Tag Archives: blockades

Fairplay Canada Discredits “Pro-Piracy” TorrentFreak News, Then Cites Us

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fairplay-canada-discredits-pro-piracy-torrentfreak-news-then-cites-us-180520/

At TorrentFreak we do our best to keep readers updated on the latest copyright and piracy news, highlighting issues from different points of view.

We report on the opinions and efforts of copyright holders when it comes to online piracy and we also make room for those who oppose them. That’s how balanced reporting works in our view.

There is probably no site on the Internet who reports on the negative consequences of piracy as much as we do, but for some reason, the term “pro-piracy” is sometimes attached to our reporting. This also happened in the recent reply Fairplay Canada sent to the CRTC.

The coalition of media companies and ISPs is trying to get a pirate site blocking regime implemented in Canada. As part of this effort, it’s countering numerous responses from the public, including one from law professor Michael Geist.

In his submission, Geist pointed out that the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that site blocking is disproportional, referring to our article on the matter. This article was entirely correct at the time it was written, but it appears that the Court later clarified its stance.

Instead of pointing that out to us, or perhaps Geist, Fairplay frames it in a different light.

“Professor Geist dismisses Mexico because, relying on a third party source (the pro-piracy news site TorrentFreak), he believes its Supreme Court has ruled that the regime is disproportionate,” it writes.

Fairplay does not dispute that the Supreme Court initially ruled that a site blockade should target specific content. However, it adds that the court later clarified that blockades are also allowed if a substantial majority of content on a site is infringing.

The bottom line is that, later developments aside, our original article was correct. What bothers us, however, is that the Fairplay coalition is branding us as a “pro-piracy” site. That’s done for a reason, most likely to discredit the accuracy of our reporting.

Pro piracy news site

Luckily we have pretty thick skin, so we’ll get over it. If Fairplay Canada doesn’t trust us, then so be it.

Amusingly, however, this was not the only TorrentFreak article the coalition referenced. In fact, our reporting is cited twice more in the same report but without the pro-piracy branding.

A few pages down from the Geist reference, Fairplay mentions how pirate site blockades do not violate net neutrality in India, referring to our thorough article that explains how the process works.

No pro piracy?

Similarly, we’re also pretty reliable when it comes to reporting on MUSO’s latest piracy data, as Fairplay cites us for that as well. These are the data that play a central role in the coalition’s argumentation and analysis.

We’re not entirely sure how it works, but apparently, we are a “pro-piracy” news site when Fairplay Canada doesn’t like our reporting, and a reliable source when it suits their message.

In any case, we would like to point out that this entire opinion article is written without any pro-piracy messaging. But it appears that every sentence that deviates from the agenda of certain groups, may be interpreted as such.

Not sure if you could call that fair play?

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

ISP Telenor Will Block The Pirate Bay in Sweden Without a Shot Fired

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-telenor-will-block-the-pirate-bay-in-sweden-without-a-shot-fired-180520/

Back in 2014, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit against Bredbandsbolaget, one of Sweden’s largest ISPs.

The copyright holders asked the Stockholm District Court to order the ISP to block The Pirate Bay and streaming site Swefilmer, claiming that the provider knowingly facilitated access to the pirate platforms and assisted their pirating users.

Soon after the ISP fought back, refusing to block the sites in a determined response to the Court.

“Bredbandsbolaget’s role is to provide its subscribers with access to the Internet, thereby contributing to the free flow of information and the ability for people to reach each other and communicate,” the company said in a statement.

“Bredbandsbolaget does not block content or services based on individual organizations’ requests. There is no legal obligation for operators to block either The Pirate Bay or Swefilmer.”

In February 2015 the parties met in court, with Bredbandsbolaget arguing in favor of the “important principle” that ISPs should not be held responsible for content exchanged over the Internet, in the same way the postal service isn’t responsible for the contents of an envelope.

But with TV companies SVT, TV4 Group, MTG TV, SBS Discovery and C More teaming up with the IFPI alongside Paramount, Disney, Warner and Sony in the case, Bredbandsbolaget would need to pull out all the stops to obtain victory. The company worked hard and initially the news was good.

In November 2015, the Stockholm District Court decided that the copyright holders could not force Bredbandsbolaget to block the pirate sites, ruling that the ISP’s operations did not amount to participation in the copyright infringement offenses carried out by some of its ‘pirate’ subscribers.

However, the case subsequently went to appeal, with the brand new Patent and Market Court of Appeal hearing arguments. In February 2017 it handed down its decision, which overruled the earlier ruling of the District Court and ordered Bredbandsbolaget to implement “technical measures” to prevent its customers accessing the ‘pirate’ sites through a number of domain names and URLs.

With nowhere left to go, Bredbandsbolaget and owner Telenor were left hanging onto their original statement which vehemently opposed site-blocking.

“It is a dangerous path to go down, which forces Internet providers to monitor and evaluate content on the Internet and block websites with illegal content in order to avoid becoming accomplices,” they said.

In March 2017, Bredbandsbolaget blocked The Pirate Bay but said it would not give up the fight.

“We are now forced to contest any future blocking demands. It is the only way for us and other Internet operators to ensure that private players should not have the last word regarding the content that should be accessible on the Internet,” Bredbandsbolaget said.

While it’s not clear whether any additional blocking demands have been filed with the ISP, this week an announcement by Bredbandsbolaget parent company Telenor revealed an unexpected knock-on effect. Seemingly without a single shot being fired, The Pirate Bay will now be blocked by Telenor too.

The background lies in Telenor’s acquisition of Bredbandsbolaget back in 2005. Until this week the companies operated under separate brands but will now merge into one entity.

“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget today take the final step on their joint trip and become the same company with the same name. As a result, Telenor becomes a comprehensive provider of broadband, TV and mobile communications,” the company said in a statement this week.

“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget have shared both logo and organization for the last 13 years. Today, we take the last step in the relationship and consolidate the companies under the same name.”

Up until this final merger, 600,000 Bredbandsbolaget broadband customers were denied access to The Pirate Bay. Now it appears that Telenor’s 700,000 fiber and broadband customers will be affected too. The new single-brand company says it has decided to block the notorious torrent site across its entire network.

“We have not discontinued Bredbandsbolaget, but we have merged Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and become one,” the company said.

“When we share the same network, The Pirate Bay is blocked by both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and there is nothing we plan to change in the future.”

TorrentFreak contacted the PR departments of both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget requesting information on why a court order aimed at only the latter’s customers would now affect those of the former too, more than doubling the blockade’s reach. Neither company responded which leaves only speculation as to its motives.

On the one hand, the decision to voluntarily implement an expanded blockade could perhaps be viewed as a little unusual given how much time, effort and money has been invested in fighting web-blockades in Sweden.

On the other, the merger of the companies may present legal difficulties as far as the court order goes and it could certainly cause friction among the customer base of Telenor if some customers could access TPB, and others could not.

In any event, the legal basis for web-blocking on copyright infringement grounds was firmly established last year at the EU level, which means that Telenor would lose any future legal battle, should it decide to dig in its heels. On that basis alone, the decision to block all customers probably makes perfect commercial sense.

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

‘Blocking Pirate Sites Through Court is Uncertain, Slow and Expensive’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/blocking-pirate-sites-through-court-is-uncertain-slow-and-expensive-180517/

FairPlay Canada, a coalition of copyright holders and major players in the telco industry, wants to institute a national pirate site blocking scheme.

The group submitted its plan to the Canadian telecoms regulator CRTC earlier this year, which subsequently asked the public for input.

This consultation triggered a wave of responses. Those opposed to the blocklist idea highlight the risk of over-blocking, net neutrality threats, and the lack of judicial oversight, among other things.

Yesterday, the Fairplay Coalition responded to these comments in a new filing. Providing additional evidence, the group countered the opposition head-on, accusing some commenters of spreading false and inaccurate information.

The coalition also responded to the common argument that there is no need for a separate blocking scheme. Copyright holders can already request injunctive relief from the courts, demanding that ISPs block pirate sites, as is common in many other countries.

In its reply, Fairplay counters that this may not be as straightforward as some claim. Section 36 of the Telecommunications Act suggests that, in addition to a court order, Commission approval is needed to block a site. This is complex and makes it uncertain if courts will be willing to grant these blockades.

“It is possible a court would be dissuaded from making an order against ISPs to disable to access to a piracy site given section 36 and the Commission’s view of its impact,” Fairplay’s response reads.

In other words, the coalition suggests that with proper judicial oversight under current law, there may not be any blockades. It’s not clear how that helps their argument, as that might be the exact point of the critics, but there is more.

In addition to the uncertainty of getting a blocking order through the courts, Fairplay argues that this route will also be very expensive. To make this point, the coalition hired the law firm Hayes eLaw to calculate the potential costs and time required to complete the process.

According to this analysis, it may take more than two years before a blocking order is final, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses for just one site. This is too slow and too expensive, the coalition concludes.

“[T]he process involves first completing litigation against each egregious piracy site, and could take up to 765 days and cost up to $338,000 to address a single site,” Fairplay writes.

“While copyright enforcement actions are a crucial and powerful tool in many cases, it is not reasonable to suggest that rightsholders should spend this much time and resources to address every case in which their content is being stolen.”

Finally, Fairplay notes that those commenters who suggest the judicial route are apparently not against site blocking, but only against how these blockades are administered.

Arguments against the court option

As is often the case with consultations, both sides of the argument will present issues in a light that suits them best.

However, Fairplay goes even further and suggests that many consultation responses are based on misleading information, which is the result of online activists.

Among other things, these responses suggest that the plan would allow ISPs to unilaterally decide to block websites. However, Fairplay counters that ISPs can only block sites if they’re ordered to do so by the Commission, not on their own accord.

“The fact that the Commission received such interventions is not surprising, as every indication is that they were driven by online campaigns that made exactly this false claim,” they write.

“Indeed, the petitions or form letters submitted by CIPPIC/OpenMedia, SumOfUs, and LeadNow all explicitly contain this particular point of misinformation.”

In addition to the misinformation, Fairplay also notes that some interventions are false, while thousands of petitions are mere duplicates.

“There are a number of obviously false interventions and the identity, veracity, and location of the others can generally not be confirmed. In the case of the petitions, there are more than 14,000 identified duplicate entries, and an unknowable number of other false entries.”

Fairplay doesn’t ask the CRTC to ignore these submissions. It just points out that they cannot be relied upon, as they are not representative or based on faulty assumptions about the actual proposal.

Instead, the coalition comes up with a survey of its own. Fairplay hired Nanos Research to ask random Canadians whether their country should have less, the same, or more protection than countries that currently block piracy sites, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and France.

According to the results, 77% of Canadians believed Canada should have the same or more protection than those countries, suggesting that Canadians are not anti-site-blocking at all. That said, the above mentioned foreign blockades are court sanctioned.

The entire response from Fairplay Canada is available here (pdf). It totals more than 60 pages and further addresses the economic impact of piracy, the effectiveness of the plan, how blocking is consistent with net neutrality and freedom of speech, as well as a wide range of other topics.

While the extra context will be useful to the CRTC, it’s unlikely to sway the opposition.

Around the same time as the coalition submitted its response, a new controversy emerged. Documents published by the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications suggest that Bell discussed the site blocking plan privately with the CRTC before it was made public. While it’s apparent that site blocking was on the agenda, Bell told Mobile Syrup that there’s “nothing procedurally unusual” in this case.

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

Pirate Site Blocking Threatens Canada’s Net Neutrality, House of Commons Committee Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-threatens-canadas-net-neutrality-house-of-commons-committee-says-180514/

Earlier this year several of the largest telcos in Canada teamed up with copyright holders to present their plan to tackle online piracy.

United in the Fairplay Canada coalition, Bell, Rogers, and others urged telecoms regulator CRTC to institute a national website blocking program.

The blocklist should be maintained by a yet to be established non-profit organization called the “Independent Piracy Review Agency” (IPRA) and both IPRA and the CRTC would be overseen by the Federal Court of Appeal, the organizations propose.

Thus far the response to the plan has been mixed. Several large media companies are in favor of blockades, arguing that it’s one of the few options to stop piracy. However, others fear that it will lead to overblocking and other problems.

Last week, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics joined the opposition. In a detailed report on the protection of net neutrality in Canada, it signaled the blocking proposal as a serious concern.

The House of Commons committee, which advises Parliament on a variety of matters, notes that the Fairplay coalition hasn’t sufficiently explained why the current process doesn’t work, nor has it supplied sufficient evidence to justify the new measures.

“[T]he Committee is of the view that the proposal could impede the application of net neutrality in Canada, and that in their testimony, the ISPs did not present sufficient explanation as to why the existing process is inadequate or sufficient justification to support to application,” the report reads.

At the same time, the lack of judicial oversight is seen as a problem.

“The Committee also remains skeptical about the absence of judicial oversight in the Fair Play proposal and is of the view that maintaining such oversight is critical,” it adds.

What is clear, however, is that the proposal could impede the application of net neutrality in Canada. As such, the House of Commons committee recommends that the Government asks the CRTC to reconsider its decision, if it decides in favor of the blocking plan.

“That, in the event that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission supports FairPlay Canada’s application, the federal government consider using the authority provided under section 12 of the Telecommunications Act to ask the CRTC to reconsider its decision,” the recommendation reads.

Recommendation

The net neutrality angle has been brought up by several parties in the past, ranging from legal experts, through copyright holders, to the public at large. While many see it as a threat, those in favor of website blocking say it’s a non-issue.

Even Internet providers themselves are divided on the topic. Where Shaw sees no net neutrality concerns, TekSavvy has argued the opposite.

The House of Commons committee report clearly sides with the opponents and with backing from all political parties, it sends a strong message. This is music to the ears of law professor Micheal Geist, one of the most vocal critics of the Fairplay proposal.

“With all parties joining in a recommendation against the site blocking plan, the report represents a strong signal that the FairPlay coalition plan led by Bell does not have political support given that it raises freedom of expression, due process, and net neutrality concerns,” Geist notes.

A copy of the report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics is available here (pdf).

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

The Pirating Elephant in Uncle Sam’s Room

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirating-elephant-in-uncle-sams-room-180413/

It’s not a secret that, in sheer numbers, America is the country that harbors most online pirates.

Perhaps no surprise, since it has a large and well-connected population, but it’s important to note considering what we’re about to write today.

Over the past decade, online piracy has presented itself as a massive problem for the US and its entertainment industries. It’s a global issue that’s hard to contain, but Hollywood and the major record labels are doing what they can.

Two of the key strategies they’ve employed in recent years are website blocking and domain seizures. US companies have traveled to courts all over the world to have ISP blockades put in place, with quite a bit of success.

At the same time, US rightsholders also push foreign domain registrars and registries to suspend or seize domains. The US Government is even jumping in, applying pressure against pirate domains as well.

Previously, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica threatened to have the country’s domain name registry shut down, unless it suspended ThePirateBay.cr. This hasn’t happened, yet, but it was a clear signal.

What’s odd, though, is that ThePirateBay.cr is a relatively meaningless proxy site. The real Pirate Bay operates from an .org domain name, which happens to be managed by the US-based Public Interest Registry (PIR).

So, if the US authorities threaten to shut down Costa Rica’s domain registry over a proxy, why is the US-based PIR registry still in action? After all, it’s the registry that ‘manages’ the domain name of the largest pirate site on the entire web, and has done for nearly 15 years.

Also of note is that the entertainment industries previously launched an overseas lawsuit to seize The Pirate Bay’s .se and .is domains, but never attempted to do the same with the US-based .org domain.

There are more of these strange observations. Let’s move back to website blocking, for example.

In a detailed overview, the Motion Picture Association recently reported that ISP blocking measures, which are in place in more than two dozen countries, help to reduce piracy significantly. This is further backed up by industry-supported reports and independent academic research.

In an ideal world, the US entertainment industries would like ISPs in every country to block pirate sites. While this is all fine and understandable from the perspective of these companies, there’s also an elephant in the room.

Over the past decade, US companies have worked hard to spread their blocking message around the world, while they yet have to attempt the same on their home turf. And this happens to be the country with the most pirates of all, which could make a massive impact.

Sure, it was a major success when a court in Iceland ordered local ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. But with roughly 130,000 Internet subscriptions in the entire country, that’s peanuts compared to the US.

So why is the US, the largest “pirate nation,” ignored?

From what we’ve heard, the entertainment industries are not pushing for ISP blockades in US courts because they fear a SOPA-like backlash. This likely applies to domain suspensions as well, which aren’t all that hard to accomplish in the US.

Instead, the major entertainment companies are focusing their efforts elsewhere.

While these entertainment companies are well within their rights to lobby for these measures, there’s an elephant in the room that is hard to ignore. Personally, I can’t help but cringe every time Hollywood pushes the blocking agenda to a new country or demands domain seizures abroad.

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

UK Internet Filters Block Disney Sites, Internet Safety Tips, and More

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-internet-filters-block-disney-sites-internet-safety-tips-and-more-180505/

Over the past several years we have regularly written about court-ordered blockades of pirate sites in the UK.

Today, we take a closer look at another type of blocking, the Internet safety filters UK ISPs offer. These filters, which are sometimes enabled by default, help subscribers to block harmful content, especially for their children.

With help from the Open Rights Group’s Blocked initiative, which documents the scope of various ISP filters, we took a look at how these perform.

The first results are as expected. Many porn sites are blocked and so are sites that are clearly oriented at a mature audience. That’s more or less what these filters are meant for, so no issues there.

We also noticed that many proxies and VPNs are not accessible. While this may seem broad, as they’re not offensive, these tools could allow clever sorts to bypass parental controls, so there’s an argument to be made for their inclusion.

Oddly enough, the Tor browser, which can do the same, is freely accessible. But let’s not digress.

What really stood out to us is that some sites which are targeted at kids, or at least useful to them, are blocked too.

One prime example is the official UK Disney website, located at disney.co.uk, which is blocked by BT’s Strict filters. That seems a bit cruel. The same is true for disneymoviesanywhere.com, which is not very useful, but certainly doesn’t seem harmful to us either.

Apparently, BT doesn’t want children to visit these Disney sites.

No Disney

The parental control filters are supposed to make the web a safer place for kids. While this is a laudable aim, the execution is not always perfect. For example, several ISPs including BT, Plusnet and Virgin Media, are blocking the internetsafetyday.org website.

Admittedly, the site is targeted at parents, but since these will often be behind the same filters, they’re missing out on some good tips and tricks on how to educate their children.

No safety

Talking about education. It’s always good when kids start to experiment with coding at a young age. This is also one of the core messages of the non-profit organization Kidsandcode.org.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to code,” the site reads.

This makes sense, you’d think, but for kids who are trapped behind the BT Strict or BT Light filters, this is not an option.

What can kids do nowadays then? Play a few simple games? Ideally educational games such as the ones playkidsgames.com offers. As you may have guessed by now, that’s not an option either, at least not behind BT’s Strict filter.

Maybe kids should stick to more boring stuff. Perhaps finish that school project on Vikings, that should be doable, right? Well, it is, as long as you don’t look up vikingsword.com, a historical and educational side dedicated to Viking swords.

Both Three and Sky have blocked the site, with Sky explaining that it’s placed in the “Weapons, Violence, Gore and Hate” category.

Ancient weapons

Perhaps we’re too insensitive, but I think that most children can handle grainy drawings of swords. After all, the average cartoon is more violent nowadays.

And yes, it’s true that decades-old Viking swords are weapons, but Three and Sky are not very consistent as the website of today’s largest weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin appears to pass through all parental filters just fine.

Luckily, the Open Rights Group allows us to check for these odd results, and report sites which are inaccurately blocked. Interested in checking if your favorite website is blocked? You can do so here. Feel free to report any unusual findings in the comments.

Open Rights Group is currently looking for donations and other means of support to keep its Blocked project up and running. More information is available here.

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

Russia Blocks 50 VPNs & Anonymizers in Telegram Crackdown, Viber Next

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocks-50-vpns-anonymizers-in-telegram-crackdown-viber-next-180504/

Any entity operating an encrypted messaging service in Russia needs to register with local authorities. They must also hand over their encryption keys when requested to do so, so that users can be monitored.

Messaging giant Telegram refused to give in to Russian pressure. Founder Pavel Durov said that he would not compromise the privacy of Telegram’s 200m monthly users, despite losing a lawsuit against the Federal Security Service which compelled him to do so. In response, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor filed a lawsuit to degrade Telegram via web-blocking.

After a Moscow court gave the go-ahead for Telegram to be banned in Russia last month, chaos broke out. ISPs around the country tried to block the service, which was using Amazon and Google to provide connectivity. Millions of IP addresses belonging to both companies were blocked and countless other companies and individuals had their services blocked too.

But despite the Russian carpet-bombing of Telegram, the service steadfastly remained online. People had problems accessing the service at times, of course, but their determination coupled with that of Telegram and other facilitators largely kept communications flowing.

Part of the huge counter-offensive was mounted by various VPN and anonymizer services that allowed people to bypass ISP blocks. However, they too have found themselves in trouble, with Russian authorities blocking them for facilitating access to Telegram. In an announcement Thursday, the telecoms watchdog revealed the scale of the crackdown.

Deputy Head of Roskomnadzor told TASS that dozens of VPNs and similar services had been blocked while hinting at yet more to come.

“Fifty for the time being,” Subbotin said.

With VPN providers taking a hit on behalf of Telegram, there could be yet more chaos looming on the horizon. It’s feared that other encrypted services, which have also failed to hand over their keys to the FSB, could be targeted next.

Ministry of Communications chief Nikolai Nikiforov told reporters this week that if Viber doesn’t fall into line, it could suffer the same fate as Telegram.

“This is a matter for the Federal Security Service, because the authority with regard to such specific issues in the execution of the order for the provision of encryption keys is the authority of the FSB,” Nikiforov said.

“If they have problems with the provision of encryption keys, they can also apply to the court and obtain a similar court decision,” the minister said, responding to questions about the Japanese-owned, Luxembourg-based communications app.

With plenty of chaos apparent online, there are also reports of problems from within Roscomnadzor itself. For the past several days, rumors have been circulating in Russian media that Roskomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov has resigned, perhaps in response to the huge over-blocking that took place when Telegram was targeted.

When questioned by reporters this week, Ministry of Communications chief Nikolai Nikiforov refused to provide any further information, stating that such a matter would be for the prime minister to handle.

“I would not like to comment on this. If the chairman of the government takes this decision, I recall that the heads of services are appointed by the decision of the prime minister and personnel decisions are never commented on,” he said.

Whether Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will make a statement is yet to be seen, but this week his office has been dealing with a blocking – or rather unblocking – controversy of its own.

In a public post on Facebook May 1, Duma deputy Natalya Kostenko revealed that she was having problems due to the Telegram blockades.

“Dear friends, do not write to me on Telegram, I’m not getting your messages. Use other channels to contact me,” Kostenko wrote.

In response, Dmitry Medvedev’s press secretary, Natalia Timakova, told her colleague to circumvent the blockade so that she could access Telegram once again.

“Use a VPN! It’s simple. And it works almost all the time,” Timakov wrote.

Until those get blocked too, of course…..

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

Danish Traffic to Pirate Sites Increases 67% in Just a Year

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/danish-traffic-to-pirate-sites-increases-67-in-just-a-year-180501/

For close to 20 years, rightsholders have tried to stem the tide of mainstream Internet piracy. Yet despite increasingly powerful enforcement tools, infringement continues on a grand scale.

While the problem is global, rightsholder groups often zoom in on their home turf, to see how the fight is progressing locally. Covering Denmark, the Rights Alliance Data Report 2017 paints a fairly pessimistic picture.

Published this week, the industry study – which uses SimilarWeb and MarkMonitor data – finds that Danes visited 2,000 leading pirate sites 596 million times in 2017. That represents a 67% increase over the 356 million visits to unlicensed platforms made by citizens during 2016.

The report notes that, at least in part, this explosive growth can be attributed to mobile-compatible sites and services, which make it easier than ever to consume illicit content on the move, as well as at home.

In a sea of unauthorized streaming sites, Rights Alliance highlights one platform above all the others as a particularly bad influence in 2017 – 123movies (also known as GoMovies and GoStream, among others).

“The popularity of this service rose sharply in 2017 from 40 million visits in 2016 to 175 million visits in 2017 – an increase of 337 percent, of which most of the traffic originates from mobile devices,” the report notes.

123movies recently announced its closure but before that the platform was subjected to web-blocking in several jurisdictions.

Rights Alliance says that Denmark has one of the most effective blocking systems in the world but that still doesn’t stop huge numbers of people from consuming pirate content from sites that aren’t yet blocked.

“Traffic to infringing sites is overwhelming, and therefore blocking a few sites merely takes the top of the illegal activities,” Rights Alliance chief Maria Fredenslund informs TorrentFreak.

“Blocking is effective by stopping 75% of traffic to blocked sites but certainly, an upscaled effort is necessary.”

Rights Alliance also views the promotion of legal services as crucial to its anti-piracy strategy so when people visit a blocked site, they’re also directed towards legitimate platforms.

“That is why we are working at the moment with Denmark’s Ministry of Culture and ISPs on a campaign ‘Share With Care 2′ which promotes legal services e.g. by offering a search function for legal services which will be placed in combination with the signs that are put on blocked websites,” the anti-piracy group notes.

But even with such measures in place, the thirst for unlicensed content is great. In 2017 alone, 500 of the most popular films and TV shows were downloaded from P2P networks like BitTorrent more than 15 million times from Danish IP addresses, that’s up from 11.9 million in 2016.

Given the dramatic rise in visits to pirate sites overall, the suggestion is that plenty of consumers are still getting through. Rights Alliance says that the number of people being restricted is also hampered by people who don’t use their ISP’s DNS service, which is the method used to block sites in Denmark.

Additionally, interest in VPNs and similar anonymization and bypass-capable technologies is on the increase. Between 3.5% and 5% of Danish Internet users currently use a VPN, a number that’s expected to go up. Furthermore, Rights Alliance reports greater interest in “closed” pirate communities.

“The data is based on closed [BitTorrent] networks. We also address the challenges with private communities on Facebook and other [social media] platforms,” Fredenslund explains.

“Due to the closed doors of these platforms it is not possible for us to say anything precisely about the amount of infringing activities there. However, we receive an increasing number of notices from our members who discover that their products are distributed illegally and also we do an increased monitoring of these platforms.”

But while more established technologies such as torrents and regular web-streaming continue in considerable volumes, newer IPTV-style services accessible via apps and dedicated platforms are also gaining traction.

“The volume of visitors to these services’ websites has been sharply rising in 2017 – an increase of 84 percent from January to December,” Rights Alliance notes.

“Even though the number of visitors does not say anything about actual consumption, as users usually only visit pages one time to download the program, the number gives an indication that the interest in IPTV is increasing.”

To combat this growth market, Rights Alliance says it wants to establish web-blockades against sites hosting the software applications.

Also on the up are visits to platforms offering live sports illegally. In 2017, Danish IP addresses made 2.96 million visits to these services, corresponding to almost 250,000 visits per month and representing an annual increase of 28%.

Rights Alliance informs TF that in future a ‘live’ blocking mechanism similar to the one used by the Premier League in the UK could be deployed in Denmark.

“We already have a dynamic blocking system, and we see an increasing demand for illegal TV products, so this could be a natural next step,” Fredenslund explains.

Another small but perhaps significant detail is how users are accessing pirate sites. According to the report, large volumes of people are now visiting platforms directly, with more than 50% doing so in preference to referrals from search engines such as Google.

In terms of deterrence, the Rights Alliance report sticks to the tried-and-tested approaches seen so often in the anti-piracy arena.

Firstly, the group notes that it’s increasingly encountering people who are paying for legal services such as Netflix and Spotify so believe that allows them to grab something extra from a pirate site. However, in common with similar organizations globally, the group counters that pirate sites can serve malware or have other nefarious business interests behind the scenes, so people should stay away.

Whether significant volumes will heed this advice will remain to be seen but if a 67% increase last year is any predictor of the future, piracy is here to stay – and then some. Rights Alliance says it is ready for the challenge but will need some assistance to achieve its goals.

“As it is evident from the traffic data, criminal activities are not something that we, private companies (right holders in cooperation with ISPs), can handle alone,” Fredenslund says.

“Therefore, we are very pleased that DK Government recently announced that the IP taskforce which was set down as a trial period has now been made permanent. In that regard it is important and necessary that the police will also obtain the authority to handle blocking of massively infringing websites. Police do not have the authority to carry out blocking as it is today.”

The full report is available here (Danish, pdf)

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

Hollywood Studios Get ISP Blocking Order Against Rarbg in India

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-studios-score-blocking-order-against-rarbg-in-india-180417/

While the major Hollywood studios are very reluctant to bring a pirate site blocking case to their home turf, they are very active abroad.

The companies are the driving force behind lawsuits in Europe, Australia, and are also active in India, where they booked a new success last week.

Website blocking is by no means a new phenomenon in India. The country is known for so-called John Doe orders, where a flurry of websites are temporarily blocked to protect the release of a specific title.

The major Hollywood studios are taking a different approach. Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. are requesting blockades, accusing sites of being structural copyright infringers.

One of the most recent targets is the popular torrent site Rarbg. The Hollywood studios describe Rarbg as a ‘habitual’ copyright infringer and demand that several Internet providers block access to the site.

“It is submitted that the Defendant Website aids and facilitates the accessibility and availability of infringing material, and induce third parties, intentionally and/or knowingly, to infringe through their websites by various means,’ the movie studios allege.

The complaint filed at the High Court of Delhi lists more than 20 Internet providers as co-defendants, and also includes India’s Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology in the mix.

The two Government departments are added because they have the power to enforce blocking orders. Specifically, the Hollywood studios note that the Department of Technology’s license agreement with ISPs requires these companies to ensure that copyright infringing content is not carried on their networks.

“It is submitted that the DoT itself acknowledges the fact that service providers have an obligation to ensure that no violation of third party intellectual property rights takes place through their networks and that effective protection is provided to right holders of such intellectual property,” the studios write.

Last week the court granted an injunction that requires local Internet providers including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Telenor, You Broadband, and Vodafone to block Rarbg.

Blocking order

As requested, the Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology are directed to notify all local internet and telecom service providers that they must block the torrent site as well.

The order is preliminary and can still be contested in court. However, given the history of similar blocking efforts around the world, it is likely that it will be upheld.

While there’s not much coverage on the matter, this isn’t the first blocking request the companies have filed in India. Last October, a similar case was filed against another popular torrent site, 1337x.to, with success.

TorrentFreak reached out to the law firm representing the Hollywood studios to get a broader overview of the blocking plans in India. At the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

A copy of the order obtained by Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros and the local Disney owned media conglomerate UTV Software, is available here (pdf).

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

Not All Canadian ISPs Are Pro Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/not-all-canadian-isps-are-pro-site-blocking-180406/

Earlier this year several of the largest telcos in Canada teamed up with copyright holders to present their plan to tackle online piracy.

United in the Fairplay coalition, Bell, Rogers, and others urged telecoms regulator CRTC to institute a national website blocking program.

The Canadian blocklist should be maintained by a yet to be established non-profit organization called “Independent Piracy Review Agency” (IPRA) and both IPRA and the CRTC would be overseen by the Federal Court of Appeal, the organizations propose.

Over the past several weeks, the CRTC has asked the public for input on the plan. While we have already covered several responses, some notable entries were submitted at the very last minute.

The MPAA and the Premier League, which both applied for court-ordered blockades in the UK, voiced their support, for example. The same is true for ISP Shaw Communications. While Shaw is not part of the Fairplay Coalition it fully supports the site blocking proposal.

“New regulatory tools are needed to provide a comprehensive and coordinated response to combat piracy, and the FairPlay Proposal provides an expeditious, effective, and fair process,” Shaw writes, noting that the proposal doesn’t violate net neutrality.

The Independent Telecommunications Providers Association (ITPA) also chimed in. Representing more than a dozen smaller Internet providers, it takes no position on the merits of the plan, but stresses that copyright holders should pick up the bill.

“The ITPA would object to any regime that imposes costs without a cost recovery mechanism for service providers,” the association writes.

While many ISPs are backing the plan or taking a relatively neutral stance, TekSavvy is among the notable exceptions. The independent company that services more than 250,000 Canadian homes and businesses, says that the proposal would have a major impact.

“If implemented, the Applicants’ proposal for site blocking would fundamentally reshape how Internet services would work in Canada, including the manner in which TekSavvy provides Internet services.”

In a rather dry submission, the Internet provider argues that site blocking violates the Common Carrier doctrine of the Telecommunications Act.

“Rather than advancing the telecommunications policy objectives, the approach proposed in the Application to policing content on the Internet is in direct opposition to many of those objectives,” TekSavvy writes.

The proposal interferes with online traffic, the ISP explains, which could affect network neutrality principles. At the same time, it goes against several policy objectives, including the principle that any regulation should be efficient and effective.

“It is well-documented that blocking individual web sites is difficult and expensive and even so relatively trivial to circumvent,” the ISP notes. “As a result, site-blocking is neither efficient, nor effective.”

As such, TechSavvy argues that the site blocking proposal is not the kind of exceptional circumstance that warrants an exception to the common carrier doctrine.

The ISP is not alone in its critique, as Micheal Geist points out. In addition to its own submission, TekSavvy supports the Canadian Network Operators Consortium’s CNOC intervention, which covers a broad range of issues.

CNOC represents several dozen smaller Telcos and, among other things, it argues in detail that the blocking proposal will be costly but ineffective.

“CNOC is not convinced of the efficacy of FairPlay Canada’s proposal, and, in fact, believes that mandatory website blocking could be circumvented with such ease that expending any resources on it is unlikely to be productive, yet it would impose significant costs on ISPs,” CNOC notes.

The one thing that’s clear following all the submissions is that the CRTC will find it impossible to satisfy all parties. Even the Internet providers themselves have conflicting opinions.

A copy of Teksavvy’s submission is available here (pdf). ITPA’s letter can be found here (pdf), CNOC’s here (pdf), and Shaw’s submission in favor of the proposal is available here (pdf).

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PrimeWire Becomes Unusable After Malicious Ad ‘Takeover’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/primewire-becomes-unusable-after-malicious-ad-takeover-180404/

With millions of visitors per month, Primewire is one of the best-known pirate linking sites on the Internet.

The site originally started as LetMeWatchThis and later became 1Channel. After several of its domains were hijacked the operator eventually landed at Primewire.ag.

That was five years ago and nothing significant has changed since then. At least, nothing that was noticeable to the public at large. Despite a few ISP blockades here and there, the site functioned normally.

This changed a few days ago when we noticed that the Primewire.ag DNS records were updated to EuroDNS, which caused the site to become unreachable.

Around the same time, the flow of new content also stopped on the backup domain Primewire.is, while existing links all changed to advertisements.

A few days have passed now and while Primewire.ag has returned online, the site is little more than an inventory of suspicious ad links. Instead of pointing people to the latest TV-shows and movies, they get scammy advertisements.

Scam ads

When clicking on a link, users are directed to dubious services such as Pushplay. These require people to enter their credit card details for a ‘free’ account, which leads to quite a few complaints from “pissed consumers.”

It’s obvious that this is a ploy to generate cash but it’s unclear why this is happening. At the moment there are plenty of rumors floating around but no word from the site’s operator. The official Twitter and Facebook accounts remain quiet as well.

Interestingly, another popular streaming link site, gowatchfreemovies.to, appears to be suffering the same fate. This site has also become unusable with all links now pointing to ads. While we can only speculate at the moment, this could very well be related.

The question remains who’s behind all this? Has the operator given up, is it a play to make quick cash, or has the site been compromised by outsiders, again?

For now, the only conclusion we can draw is that hundreds of thousands of pirates will have to get by without their goto site.

Update: A sharp Reddit user points out that the actual streaming links can still be decoded from the “ad urls.”

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

Key Internet Players Excoriate Canadian Pirate Site Blocking Plan

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/key-internet-players-excoriate-canadian-pirate-site-blocking-plan-180323/

In January, a coalition of Canadian companies called on the country’s telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program, which would be the first of its kind in North America.

The Canadian deal is supported by FairPlay Canada, a coalition of both copyright holders and major players in the telco industry, such as Bell and Rogers, which also have media companies of their own.

Before making any decisions, the CRTC has asked the public for comments. Last week we highlighted a few from both sides, but in recent days two Internet heavyweights have chimed in.

The first submission comes from the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition), which counts Google, Amazon, Cogeco PEER1, and Tucows among its members. These are all key players in the Internet ecosystem, with a rather strong opinion.

In a strongly-worded letter, the coalition urges the CRTC to reject the proposed “government-backed internet censorship committee” which they say will hurt the public as well as various companies that rely on a free and open Internet.

“The not-for-profit organization envisioned by the FairPlay Canada proposal lacks accountability and oversight, and is certain to cause tremendous collateral damage to innocent Internet business owners,” they write.

“There is shockingly little judicial review or due process in establishing and approving the list of websites being blocked — and no specifics of how this blocking is actually to be implemented.”

According to the coalition, the proposal would stifle innovation, shutter legitimate businesses through overblocking, and harm Canada’s Internet economy.

In addition, they fear that it may lead to broad blockades of specific technologies. This includes VPNs, which Bell condemned in the past, as well as BitTorrent traffic.

“VPN usage itself could be targeted by this proposal, as could the use of torrents, another technology with wide legitimate usage, including digital security on public wifi, along with myriad other business requirements,” the coalition writes.

“We caution that this proposal could be used to attempt to restrict technology innovation. There are no provisions within the FairPlay proposal to avoid vilification of specific technologies. Technologies themselves cannot be bad actors.”

According to the i2Coalition, Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act is already one of the toughest anti-piracy laws in the world and they see no need to go any further. As such, they urge the authorities to reject the plan.

“The government and the CRTC should not hesitate to firmly reject the website blocking plan as a disproportionate, unconstitutional proposal sorely lacking in due process that is inconsistent with the current communications law framework,” the letter concludes.

The second submission we want to highlight comes from the Internet Society. In addition to many individual members, it is supported by dozens of major companies. This includes Google and Facebook, but also ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast, and even copyright holders such as 21st Century Fox and Disney.

While the Internet Society’s Hollywood members have argued in favor of pirate site blockades in the past, even in court, the organization’s submission argues fiercely against this measure.

Pointing to an extensive report Internet Society published last Spring, they inform the CRTC that website blocking techniques “do not solve the problem” and “inflict collateral damage.”

The Internet Society calls on the CRTC to carefully examine the proposal’s potential negative effects on the security of the Internet, the privacy of Canadians, and how it may inadvertently block legitimate websites.

“In our opinion, the negative impacts of disabling access greatly outweigh any benefits,” the Internet Society writes.

Thus far, nearly 10,000 responses have been submitted to the CRTC. The official deadline passes on March 29, after which it is up to the telecoms regulator to factor the different opinions into its final decision.

The i2Coalition submission is available here (pdf) and the Internet Society’s comments can be found here (pdf).

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

Online Piracy Is More Popular Than Ever, Research Suggests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/online-piracy-is-more-popular-than-ever-research-suggests-180321/

Despite the growing availability of legal options, online piracy remains rampant. Every day pirate sites are visited hundreds of millions of times.

Piracy tracking outfit MUSO has documented the piracy landscape with data from tens of thousands of the largest global piracy sites.

In its latest report, the company recorded more than 300 billion visits to pirate sites last year alone. This is an increase of 1.6 percent compared to 2016.

More than half of all these visits (53%) are going to streaming sites, making that the most popular piracy tool. Torrent sites and direct download portals still have a significant user base, but follow at a respectable distance.

Most of the pirate visits came from the United States, followed by India and Brazil. Despite the various pirate site blockades, the UK also secured a spot in the top ten, ranked at the bottom with nine billion visits.

The top ten list favors large countries and with this in mind, there is a large player missing. China, which is often portrayed as a country where piracy is rampant, ended up in 18th place with ‘only’ 4.6 billion visits.

Visits per country

# Country Billion visits
Data from Muso
1 United States 27.9
2 Russia 20.6
3 India 17.0
4 Brazil 12.7
5 Turkey 11.1
6 Japan 10.6
7 France 10.5
8 Indonesia 10.4
9 Germany 10.2
10 United kingdom 9.0

Muso tracks piracy trends across various media categories and has spotted some interesting trends. TV-shows remain the most popular among pirates with 106.9 billion visits last year, followed by music (73.9 billion) and film (53.2 billion).

Mobile piracy is on the rise as well. For the first time, more people were accessing pirated TV content via mobile devices (52%) where desktops used to be the favorite device. In the music category, this difference is even more pronounced, with 87% using mobile devices.

Last year desktops were still preferred among movie pirates, but MUSO expects this will change in 2018.

According to MUSO co-founder and CEO Andy Chatterley, these data show that piracy remains a sizable threat, something we also hinted at in the recent past.

“There is a belief that the rise in popularity of on-demand services – such as Netflix and Spotify – have solved piracy, but that theory simply doesn’t stack up. Our data suggest that piracy is more popular than ever,” Chatterley says.

While it’s hard to make historical comparisons without good data, it’s clear that piracy is still rampant. And with more people coming online year after year, the potential audience keeps growing.

Also, it is worth noting that the total piracy landscape is even larger than MUSO shows. In recent years many people have switched to pirate streaming boxes. These are not included in MUSO’s dataset, which relies on data provided by SimilarWeb, among other sources.

That said, the overall conclusion that the piracy audience is massive, and not to be ignored, remains the same.

“The piracy audience is huge and yet for the most part, it’s an opportunity that’s completely ignored,” Chatterley says.

“It’s important that the content industries embrace the trends emerging from this data, not only in strategic content protection, but also in understanding the profile of the piracy ‘consumer’ for better business insight and monetizing these audiences,“ MUSO’s CEO adds.

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

Vodafone Appeals Decision Forcing it to Block Pirate Streaming Site Kinox

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vodafone-appeals-decision-forcing-it-to-block-pirate-streaming-site-kinox-180317/

Streaming site Kinox has proven hugely problematic for German authorities and international rightsholders for many years.

Last year, following a three-year manhunt, one of the site’s alleged operators was detained in Kosovo. Despite this and other actions, the site remains online.

Given the profile of the platform and its popularity in Germany, it came as no surprise when Kinox became the guinea pig for site-blocking in the country. Last month following a complaint from local film production and distribution company Constantin Film, a district court in Munich handed down a provisional injunction against Internet provider Vodafone.

In common with many similar cases across the EU, the Court cited a 2017 ruling from the European Court of Justice which found that local authorities can indeed order blockades of copyright-infringing sites. The Court ordered Vodafone to prevent its subscribers from accessing the site and shortly after the provider complied, but not willingly it seems.

According to local news outlet Golem, last week Vodafone filed an appeal arguing that there is no legal basis in Germany for ordering the blockade.

“As an access provider, Vodafone provides only neutral access to the Internet, and we believe that under current law, Vodafone cannot be required to curb copyright infringement on the Internet,” a Vodafone spokesperson told the publication.

The ISP says that not only does the blocking injunction impact its business operations and network infrastructure, it also violates the rights of its customers. Vodafone believes that blocking measures can only be put in place with an explicit legal basis and argues that no such basis exists under German law.

Noting that blockades are easily bypassed by determined users, the ISP says that such measures can also block lots of legal content, making the whole process ineffective.

“[I]nternet blocking generally runs the risk of blocking non-infringing content, so we do not see it as an effective way to make accessing illegal offers more difficult,” Vodafone’s spokesperson said.

Indeed, it appears that the Kinox blockade is a simple DNS-only effort, which means that people can bypass it by simply changing to an alternative DNS provider such as Google DNS or OpenDNS.

Given all of the above, Vodafone is demanding clarification of the earlier decision from a higher court. Whether or not the final decision will go in the ISP’s favor isn’t clear but there is plenty of case law at the European level that suggests the balance of probabilities lies with Constantin Film.

When asked to balance consumer rights versus copyrights, courts have tended to side with the latter in recent years.

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

The Pirate Bay’s Domain Suffers “40% Traffic Drop” After Dutch Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bays-domain-suffers-40-traffic-drop-after-dutch-blocking-180302/

Over the past several years, Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN has been engaged in continuous legal action against local ISPs Ziggo and XS4All. BREIN felt they should block The Pirate Bay to reduce copyright infringement but the ISPs felt blocking was disproportionate.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and then to the EU Court of Justice for clarification. Last June, the ECJ ruled that as a platform effectively communicating copyright works to the public, The Pirate Bay can indeed be blocked by ISPs.

The case will go back to the Supreme Court which is likely to give permanent blocking the go ahead. However, BREIN wanted a blocking decision more quickly and got one last September when The Hague Court of Appeal told Ziggo and XS4All to block The Pirate Bay pending a Supreme Court decision.

With The Pirate Bay blocked by the ISPs from September last year, BREIN has been monitoring the effect of the blockade on traffic to the site. In a statement, the anti-piracy outfit suggests that blocking is doing its job.

“Monitoring by ComScore shows that the number of unique visitors to thepiratebay.org from the Netherlands has dropped by more than 40% between September 2017 and December 2017 after internet providers Ziggo and XS4ALL were ordered by the court to demand access to the site on the basis of BREIN’s claim,” BREIN writes.

Ziggo is the largest cable operator in the Netherlands and XS4All one of the longest standing, so it comes as no surprise to learn that traffic to The Pirate Bay’s main domain has been hit. However, since the site can be accessed in numerous different indirect ways, including via proxies, mirrors and VPNs, to name a few, does BREIN’s claim that “blocking works” still hold water?

According to BREIN director Tim Kuik, yes it does.

“We also are blocking many proxies and mirrors. There is a whole list of them which also changes. New ones are added and others may be deleted,” Kuik informs TF.

“The monitoring compares like with like and shows a trend that correlates with other sources. I think this trend holds true for all blocked sites.”

So, to be clear, the 40% does not represent a drop in Dutch traffic to The Pirate Bay’s site and/or content overall, it only represents traffic which goes directly to the specific thepiratebay.org domain. Anyone circumventing the blockade isn’t counted.

Of course, that’s not to say that the overall traffic numbers from the Netherlands aren’t down as well, but there are no public figures to prove that one way or another. The precise impact of proxies and mirrors is also unclear but Kuik thinks that the blockades themselves send a message.

“Bypassing a blockade requires users to take action to illegally download and it is now clear that they are committing a criminal offense and most people do not want that,” he says.

VPNs are undoubtedly an effective unblocking solution for some but Kuik doesn’t believe they represent a big threat, currently at least.

“We think VPN use is not common under the average user, that is more something for the hardcore and not all of those will use it for access to illegal sources,” he informs TF.

While BREIN is fairly relaxed about VPNs for now, the group suggests it could take action if they begin to pose a risk to the site-blocking regime they’ve fought so hard for.

“If it becomes problematic, blocking could in principle also be demanded from VPN services,” Kuik warns.

Given the 40% figure and the caveats above, it is likely that the direct traffic figure to The Pirate Bay’s domain will fall again in the months to come. Mid-January a Dutch court ruled that local Internet providers KPN, Tele2, T-Mobile, Zeelandnet and CAIW must follow Ziggo and XS4All by also blocking The Pirate Bay.

There’s no doubt that blocking has at least some effect on direct traffic to pirate sites and it’s clear that entertainment industry groups feel it’s essential as part of a bigger anti-piracy toolkit.

Thus far, however, pirates have proven to be extremely resilient so the Netherlands will probably need further action against a much broader range of sites if blocking is to have any meaningful effect.

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

Russia VPN Blocking Law Failing? No Provider Told To Block Any Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-vpn-blocking-law-failing-no-provider-told-to-block-any-site-180224/

Continuing Russia’s continued pressure on the restriction of banned websites for copyright infringement and other offenses, President Vladimir Putin signed a brand new bill into law July 2017.

The legislation aimed to prevent citizens from circumventing ISP blockades with the use of services such as VPNs, proxies, Tor, and other anonymizing services. The theory was that if VPNs were found to be facilitating access to banned sites, they too would find themselves on Russia’s national Internet blacklist.

The list is maintained by local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor and currently contains many tens of thousands of restricted domains. In respect of VPNs, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Ministry of Internal Affairs is tasked with monitoring ‘unblocking’ offenses, which they are then expected to refer to the telecoms watchdog for action.

The legislation caused significant uproar both locally and overseas and was widely predicted to signal a whole new level of censorship in Russia. However, things haven’t played out that way since, far from it. Since being introduced November 1, 2017, not a single VPN has been cautioned over its activities, much less advised to block or cease and desist.

The revelation comes via Russian news outlet RBC, which received an official confirmation from Rozcomnadzor itself that no VPN or anonymization service had been asked to take action to prevent access to blocked sites. Given the attention to detail when passing the law, the reasons seem extraordinary.

While Rozcomnadzor is empowered to put VPN providers on the blacklist, it must first be instructed to do so by the FSB, after that organization has carried out an investigation. Once the FSB gives the go-ahead, Rozcomnadzor can then order the provider to connect itself to the federal state information system, known locally as FGIS.

FGIS is the system that contains the details of nationally blocked sites and if a VPN provider does not interface with it within 30 days of being ordered to do so, it too will be added to the blocklist by Rozcomnadzor. Trouble is, Rozcomnadzor hasn’t received any requests to contact VPNs from higher up the chain, so they can’t do anything.

“As of today, there have been no requests from the members of the RDD [operational and investigative activities] and state security regarding anonymizers and VPN services,” a Roskomnadzor spokesperson said.

However, the problems don’t end there. RBC quotes Karen Ghazaryan, an analyst at the Russian Electronic Communications Association (RAEC), who says that even if it had received instructions, Rozcomnadzor wouldn’t be able to block the VPN services in question for both technical and legal reasons.

“Roskomnadzor does not have leverage over most VPN services, and they can not block them for failing to comply with the law, because Roskomnadzor does not have ready technical solutions for this, and the law does not yet have relevant by-laws,” the expert said.

“Copying the Chinese model of fighting VPNs in Russia will not be possible because of its high cost and the radically different topology of the Russian segment of the Internet,” Ghazaryan adds.

This apparent inability to act is surprising, not least since millions of Russian Internet users are now using VPNs, anonymizers, and similar services on a regular basis. Ghazaryan puts the figure as high as 25% of all Russian Internet users.

However, there is also a third element to Russia’s VPN dilemma – how to differentiate between VPNs used by the public and those used in a commercial environment. China is trying to solve this problem by forcing VPN providers to register and align themselves with the state. Russia hasn’t tried that, yet.

“The [blocking] law says that it does not apply to corporate VPN networks, but there is no way to distinguish them from services used for personal needs,” concludes Sarkis Darbinian from the anti-censorship project, Roskomvoboda.

This week, Russia’s Ministry of Culture unveiled yet more new proposals for dealing with copyright infringement via a bill that would allow websites to be blocked without a court order. It’s envisioned that if pirate material is found on a site and its operator either fails to respond to a complaint or leaves the content online for more than 24 hours, ISPs will be told to block the entire site.

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Spanish Authorities Launch New Campaign to Block Pirate Websites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/spanish-authorities-launch-new-campaign-to-block-pirate-websites-180223/

Following complaints from Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, a court in Spain recently ordered local ISPs to block HDFull.tv and Repelis.tv, a pair of popular pirate sites.

Citing changes in local law which helped facilitate the action, the MPA welcomed the blockades as necessary to prevent further damage to the creative industries. Now, just a week later, it seems that Spain really has the bit between its teeth.

An announcement from the Guardia Civil (Civil Guard), the oldest law enforcement agency in the country, reveals that almost two dozen websites have just been blocked for infringing intellectual property rights.

“The Civil Guard, within the framework of the ‘Operation CASCADA’, has initiated a campaign to block websites that allow people to download content protected by copyright and disseminate them through links in P2P networks, that is, networks of computers that work without fixed servers,” the Civil Guard said in a statement.

“In this first phase, a total of 23 web domains have been blocked from which direct download links of all kinds of protected audiovisual material such as movies, series, music and video games were accessed, many of them of recent creation and without being released yet in our country.

“High-quality versions of films available on the cinema billboards of our country were offered, although they had not yet been sold in physical or digital format and dubbed with audio in several languages.”

A full list of websites and domains hasn’t yet been provided by the authorities but familiar names including divxtotal.com and gamestorrents.com are confirmed to be included in the first wave.

The Civil Guard, which is organized as a military force under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Defense, said that the administrators of the sites operate their platforms from abroad, generating advertising revenue from Spanish visitors who are said to make up 80% of the sites’ traffic.

In common with similar sites, the authorities accuse their owners of taking evasive action to avoid being shut down, including hiding the true location of their servers while moving them from country to country and masking domain registration data.

“Cases have been detected in which previously judicially blocked domains were reactivated in a matter of hours, with practically identical domain names or even changing only the extension thereof. In this way, and even if several successive blocks were made, they were able to ‘resurrect’ the web pages again in a very short space of time,” the Civil Guard reports.

“For all these reasons, components of the Department of Telematic Crimes of the Central Operative Unit of the Civil Guard, responsible for the investigation, were forced to implement a series of measures tending to cause a total blockade of them that would be effective and definitive, being currently inaccessible web pages or lacking download links.”

According to the authorities, the sites are now being continuously monitored, with replacement domains being blocked in less than three hours. That doesn’t appear to have been the case yesterday, however.

It’s claimed that the blocked sites were created by “a person of Spanish origin” who subsequently sold them to a company in Argentina. On Thursday, Argentina-based site Dixv.com.ar fired back against the blockade with a new site called Yadivx.com, which is reportedly serving all of the former’s content to users in Spain.

The sites’ owners continue to administer the rogue sites from Argentina, Spanish authorities believe. Only time will tell who will emerge victorious but at least for now, the sites are remaining defiant.

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Australian Pirate Site Blocks Actually Block Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/australian-pirate-site-blocks-actually-block-pirate-sites-180221/

Australian copyright holders and lawmakers have been struggling to find an adequate response to online piracy for several years.

Progress has been slow, but with pirate site blockades now in effect, there appears to be some movement.

New research published by INCOPRO this week shows that traffic to blocked pirate sites has decreased 53.4% since the first measures were implemented a year ago. In total, usage of the top 250 pirate sites dropped a significant 25.4% in Australia.

In summary, the research confirms that direct traffic to blocked sites has decreased dramatically. Or put differently, the site blocking efforts actually block pirate sites, which by itself should hardly come as a surprise.

In fact, one might wonder how effective the blockades really are when nearly half of all direct traffic to the blocked sites in Australia remains intact and dozens of the country’s ISPs are involved.

On top, it’s also worth mentioning that the research doesn’t take VPN usage into account. Australian interest in VPNs surged after the blockades were announced, so many people are likely to be circumvented the blockades using foreign VPNs.

While VPNs were not factored in, the current research did look at proxy site traffic and concludes that this only substitutes a small portion of the traffic that went to pirate sites before the blockades.

While it’s undoubtedly true that direct traffic to blocked sites has dropped, the research also includes some odd results. For example, it attributes a recent drop in Isohunt.to traffic to the blocking measures, when in reality the site actually shut down.

“ISOHunt usage has been on a downward trend since December 2016, and is now at its lowest on record having reduced by 96.4% since blocking began,” the report reads, drawing on data from Alexa.

But perhaps we’re nitpicking.

Creative Content Australia (CCA) is happy with these results and states that the fight against piracy has claimed a significant victory. However, the anti-piracy group also stressed that more can be done.

“The reduction in piracy is exciting news but that 53% could be 90%,” CCA Chairman Graham Burke says, using the opportunity to take another stab at Google.

“The government has shut the front door, but Google is leading people to the back door, showing no respect for Australian law or courts let alone any regard for the Australian economy and cultural way of life,” Burke adds.

INCOPRO’s research will undoubtedly be used to convince lawmakers that the current site blocking efforts should remain in place.

With this in mind, the release of the report comes at an interesting time. The previously unpublished results were drawn up last December, but were only made public this week, a few days after the Australian Government announced a review of the site blocking measures.

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Canadian Pirate Site Blocks Could Spread to VPNs, Professor Warns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canadian-pirate-site-blocks-could-spread-to-vpns-professor-warns-180219/

ISP blocking has become a prime measure for the entertainment industry to target pirate sites on the Internet.

In recent years sites have been blocked throughout Europe, in Asia, and even Down Under.

Last month, a coalition of Canadian companies called on the local telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program, which would be the first of its kind in North America.

The Canadian deal is backed by both copyright holders and major players in the Telco industry, such as Bell and Rogers, which also have media companies of their own. Instead of court-ordered blockades, they call for a mutually agreed deal where ISPs will block pirate sites.

The plan has triggered a fair amount of opposition. Tens of thousands of people have protested against the proposal and several experts are warning against the negative consequences it may have.

One of the most vocal opponents is University of Ottawa law professor Micheal Geist. In a series of articles, processor Geist highlighted several problems, including potential overblocking.

The Fairplay Canada coalition downplays overblocking, according to Geist. They say the measures will only affect sites that are blatantly, overwhelmingly or structurally engaged in piracy, which appears to be a high standard.

However, the same coalition uses a report from MUSO as its primary evidence. This report draws on a list of 23,000 pirate sites, which may not all be blatant enough to meet the blocking standard.

For example, professor Geist notes that it includes a site dedicated to user-generated subtitles as well as sites that offer stream ripping tools which can be used for legal purposes.

“Stream ripping is a concern for the music industry, but these technologies (which are also found in readily available software programs from a local BestBuy) also have considerable non-infringing uses, such as for downloading Creative Commons licensed videos also found on video sites,” Geist writes.

If the coalition tried to have all these sites blocked the scope would be much larger than currently portrayed. Conversely, if only a few of the sites would be blocked, then the evidence that was used to put these blocks in place would have been exaggerated.

“In other words, either the scope of block list coverage is far broader than the coalition admits or its piracy evidence is inflated by including sites that do not meet its piracy standard,” Geist notes.

Perhaps most concerning is the slippery slope that the blocking efforts can turn into. Professor Geist fears that after the standard piracy sites are dealt with, related targets may be next.

This includes VPN services. While this may sound far-fetched to some, several members of the coalition, such as Bell and Rogers, have already criticized VPNs in the past since these allow people to watch geo-blocked content.

“Once the list of piracy sites (whatever the standard) is addressed, it is very likely that the Bell coalition will turn its attention to other sites and services such as virtual private networks (VPNs).

“This is not mere speculation. Rather, it is taking Bell and its allies at their word on how they believe certain services and sites constitute theft,” Geist adds.

The issue may even be more relevant in this case, since the same VPNs can also be used to circumvent pirate sites blockades.

“Further, since the response to site blocking from some Internet users will surely involve increased use of VPNs to evade the blocks, the attempt to characterize VPNs as services engaged in piracy will only increase,” Geist adds.

Potential overblocking is just one of the many issues with the current proposal, according to the law professor. Geist previously highlighted that current copyright law already provides sufficient remedies to deal with piracy and that piracy isn’t that much of a problem in Canada in the first place.

The CRTC has yet to issue its review of the proposal but now that the cat is out of the bag, rightsholders and ISPs are likely to keep pushing for blockades, one way or the other.

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Court Orders Spanish ISPs to Block Pirate Sites For Hollywood

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-spanish-isps-to-block-pirate-sites-for-hollywood-180216/

Determined to reduce levels of piracy globally, Hollywood has become one of the main proponents of site-blocking on the planet. To date there have been multiple lawsuits in far-flung jurisdictions, with Europe one of the primary targets.

Following complaints from Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, Spain has become one of the latest targets. According to the studios a pair of sites – HDFull.tv and Repelis.tv – infringe their copyrights on a grand scale and need to be slowed down by preventing users from accessing them.

HDFull is a platform that provides movies and TV shows in both Spanish and English. Almost 60% its traffic comes from Spain and after a huge surge in visitors last July, it’s now the 337th most popular site in the country according to Alexa. Visitors from Mexico, Argentina, United States and Chile make up the rest of its audience.

Repelis.tv is a similar streaming portal specializing in movies, mainly in Spanish. A third of the site’s visitors hail from Mexico with the remainder coming from Argentina, Columbia, Spain and Chile. In common with HDFull, Repelis has been building its visitor numbers quickly since 2017.

The studios demanding more blocks

With a ruling in hand from the European Court of Justice which determined that sites can be blocked on copyright infringement grounds, the studios asked the courts to issue an injunction against several local ISPs including Telefónica, Vodafone, Orange and Xfera. In an order handed down this week, Barcelona Commercial Court No. 6 sided with the studios and ordered the ISPs to begin blocking the sites.

“They damage the legitimate rights of those who own the films and series, which these pages illegally display and with which they profit illegally through the advertising revenues they generate,” a statement from the Spanish Federation of Cinematographic Distributors (FEDECINE) reads.

FEDECINE General director Estela Artacho said that changes in local law have helped to provide the studios with a new way to protect audiovisual content released in Spain.

“Thanks to the latest reform of the Civil Procedure Law, we have in this jurisdiction a new way to exercise different possibilities to protect our commercial film offering,” Artacho said.

“Those of us who are part of this industry work to make culture accessible and offer the best cinematographic experience in the best possible conditions, guaranteeing the continuity of the sector.”

The development was also welcomed by Stan McCoy, president of the Motion Picture Association’s EMEA division, which represents the plaintiffs in the case.

“We have just taken a welcome step which we consider crucial to face the problem of piracy in Spain,” McCoy said.

“These actions are necessary to maintain the sustainability of the creative community both in Spain and throughout Europe. We want to ensure that consumers enjoy the entertainment offer in a safe and secure environment.”

After gaining experience from blockades and subsequent circumvention in other regions, the studios seem better prepared to tackle fallout in Spain. In addition to blocking primary domains, the ruling handed down by the court this week also obliges ISPs to block any other domain, subdomain or IP address whose purpose is to facilitate access to the blocked platforms.

News of Spain’s ‘pirate’ blocks come on the heels of fresh developments in Germany, where this week a court ordered ISP Vodafone to block KinoX, one of the country’s most popular streaming portals.

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