Tag Archives: Anti-Piracy

Torrent Legend Mininova Will Shut Down For Good

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-legend-mininova-will-shut-down-for-good-170226/

In December 2004, the demise of the mighty Suprnova left a meteor crater in the fledgling BitTorrent landscape.

This gaping hole was soon filled by the dozens of new sites that emerged to fulfill the public’s increasing demands for torrents. Mininova soon became the most successful of them all.

Mininova was founded by five Dutch students just a month after Suprnova closed its doors. The site initially began as a hobby project, but in the years that followed the site’s founders managed to turn it into a successful business that generated millions of dollars in revenue.

With this success also came legal pressure. Even though the site complied with takedown requests, copyright holders were not amused. In 2009 this eventually resulted in a lawsuit filed by local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, which Mininova lost.

As a result, the site had to remove all infringing torrents, a move which ended its reign. The site remained online but instead of allowing everyone to upload content, Mininova permitted only pre-approved publishers to submit files.

Now, more than seven years after “going legal” the site will shut down for good. A notice published on the website urges uploaders to back up their files before April 4th, when the plug will be pulled.

Mininova’s shutting down

The decision doesn’t mean that the legal contribution platform was a total failure. In fact, over 950 million ‘legal’ torrents were downloaded from Mininova in recent years. However, the site’s income couldn’t make up for the costs.

“All goods things come to an end, and after more than 12 years we think it’s a good time to shut down the site which has been running at a loss for some years,” Mininova co-founder Niek tells TorrentFreak.

Looking back, Mininova has many great memories. The site’s users have always been very grateful, for example, and there were also several artists who thanked the site’s operators for offering them a great promotional tool.

“The support from our users was especially amazing to experience, millions of people used the site on a daily basis and we got many emails each day – ranging from a simple ‘thank you’ to some extensive story how a specific upload made their day,” Niek says.

“The feedback from artists was great to see as well, many thanked us for promoting their content, as some of them broke through and signed with labels as a result,” he adds.

The file-sharing and piracy ecosystem has changed quite a bit since Mininova’s dominance. File-hosting services became more popular first, and nowadays streaming sites and tools with slick user interfaces are the new standard.

Torrent sites, on the other hand, show little progress according to Mininova’s founder, who believes that the growth of legal services could make them less relevant in the future.

“We haven’t seen many changes in the last decade – the current torrent sites look very similar to what Mininova did twelve years ago,” Niek says.

“With content-specific distribution platforms such as Spotify and Netflix becoming more and more widespread and bandwidth becoming cheaper, there might be less of a need for torrent sites in the future.”

The original founders of Mininova have moved on as well. They’re no longer students and have parted ways, moving on to different projects and ventures. Now and then, however, they look back at how their lives looked ten years ago, with a smile.

“Overall we’re happy that we have been a part of the history of the Internet,” Niek concludes.

“We want to thank everybody who has been around and supported us through the times! Without our users, there would have been no Mininova. So THANK YOU!”

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

Anti-Piracy Measures Shouldn’t Stifle Free Speech, EFF Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-measures-shouldnt-stifle-free-speech-eff-says-170224/

Still undecided about the future of the DMCA law, the U.S. Government’s Copyright Office extended its public consultation to evaluate the effectiveness of the Safe Harbor provisions.

The study aims to signal problems with the current takedown procedures and addresses ISPs’ repeat infringer policies, copyright takedown abuses, and the ever-increasing volume of DMCA notices.

Together with various rightsholders and Internet services, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) also submitted its recommendations this week. The digital rights group believes that the current law works as it should, and warns against a copyright enforcement expansion.

The Internet provides a crucial role in facilitating freedom of expression, something that shouldn’t be limited by far-reaching anti-piracy measures, the organization argues.

“Internet intermediaries provide the backbone for Internet users’ expression and are key to the public’s ability to exercise these rights,” EFF writes in its submission.

“Accordingly, the public has a strong interest in ensuring that the Internet remains a viable and accessible platform for free expression and innovation, and in ensuring that online platforms don’t unduly remove, filter, or block speech from the Internet.”

One of the areas of interest for the Copyright Office is how to deal with repeat infringers. The DMCA law requires Internet providers to have a repeat infringer policy in place, but stakeholders have different views on what these should look like.

According to the EFF, however, terminating people’s Internet access is much more than a slap on the wrist, as it can severely impede people’s ability to function in today’s society.

“Conduit ISPs serve as the bridge between their subscribers and the entire Internet. Terminating a subscriber’s Internet access account imposes a far more significant penalty that merely cutting off access to a single Internet service.”

Nowadays, terminating an Internet account often means that the entire household will be affected. The EFF warns that as a result, many people will lose access to important information and tools, which are needed for school, jobs, and even government services.

“Indeed, as former President Obama stated, Internet access today is ‘not a luxury, it’s a necessity’,” the EFF adds.

Another question posted by the Copyright Office deals with the necessity for anti-piracy filters. Yesterday, the RIAA and other music groups spoke out in favor of automated filters but the EFF fiercely opposes the idea.

One of the problems the group signals is that filtering will require Internet services to monitor their users’ activity, causing privacy concerns. In addition these filters will also be imprecise, targeting content that’s considered fair use, for example.

Finally, automated filters will require Internet services to police the Internet, which can be quite costly and stifle free speech at the same time.

“…by shifting the burden and cost of enforcement away from copyright holders and onto service providers, these proposals would stifle competition for Internet services, exacerbate current problems with the notice and takedown system, and increase the risk that valuable, lawful speech will be silenced,” the EFF writes.

The same free speech argument also applies to site-blocking initiatives. According to the EFF, such blocking efforts also restrict access to legitimate material. At the same time, the measures are far from effective.

“Site-blocking often has broader impacts on lawful online speech than intended. When entire domains are blocked, every other page hosted by those domains are subject to the block, regardless of whether they contain infringing content.

“Site-blocking is also largely ineffective at stemming online copyright infringement. Many sites are able to relaunch at new URLs, and users are often able to circumvent blocks using VPNs and the Tor browser,” the group adds.

In summary, the EFF concludes that overall the current law works pretty well and the group warns the Copyright Office not to give in to the broad “filter-everything” push from major copyright industry groups.

The EFF’s full submission to the U.S. Copyright office is available here (pdf).

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

Movie Company Issues Warning Over Fake “Piracy” Fines

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-company-issues-warning-over-fake-piracy-fines-170224/

For more than a decade copyright holders have been monitoring unauthorized downloads.

Traditionally this have resulted in harmless takedown notices but increasingly, these warnings are being turned into settlement demands or automated fines.

Rightsholders in the Netherlands are planning similar action, and this week it appeared that the first mass-campaign had gone live. Yesterday, several people received a letter in the mail which accused them of illegal downloading.

The letters in question were sent in the name of local distributer Dutch Filmworks and each quotes a standard fine of 150 euros per download. Adding in a classic conversion trick, those who pay within eights days only have to cough up €52.74.

The letters look pretty legitimate, especially to people who are unfamiliar with these type of demands. However, the fact that several crucial details are missing, including an IP-address and the name of the pirated movie, should set off alarm bells.

And indeed, after several people reported the apparent scam, Dutch Filmworks confirmed that they have nothing to do with these fines. To avoid any confusion, the movie distributer quickly placed a prominent warning on its website, advising recipients to trash the letters.

“There is a fake letter in circulation. This letter is NOT sent by Dutch Filmworks. Do not pay and throw the letter away,” the movie distributer warns.

While the letters look real enough to fool some people, the first mass warnings (with or without fines) have yet to be sent in the Netherlands.

When the process happens for real, things might not go as smoothly as copyright holders would like as several Internet providers are refusing to cooperate. Last month, leading Dutch Internet provider Ziggo said it had refused to voluntarily participate in the plan of local anti-piracy group BREIN, who want to send out mass warnings to pirates.

“As an ISP we are a neutral access provider. This does not include the role of active enforcement of rights or interests of third parties, including BREIN,” a company spokesperson said.

Also, if rightsholders want to obtain the personal details of alleged downloaders they will have to go to court first, which hasn’t happened thus far. Until then, it is safe to throw all unsubstantiated piracy letters in the trash.

Fake piracy fines are by no means a new phenomenon. Last year many U.S. Internet subscribers were targeted in a similar scam. In this case, the scammers used the name of a known piracy tracking outfit and rightsholders such as Lionsgate, to send fake DMCA notices and settlement demands to ISPs.

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A copy of the fake letter, pictured below, was posted by Tweakers.

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

Lawmakers Won’t Force Google to Police Piracy but Doubt Voluntary Code

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/lawmakers-wont-force-google-police-piracy-doubt-voluntary-code-170224/

Following a Digital Economy Bill committee earlier this month, it was revealed that copyright holders and search engines were close to finalizing a voluntary anti-piracy code. This Monday, it became reality.

Under this agreement, search engines will optimize their algorithms to demote pirated content in search results, with the aim of making infringing content less visible and legal content more so. The system is due to begin in earnest during early summer but what if it doesn’t do its job?

That eventuality has been discussed as part of the negotiations surrounding the Digital Economy Bill, with some lawmakers supporting an amendment which would give the Secretary of State the power to force Google and other search engines to tackle piracy, if the voluntary route fails.

To the relief of Google and the disappointment of rightsholders, this week the amendment was withdrawn but those in favor of the legislation didn’t go quietly. Lord Stevenson of Balmacara was particularly vocal after reading out a portion of the code (shown below) relating to the demoting of sites that receive large numbers of DMCA-style notices.

[T]o more effectively use such notices to demote domains demonstrated to be dedicated to infringement, and to work collaboratively with rights holders to consider other technically reasonable, scalable avenues empirically demonstrated to help materially reduce the appearance of illegitimate sites in the top search rankings

“I could read that again, because you would probably need to hear it again to have the faintest idea what we are talking about,” he said.

“I fear that it smacks of either a lowest common denominator approach or some hard arm-wrestling in the corridors where the discussion took place to get something that looks reasonable on paper.

“It does not smack of a real commitment to scourge out the terrible way in which search engines have referred people who should have known better to material that was not cleared for copyright and should not have been made available to them through that route.”

While Lord Stevenson clearly wasn’t happy, he did reveal some more information on how the code will be managed.

The Minister of State for Intellectual Property will oversee its implementation, supported by quarterly meetings of all parties involved. The Minister will also “set requirements for reporting by search engines and rights holders on any matter herein, including in particular those matters where the Code of Practice calls for ongoing discussion.”

Then, after a year of operation, the effectiveness of the code will be reviewed to ensure “continuing progress towards achieving the Shared Objectives.”

What those objectives are will remain a mystery, however. In response to Lord Stevenson’s request to see a copy of the code, Baroness Buscombe said that wouldn’t be possible.

“We do not plan to publish the code in full because details about the number of copyright infringement reports a site can receive before it is demoted might allow pirates to game the system. We are, however, very happy to share the commitments in the code in more general terms,” she said.

Baroness Buscombe went on to ask for the amendment to be dropped and that was followed by a spirited response from Lord Stevenson.

“I cannot see this agreement lasting and believe that there will have to be a backstop power at some stage,” he said.

“At the moment, it is a ‘large copyright holders against large search engines’ agreement, and on that level it might operate. I do not think it will be effective. I do not think it is sustainable because there will be new people coming in and business models and practices will change — we cannot foresee that.”

And with that the amendment was withdrawn and with it any chance of forcing search engines into compliance by law for the foreseeable future. Only time will tell how things will play out but as the wording of the paragraph cited by Lord Stevenson shows, there is plenty of room for manoever.

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

Google: With No Fair Use, It’s More Difficult to Innovate

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-with-no-fair-use-its-more-difficult-to-innovate-170223/

With Fair Use Week now in full swing, people around the world are celebrating the freedom to use copyrighted content in certain contexts without fear of prosecution, thereby enabling creativity and inspiring innovation.

The legal freedom offered by fair use is a cornerstone of criticism, research, teaching and news reporting, one that enables the activities of thousands of good causes and enriches the minds of millions. However, not all countries fully embrace the concept.

Perhaps surprisingly, Australia is currently behind the times on this front, a point not lost on Google’s Senior Copyright Counsel, William Patry.

Speaking with The Australian (paywall), Patry describes local copyright law as both arcane and not fit for purpose, while acting as a hindrance to innovation and productivity.

“We think Australians are just as innovative as Americans, but the laws are different. And those laws dictate that commercially we act in a different way,” Patry told the publication.

“Our search function, which is the basis of the entire company, is authorized in the US by fair use. You don’t have anything like that here.”

Australia currently employs a more restrictive “fair dealing” approach, but it’s certainly possible that fair use could be introduced in the near future.

Last year, Australia’s Productivity Commission released a draft report covering various aspects of the country’s intellectual property system. One of its key recommendations was to adopt fair use legislation.

“The Australian Government should amend the Copyright Act 1968 to replace the current fair dealing exceptions with a broad exception for fair use,” the Commission wrote in its report.

“The new exception should contain a clause outlining that the objective of the exception is to ensure Australia’s copyright system targets only those circumstances where infringement would undermine the ordinary exploitation of a work at the time of the infringement.”

Unfortunately, the concept of fair use is not universally welcomed. Local anti-piracy and royalty organizations are opposing its introduction, claiming that it will undermine their ability to make money.

Interestingly, broadcaster Foxtel says that the deployment of fair use would introduce “significant and unnecessary uncertainty into Australian law.” This is the exact opposite of Google’s position.

The search giant says that Australia’s current exceptions fail to offer legal certainty and that a US-style fair use system would be much more predictable.

“If you are a company like Google who wants to store information in the cloud, or internet searches or text and data mining, we can do that safely in the US. We can’t do it here,” Patry concludes.

In its final inquiry paper, Australia’s Productivity Commission renewed its calls for the introduction of fair use, noting that in the US, where fair use is long established, “creative industries thrive.”

Whether fair use will ever hit Aussie shores remains to be seen, but yet again there is a division between how technology companies and entertainment groups would like copyright law to develop. It’s a battle that’s set to continue well into the future.

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

Music Industry Wants Piracy Filters, No Takedown Whack-a-Mole

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/music-industry-wants-piracy-filters-no-takedown-whack-a-mole-170222/

Signed into law nearly twenty years ago, the DMCA is one of the best known pieces of Internet related legislation.

The law provides a safe harbor for Internet services, shielding them from copyright infringement liability as long as they process takedown notices and deal with repeat infringers.

In recent years, however, various parties have complained about shortcomings and abuse of the system. On the one hand, rightsholders believe that the law doesn’t do enough to protect creators, while the opposing side warns of increased censorship and abuse.

To address these concerns, the U.S. Copyright Office is currently running an extended public consultation.

This week a new round of comments was submitted, including a detailed response from a coalition of music industry groups such as the RIAA, National Music Publishers’ Association, and SoundExchange. When it comes to their views of the DMCA the music groups are very clear: It’s failing.

The music groups note that they are currently required to police the entire Internet in search of infringing links and files, which they then have to take down one at a time. This doesn’t work, they argue.

They say that the present situation forces rightsholders to participate in a never-ending whack-a-mole game which doesn’t fix the underlying problem. Instead, it results in a “frustrating, burdensome and ultimately ineffective takedown process.”

“…as numerous copyright owners point out in their comments, the notice and takedown system as currently configured results in an endless game of whack-a-mole, with infringing content that is removed from a site one moment reposted to the same site and other sites moments later, to be repeated ad infinitem.”

Instead of leaving all the work up to copyright holders, the music groups want Internet services to filter out and block infringing content proactively. With the use of automated hash filtering tools, for example.

“One possible solution to this problem would be to require that, once a service provider receives a takedown notice with respect to a given work, the service provider use automated content identification technology to prevent the same work from being uploaded in the future,” the groups write.

“Automated content identification technologies are one important type of standard technical measure that should be adopted across the industry, and at a minimum by service providers who give the public access to large amounts of works uploaded by users.”

These anti-piracy filters are already in use by some companies and are relatively cheap to implement, even for relatively smaller services, the music groups note.

The whack-a-mole problem doesn’t only apply to hosting providers but also to search engines, the music groups complain.

While companies such as Google remove links to infringing material upon request, these links often reappear under a different URL. At the same time, pirate sites often appear before legitimate services in search results. A fix for this problem would be to stop indexing known pirate sites completely.

“One possible solution would be to require search engines to de-index structurally infringing sites that are the subject of a large number of takedown notices,” the groups recommend.

Ideally, they want copyright holders and Internet services to reach a voluntary agreement on how to filter pirated content. This could be similar to YouTube’s Content-ID system, or the hash filtering mechanisms Dropbox and Google Drive employ, for example.

If service providers are not interested in helping out, however, the music industry says new legislation might be needed to give them a push.

“The Music Community stands ready to work with service providers and other copyright owners on the development and implementation of standard technical measures and voluntary measures. However, to the extent such measures are not forthcoming, legislative solutions will be necessary to restore the balance Congress intended,” the recommendation reads.

Interestingly, this collaborative stance doesn’t appear to apply to all parties. File-hosting service 4Shared previously informed TorrentFreak that several prominent music groups have shown little interest in their voluntary piracy fingerprint tool.

The notion of piracy filters isn’t new. A few months ago the European Commission released its proposal to modernize the EU’s copyright law, under which online services will also be required to install mandatory piracy filters.

Whether the U.S. Government will follow suit has yet to be seen. In any case, rightsholders are likely to keep lobbying for change until they see significant improvements.

The full submission of the music groups is available here (pdf).

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

Italy Blocks 290 ‘Pirate’ Movie & TV Show Domains in 4 Months

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/italy-blocks-290-pirate-movie-tv-show-domains-in-4-months-170222-170222/

For so many years, Italy developed a reputation for doing little to stop the spread of infringing content online. As a result, pirate sites flourished and millions of citizens decided that paying for content was a thing of the past.

In recent times, things have changed. Italy now has one of the toughest anti-piracy regimes in Europe and regularly launches new actions, often targeting multiple sites in coordinated operations.

This week marks the start of another, with the Special Command Units of the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), a militarized police force under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, acting on the orders of the Public Prosecutor of Rome.

Following the signing of a special decree issued by the Court of Rome, the GdF targeted the domains of 41 websites alleged to be involved in the distribution of first-run movies such as The Magnificent 7, Suicide Squad, and Legend of Tarzan.

Within the batch were many sites streaming live sporting events, such as soccer matches broadcasted by The Premier League, La Ligue 1, Bundesliga, La Liga and Champions League. Those who transmitted motor racing events were also in the frame, after drawing fire from Formula 1 and Moto GP broadcasters.

All domain names will be blocked by local ISPs or potentially seized, if within reach of local authorities.

Authorities report that in common with an operation carried out earlier this month, two anti-piracy strategies were employed, the so-called “follow-the-money” approach (whereby site owners are identified via payments made by advertisers and similar business partners) and the reportedly newer “follow-the-hosting” angle.

Investigating site hosts has been a core anti-piracy strategy for many years so precisely what’s new about this recent effort isn’t clear. However, much is being made of the ability to discover the true location of sites that attempt to hide behind various anonymization techniques available via the cloud.

Whether a true breakthrough has been made is hard to decipher since local authorities have a tendency to be a little dramatic. Nevertheless, there can be no doubts over their commitment.

According to Fulvia Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm which specializes in Internet and copyright disputes, a total of 290 sites have been targeted by court injunctions in the past four months alone.

Back in November, a landmark action to block more than 150 sites involved in the unauthorized streaming of movies and sports took place following the signing of a mass injunction by a judge in Rome. It was the biggest single blocking action in Italy since measures began in 2008.

Then, in early February, authorities widened their net further still, with a somewhat unusual campaign targeting sites that offered unauthorized digital versions of dozens of national newspapers and magazines including Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair.

With the latest blockades, Italy is now a true front-runner among European site-blocking nations. With many hundreds of domains now the subject of an injunction, the country is now firmly among the top three blocking countries, alongside the UK and Portugal.

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

Online Piracy Can Boost Comic Book Sales, Research Finds

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/online-piracy-can-boost-comic-book-sales-research-finds/

yenResearch into online piracy comes in all shapes and sizes, with equally mixed results. Often the main question is whether piracy hurts legitimate revenue streams.

In recent years we have seen a plethora of studies and most are focused on the effects on movies, TV-shows and music revenues. But what about comic books?

Manga in particular has traditionally been very popular on file-sharing networks and sites. These are dozens of large sites dedicated to the comics, which are downloaded in their millions.

According to the anti-piracy group CODA, which represents Japanese comic publishers, piracy losses overseas are estimated to be double the size of overseas legal revenue.

With this in mind, Professor Tatsuo Tanaka of the Faculty of Economics at Keio University decided to look more closely at how piracy interacts with legal sales. In a natural experiment, he examined how the availability of pirated comic books affected revenue.

The research uses a massive takedown campaign conducted by CODA in 2015, which directly impacted the availability of many pirated comics on various download sites, to see how this affected sales of 3,360 comic book volumes.

Interestingly, the results show that decreased availability of pirated comics doesn’t always help sales. In fact, for comics that no longer release new volumes, the effect is reversed.

“Piracy decreases sales of ongoing comics, but it increases sales of completed comics,” Professor Tanaka writes.

“To put this another way, displacement effect is dominant for ongoing comics, and advertisement effect is dominant for completed comics,” he adds.

For these finished comic seasons, the promotional element weighs heavier. According to the Professor, this suggests that piracy can effectively be seen as a form of advertising.

“Since completed comics series have already ended, and publishers no longer do any promotion for them, consumers almost forget completed comics. We can interpret that piracy reminds consumers of past comics and stimulates sales.”

The question that remains is whether the overall effect on the industry is positive or negative. The current study provided no answer to this effect, as it’s unknown how big the sales share is for ongoing versus completed comics, but future research could look into this.

Professor Tanaka stresses that there is an important policy implication of his findings. Since piracy doesn’t affect all sales the same (it’s heterogeneous), anti-piracy strategies may have to be adapted.

“If the effect of piracy is heterogeneous, it is not the best solution to shut down the piracy sites but to delete harmful piracy files selectively if possible,” Professor Tanaka adds

“In this case, deleting piracy files of ongoing comics only is the first best strategy for publishers regardless of whether the total effect is positive or negative, because the availability of piracy files of completed comics is beneficial to both publishers and consumers,” he adds.

The research shows once again that piracy is a complex phenomenon that can have a positive or negative impact depending on the context. This isn’t limited to comics of course, as previous studies have shown similar effects in the movie and music industries.

The full paper titled The Effects of Internet Book Piracy: The Case of Japanese Comics is available here (pdf).

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

Search Engines and Rightsholders Sign Landmark Anti-Piracy Deal

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/search-engines-and-rightsholders-sign-landmark-anti-piracy-deal-170220/

Following a Digital Economy Bill committee two weeks ago, we first learned that copyright holders and search engines were close to finalizing a voluntary anti-piracy code.

Following roundtable discussions chaired by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office, the parties worked hard to reach a deal that everyone could live with.

These kinds of discussions are not new. Similar talks have been ongoing for more than half a decade, but without success. However, this time the Government turned up the pressure to the maximum, threatening to force search engines into cooperation by law if consensus could not be reached.

This approach appears to have reached its goals, with the world’s first anti-piracy agreement between search engines and rightsholders being officially announced today. The deal is a partnership between Google, Microsoft’s Bing, and several organizations in the creative industry.

Under this new anti-piracy code, search engines will further optimize their algorithms and processes to demote pirated content in their search results. The aim is to make infringing content less visible and at a faster rate. At the same time, legal alternatives should be easier to find.

“This should start to trigger faster and more effective demotion – and delisting. That should also mean that legal content sources are better promoted and artists and creators better rewarded,” Eddy Leviten, Director General of the Alliance for Intellectual Property informs TorrentFreak.

The changes should take effect by June 1st and are targeted at the UK public. This means that search results may not be impacted to the same degree elsewhere.

The parties have also agreed to cooperate more closely and share data to optimize future anti-piracy strategies. This includes efforts to make sure that pirate search terms do not show up in autocomplete suggestions.

“Autocomplete is an area where it has been agreed we need to work – and it will need cooperation to look at what terms are delivering consumers to pirate content,” Leviten clarifies.

The news was made public by several creative industry players, but it’s expected the UK Government, which played an important role in facilitating the talks, will follow with an announcement later today.

The rightsholder groups are happy that an agreement was finally reached and hope that it will help to steer search engine users toward legal alternatives.

“Pirate websites are currently much too easy to find via search, so we appreciate the parties’ willingness to try to improve that situation,” says Stan McCoy, President & Managing Director of the Motion Picture Association EMEA.

While the agreement is a milestone, it’s also clearly a compromise. The measures announced today are not substantially new.

Google, for one, has been demoting pirate sites in search results for several years already and it previously banned various pirate terms from autocomplete. Under the anti-piracy code, these measures will be intensified.

More far-reaching demands from rightsholders, such as removing pirate sites from search results entirely or a takedown-staydown policy, are not part of the deal.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive of UK music group BPI, recognizes that the new partnership isn’t going to stop piracy entirely but hopes that it will help to improve the current situation.

“There is much work still to do to achieve this. The Code will not be a silver bullet fix, but it will mean that illegal sites are demoted more quickly from search results and that fans searching for music are more likely to find a fair site.

“We look forward to working with Google, Microsoft and our partners across the creative industries to build a safer, better online environment for creators and fans.”

TorrentFreak also reached out to Google to hear their vision on the landmark agreement, but at the time of publication, the company hadn’t replied.

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

Pirate Site With No Traffic Attracts 49m Mainly Bogus DMCA Notices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-with-no-traffic-attracts-49m-mainly-bogus-dmca-notices-170219/

As reported in these pages on many occasions, Google’s Transparency Report is a goldmine for anyone prepared to invest time trawling its archives.

The report is a complete record of every DMCA notice Google receives for its ‘search’ function and currently lists more than two billion URL takedowns spread over a million websites. Of course, most of those websites will remain faceless since there’s far too many to research. That said, the really big ‘offenders’ are conveniently placed at the top of the list by Google.

The most-reported sites, according to Google

As we can see, the 4shared file-hosting site is at the top of the list. That isn’t a big surprise since the site has been going for years, attracts massive traffic, and stores countless million files.

There are a number of other familiar names too, but what is the site in second place? MP3Toys.xyz has a seriously impressive 49.5m takedown requests logged against it. We’ve never even heard of it.

Checking the site out, MP3Toys is clearly a pirate platform that allows users to download and stream unlicensed MP3s from thousands of artists. There are hundreds of these kinds of sites around, probably pulling content from YouTube and other web sources.

But here’s the problem. According to Google, MP3Toys.xyz (which also uses a .tech extension) has only been appearing in its databases since Jun 30, 2016. During this short time, Google has received requests to remove 49.5 million URLs from its indexes. That’s about 1.6 million URLs for each of the 31 weeks MP3Toys has been online.

No site in history has ever achieved these numbers, it’s completely unprecedented. So MP3Toys must be huge, right? Not exactly.

According to Alexa, the site’s .xyz domain is ranked the 25 millionth most popular online, while its .tech domain is currently ranked 321,614 after being introduced in January 2017.

In loose terms, this site has no significant traffic yet will soon be the most-infringing site on the whole Internet. How can this be? Well, it’s all down to an anti-piracy company making things up and MP3Toys going along with the charade.

As seen in the image below, along with outfits such as the BPI and BREIN, anti-piracy outfit APDIF do Brasil has an unusual fascination with MP3Toys. In fact, it’s sent the vast majority of the notices received by Google.

However, while some of the notices are undoubtedly correct, it appears a huge number are absolutely bogus. Instead of scanning the site and sending an accurate takedown notice to Google, APDIF tries to guess the URLs where MP3Toys stores its content. A sample list is shown below.

The problem here is that in real terms, none of these URLs exist until they’re requested. However, APDIF’s guesses are entertained by the site, which creates a random page of music for every search. The content on these auto-generated pages cycles, but it never relates to the searches being put in. As shown below, even TorrentFreak’s Greatest Hits Volume 77 is a winner (Test it yourself here)

So in summary, APDIF makes up its own URLs, MP3Toys randomly generates a page of music that has nothing to do with the URL input, APDIF logs it as an infringement of its clients’ rights, and sends a complaint to Google.

Then, putting the icing on an already confused cake, Google ‘removes’ every URL from its search results, even though it appears they were never in them in the first place. And that’s how a site with virtually no traffic received more DMCA complaints than The Pirate Bay. Unbelievable.

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

Cox Must Pay $8 Million to Cover BMG’s Legal Fees in Piracy Case

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-must-pay-8-million-to-cover-bmgs-legal-fees-in-piracy-case-170215/

December 2015 a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and ordered to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

This week Cox received more bad news. While the case is currently under appeal, the District Court ordered the ISP to compensate the music group for the attorney’s fees and costs they incurred during the first round.

In its motion, BMG asked for more than $10 million in compensation and after applying a discount, Judge Liam O’Grady decided to award a total of $8,383,468 in fees and an additional $146,790 to cover the bill of costs.

In a detailed memorandum, Judge O’Grady notes that the objective reasonableness of a party’s position is a major factor in determining the fees question. In the current case, the Internet provider clearly crossed a line.

Among other things, evidence revealed that Cox appeared to be complying with the DMCA in public, while privately disparaging and intentionally circumventing the law’s requirements.

“In a hard-fought litigation battle such as this one, discovery disputes and fierce briefing are to be expected, and they should not be held too harshly against either party,” the Judge writes.

“Nonetheless, there are a few instances in which Cox’s advocacy crossed the line of objective reasonableness. In particular, both Cox’s attempts to obscure its practice of reinstating infringing customers, and its subsequent assertions of a deeply flawed DMCA defense evince a meritless litigation position that Cox vigorously defended.”

In addition, the court also awards the legal fees as a deterrent. The high legal costs should motivate the Internet provider to change its policies and appropriately respond to reported copyright infringements.

In practical terms, this could include a new and improved DMCA program as well as a more responsive approach to infringement notices from companies like Rightscorp, which were previously ignored.

“However Cox decides to address its users’ repeat infringement, it is clear that the company should be given a proper financial incentive to change its policies and procedures,” Judge O’Grady notes.

Another factor that weighs heavy in the decision to award legal fees, is the assuring message it sends to other copyright holders. Picking a legal battle against a company with billions in revenue is quite a risk when attorney’s fees are not compensated.

“In order to continue to promote the vindication of individuals’ copyrights, therefore, BMG (and others like it) should be rewarded for facing up against willful infringers with deep pockets,” the Judge writes.

Combining these and several other relevant factors, Judge O’Grady concludes that the $8.3 million in attorney’s fees is appropriate in this case. This brings Cox’s total costs to well over $33 million.

Adding insult to injury, the Judge also denied Cox’s request for legal fees against Round Hill Music, arguing that there can only be one prevailing party in a lawsuit. The full memorandum is available here (pdf).

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

UK Could Force Google to Tackle Piracy, By Law if Necessary

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-could-force-google-to-tackle-piracy-by-law-if-necessary-170215/

Copyright holders and search engines such as Google are not on the best of terms when it comes to links to infringing content appearing in search results.

The former wants the latter to do more, despite the considerable measures already in place. Google, until now at least, has insisted it’s doing enough.

In the UK, there have been on/off murmurings of the government stepping in to intervene, but to date, it’s been hoped that the parties will sit down and reach a voluntary agreement.

Some meetings have taken place, with the government reportedly playing a role in bringing the groups together. Then, last week, to not inconsiderable surprise, a breakthrough was reported.

During a Digital Economy Bill committee, Baroness Buscombe revealed some interesting news. Rightsholders and search engines are nearing a deal.

“Since the idea was last discussed in [parliament], Intellectual Property Office officials have chaired a further round-table meeting between search engines and representatives of the creative industries,” Buscombe said.

“While there are still elements of detail to be settled, the group is now agreed on the key content of the code and I expect an agreement to be reached very soon.”

The Baroness even gave a date – June 1, 2017 – by which the code would be in effect. However, it appears that the government is still preparing for a scenario in which the parties don’t reach a voluntary agreement.

Titled “Code of practice on search engines and copyright infringement”, a Digital Economy Bill amendment to be moved on report foresees the Secretary of State stepping in to force companies like Google into compliance.

“The Secretary of State may impose by order a code of practice (‘the code’) for search engine providers with the purpose of minimizing the availability and promotion of copyright infringing services, including those which facilitate copyright infringement by their users,” the amendment reads.

The amendment indicates that any order made in respect of the above “must include appropriate provisions to ensure compliance with the code by the providers.”

That sounds a lot like a stick being raised in the event the carrots at the negotiating table aren’t proving tasty enough. However, there appears to be some room for maneuver, even if voluntary discussions break down.

Before imposing any anti-piracy code, the Secretary of State will publish a draft code and consider submissions made by search engine providers, rightsholders and their representatives, plus any other interested parties.

At this point, however, some level of control will have already slipped away from the search engines, so it seems likely that reaching a voluntary arrangement would be preferable to all, if things are to avoid becoming messy.

Currently, there is no public record of what Google and its counterparts have agreed with the copyright holders, and the search engine is ignoring requests for comment on the topic. Furthermore, there is no clear idea of what the government might seek to impose, should negotiations fail.

In any event, legislation to force search engines to take broad action against allegedly infringing content would be unprecedented, especially when it includes the rather vague notion of taking action against “[sites that] facilitate copyright infringement by their users.”

That could include YouTube for instance, or even Google itself.

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

Canada Remains a “Safe Haven” for Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canada-remains-a-safe-haven-for-online-piracy-rightsholders-claim-170214/

canada-pirateThe International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has released its latest 301 ‘watch list’ submission to the U.S. Government.

The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, and ESA, has listed its complaints against a whole host of countries. As in previous years, Canada is discussed in detail with the recommendation to put it on the 2017 Special 301 ‘watch list.’

One of the main criticisms is that, despite having been called out repeatedly in the past, the country still offers a home to many pirate sites.

“For a number of years, extending well into the current decade, Canada had a well-deserved reputation as a safe haven for some of the most massive and flagrant Internet sites dedicated to the online theft of copyright material,” IIPA writes.

The group notes that some progress has been made. For example, last year the Canadian authorities actively helped to shut down the popular torrent site KickassTorrents, which was partly hosted there. However, the rightsholders say that there’s more work to be done.

“Nonetheless, major online piracy operations still find a home in Canada. These include leading BitTorrent sites such as Sumotorrent.sx and Seedpeer.eu, and hybrid cloud storage services utilizing BitTorrents, such as cloudload.com.”

Another disturbing development, according to IIPA, is the emergence of stand-alone BitTorrent applications that allow users to stream content directly through an attractive and user-friendly interface, hinting at Popcorn Time.

In addition to the traditional pirate sites that remain in Canada, IIPA reports that several websites offering modified game console gear have also moved there in an attempt to escape liability under U.S. law.

“In a growing and problematic trend, sites selling circumvention devices that have been subject to DMCA takedown notices from right holders in the U.S. are moving to Canadian ISPs for hosting, to evade enforcement action under U.S. law. Canadian hosting services such as Hawk Host and Crocweb are particularly popular with such sites.”

The group specifically highlights R4cardmontreal.com, gamersection.ca and r4dscanada.com among the offenders, and notes that “This trend breathes new life into Canada’s problematic ‘safe haven’ reputation.”

The recommendation continues by stressing that Canada’s legal regime fails to deal with online piracy in a proper manner. This is also true for the “notice and notice” legislation that was adopted two years ago, which requires ISPs to forward copyright infringement notices to pirating subscribers.

IIPA notes that there is no evidence that this initiative has resulted in a significant change in consumer behavior, in part because there are no punishments involved for frequent offenders.

“…simply notifying ISP subscribers that their infringing activity has been detected is ineffective in deterring illegal activity, because receiving the notices lacks any meaningful consequences under the Canadian system,” IIPA writes.

This is even worse for hosting providers and other Internet services, who currently have no legal incentive to take infringing material down, IIPA argues.

“The ‘notice-and-takedown’ remedy that most other modern copyright laws provide is far from a panacea for online piracy, but it does, at a minimum, provide some incentives for cooperation, incentives that Canada’s laws simply lack.”

In addition, IIPA notes that a broad range of third-party services such as advertisers, payment processors, and domain name registrars are all too often abused to facilitate piracy. They believe that this is in part because Canadian law doesn’t offer enough “motivation” for these companies to cooperate.

The rightsholders hope that the U.S. Government can help to steer Canada in another direction and encourage more and better anti-piracy regulation. If not, they fear that Canada will remain a safe haven for pirates during the years to come.

IIPA’s full submission, which highlights a variety of countries which deserve a spot on the 301 Watch Lists per IIPA’s standards, is available here (pdf).

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

Google Drive Uses Hash Matching to Detect Pirated Content

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-drive-uses-hash-matching-detect-pirated-content/

There a thousands of options for people who want to store files online and Google Drive is one of them. The cloud hosting service allows users to store all content imaginable, videos included.

Whether it’s wise or not, some people even use Drive to store pirated files. This usually doesn’t cause any problems but when they’re shared in public, alarm bells may start to go off.

This week we received a tip from a reader who was unable to share a link to a screener copy of a Hollywood blockbuster. Instead of a public link, Google drive warned that sharing the file in question could violate its terms of service.

Through a follow-up test, we were able to replicate the result. Google Drive didn’t specify what the violation was but instead linked to information about the DMCA takedown procedure as additional information.

Error

So what’s going on here? We contacted Google directly to find out more about the process involved, and how files are flagged as copyright-infringing. Unfortunately, the company wasn’t very forthcoming.

“We don’t comment on the details of our anti-abuse mechanisms on Drive,” a Google spokesperson replied.

Luckily, we were able to find some more information in a transcript from a Copyright Office Roundtable that took place in San Francisco last year. Here, Google was asked about its anti-piracy policies.

During the discussion, Fox Entertainment Group’s Elizabeth Valentina pointed out that several prominent piracy platforms use Google as a video host, as we previously highlighted as well. She then added that hash filtering could make a huge difference here.

Google’s legal director for copyright Fred Von Lohman did not refute this claim but mentioned that Google drive already uses hash matching to detect infringing material.

“I just want to note that, contrary to Ms. Valentina’s statement or suggestion, Google Drive does hash matching. So we do that, another voluntary measure,” Von Lohman said at the time.

No concrete details were provided, but it’s likely that Google Drive records the hashes of content for which they receive valid takedown requests. These hashes are unique to the file in question, which makes it possible to identify copies accurately.

If other Google Drive users then attempt to share a copy of the same file, they are blocked from doing so. However, merely storing the file in a private Drive account doesn’t raise any red flags.

Hash filtering is not something new for cloud-hosting services or even Google. Dropbox, for example, has had a similar system in place for several years, and YouTube’s Content-ID system also relies on hash filtering.

That said, the Google Drive equivalent isn’t well known to the public, or even rightsholders, it seems.

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

Spanish Police Shut Down ISP’s IPTV Piracy Business

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/spanish-police-shut-down-isps-iptv-piracy-business-170210/

Increasingly people are trading in expensive cable subscriptions for cheaper or free Internet TV. However, ideally they would still like to enjoy this from the comfort of their living room.

In recent years this has become much more convenient with help from a variety of easy-to-use media players, Kodi boxes included.

Following this trend, there has also been an uptick in the availability of unlicensed TV streams, with vendors offering virtually any channel imaginable, for free or in exchange for a small fee.

Rightholders are not happy with this development and are actively cracking down on sellers of these illicit services and devices. This is also what happened yesterday in Malaga, Spain, where local ISP Y-Internet was raided.

The police action was carried out following a complaint from the UK football organization Premier League, with assistance from anti-piracy outfit Irdeto. While the company’s website doesn’t list any IPTV offers, the provider allegedly offered piracy-configured IPTV devices on the side for a hefty annual fee of €450.

While it’s not mentioned by the police, TF discovered that the ISP also has ties to a company that offers an IPTV service with UK and Irish TV & radio channels. The website in question was online at the time of the raid, but is now “undergoing maintenance.”

Y-Internet itself is a well-known business in the Costa Del Sol region according to several online sources. The Spanish Government officially licensed the company’s Internet services, and the ISP is said to serve 300,000 homes and businesses, including many UK expats.

During the raid, five company employees were present in the store, but it’s unclear if any arrests were made. Whether the company’s regular Internet subscribers were affected by the action is also unknown.

While details remain scarce, police did release a video of the raid showing several pieces of hardware and network equipment.

The UK owners of the ISP were not present in the store at the time of the raid. They reportedly observed their employees from overseas and tried to destroy files, payment transactions, and clients’ records when the police action began.

However, the police reportedly stopped them before they could permanently erase any critical evidence.

The Premier League is happy with the result and notes that this is the second success in a short period. Just a few weeks ago a UK supplier of piracy-configured IPTV boxes was sentenced to four years in prison.

“The raids conducted by the Spanish authorities, supported in this case by Irdeto’s expertise, are a positive example of law enforcement taking seriously piracy and IP infringement,” says Kevin Plumb, Premier League Director of Legal Services

“This approach is essential for organizations like the Premier League – and other creative industries – as our model is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect intellectual property. It is because of this that clubs can invest in star players and managers, and world class stadiums – the very things fans enjoy about our competition.”

Or as the Spanish Police put it: One goal against Piracy…

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

Search Engines & Copyright Holders Ready Voluntary Anti-Piracy Code

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/search-engines-copyright-holders-ready-voluntary-anti-piracy-code-170208/

For several years the entertainment industries have blamed companies like Google for not doing enough to prevent instances of Internet piracy. At times, Google has even been accused of fueling it.

The problem is with search results. Whether they’re presented by Google, Bing or Yahoo, copyright holders wish that more could be done to prevent the appearance of infringing links, particularly in the first crucial pages of results. To its credit, Google has taken a number of measures over the years but in the eyes of copyright holders, it’s never been enough.

Instead, Google has been flooded with a billion takedown requests in the last year alone, each demanding that links to infringing content be removed. When the notices are accurate, Google always complies but there have been rumblings in recent years, particularly in the UK, that search engines could find themselves on the end of legislation that forces them to do more.

With that eventuality a daunting prospect, companies like Google and representatives from the entertainment industries have been trying to reach some kind of voluntary agreement. Their meetings generally aren’t spoken about in public, but the UK government has played a strong role in bringing the groups together. What we now know is that a deal is extremely close to being signed.

This week, during a Digital Economy Bill committee, discussion again turned to the role of service providers when it comes to infringing content. For example, should they enjoy reduced safe harbors if they optimize the presentation and promotion of copyright-protected works?

A draft amendement to the bill would allow the government to impose a code of practice on search engines, forcing them to deal with infringement – a proposal has proven popular in parliament. However, when the matter was raised again this week it was revealed that the imposition of such a regime probably won’t be needed.

“Since the idea was last discussed in [parliament], Intellectual Property Office officials have chaired a further round-table meeting between search engines and representatives of the creative industries,” Baroness Buscombe said.

“While there are still elements of detail to be settled, the group is now agreed on the key content of the code and I expect an agreement to be reached very soon.”

According to Buscombe, all parties involved (that’s the search engines and entertainment industry companies) have agreed that the code should come into effect within four months.

“All parties have also agreed that the code should take effect, and the targets in it be reached, by 1 June this year,” the Baroness said.

With no such meetings ever documented in public by either the companies involved or the government, TorrentFreak reached out to Google – who are definitely at the hub of the agreement – with a few questions.

What companies are involved in the agreement, both from the search side and entertainment industries? What are the basics of the voluntary code and how will it affect the visibility of allegedly-infringing results? How will the agreement manifest itself to Google’s users come June 1?

At the time of publication, Google had not responded to our request for comment. However, without mentioning them by name, Baroness Buscombe was complimentary about Google and the other search engines involved, noting that cooperation with entertainment companies is ongoing.

“The search engines involved in this work have been very co-operative, making changes to their algorithms and processes, but also working bilaterally with creative industry representatives to explore the options for new interventions, and how existing processes might be streamlined,” she said.

“I understand that all parties are keen to finalize and sign up to the voluntary agreement, and so we believe there is no need to take a legislative power at this time.”

Noting that moving forward on a co-operative basis now is better than introducing legislation later, the Baroness said that other options could always be revisited in the future, should things not work out. At this stage, however, it seems unlikely that Google et al would prefer legislation over a voluntary code.

Due to the worldwide nature of the web, it will be extremely interesting to see how any UK-based agreement plays out overseas. It seems unlikely that Google will be able to implement strictly local measures without coming under pressure to follow suit in the United States, for example.If you can do it in the UK, you can do it everywhere, the company will be told.

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

Music, Movie & Gaming Industries Seek Piracy Blockades in Belgium

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/music-movie-gaming-industries-seek-piracy-blockades-170206/

blocked-censorBack in 2011, Belgium was one of the first countries to implement a court-ordered Pirate Bay blockade. The action was the result of a lawsuit between the Belgian Anti-Piracy Foundation (BAF) and ISPs Belgacom and Telenet.

After being tested in many countries around Europe, especially the UK where thousands of domains are now inaccessible, the site-blocking train has returned to Belgium.

The Belgian Entertainment Association was formed nine years ago following a local merger of International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI, music industry), the Belgian Video Federation (BVF, videos), and the Belgian Luxembourg Interactive Software Association (BLISA, videogames).

On Wednesday, the organization filed a lawsuit at the French commercial court in Brussels. Belgian news outlet De Tijd reports that it wants local Internet service providers to block subscriber access to several ‘pirate’ sites.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, BEA director Olivier Maeterlinck says that several popular streaming sites are being targeted initially.

“Our action aims to block nine of the most popular streaming sites which offer copyright-protected content on a massive scale and without authorisation,” Maeterlinck says.

“In accordance with the principles established by the CJEU (UPC Telekabel and GS Media), BEA seeks a court order confirming the infringement and imposing site blocking measures on the ISPs, who are content providers as well.”

In common with earlier blocking cases elsewhere in Europe, the ISPs named in the case (Brutélé, Nethys, Proximus, Telenet) first want confirmation that the sites they’re being asked to block are acting illegally. That is the stated purpose of the BEA lawsuit.

“Site blocking is nothing new in Belgium. The Pirate Bay and Popcorn Time – which are not involved in the current action – have been blocked for a long time,” Maeterlinck continues.

“Studies and figures from abroad (e.g. UK, Portugal) have shown that site blocking has a positive impact on the legal offer while the visits to the blocked sites drop massively (approximately a 90% drop in Belgium with The Pirate Bay) and the overall piracy level decreases as well.

“Site blocking actions are effective and if we want to support the continuing development of the legal offer and increase consumer confidence in the online economy, these enforcement initiatives need to be continued,” Maeterlinck concludes.

In the UK, well over a thousand domains are blocked on copyright grounds and in Portugal, where a voluntary mechanism is in place, the current tally is more than 900.

Next door to Belgium in the Netherlands, the blocking process has been much more drawn out. Rather than being largely compliant, ISPs have dug in their heels and objected at every turn after being asked to block The Pirate Bay. That case was referred to the European Court of Justice and it will eventually fall to the Dutch Supreme Court to make a decision.

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

Denuvo Website Leaks Secret Information, Crackers Swarm

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/crackers-swarm-as-denuvo-website-leaks-secret-information-170205/

denuvoAnti-piracy outfit Denuvo has taken a bit of a battering lately after chinks began appearing in the company’s armor. Last weekend, cracking group CPY defeated the protection on Resident Evil 7 in just five days, a record for the anti-tamper technology.

Just a week on, Denuvo has more problems to deal with. For reasons best known to them, the company has left several private directories on its website open to the public, as shown in the image below.

denuvo-directory

Most of the content appears relatively mundane but hidden away in the logs directory is an 11MB text file called Ajax.log, which appears to contain customer support emails dating back to 2014. While some are from companies looking to hire Denuvo, a notable email in slightly broken English appears to have been sent by Capcom.

“This is Jun Matsumoto from CAPCOM Japan. I have a interested in the Denuvo Anti-Tamper solution to protect our game software. If you have a white paper about details, please send me. (ex. platform, usage, price, etc…) And, if you have a sales agent in Japan, please tell me the contact point. Thank you for your cooperations,” it reads.

Another was sent by Jan Newger of Google, who wanted to learn more about Denuvo.

“I’m working in the security team at Google, and would like to evaluate the denuvo product to get an understanding on how it would integrate with existing solutions,” it reads.

“I’m specifically interested in further strengthening existing solutions to hinder understanding/tampering with binary programs. Is it possible to obtain some kind of demo version of the product? Also, could you send a quote to me?

But for every business opportunity, there are dozens of emails from angry pirates, each looking to vent their anger.

“Why do you have to make such shit software to fuck over pc gamers with DRM bullshit. Please inform the companies you work with that if your DRM is implemented on games they are selling, they will lose thousands of customers. Thanks,” wrote someone identifying themselves as Angry Customer.

While any leak of confidential data is a serious event, this developing situation appears to be getting worse. Within the last few minutes, more insecure directories have been discovered, some of them containing relatively large files.

denuvo-directory3

Needless to say, the contents of these files will be of great interest to Denuvo’s adversaries. With that in mind, TF headed over to a platform where crackers meet and sure enough, they are extremely excited and all over this breach. Thus far it appears that most of the files have been downloaded, including one that appears to contain access logs for Denuvo’s website and others which carry executables.

It’s too early to say exactly what these files do but crackers will be hoping for any piece of information or clue explaining how Denuvo works and how it can be defeated. Another bad week for Denuvo is quickly getting worse.

Breaking news, updates to follow.

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

Pirate Party’s Pirate Site Was Legal Under EU Law, Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-ran-a-pirate-site-but-court-drops-the-case-170202/

In July 2011, the Czech division of the Pirate Party reacted angrily when a local anti-piracy outfit targeted a 16-year-old who they accused of posting links to infringing content.

Under the slogan “Linking is not a Crime” the party launched Tipnafilm.cz, its own pirate movie download site, quickly followed by another indexing 5,800 titles.

“We challenge the Anti-Piracy Union to stop bullying the under-aged and to aim its preposterous claims at the Pirate Party,” the pirates said at the time.

In a declaration of “open war,” the Czech Pirates went on to launch TV-focused site Sledujuserialy.cz (I Watch TV Series). That provoked a response from the Anti-Piracy Union, and in January 2016 the party became the subject of a criminal prosecution, which they welcomed with open arms.

Sledujuserialy.cz – I Watch TV Seriespirati

“Our goal is to change the copyright monopoly law so that people are not fined millions for sharing culture with their friends. However, until we achieve that, we will fight in courts over interpretation and enforcement of the law,” the party said.

But now, a year later, the action against the party has fizzled out. Despite offering 1,205 videos without permission from copyright holders and standing accused of causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses, the Prague District Court has stopped the prosecution in its tracks.

After consulting EU case law, particularly the landmark GS Media ruling in the Netherlands, it was found that since the Pirates ran their site without generating revenue, they weren’t in violation of the law.

“The sledujuserialy.cz website was non-commercial. Therefore the owner of the website does not have the obligation to check the ‘legality of hyperlinks’ on his website, i.e. we did not have to check whether the content was online legally,” party spokesman Mikulas Ferjencik informs TorrentFreak.

“Unfortunately, if our website was commercial we would have to check it. The good thing about the current decision is that it specifies ‘non-commercial’ pretty broadly, i.e. no financial profit for us.”

While the absence of revenue played its part, the problems for the Pirates’ adversaries did not stop there.

Although the Czech Anti-Piracy Union (CPU) complained to the Pirate Party about links to copyrighted content present on their site, it failed to provide evidence that it was authorized to act on behalf of copyright holders whose content was allegedly being infringed.

“The court stated that a random letter from anyone is not good enough to make us obliged to take down the links even if it is from the CPU, which is notorious for enforcing harsher copyright law,” Ferjencik says.

“However, they provided this evidence to the court in the criminal procedure. This means we cannot put the website back online so easily, as we would have to remove hyperlinks to illegal sources first, as we now officially know these are illegal sources.”

Under same GS Media EU ruling, knowingly linking to infringing content, even without commercial interests, is illegal.

Commenting on this week’s ruling, party vice-president Jakub Michálek says that the value of hyperlinks shouldn’t be understated and anti-piracy outfits shouldn’t overreach.

“If we want a working digital economy, where also the artists make money, we cannot turn sharing of a hyperlink on a video a crime. This ruling is important for legal certainty of all Internet users as it states that you do not infringe copyright by linking unless you know that the content was uploaded illegally,” Michálek said.

“The court also confirmed that the Czech Anti-Piracy Union cannot act as the Internet Police and they cannot ask other actors to take down content, without providing evidence that they act on behalf of the copyright owners.”

Party chairman Ivan Bartos says that the criminal prosecution is proof that rightsholders are clinging to their old business models, which appear to be doing rather well, despite piracy.

“We view the whole case as a fight between a modern and backward understanding of the world and digital reality. The criminal prosecution is proof that the old structures do not want to innovate. Instead, they rely on their old business models, which do not have much to do with reality,” Bartos says.

“Last year, 13 million people went to the Cinema in the Czech Republic, it is the highest number in the last five years. If this is the result of piracy – and I believe it is – the filmmakers should thank us instead of suing us.”

The decision of the Prague court (pdf) is not yet final and the public prosecutor could still file an appeal.

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