Tag Archives: Anti-Piracy

Denuvo Weakens After ‘Inside’ Gets Cracked in Record Time

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/denuvo-weakens-after-inside-cracked-in-record-time-160824/

denuvoDozens of anti-piracy techniques have been tested over the years on formats ranging from cassette tapes to digital downloads, but for pirates the lure of free content is both intoxicating and enduring.

In recent years, games developers have come to accept that piracy cannot be eradicated entirely, but it can be slowed down. The main aim in the modern era is to stop games leaking in the days, weeks and early months following their launch. This allows titles, especially those with high production costs, to make the best of those crucial early days.

In no insignificant terms that breathing room has been provided by Austrian anti-piracy outfit Denuvo. Its anti-tamper technology is quite possibly the best there is and as a result, many so-called AAA titles have remained piracy free since their launch. Just recently, however, significant cracks (excuse the pun) have appeared in its armor.

Early this month, a ‘Scene’ group called CONSPIR4CY properly cracked an iteration of Denuvo that had been protecting Rise of the Tomb Raider (ROTTR). The news had many pirates extremely excited.

While undoubtedly a momentous occasion, ROTTR had been released in January, meaning that in theory CONSPIR4CY might have worked on the crack for six or seven months, a lifetime for most pirates. Furthermore, half a year’s head start is huge for the title’s developers in terms of sales, so without doubt Denuvo had done its job.

Yesterday, however, there was a new development which might represent a more worrying chink in Denuvo’s defenses.

With a lack of fanfare usually associated with some of the Scene’s more mature groups, CONSPIR4CY (a reported collaboration between the CPY and CODEX groups) released a fully cracked version of puzzle-platformer ‘Inside

inside-nfo

The importance here is that while ROTTR enjoyed six months without having to compete with free, Inside was released for Windows on July 7, 2016. No one but CONSPIR4CY knows precisely when they began chipping away at the game’s protection but even if they started on day one, it has taken only six weeks to defeat it.

There is some speculation that Inside took less time to crack because in storage terms it’s a smaller sized game that ROTTR. That being said, it will be of little consolation to Danish developer Playdead who will have paid Denuvo handsomely for their protection.

With CONSPIR4CY all but impossible to find, let alone obtain a comment from, TorrentFreak asked game cracker Royalgamer06, a colleague of Voksi who found a Denuvo workaround earlier this month, for his thoughts on the new release.

“It’s quite obvious that CONSPIR4CY is beating Denuvo. At least the current Denuvo protection,” Royalgamer06 told TF.

“Inside’s Denuvo protection is quite recent and therefore we could expect all sorts of Denuvo (Steam) games coming from [CONSPIR4CY].”

Royalgamer06 believes that it may have only taken CONSPIR4CY two weeks to crack Inside and that another big game’s debut (also Denuvo protected) might have influenced the pirate release yesterday.

“It took [CONSPIR4CY] two weeks. They either waited to release it (just before the new Deus Ex game is nice timing) or it’s all the time it took them to patch all in-game triggers and polish the crack,” he explains.

So all eyes now turn to the brand new release of Deus Ex Mankind Divided. If that game is quickly cracked by CONSPIR4CY, Denuvo could be coming out in a cold sweat. In the meantime, others are also attempting to dismantle their empire.

“Voksi is also up to something,” Royalgamer06 concludes.

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

PIPCU’s Operation Creative Gets New Leader & New Backers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pipcus-operation-creative-gets-new-leader-new-backers-160823/

Back in 2013, major torrent sites began receiving letters from the UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), a City of London Police unit tasked with identifying organized crime groups in order to disrupt their activities.

Behind the scenes, the fledgling Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) had been working with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and The Publishers Association with the aim of closing as many torrent and streaming sites as possible.

In time, this initiative became known as Operation Creative, a multi-pronged effort to reduce piracy using a variety of tactics, including the targeting of domains and the disruption of revenue streams.

The latter included the development of the Infringing Website List (IWL), a blacklist of websites distributed to potential advertisers and agencies who are asked to boycott the domains in the name of supporting creators.

The police, on the other hand, reportedly placed their own ads on some ‘pirate’ sites in an effort to scare would-be pirates.

Operation Creative is now in its third year and with that anniversary comes the appointment of a brand new senior officer to head up the initiative.

Detective Constable Steve Salway joins PIPCU having spent time at the National Fraud Investigation Bureau (NFIB) as a disruptions team investigator. During his time there, Salway is reported to have overseen the closure of “hundreds of criminal websites” worldwide.

While NFIB is involved in tackling IP infringement, the unit also has responsibility for investigating a wide variety of online crimes including financial fraud and identity theft. Salway’s work there crossed over with PIPCU operations and enticed him in.

“Operation Creative is leading the way in disrupting UK online digital piracy, and now it’s time to take success to the next level by exploring different tactics like maximising disruption opportunities around criminal revenue,” Salway says.

“My experience in tackling online crime and closing down criminal internet infrastructures will be applied to all future referrals and I am proud to be part of this new era for the initiative.”

PIPCU’s new dedicated officer puts the successes of Operation Creative down to the strength of the partnerships the police have forged with the private sector.

In addition to FACT, BPI and The PA, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), PRS for music and the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) are all members. Coinciding with Salway’s appointment, the initiative now welcomes a new member in the form of the Music Publishers Association (MPA).

The MPA has a mission to “safeguard and promote” the interests of music publishers and writers while representing their interests to government, the rest of the industry, and the public. It currently boast around 260 members and 4,000 music catalogues.

“I am pleased to welcome the Music Publishers Association to the Operation Creative initiative,” says PIPCU head Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe.

“The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit is committed to reducing the impact of intellectual property crime on the UK’s creative industries and in Creative we have a wonderful tool to disrupt the infringers’ revenue streams and hit them where it hurts them the most.”

While providing no specific details, Ratcliffe says that since Operation Creative is “entering a new phase”, new supporters will help strengthen its ranks.

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

Cox Denies Liability for Pirating Subscribers, Appeals $25 Million Verdict

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-denies-liability-for-pirating-subscribers-appeals-25-million-verdict-160822/

cox-logoLast December 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 must pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

The verdict was a massive victory for the music company and a disaster for Cox, but the case is not closed yet.

After a failed motion for judgment as a matter of law earlier this month, the ISP has now informed the court that it will take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Cox denies any wrongdoing and hopes to get a judgment in its favor at the appeals court.

Cox’s appeal notice

coxappeal

Considering the gravity of the case, Cox’s move is not surprising. The liability verdict has come as a shock to the Internet provider industry, as it suggests that providers have to actively disconnect repeat infringers.

At the moment, many ISPs don’t have a solid policy in place where repeat copyright infringers lose their subscription. In fact, the law doesn’t prescribe when and based on what evidence an ISP has to terminate an account.

Up until now, several Internet providers argued that only a court could determine if a subscriber is a repeat infringer, but with the Cox verdict this has now become uncertain.

After the appeal, which is expected to take several months at least, both Cox and BMG still have the option to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp is using the current verdict to threaten other ISPs to forward their notices. Thus far, however, this doesn’t appear to have had much effect.

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

Fail: Anti-Piracy Outfits Send Takedown Request For Non-Existent Torrents

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fail-anti-piracy-outfits-send-takedown-request-for-non-existent-torrents-160821/

failOver the past years a lot has been said about the effectiveness and accuracy of DMCA takedown practices.

Rightsholders often complain that it’s impossible to keep content offline, while critics warn about mistakes caused by automated takedown bots.

The latter has been illustrated anecdotally, but we recently stumbled upon a rather worrying development that illustrates just how far anti-piracy groups are prepared to go when it comes to fabricating “evidence”.

One of the companies involved is IP-Echelon, which sends takedown notices on behalf of HBO and Paramount Pictures, among others.

Looking through their recent submissions we see notices targeting sites that allegedly distribute popular content such as recent episodes of Game of Thrones, Ballers, and Silicon Valley.

Among the sites reported are The Pirate Bay, ExtraTorrent and various lesser known sites. However, our eye was drawn to Zoink.it and Torrage.com.

The latter two have been operating as so-called torrent caches for a long time. These don’t have a searchable index of torrents, but serve as a hosting platform for torrent sites, identifying torrents by their unique hash.

For example, a torrent for an episode of Ballers that aired a few weeks ago has the hash C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513. This file would then be available at Zoink under the following url:

zoink.it/torrent/C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513.torrent.

We say would be, because Zoink.it was shut down at the end of 2014. The same is true for the other torrent cache, Torrage, which has been offline for quite a while as well.

However, the takedown notices IP-Echelon sends on behalf of HBO and Paramount pictures still list these sites with hashes of new torrents, which never existed when the sites were still online.

ballers

How can this be? Well, it seems obvious that IP-Echelon is fabricating URLs based on torrent hashes without checking if they even exist. This isn’t an isolated mistake either, as the company is sending dozens of these fabricated notices per month.

In this case, no harm has been done. The sites in question are offline and can’t be punished by Google’s downranking algorithm. However, the fact that they keep fabricating links more than a year after sites have disappeared, shows that there is little oversight.

TorrentFreak spoke to the former hosting provider of Zoink and Torrage who confirms that both sites remain targeted, and not just by IP-Echelon.

Indian anti-piracy outfit MarkScan is also sending takedown notices to Zoink and Torrage’s former hosting provider on a regular basis, we were informed. In addition, the company is also sending takedown requests to Google for new torrents, as does Rico Management.

It’s safe to say that these anti-piracy outfits are quite sloppy, to say the least. Of course, copyright holders have the right to protect their content, but they have to play by the rules.

Making up evidence certainly doesn’t look good in this regard.

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

Google Saves Anthropoid Movie From Anti-Piracy Meltdown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-saves-anthropoid-movie-from-anti-piracy-meltdown-160820/

anthropoidAnthropoid is a new historical thriller which tells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking German Nazi official during World War II, and one of the main architects of the Holocaust.

The movie has been getting mixed reviews so for those worried that their investment may leave them underwhelmed, a pirate copy is often the solution.

In the early days following a release, file-sharers often have to put up with so-called ‘cam’ or camcorder copies. Nearly always of low quality, these are often avoided by those who don’t mind waiting for a better release. Nevertheless, studios feel that any copy is a threat and they often hire anti-piracy companies to purge them from the web.

That’s exactly what New York City-based film distribution company Bleecker Street did to protect the release of Anthropoid with their hiring of India-based anti-piracy outfit MarkScan. On August 12, on the day of the movie’s release in the US, MarkScan began sending takedowns to Google.

However, there was a ‘small’ problem. Anthropoid hadn’t even been leaked online yet.

In a notice to Google targeting 66 unique domains, MarkScan demanded the removal of dozens of allegedly infringing links. Of course, not a single one related to a leak of the full movie. As can be seen in the sample below, many links reference sites that appear to have the movie but in fact only carry the official trailer.

anthropoid-dmca

But while taking down the official trailer is enough to ensure that fewer people are aware of the movie’s existence, MarkScan weren’t finished yet, not by a long way.

The very first link in the notice targets a completely unrelated and entirely legal short film which just happens to use the word ‘Anthropoid’ in its description.

The third link – and this is a good one – attempts to stop anyone on Twitter finding the movie using the hashtag ‘Anthropoid’ by asking Google to remove ‘https://twitter.com/hashtag/anthropoid’ from its search indexes.

What follows is a car crash of sizeable proportions, with MarkScan attempting to take down promotional material and video clips from the Wall Street Journal, People.com, The Hollywood Reporter, and many other sites discussing the title.

As if that wasn’t enough, MarkScan then places the BBC in its sights, demanding that Google removes its world radio and TV homepage from the company’s search results, for no apparent reason.

anthropoid-dmca2

Fortunately, Google spotted this disastrous notice before it did any real harm and refused to remove any links. That means that the many reviews the company tried to wipe out will stand, as will the BBC’s radio and TV page.

However, it boggles the mind to think that an anti-piracy outfit would send such a notice (and presumably charge the distributor for it) before taking the time to check that the movie had actually been leaked online. But by now, that’s not really a surprise, especially given MarkScan’s earlier efforts.

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

BREIN Tracks Down Facebook Music Pirate, Settles for €7,000

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-tracks-down-facebook-music-pirate-settles-for-e7000-160818/

facebook-shareDutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted operators of pirate sites for over a decade but more recently it began going after individual file-sharers as well.

The rightsholder-backed group has targeted Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents uploaders, for example, as well as a prolific Usenet uploader.

Today BREIN announces another success in its ongoing anti-piracy quest. The group obtained an ex-parte court order against a man who uploaded music to a cyberlocker which he then shared to a Facebook group.

According to BREIN the man and other members of the Dutch Facebook group shared pirated music as a hobby, gaining recognition for the links they posted.

Presented with the court order, the man agreed to stop his activities and pay a €7,000 settlement. In a message posted to the Facebook group he announced the reason for his sudden departure.

“Ladies and gentlemen, by order of BREIN I have to stop uploading music. I will therefore quit effective immediately. In addition, I will leave the group today, both as administrator and as a member.”

“I wish everyone all the best,” he concludes, noting that he faces an additional fine up to €50,000 if he continues sharing links to pirated content.

The €7,000 settlement is lower than those negotiated in previous cases closed by BREIN. The anti-piracy group says that it bases the amount on the financial circumstances of the uploaders, suggesting that the man has a lower income than some of the previous defendants.

BREIN doesn’t explain how it tracked down the uploader in question, but it seems likely that his Facebook account exposed him. Whether Facebook also assisted in the investigation is unknown.

Initially, the Facebook music sharing group continued to operate, but it was closed shortly thereafter. In addition, Facebook closed several similar groups after reports from BREIN.

It’s clear that the anti-piracy group is targeting uploaders of all shapes and sizes. In addition, it continues to keep its eyes on linking sites and cyberlockers.

“Among cyberlockers are many who deceitfully use the limitation of liability for hosting services. They have ineffective Notice & Takedown policies, which ensure that their main source of revenue, unauthorized entertainment content, continues to exist,” BREIN notes.

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

Anti-Piracy Firm Rightcorp Continues to Lose Big Money

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-firm-rightcorp-continues-to-lose-big-money-160817/

rightscorpFor several years, piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has been trying to turn piracy into profit.

The company sends DMCA notices to ISPs and bundles these with settlement demands, intended for Internet subscribers who allegedly shared pirated content. If the accused subscribers pay $30, they avoid further trouble.

Rightscorp works with prominent copyright holders including music licensing group BMG and movie studio Warner Bros. However, thus far they haven’t been able to turn their scheme into a success.

Instead, the company has been turning a loss quarter after quarter, a trend that continues with its most recent financial figures published this week.

According to the latest financial report, Rightscorp generated just $146,043 in revenue during the second quarter of 2016. That’s 38% less than the $233,816 it made during the same period last year.

The costs during the same period were substantial, $671,781, meaning that Rightscorp recorded a loss of over half a million during the past three months. A significant amount, but due to reduced operating expenses it’s better than the $1,7 million loss it recorded last year.

rightcorrevenue

One of Rightscorp’s problems, as previously highlighted, is that many ISPs refuse to forward their settlement requests. Some Internet providers flat-out refuse to forward Rightscorp’s notices and others, such as Comcast, remove the settlement part.

ISPs’ refusal to forward notices is also one of the reasons that was given for the disappointing numbers for the most recent quarter.

Rightscorp recently celebrated a court success, where Cox was ordered to pay $25 million because they failed to properly respond to its DMCA notices. This prompted the anti-piracy firm to threaten every ISP in the country, but whether that will have any effect has yet to be seen.

Under U.S. law Internet providers are not required to forward DMCA notices to their subscribers, and if they choose to do so they can remove the settlement request. With this in mind, Rightscorp’s aggressive stance may actually work against them.

After losing the court case Cox has started to process Rightscorp’s notices, but whether they also forward the settlement requests is unknown.

Interestingly, the biggest settlement news of the year actually goes against Rightscorp. The company and several copyright holders, including Hollywood studio Warner Bros, previously agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over intimidating robo-calls.

As a result, more than 2,000 accused pirates are eligible for a $100 settlement each, and according to the quarterly report Rightscorp has set aside $200,000 to cover these costs.

Ironically, that’s more than the revenue the company itself generated from settlements over the past several months.

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

International Olympic Committee Cracks Down on Periscope Pirates

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/international-olympic-committee-cracks-down-on-periscope-pirates-160816/

perigoneThe International Olympic Committee (IOC) is known to maintain a tight grip on its intellectual property rights.

Using an image of the Olympic rings or even just the world ‘Olympic’ can lead to legal trouble, especially in a commercial context.

Most valuable, however, are the broadcast rights. With literally billions of dollars at stake, the IOC is going all out to prevent people from streaming its events without permission.

In previous years we’ve seen a crackdown on torrents, with the IOC targeting The Pirate Bay. Nowadays, however, live streaming appears to be a bigger target, including homemade rebroadcasts using Twitter’s Periscope.

Over the past week the IOC has sent hundreds of takedown notices to Periscope, targeting live streams of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

While most Periscope streams are of a horrible quality, with only a few dozen viewers, they’re seen as a legitimate threat. As a result, the IOC has hired a dedicated team of investigators to track down and report these and other unauthorized streams.

At the time of writing, Periscope has received around 1,000 takedown requests from the IOC for infringing footage from Rio, and this number continues to rise.

Periscope Olympics

perisoly

Periscope is the only live streaming service that publicly shares its takedown notices with the Lumen database but it’s safe to say that the IOC also targets other sites and services. These include dedicated sports streaming sites offering high-quality streams.

Besides the rebroadcasting of the official TV-signal, the IOC also explicitly forbids the use of Periscope and similar apps to broadcast footage at official Olympic venues. This means that visitors and accredited persons are not allowed to live-stream inside any of the stadiums.

“Broadcasting images via live-streaming applications (e.g. Periscope, Meerkat) is prohibited inside Olympic venues,” IOC’s digital media guidelines state (pdf).

Rules or no rules, it appears that thousands of Periscope users are happily streaming live events. And even if they all stopped, the anti-piracy efforts seem rather futile.

Besides homebrew live-streams there are numerous dedicated streaming sites that continue to offer high-quality footage of the Olympics.

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

Rightscorp Threatens Every ISP in the United States

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/rightscorp-threatens-every-isp-united-states-160812/

rightscorpThis week was one to forget for United States service provider Cox Communications after a federal court in Virginia found it 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 filed in 2014 after it was alleged that Cox failed to pass on cash settlement demands to customers that were sent by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp on behalf of BMG. The ISP also failed to take firm action against repeat infringers.

Now, with a BMG victory on the record, Rightscorp has come out swinging. Welcoming the decision of Judge Liam O’Grady, the anti-piracy outfit says that its long-held position, that ISPs must comply with its wishes, has been proven accurate.

“For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights,” the company said in a statement.

“Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it was simply impossible for an ISP to be held liable for its subscribers’ actions — even when the ISP had been put on notice of massive infringements and supplied with detailed evidence. There had never been a judicial decision holding an ISP liable.”

Of course, that changed this week with Judge O’Grady’s decision, and Rightscorp CEO Christopher Sabec couldn’t be happier.

“Although Rightscorp was not a party in this case, we are delighted with the outcome. The Federal District Court declared the liability of ISPs to be precisely what Rightscorp has been saying it is for years,” Sabec says.

“With this final Federal Court ruling, not only has our position on ISP liability been confirmed, but our Company’s technology and processes for collecting and documenting evidence of peer-to-peer copyright infringement on ISP networks has been validated as well.”

While Rightscorp was expected to make the most of BMG’s victory in its future dealings with ISPs, the level of aggression in its announcement still comes as a surprise. Essentially putting every provider in the country on notice, Rightscorp warns that ISPs will now have to cooperate or face the wrath of litigious rightsholders.

“As we have consistently told ISPs, we stand ready to assist those ISPs that desire to work in a constructive way with the copyright community in order to reduce the massive infringements that occur every day on their networks,” Sabec says.

“But our company has also amassed a vast amount of data documenting infringements that have occurred over the past five years on the network of essentially every ISP in the country. That data will be made available to copyright holders that wish to enforce their rights against ISPs that are not inclined toward a cooperative solution.”

Whether this week’s developments will help to pull Rightscorp out of the financial doldrums will remain to be seen. The company has been teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for a couple of years now, and its shares on Wednesday were worth just $0.038 each. Following the BMG news, they peaked at $0.044.

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

Denuvo Properly Cracked, “Rise of the Tomb Raider” First Victim

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/denuvo-properly-cracked-rise-of-the-tomb-raider-first-victim-160809/

denuvoOver the years, many anti-piracy systems have ruffled the feathers of video game pirates but none have done so to the extent Denuvo has.

Not a DRM technology its own right, Denuvo is software that acts as an anti-tamper mechanism, thwarting the efforts of so-called crackers who want to make games available for free.

Before this weekend, just one Denuvo-protected title had appeared online. FIFA 16’s protection was bypassed, not cracked (a subtle but important detail), by Turk DM. Nevertheless, pirates never take even a bypass for granted – free games are free games, after all.

Then this weekend, the floodgates opened. A cracker known as Voksi found a loophole in Steam which allowed many Denuvo-protected titles to be played for free. It was another bypass, one powered by a secret sauce.

“His secret method for defeating Denuvo was beer, tons of it,” Voksi colleague Royalgamer06 told TorrentFreak.

Royalgamer06 confirms that Voksi hails from Bulgaria and the pair met on a forum where they shared a passion for cracking games.

“Voksi has been cracking for a number of years now. We met each other on [a Russian forum]. We both were releasing so-called ‘Steamworks fixed’, which allowed pirates to play cracked games online through Steam,” he says.

“Somehow he found out about this exploit. At first, he couldn’t believe it himself. But after several tests it really worked. And then he got really excited and released it. This got the whole piracy community excited, which motivated Voksi even more.”

And exciting it was too. After the Doom release came several other titles including Return of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, Homefront: The Revolution, ABZU, INSIDE and Total War WARHAMMER.

“It’s a Denuvo bypass technically,” Royalgamer06 explains

“It relies on an exploit using the DOOM Demo Denuvo activation. Voksi had to make different memory patches for each game to work. But the principle remained the same. So many pirates have been able to play and finish these games.”

Indeed, according to stats provided by Voksi, an estimated 650K people used his bypass method over the weekend. It apparently somehow calls back home to him, hence the figures.

But then yesterday, as thousands of pirates celebrated the surprise fall of Denuvo, misery struck. Voksi’s workaround was defeated.

“Voksi’s exploit has been patched by Denuvo now,” Royalgamer06 told TF last night.

“They disabled activations for the DOOM demo, which the bypass relied on. It took them three days to do it. Seems the Denuvo guys don’t work at the weekend.”

But as the storm clouds gathered over pirate haunts everywhere and the sun beamed down on Denuvo in Austria, even bigger news appeared on the horizon. A single line of text on so-called pre-databases (sites that signal pirate releases) indicated that a big name in the piracy scene had made amazing progress.

‘Rise.Of.The.Tomb.Raider.READNFO-CONSPIR4CY’ references a release by a ‘Scene’ group known as CONSPIR4CY, a reported collaboration between CPY and CODEX.

More than a bypass of Denuvo, this release of the latest Tomb Raider game appears to contain the Holy Grail – a bona fide crack of Denuvo.

denuvo-cpy

Predictably and despite its size, the 31GB file is now hot property on file-sharing sites. It comes updated with the latest patch and includes three DLCs including Baba Yaga: The Temple of the Witch, Cold Darkness Awakened and Endurance Mode.

But while CONSPIR4CY (whose motto is “Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned) have undoubtedly achieved something amazing in pirate terms, the Denuvo battle is probably far from won.

Thus far only Tomb Raider has fallen, and that was released in January this year, meaning that the title had more than six months clear run at piracy-free sales. That being said, no one knows when CONSPIR4CY began working on Denuvo.

In any event, optimism is high for more Denuvo titles being released soon.

“Who knows what more Denuvo games get released now,” Royalgamer06 says.

“Denuvo’s reputation will get crushed at this rate for sure. First they let this big [Voksi] exploit happen and now their infamous protection gets fully cracked by CONSPIR4CY.

“Seems like there really is no way to beat piracy,” he concludes.

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

Torrentz Gone, KAT Down, Are Torrent Giants Doomed to Fall?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrentz-gone-kat-down-are-torrent-giants-doomed-to-fall-160806/

bomb-explosion-atomicAt TorrentFreak we have been keeping a close eye on the torrent ecosystem for more than a decade.

During this time, many sites have shut down, either voluntarily or forced by a court order.

This week meta-search engine Torrentz joined this ever-expanding list. In what appears to be a voluntary action, the site waved its millions of users farewell without prior warning.

The site’s operators have yet to explain their motivations. However, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if the continued legal pressure on torrent sites played a major role, with KAT as the most recent example.

And let’s be honest. Running a site that could make you the target of an FBI investigation, facing over a dozen years in prison, is no joke.

Looking back at the largest torrent sites of the past 15 years, we see a familiar pattern emerge. Many of the sites that make it to the top eventually fall down, often due to legal pressure.

Suprnova (2004)

Suprnova was one of the first ever BitTorrent giants. Founded by the Slovenian-born Andrej Preston, the site dominated the torrent scene during the early days.

It was also one of the first torrent sites to be targeted by the authorities. In November 2004 the site’s servers were raided, and a month later Preston, aka Sloncek, decided to shut it down voluntarily. The police investigation was eventually dropped a few months later.

Lokitorrent (2005)

When Suprnova went down a new site was quick to fill its void. LokiTorrent soon became one of the largest torrent sites around, which also attracted the attention of the MPAA.

LokiTorrent’s owner Ed Webber said he wanted to fight the MPAA and actively collected donations to pay for the legal costs. With success, as he raised over $40,000 in a few weeks.

However, not long after that, LokiTorrent was shut down, and all that was left was the iconic “You can click but you can’t hide” MPAA notice.

clickhide

TorrentSpy (2008)

In 2006 TorrentSpy was more popular than any other BitTorrent site. This quickly changed when it was sued by the MPAA. In 2007 a federal judge ordered TorrentSpy to log all user data and the site opted to ban all U.S. traffic in response.

March 2008 TorrentSpy owner Justin Bunnell decided to shut down completely and not much later his company was ordered to pay the Hollywood studios $110 million in damages.

Mininova (2009)

After TorrentSpy’s demise, Mininova became the largest torrent site on the net. The name was inspired by Suprnova, but in 2008 the site was many times larger than its predecessor.

Its popularity eventually resulted in a lawsuit from local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, which Mininova lost. As a result, the site had to remove all infringing torrents, a move which effectively ended its reign.

Today the site is still online, limiting uploads to pre-approved publishers, making it a ghost of the giant it was in the past.

BTJunkie (2012)

In 2012, shortly after the Megaupload raid, torrent site BTJunkie shut down voluntarily.

Talking to TorrentFreak, BTjunkie’s founder said that the legal actions against other file-sharing sites played an important role in making the difficult decision. Witnessing all the trouble his colleagues got into was a constant cause of worry and stress.

“We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best,” he wrote in a farewell message.

btjunkie

isoHunt (2013)

The shutdown of isoHunt a year later wasn’t much of a surprise. The site had been fighting a legal battle with the MPAA for over a decade and eventually lost, agreeing to pay the movie studios a $110m settlement.

As one of the oldest and largest sites at the time, the torrent ecosystem lost another icon. However, as is often the case, another site with the same name quickly took over and is still operating today.

EZTV (2015)

The story of EZTV’s demise is quite different from the rest. The popular TV-torrent distribution group shut down last year after a hostile takeover.

Strangely enough, many people don’t even realize that it’s “gone.” The site continued to operate under new ownership and still releases torrents. However, in solidarity with the original founders these torrents are banned on several other sites.

YIFY/YTS (2015)

What started as a simple movie release group in 2010 turned into one of the largest torrent icons. The group amassed a huge following and its website was generating millions of pageviews per day early last year.

In November 2015 this ended abruptly. Facing a million dollar lawsuit from Hollywood, the group’s founder decided to pull the plug and call it quits. Even though various copycats have since emerged, the real YIFY/YTS is no more.

KickassTorrents (2016)

Three weeks ago Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. The arrest resulted in the shutdown of the site, which came as a shock to millions of KAT users and the torrent community at large.

Out of nowhere, the largest torrent index disappeared and there are no signs that it’s coming back anytime soon. The site’s community, meanwhile, has found a new home at Katcr.to.

Torrentz (2016)

Torrentz is the last torrent site to cease its operations. Although no official explanation was given, some of the stories outlined above were probably weighed into the founders’ decision.

So what will the future bring? Who will be the next giant to fall? It’s obvious that nearly nothing last forever in the torrent ecosystem. Well, apart from the ever-resilient Pirate Bay.

And there are several other alternatives still around as well. ExtraTorrent has been around for a decade now and continues to grow, and the same is true for other popular torrent sites.

At least, for now…

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

MPAA Anti-Piracy Cutbacks Lead to “Bullying” Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-anti-piracy-cutbacks-lead-to-bullying-lawsuit-160804/

mpaThe Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft was viewed by many as the country’s leading anti-piracy outfit. Financed by the major Hollywood studios, AFACT was front and center of most major copyright battles Down Under since its inception in 2004.

Perhaps most notably, AFACT was the group that spearheaded the prolonged and ultimately unsuccessful legal action that aimed to force local ISP iiNet to disconnect Internet users for alleged piracy.

For several years, AFACT was headed up by Neil Gane, a former Hong Kong Police Inspector who had worked with the MPAA against piracy across Asia. In 2014, when AFACT became known by the more friendly name of the Australian Screen Association (ASA), Gane left the organization to return to Hong Kong.

There Gane headed up the newly created Asia Pacific Internet Centre (APIC), a regional anti-piracy, policy, research and training hub for the Motion Picture Association (MPA) Asia Pacific.

Gane was replaced as head of ASA/AFACT by Mark Day, a former regional legal counsel at the MPA and the group’s main representative in China. Between 2001 and 2009, Day oversaw multiple criminal and civil cases prosecuted by MPA members.

Now, however, Day’s career at the ASA appears to be over. After just a year in his new role, Day was fired from the top job. In response, he’s now suing his former employer and former AFACT chief Neil Gane for allegedly doing so illegally.

According to court papers filed in Federal Court and first reported by SMH, in 2015 the MPAA made a decision to significantly reduce ASA’s budget.

In response, ASA director Mike Ellis, a veteran of the MPA and its Asia Pacific president, decided to dismiss Day in November 2015 to take over the position himself. Day was on sick leave at the time.

Day later fought back, claiming through his lawyer that he’d been working in a hostile workplace and had been the victim of bullying. He’s now suing the ASA, Mike Ellis and Neil Gane, for discrimination and punishing him for exercising his workplace rights.

According to SMH, Day is seeking compensation for economic loss, psychological injury, pain, suffering, humiliation, and damage to his professional reputation.

While Day’s lawsuit could yield some interesting facts about the anti-piracy operations of the MPA, the dismissal of the former ASA boss in the face of MPAA cuts is the broader story.

As revealed in May this year, the MPAA is also set to withdraw funding from the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft before the end of 2016, ending a 30-year relationship with the group.

Local funding for FACT was withdrawn in favor of financing larger regional hubs with a wider remit, in FACT’s case the MPA’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) hub in Brussels.

In ASA’s case, it’s clear that the MPA has decided that its recently-formed Asia Pacific Internet Centre (APIC) will be its regional anti-piracy powerhouse and where its local funding will be concentrated in future.

The MPA’s regional hubs are said to offer the studios “a nimble local presence and a direct relationship with local law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, the MPAA’s head office remains in Los Angeles.

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

BREIN Settles With Prolific Usenet Uploader for €15,000

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-settles-with-prolific-usenet-uploader-for-e15000-160804/

usenetDutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted operators of pirate sites for more than a decade, and more recently it started going after uploaders as well.

The rightsholder-backed group doesn’t target random file-sharers but mostly focuses on prolific uploaders.

Over the past few months the group has gone after several torrent site uploaders, with some success. However, BREIN’s enforcement actions go further than BitTorrent alone, they also keep an eye on Usenet.

This week the anti-piracy group announced that it has settled a dispute with a large-scale Usenet uploader, who shared over 18,000 music albums, discographies, and compilations.

The man agreed to pay €15,000 in damages and stop his activities effective immediately. If not, an ex-parte court order requires him to pay an additional fine up to €50,000

According to court records, BREIN used the message-id of NZB files to confirm that the man was indeed the uploader, and also linked these to posts he made on NZB spot-sites.

After he received the court order, the uploader posted a message on one such site informing fellow users that he had been forced to quit.

“This morning I was ‘honored’ with a visit from the bailiff on behalf of BREIN. To cut a long story short, I am sentenced to pay a hefty sum of money for my work as a spotter / poster. Perhaps there are people who would just continue, but I’m out,” the uploader wrote.

BREIN director Tim Kuik is happy with the outcome and stresses that they have their sights set on pirates of all kinds.

“BREIN previously announced that it would expand its actions against illegal uploaders. This doesn’t only affect BitTorrent uploaders as in previous cases this year, but also uploaders to Usenet and file-hosters or cyberlockers” Kuik says.

“In addition to the present case, there are still more investigations ongoing. We don’t warn illegal uploaders, but immediately offer them a settlement. If someone does not want to settle, a court proceeding will follow, to recover the full damages and costs,” he adds.

It’s clear that the anti-piracy group is becoming more active against uploaders. For many years the Netherlands was considered a relative safe haven for file-sharers, but if left up to BREIN this will no longer be the case.

Looking ahead, BREIN is planning to go after uploaders on a much larger scale to increase the catch-rate.

The anti-piracy group has started to systematically monitor IP-addresses of torrent swarms, in order to identify the IP-addresses of prolific sharers. They then hope to identify the account holders through their Internet providers.

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

Report: Operating Systems Should Actively Block Pirated Downloads

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/rightsholders-want-microsoft-ban-pirated-software-windows-160803/

microsoft-pirateWhen Windows 10 was launched last year, rumors spread that the operating system was equipped with a built-in piracy kill switch.

According to some reports, this would allow Microsoft to nuke all torrents downloaded from The Pirate Bay, and more. A scary outlook, but also a massive exaggeration, for now.

The controversy originated from a single line in Microsoft’s Service Agreement which allows the company to download software updates and configuration changes that may prevent people from “playing counterfeit games.”

Technically this allows Microsoft to block people from playing pirated games across Windows 10 and other services, but thus far there is no indication that this is happening.

However, this week the issue was highlighted again in a report published by Black Market Watch and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime, which made several recommendations on how online piracy could be tackled in Sweden.

While most of the media attention focused on the role of ISPs, there is an even more controversial proposal that has been largely overlooked. According to the report, pirated content should be banned on the operating system level.

“Other players that possess the potential ability to limit piracy are the companies that own the major operating systems which control computers and mobile devices such as Apple, Google and Microsoft,” one of the main conclusions reads.

“The producers of operating systems should be encouraged, or regulated, for example, to block downloads of copyright infringing material,” the report adds.

The report references last year’s Windows 10 controversy, noting that these concerns were great enough for some torrent sites to block users with the new operating system.

While Sweden doesn’t have enough influence to make an impact on these global software manufacturers, applying pressure through the international community and trade groups may have some effect.

“Sweden’s ability to influence this as a single state is small, but it can take action through the EU and the international community. Copyright holders can also play a role in promoting this through international industry associations,” the report notes.

For now, it’s unlikely that the plan will become reality in the near future.

Yesterday, Swedish ISP Bahnhof responded to the report by saying that it doesn’t want to act as piracy police, and Apple, Google and Microsoft are not going to be happy with this role either.

However, it’s clear that anti-piracy proposals are getting more extreme year after year.

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

ISP: We’re Not The Internet Piracy Police

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-were-not-the-internet-piracy-police-160802/

piratkeybAround the world copyright holder groups are lobbying for increased efforts to combat online piracy.

The situation is no different in Sweden, where the Black Market Watch group just published a report calling for increased cooperation from stakeholders such as advertisers and ISPs.

In an opinion piece for DN, Internet providers are accused of handsomely profiting from their inaction, generating an estimated 2.5 billion Swedish krona ($230 million) from piracy.

“According to our calculations, revenue for Swedish Internet providers potentially exceeds two-and-a-half billion kronor a year, much more than the pirate sites earn,” Black Market Watch co-founder Karl Lallerstedt writes, together with the report’s co-author Waldemar Ingdahl.

They argue that Internet providers are in a unique position to prevent copyright infringement, as they can see what their users do online and have the means to block websites.

Speaking with IDG, Jon Karlung, CEO of Internet provider Bahnhof, refutes these calls and discredits the profit claims as lobbyist nonsense.

“It is pure nonsense, there is no truth in it. This is the work of their business lobbyists who want to put more responsibility on us. Our task is to ensure an internet with free movement, not playing cops,” he says.

Ideally, rightholders would like to see a series of measures being introduced to combat copyright infringement. This includes easier domain name seizures, increased anti-piracy efforts from law enforcement and ISPs, plus better education about the risks of piracy.

According to Karlung, Bahnhof already does enough to alert subscribers about unsafe sites. It is also happy to assist law enforcement but the company doesn’t see itself proactively policing its network to catch pirates.

“We inform users about unsafe sites today, and we will continue to do so without copyright holders instructing us what to do,” Karlung says.

“If there is merit to the Swedish legislation, we will help the police if they can show in a documented manner that the servers are being used for illegal activities. But it is not our job to act, they themselves must identify the type of activities.”

The copyright holder requests go directly against one of the core goals of the company – protecting the privacy of its subscribers. In recent years the Internet provider has fought hard to guarantee this right.

Bahnhof has been a major opponent of extensive data retention requirements, launched a free VPN to its users, and recently vowed to protect subscribers from a looming copyright troll invasion.

Given the above, it’s unlikely that rightsholders can expect much voluntary cooperation from Bahnhof.

This stance doesn’t come as a surprise, and the report suggests that rightsholders should demand new legislation from Swedish lawmakers to force ISPs and other stakeholders into action.

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

Anti-Piracy Group Reveals Personal Details of Counter-Notice Senders

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-group-reveals-personal-details-of-counter-notice-senders-160730/

remove-smallOver the past few years, transparency reports have become more and more common. Many big Internet companies publish them on an annual basis to keep the public informed about requests for user data or content takedowns.

One of the largest archives is maintained at Lumen Database and contains millions of DMCA notices received by companies including Google, Twitter, WordPress and Reddit.

Typically these notices contain the name of the complainant, the title of the content, the URLs where it can be found, and other non-sensitive information. Nevertheless, their publication is still unpopular with some.

In 2014, when Lumen was known as Chilling Effects, the archive was described as “repugnant” by then Copyright Alliance CEO Sandra Aistars.

“[T]he site unfairly maligns artists and creators using the legal process created by Section 512 [of the DMCA] as proponents of censorship,” she said.

While Lumen insists that is not the case, the project still has its enemies. Thanks to the transparency it brings, the work of anti-piracy outfits is made more public. This is an irritant to some, a notion that was made clear this week when US-based Remove Your Media took to Twitter to announce a new project.

removemedia1

As the tweet shows, Remove Your Media has launched its own transparency report which details the counter-notices filed by people it has filed DMCA notices against.

However, while Lumen Database goes to some lengths to protect the personal details (company names aside) of the people who send DMCA notices, Remove Your Media offers no such courtesy.

remove-counter

As can be seen from the screenshot above, the company publishes names, addresses, email address and even personal telephone/cellphone numbers of counter-notice senders. Given the tone of the tweet directed towards Lumen (transparency “works both ways now”), it seems reasonable to presume this is a deliberately provocative move.

What’s more, in practical terms the report is hopeless. The counter-notices published so far don’t contain any information that might allow the public to understand the complaints or whether they’re justified. It’s simply a list of names and other personal details plus a link to the copyright holder involved, no content details are provided.

TorrentFreak contacted Remove Your Media for comment on the aims of the just-launched database but received no response. However, some of those targeted by the company were happy to contribute.

“I run a website called fanart.tv which is community of fans submitting artwork for their favorite media,” site operator ‘Kode’ told TF.

“We are in effect offering free promotion for artists / tv shows / movies and making them look as good as possible.”

Kode told us that he believes the original complaint that triggered the counter-notice might be related to one of three YouTube videos that are already more than four years old.

“To be honest, it’s all a bit confusing as I only very vaguely remember submitting a YouTube counter-notice, and i’m pretty sure it wasn’t even this year. I’m trying to find out where I would see the details of it.”

Strangely, in correspondence with FanArt.tv around a year ago, Remove Your Media promised to whitelist the site from takedowns after acknowledging that there was no issue with its activities. Why the company has chosen to go back on its word now is a mystery.

But while Kode took his personal contact details being outed somewhat in his stride, others were not so relaxed.

“What the hell??? I never gave permission for this, and I doubt anyone else did either. This is illegal. I’ve reported the blog,” another told TF.

“I really don’t know [what this is about]. I have a YouTube account where I used to make [anime videos] years ago but there is no action against them. My account is fine. I don’t recognise the name [Remove Your Media]. As far as I’m concerned it’s BS. And even if they are taking action, my details should not have been published.”

TF is aware that Remove Your Media adopted an aggressive stance against people who sent false DMCA counter-notices in the past, so this move isn’t a complete surprise.

However, if the aim of the report really is transparency, the company should consider publishing its original DMCA complaint alongside a lightly redacted counter-notice. That will allow people to evaluate the credibility (or otherwise) of both claims.

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

Sony Sued For Not Protecting Leaked Movie From Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sony-sued-for-not-protecting-leaked-movie-from-pirates-160729/

November 2014 was one of the darkest months in the history of Sony Pictures. After being hacked by a group calling themselves the ‘Guardians of Peace’, masses of sensitive internal information was leaked online.

In addition to thousands of emails sent between key Sony staff, several movies were also leaked online. They included Still Alice, Mr Turner, Annie, Fury and the unreleased movie To Write Love on Her Arms.

This week, more than 18 months after the hack, the owner of the latter title sued Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions in a Florida court. In its complaint, Possibility Pictures says that Sony failed to meet contractual obligations which required the company to protect the movie from pirates.

Noting that Possibility spent $3.38m producing the movie, the company says that the hack resulted from an “entirely foreseeable and avoidable failure of internal security” following many earlier security incidents at Sony.

“SPE has been a longstanding and frequent target for hackers, but it apparently made a conscious and deliberate business decision to accept both the risk of losses and the actual losses of being hacked,” the complaint (first posted by HWR) reads.

Possibility says that due to Sony’s negligence the movie was leaked four months ahead of its official release. Then, due to its appearance on multiple pirate sites, the audience demand for the title was “destroyed”.

“While the total number of illegal downloads is unknown and unknowable, it is far more than likely [that the final tally is] many, many times the nearly 20,000 downloads recorded in just six days [following the leak],” the company adds.

Furthermore, in the wake of the leak, Sony allegedly “lost all interest” in promoting and marketing the movie and paid no further distribution revenues to Possibility beyond an initial $800,000 advance. As a result, Possibility claims that it is almost $2.6m out of pocket versus production costs.

To support its claim, Possibility highlights a section of its distribution agreement with Sony titled “Anti-Piracy Authorization”. The company says that the text shows that Sony was obliged to “protect the movie worldwide” using “appropriate technical measures or other techniques” to assist efforts to “remove, disable or otherwise prevent” unauthorized versions of the movie being pirated on the Internet.

sony-auth

No doubt the lawyers will argue over the meaning and scope of the section but thus far Sony is clear. In July 2016 discussions with Possibility Pictures, Sony insisted that it had “no obligation….to take any anti-piracy measures whatsoever.”

It’s certainly rare for a company like Sony to be accused of not doing enough to prevent piracy, so this case should be an interesting one to watch.

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

Court Orders News Site Blocked Following Article Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-news-site-blocked-following-article-piracy-160726/

news-smallWhile countries like China have a dubious reputation for online censorship, millions of Internet users are now reluctantly becoming accustomed to sites being blocked on copyright grounds.

The practice is present in scattered countries across Europe but is most prevalent in the UK where more than a thousand sites are now being rendered inaccessible by regular means.

Most of the complaints originate from traditional copyright holders such as movie, TV show and recording labels, but a new threat has just emerged in Russia for the very first time.

Launched in 1999, Gazeta.ru is one of Russia’s leading Internet news resources and the 68th most-visited site overall. The platform enjoys an impressive 11 million readers each month but like many others it claims to have a problem with people republishing its content without permission.

Back in March, Gazeta published an article about tourism in Azerbaijan. The piece was popular with Gazeta readers but other commercial outfits were also attracted to the content. One of them, Story-media.ru, later reproduced the Gazeta article in full, without obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

In the world of news this is hardly a rare event. Many outlets find their articles being reproduced elsewhere on the Internet without permission and within seconds of publication. However, Gazeta decided that enough was enough and decided to fight back.

Using the same copyright complaints system that has been used countless times by movie studios and record labels since its 2013 introduction, Gazeta filed a case at the Moscow City Court.

Categorizing the tourism article as a “literary work” (literary works were added to Russia’s anti-piracy law last May), Gazeta owner Rambler & Co demanded action against Story-media.ru for the unauthorized reproduction of its copyright work.

According to Vedomosti, lawyers for Rambler & Co argued that the company “consistently fights the illegal placement of [copyrighted] content” and since the operators of Story-media.ru hide their identities (WHOIS is anonymous), the site should be blocked.

The Moscow City Court found the argument persuasive and in response ordered Russian ISPs to immediately block Story-media.ru. The court order describes the injunction as “an interim measure” designed to protect the “intellectual rights to the literary work.”

While plenty of torrent, streaming and linking sites have been blocked under the same process, this is believed to be the first use of Russia’s anti-piracy law to block a news resource following a complaint from a publisher over a written article.

Gazeta has previously taken action against a site that published an infographic without permission, resulting in the block of media site go2life.net, Vedomosti reports.

Story-media.ru now needs to respond to the Gazeta complaint but it is unclear whether it will do so. The site is currently offline.

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

VKontakte CEO: Time to Remove Us From ‘Pirate’ Blacklists

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vkontakte-ceo-time-to-remove-us-from-pirate-blacklists-160724/

After years of being branded one of the world’s worst Internet piracy facilitators, last week social networking giant vKontakte took another important step towards making peace with rightsholders.

Parent company Mail.ru signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music and United Music Agency which will see music and video content appear legally on vKontakte, Classmates (Odnoklassniki) and My World, the three most-visited social networking sites in Russia.

With all copyright-related disputes now settled with Universal Music, the deal effectively transforms bitter conflict into cooperation, opening up opportunities for music sales development in a notoriously difficult region.

To find out more about the deal, this week TF caught up with VKontakte CEO Boris Dobrodeyev, who told us he’s optimistic for the future.

TF: Can you explain how the music licensing system with Universal Music will work?
 
BD: In accordance with the terms of the agreement, we cannot disclose the specific licensing provisions. However, we can say that the licensing agreements cover use of content on existing and planned new services on all of Mail.Ru Group’s social networks: VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World.

TF: What happens to the thousands/millions of ‘pirate’ tracks that are stored already on VKontakte? Do these effectively become legal or will Universal Music be supplying new content?
 
BD: The term “piracy” is not applicable to User Generated Content (UGC) services. Our position, which we have successfully defended in legal disputes, is that we do not distribute pirate content.

VKontakte’s content is user-generated, and so the rights holders’ requests were directed to them. From our side, we do everything that we can to protect the rights of the holders and remove content that violates their ownership rights.

Now that VKontake has signed the respective agreements with the major music companies, it is implementing substantial measures to identify the ownership of user content on the basis of the original files provided by the rights holders. VKontakte’s new services will be created using original content from the labels (including Warner, Sony and Universal).

Boris Dobrodeyev, VKontakte CEO

Boris Dobrodeyev

TF: Is VKontakte obliged to end all music piracy on its platform now, or just for the recoding labels it has struck a deal with?
 
BD: We would reiterate that the term “piracy” is not correct when talking about UGC services. Following significant efforts to license music content, the overwhelming majority of music by global artists on VK is completely legal.

With regard to music rights holders that have not yet signed an agreement with VK, at the very least they are able to use the existing procedures and technology in place to remove content and prevent it from being re-uploaded. It goes without saying that we also intend to sign corresponding agreements with these other rights holders in the near future.

We would add that many users and artists voluntarily upload their own music to VK in order to increase their popularity.

TF: Will fingerprinting technology or any other anti-piracy measures implemented?
 
BD: Yes, we intend to use a unique content identification system, which we developed in-house, and is similar to the technologies used in Audible Magic and Gracenote Content ID.

We will work together with the rights holders to continuously improve this technology in line with the development of the IT industry in general.

Moving forward

Of course, after years of copyright disputes vKontakte’s reputation in the United States has been somewhat sullied, largely due to rightsholders lobbying the United States Trade Representative to add the site to its Notorious Markets list. Dobrodeyev informs TF that it’s now time to move forward.

“We certainly hope that VKontakte will be removed from ‘piracy’ lists following the settlements and taking into account the enormous amount of work that the network has undertaken in this area,” he concludes.

Mail.ru and its subsidiaries now have licensing agreements in place with the three leading recording labels – Universal Music Group (UMG), Warner Music and Sony Music. Together they’ll hope to make inroads and indeed profit from a difficult and largely untapped Russian music market.

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

Court: Google and Bing Don’t Have to Censor “Torrent” Searches

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-google-and-bing-dont-have-to-censor-torrent-searches-160719/

google-bayFor years, entertainment industry groups have been demanding that search engines do something about “pirate sites” showing up in their search results.

In France, this prompted music industry group SNEP to take the matter to court. Representing three local artists, they demanded automated search engine filters from both Google and Microsoft.

Before the High Court of Paris the music group argued that, when paired with the artist names, “torrent” related searches predominantly link to pirated content.

To counter this, they demanded a filter that would block results for these searches for the keyword “torrent,” as well as websites that include the same word in their domain name.

SNEP based its request on Article L336-2 of France’s intellectual property code, which states that “all appropriate measures” are permitted to prevent copyright infringement. The same article has been used before to force Google and Bing to make various other pirate sites disappear.

However, in the present cases the High Court of Paris decided against the music industry group, Nextinpact reports.

In their defense Microsoft had warned that the broad filtering system requested by the music group would be imprecise, disproportionate and inefficient, something the court agreed with.

While French law permits far-reaching anti-piracy measures, it also states that it’s necessary to preserve the rights of individual Internet users, such as freedom of expression and communication. An overbroad filtering scheme would go against this principle.

“SNEP’s requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site’s content, on the premise that the term ‘Torrent’ is necessarily associated with infringing content,” the Court writes in its order.

More specifically, the court notes that the word “torrent” has many legitimate uses, as does the BitTorrent protocol, which is a neutral communication technology. This means that blocking everything “torrent” related is likely to censor legal content as well.

“Yet [torrent] is primarily a common noun, with a meaning in French and in English; it also refers to a neutral communication protocol developed by the company Bittorrent that enables access to lawfully downloaded files.

“The requested measures are thus tantamount to general monitoring and may block access to lawful websites,” the High Court order adds.

Part of the Bing order

snepgoo

The case against Google, which was similar in nature, also ended in favor of the search engine. The High Court dismissed this case on the grounds that it would only protect the interests of three artists, Kendji Girac, Shy’m and Christophe Willem.

For Article L336-2 to be invoked, the preventive anti-piracy measures have to protect a wider range of artists and rightsholders.

This means that both “torrent” filtering requests have not been rejected. Instead, the music group has been ordered to pay Microsoft and Bing 10,000 to cover legal fees and costs.

Interestingly, French media highlights that TorrentFreak would have been automatically censored if Google and Microsoft would have lost their case. After all, our URL includes the word torrent.

This means that a mere mention of the artists’ names would have been enough to make an article disappear from the search results.

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