Tag Archives: bpi

BPI Breaks Record After Sending 310 Million Google Takedowns

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bpi-breaks-record-after-sending-310-million-google-takedowns-170619/

A little over a year ago during March 2016, music industry group BPI reached an important milestone. After years of sending takedown notices to Google, the group burst through the 200 million URL barrier.

The fact that it took BPI several years to reach its 200 million milestone made the surpassing of the quarter billion milestone a few months later even more remarkable. In October 2016, the group sent its 250 millionth takedown to Google, a figure that nearly doubled when accounting for notices sent to Microsoft’s Bing.

But despite the volumes, the battle hadn’t been won, let alone the war. The BPI’s takedown machine continued to run at a remarkable rate, churning out millions more notices per week.

As a result, yet another new milestone was reached this month when the BPI smashed through the 300 million URL barrier. Then, days later, a further 10 million were added, with the latter couple of million added during the time it took to put this piece together.

BPI takedown notices, as reported by Google

While demanding that Google places greater emphasis on its de-ranking of ‘pirate’ sites, the BPI has called again and again for a “notice and stay down” regime, to ensure that content taken down by the search engine doesn’t simply reappear under a new URL. It’s a position BPI maintains today.

“The battle would be a whole lot easier if intermediaries played fair,” a BPI spokesperson informs TF.

“They need to take more proactive responsibility to reduce infringing content that appears on their platform, and, where we expressly notify infringing content to them, to ensure that they do not only take it down, but also keep it down.”

The long-standing suggestion is that the volume of takedown notices sent would reduce if a “take down, stay down” regime was implemented. The BPI says it’s difficult to present a precise figure but infringing content has a tendency to reappear, both in search engines and on hosting sites.

“Google rejects repeat notices for the same URL. But illegal content reappears as it is re-indexed by Google. As to the sites that actually host the content, the vast majority of notices sent to them could be avoided if they implemented take-down & stay-down,” BPI says.

The fact that the BPI has added 60 million more takedowns since the quarter billion milestone a few months ago is quite remarkable, particularly since there appears to be little slowdown from month to month. However, the numbers have grown so huge that 310 billion now feels a lot like 250 million, with just a few added on top for good measure.

That an extra 60 million takedowns can almost be dismissed as a handful is an indication of just how massive the issue is online. While pirates always welcome an abundance of links to juicy content, it’s no surprise that groups like the BPI are seeking more comprehensive and sustainable solutions.

Previously, it was hoped that the Digital Economy Bill would provide some relief, hopefully via government intervention and the imposition of a search engine Code of Practice. In the event, however, all pressure on search engines was removed from the legislation after a separate voluntary agreement was reached.

All parties agreed that the voluntary code should come into effect two weeks ago on June 1 so it seems likely that some effects should be noticeable in the near future. But the BPI says it’s still early days and there’s more work to be done.

“BPI has been working productively with search engines since the voluntary code was agreed to understand how search engines approach the problem, but also what changes can and have been made and how results can be improved,” the group explains.

“The first stage is to benchmark where we are and to assess the impact of the changes search engines have made so far. This will hopefully be completed soon, then we will have better information of the current picture and from that we hope to work together to continue to improve search for rights owners and consumers.”

With more takedown notices in the pipeline not yet publicly reported by Google, the BPI informs TF that it has now notified the search giant of 315 million links to illegal content.

“That’s an astonishing number. More than 1 in 10 of the entire world’s notices to Google come from BPI. This year alone, one in every three notices sent to Google from BPI is for independent record label repertoire,” BPI concludes.

While it’s clear that groups like BPI have developed systems to cope with the huge numbers of takedown notices required in today’s environment, it’s clear that few rightsholders are happy with the status quo. With that in mind, the fight will continue, until search engines are forced into compromise. Considering the implications, that could only appear on a very distant horizon.

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

Hold ISPs Responsible For Piracy After Brexit, Music Biz Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hold-isps-responsible-for-piracy-after-brexit-music-biz-says-170512/

UK Music is an umbrella organization representing music interests in the UK, from artists and composers, through to studios, recording labels and collecting societies.

The group counts many influential bodies as members, including the BPI, PRS for Music, and licensing outfit PPL. No surprise then that it has a keen anti-piracy agenda, much in tune with its member groups.

Yesterday, UK Music published its 2017 manifesto, covering a wide range of topics from regional development, skills and education, to finance and investment. Needless to say, anti-piracy measures feature prominently, with the group urging vigilance during the Brexit process to ensure music gets a good deal.

“Copyright and its enforcement should be a key part of the trade negotiations, ensuring that our trading partners protect not only their respective creative industries but also the interests of the UK music industry,” the group says.

“Maintaining and strengthening the copyright framework is of great importance to the music industry during the Brexit negotiations and beyond.”

When the UK leaves the EU mid-2019, the government proposes to convert all EU law into UK law. According to David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the so-called Great Repeal Bill will provide “clarity and certainty” for businesses and citizens alike.

However, the Bill will also grant power for MPs to change these laws once the UK has left the EU. For UK Music, this should be a time for stability for the music business.

“Withdrawal from the EU does not require substantial changes to the UK copyright framework. This continuity is critical to ensuring confidence amongst music businesses,” the group says.

“There is no evidence of the need for new exceptions to copyright. If this is not accepted by the Government then it would only serve to take away rights and undermine the potential for growth.”

But while stressing the importance of post-Brexit stability for the music industry, UK Music sees no problem with changing the law to impose additional responsibilities on others.

“There were 7.2 billion visits to copyright-infringing stream-ripping websites in 2016, representing a 60% increase in the previous year. Withdrawal from the EU provides an opportunity for the UK to strengthen the enforcement of copyright,” the group says.

That toughening-up of the law should be focused on tech companies, UK Music insists.

“Initiatives should be developed to place responsibility on internet service providers and require them to have a duty of care for copyright protected music,” the group says.

While UK Music has a clear mandate to look after its own interests, it’s likely that service providers would also like the opportunity to enjoy both continuity and stability after the Brexit negotiations are complete. Being held responsible for piracy is unlikely to help them reach that goal.

Nevertheless, UK Musicwill require further support from ISPs, if it is to meet another of its manifesto goals. Currently, several of the UK’s largest providers are cooperating with the industry to send piracy notices to their subscribers. UK Music would like to expand the scheme.

“The Get It Right From A Genuine Site campaign, designed to promote greater copyright understanding online, is also showing evidence of success. With further support it has the potential to broaden its reach,” the organization says.

Finally, UK Music says that Brexit will give the UK an opportunity to put forward “a coherent definition of hyperlinking under copyright law.”

The group doesn’t go into specifics, but it could be argued that the recent GS Media case handled by the European Court of Justice offers all the clarity the UK needs to transfer the decision into local law.

The full manifesto can be downloaded here (pdf)

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

Police Investigate Former BPI Anti-Piracy Chief & PIPCU Board Member

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-investigate-former-bpi-anti-piracy-chief-pipcu-board-member-170317/

In December 2015, it was reported that the BPI’s Content Protection and Internet Investigations unit leaders would be leaving.

The music group said that the restructuring would enable it to better focus on the task ahead but with long-standing employees David Wood and John Hodge both departing the BPI, it certainly felt like there may have been more to the story.

To be absolutely clear, Hodge’s voluntary departure appears to have been both unconnected to Wood’s and completely benign, with no suggestion of impropriety. However, it now transpires that the story with Wood was much more complex.

After serving 15 years in the police force where he reached the rank of detective, David Wood left West Yorkshire Police in May 2002. Soon after, he began work at the BPI where he remained for the next 13 years, reaching the lofty position of Director of Copyright Protection at his peak.

Wood’s role saw him speaking to the media on many occasions, often decrying the dishonesty of Internet pirates and welcoming lengthy jail sentences as a suitable deterrent. This position eventually led him to the corridors of power at City of London Police.

According to his Linkedin profile, Wood became a senior figure within the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) after it was set up in May 2013. He states that he held a stakeholder position on PIPCU’s Management Board and was instrumental in the development of Operation Creative, the UK’s groundbreaking anti-piracy initiative. At some point, however, it all went wrong.

TorrentFreak has learned that while John Hodge’s departure from his role as Head of Internet Investigations at the BPI was his own choice (he served out an orderly notice at a later point and appears to have left on amicable terms), Wood’s earlier and entirely unrelated exit was not a voluntary affair.

According to our sources, Wood and the BPI had – and continue to have – a major dispute over the alleged misappropriation of the latter’s funds. This led to Wood’s dismissal from the company.

In fact, the allegations were so serious that the BPI decided to report the matter to the police, a claim that was confirmed this week when we spoke to the music group.

“BPI can confirm that a former employee, David Wood, was dismissed for gross misconduct in December 2015,” a BPI spokesperson told TF.

“BPI has referred the matter to the Metropolitan Police who are investigating. As investigations are ongoing, it would not be appropriate to comment in any more detail at this stage.”

TorrentFreak sources indicate that very large sums of money are involved in the dispute, running well into six figures. Precise details have proven impossible to verify (the BPI declined to comment) but we understand the numbers involved are “significant”. What we do know for sure, however, is that the BPI felt it necessary to pursue Woods into bankruptcy.

In a bankruptcy petition filed against Woods on November 7, 2016, the BPI is listed as the petitioner. The bankruptcy order itself was granted on January 4, 2017 and was listed in the London Gazette.

According to his Linkedin profile, Wood left the BPI in December 2015 and joined a new company, OCAP Ltd, during the same month. Records at the UK’s Companies House reveal that Wood and another individual set the company up as directors during August 2015, months before Wood was dismissed from the BPI.

Archival copies of OCAP’s website reveal that the company was involved in the IP enforcement market, a logical move for Wood considering his history.

“Online Copyright Auditing and Protection (OCAP) is a unique company which specializes in bespoke intellectual property (IP) protection,” a notice on the now-defunct site read.

“Our services help not only brands but law enforcement agencies to investigate and disrupt those intent on unlawfully exploiting other’s IP Rights. OCAP Ltd also has access to specialist trainers in online investigations and in the field of Anti Money laundering for which we can arrange bespoke training sessions.”

Given the police investigation confirmed by the BPI, the OCAP site surprisingly listed City of London Police – whose PIPCU unit Wood was heavily involved in – as “just one example of a client that trusts us to deliver solutions to their big data problems.”

Now, however, OCAP Ltd is drawing its final breaths. During January and following his bankruptcy, Wood filed an application to strike the company off the register. If there are no further interventions, the company will cease to exist in April 2017 having never filed any accounts.

TorrentFreak attempted to contact Wood for comment, but emails to his listed addresses ultimately bounced.

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

Google Anti-Piracy Agreement Will Target Domain Hopping, Share Search Data

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-anti-piracy-agreement-will-target-domain-hopping-share-search-data-170307/

Following roundtable discussions between the BPI, Motion Picture Association, Alliance for IP, plus representatives of Google and Bing, in February a voluntary anti-piracy agreement was announced.

Under this anti-piracy code, search engines agreed to further optimize their algorithms to demote pirated content in search results, with the aim of making infringing content less visible and legal alternatives easier to find.

As highlighted last month, details of the arrangement were planned to remain largely secret but thanks to a pair of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests from both the EFF and TJ McIntyre from Digital Rights Ireland, we now have a somewhat clearer idea of what will be happening between the groups.

As expected, the main focus is the search deranking of sites “dedicated to infringement” based on the volume of valid DMCA-style notices rightsholders send to Google. In other words, sites that index a majority of infringing content and are subjected to a lot of rightsholder complaints will find their results buried.

Unfortunately, the report released under the FOIA request is redacted, which leaves some sections ambiguous at best and hard to follow at worst. This section, however, seems to indicate an additional effort to manipulate search results that are generated from “neutral” non-piracy related search terms.

“All parties support the objective of removing links to infringing content from [REDACTED] search results returned to consumers in the UK in response to ‘neutral’ formulations of search query (exact search terms to be agreed) with the goal of presenting the consumer with links to legitimate sites. This includes search results presented to the user in the form of natural search results, sponsored or advertisement results or media player ‘box’ results,” the document reads.

These search terms haven’t been defined publicly but based on previous copyright holder complaints, words such as ‘download’, ‘MP3’ and even artist or content names could be in the mix. In any event, an assessment will take place to see how they prejudice rightsholders, especially when it comes to fresh content.

“Selection of such search queries by the parties shall take into account data indicating the actual levels of usage of such search terms, as well as the harm that illegal access to content via specific queries can cause to creators, in particular for new releases,” the agreement notes.

Google’s AutoComplete feature, which has proven controversial in the past, will also be subject to tweaks that focus on not suggesting infringing content when neutral terms are entered.

Moving forward, an area that is likely to raise an eyebrow or two is a statement in the agreement which possibly suggests the sharing of search engine user behavior data with rightsholders.

“Search engines and rights holders will exchange detailed information on a confidential basis in order to better understand how users are searching for content,” it reads.

“This information exchange will not be expected to include commercially confidential information, and is without prejudice to the existing legal remedies available to either party.”

To give an indication of how complex these discussions must’ve been at times, one only has to look at the following paragraph, which appears to be an effort to lay some of the blame with rightsholders, should infringing links appear more prominently than legal ones in search results.

“Performance in achieving the above metric should be considered in tandem with an objective assessment of the existence of legitimate websites (of rights holders or their partners, distributors or other authorized locations) that offer consumers access to legitimate content or information for the measured queries, and the efforts made by rights holders to take advantage of reasonable techniques such as search engine optimisation,” it reads.

In other words, rightsholders shouldn’t be able to blame Google and Bing for the appearance of ‘pirate’ results if they don’t make legal alternatives available or fail to carry out effective SEO. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem though, since the agreement notes that the parties will work together to optimize SEO for legitimate sites to “improve the likelihood such sites will rank higher in results for well-meaning queries.”

Another interesting detail in the agreement is how the parties intend to tackle so-called “domain hopping” by pirate sites. Currently, when Google receives a lot of DMCA notices for a domain utilized by a pirate site, the site is downranked in results. That often leads to the site getting a new domain, at which point the ‘clean’ domain starts appearing higher in results again. The agreement seeks to deal with that.

“All parties will work with the [Intellectual Property Office] to evaluate how frequently copyright infringing websites, subjected to demotion, change their top-level domain (TLD), but otherwise retain substantially the same identity,” the agreement reads.

“If this activity is sufficiently widespread as to justify it, search engines and rights holders should develop a process whereby rights holders can notify search engines of the occurrence so that, when verified, such domains can be appropriately demoted.”

Overall, Google and Bing will work with rightsholders to demote domains quicker, with the latter encouraged to use APIs and better-formatted infringement notices. A whitelist of sorts will also be introduced, to ensure that legitimate sites don’t get caught up in Google and Bing’s downgrading filters.

But for those concerned about the potential for this voluntary agreement to spread beyond those currently involved, there’s something looming on the horizon. Google and Bing have also committed to sharing their work in this area with search engines and rightsholders that are not already signatories.

“All parties to this Code of Practice commit to ensure that progress or best practice in this area (to the extent that such information is non-confidential) is shared widely with smaller search engines and independent rights holders,” the agreement notes.

As previously reported, the Minister of State for Intellectual Property will oversee the implementation of the voluntary code, and provide quarterly cycles of research and a review after one year.

The full, albeit redacted document, can be viewed here (pdf)

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

Search Engines and Rightsholders Sign Landmark Anti-Piracy Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most-reported sites, according to Google

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisers Promise to Boycott Pirate Sites After Police Visit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/advertisers-promise-boycott-pirate-sites-police-visit-170113/

One of the entertainment industries’ main strategies for tackling ‘pirate’ sites is to prevent them generating revenue from their activities. The theory is that such sites are profit-motivated and if none can be made, they will soon shut down.

With this in mind, industry bodies have sought to target companies who place or pay for advertising to appear on pirate sites. In many cases the companies don’t know exactly where their adverts are appearing, but in case they were in any doubt, this week the police stepped up to remind them.

According to information just released by City of London Police, this Wednesday, officers from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) paid visits to eight organizations involved in placing adverts on pirate sites.

Accompanied by representatives from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), British Phonographic Industry (BPI), International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and PRS for music, PIPCU targeted brands, advertising agencies and networks.

The visits took place as part of the multi-agency anti-piracy initiative Operation Creative. PIPCU says that the companies were made aware that their advertising is appearing on pirate sites. It is not clear whether any of them already knew, but the police got the result they were hoping for.

After discussion, all agreed to cooperate by ensuring that they no longer support any of the platforms listed on the Infringing Website List (IWL) maintained by police and rightsholders.

“All of the organisations were keen to support Operation Creative and have pledged to sign up to the IWL to ensure advert placement from their brand and clients do not appear on the 1,232 websites listed on the IWL,” PIPCU said.

PIPCU offered no further details on the companies visited this week, which suggests that it views them as partners moving forward.

“Operation Creative is key to ending the funding of websites involved in digital piracy. It is important we tackle this issue, not only for brands and businesses’ reputation, but for consumers too,” said Operation Creative’s lead officer Detective Constable Steven Salway.

“When adverts from established brands appear on these sites, they lend them a look of legitimacy. By working with industry to discourage reputable brands from advertising on piracy sites, we will help consumers realise these sites are neither official nor legal.”

Director General of FACT, Kieron Sharp, praised the IWL and said that his group is pleased to be raising awareness within the advertising community.

“PIPCU’s IWL is the first of its kind and is a great tool for businesses to protect their brand reputation by ensuring their adverts don’t appear on pirate sites,” Sharp said.

“Consumers need to be aware that not only are the criminals behind these websites making substantial amounts of money from adverts, but simply visiting the sites can put the public at risk of malware, viruses and click-through scams.”

While the police action is likely to have some effect, there are still plenty of advertisers willing to show off their products on pirate platforms. It is clear, however, that the quality of advertising on such sites is steadily diminishing.

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

Google Removed Over 900 Million ‘Pirate’ Links in 2016

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-removed-over-900-million-pirate-links-in-2016-161230/

google-bayDay in and day out copyright holders are bombarding Google with DMCA takedown notices, pointing out links to pirated content.

The majority of these requests are sent by the music and film industries, targeting hundreds of thousands of different websites.

In recent years the volume of takedown notices has increased spectacularly and in 2016 new records were shattered again.

Over the past 12 months, rightsholders asked Google to remove more than a billion links to allegedly infringing content, nearly twice as much as the 558 million it received last year.

Thanks to a new update to Google’s Transparency Report we now know for the first time how many of these were actually deleted. According to Google’s records, 89.8 percent of the requests were, resulting in 914 million removals.

Looking at the number of sites that are highlighted we see that it’s not just a few usual suspects that are causing problems. In total, rightsholders targeted content on 351,000 different websites.

Google takedown requests (past 12 months to December 29)

goog2016dmca

There is a great variety of copyright holders too. The UK music industry group BPI is at the forefront as usual, with more than 80 million requests, but Fox, NBC Universal, HBO and Microsoft are also among the top senders.

While the number of notices has steadily increased over the past several years, there are some early signs that they may level off in 2017. Over the past six months, the overall volume hasn’t increased, with the number of weekly takedowns hovering around 20 million.

Still, it’s clear that the major rightsholder groups and Google have different views on the DMCA takedown procedure and how to move forward.

The MPAA, RIAA, and other industry groups are calling for extensive revisions and don’t want Google and others to “hide” behind their safe harbor protections. Among other things, they want a ‘notice-and-stay-down‘ policy to ensure that, once deleted, content doesn’t pop up elsewhere.

Google, however, sees this an unworkable solution and believes that the current system is capable of dealing with infringing content.

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

IFPI Sneers at YouTube’s $1 Billion Music Industry Revenue Payout

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ifpi-sneers-at-youtubes-1-billion-music-industry-revenue-payout-161207/

sadyoutubeYouTube is one of the most popular sites on the Internet so when owners Google make an announcement about revenues, people tend to sit up and listen.

Yesterday, via its official YouTube blog, Google said that there were “a billion reasons to celebrate music” on YouTube.

“Last year was a bright one for music — after several tough years of declining revenues, the industry started growing again, spurred in large part by the growth of music streaming subscriptions,” YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl wrote.

“This year, the industry has even more reasons to be optimistic. Even as music subscriptions have been growing faster than any other subscription type, advertising is another powerful driver of revenue. In fact, in the last 12 months, YouTube has paid out over $1 billion to the music industry from advertising alone, demonstrating that multiple experiences and models are succeeding alongside each other.”

In ordinary circumstances a company paying a trading partner a billion dollars worth of spoils would definitely be a reason for celebration. However, the relationship between YouTube and the labels is both uneasy and fractured, so IFPI openly poured cold water all over the hosting platform’s party instead.

“Google has today issued more unexplained numbers on what it claims YouTube pays the music industry. The announcement gives little reason to celebrate, however,” IFPI began.

“With 800 million music users worldwide, YouTube is generating revenues of just over US$1 per user for the entire year. This pales in comparison to the revenue generated by other services, ranging from Apple to Deezer to Spotify. For example, in 2015 Spotify alone paid record labels some US$2 billion, equivalent to an estimated US$18 per user.”

While on the surface this appears to be a business problem, IFPI and its member labels see things differently. They believe this is a legislative issue, one borne out of YouTube’s apparent exploitation of the DMCA and similar frameworks which offer the platform safe harbor when users upload infringing content.

While Apple, Deezer and Spotify must pay out huge sums to license and distribute music (Spotify is said to part with 85 cents for every dollar in revenue), YouTube can sit back and allow its users to upload ‘pirate’ music instead. It pays nothing for this content but still places ads alongside to generate revenue, the labels say.

YouTube correctly argues that the DMCA protects it under these circumstances and when copyright holders ask for content to be taken down, it acts quickly. YouTube also correctly notes that its Content ID fingerprinting system already goes above and beyond what is required of it under the law and is in itself a great system to help copyright holders generate revenue.

The labels, however, see this whole setup as a protection racket, one in which YouTube gets the content for nothing and as a result is free to offer poor rates when the industry comes begging for licensing fees.

“YouTube, the world’s largest on-demand music service, is not paying artists and producers anything like a fair rate for music,” IFPI said last night.

“This highlights more than ever the need for legislative action to address the ‘value gap’ that is denying music rights holders a fair return for their work.”

What IFPI and its recording label members want are changes in the law which will effectively force YouTube to pay a fair price for the content from which it generates revenue.

In the United States, the labels want the DMCA tightened. In Europe, all eyes are on Article 13 (1,2)of the proposed Copyright Directive which would require online services to monitor and filter pirated content.

Whether the labels will get their way will remain to be seen, but this kind of legislative change has the potential to shake up the entire Internet, with far-reaching effects that go way beyond music. Expect more battles – and mudslinging – as the months and years unfold.

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

UK Considers Fines to Force Search Engines to Tackle Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-considers-fines-force-search-engines-tackle-piracy-161027/

parliamentContent owners regularly accuse companies such as Google and Bing of including infringing content in their search results, often on the initial pages following a search where exposure to the public is greatest.

In addition to having these ‘pirate’ results demoted or removed entirely, content providers believe that results featuring genuine content should receive priority, to ensure that the legitimate market thrives.

At least in part, Google has complied with industry requests. Sites which receive the most takedown notices are demoted in results, while some legitimate content has been appearing higher. But of course, entertainment industry companies want more – and they might just get it.

Currently under discussion in Parliament is the Digital Economy Bill. It’s been covered here on several occasions (1,2,3) due to a key aim of harmonizing the punishments for on-and-offline infringement.

However, the Bill appears to be broadening in scope and the role of search engines is now on the agenda, something which the BPI hinted at last week in comments to TorrentFreak.

A new clause titled “Power to provide for a code of practice related to copyright infringement” envisions a situation whereby search engines come to a voluntary agreement with rightsholders on how best to tackle piracy, or have one forced upon them.

“The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for a search engine to be required to adopt a code of practice concerning copyright infringement that complies with criteria specified in the regulations,” the proposed clause reads.

“The regulations may provide that if a search engine fails to adopt such a code of practice, any code of practice that is approved for the purposes of that search engine by the Secretary of State, or by a person designated by the Secretary of State, has effect as a code of practice adopted by the search engine.”

If the clause was adopted, the Secretary of State would also be granted powers to investigate disputes surrounding a search engine’s compliance with any code, appoint a regulator, and/or impose “financial penalties or other sanctions” if companies like Google fall short.

The Conservative government previously made a manifesto commitment to reduce copyright infringement and several MPs believe that this clause would help it to achieve that aim.

Speaking in Parliament this week, Labour MP Kevin Brennan said that Baroness Neville-Rolfe, the Minister for Intellectual Property, had chaired a series of roundtable discussions and meetings between rights holders and search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo.

The rights holders proposed a voluntary code of practice, with some interesting parameters for the search engines to live up to.

“The guiding principles for the voluntary code of conduct would have been that in the top three results, fewer than 1% link to illegal sites; in the top 10, fewer than 5%; and in the top 20, fewer than 10%,” Brennan explained.

“Achieving these objectives would improve the quality of search results and resolve disadvantages that limit the visibility of legitimate sites on which consumers can buy or stream copyrighted works.”

However, it appears that the search engines in question aren’t particularly enthusiastic about the role they’re being asked to play.

“In essence, rights holders want search engines to do what ISPs already do — work co-operatively to take action against sites that have been identified by the High Court as pirate sites — but despite numerous efforts, search engines will not co-operate or agree to the code of practice,” Brennan said.

“They continue to take little responsibility for the fact that listings can overwhelmingly consist of illegal content—the equivalent of the ‘Yellow Pages’ refusing to take responsibility for publishing the details of crooked traders and fraudsters.”

Introducing the new clause (which grants the Secretary of State power to fine search engines) could help the search engines to become more compliant, Brennan said.

“Given the difficulties in negotiations, the new clause would provide a legal backstop to prevent search engines from refusing point-blank to co-operate in discussions. While the code of practice remains a voluntary dream, search engines can refuse to collaborate, as they have for many years.”

Concluding, Brennan indicated that given the Digital Economy Bill is in front of MPs, there is no better time to introduce such a clause. However, Minister for Digital and Culture Matt Hancock urged patience.

“I care about the substance of getting this Bill through right. There are, of course, important parts of parliamentary process both here and in the [House of Lords],” Hancock said.

“Given that the round table discussions are ongoing, including a meeting next week, now is not the right time for the broad reserve power.”

The debates continue.

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

BPI Reports Quarter Billion ‘Pirate’ Links to Google, Ask UK Govt. For Help

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bpi-reports-quarter-billion-pirate-links-to-google-ask-uk-govt-for-help-161024/

googlepiratebayDespite the growing availability of legal music services in many countries, record labels are facing a constant stream of pirated music.

In an attempt to prevent these infringements, BPI and other music industry groups send millions of takedown notices to Internet services every month.

Although several major search engines are targeted, most of these requests are directed at Google. The numbers are quite staggering, and over the past few hours UK music industry group BPI hit a new milestone.

BPI just crossed the mark of 250,000,000 reported links, and is currently adding nearly three million new ones every week.

The majority of these allegedly copyright infringing URLs have been removed from Google’s search results. While this usually happens in a matter of hours, the music group believes that more should be done to address the underlying problem.

“Consumers are still too often directed towards the online black market when they search online for entertainment, rather than to legal services that reward artists and creators,” BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor informs TorrentFreak.

“The fact the BPI alone has now sent a quarter of a billion notices to Google to remove search results directing consumers to illegal copies of music – and almost as many again to Bing – demonstrates that there is a major problem underlying the UK digital economy,” he adds.

Copyright holder groups and search engines have organized several roundtable discussions in an attempt to find new solutions, but thus far without a satisfactory result for both sides.

In recent years Google has introduced a variety of tweaks and changes to the way its search engine operates. It downranks sites for which it receives a lot of takedown requests, for example. Similarly, it actively promotes legal content in search results.

However, BPI and other rightsholders would like search engines to go even further, by delisting pirate sites in their entirety or making sure that pirated content can’t simply reappear under a new URL.

Google is not willing to go this far, as it may lead to over-blocking and other problems, which has brought both camps to a stalemate.

BPI hopes that the UK Government can help to break this impasse. Lawmakers are currently working on a new and revised version of the Digital Economy Bill which could be used to address the search issue, by demanding a proactive stance from Google, Bing and others.

“The Digital Economy Bill which is before Parliament represents a real opportunity for Government to back the creative businesses that provide millions of UK jobs, by insisting that search engines put in place an effective Code of Practice to address this problem,” Taylor says.

While the search issue has been brought up in the recent discussions in parliament, there is no search engine related language in the current form of the bill. So for now, BPI has to keep adding to the quarter billion URLs they have targeted already, onto the next milestone.

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

A Closer Look at the RIAA Lawsuit Against YouTube-MP3

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/a-closer-look-at-the-riaa-lawsuit-against-youtube-mp3-161001/

A couple of weeks ago, the IFPI announced that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it has overtaken downloading from ‘pirate’ sites. For what is essentially a YouTube-powered phenomenon, that was quite a claim.

When the labels publish this kind of information, they usually have an end game in mind. So, thinking ahead, we contacted Philip Matesanz, the usually responsive operator of YouTube-MP3, the world’s largest ripping site. We asked if the labels had been in contact with him. We received no response and the alarm bells began ringing.

This week, all became clear. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others, sued Matesanz and his company PMD Technologie, claiming that his ripping of tracks from YouTube infringed their rights. Today we take a closer look at their lawsuit.

Jurisdiction

Those familiar with YouTube-MP3 will recall that the site is based in Germany and therefore operates under local law. However, the labels have chosen to sue Matesanz and his company in the United States under US law.

They state that their claims arise under federal copyright law and that is appropriate since YouTube-MP3 is “dedicated exclusively to capturing, converting, and copying audio content that is maintained on a U.S.-based website, YouTube.com.”

The labels say that after ripping the content from YouTube, YouTube-MP3 then distributes that content to users in the United States, noting that the site has more users from the US than any other country.

It is worth noting that unlike the Kim Dotcom/Megaupload case, there appears to be no criminal action against YouTube-MP3, only civil litigation.

The allegations against YouTube-MP3

The labels claim that YouTube-MP3 was designed and exists for one reason – to profit from the unauthorized reproduction of their copyrighted music. In carrying this out, the labels say that YouTube-MP3 breaches copyright law in a number of ways.

Direct Copyright Infringement: The labels allege that after ripping content from YouTube, YouTube-MP3 stores the resulting MP3s on its servers in order to service subsequent users more efficiently. This, they say, amounts to the site carrying an illegal library of their content and distributing it in the United States.

Contributory Copyright Infringement: With the allegations of direct infringement in mind, the labels say that YouTube-MP3 has “actual and constructive knowledge” that its users are also committing infringement when they rip content and have it delivered to their machines. Therefore, YouTube-MP3 is liable for user infringements too and at $150,000 per shot, that could get insanely expensive.

Vicarious Copyright Infringement: “Defendants have the right and ability to supervise and control the infringing activities that occur through the use of YTMP3, and at all relevant times have derived a direct financial benefit from the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights. Defendants are therefore vicariously liable for the infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted sound recordings,” the lawsuit reads.

Inducement of Copyright Infringement: Simply put, the labels claim that by providing the ripping and downloading service, YouTube-MP3 encouraged, promoted and assisted the direct infringements of its users. As a result, the site is liable for their actions.

Circumvention of Technological Measures: The labels say that YouTube has technical measures in place to prevent users from downloading music from the site. These are bypassed by YouTube-MP3 in breach of copyright law.

“YTMP3 service circumvents technological measures that YouTube has implemented to effectively control access to and prevent copying of works protected under the Copyright Act, in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 1201(a). More specifically, Defendants’ service descrambles a scrambled work, decrypts an encrypted work, or otherwise avoids, bypasses, removes, deactivates, or impairs a technological measure without the authority of Plaintiffs or YouTube.”

While not as much as the $150,000 in statutory damages available for each instance of willful infringement, circumvention can get expensive too. In this respect, the labels are looking for $2,500 for each act of circumvention and with a reported 60 million visitors each month, there are countless millions of those.

Conclusion

There can be little doubt that given the importance the labels are now placing on stream-ripping, this case against YouTube-MP3 will be vigorously pursued to its conclusion. Whether it will progress to a full trial will remain to be seen but one has to think that barring an extraordinarily spirited Kim Dotcom-style defense, this one is unlikely to end well for YouTube-MP3.

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

UK IP Crime Report 2016 Reveals IPTV/Kodi Piracy as Growing Threat

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-ip-crime-report-2016-reveals-iptvkodi-piracy-as-growing-threat-160929/

For more than a decade the IP Crime Group and the Intellectual Property Office have collaborated to produce an assessment of the level of IP crime in the UK. Their annual IP Crime Report details the responses of businesses, anti-piracy groups, and government agencies.

As usual, this year’s report covers all areas of IP crime, both in the physical realm and online. However, it is the latter area that appears to be causing the most concern to participating anti-piracy groups.

“Perhaps the area where IP crime statistics most often reach jaw-dropping levels is in relation to the industries providing digital content,” the report reads.

“During a sample three-month period last year, 28% of those questioned admitted their music downloads in the UK came from illegal sources. Similarly, 23% of films, 22% of software, 16% of TV and 15% of games were downloaded in breach of copyright.”

While noting that illicit music downloads have actually reduced in recent years, the report highlights areas that aren’t doing so well, TV show consumption for example.

“The reasons for the spike in TV copyright infringement appear to be, in part, technological, with ‘unofficial services’ such as uTorrent, BitTorrent, TV catch up apps and established sources such as YouTube offering content without legal certainty,” it adds.

But while several methods of obtaining free TV content online are highlighted in the report, none achieve as much attention as IPTV – commonly known as Kodi with illicit third-party addons.

In her report preamble, Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe describes anti-IPTV collaboration between the Federation Against Copyright Theft, Trading Standards, and the Police, as one of the year’s operational successes. Indeed, FACT say anti-IPTV work is now their top priority.

Federation Against Copyright Theft

“We have prioritised an emerging threat to the audiovisual industry, internet protocol TV (IPTV) boxes,” FACT write.

“In their original form, these boxes are legitimate. However, with the use of apps and add-ons, they allow users to access copyright infringing material, from live TV and sports, to premium pay-for channels and newly released films. Once configured these boxes are illegal.”

FACT say they are concentrating on two areas – raising awareness in the industry and elsewhere while carrying out enforcement and disruption operations.

“In the last year FACT has worked with a wide range of partners and law enforcement bodies to tackle individuals and disrupt businesses selling illegal IPTV boxes. Enforcement action has been widespread across the UK with numerous ongoing investigations,” FACT note.

Overall, FACT say that 70% of the public complaints they receive relate to online copyright infringement. More than a quarter of all complaints now relate to IPTV and 50% of the anti-piracy group’s current investigations involve IPTV boxes.

fact-ipcrime

British Phonographic Industry (BPI)

In their submission to the report, the BPI cite three key areas of concern – online piracy, physical counterfeiting, and Internet-enabled sales of infringing physical content. The former is their top priority.

“The main online piracy threats to the UK recorded music industry at present come from BitTorrent networks, MP3 aggregator sites, cyberlockers, unauthorised streaming sites, stream ripping sites and pirate sites accessed via mobile devices,” the BPI writes.

“Search engines – predominantly Google – also continue to provide millions of links to infringing content and websites that are hosted by non-compliant operators and hosts that cannot be closed down have needed to be blocked in the UK under s.97A court orders (website blocking).”

The BPI notes that between January 2015 and March 2016, it submitted more than 100 million URL takedowns to Google and Bing. Counting all notices since 2011 when the BPI began the practice, the tally now sits at 200 million URLs.

“These astronomic numbers demonstrate the large quantity of infringing content that is available online and which is easily accessible to search engine users,” the BPI says.

On the web-blocking front, the BPI says it now has court orders in place to block 63 pirate sites and more than 700 related URLs, IP addresses and proxies.

“Site blocking is proving a successful strategy, and the longer the blocks are in place, the more effective they tend to be. The latest data available shows that traffic to sites blocked for over one year has reduced by an average of around 80%; with traffic to sites blocked for less than a year reduced by an average of around 50%,” the BPI adds.

Infringement warnings for Internet subscibers

The Get it Right campaign is an educational effort to advise the public on how to avoid pirate sites and spend money on genuine products. The campaign has been somewhat lukewarm thus far, but the sting in the tail has always been the threat of copyright holders sending warnings to Internet pirates.

To date, nothing has materialized on that front but hidden away on page 51 of the report is a hint that something might happen soon.

“A further component of the ‘Get it Right’ campaign is a subscriber alert programme that will, starting by the end of 2016, advise ISPs’ residential subscribers when their accounts are believed to have been used to infringe copyright,” the report reads.

“Account holders will receive an Alert from their ISP, advising them that unlawful uploading of a copyright content file may have taken place on their internet connection and offering advice on where to find legitimate sources of content.”

Overall, the tone of the report suggests a huge threat from IP crime but one that’s being effectively tackled by groups such as FACT, BPI, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, and various educational initiatives. Only time will tell if next year’s report will retain the optimism.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf)

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

YouTube-MP3 Ripping Site Sued By IFPI, RIAA and BPI

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-mp3-ripping-site-sued-by-ifpi-riaa-and-bpi-160926/

Two weeks ago, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube.

The industry group said that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it had overtaken downloading from ‘pirate’ sites. Given today’s breaking news, the timing of the report was no coincidence.

Earlier today in a California District Court, a huge coalition of recording labels sued the world’s largest YouTube ripping site. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others claim that YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3), owner Philip Matesanz, and Does 1-10 have infringed their rights.

“YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3’s users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3’s servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones,” the complaint reads.

The labels allege that YouTube-MP3 is one of the most popular sites in the entire world and as a result its owner, German-based company PMD Technologies UG, is profiting handsomely from their intellectual property.

“Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants,” the labels add.

And it’s very clear that the labels mean business. YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures.

Among other things, the labels are also demanding a preliminary and permanent injunction forbidding the Defendants from further infringing their rights. They also want YouTube-MP3’s domain name to be surrendered.

“This is a coordinated action to protect the rights of artists and labels from the blatant infringements of YouTube-mp3, the world’s single-largest ‘stream ripping’ site,” says IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore.

“Music companies and digital services today offer fans more options than ever before to listen to music legally, when and where they want to do so – over hundreds of services with scores of millions of tracks – all while compensating artists and labels. Stream ripping sites should not be allowed jeopardize this.”

Cary Sherman, the Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says that YouTube-MP3 is making money on the back of their business and needs to be stopped.

“This site is raking in millions on the backs of artists, songwriters and labels. We are doing our part, but everyone in the music ecosystem who says they believe that artists should be compensated for their work has a role to play,” Sherman says.

“It should not be so easy to engage in this activity in the first place, and no stream ripping site should appear at the top of any search result or app chart.”

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor says that it’s time for web services and related companies to stop supporting similar operations.

“It’s time to stop illegal sites like this building huge fortunes by ripping off artists and labels. Fans have access now to a fantastic range of legal music streaming services, but they can only exist if we take action to tackle the online black market,” Taylor says.

“We hope that responsible advertisers, search engines and hosting providers will also reflect on the ethics of supporting sites that enrich themselves by defrauding creators.”

TorrentFreak contacted YouTube-MP3 owner Philip Matesanz for comment but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

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

EU Commission Proposes Mandatory Piracy Filters For Online Services

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/eu-proposes-mandatory-piracy-filters-for-online-services-160914/

upload During his State of the Union address today, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced several plans to modernize copyright law in Europe.

The proposal (pdf) is part of the Digital Single Market reforms, which have been in the making for several years.

Despite earlier suggestions that geo-blocking would be banned for streaming portals such as Netflix, these ideas haven’t made it into the final text. Instead, it introduces a wide range of reforms that improve the position of rights holders.

One of the suggestions that has a lot of people worried is Article 13, which requires online services to police pirated content. This means that online services, which deal with large volumes of user-uploaded content, must use fingerprinting and filtering mechanisms to block copyright infringing files.

“The Commission proposal obliges such service providers to take appropriate and proportionate measures to ensure the protection of user-uploaded works, for example by putting in place content recognition technologies,” the commission explains.

This could, for example, be similar to the Content-ID system YouTube has in place, which hasn’t been without controversy itself.

While the Commission stresses that small content platforms won’t be subject to the requirement, the proposal doesn’t define what “small” means. It also fails to define what “appropriate” or “effective” content recognition systems are, creating a fair bit of uncertainty.

Article 13

article13

Commenting on the proposal, Digital rights group EDRi says that it will put many European companies at risk while endangering users’ right to free speech.

“The text that was launched today includes a proposal to potentially filter all uploads to the Internet in Europe. The draft text would destroy users’ rights and legal certainty for European hosting companies,” EDRi notes.

The Commission, however, notes that the changes are needed to reinforce the negotiating position of copyright holders, so they can sign licensing agreements with services that provide access to user uploaded content.

Perhaps not surprisingly, this language is directly aligned with recent calls from various music industry organizations.

Just a few month ago the BPI asked for new legislation to prevent platforms like YouTube abusing safe harbor protections in order to create “royalty havens”. With the current proposal, this wish has been partly granted.

TorrentFreak spoke with Pirate Party Member of Parliament Julia Reda who is fiercely against mandatory piracy filters.

“There are countless problems with this approach. First of all, Google spent upwards of $60 million on the development of ContentID. Asking every startup or community project to make the same kind of investment is ludicrous,” Reda says.

Most services that deal with user-uploaded content can’t invest millions into content recognition technologies so they would have to license it from others such as YouTube, Reda adds. This will only increase the already dominant positions of the major players.

In addition, she points out that automated systems often lead to overt mistakes and are poorly equipped to deal with the finer nuances of copyright.

“Just because part of a copyright-protected work shows up in a video, that doesn’t mean that the new work constitutes a copyright infringement,” Reda says.

“There are numerous exceptions to copyright such as parody or quotation – different in every EU country – that could justify the re-use of part of a protected work. An algorithm can’t detect that. It will take down lots of legal remixes and mashups, thus stifling freedom of expression,” she adds.

A valid comment, as we witnessed ourselves just a few days ago when one of our perfectly legal videos was inaccurately flagged as a copyright infringement.

YouTube aside, Reda stresses that there are many other platforms to which automated recognition systems are not well suited. Wikipedia, for example, which uses mostly Creative Commons licensed content, or services such as DeviantArt which hosts user-uploaded artwork, or MuseScore that hosts sheet music.

“There is no technology available that would reliably detect copyright infringements in these formats. The Commission is asking Internet companies to do the impossible, thus endangering collaborative communities on the Internet as well as European startups,” Reda tells us.

The filtering requirement is not the only plan that’s getting a lot of pushback.

Another controversial proposal is the introduction of a new related right for press publications. This allows online newspapers to negotiate licences from third party services that use their texts, such as Google showing article clippings in its news section.

Opponents, including several young members of the European Parliament, have dubbed the proposal a “link-tax” and are fiercely against it.

#Savethelink

“This plan would break the internet as we know it. The way people share news online today – by posting a link that includes a short snippet or image from the article – would be made illegal unless a licence had been previously agreed,” MEP Marietje Schaake says.

Considering the stakes at hand, it’s expected that there will be several organized protests, similar to the “Save the Link” campaign, to stop the proposals from becoming law in their current form.

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

PIPCU’s Operation Creative Gets New Leader & New Backers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlantic Records Subpoenas Reddit to Identify Music Leaker

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/atlantic-records-subpoenas-reddit-to-identify-music-leaker-160803/

cofeeleakMusic gets uploaded to the Internet every minute of every day, much to the irritation of recording labels. Largely these uploads are dealt with via takedown notices but occasionally there is a desire to track down the individual behind the unauthorized distribution.

One such case currently before the Supreme Court of the State of New York sees Atlantic Recording Corporation trying to obtain the identity of a person who uploaded some of their copyrighted content to the Internet in June.

The complaint concerns the track ‘Heathens’ by the platinum-certified band Twenty One Pilots.

“Prior to June 15, 2016, Atlantic had provided access to a digital copy of Heathens only to an extremely limited number of individuals,” the complaint reads.

“These individuals included members of 21 Pilots, their manager, Atlantic and [record label] Fueled by Ramen executives and members of Atlantic’s radio field staff. In each such case, the individual was barred from distributing the recording until the scheduled release date of June 24, 2016.”

Atlantic says that all of its employees who were aware of the impending release were “contractually obligated and/or under a fiduciary obligation” not to disclose its existence until June 24. However, things didn’t go to plan.

On or around June 15, someone with early access to the track posted it to a file-hosting service called Dropfile.to. Following that upload it’s alleged that the poster then advertised the track for download on Reddit.

“The Poster posted a link to the file he or she uploaded to Dropfile.to to the Twenty One Pilots subreddit (a publicly accessible message board, hosted by Reddit Inc.), with the title “[Leak] New Song – ‘Heathens”,” the complaint reads.

heathens-leak

As illustrated in the image above, the Reddit thread was indeed started on June 15 and can still be found today. It was posted by a user calling him/herself “twentyoneheathens.”

That user account is still on Reddit but its solitary purpose appears to have been the advertise the availability of the track on Dropfile. No other actions are registered against the account, a hindrance to anyone trying to find out who is behind it.

After becoming aware of the leak, Atlantic says it tried to stop distribution but had minimal success.

“Upon becoming aware of the Posting, Atlantic attempted to have the illegally distributed copies of Heathens removed from the Internet. Despite expending significant effort and funds in this attempt, the removal efforts were ultimately unsuccessful in curtailing further widespread distribution,” the label says.

TorrentFreak has been able to confirm a fairly broad takedown campaign which began with RIAA action on June 16. From there, the UK’s BPI appears to have taken over, sending hundreds of takedowns to Google referencing dozens of sites.

Fighting a losing battle, Atlantic took the decision to release the track on June 16, the day after its leak online and well ahead of its planned August 5 album debut. The track had been scheduled to appear on “Suicide Squad: The Album” this week to coincide with the release of the movie of the same name.

Atlantic says this early release frustrated its marketing efforts, something which directly hit sales.

“Following the June 16, 2016, release, sales of the Heathens single, which were unsupported by Atlantic’s carefully-planned marketing strategy, failed to reach predicted levels, causing substantial harm to Atlantic in the form of lost single and album sales revenue,” the complaint reads.

So now, as expected, Atlantic is on the warpath. In its complaint the company asks the Court to force Reddit to hand over the information, IP addresses included, it holds on the person who uploaded the link to the track.

red-leak

Suspecting that Atlantic would also try to get information from Dropfile, TorrentFreak contacted the site’s operator for comment. He informs us that the label hasn’t made contact with him.

“[This news] comes as a surprise to me, we have not heard from anyone about it prior to this,” he says.

“I guess that Atlantic Records figured out it will be easier to get the poster’s data from Reddit or they will use official authorities to contact us in that matter (which might take months).”

Further complicating any retrieval of data from Dropfile are the site’s logging policies.

“Dropfile is a simple service for anonymous sharing of files that need to be placed online only temporarily,” the site explains.

“We keep no logs on our side whatsoever. We don’t use cookies, any kind of traffic tracking (Google Analytics), social media buttons that could track you (Facebook, Twitter) and have no ads that could track you.”

Furthermore, Dropfile is located in Slovakia where there is no mandatory requirement to log visitor data.

From Atlantic’s complaint, it seems clear the label is expecting the culprit to be close to home.

“If the Poster is not an Atlantic employee, then he or she likely obtained the Recording from an Atlantic employee, who would have breached his or her contract and/or fiduciary duties to Atlantic by providing the Poster access to the Recording. Atlantic is unaware of the true identity of the Poster and is unable to ascertain that information from any source other than Reddit,” the label adds.

It seems likely that Reddit will comply with the subpoena but only time will tell whether it will lead to the leaker. The original track uploaded to Dropfile has now expired.

“Files are physically removed from servers after 24 hours from their upload or when reported. After that, we have no clue what the file was. And we never knew who uploaded it,” Dropfile concludes.

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

The Google Piracy Blame Game is Headache Inducing

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-piracy-blame-game-headache-inducing-160717/

google-bayMusic piracy in 2016 is a somewhat curious beast. Streaming platforms are readily accessible and the service provided by outfits like Spotify out-perform the vast majority of pirate sites.

With many legitimate platforms providing an ad-supported free tier, it’s even difficult to complain about the price. Still, some people prefer to pirate and this infuriates the labels, and understandably so. Sadly, however, their response is to blame people that have nothing to do with that infringement.

After being put under intense pressure by copyright holders, Google now feels obliged to let everyone know what measures it’s taking against this kind of piracy. This week it produced a comprehensive report covering every possible angle. Within minutes the record labels had responded, not with thanks, but with intence criticism.

On a personal level I’d like to think that Google is now pretty pissed off, and this is coming from someone who supports artists with subscriptions to Spotify, Deezer and Digitally Imported, and purchases from Beatport and Juno.

For the millionth time, Google does not engage in copyright infringement, yet faced with a problem they can’t solve on their own, the labels have adopted a strategy of painting Google as the villain. The contempt shown by the labels for a company that is already going way beyond what’s required of it under the law is quite unbelievable.

The maddening reality of it all really hits home when one reads a piece penned by the BPI’s Geoff Taylor and published in MBW this week. It begins with complaints that Content ID doesn’t work as well as it should and he invites Google to up its game.

“Despite its amazing innovations in mapping the Earth and inventing driverless cars, Google hasn’t managed to implement a Content ID system that people can’t easily get around,” Taylor complains.

First, Google had no obligation to make Content ID at all but it did and now artists are $2bn better off. Second, people invent systems, people get around them, everyone knows that. But apparently, Google is partly to blame for that too.

“Of course the fact that Google refuses to remove YouTube videos that show you exactly how to circumvent Content ID doesn’t help,” Taylor adds.

No, it’s not helpful, but what it does show is that Google isn’t prepared to stifle free speech, even if it does find it objectionable. Talking about circumventing Content ID is not a crime, nor a breach of YouTube’s terms and conditions. Those videos should stay up, no matter how annoying.

Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that when looking at any industry demands, history shows us that whatever is offered, it will never, ever be enough. Taylor’s piece demonstrates that with flying colors.

“Google should concentrate its formidable resources on making a Content ID system that is genuinely effective in protecting creators; and then apply a similar proactive system to Google search and its other services.”

Proactively censor existence of content on the web. Right. That should be both easy and completely problem free.

To be fair, it’s obvious why the music industry wants Google to go down this route, but the thought of any third party becoming permanent judge and jury over what we can and cannot see online is bewildering. And that’s ignoring the fact that Content ID works for material Google hosts. Applying that to content hosted elsewhere would be a minefield, if not impossible.

But it doesn’t stop there. Also bewildering is how the labels are trying to shame Google into paying them more.

“This isn’t strictly a piracy issue, but we can’t ignore the fact that YouTube pays 1/16th as much for each of its music users as competing services like Spotify,” Taylor writes.

“It’s time that Google started sharing a fair proportion of the value it derives from YouTube with creators.”

In any other marketplace people simply don’t do business with a company if they don’t like the prices being paid, but apparently the labels are being held to ransom.

That being said, since we’re playing this game of “fair proportions”, consider this. YouTube makes pretty much no money. Does the BPI want a share of that?

But the complaint that is perhaps the most frustrating is that the BPI and others are still complaining that pirate sites are turning up in search results for music content.

Let’s be clear, the most popular pirate sites do not turn up in the first results because they’re all being downranked by Google’s anti-piracy algorithm. This means that sites that most people have never heard of get pushed up the list, apparently above legitimate offerings.

That raises the preposterous notion that the people behind many of these bottom tier pirate sites have better SEO skills than the world’s biggest music companies. That being the case, someone needs a kick in the ass – and it’s not Google.

Finally, Taylor criticizes Google for not going after sites that rip audio content from YouTube videos and convert them to MP3s.

“Although such sites breach YouTube’s terms of service and seem to contradict its business model – by turning ad-supported transient streams into permanent copies – Google continues to point to these sites in autocomplete and to host YouTube videos showing how to use them,” he writes.

Again, the BPI is asking for censorship of content that simply isn’t illegal. But more than that it’s yet again demanding action from YouTube when it could take action itself. If these sites are illegal, why aren’t they being added to the UK’s national website blocking list, for example?

The problem with this continual assault on Google is that it’s not only tiresome but it largely misses the point. Google already does way more than the law requires yet it only has control over content hosted on YouTube. No matter what actions it takes, it simply cannot remove illicit content from the web, it can only make it a bit less visible.

Google can look after itself, but copyright holders should be extremely cautious of treating its many overtures with this level of contempt. One volunteer is worth ten pressed men and one can only guess at how much patience Google has left.

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