Tag Archives: Breaking News

Pirated Copy of ‘1917’ Leaks in Massive Screener Dump

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirated-copy-of-1917-leaks-in-massive-screener-dump-200117/

Earlier this week we reported that the number of leaked screeners was on the rise again after an all-time low last year.

Over the past 24-hours, this number went up significantly with six new leaks bringing the total to 16.

A pirated screener dump of this magnitude in such a short timeframe is something we haven’t seen before.

What’s also new is that the release group ‘TOPKEK’ is one of the driving forces. Although TOPKEK is not new to releasing pirated movies, they haven’t gotten involved in leaking screeners in the past.

The most prominent release is ‘1917,’ which won the Golden Globe for best film and received ten Academy Award nominations earlier this week. A screener copy of the movie was released by both TOPKEK and Hive-CM8.

It’s likely that both groups obtained their screener copy from a separate source. The file sizes of the releases vary and, according to reports from users, the quality is not the same either.

In their release notes, Hive-CM8 mentions that the movie has already generated enough revenue for it to be released in the open. “Gross is doing ok, so it’s ready to go,” the group writes.

From the leaked screener

Both TOPKEK and Hive-CM8 also released a copy of the biographical drama ‘Richard Jewell,’ another contender for the Oscars.

The other four screeners that leaked all came from TOPKEK. These include ‘A hidden Life,’ ‘Color Out of Space,’ Dark Waters,’ and ‘Queen and Slim.’ The latter comes with the unusual ‘QuerySCR’ tag which suggests that the source of the screener copy may not be known.

The Dark Waters release also stands out. It’s tagged as a 1080p release and is 33.7 gigabytes in size, considerably larger than the rest.

Seeing this many leaks in the span of a few hours is quite unique. As far as we know, it has never happened before. This certainly makes it newsworthy and may also draw the attention of Hollywood and law enforcement.

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

Kim Dotcom Wins Back K.im Domain After Dispute & $100K Sell-Back Offer

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-wins-back-k-im-domain-after-dispute-100k-sell-back-attempt-200116/

Kim Dotcom’s under-development file-sharing project K.im received a setback recently when its K.im domain fell into third-party hands.

As reported here on TF last Sunday, communication issues with the registry led to the domain expiring and it was quickly snapped up by Bulgarian expired domain specialist Kalin Karakehayov.

“[T]he domain k.im was registered by me, Kalin Karakehayov for personal use while it was in an available status. I intend to put nice, non-commercial stuff there like my Google awareness campaign,” Karakehayov informed TF.

Kim Dotcom, on the other hand, was less pleased with the acquisition. Describing Karakehayov as a “domain squatter”, he told us that a dispute was underway to reclaim the domain since “fraudulent behavior” had been displayed by its new owner. Having a trademark for the term ‘K.im’ would work in the project’s favor, he predicted.

Now, just a few days later, the K.im project has cause to celebrate. Documents shared with TorrentFreak by Kim Dotcom reveal that following a dispute process filed with the Isle of Man registry in charge of the domain, it has been ordered to be returned to the company behind the K.im project.

To get to this stage hasn’t been straightforward, however. The decision reviewed by TF reveals that the ‘Listed Correspondent’ for the K.im domain wasn’t initially Kalin Karakehayov himself but a third-party identified only as Max Guerin.

This individual reportedly entered into ‘negotiations’ with BitCache, the company behind the K.im project, to return the domain and during a December 9, 2019 conference call, set a price of $100,000 to sell it back. During a Telegram conversation a day later, the price was reportedly switched to $50,000 upfront followed by payments of $5,000 per month or the same value in BitCache stock.

Whether the K.im project had any real intention of buying the domain back is unclear but ultimately its operating companies decided to file a complaint to have the domain returned.

As part of the process, the .im registry contacted “Listed Correspondent” Max Guerin but received no response. However, on January 6, 2020, Kalin Karakehayov (since designated as the ‘Actual Correspondent’) provided evidence that he is the owner of the domain.

“The Actual Respondent states that the Listed Correspondent is not the proper party to the dispute and that he has had no personal contact with the Listed Correspondent in any shape or form,” the decision notes.

Karakehayov told the registry that the domain was registered for his personal, non-commercial use “with the idea to benefit humanity” and was not intended to breach K.im’s trademarks. In the end, however, the registry determined that the domain should be returned to BitCache’s holding company on the basis that the registration after expiry had been abusive.

“I conclude that the Domain Name k.im should be transferred to the Complainant immediately upon the expiry of the appeal period,” the registry’s designated official writes.

That appeal period is 10 days from January 15, 2020, and according to Karakehayov, he intends to put it to use by contesting the decision.

“[The decision] does not seem fair to me and I intend to appeal it,” Karakehayov informs TorrentFreak.

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

Jetflicks Piracy Trial Delayed After Canada Hands Over Masses of Discovery Data

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/jetflicks-piracy-trial-delayed-after-canada-hands-over-masses-of-discovery-data-200115/

In August 2019, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) announced that eight men had been indicted by a grand jury for conspiring to violate criminal copyright law by running “two of the largest unauthorized streaming services in the United States.”

All of the defendants – Kristopher Lee Dallmann, Darryl Julius Polo, Douglas M. Courson, Felipe Garcia, Jared Edward Jaurequi, Peter H. Huber, Yoany Vaillant, and Luis Angel Villarino – were charged with running Jetflix, a subscription-based streaming service that reportedly carried more than 183,200 TV episodes.

Darryl Julius Polo, a former Jetflicks programmer, was additionally accused of launching and running iStreamitAll, a service carrying 18,479 TV episodes and 10,980 movies.

On December 12, 2019, Polo pleaded guilty to various copyright infringement and money laundering charges. The next day, former Jetflicks programmer Luis Angel Villarino pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

The remaining six defendants were set to go on trial during December 2019 but following acknowledgment by the court that the case is unusually complex, it was pushed back to February 2020. Due to fresh developments in the investigation, however, the trial will now be pushed back to the summer.

According to court documents filed by the US Government in December 2019, it was already in possession of a significant amount of discovery data (around 88 gigabytes) but following a March 2018 request under the US-Canada Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), law enforcement agencies in Canada had seized a great deal more.

It took around 21 months but on December 16, 2019, the data was finally handed over to the Department of Justice. The volume of evidence is reportedly “enormous” and includes reports from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, subscriber information documents, a list of tickets and messages pertaining to subscribers, plus five forensic images of computers located at OVH, a hosting provider in Canada.

Those five images are said to contain “well over” 2.3 million files which together total around 2.72 terabytes of data. The FBI reportedly took the evidence to the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section’s Cybercrime Lab in December 2019 which found information relating to Jetflicks, iStreamitAll and related services including SmackDownOnYou, Sincity Sports Cards, BlockBustersTV, Cardvision TV, and other entities and persons connected with the case.

An estimated 186,000 emails were also discovered, some with Excel and Word attachments. According to the US Government, the overall trove is so extensive it’s 30 times larger than the discovery provided to the defendants to date. So, given the scale of the task ahead, the US Government advised a Virginia court that all parties would be best served by a further trial delay.

“In our view, given that neither the government nor the defense has reviewed the data we just received from Canada, all parties would benefit from a continuance,” the filing reads.

“The government needs to understand the nature of this new evidence for purposes of our case, and we believe that defense counsel has an obligation to their clients to review this new evidence too.”

In closing, the Government requested that the trial be shifted to June 22, 2020. This delay was initially opposed by defendants Peter Huber and Yoany Vaillant but an agreement was later reached. As a result, in an order signed this week by District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III, the trial was rescheduled for July 14, 2020.

The information provided by Canadian authorities may yet boost the US Government’s case against the Jetflicks defendants but its lawyers didn’t waste the opportunity to take a shot at Canada’s alleged poor conduct when it comes to dealing with pirate sites.

“The Court may wonder why Jetflicks and iStreamItAll — which were both based in the United States — used a hosting provider in Canada for their operations,” a footnote reads.

“According to the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which represents over 3,200 U.S. companies producing and distributing materials protected by copyright laws throughout the world, among those engaged in piracy, Canada has had a ‘long-standing reputation as a safe haven for some of the most massive and flagrant Internet sites dedicated to the online theft of copyright material’.”

While the same footnote also states that Canada “has made some progress” in recent years, it’s obvious that hosting Jetflicks in Canada didn’t save its operators from prosecution or from having their data seized and handed to US authorities.

The related court filings 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.

Operator of Popcorn Time Info Site is Liable for Piracy, Supreme Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/operator-of-popcorn-time-info-site-is-liable-for-piracy-supreme-court-rules-200115/

Five years ago, Popcorn Time was widely embraced by pirates, thanks to its ability to stream torrent files through a user-friendly interface.

This rapid rise raised concern among many movie industry companies, who worked hard to contain the threat by going after several forks and their developers.

This resulted in the shutdown of several projects including Popcorntime.dk. The site offered information on Popcorn time and its availability but didn’t host any software itself. Nevertheless, it still found itself subjected to rightsholders’ complaints.

The matter piqued the interest of Danish law enforcement which eventually resulted in a criminal investigation. In August 2015, Danish police arrested the alleged operator and Popcorntime.dk was subsequently shut down and placed under the control of the state prosecutor.

The case was highly unusual because the domain in question didn’t host the Popcorn Time software. Instead, the site offered instructions, information, news articles, as well as links to sites where the application was available.

PopcornTime.dk as it appeared in 2015

In most cases this issue would have blown over, especially since the site had a relatively small number of users. However, the Danish investigation triggered a criminal prosecution, with the operator facing a potential prison sentence.

In 2018, this resulted in a conditional 6-month prison sentence for the man behind PopcornTime.dk. The court ruled that spreading information about the controversial movie streaming service warranted liability for contributory copyright infringement.

The defendant disagreed and appealed the case at the High Court, which later handed down a similar verdict. In a final attempt to have the ruling reversed, the site operator went to the Danish Supreme Court, which announced its verdict yesterday.

The Supreme Court confirmed the decisions of the High Court and District Court, ruling that the operator of Popcorntime.dk is indeed liable for contributory infringements via Popcorn Time.

In his defense, the operator argued that the previous rulings restricted his right to freedom of expression and information, which would violate Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, the Supreme Court disagreed. Instead, it ruled that the site was specifically designed to target potential Popcorn Time users who received concrete instructions on how to use the software. This is a criminal offense, even in the absence of concrete infringements by users, the Court found.

The Court thereby assumed that “a large number of users of [the operator’s] website have downloaded and used the Popcorn Time program and that use of the software, as a general rule, involved copyright infringement.”

The Court upheld the 6-month conditional prison sentence. The site operator, who is now in his 40s, was further sentenced to 120 hours of community service and more than $67,000 in ad revenue was confiscated.

Local anti-piracy group RettighedsAlliancen (Rights Alliance) is pleased with the outcome. According to the organization, this ruling is the first of its kind when it comes to criminal contributory copyright infringements.

“The judgment is, as far as we know, the first of its kind in the EU on the legal basis of criminal contributory copyright infringements,” Rights Alliance Director Maria Fredenslund informs TorrentFreak.

“So it confirms that the marketing and recommendations on the websites are in fact contributory infringements, even though they are not related to any particular copyright infringement, but rather to the infringements related to the Popcorn Time service in general.”

The Supreme Court ruling could have far-reaching consequences for other websites that provide information about piracy services. While the nature and purpose of the site still play a role, operators can’t simply hide behind the fact that they don’t host an infringing application on their server.

A copy of the Supreme Court verdict (in Danish) 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.

ACE Shuts Down UlangoTV ‘Pirate’ IPTV App, Seizes Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ace-shuts-down-ulango-tv-pirate-iptv-app-seizes-domain-200113/

There are dozens of apps available online today that act as straightforward players of IPTV streams. These usually cause no copyright infringement issues for their operators as they come with no pre-loaded content.

While many can be configured with a premium subscription so that infringing content can be received at the direction of users, others blur the lines by attempting to aggregate links to streams that exist in open form on the Internet.

One of these players was known as UlangoTV. Previously available via Google Play, Amazon, CNET, and many other third-party download sites, variants of the UlangoTV app acted as a search engine for live IPTV streams, which were color-coded to provide additional information.

“Every day thousands of new stream URLs are found, analyzed and classified,” the publisher’s description on CNET reads.

“For the safety of users and for the protection of the content owners, the search results are flagged with color codes: Yellow streams have been known to us for more than 6 months. Typically these ‘official’ streams are without license problems. All registered users can see these streams freely. Blue streams have been known to us for more than 6 weeks. Also these are usually ‘official’ streams without license problems.”

However, as acknowledged by its publisher, not all streams made available in the app could be considered trouble-free.

“Magenta streams are usually short-lived and have only been known to us recently. These streams are likely to originate from unlicensed sources,” the developer noted.

This type of link aggregation teeters fairly close to the edge of legality but with UlangoTV+, a premium and premium plus subscription option offered by the same developer, broadcasters may have considered the line had been crossed.

“So in this app UlangoTV+ we introduced a new option called Premium Plus, which is only available to a few users who want to pay a premium price and now receive handpicked streams with tightly controlled connectivity,” the marketing added.

With no user shortage for the popular app, during October last year an unexpected message appeared on UlangoTV’s Twitter account which indicated that the project had come to an end.

The tweet gave no clear indication of the reason behind the decision to close but now, several months later, we have the strongest message yet that legal threats from entertainment industry groups played a key role.

Users who visit the Ulango.TV domain today get an all-too-familiar message that due to claims of copyright infringement, the site and associated app have been shut down by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

After the usual countdown timer expires, visitors are redirected to the ACE anti-piracy portal. There is no mention there of the shutdown which tends to suggest that a relatively peaceful agreement was reached with the app’s developer, which would’ve included shutting down and handing over the Ulango domain.

Indeed, domain records show that Ulango.tv is now owned by the Motion Picture Association, which adds to a growing list of dozens of domains taken over as part of the Alliance’s ongoing anti-piracy activities.

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

Kim Dotcom’s K.im Domain Goes Up For Sale, Displays Google SEO Rant

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcoms-k-im-domain-goes-up-for-sale-displays-google-seo-rant-200112/

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom has announced the development of many projects since the destruction of his file-hosting platform in 2012.

With a stated aim of revolutionizing the file-sharing space, one of the most prominent was initially dubbed Megaupload 2 (MU2). Utilizing investment platform BnkToTheFuture, in 2016 it raised over a million dollars from 354 investors in just two weeks.

MU2 and the associated BitCache platform were originally penciled in for a January 2017 launch but like many complex projects, ultimately missed its target. With the project still under development, MU2 was later renamed K.im, a clear reference to Kim Dotcom’s well-known name and its greatest marketing asset.

Conveniently, Kim Dotcom had previously bought ‘K.im’ back in 2013, acquiring the Isle of Man domain name for a reportedly record-setting $20,000 via Sedo. This was put to use as the project’s main homepage but now, several years later, things are not going to plan.

Visitors to K.im are no longer greeted by all the details of the K.im, Bitcache and associated Kimcoin project. Instead, they are treated to an insecure site (no https) that delivers an anti-Google SEO-based rant penned by Bulgarian expired domain specialist Kalin Karakehayov.

An almost identical piece to that shown above was previously published on Karakehayov’s own domain at Karakehayov.com but the version on K.im replaces references to the original domain with references to K.im.

Having previously used Cloudflare’s services as a front to its hosting, K.im now uses servers in Bulgaria to display the anti-Google sentiments. Unfortunately, due to the GDPR, it’s hard to state conclusively that the domain is now under Karakehayov’s personal control, despite hosting his content.

For the K.im team, however, that detail might be the least of their worries. The entire project has been built around the Kim Dotcom brand and it now seems fairly clear that the K.im domain isn’t under its control anymore. Awkwardly, that is also more than obvious on Twitter, with dozens of Dotcom’s posts mentioning the K.im project and linking to the K.im domain now showing the message “PURE SPAM”.

Whether this PR catastrophe can be reversed is currently unclear but adding insult to injury, the K.im domain has now been put up for sale by its owner on Sedo, the marketplace from where Dotcom bought it. There’s no reserve price but the domain is being offered by an account opened in 2014 with a stated location of ‘Georgia’.

While the apparent loss of this domain can probably be overcome, the future of the entire K.im project is somewhat up in the air.

In November 2019, Bitfinex declared that due to a rapidly evolving “regulatory environment”, the K.im token sale had been indefinitely postponed.

“After careful evaluation, we regret to announce that Bitfinex Token Sales and the K.im team have mutually agreed not to hold the token sale at this time. K.im will defer any decision on whether to create tokens on, or undertake a token issue in relation to the K.im platform until it is fully functional,” the statement read.

Since then, no one associated with the project, including Dotcom himself, has made any public statement on the future of K.im or the Kimcoin token. TorrentFreak has requested comments from both Kim Dotcom and Kalin Karakehayov and will update this article should they arrive.

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

‘Copyright Troll’ Malibu Media Gets Sued By its Former Law Firm

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-malibu-media-gets-sued-by-its-former-law-firm-200111/

Over the past several years, adult entertainment company Malibu Media has been one of the most active copyright litigants in the United States. Targeting large numbers of alleged file-sharers, the company has received potentially huge sums in cash settlements.

But while the company usually makes the headlines for its file-sharing cases, a dispute with a former business partner is now shining a light behind the scenes. This week, Florida-based The Lomnitzer Law Firm sued California-based Malibu Media over their business dealings.

According to the lawsuit, in May 2017 Lomnitzer and Malibu entered into an agreement for the former to provide legal services to the latter.

While the precise details are to be submitted under seal, the outline is that Lomnitzer would coordinate Malibu’s litigation against pirates across the United States, receive settlements and pay them into a trust account, pay court filing fees, pay process server fees and investigators, and pay expenses related to the deposition of Malibu.

The law firm claims that it issued invoices to Malibu on a regular basis, using money in the trust account to pay some while dispensing settlement funds back to Malibu. However, the lawsuit claims that a date currently unknown, Malibu “began a program of circumventing the agreement.”

According to the complaint, this came in the form of instructing attorneys in other jurisdictions, that were previously instructed by Lomnitzer, to “bypass” the law firm. This involved sending settlement money directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, “while still expecting the Firm to pay court filing fees, process server fees, etc., all incurred for and on behalf of and for the benefit of Malibu.”

Faced with these circumstances, on August 30, 2019, Lomnitzer terminated its representation of Malibu. Since then it claims to have received invoices from third-parties incurred as a result of its representation of Malibu while its own invoices to Malibu itself (totaling more than $262,500) remain unpaid.

The bottom line according to Lomnitzer’s suit is that Malibu owes the law firm $280,05.32 plus additional interest accruing after December 31, 2019. It is demanding a judgment from the court to that end, an order allowing it to use funds in the trust account towards that amount, plus an order “confirming the Firm’s lien against all proceeds of all pending litigation in which Malibu is a Plaintiff.”

To address the allegations that other law firms are paying settlements directly to Malibu rather than Lomnitzer, Malibu’s former legal team are also seeking an order to prevent Malibu from “disbursing any settlement monies from any and all pending litigation nationwide to anyone other than the Firm.”

On top, of course, Lomnitzer is demanding attorney fees and costs plus any other relief the court deems “just and proper”.

The lawsuit filed by Lomnitzer against Malibu 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.

PrimeStreams IPTV Redirecting to ACE But its Not an Anti-Piracy Seizure

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/primestreams-iptv-redirecting-to-ace-but-its-not-an-anti-piracy-seizure-200109/

For the past several weeks, some ‘pirate’ IPTV services have been subjected to ‘hacks’ carried out by as-yet unidentified people.

In early December, Helix Hosting became the first reported case. Its homepage was defaced with a message explaining that the service had been asked to pay a ransom or face having its customer database leaked online.

Just a few days later, PrimeStreams became the victim of similar blackmail efforts. Its operator revealed that a weak password had been exploited and that 10 bitcoin was being demanded in order to prevent the service’s confidential data from being exposed to the world.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that other services were also targeted in December, which may or may not have settled in the face of similar threats. However, PrimeStreams’ situation appears to be ongoing as a quick visit to what used to be its main servicing domain (PrimeStreams.store) reveals a rather ominous message.

This countdown-timer message usually indicates that a domain has been taken over by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy coalition headed up by the MPA. It is currently displayed on dozens of file-sharing and IPTV platforms, commonly after they have reached some kind of settlement with the world’s largest entertainment groups. Vaders and Openload are two of the most obvious examples.

Of course, seeing that message will probably be enough to send many customers running for the hills but the truth is relatively easy to uncover. This isn’t a domain seizure carried out by ACE but most probably the work of a malicious actor, as a dive into the domain’s details reveal.

As the image above shows, at the time of writing the PrimeStreams domain is using the services of Njalla, the domain registration and hosting service closely associated with Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde. That doesn’t mean that Njalla has anything to do with the issue, of course, but it does indicate in a particularly clear way that ACE isn’t the entity in control here.

When ACE does take control of a domain, Openload.co for example, there are many tell-tale signs that the seizure is legitimate, including the use of the MPA’s own nameservers, redirection to certain banks of servers in the United States, not to mention contact details that relate to bodies and individuals at the MPA.

If we rule out the highly unlikely possibility that the operator of PrimeStreams redirected his own domain to ACE’s anti-piracy servers, then we’re left with a situation that was most probably engineered by a malicious actor. Whether that was the same person who threatened the site in December is unknown but losing a domain to an unauthorized third-party is an extremely serious matter.

The double-edged sword here is the involvement of Njalla. While there’s a possibility that there might be an element of sympathy at the sight of an unlawful hack (not to mention that some of the team were previously involved in The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån), Njalla is utterly militant when it comes to the privacy of its users so may not even be able to help.

That might have played a part in PrimeStreams’ decision to dump this domain entirely and transfer to a new one. The big question, however, was whether the service had any more big security headaches waiting to kick in. Sure enough, within hours of going live, incredibly that domain was ‘hacked’ as well.

In the meantime, ACE gets yet another traffic boost.

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

Manga Publisher Takeshobo Sues Cloudflare For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-publisher-takeshobo-sues-cloudflare-for-copyright-infringement-200108/

Founded in 1972, Takeshobo is major publisher based in Japan. The company distributes dozens of manga publications on monthly schedules, many under the Bamboo Comics label.

On Tuesday the company revealed that it had taken legal action to protect its titles being made available online by pirate sites. However, in common with an increasing number of companies in multiple spaces, its lawyers are going after Cloudflare.

Takeshobo revealed that on December 20, 2019, it filed a civil action against the CDN company at the Tokyo District Court.

“The nature of the complaint is that Cloudflare, Inc. provides a server to an illegal site where many copyrighted works, including those published by us, are illegally uploaded and made available for free,” a statement from Takeshobo reads.

“We asked directly to remove the uploaded copyrighted material from the company’s server, but because no action was taken, we requested the court to remove the copyright infringing page and pay damages.”

Since no court documents have yet been made available to the public and the publisher refers only to “an illegal site”, there’s no absolute confirmation of which ‘pirate’ site Takeshobo is referencing. The company does state, however, that “an order based on copyright infringement has been issued at a District Court in the United States.”

Another possible pointer can be found in Takeshobo’s statement, which further indicates that the legal case against Cloudflare in Japan was filed in collaboration with Mr. Hanamura, one of the authors of the ‘Dorukara’ comic distributed by the company.

With this information in hand, TorrentFreak was able to trace court documents filed in the United States during July 2019, which reveal Takeshobo asking Cloudflare to take action against various ‘pirate’ sites using its services, including those making the ‘Dorukara’ publication available to the public.

“Takeshobo Inc. is seeking a subpoena pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 512(h) to obtain information sufficient to identify the persons infringing its copyrighted works,” an application for a DMCA subpoena filed at a district court in California reads.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the alleged infringers. Such information will only be used for the purpose of protecting rights
under the Copyright Act (17 U.S.C. § 101, et seq.).”

Domains belonging to several ‘pirate’ sites are listed in the subpoena against Cloudflare – Hoshinoromi.org, Worldjobproject.org, Hanascan.com, Mangahato.com, and Manatiki.com.

Readers will recall that Hoshinoromi.org was presented by some as a ‘successor’ to the previously shuttered Mangamura platform, which at the time was considered one of the largest infringers of manga publishers’ copyrights.

However, after being sued last September at a federal court in New York by publishers Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan, Hoshinoromi.org and the related
Worldjobproject.org shut down.

That leaves Hanascan.com, Mangahato.com, and Manatiki.com, all of which are operating today. Manatiki is clearly the smallest player, pulling in around 327,000 visits per month according to SimilarWeb stats. Hanascan is considerably larger with around 3.2 million visits per month but Mangahato is in a clear lead with around 3.5 million.

An image presented as part of the DMCA subpoena application last year shows all three domains allegedly carrying ‘Dolkara’ content, which according to MyAnimeList is an alternative title for ‘Dorukara’.

Another curiosity can be found in the URLs highlighted above. Domain names aside, the URLs listed for all three sites are identical in construction and present content in more or less the same format.

We can also confirm that all of the content remains in place, via Cloudflare’s services, despite demands in Takeshobo’s DMCA subpoena to “remove or disable” the allegedly infringing works from the listed domains.

Whether Takeshobo is targeting one, all, or indeed none of these domains remains a question but it is crystal clear that Cloudflare did not remove or disable access to any of the above content as the earlier DMCA subpoena demanded.

Whether that dispute is also part of the lawsuit now underway in Tokyo against Cloudflare is still unconfirmed but the pieces seem to point in that direction.

The documents supporting the application for a DMCA subpoena, which was signed off by the court last year, are available 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.

Cloudflare Sued For Failing to Terminate 99 ‘Repeat Copyright Infringing’ Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-sued-for-failing-to-terminate-99-repeat-copyright-infringing-sites-200107/

When copyright holders feel they have exhausted all options to have websites stop their allegedly-infringing activities, there is a growing trend to move further up the chain.

Sites now regularly have copyright complaints filed against their hosting companies and domain registries, for example, demanding that they take action to prevent contentious behavior. Since millions of websites now use Cloudflare’s services, that makes the CDN provider a prime candidate for pressure. A new case filed yesterday in a Tennessee district court provides yet another example.

American Clothing Express Inc., which does business as Allure Bridals and Justin Alexander, designs and manufactures wedding dresses. As part of the companies’ sales and marketing efforts, they claim to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on photoshoots featuring models wearing their creations.

According to the companies, however, the resulting photographic images are also being deployed by unauthorized overseas websites (sample below) in an effort to drive customers to unaffiliated bridal stores in local markets selling “cheap imitation” dresses.

The plaintiffs state that they lack a meaningful remedy against such sites, noting that the majority are hosted on servers in China, other locations in South East Asia, or on offshore servers that advertise their non-compliance with United States’ copyright laws.

“Complaints sent by Plaintiffs, or their agents, to the Infringing Website Defendants, or to the entities hosting them in these far-away jurisdictions, largely fall on deaf ears. Domestic judgments obtained against the Infringing Website Defendants are often unenforceable against them in their home jurisdictions,” the complaint reads.

The filing lists 99 websites (represented by Does 1-200) falling into these categories that all have something in common – they are or have been customers of US-based Cloudflare. As a result, the plaintiffs have resorted to filing infringement notices with the CDN company, hoping it will take action to restrict the availability of the infringing images.

Indeed, over the past three years the companies claim that they sent several thousand infringement notifications to Cloudflare which included the URLs of pages on the allegedly infringing sites where unlicensed images were being used. The complaint acknowledges that Cloudflare forwarded the complaints to its customers and their hosts but due to the nature of the clients, the hosting providers mostly ignored the takedown demands.

The complaint targets the operators of the 99 sample sites with claims of direct copyright infringement but additionally, due to Cloudflare’s involvement, the CDN company itself is accused of contributory copyright infringement.

“CloudFlare had actual knowledge of the specific infringing activity at issue here because anti-counterfeiting vendors retained by Plaintiffs delivered more than seven thousand notifications to CloudFlare of the ongoing infringement being prosecuted herein over the course of three years,” the complaint reads.

In common with a similar on-going case in California involving another bridal company, the plaintiffs in this matter also state that Cloudflare should have taken more permanent action when they realized that complaints were being made against the same customers time and again, as illustrated by the sample in the image below.

“CloudFlare could have stopped this infringement being perpetrated through its CDN by simply terminating the accounts of repeat infringers,” the complaint continues.

“CloudFlare has never terminated a repeat infringer in response to notifications sent by Plaintiffs or other bridal manufacturers. Consequently, an exceedingly disproportionate amount of websites infringing Plaintiffs’ copyrights are optimized by CloudFlare, as opposed to other providers of CDNs, due to CloudFlare’s well-known policy of refusing to terminate repeat infringers.”

While the plaintiffs don’t mention Cloudflare’s competitors by name, the complaint alleges that in response to similar copyright infringement notices, other CDN providers told their clients that if the images weren’t removed, their entire website accounts would be terminated.

The term ‘repeat infringer’ is becoming increasingly common in United States copyright infringement cases.

In December 2019, Cox Communications was hit with a $1 billion copyright infringement verdict after a Virginia federal jury determined that the ISP didn’t do enough to stop repeat infringers. Cox was found to be contributorily and vicariously liable for the alleged pirating activities of its subscribers on more than 10,000 copyrighted works.

For comparison, Allure Bridals and Justin Alexander state that Cloudflare is liable for contributory copyright infringement relating to more than 5,000 infringing images published on 99 different websites. Overall, Cloudflare serves many thousands of pirate sites, making the outcome of this and similar cases of particular interest.

In respect of the “willful and intentional” direct infringement claims against the 99 websites themselves, Allure Bridals and Justin Alexander request actual or statutory damages, injunctive relief to prevent the ongoing infringements, and the destruction of all copies of copyright works made in violation of the bridal companies’ rights.

The contributory copyright infringement claim against Cloudflare asserts that the CDN company assisted the direct infringers by storing copies of the infringing images on servers in the United States, improving the performance of the infringing websites, while concealing their true locations.

As a result, Cloudflare’s behavior is also described as “willful and intentional”, with the plaintiffs demanding a similar injunction in addition to actual or statutory damages.

The complaint can be obtained 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.

MangaDex Targeted by DMCA Subpoena, Now Migrating Servers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mangadex-targeted-by-dmca-subpoena-now-migrating-servers-200103/

Sites offering manga comics and magazines are a huge deal on the Internet, particularly ones that users can access without paying. This, of course, runs counter to the business plans of many manga creators.

Unfortunately, however, many mango titles are only officially available in certain languages. This has left a gap in the market for unofficial ‘scanlation’ sites that have stepped in to meet demand by offering scanned copies of physical publications supported by fan-made translations.

Mangadex is one such platform, one with a massive following too. Operating from both MangaDex.org and .com, according to SimilarWeb stats the site pulls in more than 30 million visits per month. As a result, it was no surprise that when it went down a few days ago, users began to panic, despite the site’s official explanation on Twitter.

While the site may indeed return in the hours or days to come, the downtime wasn’t broadly announced in advance, which can indicate that something unexpected happened to force some kind of change. The site hasn’t been forthcoming with any information on this front but TorrentFreak has learned that it is facing legal pressure, which may (or indeed may not) be connected to the current downtime.

On December 20, 2019, attorney Evan Stone – who has a reputation for chasing down pirates – requested a DMCA subpoena at a Texas court to be served against Cloudflare on behalf of his client, VIZ Media, LLC.

“The purpose of the accompanying subpoena is to obtain the identity of the
alleged copyright infringer in control of the internet domain listed on in the subpoena.
The information obtained will be used only for the purpose of protecting the rights
granted to my client under Title 17 of the United States Code,” the filing reads.

An attached ‘Electronic notice of copyright infringement’, signed by Eric Green of anti-piracy company Remove Your Media, lists the Japanese manga title allegedly being infringed as ‘Boruto’. The website URL listed in the document belongs to MangaDex.

The DMCA subpoena requires Cloudflare to hand over “identifying information, including name, e-mail address, physical address, billing information or any other relevant contact information for the alleged infringer who controls the site at mangadex.org and/or the domain itself.”

If Cloudflare is to comply with the subpoena, it will have to supply the information listed above to attorney Evan Stone on or before February 8, 2020. Whether the information will indeed be of use in identifying the operator of MangaDex is unknown.

Overall, it’s been a tough few months for fans of scanlation platforms. In September, Manga Rock said it would close down in order to launch a legal platform. Last month, Mangastream disappeared after being targeted by a DMCA subpoena obtained by Japanese publisher Shueisha.

Whether these closures will massively boost sales on official platforms remains a question, however. A recent study published by Professor Tatsuo Tanaka of the Faculty of Economics at Keio University concluded that while selective takedowns may have a positive effect on sales, piracy may boost sales of some comics.

The DMCA subpoena and related documents can be found here (1,2,3)

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Nintendo Wins Injunction Against Switch Mod & Pirate Game Seller

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/nintendo-wins-injunction-against-switch-mod-pirate-game-seller-200102/

In January 2018, hacking group Team-Xecuter announced a Nintendo Switch hack that presented the opportunity for people to run pirated games on the console.

This type of exploit is nothing new for hardware manufacturers like Nintendo but given its aggressive stance towards its intellectual property rights, the company wasn’t likely to sit back and watch the development and distribution that followed.

Indeed, during December 2018, Nintendo took legal action against a California resident alleged to have sold Nintendo Switch mod devices produced by Team-Xecuter, memory cards containing pirated copies of Nintendo titles, plus a modified version of the NES Classic accompanied by 800 pirated games.

The main defendant in the case, initially identified as ‘Mikel Euskaldunak’ by Nintendo, was later named as Sergio Mojarro Moreno. In September 2019 there were signs that the parties had agreed to settle the case and on December 30, 2019, that agreement was detailed by a California court.

Stating that Nintendo is a world-famous video gaming brand whose status is underpinned by substantial investment in intellectual property, the consent judgment and injunction begins with the main defendant (Does 1-10 were dismissed) agreeing that Nintendo’s copyrights and trademarks are “valid and enforceable in all respects” while acknowledging that the company’s technical protection measures are “valid”.

The judgment then goes on to restrain the defendant and anyone acting in concert with him from circumventing, offering services, and/or offering technologies, devices or components that circumvent Nintendo’s technical protection measures.

Moreno is also restrained from selling, renting, offering or distributing unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s copyrighted works, infringing its trademarks, or using the Internet “or any digital network” to provide services to the public that enable copyright infringement of Nintendo’s works.

The consent judgment requires the defendant to refrain from several types of additional conduct such as challenging the validity or enforceability of any Nintendo intellectual property right or technological protection method “in any forum in the future”, hacking, modifying or circumventing Nintendo’s technical measures, or reverse engineering any computer program or software developed by Nintendo or its affiliates.

The defendant is further required to provide written certification to Nintendo that no circumvention software or devices, including but not limited to SX Pro or Trinket M0 chips, and/or illegal copies of games were in his or his agents’ possession at the date of the stipulated judgment and injunction or, if they were, have been destroyed.

Entering judgment in favor of Nintendo on each and every claim for relief in its amended complaint, the court ordered the parties to bear their own costs and attorneys’ fees while standing by to enforce the terms of the order in the event of any further dispute.

Obtained by TorrentFreak, the stipulated judgment and permanent injunction can be viewed here (pdf)

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Domain Seizures Give ACE Anti-Piracy Portal a Massive Traffic Boost

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/domain-seizures-give-ace-anti-piracy-portal-a-massive-traffic-boost-191230/

In 2017, the newly formed anti-piracy group Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) announced its presence to the world. Headed up by the traditional studios of the MPA plus Netflix and Amazon, the coalition also featured dozens of global movie and TV show giants.

The clear aim of ACE is to tackle video piracy on a global scale by pooling resources, finances, and knowledge. At least publicly, the coalition had a relatively slow start but as projects came to fruition, sites and platforms associated with piracy began to fall.

Some legal battles were conducted publicly through US courts (Omniverse, SetTV) but many others were settled quietly behind the scenes, without any official announcements. But perhaps the most dramatic, such as the takedowns of major IPTV player Vaders and file-hosting platforms Openload and Streamango, began silently, never went to trial, and were only confirmed when big cash settlements were revealed.

But of course, cash wasn’t the only thing ACE demanded from these players. In numerous cases so far (1,2,3,4,5), ‘pirate’ platforms were also compelled to hand over their domain names to the MPA. However, instead of lying dormant, ACE now uses them to deliver a short message to former users, declaring that platforms have been shut down due to copyright infringement.

A few seconds later visitors are then diverted to ACE’s anti-piracy portal, a place where movies and TV shows can’t be found. Instead, pro-copyright messages are presented with every click alongside details of previous ACE successes, shutdowns, and some (but certainly not all) ACE domain seizures.

Despite plenty of smaller domain seizures, traffic to Alliance4Creativity.com was minimal right up until September 2019 but then things took off in a big way. SimilarWeb stats reveal that at the start of the month the site had around 10,000 monthly visits.

At the start of October, however, visits had skyrocketed to around 620,000 per month, an increase of more than 6000%.

While this increase is impressive in its own right, by the start of November ACE’s website was receiving 2.3 million monthly visits, around 23,000% up on September’s traffic. Leading pirate sites aside, many illicit platforms never reach this number of eyeballs.

Given that the Openload/Streamango shutdown took place on October 31, it seems likely that the majority of the traffic to ACE’s site comes from former users of the defunct file-hosting platforms.

Whether the figures will continue to rise when SimilarWeb’s stats update remains a question, however. It’s possible that all traffic is yet to be accounted for but as a negative, former Openload and Streamango users are unlikely to keep revisiting the domains now that they know that ACE is in control.

TorrentFreak approached ACE for comment on its increasingly ‘popular’ website, which is now delivering its anti-piracy message while being largely fueled by traffic from seized ‘pirate’ domains. Unfortunately, an ACE spokesperson declined on the group’s behalf.

In the background, however, more seizures are taking place. TF has discovered that in recent weeks ACE quietly took over the domains of another pair of allegedly-infringing sites, Jailbrokenfirestick.com and Jailbrokefiretv.com. In common with other smaller seizures, no official announcements were made but nevertheless, will still add to the Alliance’s growing website traffic.

Finally, there’s a strong chance that ACE will be analyzing the traffic hitting these former ‘pirate’ domains that they now own. While that data isn’t likely to be particularly useful from a direct litigation perspective, it will certainly prove of interest to the global anti-piracy alliance.

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

Take-Two Files Copyright Suit to Kill Red Dead Redemption: Damned Enhancement Project

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/take-two-files-copyright-suit-to-kill-red-dead-redemption-damned-enhancement-project-191228/

Take Two Interactive’s Red Dead Redemption (RDR1) is considered one of the greatest video games of all time but the open world masterpiece had a considerable shortcoming.

Officially a console-only release, millions of PC gamers were denied access to one of the most expensive video games ever made, an itch that remains unscratched to this day.

With the 2018 release of Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2), developer Rockstar Studios finally bridged the gap but for many fans, not having the original title on PC was something that needed to be addressed. Back in August, this simmering demand looked like it was going to be met with an announcement revealing a new project titled ‘Red Dead Redemption: Damned Enhancement Project’.

The plan was not only to modify the Xbox360 and PS3 versions of RDR1 and bring the game to the PC, but also to improve the title with better graphics and additional features.

In September, however, things started to go off the rails. Project lead ‘DemandDev’ took to GTAForums to reveal that development had been stopped. He didn’t directly state that Take-Two had put him under pressure but complained of being bullied by a corporation.

“They done shady stuff getting my private info and contacted my family,” he wrote. “I’ve been contacting people to spread word. I’m not letting them them bully me and keep my mouth shut. I complied and stopped progress but hopefully I can sort out this.”

Several months later, sorting it out will now have to be actioned through the courts. On December 26, Take-Two Interactive filed a lawsuit at a New York court against a Johnathan Wyckoff and John Does 1-10.

“Take-Two brings this action to maintain control over its world-famous video
games in the face of Wyckoff’s publicly stated intent to distribute unauthorized software files that would dramatically change the content of Take-Two’s video games,” the lawsuit reads.

“Those unauthorized changes include but are not limited to importing the entire game map of 2010’s Red Dead Redemption into the 2018 game Red Dead Redemption II, enhancing graphics and visuals in Take-Two’s Red Dead Redemption game, and allowing players to play an enhanced version of the game on personal computer (‘PCs’), a platform for which Take-Two itself has not yet released the Read Dead Redemption game.”

Claiming breaches of its intellectual property rights and user licensing agreements, Take-Two says that it “repeatedly” asked Wyckoff to cease and desist. When these contacts failed to stop the project, Take-Two said it was forced to take legal action.

Take-Two’s lawsuit details two matters. The first, the ‘RDRII Project’, aims to add the full RDR1 game map to RDR2. This, the company says, would not only “dramatically change the RDR2 experience but also reduce interest in purchasing a future release of RDR1 or a RDR1 add-on map for RDR2. The company doesn’t state it intends to release either, however.

The second targets the ‘Red Dead Redemption: Damned Enhancement Project’ which Take-Two says would utilize game files from Grand Theft Auto V and RDR1 “to vastly improve the graphics and performance of the game” and enable players to play RDR1 on PC, where it isn’t officially available, “thereby destroying the market for an official, updated version from Take-Two, and creating competition for Take-Two’s PC-version of RDR2.”

Take-Two also takes issue with Wyckoff’s claimed hobbyist status by implying donations received are effectively payments and that the projects serve to drive traffic to his social media and streaming accounts. The company adds that efforts to resolve the dispute peacefully failed, claiming that Wyckoff suggested that if he didn’t release the project, it might somehow get “leaked” online.

Ultimately, Wyckoff was given until November 18 to comply with Take-Two’s demands but the company says the deadline came and went.

As a result, it was left with no choice but to file a lawsuit seeking “injunctive relief and damages that it will suffer as a result of Wyckoff’s direct and contributory copyright infringement under the Copyright Act of 1976”, breaches of Take-Two’s user agreement, and his “interference with Take-Two’s contracts with other Take-Two game players using his modifications.”

What happens next in the lawsuit remains to be seen but a post apparently made by Wyckoff a few hours ago suggests that his project is now “canceled”.

Take-Two’s complaint, obtained by TorrentFreak, 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.

Dutch Filmworks Takes Quest to Identify Alleged Pirates to the Supreme Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-filmworks-takes-quest-to-identify-alleged-pirates-to-the-supreme-court-191225/

Piracy settlement letters have become a serious threat in countries all round the world.

Until now, Dutch Internet users have been spared from this practice but local movie distributor Dutch Filmworks would like that to change.

Two years ago the company received permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to track the IP-addresses of BitTorrent users who shared pirated movies.

However, that was only the first hurdle. The next step was to identify the subscribers behind the IP-addresses and Dutch Internet provider Ziggo didn’t want to share any customer data without a court order.

The case went to court, where the movie company requested the personal details of 377 account holders whose addresses were used to share a copy of “The Hitman’s Bodyguard”.

This didn’t go as planned for Dutch FilmWorks. In February, the Central Netherlands Court denied the company’s request for data and last month the Court of Appeal reached the same conclusion.

Both courts concluded that Dutch Filmworks’ plans lacked transparency and it’s not clear what the movie company plans to do with the personal data it obtains. Dutch Filmworks said that it could either warn subscribers or request damages, but the criteria remain a guess.

It also remains unclear how large the proposed settlements will be. An initial figure of €150 per infringement was mentioned in the past, but this number could also be significantly higher.

The movie company is unhappy with both verdicts and told the Dutch newspaper NRC that it will take the matter to the Supreme Court. This means that the 377 account holders from ISP Ziggo remain at risk.

In theory, it’s not impossible to obtain an order compelling Dutch Internet providers to hand over personal details of accused pirates. However, the previous verdicts make it clear that Dutch Filmworks has to come with a concrete plan.

Ultimately, the Supreme Court must find a balance between the privacy rights of subscribers and Dutch Filmworks’ intellectual property rights. When there’s too much uncertainty for accused subscribers, their rights tend to weigh stronger.

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

Indonesian Government Continues Whac-A-Mole Against Local Streaming Piracy Giant

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/indonesian-government-continues-whac-a-mole-against-local-streaming-piracy-giant-191223/

With millions of views per day, ‘IndoXX1’ is of one the largest pirate sites on the Internet.

In the West, the site doesn’t ring a bell with most people. In Indonesia, however, it is among the top 25 most visited websites in the country, only beaten by Google, YouTube, and a few others.

The site’s popularity didn’t go unnoticed by Hollywood. Earlier this year the MPA listed the site in its yearly overview of notorious pirate sites submitted to the US Trade Representative.

“Indo 21” has emerged as the main brand for piracy in Bahasa throughout Indonesia and Malaysia. One of the related sites, indoxx1.center, has a local ranking of 40 in Indonesia according to SimilarWeb data with 23.85 million monthly visits in August 2019,” MPA wrote.

Today this information is already outdated. While IndoXX1 remains the most visited pirate brand in the country, it continuously relocates in order to evade local blocking efforts.

Most recently the portal was available through domains including idxx1.cam, indoxx1.art, and indoxx1.kim. However, a few days ago, Indonesia’s Information and Communications Ministry (Kominfo) stepped in to block these domains.

Kominfo’s actions coincide with the release of a new survey, commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), which shows that streaming piracy is rampant in Indonesia.

According to the study, 63% of Indonesians have accessed streaming piracy websites or torrent sites. In addition, 29% of consumers use set-top boxes that can stream pirated video content, with indoXXI(Lite) being the most popular app by far.

This isn’t the first time Kominfo has taken action against IndoXX1. Other domains have been banned previously as part of a national anti-piracy effort. In fact, the Government organization has blocked more than 1,000 domain names since July.

Revealing the gravity of the situation, Kompas reports that these anti-piracy efforts can also count on the support of the national police.

While it’s clear that the authorities are taking the piracy problem seriously, it seems rather hard to curtail. On social media, many people are pointing out alternatives and, when we checked, indoXXI mirrors or copies were indeed available.

Many of the site’s users don’t really seem impressed by yet another blockade, and a meme illustrating the ineffectiveness of the measures has been viewed over a dozen million times in a few days.

Since blocking isn’t 100% effective, to say the least, it may also be worth looking at other means to address the piracy problem. At the supply end, for example. That’s where help from the Government may also be welcome.

Local news site Coconuts reports that Indonesia’s largest Internet provider Telkomsel currently blocks its subscribers from accessing Netflix. The state-owned ISP officially bans Netflix on censorship grounds, but some believe there may be financial reasons as well, as the company has ties to a local streaming service.

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

American Petroleum Institute Obtains DMCA Subpoena Ordering Cloudflare Action Against Pirate Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/american-petroleum-institute-obtains-dmca-subpoena-ordering-cloudflare-action-against-pirate-site-191222/

Most reports of copyright-based legal action in the United States center on the unlicensed downloading, sharing, or distribution of movies, TV shows, music and software.

Albeit at a slower rate, other less mainstream materials are also detailed in infringement complaints, notably copyrighted scientific and research papers, often with pirate sites like Sci-Hub or Libgen somewhere in the equation. This week a relatively rare complaint was filed in a US court protesting the illegal sale of copyrighted petroleum industry documents.

The application for a DMCA subpoena, filed at a Delaware district court by powerful oil and gas industry association American Petroleum Institute (API), claims that its authored standards documents are being made available online without its permission.

“For decades, API has authored standards for the safety and quality of products in the petroleum and gas industry. As author, API owns the copyright in these standards and has registered the copyrights with the U.S. Copyright Office,” counsel for API writes.

“The copyrighted standards constitute a very valuable asset to API. Indeed, sales of the API standards to petroleum and gas industry professionals create considerable income for API.”

According to API, others are also benefiting from the sale of its standards. The application lists several problematic domains (e-standard.org, e-stds.org, pdfstandards.org) all of which direct to one main site located at e-standardstore.org.

“This company is not an authorized distributor of API’s standards. Despite not being an authorized distributor, these links display images of API’s logos. This unauthorized use of API’s logos falsely suggests to consumers that this company is an authorized distributor of API standards,” API adds.

The E-Standards.org ‘pirate’ site

As the image above shows, API’s publications are easily discoverable on the infringing site. API says there are at least 1,700 standards for sale in PDF format, which is problematic in itself since the association only offers physical standards which means the downloads must be copies.

“Additionally, API does not permit sales of its standards in PDF format (or any other electronic format) by anyone. Therefore, the sale of downloadable or e-mailed copies of API’s standards are clearly sales of unauthorized copies or scans of API’s publications,” API adds.

API says that after investigating the ‘pirate’ site’s IP addresses, they were determined to be operated by Cloudflare. As a result, API wants the CDN company to immediately terminate its services utilized by E-Standards.org while handing over the personal details of whoever is behind the platform.

From the API subpoena to Cloudflare

The Delaware court quickly signed off on the API subpoena so some type of action by Cloudflare can be expected soon. That being said, this set of domains isn’t only a thorn in the side of API but also various other specialist organizations that author their own standards.

According to Google’s Transparency Report, all of the redirection domains have been the subject of DMCA notices, some of which date back to 2013. The main domain cited by API (E-Standards.org) is also at the center of most additional complaints including those filed by safety company Underwriters Laboratories, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the National Fire Protection Association, and American Water Works Association.

A copy of the DMCA subpoena to Cloudflare is available here (pdf)

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Cox Is Liable for Pirating Subscribers, Hit With $1 Billion Damages Verdict

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-is-liable-for-pirating-subscribers-hit-with-1-billion-damages-verdict-191220/

Last year Cox settled its piracy liability lawsuit with music rights company BMG.

The ink on this agreement was barely dry when the ISP faced a similar and additional complaint. This time it was up against 53 music companies, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music.

The rightsholders complained that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

Early this month the case went to trial where the parties vigorously defended their positions. The music companies argued that Cox willingly turned a blind eye to pirates, while Cox countered that it’s not to blame for the alleged infringements of subscribers.

A few hours ago the jury reached its final conclusion at the Virginia federal court, clearly siding with the music companies.

Cox was found to be both contributorily and vicariously liable for the alleged pirating activity of its subscribers. This applies to all the 10,017 copyrighted works the music companies claim were infringed.

In addition, the jury concluded that Cox’s action was “willful.” This allows for a maximum damages amount of $150,000 per work but the jury agreed on $99,830, which puts the total damages amount at $1 billion.

The RIAA, which helped many of its members with this case, is pleased with the outcome. The music industry group hopes that it will motivate other ISPs to change their anti-piracy policies.

“The jury’s verdict sends a clear message – Cox and other ISPs that fail to meet their legal obligations to address piracy on their networks will be held accountable,” RIAA’s Kenneth Doroshow notes.

“The jury recognized these companies’ legal obligation to take meaningful steps to protect music online and made a strong statement about the value of a healthy music ecosystem for everyone – ranging from creators to fans to the available outlets for legitimate music consumption.”

Cox Communications is disappointed with the verdict. The company calls the damages amount “unjust and excessive” and is set to appeal.

“We plan to appeal the case and vigorously defend ourselves. We provide customers with a powerful tool that connects to a world full of content and information,” Cox said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, some customers have chosen to use that connection for wrongful activity. We don’t condone it, we educate on it and we do our best to help curb it, but we shouldn’t be held responsible for the bad actions of others,” Cox adds.

This means that the legal battle is likely to continue. And as noted by Variety, the present verdict isn’t final yet until all post-trial motions have been dealt with.

The $1 billion in damages the jury awarded is substantially higher than that of the earlier case against BMG. At the time, the jury awarded $25 million, based on 1,397 copyrighted works. This figure was later reduced in a settlement.

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

Mega Now Stores 63.8 Billion Files, Has Suspended 78,000 Users For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mega-now-stores-63-8-billion-files-has-suspended-78000-users-for-copyright-infringement-191219/

From a standing start in January 2013, file-hosting platform Mega has gone from strength to strength.

Founded by Kim Dotcom in response to the Megaupload takedown of 2012, Mega has since parted ways with the entrepreneur but its growth has continued in his wake.

According to figures published by Mega, at the end of the final quarter of 2013 the cloud storage company was hosting around 0.6 billion files. In 2014, that had leaped to 3.6 billion files, a figure that almost doubled to 11.9 billion by the end of 2015. The latest published data reveals that at the end of September 2019, Mega was storing an impressive 63.8 billion files.

Early 2015 the company published its first transparency report, a common practice for large technology companies including Google, Twitter and Reddit. The latest installment published today by Mega strives to underline the platform’s compliance with local and international law and has a clear emphasis on how it deals with copyright infringement.

With an obvious eye on the fate of Kim Dotcom and the ongoing Megaupload saga, Mega stresses that it enjoys safe harbor protections under New Zealand’s Copyright Act in respect of content uploaded by its users. Additionally, while there is no technical need for it to do so, the company says that it also respects the standards required to achieve safe harbor under the DMCA and the EU Copyright Directive.

As a result, Mega reports that when it receives a takedown notice it aims to disable access to content within four hours, with takedowns “usually being actioned” well within that self-imposed limit. However, with files reportedly being uploaded at the rate of 500 per second, there are bound to be some that breach copyright law.

For the first nine months of 2019, Mega reports that it processed around 317,500 takedown requests. As the table below shows, that is a relatively small number when viewed alongside the total number of files stored by the company.

Data provided by Mega shows that the number of links taken down peaked in 2014 at around 150,000, with a downward trend following until late 2015. Since then, takedowns have varied from a low of around 50,000 in the third quarter of 2018 to a high of 120,000 in the second quarter of 2019.

However, as the table below shows, the relatively steep rises seen this year had very little impact on the trend of reducing takedowns when compared to the percentage of files stored overall.

In light of the ongoing lawsuits in the United States, particularly involving ISP Cox Communications, the manner in which technology companies handle the issue of so-called “repeat infringers” is now a key battleground when questions are raised over liability for infringement. In this regard, it’s clear that Mega doesn’t want to be seen falling short.

After initially operating a “five strikes” policy, in 2015 Mega introduced a “three strikes” regime that remains in place today. Related account suspensions peaked in the third quarter of 2017 at just over 8,000 but then suddenly tailed off to a relatively steady 2,000 to 2,500 suspensions per quarter thereafter.

Since its inception, Mega says it has suspended around 78,000 accounts for hitting the limits of its repeat infringer policy, which is a significant number but relatively small when compared to the number of user accounts overall.

Mega launched as “The Privacy Company” with file encryption a key selling point. The cloud storage platform says that it cannot decrypt any files without the appropriate key but “does have access to registration information and IP addresses used to access our services.”

The company adds that it holds personal data relating to users for extended periods, including email and IP addresses, plus “limited activity detail” relating to account access, file uploads, shares, and chats.

“Personal data is retained indefinitely while the user’s account is open. After account closure, Mega will retain all account information as long as there is any law enforcement request pending but otherwise for 12 months after account closure as users sometimes request that an account be re-activated,” Mega states.

“After 12 months, identifying information such as email and IP addresses will be anonymized (except that email address records will be retained for reference by the user’s contacts or where the user has participated in chats with other Mega users) but other related database records may be retained.”

This information will only be handed over when Mega is required to do so by New Zealand law, a New Zealand court, or law enforcement authority “with appropriate jurisdiction”. However, the company notes that it may “consider” requests from overseas law enforcement and civil claimants.

“During the 2018-2019 year, Mega was served 7 legal orders from NZ authorities and then disclosed account information for 540 user accounts which are alleged to be involved in serious criminal activity overseas,” the company concludes.

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

Documentary Detailing How “Geniuses Steal” Hit With Blurred Lines Copyright Complaint

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/documentary-detailing-how-geniuses-steal-hit-with-blurred-lines-copyright-complaint-191218/

The phrase declaring that there is “nothing new under the sun” is well known.

At least in part, it suggests that everything we say, do, or create is copied from the people or material we learn from, after being processed through the intricacies of our own experiences.

This ‘human remix’ theory is the premise of a new documentary series produced by Copy-Me.org, a group that was featured on the main page of The Pirate Bay back in 2013. Titled the Creativity Delusion, the latest installment in the series declares that “Geniuses Steal.”

“We know geniuses are not real and minds don’t have Eureka moments. But we still cling to the idea of an original artist. That romantic notion of someone who creates something out of nothing, with their mind alone,” the introduction reads.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Copy-Me’s Alex Lungu further explains that the episode focuses on the rarity of originality in history, art, and inventions.

“From Morse to Beethoven, from Shakespeare to Orwell, from Lynch to Tarkovsky, everything is a constant remix,” Lungu says.

“It makes us feel good to believe in a somewhat supernatural idea of a creator. But I think it’s much more liberating for anyone who makes anything to not put so much pressure on themselves, as it’s too much already. And yeah, one of the biggest downsides is that we lock our culture up believing that this will somehow lead to more creativity, not less.”


In common with any good documentary, The Creativity Delusion: Geniuses Steal goes into detail, providing clear examples of well-known quotes, pieces of art, film scenes, musical compositions and more, that were either copied from pre-existing works or provided inspiration for new creations.

Unfortunately, uploading such a documentary to YouTube is a risky endeavor, since the platform’s automatic ContentID system has no way to determine whether a piece of content had been truly pirated or should be subject to fair use exemptions.

As a result, after the documentary was uploaded on December 8, 2019, it was immediately targeted by YouTube’s bots. They determined that highlighting the similarities between well-known tracks, such as the Robin Thicke/Pharrell Williams track Blurred Lines and Marvin Gaye’s Got to Give it Up, with appropriate short samples, are an infringement of the labels’ copyrights.

This resulted in the documentary being subjected to not just one but four separate ContentID matches.

Copy-Me disputed all of the claims but fast forward ten days and the hits against the video remain in place and look to remain so for another three weeks. The disputes are reportedly “under review” but in the meantime, the entities behind these tracks get the benefit of the doubt that their content is being used illegally.

While the documentary highlights many clear instances of artists copying or basing their work on those of others, the fact that the section focusing on Blurred Lines seems to have caused the most issues is ironic, to say the least.

After a long legal battle that finally came to a close in 2018, a judge ruled that Thicke and Pharrell must pay $5m to the family of Marvin Gaye for copyright infringement because Blurred Lines bore too many similarities to Got to Give it Up.

Interestingly, just after that case went to an unsuccessful appeal, more than 200 musicians filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Thicke and Williams which warned that the verdict in the case “threatens to punish songwriters for creating new music that is inspired by prior works.”

This, of course, is the entire point of the Copy-Me documentary, that all artists and creators in various niches rely on those who went before to provide ideas and artistic inspiration. There truly is nothing new under the sun, but sadly that also includes highly questionable copyright hits on YouTube, pointing out that very thing.

“We used samples [from the songs] to make the point that the biggest copyright lawsuit of the decade ($5m) is a travesty that can have serious repercussions on inspiration and creativity,” Lungu says.

“The two songs are similar in the way any two funk songs are similar, and we play other samples from other songs to make that point. There’s no other way to show that… other than to actually play them. This is clearly covered by fair use: to use a fragment of a song in an educational material, for non-commercial purposes to make a point about that very song.”

It remains to be seen whether this problem will be resolved quickly, or indeed resolved at all. However, Lungu firmly believes that if a platform like YouTube uses automated detection systems, there must be a clear and simple way to dispute false positives.

“[The platform] should explain what you can do in the easiest way possible. It should explain how copyright actually works and how using someone else’s work can be completely legal, even without anyone’s permission,” he says.

“Copyright isn’t property, but not that many people know that. And we should have a strict way of taxing those who claim works that aren’t theirs. Why should repeat infringers have a three-strike policy, but repeat abusers shouldn’t?”

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