Tag Archives: Breaking News

RIAA Targets Large Polish File-Hosting Site Chomikuj

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-large-polish-file-hosting-site-chomikuj-190622/

Image result for Chomikuj

In English-speaking countries, file-hosting sites such as the defunct Megaupload and its successor MEGA need little introduction.

These platforms allow(ed) users to upload files into a digital storage locker, to be shared with others as they so choose.

In Poland, Chomikuj is a similar household name. Translated roughly as “hamster”, the platform has been around since 2006 and is very popular. It’s currently receiving around 17 million visits per month, placing it just outside the top 50 most-popular sites in the country.

Like many platforms operating in the same niche, Chomikuj has to deal with users uploading content to which they don’t own the rights. It’s unclear how much infringing content is present on the platform but according to Google’s Transparency Report, with close to 27 million URLs targeted only four domains in the world are listed with more complaints against them.

After issuing takedowns for more than 7.7 million URLs, the BPI is the most active sender. In second place is the RIAA, having sent in excess of 4.2 million, which may be why the music industry group has gone to court in the United States to find out more about the platform.

In common with several other actions in recent weeks, the RIAA filed for a subpoena at a Columbia federal court ordering Cloudflare to hand over whatever personal information it holds on the operators of Chomikuj.

Citing the DMCA (17 U.S.C § 512(h)), the RIAA stated its case by declaring that it needs the information to protect its members’ copyrights.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to these websites who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization.

“This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owner, under Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the RIAA told the Court.

The music group then listed three musical works – Karma Kameleon by Culture Club, Chains of Love by Erasure, and Edge of Heaven by Wham! – stating that these titles had not been authorized for use on Chomikuj.

As was the case in several previous applications, the Court clerk was happy to sign off on the request and a letter was sent to Cloudflare demanding IP and email addresses and all other identifying information. What happens next remains unclear.

The letter to Cloudflare 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.

Stream-Ripping Giant Convert2MP3 Settles With Music Industry and Shuts Down

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/stream-ripping-giant-convert2mp3-settles-with-music-industry-and-shuts-down-190621/

The music industry views stream-ripping as one of the largest piracy threats, worse than torrent sites or direct download portals.

In 2016, the RIAA, IFPI, and BPI filed legal action against YouTube-MP3, the largest stream ripping site at the time. This case eventually resulted in a settlement in which the site agreed to shut down voluntarily.

This was a clear victory for the music industry, which swiftly moved on to its next targets. This included Convert2MP3, which was sued in Germany with backing from the music groups IFPI and BVMI.

With dozens of millions of monthly visitors, Convert2MP3 is one of the largest stream-rippers on the Internet. Thus far, its legal battle in Germany has mostly remained under the radar, but today it becomes clear that it has far-reaching consequences. 

Music group IFPI just announced that in a combined effort with the German industry group BVMI, it has reached a settlement with the stream-ripping site. The settlement requires the site to shut down immediately and hand over its domain name to IFPI. 

The settlement agreement further requires the operator to pay financial compensation but the actual amount is not mentioned.

The agreement comes after a German court issued a preliminary injunction against Convert2MP3. The court concluded that the site circumvented technological protection measures, using software it owned or produced.

Convert2MP3

IFPI’s Chief Executive Frances Moore is pleased with the outcome and hopes that it will motivate other stream-rippers to follow suit.

“Stream ripping is a threat to the entire music ecosystem. Sites such as Convert2MP3 show complete disregard for the rights of artists and record companies and take money away from those creating and investing in music.

“The successful outcome if this case sends a clear signal to other stream ripping sites that they should stop their copyright infringing activities or face legal action,” Moore adds.

Not everyone agrees that these type of sites are by definition copyright-infringing. In a letter to the US Trade Representative, digital rights group EFF previously stressed that there are plenty of legal use cases as well.

“[M]any audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe,” EFF wrote.

That said, the music industry is determined to keep challenging these sites. There is an ongoing court case against FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com in the US, and in Denmark and Australia stream-rippers including Convert2MP3 are blocked by court order.

The latter blockades are less useful now that Convert2MP3 has agreed to shut down. The domain currently displays a message from the music industry groups and the site’s Facebook and Twitter profiles have been removed.

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

Court Orders Danish ISPs to Block Copyright-Infringing News Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-danish-isps-to-block-copyright-infringing-news-site-190621/

For more than a decade, Denmark has been a testbed for pirate site blockades.

The first blocks date back to 2006, when music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the unlicensed Russian MP3 site AllofMP3.

Not much later, Denmark became the first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay.

Since then, many other pirate sites have received the same treatment. These are typically download or streaming portals, which have been targeted in other countries as well. However, this week, a Fredriksberg court issued a new order that’s more unusual.

The verdict, handed down on Monday, requires local Internet provider TDC to prevent its subscribers from accessing a news portal called ‘The World News‘. Under the Danish ISP Code of Conduct, other major ISPs in Denmark will also implement a similar block.

The news site in question doesn’t offer access to any movies, music or games, but republishes articles from news websites from all over the world, often with photos included.

The site has an archive of millions of articles and can be tailored based on the reader’s location. The news articles all credit their source, but the link that’s included is often not clickable, so the site doesn’t send traffic back to many original publications.

The World News positions itself as a decentralized anti-fake news platform, built on a blockchain, and says it provides readers with ‘verified’ news. The site’s domain is registered in Panama, it’s managed by the U.S. corporation “World News LLC,” and is reportedly operated by people from Ukraine.

While it looks like a rather useful news aggregator, many articles on the site are republished without permission, according to rightsholders. In Denmark, this prompted the anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen (The Rights Alliance) to take the matter to court. 

Representing the Danish Media Association, RettighedsAlliancen asked the court to order local Internet provider TDC to block the site. The anti-piracy group has previously submitted similar requests, but this is the first time a news site is targeted. 

After reviewing the complaint, this week the Fredriksberg court decided that the site should indeed be blocked by TDC. 

“TDC is required to implement a technical solution, for example, DNS blocking, which is suitable to prevent TDC customers from accessing the Internet services that the website mentioned in the claim currently gives access to,” the order reads.

The Danish Media Association is very pleased with the court’s ruling, According to Holger Rosendal, Chief Legal Officer at the industry group, it will help media outlets to protect their copyrights as well as their income.

“It is expensive to produce credible, informative and independent journalism, and thus there is a great need to stop the illegal exploitation of media content, which undermines the media economy and thereby the possibility of continuing news production,” Rosendal says.

The news site…

At the time of writing, there are over 170,000 Danish news articles featured on The World News. The site only had a few hundred Danish readers per day in recent weeks, but the media companies believe that it had a negative impact nonetheless. 

The World News itself appears to be surprised by the blocking order and states that it will remove content when prompted to do so by rightsholders.

“The World News is one of the biggest news aggregators in the world. We gather and analyze news from all media to detect fake news and facts manipulation,” a spokesperson form the site informed TorrentFreak. 

“If we break the law in any jurisdiction, we remove any content from our servers for the first request in a few hours. We didn’t receive any notifications about rules violation from Danish media. We are completely on the side of authors and ready to work together.”

RettighedsAlliancen says that it tried to contact the site using the four email addresses listed on the website, as well as the domain name registrant address.

The Danish anti-piracy organization sent the website a cease and desist notice and informed its operators about the lawsuit, giving them an opportunity to defend themselves. RettighedsAlliancen informs TorrentFreak that these emails remained unanswered. 

Technically, RettighedsAlliancen is not a media outfit, so both statements may be accurate. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the site will have to be blocked by Internet provider TDC.

RettighedsAlliancen stresses that, in addition to enforcing the news outlets’ copyrights, the blocking order will help to make sure that these publications get the revenue they’re entitled to. 

“A blockade will also effectively prevent cash flows from ending up in the hands of criminal backers. The blocked illegal Panama-based service has, among other things, earned money from advertising revenue from visitors to the website – revenue that Danish news media misses,” the anti-piracy group notes.

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

More Kodi Add-On Repos Shut Down in Wake of UK Arrest

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/more-kodi-add-ons-repos-shut-down-in-wake-of-uk-arrest-190620/

Developers of Kodi add-ons, including those who maintain places to download them (repositories), have long been at risk of legal action, should they provide access to infringing content.

Many have been targeted directly, having received cease-and-desist letters from groups including the massive Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE). Until recently, action through the civil courts has been the assumed course of action for rightsholders but that changed with the news that police in the UK became involved.

As per our report published yesterday, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit recently arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of developing and maintaining an add-on designed to facilitate access to infringing content.

Nobody has yet been able to publicly verify the precise target but on the same day the arrest took place, the popular Supremacy repository (repo) went down in mysterious yet coincidental circumstances. During the past few hours, news of the arrest appears to have prompted other developers to rethink their futures.

Given its popularity, Kodi add-on enthusiasts will be disappointed to hear that the Exodus-forked 13 Clowns add-on is one of the casualties. The end of the add-on was announced via Twitter and also in a slightly unorthodox fashion, via the Kodi software itself.

Rather than take the associated repo down, the developer pushed an update which reportedly disabled the add-on and delivered a shutdown message.

Goodbye 13 Clowns

The Maverick TV add-on also disappeared last evening. No disabling ‘update’ of the add-on appears to have been pushed but the associated repository was deleted. That was followed by an announcement on Twitter which indicated the show is over.

Maverick TV, no more….

Another casualty is the Exodus-forked Overeasy add-on. That tool was previously available from the Eggman repo but both have gone down, with the latter currently displaying an empty directory.

Overeasy and Eggman repo call it quits

Some of the now-discontinued repos also contained add-ons in addition to their own, so the full fallout may not be known for a while. Some add-ons will find new homes but others may yet decide to throw in the towel.

It’s important to note that none of the above cited the arrest as a reason for closure but again, in common with the disappearance of the Supremacy repo, there are a number of coincidences that appear to fit recent developments.

Whatever the reasons for the closures, having an organized crime unit become involved in taking down a Kodi add-on developer is a massive escalation in the UK and will certainly prompt pause for thought among those in a similar position.

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

Kodi Add-On Developer Arrested On Same Day as Popular Repo Goes Down

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-add-on-developer-arrested-on-same-day-as-popular-repo-goes-down-190619/

While overall interest in Kodi appears to be on a downward trend, millions of people still use the software to organize their media.

Larger numbers still augment Kodi with software add-ons which allow them to stream movies, TV shows, and sports events, often in a way that infringes copyright. As a result, entertainment companies and their agents are keen to reduce the use of such tools.

With little fanfare, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit recently announced that there had been an arrest in connection with this kind of activity.

According to police, a 40-year-old man was detained in Winsford, Cheshire, following a joint investigation with anti-piracy outfit Federation Against Copyright Theft. The unit said that man was arrested in connection with creating and maintaining a Kodi add-on configured to supply illegal online streams.

“The scale of the offending was significant and affected broadcasters and rights owners in the UK and worldwide. Police searched an address, seized evidence, and interviewed the suspect has later been released on police bail pending investigation,” a statement reads.

Typically for this kind of announcement, details are scarce. Other than location and age, no further details were made available on the alleged offender, or the add-on that had triggered the referral from FACT. As a result, it’s not currently possible to positively identify the person or the add-on in question.

What we do know is that last Friday, on the very same day that the police say they carried out the arrest of the man in Cheshire, a very popular add-on and associated repository (repo) went down without warning or explanation.

Supremacy is a popular Kodi add-on that provides access to a wide range of content, from movies and TV shows to live sports. The add-on works by ‘scraping’ or aggregating content from existing online sources, presenting them inside the add-on for users to select.

Supremacy add-on (historic)

While other repos have also offered the add-on, Supremacy was once available for download from the Supremacy repo, previously located at https://2Supremacy.uk. That domain was registered with Namecheap on March 25, 2019 and isn’t set to expire until March 25, 2021.

However, there is an additional note in the domain’s WHOIS which suggests something is wrong.

2Supremacy.uk – SUSPENDED

Other signs of changes on June 13, 2019 can be found on the repo itself.

While no longer accessible, cached versions of the site show that the repo did indeed disappear on the same day, with the /addon and /repo directories both modified at 08:01 am. An associated Facebook page and Telegram group also disappeared in a similar fashion.

TorrentFreak contacted several sources, none of which were able or willing to provide us with the precise location of the Supremacy developer or his exact age, so definitively connecting the dots isn’t possible. We were told that there are rumors of an arrest but that’s a common occurrence when established and thriving projects go down with no explanation.

Returning to the confirmed arrest last week, it’s unclear why FACT chose to refer the add-on developer, whoever he is, to the police. There is yet to be a successful criminal prosecution of an add-on developer in the UK or elsewhere. Several have been threatened privately, however.

TorrentFreak requested comment from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and FACT but at the time of publication neither had responded.

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

Pirate IPTV Network Shut Down After Police Raid Cable Operators

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-network-shut-down-after-police-raid-cable-operators/

With pirate IPTV services continuing to gain traction around the world, moves to undermine their businesses are on the increase.

Many publicized enforcement actions feature IPTV providers and their resellers but news coming out of Bulgaria indicates that a player higher up the chain has been targeted by authorities.

Cybercrime officers from an anti-organized crime unit of the Ministry of the Interior have targeted five cable operators accused of intercepting and rebroadcasting foreign and local channels without permission from the rightsholders.

Supported by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), the operation is said to have taken down a pirate IPTV service with an estimated 700,000 worldwide subscribers.

Authorities say that following the raids across eight cities in Bulgaria, all of the hardware used in the operation was seized, including the servers that were used to provide content to the IPTV provider’s mobile applications.

Images from the raids (Credit: Ministry of the Interior)

According to the Ministry of the Interior, permission for the raids was obtained from several district courts. Eight teams were formed which carried out simultaneous actions on offices and other premises targeting technical equipment used by the cable operators.

Several TV companies are reported to have suffered damage from the alleged intellectual property offenses, including private national broadcasting channel bTV, local TV network Nova, and US cable and satellite network HBO.

The Ministry of the Interior reports that intellectual property crimes have caused damage to the country’s reputation overseas. Indeed, the USTR called out Bulgaria in its latest Special 301 Report, noting that “online and broadcast piracy remains a challenging copyright enforcement issue” in the country.

A full investigation is underway in respect of intellectual property violations but the government says that alongside it will be looking for evidence of tax evasion.

Moving forward, regular checks will be carried out at all cable operators, with those suspected of illegal activity treated as a priority.

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

VidAngel Must Pay $62.4 Million for Ripping and Streaming ‘Pirated’ Movies

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/vidangel-must-pay-62-4-million-for-ripping-and-streaming-pirated-movies-190618/

Founded in 2013, Utah-based startup VidAngel entered the video streaming market with a rather innovative business model. 

The company allowed its users to rent popular movies and TV-shows, with the option to filter out violence, sex, profanity, and other objectionable content.

While there was plenty of demand for the service, it operated without permission from the major movie studios. Instead, the company acquired DVDs, which it would then rip using AnyDVD, so they could be streamed online. 

Users interested in a movie were able to rent it for $20, and then sell it back after a day for $19. This made rentals as cheap as $1 per streamed movie, effectively beating all legal competitors.

VidAngel made sure that it would have physical DVDs in its archive for all movies and TV-shows that were rented out at any given time. This resulted in a rather extensive library of duplicate discs, as the massive collection of “The Revenant” DVDs below shows. 

“Thousands” of The Revenant DVDs (credit: VidAngel)

After operating its service for a few months, VidAngel drew the attention of several major movie studios including Disney and Warner Bros. In 2016, they teamed up to file a lawsuit against VidAngel, accusing it of copyright infringement and violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.

“VidAngel does not have permission to copy Plaintiffs’ movies and television shows or to stream them to VidAngel’s users,” the studios’ complaint read.

“Instead, VidAngel appears to circumvent the technological protection measures on DVDs and Blu-ray discs to create unauthorized copies and then uses those copies to stream Plaintiffs’ works to the public without authorization.”

VidAngel was convinced, however, that its business was legal. It argued that it was protected by the Family Movie Act, which allows consumers to skip objectionable movie content without committing copyright infringement.

The movie studios disagreed and earlier this year were backed by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The Court granted summary judgment, ruling that VidAngel is liable for violating the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision and committing copyright infringement.

The only question that remained was the scale of the damages. This was determined yesterday, following a multi-day trial where the jury concluded that a $62.4 million damages award was appropriate.

The bulk of the damages, $61.4 million, is for copyright infringement. With 819 titles mentioned in the suit, this amounts to $75,000 per infringed work, half of the maximum statutory damages. 

The additional million in damages is for circumventing the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions by ripping the DVDs. This cost VidAngel $1,250 per title.

The movie studios are happy with the outcome. In a joint statement, they state that it sends a clear message to others who might consider operating a similar service.

“The jury today found that VidAngel acted willfully, and imposed a damages award that sends a clear message to others who would attempt to profit from unlawful infringing conduct at the expense of the creative community,” the studios note.

VidAngel, however, vows to fight on and is likely to appeal the case. 

“We find today’s ruling unfortunate, but it has not lessened our resolve to save filtering for families. VidAngel plans to appeal the District Court ruling, and explore options in the bankruptcy court.

“Our court system has checks and balances, and we are pursuing options on that front as well,” VidAngel CEO Neal Harmon adds.

As KSL’s excellent timeline shows, VidAngel filed for bankruptcy in 2017 to protect itself from the lawsuit. However, the company isn’t going anywhere just yet.

VidAngel’s original video streaming operation was shut down following a permanent injunction, but it later introduced a new service that allows users to “filter” Netflix, HBO and Amazon content for a fixed monthly subscription.

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

Prolific Pirate Bay User Agrees to Pay $2,900 to Movie Outfits

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/prolific-pirate-bay-user-agrees-to-pay-2900-to-movie-outfits-190617/

Every year, thousands of people are sued in the United States for allegedly sharing pirated video, mostly through BitTorrent.

These efforts share a familiar pattern. After the film companies acquire a subpoena to obtain the personal details of an alleged pirate, they contact this person with a settlement request.

In 2017, movie companies used this strategy to identify the then 72-year-old Mr. Harding from Hawaii, whose Internet connection was used to share more than 1,000 torrents. 

The film companies reached out to the man and offered a hefty $3,900 settlement, which would increase to $4,900 if he failed to respond in time. However, Mr. Harding denied downloading the files, describing the pay-up-or-else demand as “absolutely absurd.”

The accusations eventually made the local press and after a careful review of the matter movie company attorney Kerry Culpepper decided to dismiss the case against the elderly man.

However, that didn’t mean that the downloads were completely disregarded. After digging into the matter, the movie companies learned that, while the offending IP-address was linked to Mr. Harding, the home in question was used by someone else. 

The movie companies ‘ UN4 Productions ‘ and ‘Millennium Funding’ eventually found out that the resident or tenant in question was Mr. Graham. This prompted the rightsholders to file a new federal lawsuit, targeting this man, who they believed was the true ‘pirate.’

This time the accusations were indeed lodged against a prolific downloader. In a declaration submitted to the court Mr. Graham, who is in his fifties, admits that he regularly used The Pirate Bay to download files.

“Since approximately 2016, I have been downloading torrent files of motion pictures from websites of the Pirate Bay at my residence. I believed that it was acceptable to do so because the websites are completely open with their objective to share files,” he states. 

According to the declaration, Mr. Graham often downloaded so many files that he doesn’t remember the names of many torrents. As such, he is not confident that he downloaded the movies “Boyka: Undisputed IV” and Mechanic: Resurrection,” which are listed in the complaint.

The account holder of the Internet connection, who was initially accused, was not aware of this activity.  Mr. Graham, meanwhile, apologized to the rightsholders and agreed not to use The Pirate Bay going forward. 

“I agree to stop using the Pirate Bay,” Mr. Graham writes.

While the man denies liability, he does admit to downloading copyrighted movies through The Pirate Bay and in a consent judgment, submitted to the court, he agrees to a $2,900 settlement to cover costs, fees, and damages. 

In addition, the stipulated consent judgment includes a permanent injunction prohibiting Mr. Graham from infringing the copyrights of the two movie companies going forward. 

A copy of the stipulated consent judgment 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.

Cheat Maker Shuts Down After Being Sued by Pokémon Go Creator

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cheat-maker-shuts-down-after-being-sued-by-pokemon-go-creator-190617/

Video gaming is huge business, generating billions for companies around the world. However, the way some people choose to play games doesn’t always sit well with entertainment companies.

In order to gain advantages over regular players, some resort to using cheats created by third parties. These provide access to skills and abilities unavailable in the regular versions of games. Development group Global++ provided such cheats for Pokémon Go and other titles but that drew the ire of San Francisco-based Niantic, the game’s original developer.

As first reported by Business Insider, on Friday Niantic filed a lawsuit in a California federal court against Global++, two individuals named as Ryan Hunt (aka ELLIOTROBOT) and Alen Hunter (aka IOS NOOB), plus 20 ‘John Does’.

Niantic’s complaint states that the only permissible way to play its augmented reality games (Pokémon Go, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, and Ingress) is via its original apps installable on mobile devices.

These apps, which contain protected proprietary code, have permission to access Niantic’s servers. However, Niantic says that Global++ illegally copied its work.

Global++ website

“Defendants hack Niantic’s apps to access and copy Niantic’s Client Code, then modify and adulterate the Client Code to create what they call ‘tweaks’—i.e., unauthorized, hacked versions of Niantic’s apps. Defendants then market their hacked apps under the titles Potter++ (or, in some cases, Unite++), PokeGo++, and Ingress++,” the complaint reads.

These cheats not only undermine the gaming experience for legitimate players, Niantic adds, they are also used by Global++ to “steal valuable and proprietary game-related information” which is then utilized for commercial purposes.

These cheating programs have been reportedly distributed to hundreds of thousands of users but when Niantic asked Global++ to stop its activities, the unincorporated entity allegedly ignored the US-based developer and continued as before.

Seeking an injunction from the court, Niantic’s complaint begins with alleged breaches of the Copyright Act, given that Global++ copied Niantic’s code in order to develop its cheats, and then distributed that infringing code to its users.

According to the company’s analysis, up to 99% of Niantic’s original code is used in Global++ cheat software.

Niantic further alleges breaches of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act due to Global++ and its users accessing Niantic’s servers “through unauthorized, hacked versions of Niantic’s apps.” According to the company, this illegal activity persisted even after Global++ was informed in writing that their access was unauthorized.

Finally, Niantic notes that since Global++ are Niantic account holders bound by the company’s Terms of Service, breaches of that agreement – including copying Niantic’s code and misappropriating its code for commercial purposes – are also evident.

With Niantic’s new Harry Potter game set for launch, the company is urgently seeking a preliminary injunction from the court to prevent Global++ from launching a new version of its Potter++ cheat within days “or possibly even hours” of that event. However, Global++ now appears to be more receptive to Niantic’s demands.

Following claims in the complaint that Niantic has spent more than $1 million over the past year attempting to deal with Global++ cheats, Global++ took to its official Discord channel to indicate that the show is now over.

“It is with great sadness that we will be shutting down indefinitely incompliance [sic] with our legal obligations,” the statement reads.

“It has been a fun ride with the entire community and we have made some unbelievable memories. We will hold close to our heart all of the people that we were able to introduce Pokemon to that for various reasons could not play the game. Take care all.”

At the time of writing, the Global++ website is down, its Discord channel is closed, its Twitter account and Facebook accounts are no more, and its Github.io address is returning errors.

Niantic’s motion for a preliminary injunction 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.

After RIAA Targets DJ & Producer Site Mixstep, Site Shuts Down

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/after-riaa-targets-dj-producer-site-mixstep-site-shuts-down-190616/

In recent weeks the RIAA has really stepped on the gas in an effort to tackle sites offering allegedly-infringing content.

The music industry group’s current weapon-of-choice is the DMCA subpoena. These orders, which are easy to obtain and do not need to be scrutinized by a judge, give the RIAA significant discovery powers that help to identify the operators of online platforms.

The latest site to be targeted by the RIAA is Mixstep.co, an upload platform designed for audio works. Last week the powerful industry group told a Columbia federal court that the site was hosting content at a single URL which infringes one or more of its members’ copyrights.

The RIAA says the URL linked to the Ed Sheeran/Justin Bieber track “I Don’t Care” but the location was already inaccessible the morning after the subpoena was obtained. Nevertheless, the RIAA now wants to identify the operator of the site.

The message where the file used to be

The subpoena orders domain registry Namecheap to hand over the personal details of the platform’s domain owner, including name, physical address, IP address, telephone, email address, payment, account history, and other information.

TorrentFreak spoke with the operator of Mixstep who told us he wasn’t previously aware why the RIAA is targeting him. The site was never intended to host infringing content and was actually set up for the use of creators.

“We made this project for DJs and producers,” he told TF.

In common with many upload platforms – YouTube included – Mixstep has users who uploaded infringing content. However, the site has been working hard to take content down and has dealt severely with those who have abused the service.

“We already banned a lot of users who uploaded illegal files,” the operator added.

It’s not completely clear why the RIAA wants to identify the operator of the site but if its aim was to neutralize the platform, the music group has achieved that goal. With the service operated on a zero profit basis, its owner says it has run its course.

“I think it’s enough to fight with all these [users uploading infringing files] so we’re going to shut down our project very soon. Anyway, Mixstep was a no-profit project,” he said.

Visitors to the site now see the following message, so it may be ‘mission accomplished’ for the RIAA.

The end of the show

The RIAA’s letter to Cloudflare can be downloaded 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.

Red-Hot Vetements Fashion Brand is Selling a $845 Pirate Bay Hoodie

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/red-hot-vetements-fashion-brand-is-selling-a-845-pirate-bay-hoodie/

The Pirate Bay is the most recognized pirate site on the Internet. It has endured the roughest of high seas for more than 15 years and is still going strong.

The site’s logo, pictured right, has been published on thousands of websites and for many, its familiar tape-and-crossbones logo is both iconic and rebellious.

Enter stage left storming fashion brand Vetements. Previously based in Paris, the “design collective” has been making waves all over the world and is currently listed as one of the world’s hottest brands, just a single place behind Versace in the latest Lyst Index.

Hoping to climb even further up the greasy pole that is high fashion, Vetements is now selling a Pirate Bay-themed hoodie that shamelessly rips off the site’s logo. Buyers can pick one up for the bargain price of $845.

An absolute giveaway

While the full ship emblem on the front isn’t an exact replica of the original, it’s so close as to make very little difference. Those squinting to read the text along the bottom are advised it reads “Vetements Free Downloads”, in case anyone doesn’t recognize this is a Pirate Bay-themed hoodie, of course.

The back of this stunning piece of high-fashion cloth is adorned with an alphabetically-sorted list of countries of the world. While that’s perhaps expected given The Pirate Bay’s reach, Sweden – the site’s birthplace – is completely absent.

No Sweden?

The big question here is whether someone in the setting department screwed up and left Sweden out, or is this one of those clever fashion things that’s designed to provoke conversation. The Pirate Bay can be found everywhere except Sweden? That works – on a couple of levels.

But of course, now we’re getting sucked in and this was probably Vetements’ plan all along. Keep in mind this is a company that sells a t-shirt with a DHL logo on the front for several hundred dollars. And people buy them in droves.

For at least one person responsible for the creation of The Pirate Bay, this act of fabric-based piracy is definitely not acceptable.

While Marcin appears to make his position clear, he seems more irritated by the extortionate price than the fact that Vetements is attempting to profit from the site’s image. Either way, this can only lead to yet more publicity for the file-sharing movement and – sigh – Vetements.

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

India Court Hands Down Cricket World Cup Piracy Blocking Order

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/india-court-hands-down-cricket-world-cup-piracy-blocking-order-190611/

Over the past decade there have been dozens of orders requiring Internet service providers around the world to block access to copyright-infringing content.

The majority of these orders have attempted to protect the movie and music industries but more recently live sports broadcasters have become involved.

In most if not all sports-blocking cases, the content has been both audio and visual, such as live soccer matches to which the English Premier League owns the rights. However, a new blocking order out of India is attempting to block ‘pirate’ radio streams, delivered via the Internet.

The application was made by Channel 2 Group Corporation. According to the company’s website, its founder is Ajay Sethi, a man with a passion for cricket, who launched “the first ever Radio over the internet – Cricket Radio.”

Channel 2’s application at the Delhi High Court states that the company previously acquired the audio rights to the ICC Men’s World Cup, 2019. The agreement allows it to transmit audio coverage of Cricket World Cup matches (live, delayed, or highlights) via the Internet and private FM radio stations throughout India.

Of course, while Channel 2’s agreement may be exclusive in theory, the company says that other entities are encroaching (or likely to encroach) on its rights as the tournament progresses. As such, it’s seeking protection from the Court to have such broadcasts blocked.

In an ex parte interim order handed down by the Delhi High Court, the broadcaster appears to have been granted permission to do just that.

In total there are 249 defendants in the case, two of which are government departments only present for administrative reasons and 247 for direct involvement. Just one is mentioned by name in the published order, lead defendant live.mycricketlive.net. The remainder are not detailed but are variously described as follows:

  • Defendants 1-64 (URLs/Websites)
  • Defendants 65-68 (private radio platform operators)
  • Defendants 69-105 (Internet service providers)
  • Defendants 105-107 (Government departments) (108 absent from list)
  • Defendants 109-249 (Unknown defendants, to be determined)

“The Plaintiff’s apprehension regarding the likely abuse of Plaintiff’s exclusive Audio Rights and intellectual property rights arises from previous instances of infringement of the Plaintiff’s exclusive broadcasting rights by various interested persons,” the order reads.

“The said instances of infringement caused considerable financial loss to the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff is given to believe from its agencies that the Defendants arrayed herein will infringe the exclusive Audio Rights of the Plaintiff.”

Channel 2 states that defendants 1-105 have no right to offer radio/audio broadcasts of any ICC Event, including those in the World Cup. As a result, they urgently need to be restrained from doing so, since the tournament has already begun. Defendants 69-105 must take measures to block the unlicensed streams provided by the infringing websites/services.

Defendants 109-249 are so-called Ashok Kumars, which are the Indian equivalent of John Does. They are predicted to infringe on Channel 2’s rights so need to be dealt with quickly should they do so, the Court agreed.

“The Plaintiff apprehends that if the Plaintiff were to wait and identify specific parties and collect evidence of infringement by such specific parties, significant time would be lost and the cricket matches may come to an end,” the order reads.

“Irreparable injury, loss and damage, would be caused to the Plaintiff in such a scenario, which would be impossible to quantify in monetary terms alone.”

As part of the interim order, search engines are also required to delete from their results any websites/URLs that provide access to infringing sites/streams. They must do so following a notification from Channel 2 itself.

Given the broad nature of many blocking injunctions in this and other jurisdictions, not much of the above comes as a surprise anymore. However, there is a somewhat unusual addition to the order, which targets services that provide ball-by-ball and/or minute-by-minute updates on the status of matches.

They may only do so “gratuitously only after a time lag of 15 minutes.”

The interim order of the Delhi High Court can be found here (pdf)

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One Amazon Copyright Complaint Costs Torrent Site its Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/one-amazon-copyright-complaint-costs-torrent-site-its-domain-190609/

There are thousands of torrent and streaming sites on the Internet today. They come in all shapes and sizes but most have one thing in common – they need a domain name for people to access them.

It’s not unheard of for such sites to lose their domains after dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of copyright complaints. But to lose control over a domain after just one is pretty bad luck but, as it turns out, not exactly straightforward.

The site in question is TheRedBear.cc, a lesser-known but perfectly functional torrent indexer. In conversations with the site’s operator last month it became clear to us that he was having issues with his domain registrar, EuroDNS. Those issues were the result of a copyright complaint filed by Amazon.

According to information provided by the site owner, he’s always eager to process DMCA takedown notices when they arrive. He uses scripts to automate takedowns and he says he has a good relationship with anti-piracy companies. However, the complaint from Amazon apparently ended up in a spam folder and wasn’t processed as quickly as it should’ve been.

This led Amazon to file a complaint with EuroDNS, which references a single URL and reads as follows (edited for clarity):

“Amazon has learned that the website located at theredbear.cc…for which you are the hosting provider, is distributing unauthorized copies of Amazon Properties via the distribution of Amazon Properties video files. This constitutes copyright infringement in violation of federal copyright law section 17 U.S.C. 501, as well as similar laws around the world,” the complaint reads.

“Amazon has already notified the Website of infringement through its vendor Digimarc. However, the Website has failed to comply expeditiously with this takedown request and continues to cause, enable, induce, facilitate and materially contribute to the infringement by continuing to provide its users with the means to unlawfully distribute, reproduce and otherwise exploit the property.”

While the complaint sounds serious, this wasn’t enough on its own for TheRedBear to lose its domain. What it did trigger, however, was a detailed review by EuroDNS of the account through which it was registered.

According to the site operator, EuroDNS then began demanding copies of his passport and a personal telephone call from his country of origin (rather than the virtual line he usually uses) to confirm various details.

The operator told us he provided information when he signed up in 2018 and that in his opinion, a review wasn’t necessary. Nevertheless, EuroDNS appears to have determined otherwise and suspended his account.

TorrentFreak spoke with EuroDNS about the issues. The company’s legal department spoke generally but confirmed that as long as they don’t host a website to which a domain points, they don’t suspend domains following a copyright complaint, as they do with domains that are clearly involved in illegal activity such as “phishing, social hatred etc.”

However, without the registry prejudging anything that has been alleged, copyright complaints do get forwarded to domain owners. In this case, two key complications then arose, both seemingly related to having verifiably accurate registration details.

“EuroDNS shall be entitled to charge the Customer for any action performed on the Customer’s behalf in connection with a third party claim, insofar as the Customer fails to acknowledge receipt of the EuroDNS notification in regard to such a claim, or if EuroDNS finds it necessary to take action in regard to such a claim such as sending a registered letter and making phone calls on behalf of the Customer and the complaining third party,” the company said.

“Nevertheless, such notification will automatically trigger a swift review of the concerned account to make sure that our customer complies with our Terms and Conditions. In case of a clear breach of our Terms and Conditions, unrelated to the original complaint, we might suspend our services to the concerned customer if the latter failed to take proper action.”

So, given the above, what appears to have happened in this case is that the copyright complaint triggered a review, the review criteria weren’t met, and EuroDNS suspended the account, which prevented changes to the domain.

While the domain is currently up it will shortly expire, meaning one domain gone, triggered by a copyright complaint but actioned on the basis of the registry’s own terms and conditions.

It’s unclear whether TheRedBear will continue with a similar domain registered elsewhere (news will reportedly be delivered via the site’s blog), but it seems unlikely that EuroDNS will be involved.

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

DMCA Takedowns Try to Delist Dozens of Adult Homepages from Google

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-takedowns-try-to-delist-dozens-of-adult-homepages-from-google-190608/

Google receives millions of notices requesting the removal of allegedly-infringing links from its search results every month.

The load is truly huge, as is the flood of pirated content the DMCA notices attempt to address. It’s a huge task on all sides, so it’s not a surprise some dubious takedowns slip through the net. Over the past couple of weeks, more than usual appear to have done just that.

Without going into too much detail and annoying the purists, hentai can loosely be defined as adult-focused comics and cartoons. Hailing from Japan, hentai has a huge following worldwide and, of course, is widely pirated.

Several companies and organizations attempt to take infringing content down but this week a new one stepped up to cause waves across hundreds of sites.

It isn’t clear who is behind ‘Copyright Legal Services INC’ (CLS). A specific Google search yields nothing and its takedown notices offer no additional information either. However, several of its DMCA notices indicate that the original works it tries to protect can be bought from DLSite.com, a platform operated by Japan’s EYSIS, Inc.

At first view, the notices filed by CLS seem unremarkable. They list original works and then allegedly-infringing URLs. However, what these notices then try to do is purge from Google entire adult-site homepages, full sections, plus pages that clearly aren’t infringing.

Due to their inherent NSFW nature, we won’t quote them directly here but anyone interested can click the links provided.

For instance, this notice attempts to remove ‘xhamster.com/hd’ and the ‘subbed’ and ‘english’ tag archives on YouPorn.com.. Many other sites are listed too, with the notice even trying to take down their contact pages. Around two dozen homepages are among the 331 targeted URLs.

Another notice targets 198 URLs, six of them site homepages. In common with the other notices, some have been removed from Google search, others have not. It’s hard to make a clear determination but Google seems to delist some smaller sites while giving sites like YouPorn and xHamster a pass.

The list of notices goes on, and on, and on, and on, with the same general theme of some accurate reports, many massively overbroad ones, and notices that nearly always target some sites’ homepages, some of which were acted upon by Google.

A site operator affected by the wave of takedowns sent TorrentFreak a list of the homepages that were requested for removal from Google. They numbered 294, which is a lot by any measurement.

Of course, there are a number of other factors that also need to be highlighted.

While it’s impractical to check them all, a cursory view of a few dozen domain URLs shows that most of the sites are probably infringing someone’s copyrights, so these types of notices (when accurate) shouldn’t come as a surprise.

It’s also possible that some of the sites carried the content in question on their homepages when the notices were sent to Google. However, given the volume of sites and the limited range of content, it seems likely this would be the exception and not the rule.

The operator of one site – Gelbooru.com – which had its homepage delisted from Google despite containing no infringing content, told TorrentFreak that complaining to Google proved fruitless.

Homepage delisted

“Thanks for reaching out to us,” Google responded.

“At this time, Google has decided not to take action. We encourage you to review https://library.educause.edu/topics/policy-and-law/digital-millennium-copyright-act-dmca for more information about the DMCA. If you have legal questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.”

The full list of notices referenced above can be found here but may require registration to view in detail, as reported here.

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

RIAA Targets 14 New Sites in Campaign Against YouTube-Rippers & Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-14-new-sites-in-campaign-against-youtube-rippers-piracy-190606/

For some time, the world’s leading record labels have complained that YouTube doesn’t pay the going rate for musical content streamed to its users.

However, when consumers use so-called YouTube-ripping sites to obtain content, it’s claimed that the position worsens. By obtaining music in this fashion, users are able to keep local libraries which further deplete YouTube hits and by extension, revenue generated by the labels.

To plug this hole, the RIAA is working to identify the operators of leading YouTube-ripping platforms. Via DMCA subpoenas, the industry group has been forcing CDN service Cloudflare and domain registries such as NameCheap to hand over the personal details of the people behind these tools.

Two new DMCA subpoenas, obtained by the RIAA in recent days, reveal an apparent escalation in this activity. Mainly targeting Cloudflare but in one instance also NameCheap, the RIAA demands private information relating to several sites.

10Convert.com

With around two million visitors per month (SimilarWeb stats), this platform has a prime focus on YouTube-ripping. The majority of its traffic comes from Brazil (69%), with the United States accounting for a little over 2% of its users.

Amoyshare.com

Enjoying around 4.6m visits per month with most of its visitors coming from the United States (15%), this platform’s focus is offering downloadable tools that enable users to grab videos and music from a wide range of platforms.

However, Amoyshare also offers “AnyUTube”, an online converter which is the element the RIAA is complaining about.

Anything2MP3.cc

This site, which enjoys a relatively low 300,000 visits per month, appears to be dual-use. While it is possible to download content from YouTube, Anything2MP3 also offers users the ability to convert their own audio files in the browser.

IMP3Juices.com

With around six million visits per month, this platform is one of the more popular ones targeted by the RIAA. Around 12.5% of the site’s traffic comes from Italy, with the US following behind with just under 10%.

The site functions like a ‘pirate’ download portal, with users able to search for artists and download tracks. However, the RIAA provides a URL which reveals that the site also has a YouTube to MP4 conversion feature. Indeed, it seems possible that much of the site’s content is obtained from YouTube.

BigConverter.com

Down at the time of writing, possibly as a result of the subpoena, this site offered downloading functionality for a range of sites, from YouTube and Facebook through to Twitter, Vimeo, Vevo, Instagram, Dailymotion, Metacafe, VK, AOL, GoogleDrive and Soundcloud.

YouTubeMP4.to

Enjoying around 7.7 million visits per month, YouTubeMP4.to is a straightforward YouTube video downloader. Almost 23% of its traffic comes from the United States with the UK just behind at close to 11%.

QDownloader.net

This platform has perhaps the most comprehensive offering of those targeted. It claims to be able to download content from 800 sites, of which YouTube is just one. With more than 12 million visits per month, it’s not difficult to see why QDownloader has made it onto the RIAA’s hit list.

GenYouTube.net

Another big one, this multi-site downloader platform attracts around seven million visits per month. The majority of its traffic comes from India (14%), with the United States following behind with around 12%.

Break.TV

For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, YouTube and SoundCloud downloader Break.TV has lost a lot of its monthly traffic since late 2018. From a high edging towards three million visits per month, it now enjoys just over 1.6 million. Interestingly the site says it must only be used to obtain Creative Commons licensed material.

MP3XD.com

In common with IMP3Juices.com, MP3XD.com appears to be focused on offering pirate MP3 downloads rather than straightforward ripping services. However, its content does appear to have been culled from YouTube.

Given that it defaults to Spanish, it seems to target Latin America. Indeed, with close to 10 million visits per month, almost a third hail from Mexico, with Venezuela and Argentina following behind.

DL-YouTube-MP3.net

This platform is a straightforward YouTube-ripping site, offering downloads of both video and audio content. It is one of the lower-trafficked sites on the list, with around 870,000 visits per month with most of its traffic (38%) coming from France.

ConvertBox.net

With around 150,000 visits, ConvertBox is the smallest platform targeted by the RIAA in this batch. It offers conversion features for YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and SoundCloud via its website and mobile apps. Around a fifth of its traffic comes from France.

Downloaders.io

Another multi-downloader, Downloaders.io offers tools to rip content from a number of platforms, YouTube included. It’s traffic has been up and down since the start of the year but has averaged around 200K visits per month. Close to 30% of traffic hails from the United States.

Hexupload.net

A relative newcomer, this site doesn’t appear to fit into the ripping or general pirate site niche. Down at the time of writing, this 270,000 visit per month platform appears to have acted as a file upload site, from which users could generate revenue per download.

Cloudflare and NameCheap will now be required to hand over the personal details they have on the users behind all of these sites. As usual, that will include names, addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and more.

It isn’t clear what the RIAA has planned for these platforms but since the request was made by the group’s Vice-President Online Piracy, it doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a few ideas.

This latest move by the RIAA follows similar action against several other sites detailed in our earlier reports (1,2,3).

The RIAA’s letters to Cloudflare and NameCheap can be found here and here.

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

Terminating Subscribers Doesn’t Stop Pirates, Charter Argues

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/terminating-subscribers-doesnt-stop-pirates-charter-argues-190605/

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Music rights company BMG got the ball rolling a few years ago when it won its piracy liability lawsuit against Cox.

Following on the heels of this case, several major record labels including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music, hopped onto the bandwagon. Helped by the RIAA, they went after ISP Grande Communications and, more recently, Charter Communications.

The labels accuse Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers. They argue that the ISP failed to terminate or otherwise take meaningful action against the accounts of repeat infringers, even though it was well aware of them.

A few days ago Charter responded to these allegations. The company denies that it plays an active role in any infringing activities and believes the labels’ arguments are flawed.

“This suit is the latest effort in the music industry’s campaign to hold Internet Service Providers (‘ISPs’) liable for copyright infringement, allegedly carried out by internet subscribers, for merely providing internet access,” Charter states. 

The labels sued the ISP for two types of secondary liability for copyright infringement; contributory infringement and vicarious liability. While Charter believes that both claims will fail, it has submitted a motion to dismiss only the latter.

In its motion Charter notes that, in order for a vicarious liability claim to succeed, the labels must show that the ISP profited directly from copyright infringements that it had both a right and ability to control. This is not the case, the ISP notes. 

“Plaintiffs fail to allege a plausible causal connection between any alleged
direct infringement and the subscription fees received by Charter,” the motion reads

“For example, Plaintiffs do not allege that infringers specifically chose Charter over other providers so they could infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights, or that other ISPs were terminating subscribers, leading them to seek out Charter as a safe haven.”

In addition, the ISP points out that it doesn’t operate a file-sharing service, nor does it promote BitTorrent, or receive compensation for any file-sharing services. Instead, it merely charges a flat fee from its subscribers for which it provides Internet access.

The labels argued that the ISP offers a tiered pricing structure, charging higher fees for higher downloading speeds. However, Charter notes that this isn’t in any way catered to pirates. People who consume legal media also benefit from higher speeds, after all.

“Plaintiffs do not, and cannot, allege that those who illegally download music want faster speeds than those who do so legally, much less than those who download considerably larger movie or other files,” Charter writes.

“Such allegations would be implausible, as subscribers paying for higher tiers of service for lawful uses want to download content just as fast as those doing so illegally.”

Charter stresses that there is no evidence that it directly profits from copyright infringement. In addition, it doesn’t have a right and ability to control any infringements either, which negates another element of vicarious liability.

The labels argued that the ISP has control over the infringements, as it can terminate the Internet accounts of repeat infringers. However, Charter counters that this doesn’t prevent subscribers from continuing to pirate elsewhere.

“Charter cannot monitor and control its subscribers’ use of the internet, and its ability to terminate subscribers altogether does not prevent them from committing acts of infringement from other connections,” Charter notes.

Charter adds that it can’t monitor and control its subscribers’ use of the Internet, while adding that peer-to-peer file sharing protocols can be used for both infringing and non-infringing purposes.

All in all the ISP sees terminations as an overbroad and imprecise measure.

“Plaintiffs’ termination remedy suffers from ‘imprecision and overbreadth’ based on the inability to confirm allegations in a notice, the extremity of the measure, and the failure to halt infringing activity from another source,” Charter adds.

Based on these and other arguments Charter asks the court to dismiss the vicarious liability claim. That would still leave the contributory infringement claim intact, but the ISP is confident that it can deal with this at a later stage.

In addition to the suit against Charter, the record labels also sued its subsidiary Bright House for the same alleged offenses in a Florida court. Bright House responded to this lawsuit with a near identical motion to dismiss.

Both motions are now with the respective courts, which will at a later stage decide whether to dismiss the claims or not.

A copy of Charter Communications’ motion to dismiss the claim for vicarious liability 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.

YouTube Ordered to Hand Over Identities of Manga Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-ordered-to-hand-over-identities-of-manga-pirates-190603/

Users of YouTube upload millions of pieces of content to the platform every month, much of it without incident or irritation to third-parties.

However, there are those who upload copyright content, most of it music and videos, that infringe on the rights of the original owners.

When that happens, copyright holders can file claims with YouTube to have the content removed, via the platform’s Content ID system or by filing a manual claim.

Users are generally aware that these complaints have the potential to lead to a ‘strike’ against their accounts but a publishing giant in Japan seems to want to take things much further.

Founded in 1922, Shogakukan Inc. is one of Japan’s largest publishers offering more than 60 magazines, 8,000 books, and 13,000 manga titles (comics/graphic novels), to name a few. It’s also part owner of Viz Media, the largest publisher of comic books and graphic novels in the United States.

Shogakukan’s manga publications are often pirated in digital formats (PDF documents, for example) but they also get uploaded to YouTube. These take the form of videos, often set to music, featuring static views of the pages of each title, timed for easy reading.

YouTube users who uploaded the company’s content in this fashion now need to look over their shoulders.

On May 24, lawyers acting for Shogakukan requested a DMCA subpoena at a California district court to help it identify several YouTube channel operators who allegedly uploaded images of the company’s content.

DMCA subpoenas are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from a court clerk. As a result, Shogakukan may shortly be in receipt of some very sensitive information, at least according to its letter to YouTube.

In addition to requiring YouTube to disable access to the infringing works as listed by the publisher, the Google-owned video platform must also hand over the personal details of several channel operators identified as LNDA, Kile Russo, Anime FightClub, and Optimistic Neko, among others.

The subpoena requires YouTube to hand over information it holds on the alleged infringers “from the time of user registration with any and all of the Infringer’s Accounts”, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, IP address logs, account and credit card numbers and the names of financial institutions connected to them.

According to the subpoena, the information above shall be obtained “from any and all sources” including YouTube accounts, Google AdSense accounts, “or any other service accounts(s) registered with or linked to the infringer’s account” with YouTube.

Interestingly, however, the term “infringer” appears to apply to a broader range of YouTube users than just the handful of individuals listed in the subpoena.

The letter contains a list of Shogakukan works and then states that, in addition to the named channels/users, YouTube must hand over the details of “any other users registered with www.youtube.com who uploaded and/or posted any Infringing Work specified under the column entitled as “Infringing Work” in Exhibit A.”

Exhibit A (DMCA subpoena to YouTube)

Given the broad nature of the subpoena, it seems that YouTube is not only being asked to provide targeted information but is also required to work pro-actively by searching for the content in question and then handing over the personal details of anyone who may have uploaded it.

While the DMCA subpoena process may be quick, a judge’s experience might have proven valuable in this case, given its potential scope.

The subpoena and associated documents can be found here (1,2)

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Movie Companies Sue ‘YTS’ and ‘YIFY’ Site Operators in US Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-companies-sue-yts-and-yify-site-operators-in-us-court-190527/

With millions of visitors, YTS.am is the most visited torrent site on the Internet, beating even the legendary Pirate Bay.

The site ‘unofficially’ took over the YTS brand when the original group threw the towel in 2015. It is one of the many sites out there today that keep the YTS and the related YIFY brands alive and well.

The popularity of these sites is a thorn in the side of filmmakers and a select group of them is now taking action through a complaint filed at a federal court in Hawaii.

The companies behind the movies Singularity, Once Upon a Time in
Venice, Mechanic: Resurrection, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, I Feel Pretty, Boyka: Undisputed and Hunter Killer, accuse the alleged operators of YIFYMovies.is and YTS.am of inducing and contributing to massive piracy.

“Plaintiffs bring this action to stop the massive piracy of their motion pictures brought on by websites under the collective names YIFY and YTS and their users,” it reads.

The case was filed last month but has thus far remained under the radar. The names of the alleged site operators are not known. They are referred to as Doe 1 and Doe 2 respectively.

“Defendants DOE 1 and DOE 2 cause harm to Plaintiffs’ business within this District by diverting customers in this District to unauthorized Internet based content distribution services through, at least, the websites yifymovies.is and yts.ag .”

Both sites operate differently. YTS.ag, which now uses the YTS.am domain name, is a torrent site and by far the most popular of the two. YIFYMovies.is, on the other hand, allows users to stream content directly on the site.

The movie companies accuse both site operators of intentional inducement of copyright infringement as well as contributory copyright infringement.

Among other things, they are believed to have helped many of the site’s users to download or stream movies without permission, while making money through advertisements. 

While there are no known connections that we’re aware of, the filmmakers allege that both sites “act in concert” as they use the same type of logo. These are derived from the original YTS and YIFY logos, although these are used by many other copycat sites as well. 

YTS.am

Through the lawsuit the filmmakers demand damages, which can reach up to $150,000 per pirated film.

In addition, the companies request an injunction to prevent third-party intermediaries such as hosting companies, domain registrars, and search engines, form facilitating access to the YIFYMovies.is,  YTS.ag, and YTS.am domains. 

While no injunction has yet been issued, YIFYMovies.is did suddenly disappear a few days ago. This may in part be due to the legal action and a related DMCA subpoena that was issued against Cloudflare, in an attempt to identify the site’s operator.  

Besides the two site operators, the complaint also names two individuals who’re accused of downloading and distributing copyrighted films, in part through YTS.am or a related site. These have all been dismissed after signing a consent judgment.

The paperwork doesn’t indicate that a settlement was made, but the users in question do state that the deceptive and misleading language on the YTS and YIFY sites led them to believe that they were legal platforms. This will likely help the filmmakers’ claims against the site operators.  

YTS.am, the largest target in this lawsuit, remains online at the time of writing. 

A copy of the complaint as well as the exhibits 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.

RIAA Subpoenas Target Yet Another Huge YouTube-Ripping Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-subpoenas-target-yet-another-huge-youtube-ripping-site-190527/

According to the major labels, so-called YouTube-ripping sites are a major threat to their business models.

Visitors to these platforms are able to enter a YouTube URL and then download whatever content they want to their own machines. That may be video and audio, or audio alone.

Either way, users then have less of a reason to revisit YouTube for the same content, depriving both the labels and YouTube of revenue, the companies argue. It’s now becoming clear that the music industry, led by the RIAA, wants to do something about this issue.

The latest target for the RIAA is YouTube-ripping giant Y2Mate.com, which offers conversion and downloads of content hosted on Google’s platform. As seen in the screenshot below, it offers a familiar and convenient interface for users to carry out those tasks.

Screenshot of Y2Mate.com

It’s no surprise that Y2Mate now finds itself under the spotlight. According to SimilarWeb stats, the site is attracting huge and increasing volumes of users, making it a major player on the Internet, period.

Y2Mate currently attracts just short of 64 million visits every month, something which places it well within the top 900 most-visited sites in the United States.

However, around 89% of its traffic actually comes from other regions, so its rank on the global stage is even more impressive. SimilarWeb data indicates that it’s the 570th most-trafficked site in the world.

Y2Mate traffic stats: (SimilarWeb data)

To unmask the operator of this site, the RIAA has just applied for and obtained DMCA subpoenas at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

The first targets US-based CDN company Cloudflare and explains that the RIAA is concerned that Y2Mate is “offering recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use..”

The RIAA’s letter to Cloudflare lists three URLs where allegedly-infringing tracks can be downloaded. The tracks are ‘Never’ by Heart and ‘Let Me Be The One’ by Exposé (both 1985), plus the 1989 release ‘Don’t Wanna Fall In Love’ by Jane Child.

It’s not clear whether the RIAA has already sent Cloudflare a separate takedown notice but the letter to company notes that if it has, that was “merely meant to facilitate removal of the infringing material” and does not “suggest or imply” that the company can rely on its safe harbor protections under the DMCA.

In any event, the RIAA is clear about why it obtained the subpoena.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to [Y2Mate] who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization,” the music group notes.

The letter sent to NameCheap has the same substance and also specifically demands the “name, physical address, IP address, IP address, telephone number, e-mail address, payment information, account updates and account history” of Y2Mate’s operator.

Both Cloudflare and NameCheap are further asked to consider the “widespread and repeated infringing nature” of Y2Mate and whether that constitutes a violation of the companies’ repeat-infringer policies.

According to the Y2Mate site, however, the platform believes it is operating within the law.

Referring to itself as ‘Muvi’, a statement notes that its only purpose is to “create a copy of downloadable online-content for the private use of the user (‘fair use’)” and the user bears full responsibility for all actions related to the data.

“Muvi does not grant any rights to the contents, as it only acts as a technical service provider,” the Y2Mate copyright page reads.

Just last week, the RIAA targeted another YouTube-ripping site, YouTubNow, with a similar subpoena. Within hours of our report, the site went down, ostensibly for maintenance.

TF previously reported that the RIAA is targeting several other ‘pirate’ sites that use Cloudflare. Similar action is also being aimed at file-hosting platform NoFile.

The RIAA’s letters to Cloudflare and NameCheap can be found here and 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.

Reddit KOs Piracy-Focused MMA Community, Ex-UFC Fighter Gets The Blame

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/reddit-kos-piracy-focused-mma-community-ex-ufc-fighter-gets-the-blame-190524/

Diligently following top-tier Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events has never been an inexpensive pastime.

From its modern roots in the early 1990s on a strictly PPV basis, MMA has become a huge draw around the globe. Dominated by the UFC, those PPVs today cost upwards of $60 in the US, albeit less in other countries where providers like BT Sport offer the events as part of much cheaper packages.

Nevertheless, there is no shortage of fans who’d prefer not to pay anything at all. That, of course, is entirely possible using various types of pirate streaming outlets, from dedicated sites to streaming torrents, from Kodi add-ons to ‘pirate’ IPTV services.

While these streams are in abundance most Saturdays, finding them isn’t always easy for the novice. However, acting as a human-powered link aggregator, that’s where Reddit’s /r/MMAStreams sub-Reddit came in handy. Visitors to the sub around event time were able to find free streams of most if not all events. Until this week, that is.

/r/mmastreams – banned by Reddit

The nuking of the 165,000 member community shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Around a month ago, moderators of the sub posted a warning indicating that everyone was on borrowed time.

“Today, we were notified that r/MMAStreams is at high risk of being banned for copyright violation,” the announcement read.

“We are seeking clarity on the issue, but we must begin to take steps to move.”

The community began switching to /r/MMAStreamz but this week that too was banned for exactly the same reasons as its predecessor.

It isn’t clear who had been filing complaints against these subs but one can be pretty confident that the UFC had a fairly big part to play. While links to live events don’t hang around for long, Reddit doesn’t contest notices on behalf of users, particular when a sub is obviously centered around infringement.

Of course, many in the link-sharing community are looking for a scapegoat. From a strictly legal perspective, the obvious choice would be the people posting the streams (no pirate links, no notices – in theory) but to MMA fans, they certainly aren’t part of the problem.

There is another candidate, however. One with a very high profile and, many streaming fans believe, a mouth that should’ve stayed closed.

Brendan Schaub is a former UFC heavyweight contender but since his departure from the promotion, he hasn’t always been polite about the way it operates. He may have also stepped somewhat dramatically over the line in advance of UFC 236, the very first UFC PPV under its brand new and exclusive ESPN+ streaming deal.

In a nutshell, Schaub – who has more than 750,000 Twitter followers and a very successful podcast – hit the platform in a sweat last month because he couldn’t get the PPV on his TV. With the clock counting down, he then made a veiled threat to stream the event illegally. He was subsequently inundated with a couple of thousand messages from fans containing links to do just that.

The ‘dark side’ calls

In a post-event podcast, Schaub revealed that what he saw in the illegal streaming world should be a serious matter for the UFC.

“I don’t think they [the UFC] realize the level of pure professionalism these dark web dudes have to these links. I’m not gonna say I did watch it illegally, i’m not gonna say I didn’t. When I clicked on that link, that thing was better quality than I had [expletive]…ever seen.

“Here’s the thing that’s scary about it,” he continued. “I must have got 2,000 DMs with different links to illegally stream this thing.”

And then, the cardinal sin. He mentioned Reddit by name.

“Just for database and research I went through 10 to 15 [of the links]. How big is Reddit? Reddit has their MMA thread where [events get posted], and you’re talking clear as day. I saw the fight. I’m anti-illegal streaming, i’m against that,” he added, to balance things up a bit.

Great fights, not all of them paid for

Whether Schaub did pirate the whole event isn’t known but in the days that followed he continued to mention the illegal streams available via Reddit and elsewhere to his considerable audience. That, some believe, is why MMAStreams suddenly felt even more heat than usual.

The reality is that we’ll probably never know for sure. It’s also likely that even without Schaub’s promotional ‘help’, MMAStreams would still find itself choked-out eventually. Previously, similar sports-focused sub-Reddit’s have closed down following complaints from other organizations.

Considering its size, there is zero chance that the UFC didn’t know about MMAStreams already and with ESPN on board, they almost certainly want to show what they’re capable of on the eyeballs front. Platforms like MMAStreams don’t help that effort and that’s probably part of the reason why they’re no longer around.

Not on Reddit, at least….

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