Tag Archives: brein

Court Orders Pirate IPTV Linker to Shut Down or Face Penalties Up to €1.25m

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-pirate-iptv-linker-to-shut-down-or-face-penalties-up-to-e1-25m-180911/

There are few things guaranteed in life. Death, taxes, and lawsuits filed regularly by Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN.

One of its most recent targets was Netherlands-based company Leaper Beheer BV, which also traded under the names Flickstore, Dump Die Deal and Live TV Store. BREIN filed a complaint at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht, claiming that Leaper provides access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies.

The anti-piracy outfit claimed that around 4,000 live channels were on offer, including Fox Sports, movie channels, commercial and public channels. These could be accessed after the customer made a payment which granted access to a unique activation code which could be entered into a set-top box.

BREIN told the court that the code returned an .M3U playlist, which was effectively a hyperlink to IPTV channels and more than 1,000 movies being made available without permission from their respective copyright holders. As such, this amounted to a communication to the public in contravention of the EU Copyright Directive, BREIN argued.

In its defense, Leaper said that it effectively provided a convenient link-shortening service for content that could already be found online in other ways. The company argued that it is not a distributor of content itself and did not make available anything that wasn’t already public. The company added that it was completely down to the consumer whether illegal content was viewed or not.

The key question for the Court was whether Leaper did indeed make a new “communication to the public” under the EU Copyright Directive, a standard the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) says should be interpreted in a manner that provides a high level of protection for rightsholders.

The Court took a three-point approach in arriving at its decision.

  • Did Leaper act in a deliberate manner when providing access to copyright content, especially when its intervention provided access to consumers who would not ordinarily have access to that content?
  • Did Leaper communicate the works via a new method to a new audience?
  • Did Leaper have a profit motive when it communicated works to the public?
  • The Court found that Leaper did communicate works to the public and intervened “with full knowledge of the consequences of its conduct” when it gave its customers access to protected works.

    “Access to [the content] in a different way would be difficult for those customers, if Leaper were not to provide its services in question,” the Court’s decision reads.

    “Leaper reaches an indeterminate number of potential recipients who can take cognizance of the protected works and form a new audience. The purchasers who register with Leaper are to be regarded as recipients who were not taken into account by the rightful claimants when they gave permission for the original communication of their work to the public.”

    With that, the Court ordered Leaper to cease-and-desist facilitating access to unlicensed streams within 48 hours of the judgment, with non-compliance penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros.

    But the Court didn’t stop there.

    “Leaper must submit a statement audited by an accountant, supported by (clear, readable copies of) all relevant documents, within 12 days of notification of this judgment of all the relevant (contact) details of the (person or legal persons) with whom the company has had contact regarding the provision of IPTV subscriptions and/or the provision of hyperlinks to sources where films and (live) broadcasts are evidently offered without the permission of the entitled parties,” the Court ruled.

    Failure to comply with this aspect of the ruling will lead to more penalties of 5,000 euros per day up to a maximum of 250,000 euros. Leaper was also ordered to pay BREIN’s costs of 20,700 euros.

    Describing the people behind Leaper as “crooks” who previously sold media boxes with infringing addons (as previously determined to be illegal in the Filmspeler case), BREIN chief Tim Kuik says that a switch of strategy didn’t help them evade the law.

    “[Leaper] sold a link to consumers that gave access to unauthorized content, i.e. pay-TV channels as well as video-on-demand films and series,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak.

    “They did it for profit and should have checked whether the content was authorized. They did not and in fact were aware the content was unauthorized. Which means they are clearly infringing copyright.

    “This is evident from the CJEU case law in GS Media as well as Filmspeler and The Pirate Bay, aka the Dutch trilogy because the three cases came from the Netherlands, but these rulings are applicable throughout the EU.

    “They just keep at it knowing they’re cheating and we’ll take them to the cleaners,” Kuik concludes.

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

    Infamous ‘Kodi Box’ Case Sees Man Pay Back Just £1 to the State

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/infamous-kodi-box-case-sees-man-pay-back-just-1-to-the-state-180507/

    In 2015, Middlesbrough-based shopkeeper Brian ‘Tomo’ Thompson shot into the headlines after being raided by police and Trading Standards in the UK.

    Thompson had been selling “fully-loaded” piracy-configured Kodi boxes from his shop but didn’t think he’d done anything wrong.

    “All I want to know is whether I am doing anything illegal. I know it’s a gray area but I want it in black and white,” he said.

    Thompson started out with a particularly brave tone. He insisted he’d take the case to Crown Court and even to the European Court. His mission was show what was legal and what wasn’t, he said.

    Very quickly, Thompson’s case took on great importance, with observers everywhere reporting on a potential David versus Goliath copyright battle for the ages. But Thompson’s case wasn’t straightforward.

    The shopkeeper wasn’t charged with basic “making available” under the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Acts that would have found him guilty under the earlier BREIN v Filmspeler case. Instead, he stood accused of two offenses under section 296ZB of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which deals with devices and services designed to “circumvent technological measures”.

    In the end it was all moot. After entering his official ‘not guilty’ plea, last year Thompson suddenly changed his tune. He accepted the prosecution’s version of events, throwing himself at the mercy of the court with a guilty plea.

    In October 2017, Teeside Crown Court heard that Thompson cost Sky around £200,000 in lost subscriptions while the shopkeeper made around £38,500 from selling the devices. But despite the fairly big numbers, Judge Peter Armstrong decided to go reasonably light on the 55-year-old, handing him an 18-month prison term, suspended for two years.

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that in all the circumstances an immediate custodial sentence is not called for. But as a warning to others in future, they may not be so lucky,” the Judge said.

    But things wouldn’t end there for Thompson.

    In the UK, people who make money or obtain assets from criminal activity can be forced to pay back their profits, which are then confiscated by the state under the Proceeds of Crime Act (pdf). Almost anything can be taken, from straight cash to cars, jewellery and houses.

    However, it appears that whatever cash Thompson earned from Kodi Box activities has long since gone.

    During a Proceeds of Crime hearing reported on by Gazette Live, the Court heard that Thompson has no assets whatsoever so any confiscation order would have to be a small one.

    In the end, Judge Simon Hickey decided that Thompson should forfeit a single pound, an amount that could increase if the businessman got lucky moving forward.

    “If anything changes in the future, for instance if you win the lottery, it might come back,” the Judge said.

    With that seeming particularly unlikely, perhaps this will be the end for Thompson. Considering the gravity and importance placed on his case, zero jail time and just a £1 to pay back will probably be acceptable to the 55-year-old and also a lesson to the authorities, who have gotten very little out of this expensive case.

    Who knows, perhaps they might sum up the outcome using the same eight-letter word that Thompson can be seen half-covering in this photograph.

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

    Married Torrent Tracker Couple Settle With BREIN

    Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/married-torrent-tracker-couple-settles-with-brein-180420/

    Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted operators and uploaders of pirate sites for more than a decade.

    The group’s main goal is to shut the sites down. Instead of getting embroiled in dozens of lengthy court battles, it prefers to settle the matter with those responsible.

    This week, BREIN announced another victory against a small torrent site, Snuffelland. The private tracker was targeted at a Dutch audience and the anti-piracy group managed to track down its operators.

    According to BREIN, the site was run by a married couple from the town of Montfort, a 65-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman. In addition, the group also identified one of the uploaders, a 60-year-old man from Heukelum.

    All three are unemployed and their financial position was taken into account in determining the scale of the settlement. The couple agreed to pay 2,500 euros and the uploader settled for 650 euros, with a threat of further penalties if they are caught again.

    The private tracker itself was shut down and replaced by a message that was provided by BREIN.

    “Making copyright-protected works available infringes the copyrights of the entitled rightsholder. Downloading from unauthorized sources is also prohibited in the Netherlands,” the message reads.

    “For providers of legal content, snuffelland.org refers you to thecontentmap.nl and film.nl,” it adds.

    These type of shutdowns are nothing new. BREIN has taken down hundreds of smaller sites in the past. However, only in recent years has the group has started to publish these settlement details.

    That serves as a deterrent but also provides some more insight into how the group prefers to solve these cases, which appears to be relatively softly. In this case, it also disproves the notion that torrent sites are run by youngsters.

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

    Streaming Joshua v Parker is Illegal But Re-Streaming is the Real Danger

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/streaming-joshua-v-parker-is-illegal-but-re-streaming-is-the-real-danger-180329/

    This Saturday evening, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker will string up their gloves and do battle in one of the most important heavyweight bouts of recent times.

    Joshua will put an unbeaten professional record and his WBA, IBF and IBO world titles on the line. Parker – also unbeaten professionally – will put his WBO belt up for grabs. It’s a mouthwatering proposition for fight fans everywhere.

    While the collision will take place at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff in front of a staggering 80,000 people, millions more will watch the fight in front of the TV at home, having paid Sky Sports Box Office up to £24.95 for the privilege.

    Of course, hundreds of thousands won’t pay a penny, instead relying on streams delivered via illicit Kodi addons, Android apps, and IPTV services. While these options are often free, quality and availability on the night is far from guaranteed. Even those paying for premium ‘pirate’ access have been let down at the last minute but in the scheme of things, that’s generally unlikely.

    Despite the uncertainty, this morning the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and Federation Against Copyright Theft took the unusual step of issuing a joint warning to people thinking of streaming the fight to their homes illegally.

    “Consumers need to be aware that streaming without the right permissions or subscriptions is no longer a grey area,” PIPCU and FACT said in a statement.

    “In April last year the EU Court of Justice ruled that not only was selling devices allowing access to copyrighted content illegal, but using one to stream TV, sports or films without an official subscription is also breaking the law.”

    The decision, which came as part of the BREIN v Filmspeler case, found that obtaining a copyright-protected work “from a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder” was an illegal act.

    While watching the fight via illicit streams is undoubtedly illegal, tracking people who simply view content is extremely difficult and there hasn’t been a single prosecution in the UK (or indeed anywhere else that we’re aware of) against anyone doing so.

    That being said, those who make content available for others to watch illegally are putting themselves at considerable risk. While professional pirate re-streamers tend to have better security, Joe Public who points his phone at his TV Saturday night to stream the fight on Facebook should take time out to consider his actions.

    In January, Sky revealed that 34-year-old Craig Foster had been caught by the company after someone re-streamed the previous year’s Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko fight on Facebook Live using Foster’s Sky account.

    Foster had paid Sky for the fight but he claims that a friend used his iPad to record the screen and re-stream the fight to Facebook. Sky, almost certainly using tracking watermarks (example below), traced the ‘pirate’ stream back to Foster’s set-top box.

    Watermarks during the Mayweather v McGregor fight

    The end result was a technical knockout for Sky who suspended Foster’s Sky subscription and then agreed not to launch a lawsuit providing he paid the broadcaster £5,000.

    “The public should be aware that misusing their TV subscriptions has serious repercussions,” said PIPCU and FACT referring to the case this morning.

    “For example, customers found to be illegally sharing paid-for content can have their subscription account terminated immediately and can expect to be prosecuted and fined.”

    While we know for certain this has happened at least once, TorrentFreak contacted FACT this morning for details on how many Sky subscribers have been caught, warned, and/or prosecuted by Sky in this manner. FACT told us they don’t have any figures but offered the following statement from CEO Kieron Sharp.

    “Not only is FACT working closely with broadcasters and rights owners to identify the original source of illegally re-streamed content, but with support from law enforcement, government and social media platforms, we are tightening the net on digital piracy,” Sharp said.

    Finally, it’s also worth keeping in mind that even when people live-stream an illegal yet non-watermarked stream to Facebook, they can still be traced by Sky.

    As revelations this week have shown only too clearly, Facebook knows a staggering amount about its users so tracking an illegal stream back to a person would be child’s play for a determined rightsholder with a court order.

    While someone attracting a couple of dozen viewers might not be at a major risk of repercussions, a viral stream might require the use of a calculator to assess the damages claimed by Sky. Like boxing, this kind of piracy is best left to the professionals to avoid painful and unnecessary trauma.

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

    Founder of Fan-Made Subtitle Site Lose Copyright Infringement Appeal

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/founder-of-fan-made-subtitle-site-lose-copyright-infringement-appeal-180318/

    For millions of people around the world, subtitles are the only way to enjoy media in languages other than that in the original production. For the deaf and hard of hearing, they are absolutely essential.

    Movie and TV show companies tend to be quiet good at providing subtitles eventually but in line with other restrictive practices associated with their industry, it can often mean a long wait for the consumer, particularly in overseas territories.

    For this reason, fan-made subtitles have become somewhat of a cottage industry in recent years. Where companies fail to provide subtitles quickly enough, fans step in and create them by hand. This has led to the rise of a number of subtitling platforms, including the now widely recognized Undertexter.se in Sweden.

    The platform had its roots back in 2003 but first hit the headlines in 2013 when Swedish police caused an uproar by raiding the site and seizing its servers.

    “The people who work on the site don’t consider their own interpretation of dialog to be something illegal, especially when we’re handing out these interpretations for free,” site founder Eugen Archy said at the time.

    Vowing to never give up in the face of pressure from the authorities, anti-piracy outfit Rättighetsalliansen (Rights Alliance), and companies including Nordisk Film, Paramount, Universal, Sony and Warner, Archy said that the battle over what began as a high school project would continue.

    “No Hollywood, you played the wrong card here. We will never give up, we live in a free country and Swedish people have every right to publish their own interpretations of a movie or TV show,” he said.

    It took four more years but in 2017 the Undertexter founder was prosecuted for distributing copyright-infringing subtitles while facing a potential prison sentence.

    Things didn’t go well and last September the Attunda District Court found him guilty and sentenced the then 32-year-old operator to probation. In addition, he was told to pay 217,000 Swedish krona ($26,400) to be taken from advertising and donation revenues collected through the site.

    Eugen Archy took the case to appeal, arguing that the Svea Hovrätt (Svea Court of Appeal) should acquit him of all the charges and dismiss or at least reduce the amount he was ordered to pay by the lower court. Needless to say, this was challenged by the prosecution.

    On appeal, Archy agreed that he was the person behind Undertexter but disputed that the subtitle files uploaded to his site infringed on the plaintiffs’ copyrights, arguing they were creative works in their own right.

    While to an extent that may have been the case, the Court found that the translations themselves depended on the rights connected to the original work, which were entirely held by the relevant copyright holders. While paraphrasing and parody might be allowed, pure translations are completely covered by the rights in the original and cannot be seen as new and independent works, the Court found.

    The Svea Hovrätt also found that Archy acted intentionally, noting that in addition to administering the site and doing some translating work himself, it was “inconceivable” that he did not know that the subtitles made available related to copyrighted dialog found in movies.

    In conclusion, the Court of Appeal upheld Archy’s copyright infringement conviction (pdf, Swedish) and sentenced him to probation, as previously determined by the Attunda District Court.

    Last year, the legal status of user-created subtitles was also tested in the Netherlands. In response to local anti-piracy outfit BREIN forcing several subtitling groups into retreat, a group of fansubbers decided to fight back.

    After raising their own funds, in 2016 the “Free Subtitles Foundation” (Stichting Laat Ondertitels Vrij – SLOV) took the decision to sue BREIN with the hope of obtaining a favorable legal ruling.

    In 2017 it all fell apart when the Amsterdam District Court handed down its decision and sided with BREIN on each count.

    The Court found that subtitles can only be created and distributed after permission has been obtained from copyright holders. Doing so outside these parameters amounts to copyright infringement.

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

    ‘Dutch Pirate Bay Blocking Case Should Get a Do-Over’

    Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-pirate-bay-blocking-case-180316/

    The Pirate Bay is arguably the most widely blocked website on the Internet. ISPs from all over the world have been ordered by courts to prevent users from accessing the torrent site.

    In most countries courts have decided relatively quickly, but not in the Netherlands, where there’s still no final decision after eight years.

    A Dutch court first issued an order to block The Pirate Bay in 2012, but this decision was overturned two years later. Anti-piracy group BREIN then took the matter to the Supreme Court, which subsequently referred the case to the EU Court of Justice, seeking further clarification.

    After a careful review of the case, the EU Court of Justice decided last year that The Pirate Bay can indeed be blocked.

    The top EU court ruled that although The Pirate Bay’s operators don’t share anything themselves, they knowingly provide users with a platform to share copyright-infringing links. This can be seen as “an act of communication” under the EU Copyright Directive.

    This put the case back with the Dutch Supreme court, which now has to decide on the matter.

    Today, Advocate General Van Peursem advised the court to throw out the previous court order, and do the case over in a new court.

    In his recommendation, Van Peursem cites similar blocking orders from other European countries. He stresses that the rights of copyright holders should be carefully weighed against those of the ISPs and the public in general.

    In blocking cases, this usually comes down to copyright protection versus Internet providers’ freedom to carry on business and the right to freedom of information. The Advocate General specifically highlights a recent Premier League case in the UK, where the court ruled that copyright prevails over the other rights.

    The ultimate decision, however, depends on the context of the case, Van Peursem notes.

    “At most, one can say that if a copyright is infringed, it normally won’t be possible to justify the infringement by invoking the freedom to conduct business or the freedom of information. After all, these freedoms find their limit in what is legally permissible.

    “This does not mean that a blockade aimed at protecting the right to property always ‘wins’ over the freedoms of entrepreneurship and information,” he adds.

    Previously, the Supreme Court already ruled that it was incorrect of the lower court to rule that the Pirate Bay blockade was ineffective. Together, this means that it will be tough for the ISPs to win this case.

    If the Supreme Court throws out the previous court order the case will start over from scratch, but with this new context and the EU court orders as further clarification.

    The Advocate General’s advice is not binding, so it’s not yet certain whether there will be a do-over. However, in most cases, the recommendations are followed by the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court is expected to release its final verdict later this year. For now, the Pirate Bay remains blocked as the result of an interim injunction BREIN obtained last year.

    Update: The article was updated to clarify that the existing blocking injunctions remain in place.

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

    “Large Scale” Music Pirate Settles With BREIN For 10,000 Euros

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/large-scale-music-pirate-settles-brein-10000-euros-180309/

    In 2018, music piracy is a very different beast than it was back in the early P2P days of Kazaa and LimeWire.

    Where once it ran rampant, vastly improved official offerings have ensured that millions of former pirates are now enjoying music legally via convenient streaming services such as Spotify. However, there is no shortage of people who prefer to have personal archives of illicit MP3s stored safely on their own machines.

    This content can be easily obtained from web-based pirate sites, torrent platforms, and the aging Usenet system. The latter is often (and incorrectly) considered to be a safer option for distribution but for one uploader, things haven’t played out that way.

    According to news from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, a “large-scale” Usenet uploader has recently agreed to pay the not inconsiderable sum of 10,000 euros ($12,374) to make a potential lawsuit disappear.

    BREIN says the person was responsible for uploading unlicensed music releases to Usenet in breach of copyright, including recent albums by Ed Sheeran and Justin Timberlake. However, BREIN also criticizes the Usenet providers who facilitate this kind of sharing.

    “Although such uploaders usually do this free of charge for the status they receive from illegal downloaders, it is the Usenet providers that make money by selling subscriptions for access to their servers,” says BREIN director Tim Kuik.

    “Such providers like to close their eyes and claim that they do not know what is happening on their servers and only take action when they receive a notification.”

    Alongside BREIN’s suggestion of willful blindness to infringement, there’s also the issue of compliance when Usenet operators are presented with an official complaint. Dutch case law requires that when a “reasonable” case of infringement is presented, they must give up the identity of the alleged infringer. In this case, that’s exactly what happened.

    “BREIN has, in order to obtain the details the uploader, requested the Usenet provider of this uploader to provide the data. This request was answered,” the anti-piracy outfit reveals.

    Unlike other jurisdictions where a specific court order is needed for disclosure, in the Netherlands no such process is required. BREIN has taken advantage of this position in many previous cases, insisting that providers who don’t disclose when there are reasonable grounds are acting unlawfully.

    Following BREIN’s approach and the 10,000 euro settlement, the anti-piracy outfit says that the uploader took to Spotnet, a piece of software that allows downloading from newsgroups, to announce his demise.

    “As you may have noticed, I have not been actively uploading for a while, because BREIN finally found my details and I have been asked to stop acting as an uploader of copyrighted music content to Usenet,” the uploader wrote.

    “I have made a settlement with BREIN. A part of this settlement consists of the payment of a considerable sum of 10,000 euros, so I stop with uploading and advise other uploaders to think carefully about whether they want to continue. BREIN doesn’t stand idly by either. They are willing to take the necessary steps to get your details.”

    BREIN says that the circumstances of the uploader were taken into consideration when reaching the 10,000 euro figure but whether the full amount will ever get paid will never be publicly known. That being said, the publicity attached to the settlement agreement will be worth more to BREIN than the cash alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    According to BREIN director Tim Kuik, yes it does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Major US Sports Leagues Report Top Piracy Nations to Government

    Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/major-us-sports-leagues-report-top-piracy-nations-to-government-180216/

    While pirated Hollywood blockbusters often score the big headlines, there are several other industries that have been battling with piracy over the years. This includes sports organizations.

    Many of the major US leagues including the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and the Tennis Association, are bundling their powers in the Sports Coalition, to try and curb the availability of pirated streams and videos.

    A few days ago the Sports Coalition put the piracy problem on the agenda of the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

    “Sports organizations, including Sports Coalition members, are heavily affected by live sports telecast piracy, including the unauthorized live retransmission of sports telecasts over the Internet,” the Sports Coalition wrote.

    “The Internet piracy of live sports telecasts is not only a persistent problem, but also a global one, often involving bad actors in more than one nation.”

    The USTR asked the public for comments on which countries play a central role in copyright infringement issues. In its response, the Sports Coalition stresses that piracy is a global issue but singles out several nations as particularly problematic.

    The coalition recommends that the USTR should put the Netherlands and Switzerland on the “Priority Watch List” of its 2018 Special 301 Report, followed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles and Sweden, which get a regular “Watch List” recommendation.

    The main problem with these countries is that hosting providers and content distribution networks don’t do enough to curb piracy.

    In the Netherlands, sawlive.tv, strikezoneme, wizlnet, AltusHost, Host Palace, Quasi Networks and SNEL pirated or provided services contributing to sports piracy, the coalition writes. In Switzerland, mlbstreamme, robinwidgetorg, strikeoutmobi, BlackHOST, Private Layer and Solar Communications are doing the same.

    According to the major sports leagues, the US Government should encourage these countries to step up their anti-piracy game. This is not only important for US copyright holders, but also for licensees in other countries.

    “Clearly, there is common ground – both in terms of shared economic interests and legal obligations to protect and enforce intellectual property and related rights – for the United States and the nations with which it engages in international trade to work cooperatively to stop Internet piracy of sports programming.”

    Whether any of these countries will make it into the USTR’s final list has yet to be seen. For Switzerland it wouldn’t be the first time but for the Netherlands it would be new, although it has been considered before.

    A document we received through a FOIA request earlier this year revealed that the US Embassy reached out to the Dutch Government in the past, to discuss similar complaints from the Sports Coalition.

    The same document also revealed that local anti-piracy group BREIN consistently urged the entertainment industries it represents not to advocate placing the Netherlands on the 301 Watch List but to solve the problems behind the scenes instead.

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

    T-Mobile Blocks Pirate Sites Then Reports Itself For Possible Net Neutrality Violation

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/t-mobile-blocks-pirate-sites-then-reports-itself-for-possible-net-neutrality-violation-180130/

    For the past eight years, Austria has been struggling with the thorny issue of pirate site blocking. Local ISPs have put up quite a fight but site blocking is now a reality, albeit with a certain amount of confusion.

    After a dizzying route through the legal system, last November the Supreme Court finally ruled that The Pirate Bay and other “structurally-infringing” sites including 1337x.to and isohunt.to can be blocked, if rightsholders have exhausted all other options.

    The Court based its decision on the now-familiar BREIN v Filmspeler and BREIN v Ziggo and XS4All cases that received European Court of Justice rulings last year. However, there is now an additional complication, this time on the net neutrality front.

    After being passed in October 2015 and coming into force in April 2016, the Telecom Single Market (TSM) Regulation established the principle of non-discriminatory traffic management in the EU. The regulation still allows for the blocking of copyright-infringing websites but only where supported by a clear administrative or judicial decision. This is where T-Mobile sees a problem.

    In addition to blocking sites named specifically by the court, copyright holders also expect the ISP to block related platforms, such as clones and mirrors, that aren’t specified in the same manner.

    So, last week, after blocking several obscure Pirate Bay clones such as proxydl.cf, the ISP reported itself to the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR) for a potential net neutrality breach.

    “It sounds paradoxical, but this should finally bring legal certainty in a long-standing dispute over pirate sites. T-Mobile Austria has filed with regulatory authority RTR a kind of self-report, after blocking several sites on the basis of a warning by rights holders,” T-Mobile said in a statement.

    “The background to the communication to the RTR, through which T-Mobile intends to obtain an assessment by the regulator, is a very unsatisfactory legal situation in which operators have no opportunity to behave in conformity with the law.

    “The service provider is forced upon notification by the copyright owner to even judge about possible copyright infringements. At the same time, the provider is violating the principle of net neutrality by setting up a ban.”

    T-Mobile says the problem is complicated by rightsholders who, after obtaining a blocking order forcing named ISPs to block named pirate sites (as required under EU law), send similar demands to other ISPs that were not party to court proceedings. The rightsholders also send blocking demands when blocked sites disappear and reappear under a new name, despite those new names not being part of the original order.

    According to industry body Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA), there is a real need for clarification. It’s hoped that T-Mobile reporting itself for a potential net neutrality breach will have the desired effect.

    “For more than two years, we have been trying to find a solution with the involved interest groups and the responsible ministry, which on the one hand protects the rights of the artists and on the other hand does not force the providers into the role of a judge,” complains Maximilian Schubert, Secretary General of the ISPA.

    “The willingness of the rights holders to compromise had remained within manageable limits. Now they are massively increasing the pressure and demanding costly measures, which the service providers see as punishment for them providing legal security for their customers for many years.”

    ISPA hopes that the telecoms regulator will now help to clear up this uncertainty.

    “We now hope that the regulator will give a clear answer here. Because from our point of view, the assessment of legality cannot and should not be outsourced to companies,” Schubert concludes.

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

    Court Orders Hosting Provider to Stop Pirate Premier League Streams

    Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-hosting-provider-to-stop-pirate-premier-league-streams-180126/

    In many parts of the world football, or soccer as some would call it, is the number one spectator sport.

    The English Premier League, widely regarded as one the top competitions, draws hundreds of millions of viewers per year. Many of these pay for access to the matches, but there’s also a massive circuit of unauthorized streams.

    The Football Association Premier League (FAPL) has been clamping down on these pirate sources for years. In the UK, for example, it obtained a unique High Court injunction last year, which requires local Internet providers to block streams as they go live.

    In addition, the organization has also filed legal action against a hosting provider through which several live sports streaming sites are operating. The case in question was filed in the Netherlands where Ecatel LTD, a UK company, operated several servers.

    According to the complaint, Ecatel hosted sites such as cast247.tv, streamlive.to and iguide.to, which allowed visitors to watch live Premier League streams without paying.

    As the streaming platforms themselves were not responsive to takedown requests, the Premier League demanded action from their hosting provider. Specifically, they wanted the company to disconnect live streams on their end, by null-routing the servers of the offending customer.

    This week the Court of The Hague issued its judgment, which is a clear win for the football association.

    The Court ruled that, after the hosting company receives a takedown notice from FAPL or one of its agents, Ecatel must disconnect pirate Premier League streams within 30 minutes.

    “[The Court] recommends that, after 24 hours of service of this judgment, Ecatel cease and discontinue any service used by third parties to infringe the copyright to FAPL by promptly but no later than 30 minutes after receipt of a request to that end,” the verdict reads.

    The ban can be lifted after the game has ended, making it a temporary measure similar to the UK Internet provider blockades. If Ecatel fails to comply, it faces a penalty of €5,000 for each illegal stream, to a maximum of € 1,500,000.

    While the order is good news for the Premier League, it will be hard to enforce, since Ecatel LTD was dissolved last year. Another hosting company called Novogara was previously linked with Ecatel and is still active, but that is not mentioned in the court order.

    This means that the order will mostly be valuable as a precedent. Especially since it goes against an earlier order from 2015, which Emerce pointed out. This warrants a closer look at how the Court reached its decision.

    In its defense, Ecatel had argued that an obligation to disconnect customers based on a takedown notice would be disproportionate and violate its entrepreneurial freedoms. The latter is protected by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

    The Court, however, highlights that there is a clash between the entrepreneurial rights of Ecatel and the copyrights of FAPL in this case. This requires the Court to weigh these rights to see which prevails over the other.

    According to the verdict, the measures Ecatel would have to take to comply are not overly costly. The company already null-routed customers who failed to pay, so the technical capabilities are there.

    Ecatel also argued that disconnecting a server could affect legal content that’s provided by its customers. However, according to the Court, Ecatel is partly to blame for this, as it does business with customers who seemingly don’t have a proper takedown process themselves. This is something the company could have included in their contracts.

    As a result, the Court put the copyrights of FAPL above the entrepreneurial freedom rights of the hosting provider.

    The second right that has to be weighed is the public’s right to freedom of expression and information. While the Court rules that this right is limited by the measures, it argues that the rights of copyright holders weigh stronger.

    “Admittedly, this freedom [of expression and information] is restricted, but according to the order, this will only apply for the duration of the offending streams. Furthermore, as said, this will only take place if the stream has not already been blocked in another way,” the Court writes.

    If any legal content is affected by the measures then the offending streaming platform itself will experience more pressure from users to deal with the problem, and offer a suitable takedown procedure to prevent similar problems in the future, the Court notes.

    TorrentFreak reached out to FAPL and Ecatel’s lawyers for a comment on the verdict but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back.

    The verdict appears to be a powerful precedent for copyright holders. Kim Kuik, director of local anti-piracy group BREIN, is pleased with the outcome. While BREIN was not involved in this lawsuit, it previously sued Ecatel in another case.

    “It is a good precedent. An intermediary like Ecatel has its accountability and must have an effective notice and take down procedure,” Kuik tells TorrentFreak.

    “Too bad it wasn’t also against the people behind Ecatel, who now can continue using another vehicle. The judge thinks this verdict serves a warning to them. Time will tell if that is so.”

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

    Court Expands Dutch Pirate Bay Blockade to More ISPs, For Now

    Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-expands-dutch-pirate-bay-blockade-to-more-isps-180113/

    The Pirate Bay is arguably the most widely blocked website on the Internet.

    ISPs from all over the world have been ordered by courts to prevent users from accessing the torrent site, and this week the list has grown a bit longer.

    A Dutch court has ruled that local Internet providers KPN, Tele2, T-Mobile, Zeelandnet and CAIW must block the site within ten days. The verdict follows a similar decision from September last year, where Ziggo and XS4All were ordered to do the same.

    The blockade applies to several IP addresses and more than 150 domain names that are used by the notorious torrent site. Several of the ISPs had warned the court about the dangers of overblocking, but these concerns were rejected.

    While most Dutch customers will be unable to access The Pirate Bay directly, the decision is not final yet. Not until the Supreme Court issues its pending decision. That will be the climax of a legal battle that started eight years ago.

    A Dutch court first issued an order to block The Pirate Bay in 2012, but this decision was overturned two years later. Anti-piracy group BREIN then took the matter to the Supreme Court, which subsequently referred the case to the EU Court of Justice, seeking further clarification.

    After a careful review of the case, the EU Court of Justice decided last year that The Pirate Bay can indeed be blocked.

    The top EU court ruled that although The Pirate Bay’s operators don’t share anything themselves, they knowingly provide users with a platform to share copyright-infringing links. This can be seen as “an act of communication” under the EU Copyright Directive.

    This put the case back to the Dutch Supreme court, which has yet to decide on the matter.

    BREIN, however, wanted a blocking decision more quickly and requested preliminary injunctions, like the one issued this week. These injunctions will only be valid until the final verdict is handed down.

    A copy of the most recent court order is available here (pdf).

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

    Dutch Film Distributor Wins Right To Chase Pirates, Store Data For 5 Years

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-film-distributor-wins-right-to-chase-pirates-store-data-for-5-years-171208/

    For many years, Dutch Internet users were allowed to download copyrighted content without reprisals, provided it was for their own personal use.

    In 2014, however, the European Court of Justice ruled that the country’s “piracy levy” to compensate rightsholders was unlawful. Almost immediately, the government announced a downloading ban.

    In March 2016, anti-piracy outfit BREIN followed up by obtaining permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to track and store the personal data of alleged BitTorrent pirates. This year, movie distributor Dutch FilmWorks (DFW) made a similar application.

    The company said that it would be pursuing alleged pirates to deter future infringement but many suspected that securing cash settlements was its main aim. That was confirmed in August.

    “[The letter to alleged pirates] will propose a fee. If someone does not agree [to pay], the organization can start a lawsuit,” said DFW CEO Willem Pruijsserts

    “In Germany, this costs between €800 and €1,000, although we find this a bit excessive. But of course it has to be a deterrent, so it will be more than a tenner or two,” he added.

    But despite the grand plans, nothing would be possible without first obtaining the necessary permission from the Data Protection Authority. This Wednesday, however, that arrived.

    “DFW has given sufficient guarantees for the proper and careful processing of personal data. This means that DFW has been given a green light from the Data Protection Authority to collect personal data, such as IP addresses, from people downloading from illegal sources,” the Authority announced.

    Noting that it received feedback from four entities during the six-week consultation process following the publication of its draft decision during the summer, the Data Protection Authority said that further investigations were duly carried out. All input was considered before handing down the final decision.

    The Authority said it was satisfied that personal data would be handled correctly and that the information collected and stored would be encrypted and hashed to ensure integrity. Furthermore, data will not be retained for longer than is necessary.

    “DFW has stated…that data from users with Dutch IP addresses who were involved in the exchange of a title owned by DFW, but in respect of which there is no intention to follow up on that within three months after receipt, will be destroyed,” the decision reads.

    For any cases that are active and haven’t been discarded in the initial three-month period, DFW will be allowed to hold alleged pirates’ data for a maximum of five years, a period that matches the time a company has to file a claim under the Dutch Civil Code.

    “When DFW does follow up on a file, DFW carries out further research into the identity of the users of the IP addresses. For this, it is necessary to contact the Internet service providers of the subscribers who used the IP addresses found in the BitTorrent network,” the Authority notes.

    According to the decision, once DFW has a person’s details it can take any of several actions, starting with a simple warning or moving up to an amicable cash settlement. Failing that, it might choose to file a full-on court case in which the distributor seeks an injunction against the alleged pirate plus compensation and costs.

    Only time will tell what strategy DFW will deploy against alleged pirates but since these schemes aren’t cheap to run, it’s likely that simple warning letters will be seriously outnumbered by demands for cash settlement.

    While it seems unlikely that the Data Protection Authority will change its mind at this late stage, it’s decision remains open to appeal. Interested parties have just under six weeks to make their voices heard. Failing that, copyright trolling will hit the Netherlands in the weeks and months to come.

    The full decision can be found here (Dutch, pdf) via Tweakers

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

    170 ‘Pirate’ IPTV Vendors Throw in the Towel Facing Legal Pressure

    Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/170-pirate-iptv-vendors-throw-the-in-the-towel-facing-legal-pressure-171121/

    Pirate streaming boxes are all the rage this year. Not just among the dozens of millions of users, they are on top of the anti-piracy agenda as well.

    Dubbed Piracy 3.0 by the MPAA, copyright holders are trying their best to curb this worrisome trend. In the Netherlands local anti-piracy group BREIN is leading the charge.

    Backed by the major film studios, the organization booked a significant victory earlier this year against Filmspeler. In this case, the European Court of Justice ruled that selling or using devices pre-configured to obtain copyright-infringing content is illegal.

    Paired with the earlier GS Media ruling, which held that companies with a for-profit motive can’t knowingly link to copyright-infringing material, this provides a powerful enforcement tool.

    With these decisions in hand, BREIN previously pressured hundreds of streaming box vendors to halt sales of hardware with pirate addons, but it didn’t stop there. This week the group also highlighted its successes against vendors of unauthorized IPTV services.

    “BREIN has already stopped 170 illegal providers of illegal media players and/or IPTV subscriptions. Even providers that only offer illegal IPTV subscriptions are being dealt with,” BREIN reports.

    In addition to shutting down the trade in IPTV services, the anti-piracy group also removed 375 advertisements for such services from various marketplaces.

    “This is illegal commerce. If you wait until you are warned, you are too late,” BREIN director Tim Kuik says.

    “You can be held personally liable. You can also be charged and criminally prosecuted. Willingly committing commercial copyright infringement can lead to a 82,000 euro fine and 4 years imprisonment,” he adds.

    While most pirate IPTV vendors threw in the towel voluntarily, some received an extra incentive. Twenty signed a settlement with BREIN for varying amounts, up to tens of thousands of euros. They all face further penalties if they continue to sell pirate subscriptions.

    In some cases, the courts were involved. This includes the recent lawsuit against MovieStreamer, that was ordered to stop its IPTV hyperlinking activities immediately. Failure to do so will result in a 5,000 euro per day fine. In addition, the vendor was also ordered to pay legal costs of 17,527 euros.

    While BREIN has booked plenty of successes already, as exampled here, the pirate streaming box problem is far from solved. The anti-piracy group currently has one case pending in court, but more are likely to follow in the near future.

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

    “The Commercial Usenet Stinks on All Sides,” Anti-Piracy Boss Says

    Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-commercial-usenet-stinks-on-all-sides-anti-piracy-boss-says-171118/

    Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted pirates of all shapes and sizes over the past several years.

    It’s also one of the few groups keeping a close eye on Usenet piracy. Although Usenet and associated piracy are a few decades old already and relatively old-fashioned, the area still has millions of frequent users. This hasn’t escaped the attention of law enforcement.

    Last week police in Germany launched one of the largest anti-piracy operations in recent history. Houses of dozens of suspects connected to Usenet forums were searched, with at least 1,000 gigabytes of data and numerous computers seized for evidence.

    In their efforts, German authorities received help from international colleagues in the Netherlands, Spain, San Marino, Switzerland and Canada. Rightfully so, according to BREIN boss Tim Kuik, who describes Usenet as a refuge for pirates.

    “Usenet was originally for text only. People were able to ask questions and exchange information via newsgroups. After it became possible to store video and music as Usenet text messages, it became a refuge for illegal copies of everything. That’s where the revenue model is based on today,” Kuik says.

    BREIN states that uploaders, Usenet forums, and Usenet resellers all work in tandem. Resellers provide free accounts to popular uploaders, for example, which generates more traffic and demand for subscriptions. That’s how resellers and providers earn their money.

    The same resellers also advertise on popular Usenet forums where links to pirated files are shared, suggesting that they specifically target these users. For example, one of the resellers targeted by BREIN in the past, was sponsoring one of the sites that were raided last week, BREIN notes.

    Last year BREIN signed settlements with several Usenet uploaders. This was in part facilitated by a court order, directing Usenet provider Eweka to identify a former subscriber who supposedly shared infringing material.

    Following this verdict, several Dutch Usenet servers were taken over by a San Marino company. But, according to BREIN this company can also be ordered to share customer information if needed.

    “It is not unthinkable that this construction has been called into existence by Usenet companies who find themselves in hot water,” Kuik says.

    According to BREIN it’s clear. Large parts of Usenet have turned into a playground for pirates and people who profit from copyright infringement. This all happens while the legitimate rightsholders don’t see a penny.

    “For a long time, there’s been a certain smell to the commercial Usenet,” Kuik says. “It’s stinking on all sides.”

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

    Ares Kodi Project Calls it Quits After Hollywood Cease & Desist

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ares-kodi-project-calls-it-quits-after-hollywood-cease-desist-171117/

    This week has been particularly bad for those involved in the Kodi addon scene. Following cease-and-desist notices from the MPA-led anti-piracy coalition Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, several addon developers and repositories shut down.

    With Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner, Netflix, Amazon and Sky TV all lined up for war, the third-party developers had little choice but to quit. One of those affected was the leader of the hugely popular Ares Project, which quietly disappeared mid-week.

    The Ares Wizard was an extremely popular and important piece of software which allowed people to switch Kodi builds, install third-party addons, install popular repositories, change system settings, and carry out backups. It’s installed on huge numbers of machines worldwide but it will soon fall into disrepair.

    The mighty Ares Wizard in action

    “[This week] I was subject to a hand-delivered notice to cease-and-desist from MPA & ACE,” Ares Project leader Tekto informs TorrentFreak.

    “Given the notice, we obviously shut down the repo and wizard as requested.”

    The news that Ares Project is done and never coming back will be a huge blow to the community. The project just celebrated its second birthday and has grown exponentially since it first arrived on the scene.

    “Ares Project started in Oct 2015. Originally it was to be a tool to setup up the video cache on Kodi correctly. However, many ideas were thrown into the pot and it became a wee bit more; such as a wizard to install community provided builds, common addons and few other tweaks and options,” Tekto says.

    “For my own part I started blogging earlier that year as part of a longer-term goal to be self-funding. I always disliked seeing begging bowls out to support ‘server’ costs, many of which were cheap £5-10 per month servers that were used to gain £100s in donations.

    “The blog, via affiliate links and ads, could and would provide the funds to cover our hosting costs without resorting to begging for money every weekend.”

    Intrigued by this first wave of actions by ACE in Europe, TorrentFreak asked for a copy of the MPA/ACE cease-and-desist notice but unfortunately, Tekto flat-out refused. All he would tell us is that he’d agreed not to give out any copies or screenshots and that he was adhering to that 100%.

    That only leaves speculation as to what grounds the MPA/ACE cited for closing the project but to be fair, it doesn’t take much thought to find a direct comparison. Earlier this year, in the BREIN v Filmspeler case, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that selling “fully-loaded” Kodi boxes amounted to illegally communicating copyrighted content to the public.

    With that in mind, it doesn’t take much of a leap to see how this ruling could also apply to someone distributing “fully-loaded” Kodi software builds or addons via a website. It had previously been considered a legal gray area, of course, and it was in that space that the Ares team believed it operated. After all, it took ECJ clarification for local courts in the Netherlands to be satisfied with the legal position.

    “There was never any question that what we were doing was illegal. We didn’t and never have hosted any content, we always prevented discussions about illegal paid services, and never sold any devices, pre-loaded or otherwise. That used to be enough to occupy the ‘gray’ area which meant we were safe to develop our applications. That changed in 2017 as we were to discover,” Tekto notes.

    Up until this week and apparently oblivious to how the earlier ECJ ruling might affect their operation, things had been going extremely well for Ares. In mid-2016, the group moved to its own support forum that attracted 100,000 signed-up members and 300,000 visitors every month.

    “This was quite an achievement in terms of viral marketing but ultimately this would become part of our downfall,” Tekto says.

    “The recent innovation of the ‘basket driven’ Ares Portal system seems to have triggered the legal move to shut the project down completely. This simple system gave access to hundreds of add-ons. The system removed the need for builds, blogs and YouTubers – you just shopped on the site for addons and then installed them to your device with a simple 6 digit code.”

    While Ares and Tekto still didn’t believe they were doing anything illegal (addons were linked, not hosted) it is now pretty clear to them that the previous gray area has been well and truly closed, at least as far as the MPA/ACE alliance is concerned. And with that in mind, the show is over. Done. Finished.

    “We are not criminals or malicious hackers, we weren’t even careful about hiding our identities. You couldn’t meet a more ordinary bunch of folks in truth,” he says.

    “There was never any question we would close our doors if what we were doing crossed any boundaries of legality. So with the notice served on us, we are closing our doors and removing all our websites and applications. It’s a sad day in many ways, but nobody wants to be facing court or a potential custodial sentence, for what is essentially a hobby.”

    Finally, Tekto says that others like him might want to consider their positions carefully, before they too get a knock at the door. In the meantime, he gives thanks to the project’s supporters, who have remained loyal over the past two years.

    “It just leaves me to thank our users for their support and step away from the Kodi scene,” he concludes.

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

    The Pirate Bay & 1337x Must Be Blocked, Austrian Supreme Court Rules

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-1337x-must-be-blocked-austrian-supreme-court-rules-171014/

    Following a long-running case, in 2015 Austrian ISPs were ordered by the Commercial Court to block The Pirate Bay and other “structurally-infringing” sites including 1337x.to, isohunt.to, and h33t.to.

    The decision was welcomed by the music industry, which looked forward to having more sites blocked in due course.

    Soon after, local music rights group LSG sent its lawyers after several other large ISPs urging them to follow suit, or else. However, the ISPs dug in and a year later, in May 2016, things began to unravel. The Vienna Higher Regional Court overruled the earlier decision of the Commercial Court, meaning that local ISPs were free to unblock the previously blocked sites.

    The Court concluded that ISP blocks are only warranted if copyright holders have exhausted all their options to take action against those actually carrying out the infringement. This decision was welcomed by the Internet Service Providers Austria (ISPA), which described the decision as an important milestone.

    The ISPs argued that only torrent files, not the content itself, was available on the portals. They also had a problem with the restriction of access to legitimate content.

    “A problem in this context is that the offending pages also have legal content and it is no longer possible to access that if barriers are put in place,” said ISPA Secretary General Maximilian Schubert.

    Taking the case to its ultimate conclusion, the music companies appealed to the Supreme Court. Another year on and its decision has just been published and for the rightsholders, who represent 3,000 artists including The Beatles, Justin Bieber, Eric Clapton, Coldplay, David Guetta, Iggy Azalea, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Metallica, George Michael, One Direction, Katy Perry, and Queen, to name a few, it was worth the effort.

    The Court looked at whether “the provision and operation of a BitTorrent platform with the purpose of online file sharing [of non-public domain works]” represents a “communication to the public” under the EU Copyright Directive. Citing the now-familiar BREIN v Filmspeler and BREIN v Ziggo and XS4All cases that both received European Court of Justice rulings earlier this year, the Supreme Court concluded it was.

    Citing another Dutch case, in which Playboy publisher Sanoma took on the blog GeenStijl.nl, the Court noted that linking to copyrighted content hosted elsewhere also amounted to a “communication to the public”, a situation mirrored on torrent sites like The Pirate Bay.

    “The similarity of the technical procedure in this case when compared to BitTorrent platforms lies in the fact that in both cases the operators of the website did not provide any copyrighted works themselves, but merely provided further information on sites where the protected works were available,” the Court notes in its ruling.

    In respect of the potential for blocking legitimate content as well as that infringing copyright, the Court turned the ISPs’ own arguments against them somewhat.

    The ISPs had previously argued that blocking The Pirate Bay and other sites was pointless since the torrents they host would still be available elsewhere. The Court noted that point and also found that people can easily upload their torrents to sites that aren’t blocked, since there’s plenty of choice.

    The ISPA criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling, noting that in future ISPs will still find themselves being held responsible for decisions concerning blocking.

    “We do not support illegal content on the Internet in any way, but consider it extremely questionable that the decision on what is illegal and what is not falls to ISPs, instead of a court,” said ISPA Secretary General Maximilian.

    “Although we find it positive that a court of last resort has taken the decision, the assessment of the website in the first instance continues to be left to the Internet provider. The Supreme Court’s expansion of the circle of sites that be potentially blocked further complicates this task for the operator and furthers the privatization of law enforcement.

    “It is extremely unpleasant that even after more than 10 years of fierce discussion, there is still no compelling legal basis for a court decision on Internet blocking, which puts providers in the role of both judge and hangman.”

    Also of interest is ISPA’s stance on how blocking of content fails to solve the underlying issue. When content is blocked, rather than removed, it simply displaces the problem, leaving others to pick up the pieces, the Internet body argues.

    “Illegal content is permanently removed from the network by deletion. Everything else is a placebo with extremely dangerous side effects, which can easily be bypassed by both providers and consumers. The only thing that remains is a blocking infrastructure that can be misused for many purposes and, unfortunately, will be used in many places,” Schubert says.

    “The current situation, where providers have to block the rightsholders quasi on the spot, if they do not want to engage in a time-consuming and cost-intensive litigation, is really not sustainable so we issue a call to action to the legislature.”

    The domains that were listed in the case, many of which are already defunct, are: thepiratebay.se, thepiratebay.gd, thepiratebay.la, thepiratebay.mn, thepiratebay.mu, thepiratebay.sh, thepiratebay.tw, thepiratebay.fm, thepiratebay.ms, thepiratebay.vg, isohunt.to, 1337x.to and h33t.to.

    Whether it will be added later is unclear, but the only domain currently used by The Pirate Bay (thepiratebay.org) is not included in the list.

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

    ‘Pirate’ IPTV Provider Loses Case, Despite Not Offering Content Itself

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-provider-loses-case-despite-not-offering-content-itself-171031/

    In 2017, there can be little doubt that streaming is the big piracy engine of the moment. Dubbed Piracy 3.0 by the MPAA, the movement is causing tremendous headaches for rightsholders on a global scale.

    One of the interesting things about this phenomenon is the distributed nature of the content on offer. Sourced from thousands of online locations, from traditional file-hosters to Google Drive, the big challenge is to aggregate it all into one place, to make it easy to find. This is often achieved via third-party addons for the legal Kodi software.

    One company offering such a service was MovieStreamer.nl in the Netherlands. Via its website MovieStreamer the company offered its Easy Use Interface 2.0, a piece of software that made Kodi easy to use and other streams easy to find for 79 euros. It also sold ‘VIP’ access to thousands of otherwise premium channels for around 20 euros per month.

    MovieStreamer Easy Interface 2.0

    “Thanks to the unique Easy Use Interface, we have the unique 3-step process,” the company’s marketing read.

    “Click tile of choice, activate subtitles, and play! Fully automated and instantly the most optimal settings. Our youngest user is 4 years old and the ‘oldest’ 86 years. Ideal for young and old, beginner and expert.”

    Of course, being based in the Netherlands it wasn’t long before MovieStreamer caught the attention of BREIN. The anti-piracy outfit says it tried to get the company to stop offering the illegal product but after getting no joy, took the case to court.

    From BREIN’s perspective, the case was cut and dried. MovieStreamer had no right to provide access to the infringing content so it was in breach of copyright law (unauthorized communication to the public) and should stop its activities immediately. MovieStreamer, however, saw things somewhat differently.

    At the core of its defense was the claim that did it not provide content itself and was merely a kind of middleman. MovieStreamer said it provided only a referral service in the form of a hyperlink formatted as a shortened URL, which in turn brought together supply and demand.

    In effect, MovieStreamer claimed that it was several steps away from any infringement and that only the users themselves could activate the shortener hyperlink and subsequent process (including a corresponding M3U playlist file, which linked to other hyperlinks) to access any pirated content. Due to this disconnect, MovieStreamer said that there was no infringement, for-profit or otherwise.

    A judge at the District Court in Utrecht disagreed, ruling that by providing a unique hyperlink to customers which in turn lead to protected works was indeed a “communication to the public” based on the earlier Filmspeler case.

    The Court also noted that MovieStreamer knew or indeed ought to have known the illegal nature of the content being linked to, not least since BREIN had already informed them of that fact. Since the company was aware, the for-profit element of the GS Media decision handed down by the European Court of Justice came into play.

    In an order handed down October 27, the Court ordered MovieStreamer to stop its IPTV hyperlinking activities immediately, whether via its Kodi Easy Use Interface or other means. Failure to do so will result in a 5,000 euro per day fine, payable to BREIN, up to a maximum of 500,000 euros. MovieStreamer was also ordered to pay legal costs of 17,527 euros.

    “Moviestreamer sold a link to illegal content. Then you are required to check if that content is legally on the internet,” BREIN Director Tim Kuik said in a statement.

    “You can not claim that you have nothing to do with the content if you sell a link to that content.”

    Speaking with Tweakers, MovieStreamer owner Bernhard Ohler said that the packages in question were removed from his website on Saturday night. He also warned that other similar companies could experience the same issues with BREIN.

    “With this judgment in hand, BREIN has, of course, a powerful weapon to force them offline,” he said.

    Ohler said that the margins on hardware were so small that the IPTV subscriptions were the heart of his company. Contacted by TorrentFreak on what this means for his business, he had just two words.

    “The end,” he said.

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

    UK ‘Pirate’ Kodi Box Seller Handed a Suspended Prison Sentence

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-pirate-kodi-box-seller-handed-a-suspended-prison-sentence-171021/

    After being raided by police and Trading Standards in 2015, Middlesbrough-based shopkeeper Brian ‘Tomo’ Thompson found himself in the spotlight.

    Accused of selling “fully-loaded” Kodi boxes (those with ‘pirate’ addons installed), Thompson continued to protest his innocence.

    “All I want to know is whether I am doing anything illegal. I know it’s a gray area but I want it in black and white,” he said last September.

    Unlike other cases, where copyright holders took direct action, Thompson was prosecuted by his local council. At the time, he seemed prepared to martyr himself to test the limits of the law.

    “This may have to go to the crown court and then it may go all the way to the European court, but I want to make a point with this and I want to make it easier for people to know what is legal and what isn’t,” he said. “I expect it go against me but at least I will know where I stand.”

    In an opinion piece not long after this statement, we agreed with Thompson’s sentiment, noting that barring a miracle, the Middlesbrough man would indeed lose his case, probably in short order. But Thompson’s case turned out to be less than straightforward.

    Thompson wasn’t charged with straightforward “making available” under the Copyrights, Designs and Patents Acts. If he had, there would’ve been no question that he’d been breaking law. This is due to a European Court of Justice decision in the BREIN v Filmspeler case earlier this year which determined that selling fully loaded boxes in the EU is illegal.

    Instead, for reasons best known to the prosecution, ‘Tomo’ stood accused of two offenses under section 296ZB of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, which deals with devices and services designed to “circumvent technological measures”. It’s a different aspect of copyright law previously applied to cases where encryption has been broken on official products.

    “A person commits an offense if he — in the course of a business — sells or lets for hire, any device, product or component which is primarily designed, produced, or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures,” the law reads.

    ‘Tomo’ in his store

    In January this year, Thompson entered his official ‘not guilty’ plea, setting up a potentially fascinating full trial in which we would’ve heard how ‘circumvention of technological measures’ could possibly relate to streaming illicit content from entirely unprotected far-flung sources.

    Last month, however, Thompson suddenly had a change of heart, entering guilty pleas against one count of selling and one count of advertising devices for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures.

    That plea stomped on what could’ve been a really interesting trial, particularly since the Federation Against Copyright Theft’s own lawyer predicted it could be difficult and complex.

    As a result, Thompson appeared at Teeside Crown Court on Friday for sentencing. Prosecutor Cameron Crowe said Thompson advertised and sold the ‘pirate’ devices for commercial gain, fully aware that they would be used to access infringing content and premium subscription services.

    Crowe said that Thompson made around £40,000 from the devices while potentially costing Sky around £200,000 in lost subscription fees. When Thompson was raided in June 2015, a diary revealed he’d sold 159 devices in the previous four months, sales which generated £17,000 in revenue.

    After his arrest, Thompson changed premises and continued to offer the devices for sale on social media.

    Passing sentence, Judge Peter Armstrong told the 55-year-old businessman that he’d receive an 18-month prison term, suspended for two years.

    “If anyone was under any illusion as to whether such devices as these, fully loaded Kodi boxes, were illegal or not, they can no longer be in any such doubt,” Judge Armstrong told the court, as reported by Gazette Live.

    “I’ve come to the conclusion that in all the circumstances an immediate custodial sentence is not called for. But as a warning to others in future, they may not be so lucky.”

    Also sentenced Friday was another local seller, Julian Allen, who sold devices to Thompson, among others. He was arrested following raids on his Geeky Kit businesses in 2015 and pleaded guilty this July to using or acquiring criminal property.

    But despite making more than £135,000 from selling ‘pirate’ boxes, he too avoided jail, receiving a 21-month prison sentence suspended for two years instead.

    While Thompson’s and Allen’s sentences are likely to be portrayed by copyright holders as a landmark moment, the earlier ruling from the European Court of Justice means that selling these kinds of devices for infringing purposes has always been illegal.

    Perhaps the big surprise, given the dramatic lead up to both cases, is the relative leniency of their sentences. All that being said, however, a line has been drawn in the sand and other sellers should be aware.

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

    ‘Pirate’ EBook Site Refuses Point Blank to Cooperate With BREIN

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-ebook-site-refuses-point-blank-to-cooperate-with-brein-171015/

    Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is probably best known for its legal action against The Pirate Bay but the outfit also tackles many other forms of piracy.

    A prime example is the case it pursued against a seller of fully-loaded Kodi boxes in the Netherlands. The subsequent landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice will reverberate around Europe for years to come.

    Behind the scenes, however, BREIN persistently tries to take much smaller operations offline, and not without success. Earlier this year it revealed it had taken down 231 illegal sites and services includes 84 linking sites, 63 streaming portals, and 34 torrent sites. Some of these shut down completely and others were forced to leave their hosting providers.

    Much of this work flies under the radar but some current action, against an eBook site, is now being thrust into the public eye.

    For more than five years, EBoek.info (eBook) has serviced Internet users looking to obtain comic books in Dutch. The site informs TorrentFreak it provides a legitimate service, targeted at people who have purchased a hard copy but also want their comics in digital format.

    “EBoek.info is a site about comic books in the Dutch language. Besides some general information about the books, people who have legally obtained a hard copy of the books can find a link to an NZB file which enables them to download a digital version of the books they already have,” site representative ‘Zala’ says.

    For those out of the loop, NZB files are a bit like Usenet’s version of .torrent files. They contain no copyrighted content themselves but do provide software clients with information on where to find specific content, so it can be downloaded to a user’s machine.

    “BREIN claims that this is illegal as it is impossible for us to verify if our visitor is telling the truth [about having purchased a copy],” Zala reveals.

    Speaking with TorrentFreak, BREIN chief Tim Kuik says there’s no question that offering downloads like this is illegal.

    “It is plain and simple: the site makes links to unauthorized digital copies available to the general public and therefore is infringing copyright. It is distribution of the content without authorization of the rights holder,” Kuik says.

    “The unauthorized copies are not private copies. The private copy exception does not apply to this kind of distribution. The private copy has not been made by the owner of the book himself for his own use. Someone else made the digital copy and is making it available to anyone who wants to download it provided he makes the unverified claim that he has a legal copy. This harms the normal exploitation of the
    content.”

    Zala says that BREIN has been trying to take his site offline for many years but more recently, the platform has utilized the services of Cloudflare, partly as a form of shield. As readers may be aware, a site behind Cloudflare has its originating IP addresses hidden from the public, not to mention BREIN, who values that kind of information. According to the operator, however, BREIN managed to obtain the information from the CDN provider.

    “BREIN has tried for years to take our site offline. Recently, however, Cloudflare was so friendly to give them our IP address,” Zala notes.

    A text copy of an email reportedly sent by BREIN to EBoek’s web host and seen by TF appears to confirm that Cloudflare handed over the information as suggested. Among other things, the email has BREIN informing the host that “The IP we got back from Cloudflare is XXX.XXX.XX.33.”

    This means that BREIN was able to place direct pressure on EBoek.info’s web host, so only time will tell if that bears any fruit for the anti-piracy group. In the meantime, however, EBoek has decided to go public over its battle with BREIN.

    “We have received a request from Stichting BREIN via our hosting provider to take EBoek.info offline,” the site informed its users yesterday.

    Interestingly, it also appears that BREIN doesn’t appreciate that the operators of EBoek have failed to make their identities publicly known on their platform.

    “The site operates anonymously which also is unlawful. Consumer protection requires that the owner/operator of a site identifies himself,” Kuik says.

    According to EBoek, the anti-piracy outfit told the site’s web host that as a “commercial online service”, EBoek is required under EU law to display its “correct and complete business information” including names, addresses, and other information. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the site doesn’t want to play ball.

    “In my opinion, you are confusing us with Facebook. They are a foreign commercial company with a European branch in Ireland, and therefore are subject to Irish legislation,” Zala says in an open letter to BREIN.

    “Eboek.info, on the other hand, is a foreign hobby club with no commercial purpose, whose administrators have no connection with any country in the European Union. As administrators, we follow the laws of our country of residence which do not oblige us to disclose our identity through our website.

    “The fact that Eboek is visible in the Netherlands does not just mean that we are going to adapt to Dutch rules, just as we don’t adapt the site to the rules of Saudi Arabia or China or wherever we are available.”

    In a further snub to the anti-piracy group, EBoek says that all visitors to the site have to communicate with its operators via its guestbook, which is publicly visible.

    “We see no reason to make an exception for Stichting BREIN,” the site notes.

    What makes the situation more complex is that EBoek isn’t refusing dialog completely. The site says it doesn’t want to talk to BREIN but will speak to BREIN’s customers – the publishers of the comic books in question – noting that to date no complaints from publishers have ever been received.

    While the parties argue about lines of communication, BREIN insists that following this year’s European Court of Justice decision in the GS Media case, a link to a known infringing work represents copyright infringement. In this case, an NZB file – which links to a location on Usenet – would generally fit the bill.

    But despite focusing on the Dutch market, the operators of EBoek say the ruling doesn’t apply to them as they’re outside of the ECJ’s jurisdiction and aren’t commercially motivated. Refusing point blank to take their site offline, EBoek’s operators say that BREIN can do its worst, nothing will have much effect.

    “[W]hat’s the worst thing that can happen? That our web host hands [BREIN] our address and IP data. In that case, it will turn out that…we are actually far away,” Zala says.

    “[In the case the site goes offline], we’ll just put a backup on another server and, in this case, won’t make use of the ‘services’ of Cloudflare, the provider that apparently put BREIN on the right track.”

    The question of jurisdiction is indeed an interesting one, particularly given BREIN’s focus in the Netherlands. But Kuik is clear – it is the area where the content is made available that matters.

    “The law of the country where the content is made available applies. In this case the EU and amongst others the Netherlands,” Kuik concludes.

    To be continued…..

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