Tag Archives: Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment

Comcast Becomes First ISP to Join ACE Global Anti-Piracy Coalition

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/comcast-becomes-first-isp-to-join-ace-global-anti-piracy-coalition-191016/

In the summer of 2017, one of the most important anti-piracy initiatives of recent years was born.

After years of protecting their own content from unlicensed reproduction and distribution, 30 of the world’s most powerful media companies came together to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).

Led by the MPAA (now MPA), the companies declared a pooling of resources to tackle piracy more efficiently and on a global scale. Since then, ACE has added several new members to bolster the ranks and this week added two more, one of which is particularly notable.

“We are excited to have Comcast and Viacom join ACE – our leading global content protection organization,” says Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association.

“As the parent companies of two of our original members, they have been supporters of our efforts and numerous successes, but now as members, they will strengthen the legal and operational work we’re able to do to reduce the threat of piracy and support creators.”

Viacom is the parent company of Paramount Pictures, which in turn is a current member of both the MPA and ACE. It also owns UK-based Channel 5, which joined ACE in March 2019.

Comcast owns ACE members NBCUniversal, Sky, and Telemundo, all of which have been with the alliance from its inception. Comcast also operates telecoms giant Comcast Cable, which under the Xfinity brand is one of the largest telecoms companies in the United States.

The addition of Comcast to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment is intriguing. Among almost three dozen other current members, it is the first Internet service provider to commit to the global anti-piracy initiative. How that will play out on the ground is currently unclear.

Given that three of its subsidiaries are already members, the addition of Comcast seems a logical move. ACE, however, seems to be placing emphasis on Comcast’s position as a major ISP which, with imagination, could have all kinds of implications when it comes to anti-piracy enforcement.

ACE plays its cards very close to its chest and we know it only publicizes a small percentage of its actions. As previously reported, many others are kept deliberately quiet. What we know thus far though, is that ACE tends to focus on the provision and distribution of infringing content, rather than targeting end-users – customers of ISPs for example.

Nevertheless, that Comcast and by extension Xfinity are now part of the world’s largest anti-piracy coalition should give pause for thought. If nothing else it shows clear intent by an ISP to positively participate in the global fight against movie and TV show piracy, in all its forms. ACE will no doubt consider this a major achievement.

The full list of members of the ACE anti-piracy coalition now reads as follows: Amazon, AMC Networks, BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada and Bell Media, Canal+ Group, CBS Corporation, Channel 5, Comcast, Constantin Film, Discovery, Foxtel, Grupo Globo, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Millennium Media, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, SF Studios, Sky, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Star India, Studio Babelsberg, STX Entertainment, Telefe, Telemundo, Televisa, Univision Communications Inc., Viacom, Village Roadshow, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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

Battle Against IPTV Continues As MPA & ACE Take Over Four More Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/battle-against-iptv-mpa-ace-take-over-four-more-domains-191013/

If the figures that were cited following the recent international police operation against Xtream Codes are any yardstick, providers and sellers of ‘pirate’ IPTV providers currently number in their thousands.

While there are relatively few sources at the very top of the pyramid, there could be in excess of 5,000 players selling IPTV subscriptions to the public, which by recent estimates could dwarf even the five million accounts cited by the authorities.

In common with the task of removing every torrent, streaming and similar site from the Internet, the possibility of handing a death blow to the entire IPTV industry seems a distant dream for content providers. But that doesn’t mean incremental efforts aren’t underway.

As previously documented, the massive Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, which comprises dozens of the world’s largest content companies, is quietly taking down sellers and providers of IPTV. Today we can reveal that another four have had their domains commandeered by MPA America, the organization previously known as the MPAA.

VStreamTV.com first appeared to gain traction back in 2015, selling an inconspicuous set-top box to the public. Promising no contract and no monthly fees, the $349 device boasted 100,000 movies and TV shows, plus 1,000 channels of live entertainment.

Also say ‘Yes’ to an ACE takeover, apparently….

By 2019, the site was offering its latest ‘VS4+’ device, promising unlimited entertainment to customers looking to permanently cut the cord. Then, a few weeks ago, it all came to an end. The site shut down without notice after its domain was taken over by the MPA. Like many before it, it now directs to the anti-piracy portal operated by ACE.

According to web records, MaxTVLive.com only appeared on the scene in 2018. Among other things, the site seems to have offered a custom Android APK to be installed on users’ own devices. For the price of $25 per month, Max TV users could enjoy live TV and other content on a single device, with extra devices costing an extra $5 per month.

However in common with VStreamTV, a few weeks ago the party came to an abrupt end. It seems likely that ACE came knocking with demands to shut down the business as the service’s website is now owned by the MPA and redirects to the ACE portal.

What ultimately happened with MyIQXTV.com isn’t in question – it was taken over by the MPA and now redirects to the ACE portal. We weren’t able to recover a copy of the operation’s website but if it was in any way connected to the IXQtv service (note subtle difference in spelling), it’s no surprise it appeared on the MPA/ACE radar.

IXQtv shut down August 1st and was no ordinary operation. While many IPTV providers operate via resellers, IXQtv operated a ridiculously full-blown multi-level-marketing (MLM) scheme which paid affiliates not only on sales of streaming packages but also commissions for recruiting yet more affiliates. Think Amway for IPTV.

Finally, the obviously-named JailbrokenBlackBox.co takes last place on today’s update of recent domain takeovers. Information on precisely what packages, services or tools the site offered isn’t clear but like the others, it clearly attracted the negative attention of the world’s biggest entertainment companies.

Details of earlier domain takeovers carried out by ACE and the MPA against IPTV-related operations can be found here (1,2,3,4)

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

MPA America Quietly Takes Over Yet More ‘Pirate’ IPTV Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpa-america-quietly-takes-over-yet-more-pirate-iptv-domains-190920/

When pirate sites are taken down following legal action, it’s not uncommon for the plaintiffs to try and take control of their domains.

The practice has been going on for years, with domains like isoHunt.com and the affiliated Podtropolis.com still redirecting to an anti-piracy page operated by the MPAA.

More recently we’ve reported on the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (which is headed up by the MPAA or MPA America as it’s now known) taking over domains previously used to offer ‘pirate’ IPTV services. They include OneStepTV, TVStreamsNow and DoozerIPTV but none of these ‘seizures’ have been reported by the organization.

Behind the scenes, however, many more additional takeovers are taking place, all without fanfare.

Visitors to former IPTV provider BestTVStream, for example, are now being directed to ACE’s anti-piracy portal. The signs suggest that the service may have come to some agreement with ACE which included handing over its domain to MPA A, but no public details are available.

A similar scenario faces former customers of IPTV provider XCaliberTV who are now being informed that the service has been shut down due to copyright infringement before being diverted to ACE’s site in the same manner.

Exactly the same can be said of More Media Solutions, which operated from MoreMediaBox.com. One day last month it was working, the next it began diverting to ACE, with no one saying a word.

One of the more curious ‘seizures’ involves two domains with the same initial name – rveal.biz and rveal.xyz. According to a capture by the Wayback Machine, the former of these domains previously diverted to Rveal.com, which is a still-functioning site offering Android-style TV boxes. Previously, it appears that Rveal sold devices that claimed to provide access to premium content for free.

We contacted Rveal for comment a little while back but in common with similar inquiries placed with some former operators of other apparently ‘seized’ or ‘commandeered’ domains, we received no response.

We cannot draw any firm conclusions from that silence but not wanting to say much – if anything at all – does seem to be the norm in many of these domain cases, both before, during, and after ‘seizure’. The Vaders.tv and Minihosts.org takedowns were well-publicized, but many others are quietly being dealt with, quite probably with the agreement of the parties involved.

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

Alliance For Creativity Now Effectively Controls Vader’s IPTV Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vader-iptv-domains-now-divert-to-anti-piracy-warning-190826/

This May, the popular Vader Streams ‘pirate’ IPTV service was suddenly shut down.

From the very beginning of the disruption, it was fairly clear that the service was in special difficulties, probably related to legal action.

For months there has been speculation but last week it was finally confirmed that the global anti-piracy coalition Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment was behind the shutdown. According to the MPAA, a leading force in the group, Vader Streams is now liable to pay $10 million in damages.

According to ACE, as part of the surrender package, Vader must also “cede administrative control” over its entire “piracy infrastructure”. The full list of assets that Vader can hand over to ACE members isn’t clear but for months now TF has been monitoring two domains that we know were directly connected to Vader.

At the time of the shutdown, Minihosts.org – a site where users could directly signup to the Vader service – was pointing to a server in the Netherlands. It has been stubbornly pointing to the same Netherlands-based IP address ever since. The same can also be said about the more obviously-named Vaders.tv, pictured below.

vaders iptv matchcenter

In advance to the announcement last week, any changes to these domains could’ve given an early indication of confirmed legal action, including who was behind it. This time around, however, the Alliance for Creativity waited for their official announcement before making any changes.

Now, however, both domains are now displaying the familiar ACE anti-piracy message shown below, before diverting to the Alliance’s official web portal, which details some, but not all, of its actions against other ‘pirate’ video services.

When compared to previous domain ‘seizures’, however, this one looks slightly different. In other cases, several of which we’ve detailed before, the MPAA itself has taken over the domains, a fact that has been made clear via WHOIS lookups that show that the Hollywood group is the new owner.

This time, however, both domains currently have their ownership details hidden by privacy-protection service Privacy Protect LLC. The reason for this is currently unclear but given that domains now redirect to ACE and are also using the MPAA’s nameservers, it seems fairly obvious the handover of former Vader assets is well underway.

The service previously promised that it would protect user data with the statement, “We’re going to make sure, no Email, IP, account + reseller name goes to the wrong hands. Everything will be wiped clean and that’s all.”

While that may very well have happened as promised, we also know that ACE used a secret court process and effectively ambushed one or more Vader operators/staff armed with an Anton Piller order, a civil search warrant that granted them no-notice permission to enter premises to secure and copy evidence before it could be destroyed or tampered with.

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

Vader Streams Was Shut Down By ACE, Must Pay $10m Damages

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vader-streams-was-shut-down-by-ace-must-pay-10m-damages-190821/

There are several large IPTV providers with brands that are well known across the unlicensed industry. One of those was Vader, otherwise known as Vader Streams, or just Vaders.

Notable for its Darth Vader logo, the platform served large numbers of direct customers and subscription re-sellers with at least 1,300 TV channels and a library of VOD content running close to 3,000 titles.

This May, however, something went seriously wrong.

“We have no choice but to close down Vader. We can’t reveal much publically, but by now some of you should know through the other means what happened,” a notice posted to the site’s Telegram channel read.

“We tried everything in our power to avoid this, to avoid any outage, but enough people worked against us.”

With that, Vader went down, never to appear again. As highlighted in our subsequent review of the Vader closure, we had strong suspicions that anti-piracy giant the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) had become involved.

We’d obtained an unverified copy of what looked like a cease-and-desist notice, apparently sent by ACE members to Vader, over its VOD content. Unable to confirm its authenticity, we made a decision not to publish it.

However, it’s now 100% clear that ACE, the global anti-piracy company made up of dozens of powerful content companies, did indeed shutter Vader. And it’s now evident why they refused to comment.

ACE proceeded against Vader through a secret court proceeding in Canada through which it obtained a so-called “Anton Piller” order, a civil search warrant that grants plaintiffs no-notice permission to enter a defendant’s premises in order to secure and copy evidence to support their case, before it can be destroyed or tampered with. A similar process was used against TVAddons founder Adam Lackman in 2017.

While the case against Lackman is moving forward at glacial speed more than two years later, the Vader matter now appears to be over. After obtaining a permanent injunction from the Federal Court in Canada, ACE has shuttered the service and landed Vader with a bill for $10 million in damages.

According to ACE, Vader must also “cede administrative control” over its entire “piracy infrastructure”, permanently cease-and-desist from doing anything in future connected to offering, selling, or promoting unlicensed streams, and/or developing, updating, hosting or promoting any Kodi add-ons connected to pirated content.

“On behalf of all ACE members, I applaud the Court’s decision to permanently put an end to piracy operations conducted by Vader Streams,” Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement.

“Actions like these can help reduce piracy and promote a dynamic, legal marketplace for creative content that provides audiences with more choices than ever before, while supporting millions of jobs in the film and television industry.”

Robert Malcolmson, Senior Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Bell Canada – a prominent ACE member – described the action by the Federal Court as “strong and appropriate”, adding that “illegal streaming services like Vader Streams cause serious harm to creators and distributors, the entire broadcasting and cultural sectors and ultimately Canadian consumers.”

While ACE says that Vader must “cede administrative control” over its entire “piracy infrastructure”, it remains unclear what that means in real terms.

At the time of the shutdown, Vader said that it was “going to make sure, no Email, IP, account + reseller name goes to the wrong hands. Everything will be wiped clean and that’s all.”

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

MPAA Now Controls at Least 3 ‘Pirate’ IPTV Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-now-controls-at-least-3-pirate-iptv-domains-190707/

Unlicensed IPTV services have been running for many years, offering thousands of otherwise premium channels to consumers for a fraction of their market price.

As recently as three years ago such services received little mainstream attention. However, the rise of piracy-focused Kodi add-ons has encouraged countless thousands of pirates to take a step up to sample the experience of a more reliable and generally higher-quality ‘pirate’ service.

This rising popularity, which is inextricably linked to large volumes of people looking to stream live content, is being met with increasing resistance by anti-piracy groups. One of the main players is the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a global anti-piracy coalition headed up by Hollywood, Netflix, Amazon, and dozens of other huge media companies.

Back in May, we reported how the domain of OneStepTV, a former ‘pirate’ IPTV provider, had been taken over by ACE and the MPAA. No official details have been made available by ACE but it seems likely there may have been some kind of cease-and-desist agreement reached with its operator. We can now report that further domains have also been scooped up.

After being registered in September 2017, TVStreamsNow.com acted as the portal to another ‘pirate’ IPTV service. Offering more than 500 channels for ‘just’ $25 per month, the service gained traction among users who perhaps didn’t realize that superior products are available for far less.

TVStreamsNow.com before the takeover

While many customers would have enjoyed the content on offer, this ‘bargain’ would eventually come to an end. A couple of months ago the service disappeared after telling customers via email that another domain would be handling their transactions in the future.

It’s unclear whether that shift ever took place but there is clear evidence that the original domain is now in the hands of ACE members. Not only does it redirect to the official ACE website, but WHOIS details also reveal the domain is now controlled by the MPAA.

Another ACE victim can be found when visiting DoozerIPTV.com. As the image below shows, the platform offered “all the content you could ever want” while “eliminating extortionate monthly bills and contractual agreements.”

DoozerIPTV – how it used to look

Unfortunately for its former operators, DoozerIPTV no longer offers these services, at least from this domain. After being registered in July 2018, last month it appears to have been taken over by the MPAA.

It currently redirects to the Alliance’s website like the other domains, along with a message that it’s no longer available “due to copyright infringement.”

Quite how many more of these takeovers have taken place isn’t clear. However, it seems likely that these three services won’t be the last to hand their domains to the MPAA following threats from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

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

MPAA / ACE Shut Down ‘Pirate’ IPTV Service, Seize Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-ace-shut-down-pirate-iptv-service-seize-domain-190517/

In 2015, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a new initiative designed to target existing and developing piracy operations on a global scale, announced its launch.

Headed up by the studios of the MPAA plus Netflix and Amazon, more than 30 international media now complete its ranks, including the likes of BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada, MGM, and Village Roadshow, to name just a few.

In addition to targeting Kodi add-ons and their developers, ACE has made unlicensed IPTV services one of its priorities. This morning we can report that the anti-piracy giant has claimed another scalp.

In the grand scheme, OneStepTV.com appears to have been a relative newcomer. Archives suggest that the service launched in 2018 and grew to offer around 600 TV channels and 20,000 pieces of VOD content (such as movies), for $25 per month or less.

No credit checks…

While many of One Step TV’s customers appeared to have enjoyed the service, a few weeks ago problems appear to have become evident to subscribers looking to renew their package.

A post on Facebook dated April 25, 2019, signaled payment processing issues, one of the most common signs that a platform might be in trouble.

“We have been subscribers for awhile now and like your service very much. We are a little confused and concerned as recently we were told that customers cannot renew their subscriptions anymore,” the post reads.

“Is your business going away, or do you anticipate fixing the payment issue in the near future? We really would like to continue doing business with you.”

A few days later, more serious issues hit the streaming service. With its payment processing suspended, the platform itself disappeared.

One Step TV — gone

One Step TV’s public social media posts don’t give any explanation for the outage but yesterday an ominous change to the service’s homepage gave the clearest indication yet of what may have transpired.

Instead of One Step TV’s sales pitch, visitors to OneStepTV.com are now presented with a message from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. Five seconds later the page redirects to the Alliance’s homepage.

Five seconds before redirect

While a page and redirect like this are very easy to fake (pirate sites frequently display similar pages as April Fool pranks), this one is very different. Not only does the domain redirect to the Alliance’s website as promised, changes to One Step TV’s domain records confirm that the domain has been taken over.

Seized by the MPAA

As the image above shows, the domain is now in the hands of the MPAA and has probably been that way since yesterday morning. The site itself is hosted by Amazon, a founding member of ACE.

All the pieces of the puzzle together strongly suggest that in this format at least, One Step TV is done. It’s not clear if a lawsuit is involved but as far as we can see, none have been filed recently by ACE’s lead members.

While it’s difficult to say for sure, this closure bears the hallmarks of a cease-and-desist and subsequent settlement agreement. Given ACE’s reluctance to talk about such agreements, it seems unlikely there will be a detailed public statement.

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

MPAA “Dramatically Expanding” ACE Global Anti-Piracy Coalition

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-dramatically-expanding-ace-global-anti-piracy-coalition-190507/

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the anti-piracy coalition which already counts 33 of the world's most powerful media companies among its members, is about to get even bigger. MPAA chief Charles Rivkin confirms that his group is in the process of "dramatically" expanding the global initiative.

For more than 15 years and mainly since the rise of BitTorrent-based sharing, sites and platforms offering Hollywood movies or TV shows have been wary of the MPAA.

At any moment, BitTorrent trackers and indexers could find themselves in the group’s crosshairs, targeted by full-blown lawsuits or threats that the same would follow, if infringing activity continued.

But while the threat was real, litigation has always been expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. Furthermore, video content being shared by pirates wasn’t always owned by the studios of the MPAA, allowing many sites to slip through the net.

In June 2017, the MPAA began plugging both of these loopholes with the launch of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a huge anti-piracy coalition featuring not only MPAA members, but companies like Amazon, Netflix, CBS, HBO, and the BBC.

After adding Discovery Inc. and two Viacom-owned companies back in March, ACE now has 33 members. This not only means that it’s becoming more and more difficult to run a ‘pirate’ video platform or service without treading on at least one member’s toes, but there are almost three dozen large to huge companies now sharing the financial burden of chasing down pirates.

Now, according to MPAA chief Charles Rivkin, ACE is about to become even more powerful.

In an interview with WorldScreen, Rivkin detailed some of ACE’s achievements so far, such as shutting down 123Movies and taking on TickBox and Dragon Box, companies operating in the so-called ISD (illicit streaming device) market. A case against Omniverse is still ongoing.

“We were able to win in court against pirate operators called TickBox and Dragon Box, and they represent a new threat: the internet streaming devices, the ISDs, that are basically devices that can be purchased completely legally but when loaded with illegal software, can do enormous damage to content. It’s a never-ending fight, but we’re starting to make a big difference,” he said.

“And it’s an existential threat for some of the small and medium businesses that make up the industry. I was speaking to some broadcasters in Paris who said that piracy can be as big as their entire bottom line. And the impact on entertainment companies is huge, so this is a top priority for us.”

That Rivkin mentions 123Movies (Vietnam), then Tickbox and Dragon Box (United States), followed by France (Canal+ is an ACE member), shows that the fight against piracy is going global. ACE has already targeted several Kodi-related platforms and add-ons in the UK since its inception, yet another sign that no important region is off-limits.

If there is business worth doing there, ACE either has it covered already or will have it in hand fairly soon.

“Every major market has a participating member. We’re in the process of dramatically expanding [ACE] even more. It is already the premier global effort to reduce piracy,” Rivkin added.

How this expansion will manifest itself is not yet clear, but it seems likely that ACE will continue with its strategy of ‘loud’ public litigation (such as that taken against TickBox and Dragon Box) and selective ‘quiet’ action against certain players.

Last month, ACE told TorrentFreak that it had “sought and obtained voluntary cooperation from a significant number of owners, operators, and developers of sites, add-ons, and services” that facilitate piracy.

“We will execute more planned global actions along these lines and look to continue our success protecting creators around the world,” ACE spokesperson Richard VanOrnum added.

These ‘quiet’ actions are of course intriguing.

From the limited information available to us, it seems clear that they vastly outnumber the volume of ‘loud’ actions seen thus far and mainly target products with a large audience (Kodi add-ons and builds, for example) but without the obvious commercial element of many ‘pirate’ sites and services.

However, we have received information which suggests that large platforms may not be immune from being presented with settlement agreements, which form part of the process to cease-and-desist.

This complicates reporting because documentation previously seen by TF requires those targeted not to tell anyone apart from their lawyers about the approach to shut down. In return, ACE promises not to make their identities known, meaning that details shared are kept to a minimum.

For example, last week huge IPTV service Vader shut down, stating that it had been approached by companies seeking its closure. The platform didn’t mention ACE directly but if anyone would like them to close down, ACE would be the prime candidate.

We asked ACE if the coalition was behind the closure and a spokesperson promised to send over a statement. Thus far, however, we haven’t received anything back. While a comment may yet be forthcoming, an additional document sent to TF (the veracity of which we haven’t been able to independently confirm), suggests that Vader has been given the opportunity to settle.

If that’s indeed the case, the matter could potentially disappear into the ether, as so many other services and tools have also done in recent times. Either way, we can probably expect much more of this type of action in the future, as ACE’s “drastic” expansion brings in more funds and tentacles in every corner of the world.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hong Kong Customs Arrest Pirate Streaming Device Vendors

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hong-kong-customs-arrest-pirate-streaming-device-vendors-180529/

As Internet-capable set-top boxes pour into homes across all populated continents, authorities seem almost powerless to come up with a significant response to the growing threat.

In standard form these devices, which are often Android-based, are entirely legal. However, when configured with specialist software they become piracy powerhouses providing access to all content imaginable, often at copyright holders’ expense.

A large proportion of these devices come from Asia, China in particular, but it’s relatively rare to hear of enforcement action in that part of the world. That changed this week with an announcement from Hong Kong customs detailing a series of raids in the areas of Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai.

After conducting an in-depth investigation with the assistance of copyright holders, on May 25 and 26 Customs and Excise officers launched Operation Trojan Horse, carrying out a series of raids on four premises selling suspected piracy-configured set-top boxes.

During the operation, officers arrested seven men and one woman aged between 18 and 45. Four of them were shop owners and the other four were salespeople. Around 354 suspected ‘pirate’ boxes were seized with an estimated market value of HK$320,000 (US$40,700).

“In the past few months, the department has stepped up inspections of hotspots for TV set-top boxes,” a statement from authorities reads.

“We have discovered that some shops have sold suspected illegal set-top boxes that bypass the copyright protection measures imposed by copyright holders of pay television programs allowing people to watch pay television programs for free.”

Some of the devices seized by Hong Kong Customs

During a press conference yesterday, a representative from the Customs Copyright and Trademark Investigations (Action) Division said that in the run up to the World Cup in 2018, measures against copyright infringement will be strengthened both on and online.

The announcement was welcomed by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia’s (CASBAA) Coalition Against Piracy, which is back by industry heavyweights including Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, National Basketball Association, TV5MONDE, Viacom International, and others.

“We commend the great work of Hong Kong Customs in clamping down on syndicates who profit from the sale of Illicit Streaming Devices,” said General Manager Neil Gane.

“The prevalence of ISDs in Hong Kong and across South East Asia is staggering. The criminals who sell ISDs, as well as those who operate the ISD networks and pirate websites, are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware.”

Malware warnings are very prevalent these days but it’s not something the majority of set-top box owners have a problem with. Indeed, a study carried by Sycamore Research found that pirates aren’t easily deterred by such warnings.

Nevertheless, there are definite risks for individuals selling devices when they’re configured for piracy.

Recent cases, particularly in the UK, have shown that hefty jail sentences can hit offenders while over in the United States (1,2,3), lawsuits filed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) have the potential to end in unfavorable rulings for multiple defendants.

Although rarely reported, offenders in Hong Kong also face stiff sentences for this kind of infringement including large fines and custodial sentences of up to four years.

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

MPAA Chief Says Fighting Piracy Remains “Top Priority”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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