Tag Archives: Anti-Piracy

MacOS Sierra Breaks Popular Keygens, Pirate Finds Fix

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/macos-sierra-breaks-popular-keygens-pirate-finds-fix-160926/

core-keygenThose who prefer to pirate rather than pay for their software often face installation issues. These range from the very simple to the fairly complex, depending on the strength of the anti-piracy technology deployed by manufacturers.

At the lower end of the scale, users are sometimes required to input a fake serial number into their software. This is achieved by running a key generator or “keygen”, a tool bundled with a pirate release by the team who cracked it.

This is often straightforward but for users of the macOS Sierra, the latest update to the Mac operating system currently being rolled out by Apple, things are proving problematic.

When people try to run keygens and cracks that are bundled with many Mac pirate software releases, the tools break and offer the following error report.

“Termination Reason: EXEC, [0xc] This UPX compressed binary contains an invalid Mach-O header and cannot be loaded,” the message reads.

According to Mac Kung Fu, it is keygens’ reliance on a free multiplatform executable packer that is causing the issues.

“[The problem] occurs because the creators of the hacks and keygens use the popular open source UPX app to package their code but subsequently attempt to cover their tracks by erasing any mention of the app, including the vital markers to compressed data. This confuses macOS Sierra, causing the error,” the report notes.

Searches on popular torrent sites do indeed reveal a fairly widespread problem. In particular, there are many complaints noted by users of keygens published by popular piracy release group CORE.

upx-1

Several users commenting on CORE releases that have been uploaded to The Pirate Bay are reporting similar issues but the problems aren’t isolated in English-speaking areas. As suggested by the image below, the problem is widespread.

upx-2

UPX’s developers have been made aware of the issues since they affect more than just keygens and cracks. It’s reported that v3.92 of UPX will address the problem.

However, that won’t fix the broken keygens and cracks already available online. People who have already upgraded to MacOS Sierra will find that these tools won’t work, effectively taking that pirate software out of the marketplace for them.

But of course, pirates are an ingenious bunch and the thirst for free software is a great motivator. That has already prompted a user called zerocoolroot to find a fix, which reportedly works.

upx-3

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

Court: Uploaded Can’t Ignore ‘Spam’ Copyright Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-uploaded-cant-ignore-spam-copyright-notices-160925/

uploadedlogoWith millions of visitors per month, Uploaded is one of the largest file-hosting services on the Internet.

Like many of its ‘cloud hosting’ competitors, the service is also used to share copyright infringing material, which is a thorn in the side of various copyright holder groups.

In Germany this has resulted in several lawsuits, where copyright holders want Uploaded to be held liable for files that are shared by its users, if they fail to respond properly to takedown notices.

In one of these cases the court has now clarified that Uploaded can even be held liable for copyright infringement if those messages are never read, due to an overactive ‘spam’ filter.

The case was started several years ago by anti-piracy company proMedia GmbH, which sent a takedown notice to Uploaded on behalf of a record label. The notice asked the site to remove a specific file, but that never happened.

Uploaded, in its defense, argued that it had never seen the takedown notice. It was flagged by its DDoS protection system and directly sent to a spam folder. As such, the notice in question was never read.

Last week the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg ruled on the case. It affirmed an earlier ruling from the Regional Court of Hamburg, concluding that Uploaded can be held liable, spam or no spam.

The court argued that because Uploaded’s anti-DDoS system willingly created a “cemetery for emails,” they can be treated as if they had knowledge of the takedown notices. This decision is now final.

Anja Heller, attorney at the German law firm Rasch which represented the plaintiff, is happy with the outcome in this case.

“File-hosters have to handle their inboxes for abuse notices very carefully. On the one hand they cannot easily claim not having received a notice. On the other hand they have to check blacklisted notices on a regular basis,” she says.

The current lawsuit dealt exclusively with the liability question, so the copyright owners have to file a separate proceeding if they want to obtain damages.

However, together with previous liability verdicts, it definitely makes it harder for file-hosters to operate without a solid anti-piracy strategy.

“The verdict once again shows the high demands German courts place on file-hosters, which are not only obliged to take down links immediately after having received a notice, but have to keep their services clean from infringing content as well,” Heller concludes.

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

ISPs Offered Service to “Protect Safe Harbor” Under DMCA

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-offered-service-to-protect-safe-harbor-under-dmca-160924/

warningEarly August, a federal court in Virginia found Internet service provider Cox Communications liable for copyright infringements carried out by its customers.

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

The case was first filed in 2014 after it was alleged that Cox failed to pass on infringement notices sent to the ISP by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp. It was determined that the ISP had also failed to take firm action against repeat infringers.

Although the decision is still open to appeal, the ruling has ISPs in the United States on their toes. None will want to fall into the same trap as Cox and are probably handling infringement complaints carefully as a result. This is where Colorado-based Subsentio wants to step in.

Subsentio specializes in helping companies meet their obligations under CALEA, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, a wiretapping law passed in 1994. It believes these skills can also help ISPs to retain their safe harbor protection under the DMCA.

This week Subsentio launched DMCA Records Production, a service that gives ISPs the opportunity to outsource the sending and management of copyright infringement notices.

“With the average ISP receiving thousands of notices every month from owners of copyrighted content, falling behind on DMCA procedural obligations is not an option,” says Martin McDermott, Chief Operating Officer at Subsentio.

“The record award of US$25 million paid by one ISP for DMCA violations last year was a ‘wake-up call’ — service providers that fail to take this law seriously can face the same legal and financial consequences.”

Subsentio Legal Services Manager Michael Allison informs TorrentFreak that increasing levels of DMCA notices received by ISPs need to be handled effectively.

“Since content owners leverage bots to crawl the internet for copyrighted content, the volume of DMCA claims falling at the footsteps of ISPs has been on the rise. The small to mid-level ISPs receive hundreds to thousands of claims per month,” Allison says.

“This volume may be too high to add to the responsibilities of a [network operations center] or abuse team. At the same time, the volume might not constitute the hiring of a full-time employee or staff.”

Allison says that his company handles legal records production for a number of ISP clients and part of that process involves tying allegedly infringing IP addresses and timestamps to ISP subscribers.

“The logistics behind tying a target IP address and timestamp to a specific subscriber is usually an administrative and laborious process. But it’s a method we’re familiar with and it’s a procedure that’s inherent to processing any DMCA claim.”

Allison says that the Cox decision put ISPs on notice that they must have a defined policy addressing DMCA claims, including provisions for dealing with repeat infringers, up to and including termination. He believes the Subsentio system can help ISPs achieve those goals.

“[Our system] automatically creates a unique case for each legal request received, facilitates document generation, notates actions taken on the case, and allows for customized reporting via any number of variables tied to the case,” Allison explains.

“By creating a case for each DMCA claim received, we can track ISP subscribers for repeat offenses, apply escalation measures when needed, and alert ISPs when a subscriber has met the qualifications for termination.”

TF understands that many of Subsentio’s current clients are small to mid-size regional ISPs in the United States so whether any of the big national ISPs will get involved remains to be seen. Nevertheless, it’s quite possible that the formalizing and outsourcing of subscriber warnings will lead to customers of some smaller ISPs enjoying significantly less slack than they’ve become accustomed to.

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

Copyright Troll Partner “Kicked Uber Driver in the Head”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-partner-kicked-uber-driver-in-the-head-160923/

croucherIn October 2015, a well-known copyright-trolling outfit announced the launch of the “largest” anti-piracy campaign seen in the UK for years.

German-based monitoring company Maverick Eye said that it had teamed up with London-based Hatton & Berkeley and other key players to target file-sharers with cash settlement demands.

Due to the complexity of the setup, some likened the project to a “smoke and mirrors” operation.

Initially, Hatton & Berkeley and its owner Robert Croucher became known for demanding money from alleged Sky Broadband downloaders of the Robert Redford movie The Company You Keep.

“Hatton and Berkeley stands alongside our colleagues in an international operation that has so far yielded drastic reductions in streaming, torrenting and illegal downloads across Europe,” a company spokesperson said at the time.

Common to all of Hatton and Berkeley’s letters to ISP subscribers are threats that if they don’t pay, ultimately they will end up in court. To date, that has never happened, but interestingly Hatton and Berkeley’s Robert Croucher is now in some legal trouble of his own.

According to a Court News report (subscription), 35-year-old Croucher has been appearing in court this week following allegations of a serious assault.

It all began following a night out at the exclusive members-only Raffles club in Chelsea, London, which is frequented by the rich, famous, and Croucher. It is the only nightclub the Queen has ever attended.

After leaving the club, it’s understood that Croucher tried to get into an Uber car but things quickly got out of hand.

According to driver Mohammad Hussain, a woman was the first to get into his vehicle. Croucher is said to have thrown his bag into the car, something which provoked an argument between the pair. Croucher then slammed the door.

“I got out to open the door, and then the gentlemen took the keys from through the window,” Hussain told Hammersmith Magistrates’ court. “He then slapped me.”

Croucher admits hitting Mr Hussain but according to the Uber driver, things got much worse from there.

“I was begging for my keys and he suddenly pushed me on the pavement,” Hussain told the Court.

“He has just kicked me in several parts of my body and head. My head was very swollen, I went to hospital where I stayed for four hours. I went to my GP a few days later and got prescribed antibiotics, it was severe pain.”

Croucher, who gave his address as Hawthorn Road, Hornsey, north London, admits assault but denies kicking Mr Hussain.

This is the third time in as many months Croucher has made the news.

In the House of Lords during July, Lord Lucas advised recipients of threatening letters from Croucher’s Hatton & Berkeley to thrown them away.

“I really urge them to put [their correspondence] in the bin. The current scammers aren’t pursuing anyone [in court] they’re just after threats, and extortion, and shaking people down,” Lord Lucas said.

Then in August, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority published details of its investigation into claims on Croucher’s personal website that one of his projects had created 10,000 jobs.

The ASA concluded that the claims were misleading and ordered the advertising not to appear again in its current form. Despite the ruling, the claim is still present on the site’s main page.

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

BMG Pressed Internet Provider to Pay Piracy Compensation

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bmg-pressed-internet-provider-to-pay-piracy-compensation-160922/

piratkeybFor several years, music rights group BMG has been chasing down pirating BitTorrent users. With help from Rightscorp the company regularly sends DMCA notices to ISPs.

These notices are bundled with settlement demands, intended for Internet subscribers who allegedly shared pirated content. If the accused subscribers pay $30, they avoid further trouble.

However, BMG’s enforcement efforts are not only directed at individual subscribers. Behind the scenes, the company is also putting pressure on ISPs to cooperate with their scheme, or pay up instead.

One of their targets is US-based Internet provider RCN. A relatively small player with roughly 400,000 subscribers, but allegedly good for millions of alleged copyright infringements.

According to BMG, the ISP is liable for the infringements of its users. RCN clearly disagrees with this accusation and went to court earlier this year to ask clarification in the form of a declaratory judgment.

A few days ago the ISP submitted an amended complaint (pdf), revealing a letter that shows how the music licensing group put pressure on them by demanding preventive measures as well as compensation.

In the letter, BMG’s law firm Steptoe & Johnson informed RCN’s executive vice president Jeffrey Kramp that the ISP failed to terminate repeat infringers on its network, despite receiving millions of notices.

“The evidence shows that RCN is allowing repeat infringers to use its network to continue their infringement of BMG works even after RCN has been notified of their specific instances of infringement,” the letter reads.

“Since Rightscorp began monitoring BMG’s copyrights, it has identified millions of instances of infringement involving thousands of BMG copyrighted works using the RCN network.”

BMG’s letter to RCN (full pdf)

steptoerightsc

RCN had previously noted that BMG accused the ISP of secondary copyright infringement and the letter shared by RCN late last week shows how.

“RCN’s knowledge and allowance of unchecked infringement to occur using its network makes it liable for secondary copyright infringement and actual or statutory damages as high as $150,000 per infringed work,” BMG’s lawyer writes.

With hundreds of works at stake, the potential damages run to dozens of millions. However, just like the accusations against individual subscribers, RCN can make these go away by signing a settlement agreement and paying compensation.

“We are hopeful that a resolution of this ongoing and damaging infringement can be reached. To that end, we suggest the parties meet to discuss a settlement that would include a means of preventing or limiting future infringement and appropriate compensation to BMG,” the letter suggests.

It’s clear that with this language BMG hoped to pressure the Internet provider into cooperating. This didn’t work out though, as RCN decided to lawyer-up instead and sue them instead.

In the amended complaint, the Internet provider asks for a declaratory judgment that it’s not liable for infringing any of BMG’s copyrights or any damage resulting from alleged infringements of their subscribers.

While ISPs enjoy safe harbor protections under the DMCA, this does not guarantee a positive outcome for RCN.

In a similar liability case last year, Internet provider Cox Communications was held responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers. In that case a Virginia federal court ordered Cox to pay BMG $25 million in damages.

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

ISP Trolls Copyright Troll With A Taste of Its Own Medicine

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bahnhof-trolls-copyright-trolls-160922/

bahnhofIn recent years file-sharers around the world have been ordered to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.

These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have been a common occurrence in several countries, with Sweden one of the latest hunting grounds.

One of the organizations leading the way is Spridningskollen (Distribution Check). Using data gathered by German anti-piracy outfit Excipio, they plan to start by targeting around 1,000 alleged pirates, offering them settlements of around $233 (2,000 kronor).

While many Internet providers don’t put up a real fight to protect their subscribers, privacy conscious Bahnhof is. Not only does Bahnhof delete all logs that could link IP-addresses to alleged infringements, the company is also pushing back in other creative ways.

Previously they accused Spridningskollen of trademark infringement and this week they followed up this threat with a more concrete warning.

Giving the “trolls” a taste of their own medicine, Bahnhof sent them an invoice for the exact amount they also ask from accused pirates, to settle the alleged trademark infringement.

“You’re infringing our trademark ‘Spridningskollen.’ Bahnhof filed for the trademark on 2016-08-31, with the launch of the website Spridningskollen.org,” the settlement invoice reads.

The anti-piracy outfit uses Spridningskollen.se for their website and Bahnhof urges the company to pay up and take it down, or else.

faktura

“Choose to pay 2,000 kronor and switch off your site Spridningskollen.se as soon as possible, or face legal action when the trademark application has been processed,” they write.

“You can say that this letter is a settlement offer. If the infringer of the trademark does not pay the rightsholder the case can proceed to trial, which is far more costly for all involved.”

It’s unlikely that the anti-piracy coalition is going to comply voluntarily, as the trademark application can be disputed. Nevertheless, Bahnhof’s provocative approach is refreshing to say the least.

When asked, most ISPs will say that they have the best interests of their subscribers at heart, but very few companies are willing to go above and beyond and highlight possible abuse.

And adding some irony in the mix makes it all the better.

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

Stop Piracy? Legal Alternatives Beat Legal Threats, Research Shows

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/stop-piracy-legal-alternatives-beat-legal-threats-research-shows-160921/

cassetteYesterday the RIAA announced the biggest growth in recorded music sales since the late 1990s, a healthy 8.1% increase compared to the year before.

The record numbers were achieved despite the widespread availability of pirated music. So what happened here? Did all those pirates suddenly grow a conscience?

The answer to this question is partly given by new research published in the journal Risk Analysis.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia, Lancaster University, and Newcastle University found that perceived risk has very little effect on people’s piracy habits. This means that stricter punishments or tough copyright laws are not the answer.

Instead, unauthorized file-sharing (UFS) is best predicted by the supposed benefits of piracy. As such, the researchers note that better legal alternatives are the best way to stop piracy.

The results are based on a psychological study among hundreds of music and ebook consumers. They were subjected to a set of questions regarding their file-sharing habits, perceived risk, industry trust, and online anonymity.

By analyzing the data the researchers found that the perceived benefit of piracy, such as quality, flexibility of use and cost are the real driver of piracy. An increase in legal risk was not directly associated with any statistically significant decrease in self-reported file-sharing.

“Given that we observe a much more powerful predictor of behavior in perceived benefit, changes to legal frameworks may not be the most effective route to change behaviour,” lead author Dr Steven Watson says.

“Specifically, one strategy to combat unlawful file-sharing would be to provide easy access to information about the benefits of legal purchases or services, in an environment in which the specific benefits UFS offers are met by these legal alternatives.”

Alternatively, there is a more indirect route to influence piracy, by increasing the “trust” people have in regulators. This could increase risk perception and also lower the perceived benefits of piracy. However, the researchers note that this isn’t the most efficient option.

In their paper, the researchers mention subscription services such as Spotify as the most compelling alternatives.

This brings us back to the record revenue the RIAA reported yesterday, which can be attributed to the growth of legal services. The RIAA notes that with the introduction of Tidal and Apple Music, subscription service revenues doubled compared to last year.

So it’s legal options that drive the recent revenue growth, not anti-piracy enforcement.

Of course, the idea that subscription services can compete with piracy isn’t new. When Spotify launched its first beta in the fall of 2008, we billed it as “an alternative to music piracy,” and various reports have shown that pirates gladly switch over to good legal services.

The UK researchers also conclude that legal alternatives are a viable option to decrease piracy, one that’s preferred over legal threats.

“It is perhaps no surprise that legal interventions regarding UFS have a limited and possibly short-term effect, while legal services that compete with UFS have attracted significant numbers of consumers,” says co-author Dr Piers Fleming.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick, who published a “The carrot or the stick” report last year, notes that the findings are in line with their conclusions.

According to Masnick, there is now ample evidence showing that enforcement is not the answer to piracy, but thus far the relevant stakeholders continue to hide their heads in the sand.

“And yet, politicians, regulators and legacy industry folks still insist that ratcheting up enforcement is the way to go. What will it take for them to actually follow what the evidence says, rather than continuing with faith-based copyright policies?” Masnick writes.

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

Former Disney Digital Boss Says He “Loves Piracy”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/former-disney-digital-boss-says-he-loves-piracy-160919/

disney-pirateThe piracy debate can be broadly split into two camps – those who believe it’s a destructive thing that needs to be stopped at all costs, and those who maintain the phenomenon has its upsides.

Unsurprisingly, many of those in the first camp hail from entertainment industry companies with a shared mission to harness every possible sale. As a result, they’re often united when it comes to condemning unauthorized sharing and downloading.

Every now and again, however, someone comes along with a controversial opinion of their own.

Samir Bangara is the former managing director of The Walt Disney Company in India (Disney UTV). Appointed in 2012, Bangara helped to drive growth in video, games and audio for mobile, online and interactive TV following a restructuring of Disney’s digital assets.

Later, Bangara left Disney to form media startup Qyuki.com as MD and CEO. Qyuki is a platform for artists to share their creations, connect with others, and generate revenue. With these goals in mind, one might think the company would take an anti-piracy stance. Instead, its MD suggests otherwise.

“I’m going to put it out there. I love piracy,” said Bangara during the huge All That Matters content conference in Singapore.

With key players from Netflix, Spotify, Merlin, FOX, Universal, Warner, UFC, Disney, Beggars Group and RIAJ all speaking at the event, Bangara’s statement probably raised a few eyebrows. However, there was method in his madness.

According to Mumbrella, the former Disney boss believes that one of the main problems in today’s content-rich world is getting noticed.

“I love piracy. Because guess what, the biggest problem right now is discoverability,” Bangara told a panel moderated by Tony Zameczkowski, Vice President of Business Development for Asia-Pacific at Netflix.

While Bangara’s love of piracy probably wasn’t shared by many in attendance, illicit consumption has always been useful for showing what is popular among the fans. Indeed, the concept is one Netflix is very familiar with.

Back in 2013, the streaming platform revealed that it had been monitoring pirate sites in order to gauge the popularity of shows.

The data compiled by Netflix was subsequently used to decide which shows to invest in. The company could buy with confidence, safe in the knowledge that the content they were buying had already been tested in the market.

With huge volumes of content available online, Bangara says that finding the good stuff can be a challenge. But knowing in advance what will work is definitely an advantage.

“There are tens of thousands of hours of content getting uploaded. The challenge is finding what is working,” he told the panel.

“What is getting pirated is by default working. Game of Thrones is great, so it’s going to get pirated,” he said.

Netflix took the same approach when it launched in the Netherlands. The company discovered that Prison Break was “exceptionally popular” on pirate sites, so took the decision to buy the show.

Of course, not everyone listening to Bangara shared his love of piracy. Shufen Lin, Vice-President & Head at Singapore-based telecoms and content company Starhub, said that piracy was “the biggest thing that keeps us awake at night.”

Interestingly, however, Lin says the challenge presented by piracy in Singapore isn’t simply competing with ‘free’, at least not in the traditional sense. By Western standards, Singapore has strict censorship in place, meaning that content available on torrent sites provides an attractive alternative to locally censored material.

In reality, many companies use piracy networks to gather information which helps their businesses. In most cases, they just aren’t as up front about it as Bangara or indeed Netflix.

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

Anti-Piracy Outfits Caught Fabricating Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-outfits-caught-fabricating-takedown-notices-160918/

fraudalertEvery hour of the day dozens of anti-piracy outfits scour the web to find copyright-infringing content, so they can target it with takedown notices.

Since they’re dealing with such as massive volume of often automated requests, it’s no surprise that every now and then an error is made.

In recent years we have frequently pointed out such mistakes, some more serious than others. In a few cases, however, reporting organizations appear to make very little effort to be correct.

In fact, we’ve discovered that some are deliberately and automatically fabricating links to broaden their scope.

A few weeks ago we reported that defunct torrent cache services were receiving takedown notices for files that never existed, but it appears that the problem is much broader than first thought. Various torrent proxy and clone sites, dead or alive, are also receiving similar treatment.

For example, take the website Torrentz2.eu, which is a clone of the original Torrentz.eu that shut down a few weeks ago. The site links to plenty of copyrighted content, drawing the attention of rightsholders including the anti-piracy department at NBC Universal.

Below is a takedown notice sent out by NBC recently, one of many that come in the same format.

One of NBCUniversal’s takedown notices

torrentz2-eu

For most outsiders this may look like a proper notice. However, upon closer inspection it’s clear that the URL structure of the links is different from the format Torrentz2 uses. The notice is question lists this URL:

http://torrentz2.eu/dv/2012+dvdrip+battleship+mp4-q

On Torrentz2, however, the search “2012 dvdrip battleship mp4” generates the following URL, which is clearly different.

https://torrentz2.eu/search?f=2012+dvdrip+battleship+mp4

The link NBC Universal reports has never existed and simply returns a blank page. TorrentFreak reached out to the operator of the site who confirmed that they have never used this URL format.

This ‘mistake’ can be explained though. The URL structure NBCUniversal uses comes from the original Torrentz site, meaning that NBC simply did a search and replaced the old domain with a new one, without checking if the URLs exist.

In other words, they fabricated these links.

Further research reveals that this practice is rather common for clones and proxy sites. In the past we’ve already raised suspicions about long lists of URLs with the same structure, which appeared to be automatically generated.

Since most of these did link to actual content, it was hard to proof that they were being made up. However, when takedown notices are sent long after a site has gone offline, targeting content that didn’t exist when the site was still up, it becomes crystal clear what’s happening.

Take the domain name Extratorrent.space, for example. This was part of a ring of thousands of proxy sites that all shut down last year. However, anti-piracy groups are still targeting these URLs with new takedown requests.

In fact, there are many recent takedown requests that list content that wasn’t available at the time the site was operating. This is indisputable proof that these URLs are fabricated.

Ghost proxies

deadlinks

The screenshot above is just a random request that came in this week, seemingly targeting pirated copies of X-Men: Apocalypse. However, the proxy site domains in question have been offline for a long time, some close to a year.

Please note that these are not isolated or rare ‘mistakes.’ Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of fabricated links to these proxy sites have been sent out over the past several months, inflating Google’s takedown numbers.

So why are these fabricated notices being sent? One reason might be laziness. Anti-piracy outfits discover the URL structure of a site and simply keep sending notices without checking if the sites are still up.

Another motivation for anti-piracy outfits could be to boost their numbers. Many get paid based on the volume of notices they send out, so more links means extra cash.

Whatever the case is, the fabricated links above are just another example of the carelessness of some rightsholders and reporting organizations when it comes to the DMCA takedown procedure, skewing the actual numbers.

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

Has the EU Just Outlawed ‘Fully-Loaded’ Kodi Boxes?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/has-the-eu-just-outlawed-fully-loaded-kodi-boxes-160918/

kodiWhile millions of people around the globe share files using BitTorrent every day, there are some who prefer to stream their content instead.

These users can easily visit any one of thousands of streaming portals via a desktop web browser but for those looking for complete convenience, set-top boxes offer a perfect solution.

These devices, often Android-based, regularly come with the Kodi media center already installed. However, Kodi provides no illegal content – custom addons do – and it’s their inclusion in the package that provides users with what they want – free (or cost reduced) movies, TV, and sports.

One of the groups trying to crack down on so-called “fully loaded” boxes is Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. The organization has threatened legal action against several local suppliers and has had one case referred to the European Court. However, a decision in a separate case last week could have big implications for “fully loaded” box supply across Europe, BREIN says.

The case, which involved Dutch blog GeenStijl.nl and Playboy, resulted in an important ruling from the European Court of Justice.

The Court found that when “hyperlinks are posted for profit, it may be expected that the person who posted such a link should carry out the checks necessary to ensure that the work concerned is not illegally published.” In other words, posting links to infringing content in a commercial environment amounts to a communication to the public, and is therefore illegal.

For groups like BREIN, the ruling opens up new avenues for anti-piracy action. For sellers of piracy-capable boxes and related IPTV subscriptions across the EU, trouble could lie in wait.

“Copyright protection organization BREIN holds suppliers of IPTV devices responsible for verifying whether their sources for internet TV channels are legal or not. In general, this is not the case,” BREIN said in a statement this week.

“Suppliers advertise that when buying their service you do not have to pay separately for pay-channels for films, TV shows, and sports. Such a compilation costs a fraction of the total sum of subscriptions to the individual channels.”

BREIN says that following the decision of the European Court of Justice last week, commercial suppliers of IPTV boxes are now obliged to verify whether the sources being linked in their devices are authorized by the content providers. If they are not, the seller could be held liable for infringement.

If BREIN’s interpretation of the decision proves correct, sellers of “fully-loaded” Kodi and other IPTV boxes face a minefield of uncertainty.

There is absolutely no way vendors can check every single link contained in the software present in the boxes they sell. Furthermore, those links are often updated automatically, meaning that what is legal on the day they are sold might not be legal when the software updates tomorrow.

But while it’s certainly possible that BREIN’s take on the decision will prove to be correct, actually enforcing the law against hundreds or even thousands of suppliers is likely to prove impossible. Big suppliers are easily targeted though, which may send out a warning.

“BREIN has written letters to suppliers of IPTV subscriptions to warn them that they are required to verify beforehand whether the sources for the IPTV channels they use are legal. If the suppliers are not willing to do so, then BREIN will institute court proceedings,” BREIN says.

However, more often that not “fully loaded” boxes are offered for sale on eBay and Amazon by regular people out to make a few bucks. Taking action against every single one is not realistic.

But even if all infringing boxes were wiped from sale, that wouldn’t stop people selling blank devices. These can be easily setup by the user to stream all of the latest movies, sports and TV shows with a few clicks, rendering a smart supplier immune from liability.

And of course, anyone with VLC Media Player and the ability to Google can find plenty of dedicated IPTV streams available online, without paying anyone a penny.

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

Torrent Site Founder Faces Outrageous Damages Claim, Lawyer Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-site-founder-faces-outrageous-damages-claim-lawyer-says-160917/

Founded back in 2006, SwePiracy grew to become one of the most famous private torrent sites on the Swedish scene. With that reputation came attention from anti-piracy groups and local authorities

In the wake of the “guilty” verdict in the Pirate Bay trial during April 2009, SwePiracy disappeared offline. It reappeared just a few weeks later.

Anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance) said that during this downtime, the operators of the site took measures to improve their security. However, three years later those efforts proved futile.

In February 2012, police in Sweden and the Netherlands took coordinated action to shut down the site and earlier this year its 24-year-old operator appeared in court for the first time facing several years in prison.

Despite the prosecution admitting that the site had likely been created for fun, it’s alleged SwePiracy raised $100,000 from donations. As a result, the pursuit of damages against its operator was to be made “according to The Pirate Bay model”, i.e extremely aggressively.

This week the now 25-year-old appeared in court again, facing charges that he assisted in the unlawful distribution of a large number of movies. As is customary in such cases, the prosecution has homed in on a smaller sample of 27 movies in its evidence.

“They earned a lot of money, they spread huge amounts of pirated content and this [man] is one of the key players. Therefore, it is important that those involved are sentenced to severe punishment,” said Henrik Pontén of Rights Alliance, who represent Nordisk Film, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

One of five companies acting against SwePiracy, Nordisk is reportedly being the most aggressive. The film distributor is demanding more than $3m (20m kronor) in damages for a single low-budget movie.

SwePiracy defense lawyer Per E. Samuelsson, who also represents Julian Assange and previously took part in The Pirate Bay trial, says the claims are the most unreasonable he’s ever witnessed in his 35 years as a lawyer.

“I think this is the most unreasonable claim for damages I have been through. The idea that [this type of film] could cause 20-25 million kronor in damages on an illegal file-sharing site is totally absurd from every point of view,” he said.

Swedish news outlet SVT reported an exchange in court between Samuelsson and Pontén, in which the former argued that his client had started the site as a child, for fun.

“My client started [SwePiracy] when he was 14 years old. It was purely a prank,” Samuelsson said.

“That’s not true,” Pontén objected. “He was not fourteen years old when he committed these acts. At some point, he has certainly been fourteen, but when he did this he was criminally responsible and earned lots of money.”

The verdict will be handed down at a later date.

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

Torrent Site Founder, Moderator and Users Receive Prison Sentences

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-site-founder-moderator-users-receive-prison-sentences-160915/

jailWhenever anti-piracy groups decide to take action against large file-sharing platforms, they do so on the basis of achieving crushing punishments for their operators. Only severe punishments can stop hardcore pirates, they argue.

In France, a similar situation has been playing out. Back in June 2015 following a four-month investigation, people connected to the public torrent site OMGTorrent were arrested and taken into custody. Early claims suggested the site had offered for download more than 10,000 pirated movies.

Founded in 2008, the site had built up a solid userbase of around 3.5 million visitors per month. Police insisted it was a for-profit project.

“The people behind this platform do not do it for fun, through the platform they earn a lot of money,” a police spokesperson said at the time. “Even if they offer movies without requesting compensation, they earn money with various advertisements that appear alongside.”

Searches of two suspects’ homes yielded several computers plus more than 3.5 terabytes of the latest movies. A separate server found overseas contained several thousand more.

Police warned that the site’s operators could face 10 years in jail plus millions in damages, but they weren’t going to stop there. Their investigations had led them to four of the site’s top downloaders who they intended to prosecute for receiving stolen goods.

After more than a year, six people connected with the site have now been sentenced and it’s harsh punishments all round.

Following a hearing in March, yesterday the Criminal Court of Chalons-en-Champagne (Marne, France) sentenced the founder of OMGTorrent to one year in prison. The 28-year-old was also ordered to pay a fine of around five million euros for the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works.

Also sentenced was a 38-year-old woman who had worked as a moderator on the site. She was given a four-month suspended sentence and told to pay damages to the plaintiffs in the case.

In an unusual turn of events, prosecutors also tracked down four of the site’s most heavy downloaders. They too were given prison sentences of one month each and are required to settle with rightsholders.

Based on an investigation carried out by ALPA (Association Against Audiovisual Piracy), the prosecution estimated that damages exceed 20 million euros.

Following the decision, the site’s founder posted an update to the Wareziens forum.

“I’ve been fined a total of 5,000,000 euros for financial damage, 12 months imprisonment and 4 more [months] from a former sentence. My mod has to pay approximately 1,000,000 euros for financial damage,” he wrote.

“Others, those who have downloaded, I don’t know the amount for them, but it far exceeds 500,000 euros. Note: They seized the servers and used them to get the IP addresses of the big downloaders of content.”

Lashing out at those who hounded him, the admin said the judgment had really hurt. He said he understands why he needed to be punished but for those lower down the chain, the sentences were “beyond comprehension.”

“To all the [anti-piracy groups and authorities]: You are a lot of vile shit, destroying lives of people who are already struggling to pay their rent, their food, their bills,” he said.

“Why all this? Because they wanted to watch and because they didn’t necessarily have the capabilities to buy a DVD / BluRay or go to the theaters.”

Listing the country’s most popular torrent indexes, trackers and DDL sites, the admin declared that they would never fall.

“Warez is a hydra, you cut off one head, 10 will grow back. You’ll never kill this beautiful community. It’s like drug dealers, it will never stop,” he said.

Following the raid on OMGTorrent, an unknown third-party managed to secure the domain. The site is now working, as it did before, as a public torrent index.

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

10 Years in Prison For Online Pirates a Step Closer in the UK

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/10-years-in-prison-for-online-pirates-a-step-closer-in-the-uk-160914/

In an effort to control the prevalence of online piracy, numerous criminal actions against file-sharers and file-sharing site operators have already taken place in the UK. However, these prosecutions have not been straightforward.

Due to UK copyright law allowing for custodial sentences of ‘just’ two years for online offenses, anti-piracy groups such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft have chosen to pursue their own private prosecutions. These have largely taken place under legislation designed for those who have committed fraud, rather than the more appropriate offense of copyright infringement.

Physical pirates (CDs, DVDs) can be jailed for up to 10 years under current legislation. During the past few years, there have been lobbying efforts for this punishment to apply both on and offline. That resulted in a UK Government announcement last year indicating that it would move to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years.

This proposal was detailed in a draft of the Digital Economy Bill published in July. If passed into law, it would amend the relevant section of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

That likelihood increased yesterday with the 2nd Reading of the Digital Economy Bill in the House of Commons. Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was in attendance. The MP, who was appointed in July, spoke strongly in favor of strict copyright enforcement.

“We will help businesses from attacks on their intellectual property. Burglars can be sentenced to ten years in prison, but the criminal gangs that are making vast sums of money through exploiting the online creations of others only face a two-year sentence. We will increase this to ten,” Bradley said.

bradley

Interestingly, Bradley mentioned a convicted pirate by name. Paul Mahoney ran streaming portal FastPassTV and discussion and linking forum BedroomMedia. After being raided in 2011, the Northern Ireland-based man was sentenced to four years in jail under the Fraud Act, two more than the maximum he would’ve received under copyright legislation.

“Criminals like Paul Mahoney, who profited by almost £300,000 and cost industry millions by facilitating access to illegal films on the Internet, need to be sent a clear message,” Bradley said.

“We need to ensure that enforcement agencies and their partners have the right set of tools to tackle all types of piracy, which is why this clause is so important.”

When the increase to ten years was first reported, some news outlets suggested that regular file-sharers could be subjected to the decade-long sentence. That was addressed in Parliament yesterday by Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire, who welcomed the move but sought assurances that the casual downloader wouldn’t be targeted.

“I am pleased that clause 26 amends the current legislation on copyright to bring online criminal penalties for copyright infringement in line with off-line penalties, with a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment. This will target anyone who infringes copyright in order to make a commercial gain,” he said.

“However, I wish to stress to hon. Members and to members of the public that this is not to catch out people who download music and unwittingly download or stream something illegal. I want to make that clear in adding my support to this measure. As far as I understand it, it targets the criminals who make money from distributing music to which they do not have the rights.”

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley confirmed that was indeed the case.

Speaking in support of the amendment, Conservative MP John Whittingdale said he was “delighted” that online and offline penalties will be equalized but said that more still needs to be done. Unsurprisingly, given the current environment, Google was again the target.

“The Conservative party manifesto stated that we would put pressure on search engines to try to prevent illegal sites from coming up at the top of a search. I know that round-table discussions have been taking place for a considerable time, but it is a matter of great concern that no significant progress has yet been made,” Whittingdale said.

“In the most recent attempt to find out whether or not there had been an improvement, a Google search was made for ‘Ed Sheeran Photograph download’, with ‘Photograph’ being one of Ed Sheeran’s most recent songs. Only one of the top 10 listings involved a legal site, and the legal site was YouTube, which, of course, is owned by Google.”

In response, Labour MP Dr Rupa Huq offered his thoughts on how that might be mitigated in future.

“[John Whittingdale] said that Ed Sheeran’s song was available on illegal platforms. Does he agree that technology companies, ​and platforms such as Google and YouTube, should be compelled to list only legal sites?” Huq said.

“At present the pirates are sometimes listed higher up than legal sites, and our British musicians who contribute, I believe, £4 billion annually to the economy are losing out as a consequence.”

Whittingdale wasn’t convinced of Huq’s solution, but agreed that much more needs to be done.

“I think it would be unrealistic to expect Google to establish whether every single site was legal or illegal. What it can do is react when illegal sites are brought to its attention,” the MP said.

“[Google] does de-list, but new sites then appear immediately. There have been a vast number of complaints from rights owners about particular sites, but they should tweak their algorithms so that those sites no longer appear at the top of the search listings. Measures of that kind have been under discussion for months and months, but the problem still exists.”

Whittingdale added that there may be a need to include a legal provision which would encourage service providers to establish some kind of voluntary code.

“[T]here may well be a case for legislation, because we cannot allow Google and other search providers to go on allowing people access to illegal sites,” he said.

The Bill will now move to Committee and Report stages, before moving to its Third Reading. It will then pass to readings in the House of Lords before undergoing amendments and the final stage of Royal Assent.

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

Google Highlights DMCA Abuse in New Copyright Transparency Report

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-highlights-dmca-abuse-in-new-copyright-transparency-report-160912/

googlecopyIn recent years copyright holders have overloaded Google with DMCA takedown notices, targeting links to pirated content.

The number of requests has increased dramatically, from only a few dozen takedown notices during the entire year in 2008, to millions per day nowadays.

To give the public insight into this process Google launched a Copyright Transparency Report for search in 2012. In addition to showing the rapid increase in volume, shown below, it has helped us to report on various types of DMCA takedown abuse over the years.

#Reported URLs

goognewtransda

A few days ago Google released a revamped version of its Copyright Transparency Report. In addition to a new look, it also now reports additional data to better show what’s going on.

Previously we have been keeping track of the total number of submitted URLs by hand, but Google now prominently includes this number in its report. The latest data show that over 1.75 billion allegedly infringing URLs have been reported since they started counting.

What’s also new is an overview of how many URLs were not removed from the search index, and the reasons for that.

For example, over the past year over 10% of all submitted URLs were not removed from the search index. Roughly half of these, 50 million (5.5%), are duplicate links that had already been reported previously.

Takedown Stats

goognewtrans

15 million (1.6%) were “invalid URLs,” such as typos and other non-existing content, and another 31 million were rejected for another reason.

The latter group, which is 3.4% of the total, also includes various types of abuse and other errors. The revamped transparency report lists various examples of abuse, such as an anti-piracy group’s coffee hatred that TorrentFreak first reported on.

“An anti-piracy enforcement firm representing a music label filed a copyright complaint asking us to delist dozens of homepages containing the word ‘coffee’ in the title. These URLs had nothing to do with the identified copyrighted work,” Google writes.

Another abuse case highlighted by Google shows that people sometimes impersonate anti-piracy outfits to remove links without the proper authorization.

“An individual impersonating a prominent anti-piracy enforcement firm filed a copyright complaint targeting several URLs from an adult film website. We occasionally receive requests from individuals who impersonate major anti-piracy firms.”

Google hopes that the new transparency report will help people to better understand what content is targeted and how the company responds. Going forward, the company says it will continue to add new examples and new data.

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

Videomega Uploaders Outraged as Popular File-Hosting Site Disappears

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uploaders-outraged-as-popular-file-hosting-site-disappears-160912/

In parallel with the sharing that takes place on P2P systems such as BitTorrent, file-hosting sites have also gained in popularity over recent years.

Some of the most famous sites included Kim Dotcom’s Megaupload/Megavideo, its successor MEGA, and the long-defunct German hoster, Rapidshare. In the wake of Megaupload’s demise, many file-hosters considered the market too risky and decided to back out. However, some viewed the shake-up as an opportunity.

A handful of the sites that have continued despite the threats include Rapidgator (Alexa world ranking #779), Uploaded (#517) and 4Shared (#495) but there is another site that has managed to grow bigger than these giants despite flying largely under the radar.

Videomega.tv appeared on the scene in mid-2012 as a basic video upload site but has continued to grow ever since. According to Alexa the site is now the 472nd most popular site in the world, a significant achievement in a little over four years. But despite the successes, there are now signs that all is not well at the video hosting platform.

videomegatv-2

Almost a week ago, Videomega’s main page disappeared. People who visit the domain are currently greeted with a blank page, meaning that no one can upload any fresh content or browse the videos that were regularly posted to the bottom of the main page.

Why the site has disappeared is a mystery that has annoyed many of the site’s users, but none more so than the thousands of uploaders that use Videomega to host huge numbers of files.

Like many sites in the niche, Videomega operated an affiliate scheme, meaning that users who uploaded videos to the site had the possibility to generate revenue from them. Of course, YouTube pays users of popular content too but sources familiar with the site inform TF that Videomega was nowhere near as strict when enforcing copyright complaints as its Google-owned counterpart.

videomegatv-1

This appears to have made Videomega very popular with operators of third-party indexing sites, who hosted content on the platform and placed links on their own domain in order to generate views. This resulted in affiliate payments ranging from $50 to a few thousand dollars each, or at least it did until recently.

Several former uploaders to the site inform TF that payments used to be made regularly but that has now come to a halt. One, who asked to remain anonymous, told us that the site owes him more than $1000 in fees, while others indicate they’re a few hundred down each.

Furthermore, a few days ago the site reportedly changed the minimum payout from $50 to $100, a move that is being described by some as an early bid to avoid paying smaller affiliates in advance of the shutdown.

The site’s admin, who according to reports used to be easily available on Skype, is no longer online, although one source indicated that he appeared briefly before the weekend only to disappear a few minutes later. The site is reportedly not receiving or is ignoring, emails from uploaders and users. TorrentFreak’s request for comment also remains unanswered.

Strangely, however, some of the site’s videos appear to be loading, despite the main domain showing no signs of life. However, those attempting to view content are first met with instructions to turn off adblockers. This is immediately rewarded with a fake video player carrying scammy ads for a third-party subscription site.

videomegatv-3

Exactly what has happened to the site or its operator remains unclear. There have been no announcements of any raids or arrests by the usual anti-piracy outfits but clearly something is seriously amiss. People tend not to build up one of the world’s most popular sites only to shut it down on a whim.

For now, however, many uploaders believe they may have seen their many thousands of videos (and thousands of dollars) for the last time, with some even going as far to say that they’re victims of a scam. Whether that is true will remain to be seen but some are on the warpath and have even published photographs of the site’s alleged admin online.

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

Paramount Wipes “Infringing” Ubuntu Torrent From Google

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/paramount-wipes-infringing-ubuntu-torrent-google-160909/

paramountIn an effort to make piracy less visible, copyright holders are sending dozens of millions of DMCA takedown requests to Google every month.

Since there are so many takedown notices it’s no surprise that errors are made. In recent years we have frequently pointed out various mistakes, some more serious than others.

This week we spotted a takedown request that targets one of the most shared files on BitTorrent, Ubuntu releases.

Unlike Hollywood blockbusters Ubuntu distros are released under free software licenses, which means that people are encouraged to share them. In fact, Ubuntu’s official download site offers BitTorrent as one of the options.

For some reason, however, Paramount Pictures is not happy with seeing the popular operating system on torrent sites. In a notice sent out by the movie studio’s anti-piracy partner a few days ago, Google is asked to remove an Ubuntu torrent download page on ExtraTorrent.

According to the notice, the Ubuntu release infringes the copyrights of the movie Transformers: Age of Extinction.

The “infringing” Ubuntu url

ubuntu

It’s a mystery why this URL is targeted as the entire page doesn’t contain any references to Transformers, at least when we checked.

There is a likely possibility that the list of “recent searches” at one point included a Transformers mention, but even then the takedown request would clearly be overbroad.

Despite the obvious non-infringing status of the Ubuntu release, Google moved ahead and removed the page from its search index. Perhaps not surprisingly, considering the volume of requests that the company has to process.

Google currently receives reports for around three million “pirate” URLs per day. While the search engine has some automated filters to catch mistakes, it’s virtually impossible to check all submissions by hand.

URL removed

googlegone

Paramount’s mistake may be relatively harmless, but it shows once again how much can go wrong with these automated DMCA notices. Whether these errors can be rooted out is doubtful as there is very little incentive for copyright holders to improve their accuracy.

Google, however, previously told us that they are determined to prevent abuse and mistakes.

“We still do our best to catch errors or abuse so we don’t mistakenly disable access to non-infringing material. Google continues to put substantial resources into improving and streamlining this process, including into identifying erroneous and abusive takedowns, and deterring abuse,” a spokesperson said.

Luckily, a search for Ubuntu download still features plenty of options.

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

Anti-Piracy Groups Petition Clinton & Trump for Tough Copyright Laws

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-groups-petition-clinton-trump-for-tough-copyright-laws-160907/

trump-clintonAs the presidential election moves towards the home straight, millions of individuals and businesses in the United States are considering how the outcome might affect them.

Unsurprisingly, powerful groups in the entertainment industry are also weighing the implications and with billions at stake, who could blame them.

Of course, just like the rest of the population, neither Hollywood nor the major recording labels have a crystal ball, so in recent months their public lobbying efforts have been mindful of the possibility that either Clinton or Trump could get into power.

This week that trend continued, with the publication of a new open letter and the launch of a petition by two influential anti-piracy groups, the Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture.

The Copyright Alliance is a true powerhouse which counts the MPAA, RIAA, Viacom, Oracle, Getty Images and many other corporations among its members. CreativeFuture is a huge coalition of some 450 companies in the film, television, music, and book publishing sectors.

In their letter addressed to “2016 Political Candidates”, the groups describe themselves as members of the creative community, who despite political differences are united in their goal of reducing piracy.

“While our political views are diverse, as creators, there are core principles on which we can all agree. And we appreciate the opportunity to share our views with our country’s current and future leaders,” the groups write.

What immediately becomes apparent in the letter are the glowing references to the Internet. With lessons learned from the SOPA debacle which was perceived by many as an attack on the world’s most important network, Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture begin by cheerfully praising its positives.

“We embrace the internet as a powerful democratizing force for our world and for creative industries. We recognize its ability to inspire positive change and improve lives,” they write.

“In our creative industries, the internet has helped to advance creativity by removing barriers to entry for newcomers, fostering a dialogue with fans, audiences, and consumers, and providing numerous additional ways to reach them. The internet holds great potential to expand creativity and free expression.”

While one might have strongly expected a ‘but’ at this juncture, the groups are careful not to set up a clash of ideals. It’s not difficult to see that their aim is to quietly assure that the successful protection of copyrighted content does not have to come at the expense of the Internet.

“We embrace a strong copyright system that rewards creativity and promotes a healthy creative economy. The incredible cultural and economic value that the internet delivers to billions of users is based in very large part on the efforts of creative content makers whose livelihoods depend on being compensated for their efforts,” they add.

“Copyright should protect creators from those who would use the internet to undermine creativity. The internet can be a great tool for creators just as it can be a tool for science, education, health care, and many other disciplines. However, when misused, it can harm creativity and stifle freedom of expression.”

And if anyone missed the hints that Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture are supporters of both creative content and the interests of the Internet, the groups quickly take the opportunity to underline that again. However, one gets the impression that their definition of online freedom might not be the same as that championed by Internet activists.

“Our current and future leaders recognize that a safe and secure internet benefits us all. And all parties recognize the importance of strong copyright protections in their technology policy platforms because protecting copyright and internet freedom are both critically important and complementary — they are not mutually exclusive,” they write.

“A truly free internet, like any truly free community, is one where people respect the rights of others and can engage in legitimate activities safely — and where those who do not are held accountable under law by their peers.”

Interestingly, the letter also warns 2016’s political candidates against “organizations and advocates” funded by “online platforms” that claim to be “pro-creators and pro-audience to mask their own self-serving agenda.”

These groups are not mentioned by name but the likes of EFF and Fight for the Future have been spoken of in similar terms and have appeared in negative articles published by the Copyright Alliance earlier this year.

“[The nameless groups] denigrate or block effective efforts to preserve and promote creative content, including enforcement of existing laws and voluntary industry initiatives,” Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture warn, adding:

“The creative community is rightfully wary of any company or organization that claims to be ‘against piracy’ when their actions do not match their words.”

And of course, even if not mentioned by name, no appeal would be complete without a subtle reference to Google and/or YouTube. Trump and Clinton are left to fill in the gaps and asked to do the right thing.

“Internet platforms are making massive profits from creative contributions to the internet’s growth. It is not too much to ask that content creators should be able to share in the value they provide,” the groups write.

With the election likely to go to the wire, Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture are keen to ensure that anti-piracy measures are seen as a universal concern, no matter where people reside on the political spectrum.

“There is no ‘left’ or ‘right’ when it comes to respecting copyright. The creative community stands united in support of a copyright system that will continue to make the United States the global leader in the creative arts and the global paradigm for free expression,” they note.

“Our copyright system is not perfect but, like democracy, it is better than the alternatives. It works. We urge our leaders to maintain America’s commitment to the right of creators to determine when and how they share their works in the global marketplace.”

In support of their open letter, Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture have also launched a Change.org petition in an attempt to get 5,000 signatures supporting their cause.

“Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative or libertarian, strong and effective copyright is not a partisan issue but rather one that benefits our entire country. We ask that you stand with us by adding your name to this letter – to show political candidates that we stand united, we stand creative,” they conclude.

Open Letter to 2016 Political Candidates

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

Swedish ISP Attacks Copyright Trolls, Over Trademark Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/swedish-isp-attacks-copyright-trolls-over-trademark-infringement-160905/

trollsignIn recent years, file-sharers all across the world have been threatened with lawsuits, if they don’t pay a significant settlement fee.

The process was pioneered in Germany where it turned into an industry by itself, but copyright holders have also targeted alleged pirates in the UK, United States, Canada and elsewhere.

Earlier this year, rightsholders began targeting Sweden, with more details appearing in public last week.

One of the organizations leading the way is Spridningskollen (Distribution Check). Using data gathered by German anti-piracy outfit Excipio, they plan to start by targeting around 1,000 alleged pirates, offering them settlements of around $233 (2,000 kronor).

Spridningskollen spokesman Gordon Odenbark compared the process with speeding cameras, where torrent users risk a ‘fine’ if they get caught. This will generate revenue, but could also act as a deterrent, preventing other people from violating rightsholders’ rights.

Interestingly, however, shortly after Spridningskollen announced its plans the group itself faced allegations of intellectual property rights violations. Swedish ISP Bahnhof is accusing the group of trademark infringement, noting that they have a claim on the “spridningskollen” mark.

“Bahnhof was the first to apply for the Spridningskollen trademark rights at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office,” the ISP announced.

Earlier this year Bahnhof was the first ISP to warn the public about the looming flood of settlement requests. To help the public understand the severity of the issue the ISP launched the site Spridningskollen.org, which they say maps the “spread of extortion letters” from copyright holders.

Bahnhof’s Spridningskollen.org

spridningskollen

Now that the anti-piracy group has ‘stolen’ their name, Bahnhof plans to take action over the apparent trademark infringement.

“It is surprising that those who claim to defend intellectual property rights don’t track it better themselves. It says a lot about the quality level of their so-called initiative,” Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung says.

The ISP is demanding that the website of the anti-piracy group, Spridningskollen.se, is shut down.

“Our lawyers are looking into it. We see the many different ways that interfere with their operation. Extortion letters are unethical, anachronistic and counter-productive,” Karlung says.

In addition, Bahnhof is calling on the Government to reform copyright law in order to prevent excessive and overbroad enforcement tactics.

Until then, the ISP vows to protect its subscribers from the copyright trolling practice as best as they can. This means that if copyright holders demand IP-address info and user details from Bahnhof, they will fight this in court.

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

Warner Bros. Flags Its Own Website as a Piracy Portal

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/warner-bros-flags-website-piracy-portal-160904/

warnerThe movie industry has gone head to head with Google in recent years, demanding tougher anti-piracy measures from the search engine.

According to Warner Bros. and other major studios, Google makes it too easy for its users to find pirated content. Instead, they would prefer Google to remove sites such as The Pirate Bay from search results entirely.

Warner itself is also taking action, by reporting pirated content to the search engine, asking it to be removed from the index. This year the movie studio intensified its efforts and thus far it has flagged over four million allegedly infringing URLs.

We use the term allegedly with good reason, as not all of the reports are accurate. In fact, this week we stumbled upon recent takedown requests that have some glaring errors.

With help from its anti-piracy partner Vobile, Warner asked Google to censor several of its own URLs from the search engine.

The screenshot below, taken from the following DMCA notice, lists the official Warner page of the 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight among various reported pirate links.

Dark Knight

warnerbrosdarkknight

The same notice also lists another Warnerbros.com URL for the sci-fi classic The Matrix. Again, Vobile asks Google to remove this link from search results, acting on behalf of the Hollywood studio.

The Matrix

warnerbrosmatrix

The apparent ‘self-censorship’ is not a one-off mistake either. A few days earlier, a similar DMCA takedown notice targeted Warner’s website, claiming that the official page for The Lucky One is infringing Warner’s copyrights.

The Lucky One

warnerbrosluckyone

Of course, Warner only hurts itself with these erroneous takedown requests. Unfortunately, however, Warnerbros.com is not the only ‘legitimate’ domain that’s being targeted.

The same notices highlighted above also target a link to the Amazon store, where users can rent or buy a copy of The Dark Knight. In addition, it targets a link to Batman Begins in the Sky Cinema store, as well as the film’s official IMDb page.

In other words, Warner is inadvertently trying to make it harder for the public to find links to legitimate content, which runs counter to their intentions.

Luckily for the Hollywood studio, Google is there to save the day. The search engine spotted their mistakes and decided to take no action for the Amazon, Sky and IMDb links.

The Warnerbros.com URLs are still under investigation though, perhaps to make the studio sweat a little.

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

Publishers Fail to Block Russia’s Top Search Engine Over Pirate Links

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/publishers-fail-to-block-russias-top-search-engine-over-pirate-links-160903/

blocked-censorLike many countries around the world, Russia is trying to do what it can to limit Internet piracy. Copyright holders feel that if infringement can be reigned in, the legitimate market will flourish.

In common with the United States and Europe, Russian service providers are expected to remove pirate content when asked to by rights holders. The country also has a streamlined backup system via the courts if service providers won’t comply.

Back in August, Eksmo, a publisher responsible for around 30% of all Russian books, filed a complaint with Yandex, the country’s largest search engine. Through anti-piracy outfit AZAPO, Eksmo complained that Yandex was allowing links to pirated content to appear in its search results.

There were no allegations that Yandex directly hosted any of the pirate material. Eksmo said that unauthorized digital copies of several books were hosted by users of Russia’s most popular torrent site, RuTracker, and that links to those torrents appeared in Yandex’s results.

According to a copy of the complaint obtained by Gazeta, Yandex was given 48 hours to “cease publishing any information necessary to access the forbidden resource rutracker.org.” Yandex did not remove the results.

In response, Eksmo and AZAPO chose to file a copyright complaint with the Moscow City Court. Complaints to this Court kickstart a process through which non-compliant domains can find themselves blocked by local ISPs for an initial period of 14 days before a full case is heard.

Eksmo and AZAPO hoped to set a precedent which would force search engines to remove ‘pirate’ links to RuTracker, a domain already blocked in Russia. It wasn’t to be.

According to a statement obtained by news outlet Vedomosti, the Moscow Court rejected the application for preliminary blocking measures against Yandex, a company with 57.6% of the local search market.

According to a Court spokesperson, the judge found no grounds for issuing a blocking order since Eksmo failed to show that Yandex had violated the rights of the books’ author.

One of the problems with Eksmo’s request was that when examining the evidence, the Court found that the links in Yandex’s search results failed to link to the copyrighted works in question. Ironically, it appears those links may have failed due to the fact that RuTracker is already blocked by all Russian ISPs.

In response to the decision, Yandex spokesperson Vladimir Isayev said that the complaint had only been received from the publisher last week. Furthermore, the RuTracker links referenced in the claim also appear on other search engines and websites. So, following Eksmo’s logic, any site could find itself blocked had the Court ruled in the publisher’s favor.

Finally, Isayev noted that the courts have previously recognized that Yandex is a search engine, not an information broker, and as such cannot affect the accessibility of documents stored elsewhere on the Internet.

And so the battle continues.

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