Tag Archives: canada

isoHunt Founder Settles with Music Industry for $66 Million

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isohunt-founder-settles-cria-66-million/

isohunt-fredomAfter years of legal battles, isoHunt and its founder Gary Fung are free at last.

Today, Fung announced that he has settled the last remaining lawsuit with Music Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA).

“After 10 long years, I’m happy to announce the end of isoHunt’s and my lawsuits,” Fung says, noting that he now owes the Canadian music group $66 million.

The multi-million dollar agreement follows an earlier settlement with the MPAA, for $110 million, on paper. While most site owners would be devastated, Fung has long moved beyond that phase and responds rather sarcastically.

“And I want to congratulate both Hollywood and CRIA on their victories, in letting me off with fines of $110m and $66m, respectively. Thank you!” he notes, adding that he’s “free at last”.

The consent order (pdf) signed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia prohibits isoHunt’s founder from operating any file-sharing site in the future.

It further requires Fung to pay damages of $55 million and another $10 million in aggravated punitive damages. The final million dollars is issued to cover the costs of the lawsuit.

Although isoHunt shut down 2013, it took more than two years for the last case to be finalized. The dispute initially began in the last decennium, when the Canadian music industry went after several prominent torrent sites.

In May 2008, isoHunt received a Cease and Desist letter from the CRIA in which they demanded that isoHunt founder Gary Fung should take the site offline. If Fung didn’t comply, the CRIA said it would pursue legal action, and demand $20,000 for each sound recording the site has infringed.

A similar tactic worked against Demonoid, but the isoHunt founder didn’t back down so easily. Instead, he himself filed a lawsuit against the CRIA asking the court to declare the site legal.

That didn’t work out as isoHunt’s founder had planned, and several years later the tables have been turned entirely, with the defeat now becoming final.

While the outcome won’t change anything about isoHunt’s demise, Fung is proud that he was always able to shield its users from the various copyright groups attacking it. No identifiable user data was shared at any point.

Fung is also happy for the support the site’s users have given him over the years.

“I can proudly conclude that I’ve kept my word regarding users’ privacy above. To isoHunt’s avid users, it’s worth repeating since I shutdown isoHunt in 2013, that you have my sincerest thanks for your continued support,” Fung notes.

“Me and my staff could not have done it for more than 10 years without you, and that’s an eternity in internet time. It was an interesting and challenging journey for me to say the least, and the most profound business learning experience I could not expect.”

The Canadian entrepreneur can now close the isoHunt book for good and move on to new ventures. One of the projects he just announced is a mobile search tool called “App to Automate Googling” AAG for which he invites alpha testers.

The original isoHunt site now redirects to MPAA’s “legal” search engine WhereToWatch. However, the name and design lives on via the clone site IsoHunt.to, which still draws millions of visitors per month – frustrating for the MPAA and Music Canada.

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

KickassTorrents’ Connections to the US Doomed the Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-connections-to-the-us-doomed-the-site-160723/

katTo the huge disappointment of millions of BitTorrent users, KickassTorrents disappeared this week following an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.

With a huge hole now present at the top of the torrent landscape, other sites plus interested groups and individuals will be considering their options. Step up their game and take over the top slot? Cautiously maintain the status quo? Or pull out altogether…

Make no mistake, this is a game of great reward, matched only by the risk. If the DHS complaint is to be believed, Kickass made dozens of millions of euros, enough to tempt even the nerviest of individuals. But while that might attract some, is avoiding detection almost impossible these days?

The complaint against KAT shows that while not inevitable, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. It also shows that carelessness plays a huge part in undermining security and that mistakes made by others in the past are always worth paying attention to.

Servers in the United States

Perhaps most tellingly, in the first instance KAT failed to learn from the ‘mistakes’ made by Megaupload. While the cases are somewhat dissimilar, both entities chose to have a US presence for at least some of their servers. This allowed US authorities to get involved. Not a great start.

“[Since 2008], KAT has relied on a network of computer servers around the world to operate, including computer servers located in Chicago, Illinois,” the complaint against the site reads.

The Chicago server weren’t trivial either.

“According to a reverse DNS search conducted by the hosting company on or about May 5, 2015, that server was the mail client ‘mail.kat.ph’.”

Torrent site mail servers. In the United States. What could go possibly go wrong?

In a word? Everything. In January 2016, DHS obtained a search warrant and cloned the Chicago servers. Somewhat unsurprisingly this gifted investigating agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan (the same guy who infiltrated Silk Road) valuable information.

“I located multiple files that contained unique user information, access logs, and other information. These files include a file titled ‘passwd’ located in the ‘etc’ directory, which was last accessed on or about January 13, 2016, and which identified the users who had access to the operating system,” Der-Yeghiayan said.

Servers in Canada

KAT also ran several servers hosted with Montreal-based Netelligent Hosting Services. There too, KAT was vulnerable.

In response to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request, in April 2016 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police obtained business records associated with KAT’s account and made forensic images of the torrent site’s hard drives.

Why KAT chose Netelligent isn’t clear, but the site should have been aware that the hosting company would be forced to comply with law enforcement requests. After all, it had happened at least once before in a case involving Swedish torrent site, Sparvar.

Mistakes at the beginning

When pirate sites first launch, few admins expect them to become world leaders. If they did, they’d probably approach things a little differently at the start. In KAT’s case, alleged founder Artem Vaulin registered several of the site’s domains in his own name, information that was happily handed to the DHS by US-based hosting company GoDaddy.

Vaulin also used a Gmail account, operated by US-based Google. The complaint doesn’t explicitly say that Google handed over information, but it’s a distinct possibility. In any event, an email sent from that account in 2009 provided a helpful bridge to investigators.

“I changed my gmail. now it’s admin@kickasstorrents.com,” it read.

Forging further connections from his private email accounts to those operated from KAT, in 2012 Vaulin sent ‘test’ emails from KAT email addresses to his Apple address. This, HSI said, signaled the point that Vaulin began using KAT emails for business.

No time to relax, even socially

In addition to using an email account operated by US-based Apple, (in which HSI found Vaulin’s passport and driver’s license details, plus his banking info), the Ukranian also had an iTunes account.

Purchases he made there were logged by Apple, down to the IP address. Then, thanks to information provided by US-based Facebook (notice the recurring Stateside theme?), HSI were able to match that same IP address against a login to KAT’s Facebook page.

Anonymous Bitcoin – not quite

If the irony of the legitimate iTunes purchases didn’t quite hit the spot, the notion that Bitcoin could land someone in trouble should tick all the boxes. According to the complaint, US-based Bitcoin exchange Coinbase handed over information on Vaulin’s business to HSI.

“Records received from the bitcoin exchange company Coinbase revealed that the KAT Bitcoin Donation Address sent bitcoins it received to a user’s account maintained at Coinbase. This account was identified as belonging to Artem Vaulin located in Kharkov, Ukraine,” it reads.

Final thoughts

For a site that the US Government had always insisted was operating overseas, KickassTorrents clearly had a huge number of United States connections. This appears to have made the investigation much more simple than it would have been had the site and its owner had maintained a presence solely in Eastern Europe.

Why the site chose to maintain these connections despite the risks might never be answered, but history has shown us time and again that US-based sites are not only vulnerable but also open to the wrath of the US Government. With decades of prison time at stake, that is clearly bad news.

But for now at least, Vaulin is being detained in Poland, waiting to hear of his fate. Whether or not he’ll quickly be sent to the United States is unclear, but it seems unlikely that a massively prolonged Kim Dotcom-style extradition battle is on the agenda. A smaller one might be, however.

While the shutdown of KAT and the arrest of its owner came out of the blue, the writing has always been on the wall. The shutdown is just one of several momentous ‘pirate’ events in the past 18 months including the closure (and resurrection) of The Pirate Bay, the dismantling of the main Popcorn Time fork, and the end of YTS/YIFY.

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

GameStop – Moving a Mission-Critical Multichannel Marketing Platform to AWS

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/gamestop-moving-a-mission-critical-multichannel-marketing-platform-to-aws/

GameStop sells new and pre-owned video game hardware, software, and accessories, consumer electronics, and wireless services. With over 7,000 retail locations spread across 14 countries, the company sells to and interacts with millions of customers every day. In addition to their retail locations, they follow an omni-channel strategy and run a loyalty program with over 46 million members worldwide.

I spoke with Justin Newcom (Senior Director, International Technology Services & Support) and Jim March (Advanced Cloud Systems Engineer) of GameStop to learn how they moved their mission-critical multichannel marketing platform from traditional hosting to AWS. This is their story!

The Business Challenge
The story begins in March of 2015 when one of GameStop’s existing international hosting contracts was about to expire. The GameStop team decided to take a serious look at alternative hosting solutions. They sent out an RFP (Request For Proposal) to several traditional hosts and to some cloud vendors, including AWS. As the responses arrived, it became obvious, in Justin’s words, that “AWS was the clear winner.” Jim, after returning from a briefing held by another cloud vendor, dug in to AWS and found that it was far more mature and sophisticated than he had once thought.

They decided to move forward with AWS, basing their decision on the product, the pace of innovation, our reputation, and our pricing. However, even though they had picked the winner, they knew that they still had a lot to learn if they were going to have a successful journey.

The Journey Begins
The GameStop technology leaders decided to create a learning culture around AWS. They spoke with other AWS customers and partners, and ultimately brought in a prominent Gold-level AWS Technology Partner to accompany them on their cloud journey. They chose the mission-critical multichannel marketing platform as their first migration target. This platform goes beyond e-commerce, and manages all in-store customer activities in Canada and Europe, as well as online customer interaction. It integrates in-store and online activity; allowing, for example, customers to make an online purchase at the cash register.

The migration to AWS was complete in time for the 2015 holiday shopping season and AWS performed flawlessly. The first Black Friday was a turning point for GameStop. Even though they were not yet using Auto Scaling, they were able to quickly launch new EC2 instances in order to meet demand.  The site remained up and responsive.

Early in the journey, some other initial successes proved to be important turning points. For example, the team had just four hours to prepare for a “surprise” launch of Nintendo’s Amiibo in Canada. The launch went off without a hitch. Another time, they spun up new infrastructure on AWS to deal with a special sales promotion that was scheduled to last for just six hours. This went well and cost them just $300 in AWS charges. In light of these early successes, internal teams were empowered to think about other high-impact, short-term marketing programs, including “spot” sales that would last for an hour or two. Jim told me that events of this type, once traumatic and expensive, were now “fun.”

Time for a Transformation
With the first migration successfully completed, the next step was to transform the IT organization, acquiring cloud skills and experience along the way, as they became the organization’s cloud infrastructure team. As part of this modernization, they made sure that their team was gaining experience with Agile and DevOps practices, along with new technologies such as microservices and containers. They brought in modern tools like Jira and Confluence, sought executive buy-in to take new approaches and to run some experiments, and arranged for a series of in-house courses. I should note that this is turning out to be a very common model among companies that are taking a big leap in to the future! In some cases the cloud  begets the use of other modern practices; in others the use of modern practices begets the use of cloud.

With the transformation well under way, the team is now looking at all of ways that they can use AWS to improve efficiency and to save money. They anticipate becoming a different type of internal IT supplier, with the ability to form strong internal partnerships, provide better purchasing advice, and to assist teams that have varying levels of IT expertise. Costs have gone down,  predictability has gone up, and they are now positioned to build and deploy innovative solutions that were not feasible in the past.

GameStop is now looking to consolidate their international IT infrastructure resources, some of which are housed in “data rooms” (not quite data centers) in disparate non-US locations. They see AWS as a single platform to develop against, and have instituted a common model that can be replicated across locations, business units, and applications. They are no longer buying new hardware. Instead, as the hardware reaches the end of its useful life the functionality is moved to AWS and the data room is emptied out. At the present pace, all eight of the data rooms will be empty within three years.

Migrating to and Using AWS
Migration is generally a two-stage process for the GameStop international teams. In the first stage they lift-and-shift the current application to the cloud. In the second, they refactor and optimize in pursuit of additional efficiency and better maintainability. Before the migration the multichannel team saw IT served via third-party partners as a bottleneck. After the move to AWS the relationship improved and the teams were able to cooperatively work toward solutions.

During the refactoring phase they take a look at every aspect of the existing operation and decide how they can replace existing functionality with a modern AWS alternative. This includes database logic, network architecture, security, backups, internal messaging, and monitoring.

The team is intrigued by the serverless processing model and plans to use AWS Lambda and Amazon API Gateway to rebuild their internal service architecture, replacing an older and less flexible technology stack in the process. They are also planning to route all logs and metrics to Amazon CloudWatch for storage and analysis, with a goal of making them fully searchable.

The migration is still a work in progress and there’s still more work to be done. Some of the EC2 instances are still treated as pets rather than as cattle; the goal is to get to a model where all of the infrastructure is dynamic and disposable, and where logging in to a server to check status or to make a change is a rarity.

Recommendations
I asked Justin and Jim for advice and recommendations they could make to other organizations that are contemplating a move to the cloud. This is what they told me:

  • Go all-in on automation. Expect it and build for it.
  • Treat infrastructure as code. Take the migration as an opportunity to create a culture that embraces this practice.
  • Do everything right, from the beginning. Do not move an application that will cause you grief, simply to move it to the cloud. Choose your low-hanging fruit and spend your initial budget on what you know. Treat the migration as a learning process, but save money where you can.
  • Don’t cave to time pressure. Communicate with your business partners. The cloud is new for everyone and there will be bumps in the road. Be open and transparent and explain why things take time.
  • Ensure that the leadership team is all-in with the IT team. Having top-down buy-in from your management team is a must.

Jim also told me that he likes to think of the AWS Management Console‘s Launch Instance button as a form of technical debt that must be repaid with future automation.

I would like to thank Justin and Jim for their insights and to congratulate them on their work to move GameStop’s IT environment into the future!


Jeff;

Canadian Man Behind Popular ‘Orcus RAT’

Post Syndicated from BrianKrebs original https://krebsonsecurity.com/2016/07/canadian-man-is-author-of-popular-orcus-rat/

Far too many otherwise intelligent and talented software developers these days apparently think they can get away with writing, selling and supporting malicious software and then couching their commerce as a purely legitimate enterprise. Here’s the story of how I learned the real-life identity of Canadian man who’s laboring under that same illusion as proprietor of one of the most popular and affordable tools for hacking into someone else’s computer.

Earlier this week I heard from Daniel Gallagher, a security professional who occasionally enjoys analyzing new malicious software samples found in the wild. Gallagher said he and members of @malwrhunterteam and @MalwareTechBlog recently got into a Twitter fight with the author of Orcus RAT, a tool they say was explicitly designed to help users remotely compromise and control computers that don’t belong to them.

A still frame from a Youtube video showing Orcus RAT's keylogging ability to steal passwords from Facebook users and other credentials.

A still frame from a Youtube video demonstrating Orcus RAT’s keylogging ability to steal passwords from Facebook and other sites.

The author of Orcus — a person going by the nickname “Ciriis Mcgraw” a.k.a. “Armada” on Twitter and other social networks — claimed that his RAT was in fact a benign “remote administration tool” designed for use by network administrators and not a “remote access Trojan” as critics charged. Gallagher and others took issue with that claim, pointing out that they were increasingly encountering computers that had been infected with Orcus unbeknownst to the legitimate owners of those machines.

The malware researchers noted another reason that Mcgraw couldn’t so easily distance himself from how his clients used the software: He and his team are providing ongoing technical support and help to customers who have purchased Orcus and are having trouble figuring out how to infect new machines or hide their activities online.

What’s more, the range of features and plugins supported by Armada, they argued, go well beyond what a system administrator would look for in a legitimate remote administration client like Teamviewer, including the ability to launch a keylogger that records the victim’s every computer keystroke, as well as a feature that lets the user peek through a victim’s Web cam and disable the light on the camera that alerts users when the camera is switched on.

A new feature of Orcus announced July 7 lets users configure the RAT so that it evades digital forensics tools used by malware researchers, including an anti-debugger and an option that prevents the RAT from running inside of a virtual machine.

Other plugins offered directly from Orcus’s tech support page (PDF) and authored by the RAT’s support team include a “survey bot” designed to “make all of your clients do surveys for cash;” a “USB/.zip/.doc spreader,” intended to help users “spread a file of your choice to all clients via USB/.zip/.doc macros;” a “Virustotal.com checker” made to “check a file of your choice to see if it had been scanned on VirusTotal;” and an “Adsense Injector,” which will “hijack ads on pages and replace them with your Adsense ads and disable adblocker on Chrome.”

WHO IS ARMADA?

Gallagher said he was so struck by the guy’s “smugness” and sheer chutzpah that he decided to look closer at any clues that Ciriis Mcgraw might have left behind as to his real-world identity and location. Sure enough, he found that Ciriis Mcgraw also has a Youtube account under the same name, and that a video Mcgraw posted in July 2013 pointed to a 33-year-old security guard from Toronto, Canada.

ciriis-youtubeGallagher noticed that the video — a bystander recording on the scene of a police shooting of a Toronto man — included a link to the domain policereview[dot]info. A search of the registration records attached to that Web site name show that the domain was registered to a John Revesz in Toronto and to the email address john.revesz@gmail.com.

A reverse WHOIS lookup ordered from Domaintools.com shows the same john.revesz@gmail.com address was used to register at least 20 other domains, including “thereveszfamily.com,” “johnrevesz.com, revesztechnologies[dot]com,” and — perhaps most tellingly —  “lordarmada.info“.

Johnrevesz[dot]com is no longer online, but this cached copy of the site from the indispensable archive.org includes his personal résumé, which states that John Revesz is a network security administrator whose most recent job in that capacity was as an IT systems administrator for TD Bank. Revesz’s LinkedIn profile indicates that for the past year at least he has served as a security guard for GardaWorld International Protective Services, a private security firm based in Montreal.

Revesz’s CV also says he’s the owner of the aforementioned Revesz Technologies, but it’s unclear whether that business actually exists; the company’s Web site currently redirects visitors to a series of sites promoting spammy and scammy surveys, come-ons and giveaways.

IT’S IN THE EULA, STUPID!

Contacted by KrebsOnSecurity, Revesz seemed surprised that I’d connected the dots, but beyond that did not try to disavow ownership of the Orcus RAT.

“Profit was never the intentional goal, however with the years of professional IT networking experience I have myself, knew that proper correct development and structure to the environment is no free venture either,” Revesz wrote in reply to questions about his software. “Utilizing my 15+ years of IT experience I have helped manage Orcus through its development.”

Revesz continued:

“As for your legalities question.  Orcus Remote Administrator in no ways violates Canadian laws for software development or sale.  We neither endorse, allow or authorize any form of misuse of our software.  Our EULA [end user license agreement] and TOS [terms of service] is very clear in this matter. Further we openly and candidly work with those prudent to malware removal to remove Orcus from unwanted use, and lock out offending users which may misuse our software, just as any other company would.”

Revesz said none of the aforementioned plugins were supported by Orcus, and were all developed by third-party developers, and that “Orcus will never allow implementation of such features, and or plugins would be outright blocked on our part.”

In an apparent contradiction to that claim, plugins that allow Orcus users to disable the Webcam light on a computer running the software and one that enables the RAT to be used as a “stresser” to knock sites and individuals users offline are available directly from Orcus Technologies’ Github page.

Revesz’s also offers a service to help people cover their tracks online. Using his alter ego “Armada” on the hacker forum Hackforums[dot]net, Revesz also sells a “bulletproof dynamic DNS service” that promises not to keep records of customer activity.

Dynamic DNS services allow users to have Web sites hosted on servers that frequently change their Internet addresses. This type of service is useful for people who want to host a Web site on a home-based Internet address that may change from time to time, because dynamic DNS services can be used to easily map the domain name to the user’s new Internet address whenever it happens to change.

armadadyndns

Unfortunately, these dynamic DNS providers are extremely popular in the attacker community, because they allow bad guys to keep their malware and scam sites up even when researchers manage to track the attacking IP address and convince the ISP responsible for that address to disconnect the malefactor. In such cases, dynamic DNS allows the owner of the attacking domain to simply re-route the attack site to another Internet address that he controls.

Free dynamic DNS providers tend to report or block suspicious or outright malicious activity on their networks, and may well share evidence about the activity with law enforcement investigators. In contrast, Armada’s dynamic DNS service is managed solely by him, and he promises in his ad on Hackforums that the service — to which he sells subscriptions of various tiers for between $30-$150 per year — will not log customer usage or report anything to law enforcement.

According to writeups by Kaspersky Lab and Heimdal Security, Revesz’s dynamic DNS service has been seen used in connection with malicious botnet activity by another RAT known as Adwind.  Indeed, Revesz’s service appears to involve the domain “nullroute[dot]pw”, which is one of 21 domains registered to a “Ciriis Mcgraw,” (as well as orcus[dot]pw and orcusrat[dot]pw).

I asked Gallagher (the researcher who originally tipped me off about Revesz’s activities) whether he was persuaded at all by Revesz’s arguments that Orcus was just a tool and that Revesz wasn’t responsible for how it was used.

Gallagher said he and his malware researcher friends had private conversations with Revesz in which he seemed to acknowledge that some aspects of the RAT went too far, and promised to release software updates to remove certain objectionable functionalities. But Gallagher said those promises felt more like the actions of someone trying to cover himself.

“I constantly try to question my assumptions and make sure I’m playing devil’s advocate and not jumping the gun,” Gallagher said. “But I think he’s well aware that what he’s doing is hurting people, it’s just now he knows he’s under the microscope and trying to do and say enough to cover himself if it ever comes down to him being questioned by law enforcement.”

Accused “Pirate” Questions Dallas Buyers Club’s Copyright Claim

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/accused-pirate-questions-dallas-buyers-clubs-copyright-claim-160718/

dallasMovie studio Voltage Pictures is no stranger to suing BitTorrent users.

The company has filed lawsuits against alleged pirates in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia, and is estimated to have made a lot of money doing so.

Most of these cases target downloaders of the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club. Voltage Pictures is one of the production companies behind the film, but as is common in Hollywood, it’s not the sole rightsholder.

In fact, another company named “Dallas Buyers Club LLC” (DBC) has also filed dozens of cases against pirates. While one might think that both rightsholders are working in tandem, they are in fact fighting over the anti-piracy loot behind the scenes.

In a case DBC and Truth Entertainment filed against Voltage Pictures last year (pdf), the latter is accused of various deceptive practices, including breach of contract and fraud.

The two plaintiffs suggest that Voltage has been holding back money from foreign proceeds. They further state that the production company hasn’t been open about its practices.

Aside from claims that money has gone missing, its anti-piracy methods are also under the spotlight. According to DBC, Voltage hasn’t provided any details on enforcement actions, nor has it shared any of the proceeds from its anti-piracy efforts.

“DBC entered into an Agreement with Voltage to act as its agent to enforce Anti-piracy actions against people who have illegally downloaded or otherwise obtained the ability to watch the movie without paying for the right to watch it,” the filing reads.

“The only updates DBC receives are thorough, mostly negative, media reports about the actions of Voltage around the World. DBC has not received any funds, reports, updates or any information from Voltage on the status numerous lawsuits filed around the World in the name of DBC.”

Where’s the anti-piracy bounty?

voltagedbc

While the paperwork doesn’t explicitly state that both parties agreed to share the anti-piracy bounty, the claims above suggest that this is the case. Most interesting, perhaps, is that it’s unclear whether all enforcement actions are ultimately driven by Voltage.

This confusing situation is casting doubt over the legitimacy of these piracy lawsuits, as FCT highlights. This prompted Nicholas Ranallo, attorney for an accused “pirate”, to ask a California federal court for an extra safeguard.

Ranallo mentions that there is doubt over who owns the movie and he cites the legal battle between Dallas Buyers Club LLC, in whose name his defendant was sued, and Voltage.

“It is unclear what rights (if any) are actually held by Voltage Pictures or the suing entities, though it is abundantly clear that Voltage Pictures controls the litigation and keeps the proceeds collected on behalf of the purported plaintiffs,” Ranallo writes.

The amended complaint against the accused pirate identifies Dallas Buyers Club LLC as the owner, but the original complaint listed Truth LLC as such. Then again, the DVD cover and other material list Voltage as the copyright holder.

“Various advertising and promotional materials cast further doubt about the claims that Dallas Buyers Club LLC owns the relevant copyright(s), and reveal a myriad of entities that have, at one time or another, claimed copyright in the film.”

As a safeguard, Ranallo asks the court to require Dallas Buyers Club to post a $50,000 bond (pdf), to secure costs and attorney fees if the suspicions do indeed hold ground.

While it’s not uncommon for several companies to have a stake in a single movie, it will be interesting to see if this case leads to more clarity over the rights they have to pursue a copyright claim in court.

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

Nintendo Cracks Down on Pokémon Go Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/nintendo-cracks-pokemon-go-piracy-160714/

pokeThe Pokémon Go game is taking the world by storm, despite the fact that it’s not yet officially released in most countries.

The game came out in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States last week, and over the past few days Germany and the UK joined in.

However, that doesn’t mean people elsewhere can’t play it yet.

As the craze spread, so did the various pirated copies, which have been downloaded millions of times already. The Internet is littered with unauthorized Pokémon Go files and guides explaining how to install the game on various platforms.

To give an indication of how massive Pokémon Go piracy is, research from Similarweb revealed that as of yesterday 6.8% of all Android devices in Canada and the Netherlands had the game installed.

In fact, it’s safe to say that unauthorized copies are more popular than the official ones, for the time being.

The APK files for Android are shared widely on torrent sites. At The Pirate Bay, for example, it’s the most shared Android game by far. Even more impressive, it also sent millions of extra daily visitors to APKmirror.com, which hosts copies of the game as well.

Most pirated Android games

pokepirate

Nintendo is obviously not happy with this black market distribution. Although it doesn’t seem to hurt its stock value, the company is targeting the piracy issue behind the scenes.

TorrentFreak spotted several takedown requests on behalf of Nintendo that were sent to Google Blogspot and Google Search this week. The notices list various links to pirated copies of the game, asking Google to remove them.

One of the takedown notices

pokedown

Thus far the efforts have done little to stop the distribution. The files are still widely shared on torrent sites and various direct download services. The copies on APKmirror.com remain online as well.

In fact, it’s virtually impossible to stop a game that’s gone viral from being shared online. Even if it issues thousands of takedown requests, Nintendo won’t be able to catch ’em all.

Nintendo probably has good reasons to roll Pokémon Go out gradually, but the best anti-piracy strategy is obviously to make the game available worldwide as quickly as possible.

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

NOvA uses AWS to Shed Light on Neutrino Mysteries

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/nova-uses-aws-to-shed-light-on-neutrino-mysteries/

My colleague Sanjay Padhi wrote the guest post below in order to tell the story of how AWS powered an important scientific discovery.


Jeff;


Ghostlike particles called neutrinos are everywhere, cosmic rays bombard us with them, the sun bathes us in them. Though incredibly difficult to detect, they may hold the key to why there is more matter than antimatter around. Prominent physicist and Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi named this mysterious particle the “neutrino” (or “little neutral one”). It took time to realize that neutrinos have very unstable egos. They are able to switch or change their identities (“flavors”) through space also called neutrino oscillation. The 2015 Nobel prize in Physics was awarded to Takaaki Kajita (Super-Kamiokanda, Japan) and Arthur B. McDonald (SNO, Canada) for the discovery of neutrino oscillations.

It is extremely exciting to announce that the US flagship experiment in the intensity frontier, NOvA, unveils new results with the help of AWS infrastructure, that sheds light on our understanding of the quantum universe. They see an intriguing preference for “non-maximal” mixing between neutrino identities. These results were presented at the Imperial College in London England, in the presence of researchers from around the world that are gathered for the XXVII International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics.

From Experiment to Understanding the Data
Deep in the woods at the Ash River Laboratory in northern Minnesota, close to the Canadian border, the NOvA experiment studies neutrino identities using the most intense particle beams sent from Fermilab, near Chicago, Illinois, passing through the Earth’s crust and traveling over 500 miles. As the neutrinos travel the distance between the laboratories, they undergo a fundamental change in their identities. These changes are carefully measured by the massive NOvA detector.

The detector stands 53 feet tall and 180 feet long and weights 14,000 metric tons (over 30 million pounds). It acts as a gigantic digital camera to observe and capture the faint traces of light and energy that are left by particle interactions within the detector. The experiment captures two million “pictures” per second of these interactions. The pictures are analyzed by sophisticated software. The extreme sensitivity of the detector, electronics and software allow for individual neutrino interactions to be identified, classified and measured.

The NOvA experiment is being conducted by more than 200 scientists from 41 universities and research institutions from seven countries.  It is hosted by Fermilab, the leading U.S. laboratory for high-energy and particle physics.

The new result as shown below is not only consistent with the dramatic change in neutrino identity as seen in previous measurements, but has an intriguing hint that the effect is not quite as large as the theoretically expected maximum. This is a significant important step along the way to NOvA’s overall goal of solving this decades long mystery of why there is more matter than antimatter around in the universe we see.

AWS and NOvA
NOvA and other neutrino experiments hosted at Fermilab need to analyze over 10 PB of data each year as part of their ongoing physics analysis efforts. Historically, these analyses have been performed using a combination of dedicated on premises computing centers located at Fermilab, collaborating universities and grid federations. With the increase in data size, complexity of algorithms and the demand for large scale data processing, NOvA via Fermilab’s HEP Cloud used AWS storage and compute infrastructure in order to meet the peak demand for data/IO-intensive processing for the analysis. AWS Cloud Credits for Research Program helped immensely with the adoption and integration towards AWS Cloud.

Amazon S3 for Data Buffering
NOvA ran three major physics analysis campaigns on AWS as part of the critical path to physics results that is presented today at the Neutrino 2016 conference. Each of these analysis campaigns featured different degrees of data intensiveness.

The analysis applications consumed up to 1 GB of input per core hour of analysis and produced 1 GB of physics output. They ran at the scale of 7,500 concurrent cores on the spot market, for a total of over 400,000 core hours, more than doubling their processing capacity during critical weeks of a multi-month processing campaign.

By buffering the input and output data on Amazon S3, NOvA was able to feed data to the analyses at peak bandwidths above 1 GB/s, thus minimizing IO wait and cost. The image above depicts NOvA’s submission system for their data intensive workflows to the AWS infrastructure using HEP Cloud. Given the integration of the data management middleware with Amazon S3, the scientific applications will continue to use the known interfaces for handling massive amounts of data by the experiments.

The large data volume handling was also enabled by the recently upgraded peering point between Amazon in Oregon and the Energy Science Network (ESNet). This peering point provides a 100-Gbps path for data transport between AWS and the national laboratories and was used to transfer more than 100 TB of input and 150 TB of output at bandwidths ranging 5 to 12 Gbps between Fermilab and AWS. With the strengthening of the Data Egress Waiver program for the publicly funded ISP, AWS is becoming an outstanding resource for data-intensive science.

Peter Shanahan (Co-spokesperson of the NOvA experiment) told me:

Our experience with Amazon Web Services shows its potential as a reliable way to meet our peak data processing needs at times of high demand.

I hope that you enjoyed this brief insight into the ways in which AWS is helping to explore the nature of our universe!

Sanjay Padhi, Ph.D. – AWS Scientific Computing

Canada Federal Court Restrains Sale of ‘Pirate’ Boxes

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/canada-federal-court-restrains-sale-of-pirate-boxes-160610/

android-boxFor years Internet piracy was the preserve of desktop machines running various flavors of peer-to-peer file-sharing software. Now, with viable computing available in devices as small as a phone, piracy is a do-anywhere affair.

As a result it’s now common for people to stream media to their living room and for that purpose there are few more convenient solutions than an Android device. Whether phone, tablet, HDMI stick or set-top box, the Android platform can bring all the latest movies, TV shows and live sports to any living room, for little to no outlay.

This type of Internet piracy is thriving all around the world and has already resulted in arrests in the UK and civil actions elsewhere. The latest news comes out of Canada, where Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, Videotron and others are taking on several retailers of Android set-top boxes.

The broadcasters’ claims are relatively straightforward. As station operators they own the Canadian rights to a variety of TV shows. The defendants (ITVBOX.NET, My Electronics, Android Bros Inc., WatchNSaveNow Inc and MTLFreeTV) all sell devices that come ready configured with software designed to receive copyrighted content over the Internet.

The plaintiffs began their inquiries in April 2015 and in the year that followed purchased and tested the defendants’ products. They not only found that the devices provided access to their content for free, but also that the defendants advertised their products as a way to avoid paying cable bills.

Unsurprisingly the devices contained at least three sets of software – Kodi (along with the necessary infringing addons), the Popcorn Time-like Showbox application, plus tools to receive pirate subscription channels for a monthly fee.

As a result the TV companies went to court in an effort to obtain an interlocutory injunction to stop the devices being made available for sale. The plaintiffs made claims under both the Copyright Act and Radiocommunication Act, the latter due to the devices receiving “illegally decrypted programming”.

Describing pre-loaded set-top boxes as an “existential threat” to their businesses, the plaintiffs said that piracy and subsequent declining subscriptions are the main factors behind falling revenue. On this basis and as a deterrent to others supplying such devices, an injunction should be granted.

While the plaintiffs showed up in force, court documents reveal that only one defendant attended the hearing. Vincent Wesley of MTLFreeTV told the court that he had nothing to do with the development or maintenance of the installed software. The set-top boxes, he argued, are just pieces of hardware like a tablet or computer and have “substantial non-infringing uses.”

The court wasn’t convinced.

“The devices marketed, sold and programmed by the Defendants enable consumers to obtain unauthorized access to content for which the Plaintiffs own the copyright. This is not a case where the Defendants merely serve as the conduit, as was argued by Mr. Wesley,” Judge Daniele Tremblay-Lamer wrote in her order.

“Rather, they deliberately encourage consumers and potential clients to circumvent authorized ways of accessing content — say, by a cable subscription or by streaming content from the Plaintiffs’ websites — both in the manner in which they promote their business, and by offering tutorials in how to add and use applications which rely on illegally obtained content.”

As is often the case, the defendants’ marketing strategies appear set to haunt them. All imply infringing uses with descriptions such as “Original Cable Killer”, “Cancel cable today”, “Every Movie Ever Made”, “Every TV Show Ever Made” and “Live Sports and Events”.

Granting the interlocutory injunction, the judge said that other companies selling similar devices can be joined as parties to the injunction, should the plaintiffs identify them as defendants.

“This is not the first time a new technology has been alleged to violate copyright law, nor will it be the last. There are questions for the Court to resolve at trial rather than at this interlocutory stage,” the judge wrote.

“For the time being, I am satisfied that the Plaintiffs have established a strong prima facie case of copyright infringement and that an injunction would prevent irreparable harm without unduly inconveniencing the Defendants.”

A full trial will follow but from the evidence and defense presented thus far, it shouldn’t prove a difficult one for the broadcasters to win.

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

Netflix Blocks IPv6 Tunnels Over Geo-Unblocking Fears

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-blocks-ipv6-over-geo-unblocking-fears-160608/

netflix-logoIt used to be a little talked about secret but the fact that all Netflix users aren’t treated equally is now well and truly out of the bag.

Due to licensing deals with content providers, most regions in the world are granted access to differing levels of content. Users in the United States get the best deal from a choice perspective while subscribers in many other regions are offered much more shallow libraries.

However, for many years determined subscribers from all over the world have been using various tricks to gain access to the forbidden fruits of the U.S. Netflix library. This has largely been achieved through the use of VPNs and proxies, techniques which worked almost flawlessly until complaints from rightsholders forced Netflix into a crackdown earlier this year.

Nevertheless, other methods to circumvent Netflix blocks do exist. Some savvy individuals have been using something known as a tunnel broker, an online service which provides the user with a network tunnel. One particular type, known as an IPv6 tunnel broker, provides users with a modern IPv6 tunnel to sites via the much older (but massively more prevalent) IPv4 protocol.

One such service is provided free of charge by Hurricane Electric, the operator of the world’s largest IPv6 transit network. Called simply ‘IPv6 Tunnel Broker‘, the company describes the service as follows.

“Our free tunnel broker service enables you to reach the IPv6 Internet by tunneling over existing IPv4 connections from your IPv6 enabled host or router to one of our IPv6 routers. Our tunnel service is oriented towards developers and experimenters that want a stable tunnel platform,” Hurricane explains.

With noble goals at heart, this service is clearly not designed to give Netflix headaches. However, with tunnel endpoints in the United States that was apparently the net result, with people using the service able to access titles geo-restricted to the U.S.

Somehow this situation came to Netflix’s attention and during the past few days the company decided to take action. Numerous reports indicate that Netflix has now blocked users of Hurricane Electric’s tunnel broker from accessing its services, regardless of their intent. They now receive the message below.

netflix-block-he

A Reddit user called KeiroD contacted Netflix after receiving an identical message with the same error code – M7111-1331-5059. From the transcript of the discussion its clear that KeiroD already had a good idea why he was blocked.

“The only thing that I can think of that would affect us would be using the Hurricane Electric tunnelbroker but we’re US-based as is Hurricane Electric’s tunnel,” he explained. Netflix responded as expected.

“Yes it is possible as they work the same as the VPN or proxies. There is a way to find out if that is the reason, do you have a way to turn it off for a moment so we can try the service again?” customer support asked.

In response KeiroD turned off IPv6 in his router’s tunnel broker setup, rebooted, and played a random movie successfully.

General blocking aside, the sad part here is that KeiroD is based in the United States, so already had access to U.S. content on Netflix. The fact that his account with Netflix was registered in the United States and his endpoint was in Kansas City didn’t help at all.

Interestingly, the topic is also under discussion in Hurricane Electric’s forums. After years of people questioning whether he had access to the U.S. version of Netflix, a Canadian user there reported that his Netflix suddenly stopped working a few days ago.

“Turns out that I did [have the U.S. Netflix] and didn’t even know it! Now Netflix is blocking me, and after a long while I finally figured out that it was because of my IPv6 tunnel. The thing is though, I am in Canada, and I use the tunnel server in Toronto, also in Canada, but Netflix detects my connections as coming from the US!” he explains.

“Well of course this problem only affects traffic coming over the IPv6 tunnel. If I shut it down, then Netflix works fine over native IPv4. I obviously still want my IPv6 connectivity, and don’t have any easy way that I know of to specifically block only Netflix-related traffic from resolving IPv6 addresses and using the tunnel.”

Sadly, however, Hurricane say they can’t help.

“Our [subnet] is registered as part of a US company, and that is the address space being used there. We do not have any IPv6 allocations allocated and designated as ‘Canada’,” a senior Hurricane engineer responded.

“Our [subnet] is used globally, as-is. If Netflix has some sort of whitelisting system in place, perhaps the ranges used there can be submitted, if such a whitelist exists, Netflix willing.”

As an avid supporter of IPv6, Netflix’s decision to block Hurricane users is somewhat disappointing, especially when they have U.S. accounts and are also based in the U.S.

Understandably the company is responding to pressure from rightsholders but interestingly there’s no change in the current situation even when they aren’t a factor. Netflix previously indicated it wanted to improve licensing issues by creating its own shows, shows that can be accessed anywhere in the world without issues. But even they are off-limits, it seems.

“This started happening to me this afternoon. Called Netflix support, and based on that conversation I concluded they consider Tunnelbroker a VPN/Proxy,” another user on HE’s forums explains.

“They’re not wrong, but it’s still frustrating. Ironically the show I was trying to resume is a Netflix original. I wouldn’t have expected that there would be licensing issues on their own content.”

And so the whac-a-mole continues….

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

Axl Rose Sends DMCA Notices to Google Targeting ‘Fat’ Photo

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/axl-rose-sends-dmca-notices-to-google-targeting-fat-photo-160605/

censoredAs regularly documented in these pages, copyright holders expend a lot of energy trying to protect their work from Internet piracy.

The tried and tested method is to issue a DMCA takedown notice to webhosts and platforms such as Google, Facebook and YouTube. Millions of these requests are sent and processed every week.

However, while copyright holders are fully entitled to protect their work, there are many instances that cause controversy. These cases often amount to ham-handed efforts at taking down infringing content but others arouse suspicions that censorship is the likely goal.

Details of several such cases appeared in the Lumen Database’s DMCA archive this week, having been filed there by Google. They all relate to a wave of copyright claims sent to Blogspot and GoogleUserContent on May 31, 2016 demanding the removal of pictures depicting Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose.

“Copyright image of Axl Rose. Please be advised that no permission has been granted to publish the copyright image so we cannot direct you to an authorized example of it,” the notices sent by Web Sheriff on behalf of the singer read.

axl1

Each notice (1,2,3,4,5,6) relates to the same image, an excellently framed but rather unflattering picture of Axl Rose taken at the MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Canada, back in 2010.

axl2

Intrigued, TorrentFreak tracked down the photographer who captured this moment to see if he was aware of these takedown efforts. We eventually found Boris Minkevich at the Winnipeg Free Press where his fine work is published in all its glory.

During our initial discussions a few things became clear. Firstly, Minkevich definitely took the photo. Second, Minkevich had no idea that Rose was trying to “cleanse the web” of his photo.

Perhaps the first reaction here is that Rose has no right to take down Minkevich’s photo. Since Minkevich was the one who took it, he must own the copyright, right? Web Sheriff doesn’t seem to think so.

“We can gladly confirm that all official / accredited photographers at [Axl Rose] shows sign-off on ‘Photography Permission’ contracts / ‘Photographic Release’ agreements which A. specify and limit the manner in which the photos can be exploited and B. transfer copyright ownership in such photos to AR’s relevant service company,” the company told TF in a statement.

We contacted Minkevich again and asked whether he’d signed any contracts as suggested by Web Sheriff or had any clear idea of who owns the copyrights. He confirmed that some shows make photographers sign an agreement and some don’t. This event was in 2010, a long time to remember back.

However, even if Minkevich took this photograph in an unofficial and/or unauthorized capacity, Web Sheriff still believes there would be issues surrounding ownership.

“[If a photographer] was there and taking shots without permission or authority, then other considerations / factors would come-into-play as to what such individuals can and cannot do in terms of attempting to commercially exploit the resultant images of someone else’s show,” TF was informed.

So while the waters about who owns what continue to swirl, the big question remains – why target the picture at all? Understandably, Web Sheriff told us that client work is confidential but it’s certainly possible that part of the puzzle lies a quick Google search away.

As can been seen below, the photographs taken by Mr Minkevich all those years ago also triggered a viral Axl Rose ‘fat’ meme – hardly the kind of image someone like Axle Rose would like to preserve.

axl3

While poking fun at someone’s appearance is sadly par for the course on some parts of the Internet, sending DMCA notices is hardly likely to cure the problem, if indeed that’s what the aim of the half-dozen notices was. It’s possible we’ll never find out for sure.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out that Google hasn’t complied with the requests to remove the images and all remain up and accessible. That may be because Google believes that Axl Rose doesn’t own the photo and that the copyrights sit with Minkevich and/or the Winnipeg Free Press.

Clearly Axl Rose thinks otherwise but as pointed out by Minkevich to TF, the images being targeted on Blogspot are definitely infringing, although perhaps not in the way Axl might’ve hoped.

“Either way the photo was stolen off our website with no permission granted by the Winnipeg Free Press,” he concludes.

Messy? You bet.

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

RIAA Ceremony Commends ICE For “Historic” Pirate Site Shutdown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-ceremony-commends-ice-for-historic-pirate-site-shutdown-160514/

In 2010, U.S. authorities launched Operation in Our Sites, an anti-piracy campaign aimed at pushing copyright-infringing sites offline.

In its early days several high-profile sites including the infamous Ninjavideo were taken down but over time authorities focused more on sites connected to the supply of counterfeit physical goods.

In 2014, however, two music-focused piracy sites were on the radar of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigators. RockDizFile.com and RockDizMusic.com were two interconnected operations and in October 2014 disappeared from the Internet to be replaced by the now famous ICE domain seizure banner.

RockDizMusic was an index for popular new music while RockDizFile was a file-storage site acting as a storage facility for its similarly named counterpart. Both were run by Rocky P. Ouprasith of Charlotte, N.C., who was arrested following the execution of a Homeland Security Investigations search warrant.

While the sites had a much lower profile than many of the world’s leading torrent indexes, in 2013 the RIAA branded RockDizFile “as the second largest online file-sharing site in the reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted music in the United States.”

Subsequent court documents placed a value of $6 million on the amount of content pirated by the site. Ouprasith entered a guilty plea and last November was sentenced to serve a total of 36 months in prison with two years supervised release. The 23-year-old was also ordered to forfeit almost $51,000 and pay more than $45,000 in restitution.

This week, almost six months after the successful prosecution, the RIAA expressed gratitude to the U.S. law enforcement officers involved in the operation. During a special ceremony L. Carlos Linares, vice president of Anti-Piracy Legal Affairs at the RIAA, thanked ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents stationed in the United States, Canada, France and the Netherlands for bringing Ouprasith’s sites to their knees.

“On behalf of the major U.S. record labels, we are grateful for the excellent work of the ICE agents involved in this historic case,” said RIAA Chairman & CEO Cary Sherman.

“Music creators cannot make a living doing what they love when sites like RockDizMusic and RockDizFile are allowed to permeate the marketplace with illegal music, creating a damaging domino effect throughout our entire economy.

“This agency has repeatedly shown that it will work vigilantly to protect consumers from illicit sites and preserve one of America’s greatest exports – the intellectual property of our creative industries.”

ICE-HSI Executive Associate Director Peter Edge said that cooperation with groups such as the RIAA is a vital aspect of anti-piracy operations.

“Collaboration with industry is absolutely critical to conducting effective intellectual property enforcement. The dedication from agents involved in this case is a testimony to the importance we place on defending the U.S. economy, protecting consumers and cracking down on criminal organizations engaged in counterfeiting and other forms of IP theft,” Edge said.

According to ICE, the RIAA initially referred the case to the Department of Justice’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) before it was transferred to Homeland Security Investigations offices in Norfolk, Virginia.

While music piracy remains as rampant as ever, this prosecution sent a message to would-be pirates in the United States that the highest levels of law enforcement are at the RIAA’s disposal, should they be required. That being said, most large sites are operated from outside U.S. borders.

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

Canadian Movie Pirates Targeted in Reverse Class Action

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/canadian-movie-pirates-targeted-in-reverse-class-action-160429/

When it comes to the business model of turning piracy into profit, the name Voltage Pictures is never far from the action.

The Los Angeles-based movie outfit has tested the legal waters in several jurisdictions in an effort to extract cash settlements from alleged pirates, most recently in Australia with its movie Dallas Buyers Club.

In 2012, Voltage targeted Canadian ISP Teksavvy in a long drawn out battle to identify 2000 allegedly pirating users in order to force them to settle. Now, four years later, Voltage are back again with a new strategy.

This week the company filed an application in Federal Court, requesting certification of a reverse class action against an unquantified number of BitTorrent users who alleged shared five movies including The Cobbler, Pay the Ghost, Good Kill, Fathers and Daughters, and American Heist.

According to law professor Michael Geist, reverse class actions are very rare in Canada with only a few having been reported. The application of a reverse class action in a copyright case appears to be unprecedented.

voltage-class

“Class actions typically involve a representative plaintiff who represents many others who have suffered the same harms from the actions of the defendant. Reverse class actions feature a single plaintiff (Voltage) and multiple defendants (the alleged file sharers),” Geist explains.

According to the case documents (pdf) Voltage intends to build its case around a single and as-yet-unidentified customer of ISP Rogers. He or she is referred to as John Doe #1 and by the IP address allocated when the alleged offense took place.

“Through custom-designed software designed to track copyright infringements, and the online identities of those who commit such infringements (by way of IP address and time of infringement), the Voltage Parties have identified many thousand instances of their films (including the Works) being illegally offered for download from Individuals using the Internet,” the Voltage application reads.

“The proposed Representative Respondent, John Doe #1, as well as each member of the proposed Respondent Class….are persons whose names and identities are currently unknown to the Voltage Parties, but who have unlawfully, and without the Voltage Parties’ authorization or consent, infringed copyright in the Works, including by illegally uploading and distributing the Works for free, in full or in part, over the internet.”

rogers-doe

Interestingly, Voltage is open about the reasons behind this new strategy, noting that widespread piracy and the high cost of litigation means it has sought a cheaper way to target large numbers of infringers at once.

“The Voltage Parties seek to certify this Application as a class proceeding as a way to address these issues and obtain reasonable compensation for the significant damages that each proposed Class Member has caused, in a cost-effective and fair manner for both the Voltage Parties and the proposed Class Members,” the application reads.

Voltage accuses the Class Members of three “Unlawful Acts” including making movies available for download via BitTorrent, advertising by way of the BitTorrent protocol that a work is available for download by each member, and failing to take “reasonable steps” to ensure that downloaders were authorized by law to do so.

But the big question remains – could such a strategy work? Professor Geist has his doubts.

“One of the biggest concerns involves questions of representation for the defendant class. Before certification [of the reverse class action], the court will want assurance that the interests of the defendants will be fairly represented. But who will represent those interests? Who will pay for the legal counsel?” Geist asks.

“Unlike a plaintiff-led class action, where lawyers are often willing to invest in the case, there is no payoff at the end of this case and finding someone to represent the class will be a challenge when the only named representative is John Doe #1.”

But the problems don’t stop there. Geist says that in a certified reverse class action defendants actually have the option to opt out of the class.

“In other words, after going through the process of trying to meet the requirements for class proceedings, all the defendants will be permitted to simply walk away,” he explains.

If they do, however, other questions are raised, including whether those who opt-out will be allowed to keep their anonymity. If they are not, this could play right into Voltage’s hands.

Copyright cases are complex in their own right but this strategy from Voltage will set in motion a vigorous scratching of heads. Definitely one to watch.

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