Tag Archives: Breaking News

‘Pirate’ App TeaTV Gets Featured on CNBC, Disappears, But Will Be Back

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-app-teatv-gets-featured-on-cnbc-disappears-but-will-be-back-191023/

While ‘pirate’ sites still exist as regular web-based streaming or torrent portals accessible through a browser, recent years have seen a shift.

Software applications, or apps as they’re more commonly known, are now seen as a more convenient option.

Installable on phones, tablets, and a multitude of set-top devices, they often provide access to huge libraries of instantly-streamable movie and TV shows, presented in a Netflix-style interface.

While Popcorn Time was the first to hit the mainstream, plenty of alternatives now exist. One of those is TeaTV, a popular app for Android, Windows and macOS. According to SimilarWeb stats, its download portal has been pulling in around 1.5 million visits per month a few days ago a considerable irritant presented itself.

News outlet CNBC – which is owned by media giant NBCUniversal – ran a piece claiming that TeaTV was being “bankrolled” by advertising, some of it being placed by Pandora, TikTok, Hulu, Yahoo Mail, and Amazon, among others.

There was no suggestion in the CNBC piece that any of the companies placed ads directly with Teat-TV. Instead, a network of hard-to-control resellers was handed the blame, some of which are no longer doing business with TeaTV due to the CNBC investigation. Other advertising companies approached declined to comment.

TeaTV for Android

Interestingly, the publication also revealed that during a “recent meeting of major industry players in New York” on the topic of ad-supported piracy, TeaTV came up as a discussion point.

Who those players are is open to debate but ad-supported piracy is a hot topic and there can be little doubt that familiar names, including those involved in the ACE anti-piracy coalition (CNBC owner NBCUniversal is an ACE member), would’ve been privy to the conversations.

Perhaps coincidentally but more likely not, in the hours following the publication of the CNBC piece, TeaTV began to purge itself from the web. Its main webpage, previously located at TeaTV.net, no longer exists, meaning that downloads of the app from that portal have come to a halt.

Furthermore, TeaTV’s social media has been blacked out too. Both its Twitter and Facebook pages have been removed or deleted, leading some to speculate that the popular software has been consigned to history following the investigation.

After receiving unconfirmed information that TeaTV won’t ever be coming back, TorrentFreak spoke directly with a source very close to the app. That person declined to comment on the CNBC investigation specifically or whether TeaTV’s disappearance is directly connected to it.

However, we were assured that TeaTV will be returning sometime in the future. No timescale was given for the full resurrection but at least some changes are planned, including a potential rebranding of the app.

“Just a matter of time. We will get back to you when there is an update,” we were told.

With a full return (in some shape or form) penciled in for a future date, it appears that TeaTV as an application is still working for many of its users. Numerous reports online suggest that despite the app’s homepage and social media going dark, the software is still providing access to content.

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

NordVPN Had Private Keys Stolen after Server Breach

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/nordvpn-had-private-keys-stolen-after-server-breach-191022/

VPN service provider NordVPN was the victim of a server breach early last year, the provider has confirmed.

The news was made public following a series of tweets from hacker / web developer ‘undefined.’ These were picked up by Ars Technica and TechCrunch, among others.

The hack in question targeted a single server at a third-party datacenter. The attacker reportedly compromised the server by exploiting an insecure remote management system, which NordVPN wasn’t aware existed at the time.

By compromising the server the attacker gained access to three TLS keys that would allow this person to operate a fake NordVPN.com site or VPN server, using a man-in-the-middle attack. NordVPN stresses that it doesn’t keep user logs and that it wasn’t possible to use the keys to decrypt regular VPN traffic or previously recorded VPN sessions.

The server in question was compromised early 2018 but NordVPN didn’t disclose it at the time. The company now says that it chose not to do so because it had to make sure that none of its other infrastructure was prone to similar issues.

Following the news reports, NordVPN published its own account of what happened and how this affected its users. The company stresses that the breached keys have since expired (they were initially active) and could never be used to decrypt VPN traffic of users.

While the compromised TLS keys couldn’t decrypt VPN traffic, a server breach is of course always a big event of course. Especially in the VPN industry, where trust in a company is extremely important. That the effect appears to be limited here is a good thing, but that doesn’ change the fact that the server was hacked.

While NordVPN stresses that the hack only had a minimal impact, it recognizes that security is a vital issue, and that it should do better going forward.

“Even though only 1 of more than 3000 servers we had at the time was affected, we are not trying to undermine the severity of the issue. We failed by contracting an unreliable server provider and should have done better to ensure the security of our customers,” NordVPN says.

“We are taking all the necessary means to enhance our security,” the company adds.

NordVPN further informs TorrentFreak that it always treats VPN servers as the least secure part of their infrastructure, since breaches are always possible. This means that VPN endpoints do not contain any “vulnerable information,” nor do they provide access to the rest of the infrastructure or a user database.

If anything, this episode shows that 100% security is nearly impossible. In addition to the NordVPN hack, competing services TorGuard and VikingVPN also suffered breaches, according to reports. TorGuard previously confirmed this a few months ago.

Disclaimer: NordVPN is one of our sponsors. This article was written independently, as all of our articles are.

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

BREIN, MPA, and ACE Shut Down Massive ‘Pirate CDN’

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-mpa-and-ace-shut-down-massive-pirate-cdn-191021/

Earlier this year, cyber-security company Group-IB shared an interesting report with TorrentFreak.

The company told us that “large monopolists” were supplying huge amounts of content to thousands of websites via dedicated ‘pirate’ Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

Group-IB provided specific details on a CDN called ‘Moonwalk’ which reportedly began operating in 2013. According to the company, at the time the system carried 33,490 movies and TV shows, paying out $0.60 per 1000 views.

Group-IB complained that since most of Moonwalk’s servers were outside Russia, the Netherlands in particular, enforcement by local rightsholders was proving difficult. Several months later, it now transpires that Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has stepped up in an effort to deal with the problem.

BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak that on Friday, bailiffs acting on its behalf served ex parte court orders on five hosting providers requiring them to disconnect streaming servers and preserve evidence in relation to Moonwalk.

Three court orders targeted Dutch companies and two “ostensibly foreign companies” whose servers are located in the Netherlands. While the action is being headed up by BREIN, the anti-piracy group is working with both the Motion Picture Association and the global Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

BREIN describes Moonwalk as a “video load balancer” which provides both the back-end and also huge volumes of pirated content to around 80% of known Russian streaming sites.

“The top 50 of these websites entertain 395 million visits from 89.9 million unique visitors per month causing hundreds of millions of euros/dollars in losses,” BREIN says.

BREIN’s estimates of the amount of content being provided by Moonwalk exceed the figures provided by Group-IB earlier this year. Overall, the Dutch anti-piracy outfit says that the system was recently providing more than 26,000 movies and 10,000 TV shows. That’s around 2,500 additional pieces of video entertainment which suggests growth over recent months.

The ex parte court orders were obtained by BREIN following a joint investigation with ACE, which counts almost three dozen of the world’s leading content and broadcasting companies as members. It’s clear the orders were intended to cause the shutdown of Moonwalk while providing evidence on its operations and presumably, its operators.

“The fight against piracy is global and we are going after operators of these services and their hosting infrastructure as well as other intermediaries supporting these illegal services”, says BREIN chief Tim Kuik.

Jan Van Voorn, Executive Vice President and Chief of Global Content Protection at the Motion Picture Association, stressed that cooperating internationally is crucial to dealing with today’s piracy issues.

“Effectively fighting piracy today requires strong partnerships at global and local level,” he says.

“This action coordinated between BREIN, ACE and the MPA is a significant win and another step towards preserving a healthy and vibrant ecosystem in which the creative community can produce, distribute and protect their content so that audiences can enjoy them.”

What happens next in the investigation isn’t clear but a website associated with Moonwalk currently states that due to this action, the service is not only down, but down for good.

Gone forever?

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

Google Play Removes Perfect Player After “Bogus” Copyright Complaint

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-play-removes-perfect-player-after-bogus-copyright-complaint-191019/

‘Pirate’ IPTV services make the news every week, mostly in connection with streaming movies, TV shows, and sports without obtaining permission from rightsholders.

Enforcement actions against these entities are certainly on the increase and in most instances it’s easy to see why copyright holders have a problem with them. However, it’s clear that some companies either don’t understand what they’re dealing with or simply don’t care.

Case in point, the popular Android app Perfect Player. This software is effectively a network-capable media player that enables users to enter a playlist from an IPTV provider and watch video, no matter what the source. In common with Windows Media Player, it doesn’t involve itself with end-user conduct and can be used to watch legitimate streams.

This week, however, the software – which has in excess of a million downloads from Google Play – was removed by Google because of a copyright complaint. It was filed by a major pay-TV provider, the name of which we’ve agreed not to publish while the complaint is ongoing.

It states that the software allows users to watch channels from unauthorized sources and is therefore illegal. However, there appears to be a considerable flaw in the pay-TV company’s arguments.

In common with the developers behind various torrent clients, Perfect Player’s developer doesn’t dictate how the software is used because no control can be exercised over that. Just like Windows Media Player, uTorrent, or even VLC (which has similar capabilities), it can be used for entirely legal purposes – or not, depending on the choice of the user.

To support its complaint, we understand that the pay-TV provider supplied screenshots showing Perfect Player playing content to which the company holds the rights. This is particularly odd because any content being played is actioned by and is the responsibility of the user.

To have received the content in the first place, the company (or whoever they obtained the app from) must’ve actively configured Perfect Player to infringe by loading it with the playlist from an illicit IPTV provider. Perfect Player contains no playlists when supplied directly from Google Play, it’s content-neutral.

To strike an analogy, you can’t put a bullet in a gun, shoot someone in the head, and then blame the gun manufacturer. Likewise, if you don’t want illicit streams turning up in a software player, don’t have someone load it with infringing playlists from third-parties and then blame a software developer.

“These guys told me that they own ‘Premier’ channels and we should stop transmitting these channels. I answered that the app doesn’t contain any content or channels,” Perfect Player’s developer informs TorrentFreak.

“They then sent another email with a screenshot, showing that they are able to watch their channels in the app.”

TorrentFreak contacted the TV company’s anti-piracy team asking why they chose to target Perfect Player while gently pointing out the playlist issue detailed above. Unfortunately, at the time of publication, the company had not responded to our request for comment.

Giving the TV company the benefit of the doubt for a moment, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that it acquired a ready-configured copy of Perfect Player from a third-party that already contained a URL for a ‘pirate’ service. That could give the impression it’s a dedicated pirate app.

That being said, downloading a copy from Google Play would’ve highlighted the important differences between a non-configured player and one set up for piracy. That’s impossible now, of course, because Google has taken Perfect Player down.

With the help of a lawyer, the developer is now filing a DMCA counter-notice with Google Play which will require the pay-TV company to either double down or back off. Unless Google chooses to restore Perfect Player in the meantime, of course.

Earlier this month, Google also took down the IPTV Smarters app from its Play Store following a “false complaint”, according to its developer. The company’s lawyers are reportedly working to have the software restored but at the time of writing, it remains unavailable on copyright grounds.

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

Cloudflare Refutes MPA and RIAA’s Piracy Concerns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-refutes-mpa-and-riaas-piracy-concerns-191018/

Earlier this month several copyright holder groups sent their annual “Notorious Markets” complaints to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The recommendations are meant to call out well-known piracy sites, apps, and services, but Cloudflare is frequently mentioned as well.

The American CDN provider can’t be officially listed since it’s not a foreign company. However, rightsholders have seizes the opportunity to point out that the CDN service helps pirate sites with their infringing activities.

The MPA and RIAA, for example, wrote that Cloudflare frustrates enforcement efforts by helping pirate sites to “hide” their hosting locations. In addition, the Hollywood-affiliated Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) pointed out that the company helps pirate sites to deliver malware.

This week Cloudflare responded to these allegations. In a rebuttal, sent to the USTR’s Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property, General Counsel Doug Kramer writes that these reports are not an accurate representation of how the company operates.

“My colleagues and I were frustrated to find continued misrepresentations of our business and efforts to malign our services,” Kramer writes.

“We again feel called on to clarify that Cloudflare does not host the referenced websites, cannot block websites, and is not in the business of hiding companies that host illegal content–all facts well known to the industry groups based on our ongoing work with them.”

Kramer points out that the copyright holder groups “rehash” previous complaints, which Cloudflare previously rebutted. In fact, some parts of the CDN provider’s own reply are rehashed too, but there are several new highlights as well.

For example, the USTR’s latest review specifically focuses on malware issues. According to Cloudflare, its services are specifically aimed at mitigating such threats.

“Our system uses the collective intelligence from all the properties on our network to support and immediately update our web application firewall, which can block malware at the edge and prevent it from reaching a site’s origin server. This protects the many content creators who use our services for their websites as well as the users of their websites, from malware,” Kramer writes.

The DCA’s submission, which included a 2016 report from the group, is out of date and inaccurate, Cloudflare says. Several of the mentioned domains are no longer Cloudflare customers, for example. In addition, the DCA never sent any malware complaints to the CDN service.

Cloudflare did previously reach out to the DCA following its malware report, but this effort proved fruitless, the company writes.

“Despite our repeated attempts to get additional information by either
phone or email, DCA cancelled at least three scheduled calls and declined to provide any specific information that would have allowed us to verify the existence of the malware and protect users from malicious activity online,” Kramer notes.

Malware aside, the allegations that Cloudflare helps pirate sites to ‘hide’ their hosting locations are not entirely true either.

Kramer points out that the company has a “Trusted Reporter” program which complainants, including the RIAA, use frequently. This program helps rightsholders to easily obtain the actual hosting locations of Cloudflare customers that engage in widespread copyright infringement.

Although Cloudflare admits that it can’t stop all bad actors online, it will continue to work with the RIAA, MPA, and others to provide them with all the information they need for their enforcement efforts.

None of this is new though. Year after year the same complaints come in and Cloudflare suggests that copyright holders are actually looking for something else. They would like the company to terminate accounts of suspected pirate sites. However, the CDN provider has no intention to do so.

“Their submissions to the Notorious Markets process seem intended to pressure Cloudflare to take over efforts to identify and close down infringing websites for them, but that is something that we are not obligated to do,” Kramer says.

While it would be technically possible, it would require the company to allocate considerable resources to the task. These resources are currently needed to pursue its primary goal, which is to keep the Internet secure and protect users from malware and other risks.

It’s clear that Cloudflare doesn’t want to take any action against customers without a court order. While it has occasionally deviated from this stance by kicking out Daily Stormer and 8Chan, pirate sites are on a different level.

A copy of the letter Cloudflare’s General Counsel Doug Kramer sent to the USTR’s Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property, Jacob Ewerdt, 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.

Mega Overturns Brazilian ISP Copyright Block

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mega-overturns-brazilian-isp-copyright-block-191018/

The inevitable situation facing any site that hosts user-uploaded files is that some users will attempt to store copyright-infringing content.

The bigger the site, the bigger the problem, as YouTube’s copyright department knows only too well. But while few rightsholders would attempt to take on YouTube by filing for an ISP blocking order, plenty of other sites are considered fair game, Mega for example.

After a standing start in 2013, Mega is now a major player in the file-hosting market. Due to its early connections with Kim Dotcom, the site was under huge scrutiny from the very beginning and as such, has always insisted that it is fully compliant when it comes to copyright issues.

Nevertheless, earlier this month it was discovered that users in Brazil could no longer access the service. ISPs in the country had begun blocking the site following a copyright complaint initiated by the Brazilian Association of Subscription Television (ABTA).

Following a September decision, the São Paulo Court of Justice ordered four Internet service providers – Claro Brasil, Vivo-Telefonica, Oi and Algar Telecom – to prevent their subscribers from accessing several domains on copyright grounds, Mega.nz included.

“With respect to the block in Brazil, we respectfully believe that the order is wrong and that the Court has been misled. MEGA has excellent compliance. We are working on a solution,” the company told its customers.

The nature of that solution wasn’t specified at the time but Mega Executive Chairman Stephen Hall says that the company mounted a legal challenge to a process that had actually begun months earlier and didn’t initially include Mega.

“The case started in January 2019 with various sites but not Mega,” Hall informs TorrentFreak.

“The case has been held in secret, apparently because the ABTA submitted that various sites included could change settings in order to evade the block.”

Hall says that Mega was added to the case in September 2019 based on the allegation that a single URL on the site led to infringing content. However, that URL had never been reported to the company as posing a problem.

“We submitted to the Appeal Court details of our rigorous compliance activity such as fast response to copyright takedown requests, suspension of accounts with repeat allegations of copyright infringement etc, as reported in our Transparency Report,” Hall says.

Mega’s Executive Chairman notes that Brazilian law only allows courts to suspend access to a service if it fails to respond to legal requests so Mega eventually came out on top.

“The Appeal Court ordered the block of Mega.nz to be reversed. I believe the lower Court will now reconsider its inclusion of Mega. We are confident that access won’t be blocked again,” Hall concludes.

Reports posted by Mega users to Twitter suggest that at least some previously-blocked users are now able to access the site once again but the company is urging that any still experiencing difficulties should contact their providers.

“Contact your ISP if you still cannot access https://mega.nz,” the company says.

According to SimilarWeb stats, there are more visitors to Mega from Brazil than any other country, together making up almost 10% of Mega’s traffic and making it the country’s 108th most popular site.

A report by Mega in January revealed the massive scale of its global operations since its launch six years ago.

“To date, more than 130 million registered MEGA users have uploaded over 53 billion files, utilizing the user-controlled end-to-end encryption we provide,” the company said.

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

Police Raids Shut Down Share-Online.biz, Germany’s Largest File-Hoster

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-raids-shut-down-share-online-biz-germanys-largest-file-hoster-191017/

Share-Online.biz was popular in many regions as a platform where users could upload all kinds of media. It was particularly popular in Germany, with around 72% of its users coming from the country, according to SimilarWeb stats.

Unregistered users could upload files up to a gigabyte but those paying for a premium account were given double the allocation. Yesterday, however, the site suddenly disappeared from the web, leading to the usual speculation about potential legal troubles.

This morning those fears were confirmed. According to local anti-piracy outfit GVU, at 14:00 Wednesday afternoon, the platform was raided and shut down following a joint investigation with the prosecutor’s office in Cologne and police 38 miles away in the city of Aachen.

“This unprecedented procedure was initiated by the GVU, whose employees filed a criminal complaint against the service providers in 2017 and have been supporting the authorities ever since,” GVU explains.

“Where previously all criminal and civil law approaches by various actors seemed to be going nowhere, the GVU was now able to achieve a groundbreaking success for its members and the creative industries as a whole.”

In Germany, both residential and business properties were raided in several regions. In France and the Netherlands, officers targeted data centers connected to the file-hosting platform. Precisely how many servers were seized isn’t clear but Share-Online.biz was a considerable operation, with GVU stating that it served up to 10 million visitors a month with millions of files stored across “hundreds” of servers.

Three individuals aged 40, 48, and 54 are currently under investigation for copyright infringement offenses.

According to GVU, just one of its anti-piracy partners sent in excess of eight million takedown notices to Share-Online in 2017 but the allegedly-infringing content reappeared shortly after it was apparently “deleted” by the platform.

This prompted GVU to file a complaint with the prosecutor’s office. Government investigators subsequently supported GVU’s investigation by carrying out their own analysis along with documented test downloads to substantiate claims that the site’s operators “aided and abetted” copyright infringement.

GVU says that infringing files stored on Share-Online were accessed via links posted to various file sharing forums which to a greater or lesser extent, collaborated with the platform.

“For the first time, file-hoster operators are the focus of a criminal copyright procedure because they use portal pages and forums such as DDL-Warez, Boerse, Movie-Blog and MyGully, supported by affiliate programs and commission payments,” says Evelyn Ruttke, Managing Director of GVU.

At the time of writing, Share-Online.biz is completely down, as is DDL-Warez. Two other sites cited by GVU as prominent users of Share-Online – Serienjunkies.org and Canna.to – remain operational.

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

Comcast Becomes First ISP to Join ACE Global Anti-Piracy Coalition

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/comcast-becomes-first-isp-to-join-ace-global-anti-piracy-coalition-191016/

In the summer of 2017, one of the most important anti-piracy initiatives of recent years was born.

After years of protecting their own content from unlicensed reproduction and distribution, 30 of the world’s most powerful media companies came together to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE).

Led by the MPAA (now MPA), the companies declared a pooling of resources to tackle piracy more efficiently and on a global scale. Since then, ACE has added several new members to bolster the ranks and this week added two more, one of which is particularly notable.

“We are excited to have Comcast and Viacom join ACE – our leading global content protection organization,” says Charles Rivkin, Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association.

“As the parent companies of two of our original members, they have been supporters of our efforts and numerous successes, but now as members, they will strengthen the legal and operational work we’re able to do to reduce the threat of piracy and support creators.”

Viacom is the parent company of Paramount Pictures, which in turn is a current member of both the MPA and ACE. It also owns UK-based Channel 5, which joined ACE in March 2019.

Comcast owns ACE members NBCUniversal, Sky, and Telemundo, all of which have been with the alliance from its inception. Comcast also operates telecoms giant Comcast Cable, which under the Xfinity brand is one of the largest telecoms companies in the United States.

The addition of Comcast to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment is intriguing. Among almost three dozen other current members, it is the first Internet service provider to commit to the global anti-piracy initiative. How that will play out on the ground is currently unclear.

Given that three of its subsidiaries are already members, the addition of Comcast seems a logical move. ACE, however, seems to be placing emphasis on Comcast’s position as a major ISP which, with imagination, could have all kinds of implications when it comes to anti-piracy enforcement.

ACE plays its cards very close to its chest and we know it only publicizes a small percentage of its actions. As previously reported, many others are kept deliberately quiet. What we know thus far though, is that ACE tends to focus on the provision and distribution of infringing content, rather than targeting end-users – customers of ISPs for example.

Nevertheless, that Comcast and by extension Xfinity are now part of the world’s largest anti-piracy coalition should give pause for thought. If nothing else it shows clear intent by an ISP to positively participate in the global fight against movie and TV show piracy, in all its forms. ACE will no doubt consider this a major achievement.

The full list of members of the ACE anti-piracy coalition now reads as follows: Amazon, AMC Networks, BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada and Bell Media, Canal+ Group, CBS Corporation, Channel 5, Comcast, Constantin Film, Discovery, Foxtel, Grupo Globo, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Millennium Media, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, SF Studios, Sky, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Star India, Studio Babelsberg, STX Entertainment, Telefe, Telemundo, Televisa, Univision Communications Inc., Viacom, Village Roadshow, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

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

Twitter Suspends Trump Meme Creator…But Not For the ‘Kingsman’ Bloodbath Video

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/twitter-suspends-trump-meme-creator-but-not-for-the-kingsman-bloodbath-video-191015/

There was uproar in the media this past weekend after a violent video meme was reportedly shown at a pro-Trump conference.

The video, a doctored version of the famous church scene from the movie Kingsman, depicts Trump killing his critics, from both the media and politics.

The video was made by TheGeekzTeam, an entity that creates content for a website run by Carpe Donktum, a prolific pro-Trump supporter and meme-maker. During the fallout on Monday, Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account was suspended, an event which led various media outlets to connect the events of the weekend with the suspension.

A Twitter spokesperson effectively confirmed that the suspension was DMCA related, noting that it responds to “valid copyright complaints sent us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

Twitter made no mention of which content had caused the suspension but the actual DMCA notice obtained by TorrentFreak confirms it had nothing to do with the ‘Kingsman’ meme published over the weekend.

The DMCA notice, served not only against Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account but also around two dozen others, was actually filed by Universal Music Group. The offending Twitter URL is highlighted below.

The Tweet in question dates back to February 5, 2018, and remains online, along with the text “In case you missed the T-Mobile Superbowl Commercial. Here it is!” However, the embedded video has been removed, indicating that this was the source of the DMCA complaint.

Comparing uploads on Carpe Donktum’s YouTube account on the very same day we find a video entitled “T-Mobile Superbowl Commercial Fixed“, which is a doctored version of T-Mobile’s official Superbowl commercial.

It’s pretty clear why Carpe Donktum’s video was taken down. While it contains other copyrighted music throughout not contained in the original video (a lullaby rendition of Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ according to Shazam), it’s the last 14 seconds of the 80-second video causing the problems.

With Trump wearing a ‘Thug Life’ hat, obligatory sunglasses and sporting a huge joint in his mouth, the track ‘Ultimate’ by Denzel Curry booms from the video. This isn’t what Universal Music wanted and judging by comments made by Curry in 2017, it probably isn’t what he wanted either.

“I felt like I was part of the problem honestly. Being disillusioned and thinking, ‘nah, that’s not gonna happen, this nigga ain’t gonna be president.’ Then this nigga became president. So what the fuck just happened? I don’t get all the choices I want, but I definitely didn’t want this nigga to be my president,” Curry said.

One copyright complaint isn’t usually enough for Twitter to suspend an account but Carpe Donktum now has at least three against his. In addition to the notice sent Monday, two others are on record, one sent in April and another in June. Only the one sent by Universal Music has a listed sender, the other two have their details redacted.

Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account has now been restored but for how long remains open to question and probably dictated by future conduct.

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

Battle Against IPTV Continues As MPA & ACE Take Over Four More Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/battle-against-iptv-mpa-ace-take-over-four-more-domains-191013/

If the figures that were cited following the recent international police operation against Xtream Codes are any yardstick, providers and sellers of ‘pirate’ IPTV providers currently number in their thousands.

While there are relatively few sources at the very top of the pyramid, there could be in excess of 5,000 players selling IPTV subscriptions to the public, which by recent estimates could dwarf even the five million accounts cited by the authorities.

In common with the task of removing every torrent, streaming and similar site from the Internet, the possibility of handing a death blow to the entire IPTV industry seems a distant dream for content providers. But that doesn’t mean incremental efforts aren’t underway.

As previously documented, the massive Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, which comprises dozens of the world’s largest content companies, is quietly taking down sellers and providers of IPTV. Today we can reveal that another four have had their domains commandeered by MPA America, the organization previously known as the MPAA.

VStreamTV.com first appeared to gain traction back in 2015, selling an inconspicuous set-top box to the public. Promising no contract and no monthly fees, the $349 device boasted 100,000 movies and TV shows, plus 1,000 channels of live entertainment.

Also say ‘Yes’ to an ACE takeover, apparently….

By 2019, the site was offering its latest ‘VS4+’ device, promising unlimited entertainment to customers looking to permanently cut the cord. Then, a few weeks ago, it all came to an end. The site shut down without notice after its domain was taken over by the MPA. Like many before it, it now directs to the anti-piracy portal operated by ACE.

According to web records, MaxTVLive.com only appeared on the scene in 2018. Among other things, the site seems to have offered a custom Android APK to be installed on users’ own devices. For the price of $25 per month, Max TV users could enjoy live TV and other content on a single device, with extra devices costing an extra $5 per month.

However in common with VStreamTV, a few weeks ago the party came to an abrupt end. It seems likely that ACE came knocking with demands to shut down the business as the service’s website is now owned by the MPA and redirects to the ACE portal.

What ultimately happened with MyIQXTV.com isn’t in question – it was taken over by the MPA and now redirects to the ACE portal. We weren’t able to recover a copy of the operation’s website but if it was in any way connected to the IXQtv service (note subtle difference in spelling), it’s no surprise it appeared on the MPA/ACE radar.

IXQtv shut down August 1st and was no ordinary operation. While many IPTV providers operate via resellers, IXQtv operated a ridiculously full-blown multi-level-marketing (MLM) scheme which paid affiliates not only on sales of streaming packages but also commissions for recruiting yet more affiliates. Think Amway for IPTV.

Finally, the obviously-named JailbrokenBlackBox.co takes last place on today’s update of recent domain takeovers. Information on precisely what packages, services or tools the site offered isn’t clear but like the others, it clearly attracted the negative attention of the world’s biggest entertainment companies.

Details of earlier domain takeovers carried out by ACE and the MPA against IPTV-related operations can be found here (1,2,3,4)

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

Trump’s Sons, Attorney, & Social Media Chief All Got DMCA Notices Over ‘Photograph’ Meme

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/trumps-sons-attorney-social-media-chief-all-got-dmca-notices-over-photograph-191008/

Last week, US President Donald Trump made headlines when he tweeted a short video meme aimed at discrediting political rival Joe Biden.

It contained a clip of Nickelback’s video ‘Photograph’ which resulted in the tweet being taken down for copyright infringement.

Soon after, a copy of the DMCA notice that caused the takedown was published on the Lumen Database, which revealed that the sender was Warner Music Group. However, TF has learned that wasn’t the only takedown notice to target Trump and his supporters over the now-controversial clip.

Trawling through the latest notices sent to Lumen by Twitter we can see that not only were some of Trump’s closest allies also sent takedowns for copyright infringement, but also that other music companies got in on the act too.

The original complaint against Trump’s account (here) was quickly followed by another against the account of his attorney, Rudy Giuliani. The notice was sent by Nickelback’s management at Union Entertainment Group on behalf of Roadrunner Records, which in turn is owned by Warner.

As the DMCA notice below shows, the cited copyrighted material is “The Master Recording of ‘Photograph’ by Nickelback and the accompanying music video.”

Two other DMCA complaints were also filed at Twitter detailing a pair of allegedly-infringing tweets posted Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. and Dan Scavino, the White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President.

These were sent on October 3, 2019 by anti-piracy company GrayZone on behalf of Warner Music. In common with the complaint filed against their father’s account, YouTube was cited as the source of the material.

Finally, the second son of Donald Trump, Eric, also received an additional notice from Union Entertainment Group, again on behalf of RoadRunner Records.

While plenty of other people tweeted and retweeted the allegedly-infringing video, a flood of additional takedown notices doesn’t appear to be in the archives at Lumen. That doesn’t mean to say they don’t exist, however, since it’s certainly possible Twitter doesn’t pass everything on.

Interestingly, there is an ongoing debate as to whether the use of the video in the clip was actually fair use, with many Trump supporters claiming that as a parody, it should be protected from takedowns. Countering firmly, former RIAA executive vice president of communications Jonathan Lamy believes otherwise.

“This one was a clear cut no-brainer,” he said on Twitter. “On copyright grounds and also perhaps falsely implied endorsement.”

Since Giuliani also got a notice and presumably a strike against his Twitter account, it would be very interesting if – as an attorney – he decided to send a counter-notification. As fair use battles go it might get a little messy but things are pretty messy already.

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

File-Sharing and VPN Traffic Grow Explosively

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/filesharing-and-vpn-traffic-grow-explosively-191009/

Today’s Internet traffic patterns are completely different from those roughly a decade ago.

The most pronounced change in recent years has been the dominance of streaming services, mostly IPTV providers, Netflix, and YouTube.

While streaming remains the key traffic generator on the Internet today, file-sharing traffic is making quite a comeback. The early signs of this trend were already visible last year but new data from the Canadian broadband management company Sandvine show that this was no fluke.

Looking at the global application traffic share, we see that video streaming accounts for 60.6% of all downstream and 22.2% of all upstream traffic.

File-sharing has a very modest downstream market share, at just 4.2%, but it beats streaming when it comes to utilized upload bandwidth, 30.2% worldwide.

The relatively large upstream share makes sense, as that’s part of the nature of file-sharing. What’s more telling, perhaps, is the year-over-year growth numbers.

From 2018 to 2019, the share of file-sharing traffic increased by roughly 50% while the upstream share grew by 35%. Keep in mind that these numbers are relative, so in absolute terms, the traffic increases are even larger, as bandwidth usage continues to increase.

There are some regional differences in this trend. BitTorrent traffic, which is the largest chunk of all file-sharing traffic, has grown mostly in the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and APAC (Asia-Pacific) regions, for example.

BitTorrent is currently most popular in the EMEA region where it is good for 5.3% of all downstream traffic and a massive 44.2% of all upstream traffic. In the APAC region, the figures are 4.5% and 24.8% respectively.

According to Sandvine, the resurgence of file-sharing traffic can be largely attributed to the fragmentation of the legal video streaming landscape. With more legal options and a limited budget, people increasingly resort to piracy, the company argues.

“Netflix aggregated content and made piracy reduce worldwide. With the ongoing fragmentation of the video market, and increase in attractive original content, piracy is on the rise again,” Sandvine’s Cam Cullen notes.

HBO is a crucial ‘fragment’ when it comes to torrent traffic. We have previously reported on the massive impact the last season of Game of Thrones had on BitTorrent traffic and this is confirmed by Sandvine’s data, as shown below. Interestingly, this bump wasn’t visible for Kodi-related traffic.

This Game of Thrones boost may have elevated the overall file-sharing market share this year, but that will become apparent when Sandvine releases its new figures next year.

While BitTorrent and file-sharing traffic increased globally, the Americas form an exception to this trend. There, the relative market share dropped slightly. However, that doesn’t mean that fewer people are using BitTorrent or that less data is being transferred.

For one, market share is relative and a slight drop is possible even if overall traffic increased. In addition, Sandvine’s data show a growing trend in VPN usage. The company closely monitors data used by 70 popular commercial VPNs and has noticed a major boost in usage.

Roughly 2% of all global downstream traffic can now be attributed to VPN traffic. Looking at the upstream traffic this percentage is even larger, 5%, suggesting that it’s often used for upload heavy purposes, such as file-sharing.

In the Americas, this VPN boom is particularly pronounced with the percentage of IPSec VPN traffic tripling to 7.7% of all upstream data. This goes up to almost 9% for all VPN traffic, Sandvine informs us.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if a lot of that traffic comes from BitTorrent transfers.

Finally, it’s worth noting that, while ‘file-sharing’ is often linked to piracy, the majority of all unauthorized media distribution takes place through streaming nowadays. In other words, ‘file-sharing’ is only a small fraction of the piracy landscape.

The streaming piracy traffic is part of Sandvine’s “http media stream” category which, for the first time in years, has a larger market share than Netflix.

The website Openload, which is often linked to streaming piracy, is even listed separately in the top 10 of all video streaming sources. With 2.4% of all downstream video streaming traffic on the global Internet, it’s safe to say that Openload uses a lot of bandwidth.

It will be interesting to see how these trends continue to develop during the coming years. It’s clear though, that file-sharing is not going anywhere, neither is BitTorrent, while the VPN boom only appears to be starting. A full copy of Sandvine’s latest Global Internet Phenomena report 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.

Popular IPTV Smarters App Removed From Google Play Following Complaint

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-iptv-smarters-app-removed-from-google-play-following-complaint/

People who want to view IPTV services on their mobile or set-top devices need a software player with which to do so.

IPTV Smarters is one of the most impressive and popular applications in the niche and is used by large numbers of users on both Android and iOS-based devices.

Up until today, people could just head off to Google’s Play Store to download a copy. However, visitors to the page are now advised that the URL no longer exists, a pretty clear indication that IPTV Smarters has been deleted from the service.

The IPTV Smarters page before the deletion

Given the popularity of the software, TorrentFreak spoke with New Spark Technology, the company behind IPTV Smarters. Amanpreet Singh, who is listed as the person behind the Android app, says that the tool was indeed removed from Google Play following a complaint.

Singh says that he prefers not to share the details of the complaint, or reveal who sent it, because “it’s just a false complaint as usual.” The developer informs TF that this is the third time that the app has been deleted from Google Play and the company’s legal team is on the case.

“It’s normal [to receive such complaints] and [it has] happened three times so far. We had it sorted out last time and this time. We have executed the same procedure with the help of our lawyers,” he says.

The last time the app was taken down earlier this year it remained offline for 10 days. This time the company says it will “try to get it back as soon as possible.”

“As it’s just a video player, that’s why it will be back very soon,” Singh says.

While many people understand that IPTV Smarters doesn’t provide any content or IPTV streams to users, there are plenty out there who don’t seem to appreciate how it all works. They see IPTV Smarters getting recommended as a good IPTV-viewing solution and then expect the company to provide the streams as well.

In response, the company says it added a popup disclaimer to its site a few days ago, unconnected to the current disappearance of its app from Google Play, explaining that it doesn’t “endorse or guarantee” the use of its software by third parties “for streaming and subscriptions.”

“We respects the Intellectual Property rights of others and does not endorse any of the Intellectual Property violation by third parties. Linking of New Spark Technology, WHMCS & IPTV softwares to any of the third party links or platforms does not constitute any of the its endorsement or sponsorships [sic], it reads.”

“We put the disclaimer on our website because many users keep asking for a subscription ( username / password and url ), that is what we don’t offer,” Singh informs TF.

“Also, many customers keep asking us why their channels are not working blah blah blah. So, to prevent us getting unnecessary questions, we updated the disclaimer.” 

At the time of writing, the App Store variant for Apple devices is still online via the web and installable on iOS devices, suggesting that the problem is, at least for now, isolated to the Android variant.

Precisely when that will return for download is uncertain but Singh appears confident it won’t take too long.

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

Copyright Trolls Targeted Over 100,000 IP-addresses in Sweden

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-trolls-targeted-over-100000-ip-addresses-in-sweden-191008/

In the early 2000s, Sweden was considered to be a relatively safe haven for pirates.

The country was the home of the Pirate Bay, the birthing ground of the Pirate Party, and a place where for many citizens file-sharing was second nature.

Today, this safe haven has long disappeared. The Scandinavian country has prosecuted several torrent site operators, including The Pirate Bay’s founders, while lawsuits targeting individual BitTorrent users are a common sight.

In many ways, Sweden has become a copyright enforcement hotspot. This includes the ‘copyright-trolling’ phenomenon, in which movie companies target hundreds or thousands of alleged pirates hoping to secure monetary settlements.

The first wave of these lawsuits started three years ago but the practice has grown exponentially since. According to Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof, which has kept track of these cases since early 2017, the number of new cases has already broken a record this year.

During the first three quarters of 2019, a total of 78 new applications were submitted to the Patent and Market Court. This is up from 72 during the whole of 2018, and substantially more than the 27 applications that were filed a year earlier.

While the number of applications has grown, the cases target fewer IP-addresses in total. Last year over 50,000 IPs were targeted and the 2019 total so far is 26,274 IP addresses. Combined with the 2017 numbers, we see that more than 100,000 IP-addresses have been targeted over the past three years.

It’s worth noting that this exceeds the number of targets in other, much larger countries, including the United States.

This type of data is not something an Internet provider would generally release, but it makes sense considering that Bahnhof is an active anti-copyright trolling advocate. The company categorically refuses to share data with copyright holders, as it also makes clear in its press release.

While Bahnhof must retain IP-address logs by law, it operates separate databases. Data is only disclosed to law enforcement authorities for specific purposes and not for this type of copyright enforcement.

“This means that Bahnhof’s customers have not suffered from this type of extortion letter,” the Internet provider notes.

Looking at the targeted ISPs over the past year we see that most of the targeted IP-addresses belong to Telia subscribers, followed by Com Hem, and Telenor. The rightsholders who file these cases are represented by a variety of law firms, including the well known Njord Law.

While Bahnhof is indirectly using these figures to promote its own business, the company hopes that these ‘copyright-trolling’ practices will eventually end, perhaps following an intervention from the Government. According to the company, the entire process is based on extortion.

“The success factor of the letters is partly that they can easily be mistaken for genuine invoices or fines, and the threat of a legal process that drives people to pay out of pure fear, even when they are innocent. The business model is thus based on regular extortion,” Bahnhof notes.

The Swedish Internet provider also maintains a dedicated website called Utpressningskollen where it provides additional details and information on Swedish copyright-trolling efforts.

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

As RIAA Targets Yet More YouTube-Ripping Sites, Here’s the State of Play

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/as-riaa-targets-yet-more-youtube-ripping-sites-heres-the-state-of-play-191005/

Over the past few years, users ripping music from sites like YouTube has been portrayed by the industry as a bigger problem than torrent sites.

According to stats published by industry group IFPI last year, 32% of all Internet users were stream rippers, up from 30% in 2016. This, according to the group, made it the leading form of music piracy.

Last week, however, a new report revealed that the practice is actually on a downward trend, with 23% of those surveyed admitting to using stream-ripping services. Despite the big decrease, the RIAA isn’t likely to step away from its enforcement efforts anytime soon, as evidenced by a new application filed at a US court.

The application for a DMCA subpoena filed in the District of Columbia targets three sites that are either directly or indirectly linked to YouTube-ripping.

In common with several previous applications, this one also requires domain registry Namecheap to hand over the personal details of their operators, providing names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, payment information and more.

The first, YouTubeMP4.biz, recently suffered a drop in traffic according to SimilarWeb stats but that blip aside, has been pulling in up to 1.2 million visits per month throughout 2019. It is most popular in the United States, followed by the UK, Thailand, India and Turkey.

Next up is Keepvid.ws, which at around three million visits per month is the most popular in the application. Perhaps unusually given the close interest of the RIAA, the YouTube-ripping platform is most popular in South Africa, with around 16% of its traffic coming from the region. India and the United States follow with around 10% each.

The last of the RIAA’s latest targets is HDMP4.net, which on the surface seems different from the rest. When accessing the site’s URL directly, visitors are greeted with a blank page, which is unusual for a stream-ripping platform.

Furthermore, Google reveals that HDMP4.net has had just a handful of DMCA notices filed against it over the past several years, the last in 2015, with none coming from the music industry. However, checking in Google’s indexes reveals that the site isn’t indexed, so that makes sense.

The RIAA does mention some specific URLs carrying its content, including tracks by Cyndi Lauper and ZZ Top, which raises the question of whether other sites are using it in some way. Indeed, checks using various resources indicate that the site, which only gained significant traffic in June this year, seems connected to a number of other ripping services.

The big question remains whether the raft of DMCA subpoenas obtained by the RIAA against companies such as Namecheap and Cloudflare are having any direct effect on the operations of these platforms. While things are probably going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, in the main most previously-targeted sites seem unaffected.

In May, the RIAA tried to extract the personal details of huge ripping site Y2Mate.com from Cloudflare and Namecheap. At the time the site had around 60 million monthly visits and despite the efforts, remains stubbornly online today.

The only real difference now is that SimilarWeb reports the site enjoying in excess of 130 million monthly visits, more than double the traffic reported back in May. The company recently changed the way it calculates traffic but it seems unlikely to have had this much of an effect, particularly since other online measurement sites also show a big upward trend.

On the flip side, a separate effort in May to unmask the operator of YouTubNow.com, a site with 15 million monthly visits, may have paid off. The site currently carries a “maintenance” message and its traffic has tanked to almost zero. That can probably go in the success column for the RIAA.

Back in June, the RIAA homed-in on 10Convert.com, Amoyshare.com, AnythingtoMP3.cc, IMP3Juices.com, BigConverter.com, YouTubeMP4.to, QDownloader.net, GenYouTube.net, Break.TV, DL-YouTube-MP3.net, ConvertBox.net, and Downloaders.io.

At the time of writing, only ConvertBox.net seems completely down while BigConverter.com might have resorted to blocking UK traffic for reasons unknown. The rest are operational, which doesn’t sound like a notable success rate. That being said, the RIAA may have other goals in mind so the bigger picture may play out in time.

By the industry’s own accounting, stream-ripping is on a downward trend but whether that’s attributable to the RIAA’s takedown efforts remains open to speculation. That being said, the RIAA will argue it has to do something, so the pressure is likely to continue.

The latest DMCA subpoena granted by the court 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.

DMCA Notice Confirms Trump Tweet Was Taken Down By Warner Music

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-notice-confirms-trump-tweet-was-taken-down-by-warner-music/

President of the United States Donald Trump is well-known for his love of Twitter.

He currently has well in excess of 65 million followers and regularly uses the platform to promote himself and attack his critics.

Earlier today, Twitter erupted when a tweet by the President, which contained a video attacking the integrity of political rival Joe Biden, received some serious editing thanks to Twitter.

While the words “LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH!” remained, the actual video had been removed following a copyright infringement complaint.

No photograph to see…

Trump’s tweet contained a video that has been doing the rounds featuring a photograph central to the recent Biden/Ukraine controversy. However, the photograph itself wasn’t the reason the video was taken down by Twitter.

The viral video contains a clip from Nickelback’s 2005 video ‘Photograph’, prompting speculation that the band itself was behind the takedown sent to Twitter. While they may have had a hand in it, the actual DMCA served on Twitter and obtained by TorrentFreak reveals that the notice was sent by Warner Music.

The DMCA notice sent to Twitter by Warner Music (Lumen Database)

The cited source material for the takedown indeed points to the ‘Photograph’ video on YouTube, confirming the Nickelback link to the takedown.

Unfortunately, if Trump wanted to legally use the track in a political context, this would usually mean requesting permission from not only the publisher but also Nickelback, who may or may not wish to be associated with the effort. The copyright takedown suggests that the required pieces probably weren’t in place.

Perhaps the most interesting thing when one ignores the political angle of Trump’s tweet is that the President has been in this and similar positions several times before.

The Lumen Database, a repository to which Twitter sends its takedown notices, currently lists at least seven DMCA complaints filed against Trump this year alone, all of which have resulted in the removal of content.

On the other hand, people receiving DMCA notices from the IFPI, which acts as a copyright enforcer for Warner on Twitter and elsewhere, get their accounts terminated for fewer strikes. Perhaps there’s a presidential exemption from the DMCA repeat infringer policy at Twitter.

Notices filed against Trump on Twitter in 2019 can be found here 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 (pdf)

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

RIAA Reports Telegram to US Govt. Over Piracy Concerns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-reports-telegram-to-us-govt-over-piracy-concerns-191002/

Responding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the RIAA has submitted its annual list of “notorious markets.”

The submission identifies online and offline piracy hubs to help guide the U.S. Government’s position towards foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement.

“The online and physical markets identified in our comments are harming American creators, businesses, and the American economy,” writes George York, the RIAA’s Senior Vice President of International Policy.

Traditionally the online focus lies on classic pirate sites, such as torrent indexers, linking sites, cyberlockers, download portals, and stream-rippers. These are also listed in the latest RIAA submission. It includes many of the usual suspects, such as The Pirate Bay, Flvto, Newalbumreleases, and Uploaded.

While these mentions were expected, there’s also a new ‘issue’ highlighted by the music group – the encrypted messaging app Telegram. The software, which was launched by VKontakte founders Nikolai and Pavel Durov a few years ago, is frequently used by pirates, the RIAA notes.

The RIAA points out that messaging apps by themselves are of no special concern. However, Telegram also allows its users to share files of up to 1.5GB, a process that can be automated with scripts. This is a feature that many pirates have embraced.

“Telegram offers many user-created channels which are dedicated to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted recordings, with some channels focused on particular genres or artists,” the RIAA notes.

Many of these files are hosted on Telegram’s servers and the RIAA says that it sent 18,000 DMCA notices to Telegram, identifying over 18,000 instances of copyright infringement.

The messaging app says that it forwards these requests to channel owners. However, according to the music group, this doesn’t have the desired effect, as many channel operators ignore the takedown requests. In addition, repeat infringers don’t appear to be punished in any way.

One of the many channels

“We have found, however, that most channel operators appear to take no action in response to our notices, with nearly all of infringements listed in our notices remaining available,” the RIAA writes.

“Likewise, Telegram makes no apparent attempt to verify that channel operators have complied with our notices and does not seem to have any kind of repeat infringement policy.”

By putting Telegram on the USTR’s agenda the RIAA hopes to, directly or indirectly, motivate the messaging app to do more to prevent piracy. Interestingly, Telegram is registered as both a UK LLP and an American LLC, so it’s not clear to us whether it’s indeed a “foreign” market from a US point of view.

Telegram is by no means new to piracy complaints. Two years ago the application also made the news when it, for the first time, removed an entire channel where a pirated copy of Taylor Swift’s album Reputation was shared. The service took this action following pressure from Google and Apple.

In addition to the issues discussed above, the RIAA’s submission mostly includes familiar topics. In this year’s ‘issue focus,’ the RIAA points out that malware remains a problem on pirate sites for example. This puts the public at risk and should be mitigated where possible, it says.

The music group also highlights problems with bulletproof hosting providers that ignore DMCA notices, and CDN services such as Cloudflare. In addition, it once again stresses that WHOIS data should become public and verified.

The USTR will use the input above to make up its own list of notorious markets. This will help to identify current threats while calling on foreign governments to take appropriate action.

A copy of the RIAA’s latest submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative 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.

ISP Bahnhof Must Log Subscriber Data, But ‘Copyright Mafia’ Won’t Get Any

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-bahnhof-must-log-subscriber-data-but-copyright-mafia-wont-get-any-191001/

Founded in 1994, Swedish Internet provider Bahnhof has been serving local Internet users for a quarter of a century.

During this time the company has fought hard to protect the privacy of its subscribers. This includes those who are accused of copyright infringement.

Unlike many other ISPs, Bahnhof aims to minimize its data logging practices only to the extent it is required to under the law. In recent years the ISP set up its logging policies in such a way that it can refuse requests for IP-address information from so-called copyright trolls, by deleting all relevant data after 24 hours.

The company based this practice on a European Court of Justice ruling which concluded that the European Data Retention Directive is invalid. However, data retention is now back under the spotlight.

After going back to the drawing board, Swedish lawmakers revised the Electronic Communications Act (LEK) to institute Swedish data retention requirements. This resulted in an amended law which goes into effect today, requiring all Swedish ISPs to keep detailed subscriber logs for at least 10 months.

For the Internet providers who already kept logs little will change, but Bahnhof sees it as a disaster. To minimize the privacy intrusions of its users the company has rolled out “Plan B.

Starting today Bahnhof has no other option than to log individual IP-address allocations and other personal info for ten months. However, the company stresses that it will do so in a secure manner, making sure that it’s not available to the “copyright mafia.”

Bahnhof’s (translated) press release

With the term “copyright mafia,” the company refers to the rightsholders who go after allegedly pirating Internet subscribers to demand settlements. Bahnhof has been a fierce opponent of this practice and ensures its customers that it won’t share any logs for this purpose.

“All Bahnhof customers can rest assured that their customer data is stored securely with us, that we delete after 10 months, and that we will never disclose information unless it’s in accordance with the Electronic Communications Act.

“This means that if someone else asks for customer data, including a court that handles civil litigation, we have nothing to disclose because our customers’ information is locked away as ‘safe intended for LEK’,” Bahnhof adds.

Not all ISPs have separated this data and that’s why many do comply with copyright holder requests. However, Bahnhof’s strict data policies ensure that only law enforcement agencies can request this info.

Still, Bahnhof is not happy with the mandatory data retention and will continue to protest the law whenever it can. In addition, it also points its customers to an alternative option through which they can ensure their privacy.

Bahnhof also offers a VPN service which is not required to keep any logs. If people use this, their IP-address information remains private. The VPN service was launched when earlier data retention requirements were put in place and is relevant once again.

“It is not enough to be a customer with us to be safe online, your subscription does not protect your data traffic automatically. You need to protect yourself and your data yourself with a VPN service as well,” Bahnhof writes.

While this sounds like a good opportunity to sell something ‘extra,’ the ISP is offering everyone a rather generous six-month free trial without any further obligations. After that, the costs are pretty reasonable as well, roughly $4 per month (SEK 40).

The six-month free VPN trial is open to anyone, which means that subscribers from other ISPs can try it as well.

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

Nintendo Takes Down Facebook-Tooled Donkey Kong Remake

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/nintendo-takes-down-facebook-tooled-donkey-kong-remake-190930/

If one took a broad overview of the entire history of video gaming, few would dare to argue Nintendo’s legend status over the past several decades.

The Japanese company’s games, both old and new, are renowned for their brilliance and enduring characters. Arguably the most iconic is Mario, who first made his appearance as the hero in the timeless 1981 release Donkey Kong.

Even today, dangerously close to 40 years on, countless players still enjoy this and other classics on emulators and similar tools but Nintendo’s tolerance is becoming increasingly fragile. Over the past couple of years, as players toil in the shadows to defeat Kong, Nintendo has become a litigation machine throwing takedown notices and even lawsuits (1,2,3) at sites and alleged infringers.

The company’s latest effort came on Friday when it sent a copyright complaint to development platform Github. The target was a remake of Donkey Kong built with React Native, the open-source mobile application framework created by Facebook.

Created by developer ‘bberak’, this React Native version of Donkey Kong isn’t an emulation, it was created from the ground up for iOS and Android and documented in a detailed post on Hackernoon in April 2018.

The jumps and gameplay quirks reveal this is no emu

Perhaps a little unusually, given the risks associated with stepping on Nintendo’s toes lately, the original repo — which was now been taken down — basically acknowledges that parts of the project may infringe copyright. The game’s code may have been created independently but the visual and audio assets are undoubtedly Nintendo’s. And the repo happily pointed to the company behind the project too.

“Copyright Notice: All content, artwork, sounds, characters and graphics are the property of Nintendo of America Inc, its affiliates and/or subsidiaries,” the repo read.

“Get in Touch: We are Neap — a development and design team in Sydney. We love building stuff and meeting new people, so get in touch with us at https://neap.co.”

The Neap website reveals that ‘bberak’ is Boris Berak, co-founder and Technical Director of the Australia-based company. TF contacted them for comment but at the time of publication, we hadn’t received a response.

In hindsight, it was probably a mistake to use Donkey Kong as a technical demo since Nintendo has already shown an aversion to such projects in the past. Back in June 2017, the company targeted a Donkey Kong remake for Roku, also hosted on Github. Interestingly, the complaint filed Friday appears to have an artifact from that two-year-old notice.

Stating the content being targeted most recently, Nintendo states: “Nintendo’s Donkey Kong video game, covered by U.S. Copyright Reg. No. PA0000115040 (supplemented by PA0000547470). The reported repository contains a recreation of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong video game for Roku, which was created and published without Nintendo’s authorization.”

The text is an exact match with that in the earlier complaint, even going as far as referencing Roku, which appears to be an error. Nevertheless, those details are irrelevant to the claim and won’t be good grounds for a counter-notice.

As Nintendo’s notice points out, at least another 30 developers forked this Donkey Kong variant on Github, so all those repositories have been taken down too. They could probably be restored if Berak removed all the original Donkey Kong references, graphics, and sound, but that seems unlikely.

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DISH to Subpoena Google, Facebook, PayPal & Twitter to Identify ‘Pirate’ IPTV Operators

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-to-subpoena-google-facebook-paypal-twitter-to-identify-iptv-pirate-operators-190929/

DISH Networks’ efforts to disrupt, take down, or obtain settlements from unlicensed IPTV operators are continuing with force through the US legal system.

The broadcaster is currently tied up in a number of lawsuits, each targeting companies and individuals that allegedly provide the company’s content to the public, without having first obtained appropriate licensing.

A complaint filed in August targets Easybox IPTV, an allegedly-infringing IPTV outfit that supplies both subscriptions and ready-configured (aka ‘fully-loaded’) devices to the United States market.

Easybox IPTV’s offering

The DISH lawsuit, which demands around $10 million in damages, was filed in a Texas federal court. It lists up to five ‘John Does’, claiming that individually and collectively they do business under the Easybox IPTV banner.

DISH earlier explained that it doesn’t actually know who these people are but its investigations indicated that they might be from China. Now, however, it has now been given the opportunity to discover their identities after gaining permission from the Court.

A discovery order signed September 19 by District Judge Lynn N. Hughes grants DISH permission to subpoena and obtain information from some of the world’s largest Internet companies that have done or are still doing business with Easybox.

The list is comprehensive and a potential eye-opener for other IPTV providers operating without cast-iron licensing agreements.

Top of the list is payment processor PayPal. The Easybox website is currently down for supposed maintenance but according to archive copies of the site, PayPal isn’t clearly listed as a payment option for direct customers. Nevertheless, the company is probably head of the list for good reason.

Second up is Google. Like many companies, Easybox is likely to have used Google in several ways but a cursory review of the site’s source reveals an analytics account and links to the now-defunct Google+.

On the domain front, DISH has permission to subpoena Washington-based domain name registrar Enom and domain registry Namecheap. The Easybox.tv domain has clear links to both and could provide useful information.

When it comes to hosting, Miami-based Netrouting Inc. makes an appearance. In common with the domain companies, these may also have valuable information for DISH.

Easybox’s Facebook and Twitter pages are no longer active. The former is listed as unavailable but the latter appears to have been suspended after violating the platform’s rules. But whatever the reasons for their demise, both companies are likely to have plenty of additional information to offer up.

Finally, DISH will be able to enter the physical world to request information from entities that appear to have distributed or sold Easybox IPTV devices. Michigan-based fulfillment company Xpert Fulfillment Inc., Finest Bargain Inc. (which appears to sell via Amazon), and Ace Discount Store are all listed and should expect calls for information soon.

“By November 4, 2019, DISH must replead this case identifying the defendant as Easybox IPTV. When the other defendants are identified, they may be named,” Judge Hughes concludes.

The discovery order can be obtained here (pdf)

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