 2016 through the present, produce all documents and account records that identify the person(s) or entities that caused the infringement of the material described in the attached Exhibit B DMCA notifications to the DMCA Agent for Cloudflare, Inc. and/or who unlawfully uploaded AMA Multimedia LLC’s copyrighted works at the URLs listed in the notifications, including but not limited to identification by names, email addresses, IP addresses, user history, posting history, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying information,” the subpoena to Cloudflare reads.

In respect of the phrase “person(s) or entities that caused the infringement”, that could mean the operators of the various listed domains – pornmilo.com, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz, hlsmp4.com, o0-1.com, o0-2.com, o0-3.com, o0-4.com, and o0-5.com. However, when it comes to identifying the underlying infringers, that could be more tricky.

When one visits Pornmilo.com, the platform gives the initial impression of being a YouTube-like site, presumably one that hosts its own content. On closer inspection, however, the site claims not to host any video content at all.

Indeed, it appears that the videos are embedded having been supplied by Fembed, a service that advertises itself as an “All-in-one Video Platform Designed by webmasters, for webmasters.” Essentially, people can host their video files on Fembed and serve them on another site, with or without revenue-generating advertising.

Fembed.com isn’t mentioned in the DMCA subpoena but it appears to be connected to HLSMP4.com, which is mentioned multiple times. Furthermore, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz and indeed all the other domains redirect to Fembed.com, so it’s possible that they have the same owners. AMA seem pretty keen to find out exactly who they are.

That being said, it is far from clear how Cloudflare itself can establish who uploaded the infringing content on HLSMP4, Fembed, and the other sites so it can hand that information to AMA. At this early stage that may not concern AMA too much and it’s possible that outcome is already being anticipated. Nevertheless, the DMCA subpoena has the ability to get closer to the targets in a cheap and relatively easy fashion.

The DMCA subpoena documents can be found here and here (pdf, NSFW)

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

Manga Scanlation Teams Don’t Want War, They Want Accessible Content

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-scanlation-teams-dont-want-war-they-want-accessible-content-200117/

In recent months there has been a notable increase in publicised anti-piracy actions against services offering manga content. Publishers have pressured a range of sites, hoping to shut down or at least make life more difficult for these hugely popular platforms.

Among the targets was MandaDex, a so-called ‘scanlation’ platform that offers scanned and translated manga publications to an audience underserved by publishers offering restricted foreign language output. The site first reported domain issues and then revealed that its donation processing mechanism had also come under fire, a popular strategy among certain anti-piracy groups.

In the wake of our report, TorrentFreak spoke with an individual in charge of server administration for several scanlation groups including Mangazuki.co, MangaSushi.net, and LHTranslation.net. At least two of these sites process around three million requests per day, according to traffic reports shared with TF.

The source shared information that shows aggressive correspondence received from anti-piracy company RemoveYourMedia, including threats to target a PayPal account and instructions to either remove content or face being “disappeared” from search engines.

“We initially dismissed these emails as being spam, or most likely just some extortion scheme. However, the PayPal account that was listed publicly for donations has been taken down by a DMCA claim from VIZ,” our source revealed.

Documents sent by PayPal and reviewed by TF reveal the payment processor warning the LHT scanlation platform that it had received complaints from VIZ Media LLC and that certain actions needed to be taken, including the deletion of many URLs, in order to comply with PayPal’s acceptable use policy. The necessary action was taken and the PayPal account was restored. The groups also took the decision to remove all VIZ Media content from their sites.

Publisher VIZ Media has been at war with manga sites for many years and it was this publisher that recently targeted MangaDex, among others. However, the takedown demands against scanlation sites aren’t always cut and dried and in many cases don’t meet the accepted standards in respect of the DMCA.

“The stuff [LHTranslation] was hosting wasn’t a direct copy of VIZ’s work. In fact, it was a fan translation, and we had never received a proper DMCA takedown request. We’re quite certain extortion doesn’t count as a valid DMCA complaint,” our source added.

In broad terms, these scanlation platforms say they have to deal with three types of people filing complaints. The first group is labeled “DMCA trolls” and described as people who don’t hold any rights or licenses but file DMCA takedowns regardless.

“We’ve had those emails fly past every once in a while, with poorly worded ‘demands’ as well. Because we receive them every once in a while, we kind of assumed the email [threat sent on behalf of VIZ Media] was among them,” the server admin said.

Interestingly, the second category – genuine copyright holders who send proper DMCA notices – apparently aren’t an issue. There are no objections to these claims, content is taken down and users are directed to where the original material can be purchased instead.

However, those in the final category appear to be the greatest irritant, both in volume terms and the nature of the claims.

“The third kind, and sadly the one we see the most, are those that take our translations and file a claim on our content. Essentially if torrent leeches were to file complaints after leeching the content,” our source complained.

Faced with such issues, the server admin says that the groups he deals with have all moved to so-called ‘bulletproof’ hosting, not because they want to ignore the DMCA but to avoid the DMCA being abused as a weapon. In fact, the groups don’t appear averse to working with license holders to reach the goal of delivering manga to the public in English so it can be enjoyed by currently underserved fans.

All in all, however, it’s a time-consuming process.

After the raw manga images are obtained by the scanlation groups, members are tasked with translating the comics into English while others tidy up the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese text. Further fine-tuning then takes place including re-drawing some pages, applying proper fonts, and putting pages through a final editing process. After a quality control procedure, content is then released on the scanlation sites.

“After we’ve released a chapter on our own site, other people take our releases and re-upload them to aggregator sites, like MangaDex, spreading them to the wider masses,” our source revealed.

“Both our goal, and that of MangaDex in this process isn’t to make money, however. Most of this work is done free of charge. We’re all doing this because we simply love reading mangas and want to bring these series to the West. So other people can enjoy them and in the hope that English publishers see the demand for a certain series and pick them up for official translation.

“This is also why we always tell our readers to support the official releases and creators. And the reason why MangaDex points to the buy pages of both the official English prints and in some cases the Japanese prints. Because of all this, we often don’t see ourselves as pirates, but just as fans, as our goal is to simply make series accessible to others,” the source concluded.

If we take these claims on face value, there appears to be a fairly straightforward way to make progress and counter the perceived scanlation ‘threat’. By making translated content available officially, these groups would not only be out of a ‘job’ but manga could also reach a wider audience, presumably alongside increased revenue.

That sounds a little more progressive than shouty emails and having PayPal accounts shut down.

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

Pirated Copy of ‘1917’ Leaks in Massive Screener Dump

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirated-copy-of-1917-leaks-in-massive-screener-dump-200117/

Earlier this week we reported that the number of leaked screeners was on the rise again after an all-time low last year.

Over the past 24-hours, this number went up significantly with six new leaks bringing the total to 16.

A pirated screener dump of this magnitude in such a short timeframe is something we haven’t seen before.

What’s also new is that the release group ‘TOPKEK’ is one of the driving forces. Although TOPKEK is not new to releasing pirated movies, they haven’t gotten involved in leaking screeners in the past.

The most prominent release is ‘1917,’ which won the Golden Globe for best film and received ten Academy Award nominations earlier this week. A screener copy of the movie was released by both TOPKEK and Hive-CM8.

It’s likely that both groups obtained their screener copy from a separate source. The file sizes of the releases vary and, according to reports from users, the quality is not the same either.

In their release notes, Hive-CM8 mentions that the movie has already generated enough revenue for it to be released in the open. “Gross is doing ok, so it’s ready to go,” the group writes.

From the leaked screener

Both TOPKEK and Hive-CM8 also released a copy of the biographical drama ‘Richard Jewell,’ another contender for the Oscars.

The other four screeners that leaked all came from TOPKEK. These include ‘A hidden Life,’ ‘Color Out of Space,’ Dark Waters,’ and ‘Queen and Slim.’ The latter comes with the unusual ‘QuerySCR’ tag which suggests that the source of the screener copy may not be known.

The Dark Waters release also stands out. It’s tagged as a 1080p release and is 33.7 gigabytes in size, considerably larger than the rest.

Seeing this many leaks in the span of a few hours is quite unique. As far as we know, it has never happened before. This certainly makes it newsworthy and may also draw the attention of Hollywood and law enforcement.

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

RomUniverse’s Request to Dismiss Nintendo Piracy Lawsuit Fails

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/romuniverses-request-to-dismiss-nintendo-piracy-lawsuit-fails200116/

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

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

“The Website contains and offers to the public an immense library of unauthorized copies of video games, primarily Nintendo video games designed for nearly every video game system Nintendo has ever produced,” the complaint read.

The game company argued that the site’s users downloaded hundreds of thousands of copyrighted works. RomUniverse profited from these infringements by offering premium accounts that allow users to download as many games as they want, Nintendo further alleged.

Despite these harsh allegations the site’s operator, California resident Matthew Storman, wasn’t giving up. He decided to defend himself in court and responded to Nintendo’s claims last October through a detailed motion to dismiss.

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

Nintendo disregarded this defense as improper, untimely, and wholly inadequate. In a detailed response, the game company requested the court to deny Storman’s motion to dismiss the case.

After considering the arguments from both sides, US District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall has sided with Nintendo. In a ruling released yesterday, she denies the various arguments presented by Storman.

RomUniverse’s operator wanted the case dismissed based on failure to state a claim, lack of jurisdiction, improper venue, insufficient service of process, and failure to join a party. None of these arguments convinced the court.

Storman, for example, argued that Nintendo is not the owner of previously purchased games because consumers have the right to sell, destroy, or give them away. The Judge didn’t address this in detail but concluded that Nintendo’s copyright registrations are sufficient at this stage.

Many of the defenses were linked to Storman’s notion that he is shielded by the DMCA’s safe harbor protections. Nintendo previously said that a motion to dismiss isn’t the proper stage to invoke this defense and the court agrees.

‘The Court cannot determine whether the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions apply to Defendant at this stage because there is no evidence before the Court regarding whether Defendant is a service provider who satisfies the statutory requirements for protection pursuant to the DMCA’s safe harbors,” Judge Marshall writes.

Even if Storman has the right to safe harbor under the DMCA, that wouldn’t make the trademark infringement and unfair competition claims go away.

“Even assuming the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions apply to Defendant, those safe harbors would not protect Defendant from liability as to Plaintiff’s trademark infringement and unfair competition claims,” Judge Marshall adds.

All in all, the court denied RomUniverse’s motion to dismiss. Judge Marshall further requests the site’s operator to file a formal response to the complaint, which is due in two weeks. Whether Storman will continue this fight on his own or will retain an attorney is unknown.

A copy of US District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall’s order is available here (pdf).

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

Kim Dotcom Wins Back K.im Domain After Dispute & $100K Sell-Back Offer

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-wins-back-k-im-domain-after-dispute-100k-sell-back-attempt-200116/

Kim Dotcom’s under-development file-sharing project K.im received a setback recently when its K.im domain fell into third-party hands.

As reported here on TF last Sunday, communication issues with the registry led to the domain expiring and it was quickly snapped up by Bulgarian expired domain specialist Kalin Karakehayov.

“[T]he domain k.im was registered by me, Kalin Karakehayov for personal use while it was in an available status. I intend to put nice, non-commercial stuff there like my Google awareness campaign,” Karakehayov informed TF.

Kim Dotcom, on the other hand, was less pleased with the acquisition. Describing Karakehayov as a “domain squatter”, he told us that a dispute was underway to reclaim the domain since “fraudulent behavior” had been displayed by its new owner. Having a trademark for the term ‘K.im’ would work in the project’s favor, he predicted.

Now, just a few days later, the K.im project has cause to celebrate. Documents shared with TorrentFreak by Kim Dotcom reveal that following a dispute process filed with the Isle of Man registry in charge of the domain, it has been ordered to be returned to the company behind the K.im project.

To get to this stage hasn’t been straightforward, however. The decision reviewed by TF reveals that the ‘Listed Correspondent’ for the K.im domain wasn’t initially Kalin Karakehayov himself but a third-party identified only as Max Guerin.

This individual reportedly entered into ‘negotiations’ with BitCache, the company behind the K.im project, to return the domain and during a December 9, 2019 conference call, set a price of $100,000 to sell it back. During a Telegram conversation a day later, the price was reportedly switched to $50,000 upfront followed by payments of $5,000 per month or the same value in BitCache stock.

Whether the K.im project had any real intention of buying the domain back is unclear but ultimately its operating companies decided to file a complaint to have the domain returned.

As part of the process, the .im registry contacted “Listed Correspondent” Max Guerin but received no response. However, on January 6, 2020, Kalin Karakehayov (since designated as the ‘Actual Correspondent’) provided evidence that he is the owner of the domain.

“The Actual Respondent states that the Listed Correspondent is not the proper party to the dispute and that he has had no personal contact with the Listed Correspondent in any shape or form,” the decision notes.

Karakehayov told the registry that the domain was registered for his personal, non-commercial use “with the idea to benefit humanity” and was not intended to breach K.im’s trademarks. In the end, however, the registry determined that the domain should be returned to BitCache’s holding company on the basis that the registration after expiry had been abusive.

“I conclude that the Domain Name k.im should be transferred to the Complainant immediately upon the expiry of the appeal period,” the registry’s designated official writes.

That appeal period is 10 days from January 15, 2020, and according to Karakehayov, he intends to put it to use by contesting the decision.

“[The decision] does not seem fair to me and I intend to appeal it,” Karakehayov informs TorrentFreak.

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

Jetflicks Piracy Trial Delayed After Canada Hands Over Masses of Discovery Data

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/jetflicks-piracy-trial-delayed-after-canada-hands-over-masses-of-discovery-data-200115/

In August 2019, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that eight men had been indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to violate criminal copyright law by running “two of the largest unauthorized streaming services in the United States.”

All of the defendants – Kristopher Lee Dallmann, Darryl Julius Polo, Douglas M. Courson, Felipe Garcia, Jared Edward Jaurequi, Peter H. Huber, Yoany Vaillant, and Luis Angel Villarino – were charged with running Jetflix, a subscription-based streaming service that reportedly carried more than 183,200 TV episodes.

Darryl Julius Polo, a former Jetflicks programmer, was additionally accused of launching and running iStreamitAll, a service carrying 18,479 TV episodes and 10,980 movies.

On December 12, 2019, Polo pleaded guilty to various copyright infringement and money laundering charges. The next day, former Jetflicks programmer Luis Angel Villarino pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

The remaining six defendants were set to go on trial during December 2019 but following acknowledgment by the court that the case is unusually complex, it was pushed back to February 2020. Due to fresh developments in the investigation, however, the trial will now be pushed back to the summer.

According to court documents filed by the US Government in December 2019, it was already in possession of a significant amount of discovery data (around 88 gigabytes) but following a March 2018 request under the US-Canada Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), law enforcement agencies in Canada had seized a great deal more.

It took around 21 months but on December 16, 2019, the data was finally handed over to the Department of Justice. The volume of evidence is reportedly “enormous” and includes reports from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, subscriber information documents, a list of tickets and messages pertaining to subscribers, plus five forensic images of computers located at OVH, a hosting provider in Canada.

Those five images are said to contain “well over” 2.3 million files which together total around 2.72 terabytes of data. The FBI reportedly took the evidence to the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section’s Cybercrime Lab in December 2019 which found information relating to Jetflicks, iStreamitAll and related services including SmackDownOnYou, Sincity Sports Cards, BlockBustersTV, Cardvision TV, and other entities and persons connected with the case.

An estimated 186,000 emails were also discovered, some with Excel and Word attachments. According to the US Government, the overall trove is so extensive it’s 30 times larger than the discovery provided to the defendants to date. So, given the scale of the task ahead, the US Government advised a Virginia court that all parties would be best served by a further trial delay.

“In our view, given that neither the government nor the defense has reviewed the data we just received from Canada, all parties would benefit from a continuance,” the filing reads.

“The government needs to understand the nature of this new evidence for purposes of our case, and we believe that defense counsel has an obligation to their clients to review this new evidence too.”

In closing, the Government requested that the trial be shifted to June 22, 2020. This delay was initially opposed by defendants Peter Huber and Yoany Vaillant but an agreement was later reached. As a result, in an order signed this week by District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, the trial was rescheduled for July 14, 2020.

The information provided by Canadian authorities may yet boost the US Government’s case against the Jetflicks defendants but its lawyers didn’t waste the opportunity to take a shot at Canada’s alleged poor conduct when it comes to dealing with pirate sites.

“The Court may wonder why Jetflicks and iStreamItAll — which were both based in the United States — used a hosting provider in Canada for their operations,” a footnote reads.

“According to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which represents over 3,200 U.S. companies producing and distributing materials protected by copyright laws throughout the world, among those engaged in piracy, Canada has had a ‘long-standing reputation as a safe haven for some of the most massive and flagrant Internet sites dedicated to the online theft of copyright material’.”

While the same footnote also states that Canada “has made some progress” in recent years, it’s obvious that hosting Jetflicks in Canada didn’t save its operators from prosecution or from having their data seized and handed to US authorities.

The related court filings can be found here and here (pdf)

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

Operator of Popcorn Time Info Site is Liable for Piracy, Supreme Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/operator-of-popcorn-time-info-site-is-liable-for-piracy-supreme-court-rules-200115/

Five years ago, Popcorn Time was widely embraced by pirates, thanks to its ability to stream torrent files through a user-friendly interface.

This rapid rise raised concern among many movie industry companies, who worked hard to contain the threat by going after several forks and their developers.

This resulted in the shutdown of several projects including Popcorntime.dk. The site offered information on Popcorn time and its availability but didn’t host any software itself. Nevertheless, it still found itself subjected to rightsholders’ complaints.

The matter piqued the interest of Danish law enforcement which eventually resulted in a criminal investigation. In August 2015, Danish police arrested the alleged operator and Popcorntime.dk was subsequently shut down and placed under the control of the state prosecutor.

The case was highly unusual because the domain in question didn’t host the Popcorn Time software. Instead, the site offered instructions, information, news articles, as well as links to sites where the application was available.

PopcornTime.dk as it appeared in 2015

In most cases this issue would have blown over, especially since the site had a relatively small number of users. However, the Danish investigation triggered a criminal prosecution, with the operator facing a potential prison sentence.

In 2018, this resulted in a conditional 6-month prison sentence for the man behind PopcornTime.dk. The court ruled that spreading information about the controversial movie streaming service warranted liability for contributory copyright infringement.

The defendant disagreed and appealed the case at the High Court, which later handed down a similar verdict. In a final attempt to have the ruling reversed, the site operator went to the Danish Supreme Court, which announced its verdict yesterday.

The Supreme Court confirmed the decisions of the High Court and District Court, ruling that the operator of Popcorntime.dk is indeed liable for contributory infringements via Popcorn Time.

In his defense, the operator argued that the previous rulings restricted his right to freedom of expression and information, which would violate Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the Supreme Court disagreed. Instead, it ruled that the site was specifically designed to target potential Popcorn Time users who received concrete instructions on how to use the software. This is a criminal offense, even in the absence of concrete infringements by users, the Court found.

The Court thereby assumed that “a large number of users of [the operator’s] website have downloaded and used the Popcorn Time program and that use of the software, as a general rule, involved copyright infringement.”

The Court upheld the 6-month conditional prison sentence. The site operator, who is now in his 40s, was further sentenced to 120 hours of community service and more than $67,000 in ad revenue was confiscated.

Local anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen (Rights Alliance) is pleased with the outcome. According to the organization, this ruling is the first of its kind when it comes to criminal contributory copyright infringements.

“The judgment is, as far as we know, the first of its kind in the EU on the legal basis of criminal contributory copyright infringements,” Rights Alliance Director Maria Fredenslund informs TorrentFreak.

“So it confirms that the marketing and recommendations on the websites are in fact contributory infringements, even though they are not related to any particular copyright infringement, but rather to the infringements related to the Popcorn Time service in general.”

The Supreme Court ruling could have far-reaching consequences for other websites that provide information about piracy services. While the nature and purpose of the site still play a role, operators can’t simply hide behind the fact that they don’t host an infringing application on their server.

A copy of the Supreme Court verdict (in Danish) is available here (pdf)

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

Number of Pirated Screener Leaks Already Higher Than Last Year

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/number-of-pirated-screener-leaks-already-higher-than-last-year-200114/

Yesterday the contenders for the 2020 Oscars were announced.

‘Joker’ emerged as the main favorite with eleven nominations, closely followed by ‘1917’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ with ten each.

While Hollywood was buzzing with excitement over the news, a screener copy of another Oscar favorite – ‘Little Women’ – began spreading across pirate sites.

Pirated screeners are nothing new. Every year copies of popular films that are solely intended for private awards screenings end up in public. These releases are typically well secured, but release groups such as EVO and Hive-CM8 find their way around the protections.

One trend that we observed over recent years, however, is that fewer screener leaks were being posted online. Back in 2007, 29 screeners of nominees (81%) had leaked when the winners were announced. In 2019, this number was down to seven (23%).

Last year was an all-time low, which appeared to be good news for Hollywood. However, the downward trend hasn’t continued. During the current season, ten screener copies have already made their way onto pirate sites, of which eight received an Oscar nomination.

With several weeks still to go until the awards ceremony, this number will likely go up. To give an indication, in both 2018 and 2019 three pirated screeners came out after mid-January.

It’s worth noting though that the number of screener leaks itself doesn’t say much about security or enforcement efforts. In fact, the changing movie industry, where online streaming platforms are gaining dominance, could be the prime reason for a decline in these leaks.

Screeners are generally only released if there is no higher quality leak out already. Since pirated WEBRips and WEB-DLs generally come out soon after a movie premieres on a streaming service, screeners are less relevant.

To give an example, ‘The Irishman’ was widely available on pirate sites just hours after it premiered on Netflix. This trend is also what we see in the data from pirate screener watcher Andy Baio.

Of all the major Oscar contenders, only four are not yet available in high-quality formats on pirate sites. These are ‘1917,’ ‘Just Mercy,’ ‘Richard Jewell,’ and ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’.

As in previous years, release group Hive-CM8 is responsible for the bulk of the leaked screeners. And if we believe their latest release notes, they are not done yet. The group is openly calling for sources who have access to more screeners, including the latest Star Wars film.

A complete list of the screeners that have leaked thus far:

– Uncut Gems (12/16/2019) by EVO
– Portrait of a Lady on Fire (12/16/2019) by EVO
– Jojo Rabbit (12/21/2019) by Hive-CM8
– A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (12/23/2019) by Hive-CM8
– Knives Out (12/25/2019) by Hive-CM8
– Ford v Ferrari (12/29/2019) by Hive-CM8
– Frozen 2 (01/02/2019) by Hive-CM8
– Harriet (01/04/2019) by Hive-CM8
– Bombshell (01/09/2019) by Hive-CM8
– Little Woman (01/13/2019) by Hive-CM8

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TV Channel Owner Arrested For Airing ‘Pirate’ Movie Days After Theatrical Release

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tv-channel-owner-arrested-for-airing-pirate-movie-days-after-theatrical-release-200114/

Shivaji Rao Gaekwad, better known as Rajinikanth, is a superstar of Indian cinema, having been active in the industry for decades.

During his time on the silver screen, piracy has been running rampant across India but even he will have been taken by surprise following the events of the past few days.

Rajinikanth’s latest movie, action thriller Darbar, was released theatrically on January 9, 2020, quickly recovering around 75% of its costs during its first weekend alone.

However, on January 12, just three days after its official release, local cable channel Saranya TV took the decision to broadcast a pirated copy of the movie, as illustrated in the image below obtained by Galatta.com.

In common with many local movies, infamous torrent site TamilRockers reportedly leaked Darbar online shortly after its release but subsequent ‘pirate’ broadcasting on cable TV is unusual, particularly during a theatrical window. This has caused outrage at Lyca Productions, the production company behind the movie, which responded by filing a complaint with local police.

“The movie has been receiving good response from the public and it is running successfully in all centers all over the world, in the meantime we are astounded and distressed to know, that the movie was telecasted illegally in a local TV Channel called Saranya TV at Madurai on 12.01.2020 evening,” a statement from Lyca reads.

“Having come to know this, we have officially filed a complaint against the said local TV Channel at The Commissioner Office, Law & Order, Madurai.”

According to the local distributor for the movie, police were swift to act against the operators of Saranya TV. After initial reports that the channel had been closed and its operators had gone on the run, it now appears arrests have been made.

“It is true that the offenders have been arrested, but FIR [First information report] is yet to be registered as the investigation is still in progress,” a statement obtained by Behindwoods reads.

“It appears that they have used 2-3 relay points for broadcasting the film. While a computer system [has] already been seized, the police are now in the process of probing and confiscating other types of equipment, including CPUs, relay hubs and other systems that they were using to telecast the movie.”

In addition to the action against the cable TV company, a Galatta source reports that after the movie was widely shared on Whatsapp, a complaint was filed by Lyca in that direction too.

No official announcement on that front has been made by Lyca but an anti-piracy company is working on its behalf to prevent piracy on the messenger application.

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

ACE Shuts Down UlangoTV ‘Pirate’ IPTV App, Seizes Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ace-shuts-down-ulango-tv-pirate-iptv-app-seizes-domain-200113/

There are dozens of apps available online today that act as straightforward players of IPTV streams. These usually cause no copyright infringement issues for their operators as they come with no pre-loaded content.

While many can be configured with a premium subscription so that infringing content can be received at the direction of users, others blur the lines by attempting to aggregate links to streams that exist in open form on the Internet.

One of these players was known as UlangoTV. Previously available via Google Play, Amazon, CNET, and many other third-party download sites, variants of the UlangoTV app acted as a search engine for live IPTV streams, which were color-coded to provide additional information.

“Every day thousands of new stream URLs are found, analyzed and classified,” the publisher’s description on CNET reads.

“For the safety of users and for the protection of the content owners, the search results are flagged with color codes: Yellow streams have been known to us for more than 6 months. Typically these ‘official’ streams are without license problems. All registered users can see these streams freely. Blue streams have been known to us for more than 6 weeks. Also these are usually ‘official’ streams without license problems.”

However, as acknowledged by its publisher, not all streams made available in the app could be considered trouble-free.

“Magenta streams are usually short-lived and have only been known to us recently. These streams are likely to originate from unlicensed sources,” the developer noted.

This type of link aggregation teeters fairly close to the edge of legality but with UlangoTV+, a premium and premium plus subscription option offered by the same developer, broadcasters may have considered the line had been crossed.

“So in this app UlangoTV+ we introduced a new option called Premium Plus, which is only available to a few users who want to pay a premium price and now receive handpicked streams with tightly controlled connectivity,” the marketing added.

With no user shortage for the popular app, during October last year an unexpected message appeared on UlangoTV’s Twitter account which indicated that the project had come to an end.

The tweet gave no clear indication of the reason behind the decision to close but now, several months later, we have the strongest message yet that legal threats from entertainment industry groups played a key role.

Users who visit the Ulango.TV domain today get an all-too-familiar message that due to claims of copyright infringement, the site and associated app have been shut down by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

After the usual countdown timer expires, visitors are redirected to the ACE anti-piracy portal. There is no mention there of the shutdown which tends to suggest that a relatively peaceful agreement was reached with the app’s developer, which would’ve included shutting down and handing over the Ulango domain.

Indeed, domain records show that Ulango.tv is now owned by the Motion Picture Association, which adds to a growing list of dozens of domains taken over as part of the Alliance’s ongoing anti-piracy activities.

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

Game Developer Sees Boost in Sales After Releasing Official Torrent

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/game-developer-sees-boost-in-sales-after-releasing-official-torrent-200113/

Online piracy is an issue that affects many industries and indie game development is certainly no exception.

Some developers see piracy as an evil that needs to be rooted out as soon as possible. However, others are more open to some of the motivations behind it and are willing to experiment.

Game developer Shota Bobokhidze, aka ‘ShotX,’ falls in the latter category. The indie developer from Tiblisi, Georgia, runs his one-man company ShotX Studio which just released a new shooter game titled ‘Danger Gazers.’

The release is available on Steam where it currently sells at $9.99. While that’s not an extremely steep price, ShotX realizes the average game fan may not have the financial means to try out all the new titles that come out every month.

This prompted the developer to release a special edition targeting the pirate community. It’s something he already planned to do with the game Kontrakt in 2018, but that idea was canned after The Pirate Bay kept returning server errors.

This time he was more successful. Late last week the torrent made its way onto The Pirate Bay, carrying a special message from the creator.

“This is the latest DRM-free version of Danger Gazers (1.1.0), there’s no catch here, no Steam only features, just the fully functional game,” ShotX writes on The Pirate Bay.

The game can be downloaded for free, no strings attached. The developer’s only request is that people consider buying it if they like what they see, or to support the project in any other way. The same message was later repeated on Reddit where ShotX highlighted his release.

Ironically, the developer’s first post on Reddit was removed, presumably because the moderators assumed it was a pirated version. However, that’s certainly not the case.

This is not the first time that a game developer has plugged his work on a pirate site, but it remains a rarity. To find out more about ShotX’s motivations, we decided to reach out for some additional comments.

The developer informs us that he is all too familiar with piracy. He grew up in a situation where piracy was often the only option to get new software. Today he also sees the other side of the story, as he relies on sales to make a living. However, he still understands that not everyone can easily buy his work.

“The decision to release a torrent came along with the memories of my time spent with pirated software,” ShotX says.

“I remember that I didn’t feel any guilt at all as there was simply no other choice for me at that moment, moreover, had I known that there were other options I could have supported developers with, I’d have done all I could without a second thought.”

Releasing the game on The Pirate Bay allows people to try it out for free. This comes with the added advantage of free exposure, which is welcome too, as it’s becoming harder and harder for new games to get noticed.

ShotX says that this certainly wasn’t a planned PR campaign. He just wanted to get the word out and give the free torrent a chance. That said, he does believe that piracy can have a positive exposure impact, which was also the case here.

“It wouldn’t have been effective if it was a planned PR move to get people to buy the product. It was just a kind act that I was lucky enough to get noticed. I’m sure it would have been apparent if it wasn’t so,” he says.

ShotX’s approach worked well. The Reddit post promoting the official torrent reached a broad audience. This resulted in a lot of free downloads but also motivated people to buy the game and spread the word.

“The response so far was amazing,” ShotX says. While he didn’t expect anything in return, the free release actually resulted in a significant revenue boost.

“There was a noticeable boost in sales, some kind individuals even donated twice as much and most importantly all the rest supported me in their own ways by sharing my game and respecting my decision,” the developer adds.

The developer didn’t promote the torrent on his social media or on his official site, as he specifically wanted to reach out to the pirate community. Given the results, this was quite successful.

This shows that some ‘pirates’ are definitely willing to pay under the rights conditions but it doesn’t mean that this is easily repeatable. If all indie developers started releasing torrents it would no longer be something special and could become harder to get noticed once again.

In this case, however, it clearly paid off.

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

Kim Dotcom’s K.im Domain Goes Up For Sale, Displays Google SEO Rant

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcoms-k-im-domain-goes-up-for-sale-displays-google-seo-rant-200112/

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has announced the development of many projects since the destruction of his file-hosting platform in 2012.

With a stated aim of revolutionizing the file-sharing space, one of the most prominent was initially dubbed Megaupload 2 (MU2). Utilizing investment platform BnkToTheFuture, in 2016 it raised over a million dollars from 354 investors in just two weeks.

MU2 and the associated BitCache platform were originally penciled in for a January 2017 launch but like many complex projects, ultimately missed its target. With the project still under development, MU2 was later renamed K.im, a clear reference to Kim Dotcom’s well-known name and its greatest marketing asset.

Conveniently, Kim Dotcom had previously bought ‘K.im’ back in 2013, acquiring the Isle of Man domain name for a reportedly record-setting $20,000 via Sedo. This was put to use as the project’s main homepage but now, several years later, things are not going to plan.

Visitors to K.im are no longer greeted by all the details of the K.im, Bitcache and associated Kimcoin project. Instead, they are treated to an insecure site (no https) that delivers an anti-Google SEO-based rant penned by Bulgarian expired domain specialist Kalin Karakehayov.

An almost identical piece to that shown above was previously published on Karakehayov’s own domain at Karakehayov.com but the version on K.im replaces references to the original domain with references to K.im.

Having previously used Cloudflare’s services as a front to its hosting, K.im now uses servers in Bulgaria to display the anti-Google sentiments. Unfortunately, due to the GDPR, it’s hard to state conclusively that the domain is now under Karakehayov’s personal control, despite hosting his content.

For the K.im team, however, that detail might be the least of their worries. The entire project has been built around the Kim Dotcom brand and it now seems fairly clear that the K.im domain isn’t under its control anymore. Awkwardly, that is also more than obvious on Twitter, with dozens of Dotcom’s posts mentioning the K.im project and linking to the K.im domain now showing the message “PURE SPAM”.

Whether this PR catastrophe can be reversed is currently unclear but adding insult to injury, the K.im domain has now been put up for sale by its owner on Sedo, the marketplace from where Dotcom bought it. There’s no reserve price but the domain is being offered by an account opened in 2014 with a stated location of ‘Georgia’.

While the apparent loss of this domain can probably be overcome, the future of the entire K.im project is somewhat up in the air.

In November 2019, Bitfinex declared that due to a rapidly evolving “regulatory environment”, the K.im token sale had been indefinitely postponed.

“After careful evaluation, we regret to announce that Bitfinex Token Sales and the K.im team have mutually agreed not to hold the token sale at this time. K.im will defer any decision on whether to create tokens on, or undertake a token issue in relation to the K.im platform until it is fully functional,” the statement read.

Since then, no one associated with the project, including Dotcom himself, has made any public statement on the future of K.im or the Kimcoin token. TorrentFreak has requested comments from both Kim Dotcom and Kalin Karakehayov and will update this article should they arrive.

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Dish Network Proposes Blockchain Based Anti-Piracy System

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-network-proposes-blockchain-based-anti-piracy-system-200112/

American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network has fought several legal battles against alleged pirate streaming tools in recent years.

The company filed a lawsuit against the people behind TVAddons, for example. More recently the company went after multiple pirate streaming sites and IPTV reseller Boom Media.

In addition to using well-established legal options, the company is also thinking ahead. That became clear this week when we spotted a new patent application from Dish, which envisions a blockchain-based anti-piracy system.

According to the company, piracy has become increasingly problematic. It’s not just limited to dedicated pirate sites but also plagues legitimate platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, it notes.

“The distribution of infringed material on content sharing platforms such as Facebook and YouTube has grown rapidly,” Dish writes in its patent application.

“For example, viewers can easily find links to live sporting events, hosted on someone’s Facebook account, find the newest episodes of their favorite series on YouTube or Dailymotion or even join groups like `mobile movies` on Telegram..,” the company adds.

Dish writes that “millennials” and the “next generation” are increasingly turning their backs on the traditional bundle service system, opting for less-costly alternatives instead. These cheaper alternatives include the consumption of unlicensed content on legitimate services.

While most large companies have their own anti-piracy solutions, these often have shortcomings, such as requiring rightsholders to actively search for pirated content. While a few large outfits use hash recognition to automatically detect content, those systems are often proprietary and not freely available.

The new patent application envisions a technology that is supposed to be superior. While it can’t really be used to stop pirate sites, it proposes a blockchain-based anti-piracy system that legitimate services can use to check whether the content is published with permission, or not.

“The inventors have conceived and reduced to practice a software and/or hardware facility that can be used by content owners to assert ownership of content so that copyright friendly websites and services can take action against copyright piracy effectively, efficiently and is scalable,” Dish writes.

“The facility makes available to all content owners watermarking/fingerprinting technology so an identifier can be embedded in the content. The facility utilizes blockchain technology to add information related to each unique identifier in a database and allows an authorized user (e.g., the owner) to update the information through a blockchain transaction.”

There are several practical implementations possible, but it’s clear that Dish is in favor of a widely available system that sites and services can use to determine whether content is authorized. The watermark or fingerprint-based system should interact with a blockchain to verify ownership details.

Without a practical implementation, it’s hard to determine whether this approach will succeed or not. However, blockchain-based copyright management itself is not a new idea, as others have proposed this as well. The same is true for watermarking and fingerprinting.

It’s interesting to see that Dish is actively pursuing an alternative anti-piracy approach. Time will tell if it comes to fruition, and if so, how effective it will be. One thing’s almost guaranteed though, there will be plenty of attempts by pirates to get around it.

A copy of the patent application titled “Content anti-piracy management system and method” is available here (pdf).

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‘Copyright Troll’ Malibu Media Gets Sued By its Former Law Firm

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-malibu-media-gets-sued-by-its-former-law-firm-200111/

Over the past several years, adult entertainment company Malibu Media has been one of the most active copyright litigants in the United States. Targeting large numbers of alleged file-sharers, the company has received potentially huge sums in cash settlements.

But while the company usually makes the headlines for its file-sharing cases, a dispute with a former business partner is now shining a light behind the scenes. This week, Florida-based The Lomnitzer Law Firm sued California-based Malibu Media over their business dealings.

According to the lawsuit, in May 2017 Lomnitzer and Malibu entered into an agreement for the former to provide legal services to the latter.

While the precise details are to be submitted under seal, the outline is that Lomnitzer would coordinate Malibu’s litigation against pirates across the United States, receive settlements and pay them into a trust account, pay court filing fees, pay process server fees and investigators, and pay expenses related to the deposition of Malibu.

The law firm claims that it issued invoices to Malibu on a regular basis, using money in the trust account to pay some while dispensing settlement funds back to Malibu. However, the lawsuit claims that a date currently unknown, Malibu “began a program of circumventing the agreement.”

According to the complaint, this came in the form of instructing attorneys in other jurisdictions, that were previously instructed by Lomnitzer, to “bypass” the law firm. This involved sending settlement money directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, “while still expecting the Firm to pay court filing fees, process server fees, etc., all incurred for and on behalf of and for the benefit of Malibu.”

Faced with these circumstances, on August 30, 2019, Lomnitzer terminated its representation of Malibu. Since then it claims to have received invoices from third-parties incurred as a result of its representation of Malibu while its own invoices to Malibu itself (totaling more than $262,500) remain unpaid.

The bottom line according to Lomnitzer’s suit is that Malibu owes the law firm $280,05.32 plus additional interest accruing after December 31, 2019. It is demanding a judgment from the court to that end, an order allowing it to use funds in the trust account towards that amount, plus an order “confirming the Firm’s lien against all proceeds of all pending litigation in which Malibu is a Plaintiff.”

To address the allegations that other law firms are paying settlements directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, Malibu’s former legal team are also seeking an order to prevent Malibu from “disbursing any settlement monies from any and all pending litigation nationwide to anyone other than the Firm.”

On top, of course, Lomnitzer is demanding attorney fees and costs plus any other relief the court deems “just and proper”.

The lawsuit filed by Lomnitzer against Malibu can be found here (pdf)

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Replica Store Sells ‘Cheap’ Knock Off of €890 Pirate Bay Hoodie

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/replica-store-sells-cheap-knock-off-of-e890-pirate-bay-hoodie-200111/

During the early years, The Pirate Bay promoted an ‘official’ clothing store, which sold t-shirts and hoodies for reasonable prices.

This site has since disappeared, but it’s not hard to find Pirate Bay-themed clothing elsewhere. Dozens of vendors have copied the iconic logo to sell cheap merchandise to fans.

However, when the Switzerland-based fashion brand Vetements joined in with their own variant last year, they upped the ante.

Experts regard Vetements as one of the 10 hottest fashion brands at the moment, which means that it can only be afforded by the happy few. That’s also the case for their Pirate Bay clothing.

The company started by selling a fashionable hoodie for just under $900 and it currently has a whole range of Pirate Bay clothing, including a €550 t-shirt and €540 shorts. The top item, however, must be the comfortable hacker hoodie dress, which currently goes for €980.

“Channelling the theme of a digital dystopia, the piece has a print of ‘The Pirate Bay’ — one of the biggest services for torrenting digital content,” Vetements explains, noting that it pairs well with some sneakers.

Vetements seem to understand that their clothing is overpriced, but as long as it sells they have little to complain about. What they may not be happy with though, is that counterfeiters are using their Pirate Bay design to create cheap knock-offs.

Apparently, the Pirate Bay hoodie was hot enough to be ripped off, as people have been openly requesting cheaper replicas online. This demand was filled by several ‘unauthorized’ vendors including the well-known rep-store Reon District, which now sells a ‘pirated’ Pirate Bay hoodie for a fraction of the price.

These ‘copyright-infringing’ Pirate Bay hoodies come in different qualities and prices. The Reon one is still not cheap, selling at €130, but does it match up to the original quality? At TorrentFreak, we are in no position to review it, but luckily someone else took up the challenge.

Reddit user ‘plexor666’ posted the findings in the FashionReps subreddit, a community of hundreds of thousands of knock-off enthusiasts. The detailed side-by-side comparison shows that the copy is pretty decent, but not perfect. The wash tag, for example, has a plastic feel and the wrong font.

Whether these differences are worth €750 is up for debate. However, based on two reviews, including one from the Redditor above, it’s a pretty good copy. Only the ‘thick’ cords may need a replacement.

“Reon’s hoodie is amazing, nobody will call it out. Only thing that really bothers me are the thick cords on the hood. Looks really shitty I will look for a replacement,” plexor666 writes.

These open discussions are quite common in the subreddit, as opposed to /r/piracy which is under heavy pressure from rightsholders. Counterfeiting is not new for Vetements either. That said, they might not appreciate their Pirate Bay gear being pirated.

It’s hard to see what’s next, but at this point, it wouldn’t surprise us if Vetements sued Reon over their ‘pirated’ hoodie. Or perhaps it may be more fitting if they try to have the domain seized, or blocked by ISPs. True Pirate Bay style.

And perhaps The Pirate Bay can then take action against Vetements for copying its logo without permission?

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

‘Academic’ Torrent Client Hopes to Shake up the Entertainment Industry

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/academic-torrent-client-hopes-to-shake-up-the-entertainment-industry-200110/

The Tribler client has been around for nearly 15 years. During that time it has developed into the only truly decentralized BitTorrent client out there.

Even if all torrent sites were shut down today, Tribler users would still be able to find and add new content.

The project is managed by dozens of academic researchers, which is a guarantee for continued development. In recent years alone, the Tribler team added a built-in Tor network to the client, as well as a blockchain that can function as an internal currency.

This week Delft University of Technology announced that its research group has secured an additional €3.3 million to continue building an ‘Internet-of-Trust.’ A large part of this new cash flow will be used to improve the Tribler client.

With financial backing secured for the years to come, project leader Professor Johan Pouwelse has set some big goals. With Tribler, he hopes to lay the groundwork for a new ecosystem that can replace the powerful multi-billion dollar companies that currently dominate the entertainment industries.

Pouwelse wants to put the artists back in control. They, and only they, should be in charge of monetizing and distributing content.

This idea isn’t new. Artists increasingly want to take back their rights. Taylor Swift, for example, spoke up when she learned that her former record label wanted to prevent her from performing her own songs. Meanwhile, Imogen Heap is trying to create a fairer music ecosystem powered by a blockchain.

Professor Pouwelse has followed these developments closely and believes that artists should ultimately be in control of their own work. This means cutting out the middlemen.

“Every artist should be self-published and self-promoted. Without profiteers, more artists will earn their living from their passion. Without profiteers, fans will get more content creation from their idols,” Pouwelse says.

“The music industry is driven by intermediaries that keep the biggest slice of the pie to themselves. Pioneers such as Imogen Heap are creating new business models where artists receive fair compensation for their creativity.”

The ideal to overthrow powerful entertainment industry companies sounds very much like The Pirate Bay’s message during the mid-2000s. However, while Tribler’s torrent client does list a lot of Pirate Bay content, its goal isn’t to advocate piracy.

On the contrary, decentralization may be a step towards limiting piracy, as content can become much cheaper when artists distribute it directly. Right now labels, but also YouTube, Apple, Twitch and many other platforms, take a big cut. According to Pouwelse, that’s a waste of money.

The professor sees a future where content storage and distribution are put back into the hands of individuals. It’s a world where people set their own rules instead of being dictated to by major companies, which also includes Google and Facebook, which often restrict what people can publish.

While this all sounds very ambitious and promising, there is a major problem. In theory, it’s not hard for creators, or people in general, to store and publish everything themselves. The real problem is the exposure and adoption of decentralized alternatives.

Tribler does indeed have all the crucial elements for an artist to release an album and keep 100% of the profits. But when there are only a few thousand users on the platform, these profits are minimal. In fact, they would likely make more if they only made 5% through the regular “middlemen” channels.

This is a real dilemma. In order for decentralized alternatives to work, they need a substantial user base, one that can rival the existing options. Getting there at once will require a miracle of sorts.

Pouwelse understands the challenges but firmly believes that change is possible, especially when BitTorrent and the blockchain work in tandem.

“BitTorrent has not eliminated the golden profits that sit between the artist and your ears. BitTorrent and blockchain are perhaps the perfect mixture for change in the entertainment industry.

“Blockchain might be powerful enough to break the corporate stranglehold on the business and set artists free,” Pouwelse adds.

Whether this vision will eventually become a reality is uncertain. However, the Triber project does provide an excellent use case for what’s possible when it comes to decentralized publishing. In addition, it will also aid the development of other decentralized digital infrastructures.

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

Kingdom Come Dev Warhorse Studios Decorates Office With Framed Codex ‘Pirate’ NFO

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kingdom-come-dev-warhorse-studios-decorates-office-with-framed-codex-pirate-nfo-200110/

For most game developers around the world, piracy is no laughing matter. Particularly on PC, games are pirated in their millions, diverting large revenues away from creators thus damaging the market, many believe.

But for Warhorse Studios, the developer behind Kingdom Come: Deliverance, having a laugh at piracy isn’t off-limits. The fun began early January 2020 when Daniel Vávra, a Czech video game designer and director who co-founded Warhorse Studios, took to Twitter to reveal a revamp of the company’s headquarters in Prague.

“So after a year, we finally decorated walls of our office. And since I hate looking at ‘work’ when going to toilets, I chose some old school classics,” Vávra wrote. “But since it’s impossible to get those covers in hi-res I had to upscale them with AI software and the results are unbelievable!”

The results of these efforts are indeed impressive but the best was yet to come. A special presentation, taking pride of place in what looks like a luxurious kitchen area at the developer’s offices, was this week posted to Twitter.

“Among posters with some classic old school games, we put this poster on a very special spot,” Vávra revealed along with a ‘crying/laughing’ emoji.

For those unfamiliar with this image, it’s an exact replica of the NFO file (information file) created by the infamous cracking group ‘Codex’ after the group cracked the minimal protection on Kingdom Come: Deliverance and placed a pirated version on the Internet.

Of course, this shows that Warhorse has a wicked sense of humor but perhaps the developer has already had the last laugh.

The pirated PC version of the game appeared online within hours of the official Steam release on February 13, 2018 but shortly after an official copy was put on sale completely DRM-free via GOG. This suggests that spending lots of money on something like Denuvo wasn’t on the agenda and the developer wasn’t overly concerned about the effects of piracy on the title.

In the event, sales were excellent. According to an IGN report published two days after launch, the game had already sold half a million copies including more than 300,000 on Steam, a feat that pushed it to the top of the best-sellers list. Within a week it had sold a million copies.

Then, on the first anniversary of the game’s release, two other interesting pieces of news landed at the same time.

The first was that despite day-and-date piracy, Kingdom Come: Deliverance had sold an impressive two million copies. The second was that Warhorse Studios had been acquired by THQ Nordic for €33.2 million after the Czech studio generated €42 million in revenue during 2018 alongside €28 million in pre-tax earnings.

Not bad at all when one considers that Kingdom Come: Deliverance was Warhorse’s first release after raising funding for the title via a 2014 Kickstarter campaign.

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

PrimeStreams IPTV Redirecting to ACE But its Not an Anti-Piracy Seizure

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/primestreams-iptv-redirecting-to-ace-but-its-not-an-anti-piracy-seizure-200109/

For the past several weeks, some ‘pirate’ IPTV services have been subjected to ‘hacks’ carried out by as-yet unidentified people.

In early December, Helix Hosting became the first reported case. Its homepage was defaced with a message explaining that the service had been asked to pay a ransom or face having its customer database leaked online.

Just a few days later, PrimeStreams became the victim of similar blackmail efforts. Its operator revealed that a weak password had been exploited and that 10 bitcoin was being demanded in order to prevent the service’s confidential data from being exposed to the world.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that other services were also targeted in December, which may or may not have settled in the face of similar threats. However, PrimeStreams’ situation appears to be ongoing as a quick visit to what used to be its main servicing domain (PrimeStreams.store) reveals a rather ominous message.

This countdown-timer message usually indicates that a domain has been taken over by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy coalition headed up by the MPA. It is currently displayed on dozens of file-sharing and IPTV platforms, commonly after they have reached some kind of settlement with the world’s largest entertainment groups. Vaders and Openload are two of the most obvious examples.

Of course, seeing that message will probably be enough to send many customers running for the hills but the truth is relatively easy to uncover. This isn’t a domain seizure carried out by ACE but most probably the work of a malicious actor, as a dive into the domain’s details reveal.

As the image above shows, at the time of writing the PrimeStreams domain is using the services of Njalla, the domain registration and hosting service closely associated with Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde. That doesn’t mean that Njalla has anything to do with the issue, of course, but it does indicate in a particularly clear way that ACE isn’t the entity in control here.

When ACE does take control of a domain, Openload.co for example, there are many tell-tale signs that the seizure is legitimate, including the use of the MPA’s own nameservers, redirection to certain banks of servers in the United States, not to mention contact details that relate to bodies and individuals at the MPA.

If we rule out the highly unlikely possibility that the operator of PrimeStreams redirected his own domain to ACE’s anti-piracy servers, then we’re left with a situation that was most probably engineered by a malicious actor. Whether that was the same person who threatened the site in December is unknown but losing a domain to an unauthorized third-party is an extremely serious matter.

The double-edged sword here is the involvement of Njalla. While there’s a possibility that there might be an element of sympathy at the sight of an unlawful hack (not to mention that some of the team were previously involved in The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån), Njalla is utterly militant when it comes to the privacy of its users so may not even be able to help.

That might have played a part in PrimeStreams’ decision to dump this domain entirely and transfer to a new one. The big question, however, was whether the service had any more big security headaches waiting to kick in. Sure enough, within hours of going live, incredibly that domain was ‘hacked’ as well.

In the meantime, ACE gets yet another traffic boost.

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

Canadian Pirate Site Blockade Expands With New Domains

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canadian-pirate-site-blockade-expands-with-new-domains-200109/

Last November Canada’s Federal Court approved the first piracy blockade in the country.

Following a complaint from major media companies Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court ordered several major ISPs to block access to domains and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service GoldTV.

A few days after the order was issued the first blockades were active. These prevented GoldTV customers from accessing the IPTV portal directly, as intended, but it didn’t take long before several alternative domains popped up.

These new domains are managed by GoldTV or its resellers and point to the access portal, allowing subscribers an unblocked route to access the IPTV service.

This wasn’t entirely unexpected. While IPTV blockades are relatively rare, we have seen similar ‘proxy’ workarounds in the past when traditional pirate sites were blocked in other counties. Having learned from this experience, the Canadian court order specifically allowed Bell and the other companies to expand the blocklist.

Specifically, they can amend the original blocklist with any “domain, subdomain or IP address that has as its sole or predominant purpose to enable or facilitate access to the Target Websites,” provided that the IP-address is “not associated with any other active domain.”

Such an update was requested early last month and two weeks later the Canadian Federal Court approved it. An overview of the new blocking requirements was published this week by Andy Kaplan-Myrth, TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory affairs.

This shows that, after some IP-addresses and a domain name were previously removed, several new ones were added with the latest order.

The newly added addresses include gold.myiptvplanet.com, live4k.online, and several pctvhd.net and beex.me subdomains. When we checked these, all indeed redirected to the GoldTV access portal. According to reports we received, the new domains have been added to the blocklist of several Canadian ISPs, as expected.

Avvidavids reveal that the new domains were tracked down by posing as a customer or reseller of the GoldTV service.

Interestingly, the rightsholders asked to keep the names of the new domains secret until the order was granted. The Wire Report notes that they sent a letter (pdf) to the ISP asking them to “refrain from publicizing” the new domains until the Court made a decision.

Keeping possible updates out of the public eye is in the interest of the copyright holders, as it prevents GoldTV from anticipating new blocks. However, it raises concerns among some legal experts who believe that information in a public case should be out in the open. If not, that should be up to a court to decide.

That said, the Canadian procedure is much more transparent than in other countries such as the UK, where new blocklist updates aren’t published at all, making it impossible for the public to check for potential overblocking.

While the expanded blocks are certainly frustrating for GoldTV customers, there will likely be new domains to replace them, continuing the whack-a-mole. The downside for the copyright holders is that there’s a significant delay in the process.

Bell and the others first have to file for an amended order, which then has to be approved by the court. After that, it can take up to two weeks before ISPs implement the blockade. This whole process can take more than a month. In this timeframe, new domain names may have already been put into use.

While website blocks are far from perfect, the continued frustration of switching to new domains may be enough for some pirates to throw in the towel. Or they may switch to more permanent circumvention alternatives, such as VPNs.

Meanwhile, the bigger blocking battle continues as well. Internet provider TekSavvy has appealed the blocking order and hopes to have it overturned. It clearly violates network neutrality and undermines the open Internet, the ISP previously said.

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