Tag Archives: Articles

The Pirate Bay Isn’t Affected By Adverse Court Rulings – Everyone Else Is

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-isnt-affected-by-adverse-court-rulings-everyone-else-is-170618/

For more than a decade The Pirate Bay has been the world’s most controversial site. Delivering huge quantities of copyrighted content to the masses, the platform is revered and reviled across the copyright spectrum.

Its reputation is one of a defiant Internet swashbuckler, but due to changes in how the site has been run in more recent times, its current philosophy is more difficult to gauge. What has never been in doubt, however, is the site’s original intent to be as provocative as possible.

Through endless publicity stunts, some real, some just for the ‘lulz’, The Pirate Bay managed to attract a massive audience, all while incurring the wrath of every major copyright holder in the world.

Make no mistake, they all queued up to strike back, but every subsequent rightsholder action was met by a Pirate Bay middle finger, two fingers, or chin flick, depending on the mood of the day. This only served to further delight the masses, who happily spread the word while keeping their torrents flowing.

This vicious circle of being targeted by the entertainment industries, mocking them, and then reaping the traffic benefits, developed into the cheapest long-term marketing campaign the Internet had ever seen. But nothing is ever truly for free and there have been consequences.

After taunting Hollywood and the music industry with its refusals to capitulate, endless legal action that the site would have ordinarily been forced to participate in largely took place without The Pirate Bay being present. It doesn’t take a law degree to work out what happened in each and every one of those cases, whatever complex route they took through the legal system. No defense, no win.

For example, the web-blocking phenomenon across the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia was driven by the site’s absolute resilience and although there would clearly have been other scapegoats had The Pirate Bay disappeared, the site was the ideal bogeyman the copyright lobby required to move forward.

Filing blocking lawsuits while bringing hosts, advertisers, and ISPs on board for anti-piracy initiatives were also made easier with the ‘evil’ Pirate Bay still online. Immune from every anti-piracy technique under the sun, the existence of the platform in the face of all onslaughts only strengthened the cases of those arguing for even more drastic measures.

Over a decade, this has meant a significant tightening of the sharing and streaming climate. Without any big legislative changes but plenty of case law against The Pirate Bay, web-blocking is now a walk in the park, ad hoc domain seizures are a fairly regular occurrence, and few companies want to host sharing sites. Advertisers and brands are also hesitant over where they place their ads. It’s a very different world to the one of 10 years ago.

While it would be wrong to attribute every tightening of the noose to the actions of The Pirate Bay, there’s little doubt that the site and its chaotic image played a huge role in where copyright enforcement is today. The platform set out to provoke and succeeded in every way possible, gaining supporters in their millions. It could also be argued it kicked a hole in a hornets’ nest, releasing the hell inside.

But perhaps the site’s most amazing achievement is the way it has managed to stay online, despite all the turmoil.

This week yet another ruling, this time from the powerful European Court of Justice, found that by offering links in the manner it does, The Pirate Bay and other sites are liable for communicating copyright works to the public. Of course, this prompted the usual swathe of articles claiming that this could be the final nail in the site’s coffin.

Wrong.

In common with every ruling, legal defeat, and legislative restriction put in place due to the site’s activities, this week’s decision from the ECJ will have zero effect on the Pirate Bay’s availability. For right or wrong, the site was breaking the law long before this ruling and will continue to do so until it decides otherwise.

What we have instead is a further tightened legal landscape that will have a lasting effect on everything BUT the site, including weaker torrent sites, Internet users, and user-uploaded content sites such as YouTube.

With The Pirate Bay carrying on regardless, that is nothing short of remarkable.

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

“Kodi Boxes Are a Fire Risk”: Awful Timing or Opportunism?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-boxes-are-a-fire-risk-awful-timing-or-opportunism-170618/

Anyone who saw the pictures this week couldn’t have failed to be moved by the plight of Londoners caught up in the Grenfell Tower inferno. The apocalyptic images are likely to stay with people for years to come and the scars for those involved may never heal.

As the building continued to smolder and the death toll increased, UK tabloids provided wall-to-wall coverage of the disaster. On Thursday, however, The Sun took a short break to put out yet another sensationalized story about Kodi. Given the week’s events, it was bound to raise eyebrows.

“HOT GOODS: Kodi boxes are a fire hazard because thousands of IPTV devices nabbed by customs ‘failed UK electrical standards’,” the headline reads.

Another sensational ‘Kodi’ headline

“It’s estimated that thousands of Brits have bought so-called Kodi boxes which can be connected to telly sets to stream pay-per-view sport and films for free,” the piece continued.

“But they could be a fire hazard, according to the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), which has been nabbing huge deliveries of the devices as they arrive in the UK.”

As the image below shows, “Kodi box” fire hazard claims appeared next to images from other news articles about the huge London fire. While all separate stories, the pairing is not a great look.

A ‘Kodi Box’, as depicted in The Sun

FACT chief executive Kieron Sharp told The Sun that his group had uncovered two parcels of 2,000 ‘Kodi’ boxes and found that they “failed electrical safety standards”, making them potentially dangerous. While that may well be the case, the big question is all about timing.

It’s FACT’s job to reduce copyright infringement on behalf of clients such as The Premier League so it’s no surprise that they’re making a sustained effort to deter the public from buying these devices. That being said, it can’t have escaped FACT or The Sun that fire and death are extremely sensitive topics this week.

That leaves us with a few options including unfortunate opportunism or perhaps terrible timing, but let’s give the benefit of the doubt for a moment.

There’s a good argument that FACT and The Sun brought a valid issue to the public’s attention at a time when fire safety is on everyone’s lips. So, to give credit where it’s due, providing people with a heads-up about potentially dangerous devices is something that most people would welcome.

However, it’s difficult to offer congratulations on the PSA when the story as it appears in The Sun does nothing – absolutely nothing – to help people stay safe.

If some boxes are a risk (and that’s certainly likely given the level of Far East imports coming into the UK) which ones are dangerous? Where were they manufactured? Who sold them? What are the serial numbers? Which devices do people need to get out of their houses?

Sadly, none of these questions were answered or even addressed in the article, making it little more than scaremongering. Only making matters worse, the piece notes that it isn’t even clear how many of the seized devices are indeed a fire risk and that more tests need to be done. Is this how we should tackle such an important issue during an extremely sensitive week?

Timing and lack of useful information aside, one then has to question the terminology employed in the article.

As a piece of computer software, Kodi cannot catch fire. So, what we’re actually talking about here is small computers coming into the country without passing safety checks. The presence of Kodi on the devices – if indeed Kodi was even installed pre-import – is absolutely irrelevant.

Anti-piracy groups warning people of the dangers associated with their piracy habits is nothing new. For years, Internet users have been told that their computers will become malware infested if they share files or stream infringing content. While in some cases that may be true, there’s rarely any effort by those delivering the warnings to inform people on how to stay safe.

A classic example can be found in the numerous reports put out by the Digital Citizens Alliance in the United States. The DCA has produced several and no doubt expensive reports which claim to highlight the risks Internet users are exposed to on ‘pirate’ sites.

The DCA claims to do this in the interests of consumers but the group offers no practical advice on staying safe nor does it provide consumers with risk reduction strategies. Like many high-level ‘drug prevention’ documents shuffled around government, it could be argued that on a ‘street’ level their reports are next to useless.

Demonizing piracy is a well-worn and well-understood strategy but if warnings are to be interpreted as representing genuine concern for the welfare of people, they have to be a lot more substantial than mere scaremongering.

Anyone concerned about potentially dangerous devices can check out these useful guides from Electrical Safety First (pdf) and the Electrical Safety Council (pdf)

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

No, Netflix Hasn’t Won The War on Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/no-netflix-hasnt-won-the-war-on-piracy-170604/

Recently a hacker group, or hacker, going by the name TheDarkOverlord (TDO) published the premiere episode of the fifth season of Netflix’s Orange is The New Black, followed by nine more episodes a few hours later.

TDO obtained the videos from Larson Studios, which didn’t pay the 50 bitcoin ransom TDO had requested. The hackers then briefly turned their attention to Netflix, before releasing the shows online.

In the aftermath, a flurry of articles claimed that Netflix’s refusal to pay means that it is winning the war on piracy. Torrents are irrelevant or no longer a real threat and piracy is pointless, they concluded.

One of the main reasons cited is a decline in torrent traffic over the years, as reported by the network equipment company Sandvine.

“Last year, BitTorrent traffic reached 1.73 percent of peak period downstream traffic in North America. That’s down from the 60 percent share peer-to-peer file sharing had in 2003. Netflix was responsible for 35.15 percent of downstream traffic,” one reporter wrote.

Piracy pointless?

Even Wired, a reputable technology news site, jumped on the bandwagon.

“It’s not that torrenting is so onerous. But compared to legitimate streaming, the process of downloading a torrenting client, finding a legit file, waiting for it to download, and watching it on a laptop (or mirroring it to a television) hardly seems worth it,” the articles states.

These and many similar articles suggest that Netflix’s ease of use is superior to piracy. Netflix is winning the war on piracy, which is pretty much reduced to a fringe activity carried out by old school data hoarders, they claimed.

But is that really the case?

I wholeheartedly agree that Netflix is a great alternative to piracy, and admit that torrents are not as dominant as they were before. But, everybody who thinks that piracy is limited to torrents, need to educate themselves properly.

Piracy has evolved quite a bit over the past several years and streaming is now the main source to satisfy people’s ‘illegal’ viewing demands.

Whether it’s through pirate streaming sites, mobile apps or dedicated media players hooked to TVs; it’s not hard to argue that piracy is easier and more convenient than it has even been in the past. And arguably, more popular too.

The statistics are dazzling. According to piracy monitoring outfit MUSO there are half a billion visits to video pirate sites every day. Roughly 60% of these are to streaming sites.

While there has been a small decline in streaming visits over the past year, MUSO’s data doesn’t cover the explosion of media player piracy, which means that there is likely a significant increase in piracy overall.

TorrentFreak contacted the aforementioned network equipment company Sandvine, which said that we’re “on to something.”

Unfortunately, they currently have no data to quantify the amount of pirate streaming activity. This is, in part, because many of these streams are hosted by legitimate companies such as Google.

Torrents may not be dominant anymore, but with hundreds of millions of visits to streaming pirate sites per day, and many more via media players and other apps, piracy is still very much alive. Just ask the Motion Picture Association.

I would even argue that piracy is more of a threat to Netflix than it has ever been before.

To illustrate, here is a screenshot from one of the most visited streaming piracy sites online. The site in question receives millions of views per day and featured two Netflix shows, “13 Reasons Why” and the leaked “Orange is The New Black,” in its daily “most viewed” section recently.

Netflix shows among the “most viewed” pirate streams

If you look at a random streaming site, you’ll see that they offer an overview of thousands of popular movies and TV-shows, far more than Netflix. Pirate streaming sites have more content than Netflix, often in high quality, and it doesn’t cost a penny.

Throw in the explosive growth of piracy-capable media players that can bring this content directly to the TV-screen, and you’ll start to realize the magnitude of this threat.

In a way, the boost in streaming piracy is a bigger threat to Netflix than the traditional Hollywood studios. Hollywood still has its exclusive release windows and a superior viewing experience at the box office. All Netflix content is instantly pirated, or already available long before they add it to their catalog.

Sure, pirate sites might not appeal to the average middle-class news columnist who’s been subscribed to Netflix for years, but for tens of millions of less fortunate people, who can do without another monthly charge on their household bill, it’s an easy choice.

Not the right choice, legally speaking, but that doesn’t seem to bother them much.

That’s illustrated by tens of thousands of people from all over the world commenting with their public Facebook accounts, on movies and TV-shows that were obviously pirated.

Pirate comments on a streaming site

Of course, if piracy disappeared overnight then only a fraction of these pirates would pay for a Netflix subscription, but saying that piracy is irrelevant for the streaming giant may be a bit much.

Netflix itself is all too aware of this it seems. The company has launched its own “Global Copyright Protection Group,” an anti-piracy division that’s on par with those of many major Hollywood studios.

Netflix isn’t winning the war on piracy; it just got started….

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

When a Big Torrent Site Dies, Some Hope it Will Be Right Back

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/when-a-big-torrent-site-dies-some-hope-it-will-be-right-back-170604/

For a niche that has had millions of words written about it over the past 18 years or so, most big piracy stories have had the emotions of people at their core.

When The Pirate Bay was taken down by the police eleven years ago it was global news, but the real story was the sense of disbelief and loss felt by millions of former users. Outsiders may dismiss these feelings, but they are very common and very real.

Of course, those negative emotions soon turned to glee when the site returned days later, but full-on, genuine resurrections are something that few big sites have been able to pull off since. What we have instead today is the sudden disappearance of iconic sites and a scrambling by third-party opportunists to fill in the gaps with look-a-like platforms.

The phenomenon has affected many big sites, from The Pirate Bay itself through to KickassTorrents, YTS/YIFY, and more recently, ExtraTorrent. When sites disappear, it’s natural for former users to look for replacements. And when those replacements look just like the real deal there’s a certain amount of comfort to be had. For many users, these sites provide the perfect antidote to their feelings of loss.

That being said, the clone site phenomenon has seriously got out of hand. Pioneered by players in the streaming site scene, fake torrent sites can now be found in abundance wherever there is a brand worth copying. ExtraTorrent operator SaM knew this when he closed his site last month, and he took the time to warn people away from them personally.

“Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones,” he said.

It’s questionable how many listened.

Within days, users were flooding to fake ExtraTorrent sites, encouraged by some elements of the press. Despite having previously reported SaM’s clear warnings, some publications were still happy to report that ExtraTorrent was back, purely based on the word of the fake sites themselves. And I’ve got a bridge for sale, if you have the cash.

While misleading news reports must take some responsibility, it’s clear that when big sites go down a kind of grieving process takes place among dedicated former users, making some more likely to clutch at straws. While some simply move on, others who have grown more attached to a platform they used to call home can go into denial.

This reaction has often been seen in TF’s mailbox, when YTS/YIFY went down in particular. More recently, dozens of emails informed us that ExtraTorrent had gone, with many others asking when it was coming back. But the ones that stood out most were from people who had read SaM’s message, read TF’s article stating that ALL clones were fakes, yet still wanted to know if sites a, b and c were legitimate or not.

We approached a user on Reddit who asked similar things and been derided by other users for his apparent reluctance to accept that ExtraTorrent had gone. We didn’t find stupidity (as a few in /r/piracy had cruelly suggested) but a genuine sense of loss.

“I loved the site dude, what can I say?” he told TF. “Just kinda got used to it and hung around. Before I knew it I was logging in every day. In time it just felt like home. I miss it.”

The user hadn’t seen the articles claiming that one of the imposter ExtraTorrent sites was the real deal. He did, however, seem a bit unsettled when we told him it was a fake. But when we asked if he was going to stop using it, we received an emphatic “no”.

“Dude it looks like ET and yeah it’s not quite the same but I can get my torrents. Why does it matter what crew [runs it]?” he said.

It does matter, of course. The loss of a proper torrent site like ExtraTorrent, which had releasers and a community, can never be replaced by a custom-skinned Pirate Bay mirror. No matter how much it looks like a lost friend, it’s actually a pig in lipstick that contributes little to the ecosystem.

That being said, it’s difficult to counter the fact that some of these clones make people happy. They fill a void that other sites, for mainly cosmetic reasons, can’t fill. With this in mind, the grounds for criticism weaken a little – but not much.

For anyone who has watched the Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back‘, it’s clear that sudden loss can be a hard thing for humans to accept. When trying to fill the gap, what might initially seem like a good replacement is almost certainly destined to disappoint longer term, when the sub-standard copy fails to capture the heart and soul of the real deal.

It’s an issue that will occupy the piracy scene for some time to come, but interestingly, it’s also an argument that Hollywood has used against piracy itself for decades. But that’s another story.

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

[$] Python 3.6.x, 3.7.0, and beyond

Post Syndicated from jake original https://lwn.net/Articles/723252/rss

Ned Deily, release manager for the Python 3.6 and 3.7 series, opened
up the 2017
edition of the Python Language Summit
with a look at the release
process and where things stand. It was an “abbreviated update” to his talk at last year’s summit, he said. He
looked to the future for 3.6 and 3.7, but also looked a bit beyond those two.

This is the start of LWN’s coverage of the language summit; look for more articles over the next week or so.

No, ExtraTorrent Has Not Been Resurrected

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/no-extratorrent-has-not-been-resurected-170524/

Last week the torrent community entered a state of shock when another major torrent site closed its doors.

Having served torrents to the masses for over a decade, ExtraTorrent decided to throw in the towel, without providing any detail or an apparent motive.

The only strong message sent out by ExtraTorrent’s operator was to “stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones.”

Fast forward a few days and the first copycats have indeed appeared online. While this was expected, it’s always disappointing to see “news” sites including the likes of Forbes and The Inquirer are giving them exposure without doing thorough research.

“We are a group of uploaders and admins from ExtraTorrent. As you know, SAM from ExtraTorrent pulled the plug yesterday and took all data offline under pressure from authorities. We were in deep shock and have been working hard to get it back online with all previous data,” the email, sent out to several news outlets read.

What followed was a flurry of ‘ExtraTorrent is back’ articles and thanks to those, a lot of people now think that Extratorrent.cd is a true resurrection operated by the site’s former staffers and fans.

However, aside from its appearance, the site has absolutely nothing to do with ET.

The site is an imposter operated by the same people who also launched Kickass.cd when KAT went offline last summer. In fact, the content on both sites doesn’t come from the defunct sites they try to replace, but from The Pirate Bay.

Yes indeed, ExtraTorrent.cd is nothing more than a Pirate Bay mirror with an ExtraTorrent skin.

There are several signs clearly showing that the torrents come from The Pirate Bay. Most easy to spot, perhaps, is a comparison of search results which are identical on both sites.

Chaparall seach on Extratorrent.cd

The ExtraTorrent “resurrection” even lists TPB’s oldest active torrent from March 2004, which was apparently uploaded long before the original ExtraTorrent was launched.

Chaparall search on TPB

TorrentFreak is in touch with proper ex-staffers of ExtraTorrent who agree that the site is indeed a copycat. Some ex-staffers are considering the launch of a new ET version, just like the KAT admins did in the past, but if that happens, it will take a lot more time.

“At the moment we are all figuring out how to go about getting it back up and running in a proper fashion, but as you can imagine there a lot of obstacles and arguments, lol,” ex-ET admin Soup informed us.

So, for now, there is no real resurrection. ExtraTorrent.cd sells itself as much more than it is, as it did with Kickass.cd. While the site doesn’t have any malicious intent, aside from luring old ET members under false pretenses, people have the right to know what it really is.

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

Fake ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ Leaks Troll Pirates and Reporters

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fake-pirates-of-the-caribbean-leaks-troll-pirates-and-reporters-170520/

Earlier this week, news broke that Disney was being extorted by hackers who were threatening to release an upcoming film, reportedly ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.’

This prompted pirates and reporters to watch torrent sites for copies of the film, and after a few hours the first torrents did indeed appear.

The initial torrent spotted by TF was just over 200MB, which is pretty small. As it turned out, the file was fake and linked to some kind of survey scam.

Fake torrents are quite common and even more so with highly anticipated releases like a “Pirates Of The Caribbean” leak.

Soon after the fist fake, another one followed, this one carrying the name of movie distribution group ETRG. After the first people downloaded a copy, it quickly became clear that this was spam as well, and the torrent was swiftly removed from The Pirate Bay.

Unfortunately, however, some reporters confused the fake releases with the real deal. Without verifying the actual content of the files, news reports claimed that Pirates Of The Caribbean had indeed leaked.

“Hackers Dump Pirates of the Caribbean On Torrent Sites Ahead of Premiere,” Softpedia reported, followed by the award-winning security blog Graham Cluley who wrote that the “New Pirates of the Caribbean movie leaked online.”

Leaks? (via Softpedia)

The latter was also quick to point to a likely source of the leak. Hacker group The Dark Overlord was cited as the prime candidate, even though there were no signs linking it to the leak in question. This is off for a group that regularly takes full public credit for its achievements.

News site Fossbytes also appeared confident that The Dark Overlord was behind the reported (but fake) leaks, pretty much stating it as fact.

“The much-awaited Disney movie Pirates Of The Caribbean 5 Dead Men Tell No Tales was compromised by a hacker group called TheDarkOverlord,” the site reported.

Things got more confusing when the torrent files in question disappeared from The Pirate Bay. In reality, moderators simply removed the spam, as they usually do, but the reporters weren’t convinced and speculated that the ‘hackers’ could have reuploaded the files elsewhere.

A few hours later another ‘leak’ appeared on The Pirate Bay, confirming these alleged suspicions. This time it was a 54GB file which actually had “DARK-OVERL” in the title.

DARK-OVERL!!!

Soon after the torrent appeared online someone added a spam comment suggesting that it had a decent quality. One of the reporters picked this up and wrote that “comments indicate the quality is quite high.”

Again, at this point, none of the reporters had verified that the leaks were real. Still, the news spread further and further.

TorrentFreak also kept an eye on the developments and reached out to a source who said he’d obtained a copy of the 54GB release. This pirate was curious, but didn’t get what he was hoping for.

The file in question did indeed contain video material, he informed us. However, instead of an unreleased copy of the Pirates Of The Caribbean 5, he says he got several copies of an animation movie – Trolls…..

“Turns out, the iso contains a couple of .rar files that house a bunch of Trolls DVDs. I hope everyone learned their lesson, if it’s too good to be true it probably is.”

Indeed it is.

In the spirit of this article we have to stress that we didn’t verify the contents of the (now deleted) “Trolls” torrent ourselves. However, it’s clear that the fake leaks trolled several writers and pirates.

We reached out to Softpedia reporter Gabriela Vatu and Graham Cluley, who were both very receptive to our concerns and updated the initial articles to state that the leaks were not verified.

Let’s hope that this will stop the rumors from spreading any further.

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

Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages From Sci-Hub and Libgen

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/elsevier-wants-15-million-piracy-damages-from-sci-hub-and-libgen-170518/

Two years ago, academic publisher Elsevier filed a complaint against Sci-Hub, Libgen and several related “pirate” sites.

The publisher accused the websites of making academic papers widely available to the public, without permission.

While Sci-Hub and Libgen are nothing like the average pirate site, they are just as illegal according to Elsevier’s legal team, which swiftly obtained a preliminary injunction from a New York District Court.

The injunction ordered Sci-Hub’s founder Alexandra Elbakyan, who is the only named defendant, to quit offering access to any Elsevier content. This didn’t happen, however.

Sci-Hub and the other websites lost control over several domain names, but were quick to bounce back. They remain operational today and have no intention of shutting down, despite pressure from the Court.

This prompted Elsevier to request a default judgment and a permanent injunction against the Sci-Hub and Libgen defendants. In a motion filed this week, Elsevier’s legal team describes the sites as pirate havens.

“Defendants’ websites exist for the sole purpose of providing unauthorized and unlawful access to the copyrighted works of Elsevier and other scientific publishers. Collectively, Defendants are responsible for the piracy of millions of Elseviers’ copyrighted works as well as millions of works published by others.”

As compensation for the losses it has suffered, Elsevier is now demanding $15 million in damages. The publisher lists 100 works as evidence and argues that the maximum amount of $150,000 in statutory damages is warranted in this case.

“Here, Defendants’ willful conduct rises to the level of truly egregious conduct, justifying the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work,” Elsevier’s team writes (pdf).

“The Preliminary Injunction constituted such notice by a court, and Defendants have flagrantly disregarded the Preliminary Injunction by continuing to operate their piracy enterprises.”

Not only did the defendants ignore the preliminary injunction by continuing to operate their websites, Sci-Hub’s operator stated that she chose to willingly disregard the court order.

“Moreover, Elbakyan has publicly stated that she is aware that Sci-Hub’s actions are unlawful and that this Court has enjoined her infringing activities, but that she intends to continue to defy the Court’s Order.”

The amount is also justified based on the scale of infringement, Elsevier stresses. The sites in question offer dozens of millions of copyrighted works which are downloaded hundreds of thousands of times per day.

A good chunk of these papers are copyrighted, many by Elsevier. In fact, when the original complaint was filed, Elsevier had trouble locating ScienceDirect-hosted articles that were not available through Libgen.

“Here, the scale of Defendants’ infringement is so staggering that a reasonable estimate of appropriate damages, even if based on a lower, license- fee-based metric, would be difficult, if not impossible, to calculate,” Elsevier’s legal team writes.

Since the court’s clerk has already entered a default against the defendants, it’s likely that Elsevier will win the case. As a result, Sci-Hub and Libgen will likely have to relocate again. Whether Elsevier will see any damages from the defendants has yet to be seen.

Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan wasn’t really sure how to comment on the million dollar claims. She described Elsevier’s requests as “funny” and “ridiculous,” while confirming that the site is not going anywhere.

“The Sci-Hub will continue as usual. In case of problems with the domain names, users can rely on TOR scihub22266oqcxt.onion,” Elbakyan tells us.

In hindsight, Elsevier may regret its decision to take legal action.

Instead of taking Sci-Hub and Libgen down, the lawsuit and the associated media attention only helped them grow. Last year we reported that its users were downloading hundreds of thousands of papers per day from Sci-Hub, a number that has likely increased since.

Also, Elbakyan is now seen as a hero by several prominent academics, illustrated by the fact that the prestigious publication Nature listed her as one of the top ten people that mattered in science last year.

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

Hiring a Content Director

Post Syndicated from Ahin Thomas original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hiring-content-director/


Backblaze is looking to hire a full time Content Director. This role is an essential piece of our team, reporting directly to our VP of Marketing. As the hiring manager, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about the role, how I’m thinking about the collaboration, and why I believe this to be a great opportunity.

A Little About Backblaze and the Role

Since 2007, Backblaze has earned a strong reputation as a leader in data storage. Our products are astonishingly easy to use and affordable to purchase. We have engaged customers and an involved community that helps drive our brand. Our audience numbers in the millions and our primary interaction point is the Backblaze blog. We publish content for engineers (data infrastructure, topics in the data storage world), consumers (how to’s, merits of backing up), and entrepreneurs (business insights). In all categories, our Content Director drives our earned positioned as leaders.

Backblaze has a culture focused on being fair and good (to each other and our customers). We have created a sustainable business that is profitable and growing. Our team places a premium on open communication, being cleverly unconventional, and helping each other out. The Content Director, specifically, balances our needs as a commercial enterprise (at the end of the day, we want to sell our products) with the custodianship of our blog (and the trust of our audience).

There’s a lot of ground to be covered at Backblaze. We have three discreet business lines:

  • Computer Backup -> a 10 year old business focusing on backing up consumer computers.
  • B2 Cloud Storage -> Competing with Amazon, Google, and Microsoft… just at ¼ of the price (but with the same performance characteristics).
  • Business Backup -> Both Computer Backup and B2 Cloud Storage, but focused on SMBs and enterprise.

The Best Candidate Is…

An excellent writer – possessing a solid academic understanding of writing, the creative process, and delivering against deadlines. You know how to write with multiple voices for multiple audiences. We do not expect our Content Director to be a storage infrastructure expert; we do expect a facility with researching topics, accessing our engineering and infrastructure team for guidance, and generally translating the technical into something easy to understand. The best Content Director must be an active participant in the business/ strategy / and editorial debates and then must execute with ruthless precision.

Our Content Director’s “day job” is making sure the blog is running smoothly and the sales team has compelling collateral (emails, case studies, white papers).

Specifically, the Perfect Content Director Excels at:

  • Creating well researched, elegantly constructed content on deadline. For example, each week, 2 articles should be published on our blog. Blog posts should rotate to address the constituencies for our 3 business lines – not all blog posts will appeal to everyone, but over the course of a month, we want multiple compelling pieces for each segment of our audience. Similarly, case studies (and outbound emails) should be tailored to our sales team’s proposed campaigns / audiences. The Content Director creates ~75% of all content but is responsible for editing 100%.
  • Understanding organic methods for weaving business needs into compelling content. The majority of our content (but not EVERY piece) must tie to some business strategy. We hate fluff and hold our promotional content to a standard of being worth someone’s time to read. To be effective, the Content Director must understand the target customer segments and use cases for our products.
  • Straddling both Consumer & SaaS mechanics. A key part of the job will be working to augment the collateral used by our sales team for both B2 Cloud Storage and Business Backup. This content should be compelling and optimized for converting leads. And our foundational business line, Computer Backup, deserves to be nurtured and grown.
  • Product marketing. The Content Director “owns” the blog. But also assists in writing cases studies / white papers, creating collateral (email, trade show). Each of these things has a variety of call to action(s) and audiences. Direct experience is a plus, experience that will plausibly translate to these areas is a requirement.
  • Articulating views on storage, backup, and cloud infrastructure. Not everyone has experience with this. That’s fine, but if you do, it’s strongly beneficial.

A Thursday In The Life:

  • Coordinate Collaborators – We are deliverables driven culture, not a meeting driven one. We expect you to collaborate with internal blog authors and the occasional guest poster.
  • Collaborate with Design – Ensure imagery for upcoming posts / collateral are on track.
  • Augment Sales team – Lock content for next week’s outbound campaign.
  • Self directed blog agenda – Feedback for next Tuesday’s post is addressed, next Thursday’s post is circulated to marketing team for feedback & SEO polish.
  • Review Editorial calendar, make any changes.

Oh! And We Have Great Perks:

  • Competitive healthcare plans
  • Competitive compensation and 401k
  • All employees receive Option grants
  • Unlimited vacation days
  • Strong coffee & fully stocked Micro kitchen
  • Catered breakfast and lunches
  • Awesome people who work on awesome projects
  • Childcare bonus
  • Normal work hours
  • Get to bring your pets into the office
  • San Mateo Office – located near Caltrain and Highways 101 & 280.

Interested in Joining Our Team?

Send us an email to jobscontact@backblaze.com with the subject “Content Director”. Please include your resume and 3 brief abstracts for content pieces.
Some hints for each of your three abstracts:

  • Create a compelling headline
  • Write clearly and concisely
  • Be brief, each abstract should be 100 words or less – no longer
  • Target each abstract to a different specific audience that is relevant to our business lines

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider all this. I hope it sounds like a great opportunity for you or someone you know. Principles only need apply.

The post Hiring a Content Director appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

NO, Kodi Users Are Not Risking Ten Years in Prison

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/no-kodi-users-are-not-risking-ten-years-in-prison-170507/

Piracy has always been a reasonably popular topic in the UK and there can barely be a person alive today who hasn’t either engaged in or been exposed to the phenomenon in some way. Just lately, however, things have really entered the mainstream.

The massive public interest is down to the set-top box craze, which is largely fueled by legal Kodi software augmented with infringing addons that provide free access to premium movies, TV channels and live sports.

While this a topic one might expect technology sites to report on, just recently UK tabloids have flooded the market with largely sensational stories about Kodi and piracy in general, which often recycle the same story time and again with SHOCKING click-bait headlines YOU JUST WON’T BELIEVE.

We’ve had to put up with misleading headlines and stories for months, so a while ago we made an effort to discuss the issues with tabloid reporters. Needless to say, we didn’t get very far. Most ignored our emails, but even those who responded weren’t prepared to do much.

One told us that his publication had decided that articles featuring Kodi were good for traffic while another promised to escalate our comments further up the chain of command. Within days additional articles with similar problems were being published regardless and this week things really boiled over.

10 Years for Kodi users? Hardly

The above report published in the Daily Express is typical of many doing the rounds at the moment. Taking Kodi as the popular search term, it shoe-horns the topic into areas of copyright law that do not apply to it, and ones certainly not covered by the Digital Economy Act cited in the headline.

As reported this week, the Digital Economy Act raises penalties for online copyright infringement offenses from two to ten years, but only in specific circumstances. Users streaming content to their homes via Kodi is absolutely not one of them.

To fall foul of the new law a user would need to communicate a copyrighted work to the public. In piracy terms that means ‘uploading’ and people streaming content via Kodi do nothing of the sort. The Digital Economy Act offers no remedy to deal with users streaming content – period – but let’s not allow the facts to get in the way of a click-inducing headline.

The Mirror has it wrong too

The Mirror article weaves in comments from Kieron Sharp from the Federation Against Copyright Theft. He notes that the new legislation should be targeted at people making a business out of infringement, which will hopefully be the case.

However, the article incorrectly extrapolates Sharp’s comments to mean that the law also applies to people streaming content via Kodi. Only making things more confusing, it then states that people “who casually stream a couple of movies every once in a while are extremely unlikely to be prosecuted to such extremes.”

Again, the Digital Economy Act has nothing to do with people streaming movies via Kodi but if we go along with the charade and agree that people who casually stream movies aren’t going to be prosecuted, why claim “10 year jail sentences for Kodi users” in the headline?

The bottom line is that there is nothing in the article itself that supports the article’s headline claim that Kodi users could go to jail for ten years. In itself, this is problematic from a reporting standpoint.

Published by IPSO, the Editors’ Code of Practice clearly states that “the Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.”

But singling out the Daily Express and The Mirror on this would be unfair. Dozens of other publications jumped on the same bandwagon, parroting the same misinformation, often with similar click-bait headlines.

For people dealing with these issues every day, the ins-and-outs of piracy alongside developing copyright law can be easier to grasp, so it’s perhaps a little unfair to expect general reporters to understand every detail of what can be extremely complex issues. Mistakes get made by everyone, that’s human nature.

But really, is there any excuse for headlines like this one published by the Sunday Express this morning?

According to the piece, readers of TorrentFreak are also at risk of spending ten years in prison. You couldn’t make this damaging nonsense up. Actually, apparently you can.

In addition to a lack of research, the problem here is the prevalence of click-bait headlines driving traffic and the inability of the underlying articles to live up to the hype. If we can moderate the headlines and report within them, the rest should simply fall into place. Ditch the NEEDLESS capital letters and stick to the facts.

Society in 2017 needs those more than ever.

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

Vetter: Review, not Rocket Science

Post Syndicated from corbet original https://lwn.net/Articles/719630/rss

Daniel Vetter discusses how to get
people to review code
. “The take away from these two articles
seems to be that review is hard, there’s a constant lack of capable and
willing reviewers, and this has been the state of review since forever. I’d
like to counter pose this with our experiences in the graphics subsystem,
where we’ve rolled out a well-working review process for the Intel driver,
core subsystem and now the co-maintained small driver efforts with success,
and not all that much pain.

Fourth WikiLeaks CIA Attack Tool Dump

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/04/fourth_wikileak.html

WikiLeaks is obviously playing their Top Secret CIA data cache for as much press as they can, leaking the documents a little at a time. On Friday they published their fourth set of documents from what they call “Vault 7”:

27 documents from the CIA’s Grasshopper framework, a platform used to build customized malware payloads for Microsoft Windows operating systems.

We have absolutely no idea who leaked this one. When they first started appearing, I suspected that it was not an insider because there wasn’t anything illegal in the documents. There still isn’t, but let me explain further. The CIA documents are all hacking tools. There’s nothing about programs or targets. Think about the Snowden leaks: it was the information about programs that targeted Americans, programs that swept up much of the world’s information, programs that demonstrated particularly powerful NSA capabilities. There’s nothing like that in the CIA leaks. They’re just hacking tools. All they demonstrate is that the CIA hoards vulnerabilities contrary to the government’s stated position, but we already knew that.

This was my guess from March:

If I had to guess right now, I’d say the documents came from an outsider and not an insider. My reasoning: One, there is absolutely nothing illegal in the contents of any of this stuff. It’s exactly what you’d expect the CIA to be doing in cyberspace. That makes the whistleblower motive less likely. And two, the documents are a few years old, making this more like the Shadow Brokers than Edward Snowden. An internal leaker would leak quickly. A foreign intelligence agency — like the Russians — would use the documents while they were fresh and valuable, and only expose them when the embarrassment value was greater.

But, as I said last month, no one has any idea: we’re all guessing. (Well, to be fair, I hope the CIA knows exactly who did this. Or, at least, exactly where the documents were stolen from.) And I hope the inability of either the NSA or CIA to keep its own attack tools secret will cause them to rethink their decision to hoard vulnerabilities in common Internet systems instead of fixing them.

News articles.

EDITED TO ADD (4/12): An analysis.

Friday Squid Blogging: Squid Can Edit Their Own RNA

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/04/friday_squid_bl_573.html

This is just plain weird:

Rosenthal, a neurobiologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory, was a grad student studying a specific protein in squid when he got an an inkling that some cephalopods might be different. Every time he analyzed that protein’s RNA sequence, it came out slightly different. He realized the RNA was occasionally substituting A’ for I’s, and wondered if squid might apply RNA editing to other proteins. Rosenthal, a grad student at the time, joined Tel Aviv University bioinformaticists Noa Liscovitch-Braur and Eli Eisenberg to find out.

In results published today, they report that the family of intelligent mollusks, which includes squid, octopuses and cuttlefish, feature thousands of RNA editing sites in their genes. Where the genetic material of humans, insects, and other multi-celled organisms read like a book, the squid genome reads more like a Mad Lib.

So why do these creatures engage in RNA editing when most others largely abandoned it? The answer seems to lie in some crazy double-stranded cloverleaves that form alongside editing sites in the RNA. That information is like a tag for RNA editing. When the scientists studied octopuses, squid, and cuttlefish, they found that these species had retained those vast swaths of genetic information at the expense of making the small changes that facilitate evolution. “Editing is important enough that they’re forgoing standard evolution,” Rosenthal says.

He hypothesizes that the development of a complex brain was worth that price. The researchers found many of the edited proteins in brain tissue, creating the elaborate dendrites and axons of the neurons and tuning the shape of the electrical signals that neurons pass. Perhaps RNA editing, adopted as a means of creating a more sophisticated brain, allowed these species to use tools, camouflage themselves, and communicate.

Yet more evidence that these bizarre creatures are actually aliens.

Three more articles. Academic paper.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

A Day in the Life of a Data Center

Post Syndicated from Andy Klein original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/day-life-datacenter-part/

Editor’s note: We’ve reposted this very popular 2016 blog entry because we often get questions about how Backblaze stores data, and we wanted to give you a look inside!

A data center is part of the “cloud”; as in cloud backup, cloud storage, cloud computing, and so on. It is often where your data goes or goes through, once it leaves your home, office, mobile phone, tablet, etc. While many of you have never been inside a data center, chances are you’ve seen one. Cleverly disguised to fit in, data centers are often nondescript buildings with few if any windows and little if any signage. They can be easy to miss. There are exceptions of course, but most data centers are happy to go completely unnoticed.

We’re going to take a look at a typical day in the life of a data center.

Getting Inside A Data Center

As you approach a data center, you’ll notice there isn’t much to notice. There’s no “here’s my datacenter” signage, and the parking lot is nearly empty. You might wonder, “is this the right place?” While larger, more prominent, data centers will have armed guards and gates, most data centers have a call-box outside of a locked door. In either case, data centers don’t like drop-in visitors, so unless you’ve already made prior arrangements, you’re going to be turned away. In short, regardless of whether it is a call-box or an armed guard, a primary line of defense is to know everyone whom you let in the door.

Once inside the building, you’re still a long way from being in the real data center. You’ll start by presenting the proper identification to the guard and fill out some paperwork. Depending on the facility and your level of access, you will have to provide a fingerprint for biometric access/exit confirmation. Eventually, you get a badge or other form of visual identification that shows your level of access. For example, you could have free range of the place (highly doubtful), or be allowed in certain defined areas (doubtful), or need an escort wherever you go (likely). For this post, we’ll give you access to the Backblaze areas in the data center, accompanied of course.

We’re ready to go inside, so attach your badge with your picture on it, get your finger ready to be scanned, and remember to smile for the cameras as you pass through the “box.” While not the only method, the “box” is a widely used security technique that allows one person at a time to pass through a room where they are recorded on video and visually approved before they can leave. Speaking of being on camera, by the time you get to this point, you will have passed dozens of cameras – hidden, visible, behind one-way glass, and so on.

Once past the “box,” you’re in the data center, right? Probably not. Data centers can be divided into areas or blocks each with different access codes and doors. Once out of the box, you still might only be able to access the snack room and the bathrooms. These “rooms” are always located outside of the data center floor. Let’s step inside, “badge in please.”

Inside the Data Center

While every data center is different, there are three things that most people find common in their experience; how clean it is, the noise level and the temperature.

Data Centers are Clean

From the moment you walk into a typical data center, you’ll notice that it is clean. While most data centers are not cleanrooms by definition, they do ensure the environment is suitable for the equipment housed there.

Data center Entry Mats

Cleanliness starts at the door. Mats like this one capture the dirt from the bottom of your shoes. These mats get replaced regularly. As you look around, you might notice that there are no trashcans on the data center floor. As a consequence, the data center staff follows the “whatever you bring in, you bring out” philosophy, sort of like hiking in the woods. Most data centers won’t allow food or drink on the data center floor, either. Instead, one has to leave the datacenter floor to have a snack or use the restroom.

Besides being visually clean, the air in a data center is also amazingly clean: Filtration systems filter particulates to the sub-micron level. Data center filters have a 99.97% (or higher) efficiency rating in removing 0.3-micron particles. In comparison, your typical home filter provides a 70% sub-micron efficiency level. That might explain the dust bunnies behind your gaming tower.

Data Centers Are Noisy

Data center Noise Levels

The decibel level in a given data center can vary considerably. As you can see, the Backblaze datacenter is between 76 and 78 decibels. This is the level when you are near the racks of Storage Pods. How loud is 78dB? Normal conversation is 60dB, a barking dog is 70dB, and a screaming child is only 80dB. In the US, OSHA has established 85dB as the lower threshold for potential noise damage. Still, 78dB is loud enough that we insist our data center staff wear ear protection on the floor. Their favorite earphones are Bose’s noise reduction models. They are a bit costly but well worth it.

The noise comes from a combination of the systems needed to operate the data center. Air filtration, heating, cooling, electric, and other systems in use. 6,000 spinning 3-inch fans in the Storage Pods produce a lot of noise.

Data Centers Are Hot and Cold

As noted, part of the noise comes from heating and air-conditioning systems, mostly air-conditioning. As you walk through the racks and racks of equipment in many data centers, you’ll alternate between warm aisles and cold aisles. In a typical raised floor data center, cold air rises from vents in the floor in front of each rack. Fans inside the servers in the racks, in our case Storage Pods, pull the air in from the cold aisle and through the server. By the time the air reaches the other side, the warm row, it is warmer and is sucked away by vents in the ceiling or above the racks.

There was a time when data centers were like meat lockers with some kept as cold as 55°F (12.8°C). Warmer heads prevailed, and over the years the average temperature has risen to over 80°F (26.7°C) with some companies pushing that even higher. That works for us, but in our case, we are more interested in the temperature inside our Storage Pods and more precisely the hard drives within. Previously we looked at the correlation between hard disk temperature and failure rate. The conclusion: As long as you run drives well within their allowed range of operating temperatures, there is no problem operating a data center at 80°F (26.7°C) or even higher. As for the employees, if they get hot they can always work in the cold aisle for a while and vice-versa.

Getting Out of a Data Center

When you’re finished visiting the data center, remember to leave yourself a few extra minutes to get out. The first challenge is to find your way back to the entrance. If an escort accompanies you, there’s no issue, but if you’re on your own, I hope you paid attention to the way inside. It’s amazing how all the walls and doors look alike as you’re wandering around looking for the exit, and with data centers getting larger and larger the task won’t get any easier. For example, the Switch SUPERNAP datacenter complex in Reno Nevada will be over 6.4 million square feet, roughly the size of the Pentagon. Having worked in the Pentagon, I can say that finding your way around a facility that large can be daunting. Of course, a friendly security guard is likely to show up to help if you get lost or curious.

On your way back out you’ll pass through the “box” once again for your exit cameo. Also, if you are trying to leave with more than you came in with you will need a fair bit of paperwork before you can turn in your credentials and exit the building. Don’t forget to wave at the cameras in the parking lot.

The post A Day in the Life of a Data Center appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Second WikiLeaks Dump of CIA Documents

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/03/second_wikileak.html

There are more CIA documents up on WikiLeaks. It seems to be mostly MacOS and iOS — including exploits that are installed on the hardware before they’re delivered to the customer.

News articles.

EDITED TO ADD (3/25): Apple claims that the vulnerabilities are all fixed. Note that there are almost certainly other Apple vulnerabilities in the documents still to be released.

Australia Shelves Copyright Safe Harbor For Google, Facebook, et al

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/australia-shelves-copyright-safe-harbor-for-google-facebook-et-al-170323/

Due to what some have described as a drafting error in Australia’s implementation of the Australia – US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA), so-called safe harbor provisions currently only apply to commercial Internet service providers Down Under.

This means that while local ISPs such as Telstra receive protection from copyright infringement complaints, platforms such as Google, Facebook and YouTube face legal uncertainty.

In order to put Australia on a similar footing to technology companies operating in the United States, proposed amendments to the Copyright Act would’ve seen enhanced safe harbor protections for technology platforms such as search engines and social networks.

But that dream has now received a considerable setback after the amendments were withdrawn at the eleventh hour.

In a blow to Google, Facebook and others, the government dropped the amendments before they were due to be introduced to parliament yesterday. That came as a big surprise, particularly as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had given the proposals his seal of approval just last week.

“Provisions relating to safe harbor were removed from the bill before its introduction to enable the government to further consider feedback received on this proposal whilst not delaying the passage of other important reforms,” Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement.

There can be little doubt that intense lobbying from entertainment industry groups played their part, with a series of articles published in ‎News Corp-owned The Australian piling on the pressure in favor of rightsholders.

This week the publication accused Google and others of “ruthlessly exploiting” safe harbor protections in the US and Europe, forcing copyright holders into an expensive and time-consuming battle to have infringing content taken down.

While large takedown efforts are indeed underway in both of those regions, companies like Google argue that doing business in countries without safe harbor provisions presents a risk to business development and innovation. Being held responsible for millions of other people’s infringements could prove massively costly and certainly not worth the risk.

Startup advocacy group StartupAUS criticized the withdrawal of the amendments, describing the move as “a blow to Australian entrepreneurs.”

“Australia’s copyright laws have still not caught up with the realities of the internet. As a result, the laws still struggle to provide clarity and protection for organizations doing business online,” said CEO Alex McCauley.

“Copyright safe harbor is international best practice and without it Australian startups will be held back from participating in the rich global market for content and ideas. We strongly urge the government to reconsider the need for safe harbor provisions.”

But for players in the entertainment industry, safe harbor protections are not something to be quickly revisited without significant preparation.

Welcoming their withdrawal, Dan Rosen, chief executive of the Australian Recording Industry Association, called for a “full, independent and evidence-based review” in advance of similar proposals being raised in the future.

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

‘Pirate’ Kodi Box Sellers Fail to Overturn Sales Ban in Canada

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-kodi-box-sellers-fail-overturn-sales-ban-canada-170321/

From a niche hobbyist affair under its former name XBMC, Kodi is now grabbing international headlines on a daily basis. The media player is both benign and entirely legal in standard form, but boost it with special addons and it becomes a piracy powerhouse.

One of the main problems for the content industries arises from the software’s ability to run on cheap Android and similar hardware. Whether that’s a phone, tablet, set-top box or a device such as Amazon’s Fire Stick, these setups are now in millions of homes, delivering free content to the masses.

Authorities everywhere are now scrambling to deal with the problem and Canada is one of the areas where content producers and cable providers have resorted to legal action. Last year, Rogers Communications, Bell, Videotron and others targeted several retailers who supplied so-called “fully loaded” Android and Apple set-top boxes to the public.

The original defendants, including ITVBOX.NET, My Electronics, Android Bros Inc., WatchNSaveNow Inc and MTLFreeTV, all sold devices that came pre-configured to receive content that customers would otherwise have had to pay for.

Inquiries into the sales began in April 2015 and in the months that followed test purchases were made. The plaintiffs found that the devices not only provided access to their content for free but that the sellers advertised their products as a way to avoid paying bills.

In response, the TV and content companies went to the Federal Court with claims under the Copyright Act and Radiocommunication Act. Last June they were successful in obtaining an interlocutory injunction to stop the devices being made available for sale.

“The devices marketed, sold and programmed by the Defendants enable consumers to obtain unauthorized access to content for which the Plaintiffs own the copyright,” Judge Daniele Tremblay-Lamer wrote in her order.

“For the time being, I am satisfied that the Plaintiffs have established a strong prima facie case of copyright infringement and that an injunction would prevent irreparable harm without unduly inconveniencing the Defendants.”

While the majority of the defendants in the case have been silent (the list has now grown to more than 50 sellers), WatchNSaveNow and MTLFreeTV took the decision to appeal the injunction, arguing that it was never established in court that sales of the devices would hurt the plaintiffs’ business in advance of a trial.

According to CBC, that argument failed to convince the Appeal Court, which yesterday upheld the Federal Court’s decision to hand down an injunction. Turning the box-sellers’ marketing material against them, the Court noted that they’d advertised their devices as providing a way to access free content and avoid paying cable bills.

One of the sellers to appeal, Vincent Wesley of MTLFreeTV, was the only box-seller to turn up at the original Federal Court hearing last year. Back then he said he had nothing to do with the development or maintenance of the software installed on the devices he sold. That didn’t appear to help back then and now the Appeal Court has failed to see the case in the defendants’ favor.

“I’m actually very disappointed. We weren’t even given a fair shot,” Wesley said.

Unsurprisingly, the plaintiffs were rather pleased with the outcome, with both Bell and Rogers welcoming the decision to uphold the injunction.

“Today’s swift dismissal of the appeal of the Federal Court’s injunction speaks to what this case is all about — an obvious case of piracy,” Rogers spokesperson Sarah Schmidt told CBC.

A Bell spokesperson said the decision provided more confirmation that the devices are illegal and that those that sell them face “significant consequences.”

For Wesley, those consequences are already being felt in the shape of a $5,000 court costs bill, something which he says has left him “at the end of his finances.”

With no money left to fight, any trial will almost certainly go the way of the cable and TV companies. Certainly, the public hasn’t signaled any intention to come to the sellers’ rescue. A GoFundMe campaign set up by Wesley in June last year has seen just 10 people deposit $350 of a $30,000 target.

The legal assaults on Kodi, Showbox, and Popcorn-Time enabled devices seems set to continue for some time but one has to wonder what effect the endless flood of news articles is doing to promote the availability of free content through the platforms. Legal action is perhaps inevitable but every case only serves to raise the profile of this new piracy phenomenon.

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

Running R on Amazon Athena

Post Syndicated from Gopal Wunnava original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/big-data/running-r-on-amazon-athena/

Data scientists are often concerned about managing the infrastructure behind big data platforms while running SQL on R. Amazon Athena is an interactive query service that works directly with data stored in S3 and makes it easy to analyze data using standard SQL without the need to manage infrastructure. Integrating R with Amazon Athena gives data scientists a powerful platform for building interactive analytical solutions.

In this blog post, you’ll connect R/RStudio running on an Amazon EC2 instance with Athena.

Prerequisites

Before you get started, complete the following steps.

    1. Have your AWS account administrator give your AWS account the required permissions to access Athena via Amazon’s Identity and Access Management (IAM) console. This can be done by attaching the associated Athena policies to your data scientist user group in IAM.

 

RAthena_1

  1. Provide a staging directory in the form of an Amazon S3 bucket. Athena will use this to query datasets and store results. We’ll call this staging bucket s3://athenauser-athena-r in the instructions that follow.

NOTE: In this blog post, I create all AWS resources in the US-East region. Use the Region Table to check the availability of Athena in other regions.

Set up R and RStudio on EC2 

  1. Follow the instructions in the blog post “Running R on AWS” to set up R on an EC2 instance (t2.medium or greater) running Amazon Linux . Read the step below before you begin.
  1. In that blog post under “Advanced Details,” when you reach step 3 use the following bash script to install the latest version of RStudio. Modify the password for RStudio as needed.
#!/bin/bash
#install R
yum install -y R
#install RStudio-Server
wget https://download2.rstudio.org/rstudio-server-rhel-1.0.136-x86_64.rpm
yum install -y --nogpgcheck rstudio-server-rhel-1.0.136-x86_64.rpm
#add user(s)
useradd rstudio
echo rstudio:rstudio | chpasswd

Install Java 8 

  1. SSH into this EC2 instance.
  2. Remove older versions of Java.
  3. Install Java 8. This is required to work with Athena.
  4. Run the following commands on the command line.
#install Java 8, select ‘y’ from options presented to proceed with installation
sudo yum install java-1.8.0-openjdk-devel
#remove version 7 of Java, select ‘y’ from options to proceed with removal
sudo yum remove java-1.7.0-openjdk
#configure java, choose 1 as your selection option for java 8 configuration
sudo /usr/sbin/alternatives --config java
#run command below to add Java support to R
sudo R CMD javareconf

#following libraries are required for the interactive application we build later
sudo yum install -y libpng-devel
sudo yum install -y libjpeg-turbo-devel

Set up .Renviron

You need to configure the R environment variable .Renviron with the required Athena credentials.

  1. Get the required credentials from your AWS Administrator in the form of AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID and AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY.
  1. Type the following command from the Linux command prompt and bring up the vi editor.
sudo vim /home/rstudio/.Renviron

Provide your Athena credentials in the following form into the editor:
ATHENA_USER=< AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID >
ATHENA_PASSWORD=< AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY>
  1. Save this file and exit from the editor. 

Log in to RStudio

Next, you’ll log in to RStudio on your EC2 instance.

  1. Get the public IP address of your instance from the EC2 dashboard and paste it followed by :8787 (port number for RStudio) into your browser window.
  1. Confirm that your IP address has been whitelisted for inbound access to port 8787 as part of the configuration for the security group associated with your EC2 instance.
  1. Log in to RStudio with the username and password you provided previously.

Install R packages

Next, you’ll install and load the required R packages.

#--following R packages are required for connecting R with Athena
install.packages("rJava")
install.packages("RJDBC")
library(rJava)
library(RJDBC)

#--following R packages are required for the interactive application we build later
#--steps below might take several minutes to complete
install.packages(c("plyr","dplyr","png","RgoogleMaps","ggmap"))
library(plyr)
library(dplyr)
library(png)
library(RgoogleMaps)
library(ggmap)

Connect to Athena

The following steps in R download the Athena driver and set up the required connection. Use the JDBC URL associated with your region.

#verify Athena credentials by inspecting results from command below
Sys.getenv()
#set up URL to download Athena JDBC driver
URL <- 'https://s3.amazonaws.com/athena-downloads/drivers/AthenaJDBC41-1.0.0.jar'
fil <- basename(URL)
#download the file into current working directory
if (!file.exists(fil)) download.file(URL, fil)
#verify that the file has been downloaded successfully
fil
#set up driver connection to JDBC
drv <- JDBC(driverClass="com.amazonaws.athena.jdbc.AthenaDriver", fil, identifier.quote="'")
#connect to Athena using the driver, S3 working directory and credentials for Athena 
#replace ‘athenauser’ below with prefix you have set up for your S3 bucket
con <- jdbcConnection <- dbConnect(drv, 'jdbc:awsathena://athena.us-east-1.amazonaws.com:443/',
s3_staging_dir="s3://athenauser-athena-r",
user=Sys.getenv("ATHENA_USER"),
password=Sys.getenv("ATHENA_PASSWORD"))
#in case of error or warning from step above ensure rJava and RJDBC packages have #been loaded 
#also ensure you have Java 8 running and configured for R as outlined earlier

Now you’re ready to start querying Athena from RStudio. 

Sample Queries to test

# get a list of all tables currently in Athena 
dbListTables(con)
# run a sample query
dfelb=dbGetQuery(con, "SELECT * FROM sampledb.elb_logs limit 10")
head(dfelb,2)

RAthena_2

Interactive Use Case

Next, you’ll practice interactively querying Athena from R for analytics and visualization. For this purpose, you’ll use GDELT, a publicly available dataset hosted on S3.

Create a table in Athena from R using the GDELT dataset. This step can also be performed from the AWS management console as illustrated in the blog post “Amazon Athena – Interactive SQL Queries for Data in Amazon S3.”

#---sql  create table statement in Athena
dbSendQuery(con, 
"
CREATE EXTERNAL TABLE IF NOT EXISTS sampledb.gdeltmaster (
GLOBALEVENTID BIGINT,
SQLDATE INT,
MonthYear INT,
Year INT,
FractionDate DOUBLE,
Actor1Code STRING,
Actor1Name STRING,
Actor1CountryCode STRING,
Actor1KnownGroupCode STRING,
Actor1EthnicCode STRING,
Actor1Religion1Code STRING,
Actor1Religion2Code STRING,
Actor1Type1Code STRING,
Actor1Type2Code STRING,
Actor1Type3Code STRING,
Actor2Code STRING,
Actor2Name STRING,
Actor2CountryCode STRING,
Actor2KnownGroupCode STRING,
Actor2EthnicCode STRING,
Actor2Religion1Code STRING,
Actor2Religion2Code STRING,
Actor2Type1Code STRING,
Actor2Type2Code STRING,
Actor2Type3Code STRING,
IsRootEvent INT,
EventCode STRING,
EventBaseCode STRING,
EventRootCode STRING,
QuadClass INT,
GoldsteinScale DOUBLE,
NumMentions INT,
NumSources INT,
NumArticles INT,
AvgTone DOUBLE,
Actor1Geo_Type INT,
Actor1Geo_FullName STRING,
Actor1Geo_CountryCode STRING,
Actor1Geo_ADM1Code STRING,
Actor1Geo_Lat FLOAT,
Actor1Geo_Long FLOAT,
Actor1Geo_FeatureID INT,
Actor2Geo_Type INT,
Actor2Geo_FullName STRING,
Actor2Geo_CountryCode STRING,
Actor2Geo_ADM1Code STRING,
Actor2Geo_Lat FLOAT,
Actor2Geo_Long FLOAT,
Actor2Geo_FeatureID INT,
ActionGeo_Type INT,
ActionGeo_FullName STRING,
ActionGeo_CountryCode STRING,
ActionGeo_ADM1Code STRING,
ActionGeo_Lat FLOAT,
ActionGeo_Long FLOAT,
ActionGeo_FeatureID INT,
DATEADDED INT,
SOURCEURL STRING )
ROW FORMAT DELIMITED
FIELDS TERMINATED BY '\t'
STORED AS TEXTFILE
LOCATION 's3://support.elasticmapreduce/training/datasets/gdelt'
;
"
)



dbListTables(con)

You should see this newly created table named ‘gdeltmaster’ appear in your RStudio console after executing the statement above.

RAthena_3

Query this Athena table to get a count of all CAMEO events that took place in the US in 2015.

#--get count of all CAMEO events that took place in US in year 2015 
#--save results in R dataframe
dfg<-dbGetQuery(con,"SELECT eventcode,count(*) as count
FROM sampledb.gdeltmaster
where year = 2015 and ActionGeo_CountryCode IN ('US')
group by eventcode
order by eventcode desc"
)
str(dfg)
head(dfg,2)

RAthena_4

#--get list of top 5 most frequently occurring events in US in 2015
dfs=head(arrange(dfg,desc(count)),5)
dfs

RAthena_5

From the R output shown above, you can see that CAMEO event “042” has the highest count. From the CAMEO manual, you can determine that this event has the description “Travel to another location for a meeting or other event.”

Next, you’ll use the knowledge gained from this analysis to get a list of all geo-coordinates associated with this specific event from the Athena table.

#--get a list of latitude and longitude associated with event “042” 
#--save results in R dataframe
dfgeo<-dbGetQuery(con,"SELECT actiongeo_lat,actiongeo_long
FROM sampledb.gdeltmaster
where year = 2015 and ActionGeo_CountryCode IN ('US')
and eventcode = '042'
"
)
#--duration of above query will depend on factors like size of chosen EC2 instance
#--now rename columns in dataframe for brevity
names(dfgeo)[names(dfgeo)=="actiongeo_lat"]="lat"
names(dfgeo)[names(dfgeo)=="actiongeo_long"]="long"
names(dfgeo)
#let us inspect this R dataframe
str(dfgeo)
head(dfgeo,5)

RAthena_6
Next, generate a map for the United States. 

#--generate map for the US using the ggmap package
map=qmap('USA',zoom=3)
map

RAthena_7

Now you’ll plot the geodata obtained from your Athena table onto this map. This will help you visualize all US locations where these events had occurred in 2015. 

#--plot our geo-coordinates on the US map
map + geom_point(data = dfgeo, aes(x = dfgeo$long, y = dfgeo$lat), color="blue", size=0.5, alpha=0.5)

RAthena_8

By visually inspecting the results, you can determine that this specific event was heavily concentrated in the Northeastern part of the US.

Conclusion

You’ve learned how to build a simple interactive application with Athena and R. Athena can be used to store and query the underlying data for your big data applications using standard SQL, while R can be used to interactively query Athena and generate analytical insights using the powerful set of libraries that R provides.

If you have questions or suggestions, please leave your feedback in the comments.

 


About the Author

gopalGopal Wunnava is a Partner Solution Architect with the AWS GSI Team. He works with partners and customers on big data engagements, and is passionate about building analytical solutions that drive business capabilities and decision making. In his spare time, he loves all things sports and movies related and is fond of old classics like Asterix, Obelix comics and Hitchcock movies.

 

 


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Community Profile: Alex Eames

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/community-profile-alex-eames/

This column is from The MagPi issue 52. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

Alex purchased his first Raspberry Pi in May 2012, after a BBC article caught his eye. Already teaching ICT at his son’s school, he was drawn to the idea of a $35 computer to aid the education of his ten-year-old students.

Alex Eames

Alex is truly a member of the Raspberry Pi community, providing support and resources to those new to, and experienced in, the world of the Pi

Less than a month later, Alex started his website, RasPi.TV. The website allowed him to document his progress with the Raspberry Pi, and to curate an easy-to-use reference library for others.

“I found that when I wanted to learn something new, generally the ‘instructions’ on other Linux sites were either out of date or incomplete. I wanted a place where I could record procedures that I could use again, but that would also be available to others.”

Alex was determined to provide tutorials that worked first time, understanding the frustration for newcomers when their hard work didn’t always pay off. “It’s off-putting for people to follow a list of instructions, get it all right, and then find the process fails,” he says. RasPi.TV was all about “instructions that work first time – even if you’ve never done it before.”

Alex Eames Community Profile

The RasPi.TV website is packed full of tutorials, reviews, and videos, all of which have the aim of helping newcomers and seasoned Raspberry Pi users to expand their skill set and interests. Alex’s YouTube channel boasts more than 8,000 subscribers, with viewing figures of well over 1.5 million across his 121 videos.

In 2012, Alex began to build his own RasPiO boards, with the first releases making an appearance in March 2014. The GPIO labeller, Breakout, and Breakout Pro were successful across the community, earning an honourable mention on the official Raspberry Pi blog. The Pro has since been upgraded to the Pro HAT, while the labeller has been replaced with a newer 40-pin version. The RasPiO collection has now increased to ten different units, each available for direct purchase from the website. A few originally found their feet via successful crowdfunding campaigns.

Alex Eames Community Profile

The RasPiO family is a series of add-on boards, port labellers, GPIO rulers, and tools to aid makers in building with the Raspberry Pi. The ruler, for example, offers GPIO pin reference for easy identification, along with a code reference for using the GPIO Zero library.

Even if you’ve yet to visit either RasPi.TV or Alex’s YouTube channel, the chances are that you’ve seen one aspect of his online contribution to the Raspberry Pi Community. Alex maintains a Raspberry Pi ‘family photo’ on his website, showcasing every model built across the years. It’s a picture that often does the rounds of blogs, news articles, and social media.

Raspberry Pi Family Photo 2017

Updated 28th Feb 2017 to include the newly released Raspberry Pi Zero W

Outside of his life of Pi, Alex has a background in analytical chemistry, a profession that certainly explains his desire for the clean, precise, and well-tested tutorials that brought about the creation of RasPi.TV. From working as a translator to writing his own e-books, Alex is definitely well suited to the maker life, moving on from his past life of pharmaceutical development.

Duinocam designed by Alex Eames

The Duinocam is set up in Alex’s home in Poland. During daylight hours, it emails him photos and temperature data while also responding to tweeted commands
such as video capture and upload. Using a Pi Model B, a RasPiO Duino, a Camera Module, and two servos, the unit can pan and tilt to survey the area.

His tutorial and review videos on YouTube reach viewing figures in the thousands, with his popular Raspberry Pi DSI Display Launch video garnering close to 300,000 views at the time of writing of this article. While Alex has updated us on his newest unreleased projects and plans, we’ll keep them quiet for now. You’ll have to watch the RasPi.TV website for details.

Note – Since writing this article, Alex has continued his work, producing new content to support the Raspberry Pi Zero W, while also releasing his newest crowdfunding campaign, RasPiO InsPiRing.

The post Community Profile: Alex Eames appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

How to securely recycle or dispose of your SSD

Post Syndicated from Peter Cohen original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-securely-recycle-or-dispose-of-your-ssd/

Solid State Drives (SSDs) are fast and efficient. More new computers than ever come with them, and many of us have upgraded our existing PCs and Macs to them to get better performance or to replace dead or dying spinning hard drives.

With prices dropping on larger SSDs, those of us who have outgrown our current models are ready to upgrade. What’s more, SSDs die and need to be replaced just like everything else. When it comes time to hand down, recycle or get rid of your SSD, what do you do? Read on for details.

Don’t Bother Degaussing, Drilling Holes or “Zeroing out” an SSD

First, let’s focus on some “dont’s.” These are tried and true methods used to make sure that your data is unrecoverable from spinning hard disk drives. But these don’t carry over to the SSD world.

Degaussing – applying a very strong magnet – has been an accepted method for erasing data off of magnetic media like spinning hard drives for decades. But it doesn’t work on SSDs. SSDs don’t store data magnetically, so applying a strong magnetic field won’t do anything.

Spinning hard drives are also susceptible to physical damage, so some folks take a hammer and nail or even a drill to the hard drive and pound holes through the top. That’s an almost surefire way to make sure your data won’t be read by anyone else. But inside an SSD chassis that looks like a 2.5-inch hard disk drive is actually just a series of memory chips. Drilling holes into the case may not do much, or may only damage a few of the chips. So that’s off the table too.

Erasing free space or reformatting a drive by rewriting it zeroes is an effective way to clear data off on a hard drive, but not so much on an SSD. In fact, in a recent update to its Mac Disk Utility, Apple removed the secure erase feature altogether because they say it isn’t necessary. So what’s the best way to make sure your data is unrecoverable?

Lock It Up and Throw Away the (Encryption) Key

Hopefully your SSD isn’t dead yet or hasn’t been pulled because this takes a bit of advanced planning. But as the old expression goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The easiest way to make sure the data on your SSD is unrecoverable is not to erase at all, but to encrypt it. Without having the passphrase or encryption key to recover from, any data on that drive is useless to anyone that finds it.

Apple’s FileVault is encryption software included with macOS. Microsoft’s built-in encryption software for Windows is called BitLocker. Both systems are full-disk encryption methods, so anything you’ve stored on your hard disk is safe from prying eyes unless you type in a passphrase or key to decrypt the data.

Reformat the drive and you should be safe – any data on there is unrecoverable without that encryption key. If you want to rest even easier, re-encrypt the drive after the format, then reformat again.

Check the SSD Maker’s Web Site

If you’ve upgraded your computer with a third-party SSD, visit the manufacturer’s web site. Intel, Samsung and others make free SSD utilities designed to work with their own devices. Many of these utilities include re-formatting and erasing tools, including some secure erase options that will help give you additional peace of mind.

Shred It

Physically destroying the SSD by shredding it into small particles is the absolutely safest, most foolproof method for safe and secure disposal. Unfortunately, it’s also the most expensive.

Prices on devices designed for SSD shredding start in the thousands. This isn’t something to buy on a whim for home use. And the sort of shredder that you might use to get rid of old tax documents or CDs won’t work – an SSD will jam them up.

If your business has the budget, a number of companies make shredding devices especially designed to physically destroy SSDs. Security Engineered Machinery, Phiston and Garner are popular SSD shredder makers.

It’s important to check the specs of any potential shredder to make sure the shred size is small enough to actually destroy the memory chips on your SSD, however. The shred width should be 1/2 inch or less if you want to make sure the chips get properly mashed up.

No, a woodchipper like the one from the movie Fargo does not have a suitable shred width for secure SSD disposal.

If your SSD looks like a hard disk drive, you should be able to take it apart with the right tools (usually the small screwdrivers included with a computer repair kit are all you need). Inside you’ll find the SATA memory chips where data is actually stored; you can remove them and destroy them however you see fit, whether it’s by a shredder or some other destructive means.

One of the folks in the office found this video if you’d like to see the process in action. We’re not affiliated with any of the products shown here.

Integrated SSDs

Some computers – most notable recent-model Macs from Apple – include factory-installed SSDs that are integrated directly onto the motherboard and may not be removable. Sure, you might be able to run the whole main logic board through a shredder, but that seems…well, excessive.

In those cases, physically destroying the SSD becomes a lot harder. Which makes it doubly important to have another way to make sure your data is safe, like encrypting the drive, for example.

Find a new use for it

Upgrading an SSD that’s still working? If you want to hang on to it, there are plenty of options. If it’s in a SATA enclosure, you can pop that SSD into an external USB hard disk drive enclosure and use it as a backup drive or as additional storage for whatever you might need. Some companies including Transcend and Other World Computing make external enclosures for the removable, upgradeable SSD cards you’ll find in late-model Macs, too.

You can also hand down or sell the SSD to a friend or family member who could use the upgrade, too. Assuming you want to be on the hook for the inevitable family tech support to follow.

One way or the other, it’s a good idea to encrypt and reformat the SSD before handing it off to anyone else.

More About SSDs

If you’re interested in upgrading your computer with an SSD or you have questions about an SSD configuration you’re having some problems with, we’ve published a few blog posts you might be interested in. Let us know if you have other questions!

The post How to securely recycle or dispose of your SSD appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.