Tag Archives: Censorship

Music Industry Wants Piracy Filters, No Takedown Whack-a-Mole

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/music-industry-wants-piracy-filters-no-takedown-whack-a-mole-170222/

Signed into law nearly twenty years ago, the DMCA is one of the best known pieces of Internet related legislation.

The law provides a safe harbor for Internet services, shielding them from copyright infringement liability as long as they process takedown notices and deal with repeat infringers.

In recent years, however, various parties have complained about shortcomings and abuse of the system. On the one hand, rightsholders believe that the law doesn’t do enough to protect creators, while the opposing side warns of increased censorship and abuse.

To address these concerns, the U.S. Copyright Office is currently running an extended public consultation.

This week a new round of comments was submitted, including a detailed response from a coalition of music industry groups such as the RIAA, National Music Publishers’ Association, and SoundExchange. When it comes to their views of the DMCA the music groups are very clear: It’s failing.

The music groups note that they are currently required to police the entire Internet in search of infringing links and files, which they then have to take down one at a time. This doesn’t work, they argue.

They say that the present situation forces rightsholders to participate in a never-ending whack-a-mole game which doesn’t fix the underlying problem. Instead, it results in a “frustrating, burdensome and ultimately ineffective takedown process.”

“…as numerous copyright owners point out in their comments, the notice and takedown system as currently configured results in an endless game of whack-a-mole, with infringing content that is removed from a site one moment reposted to the same site and other sites moments later, to be repeated ad infinitem.”

Instead of leaving all the work up to copyright holders, the music groups want Internet services to filter out and block infringing content proactively. With the use of automated hash filtering tools, for example.

“One possible solution to this problem would be to require that, once a service provider receives a takedown notice with respect to a given work, the service provider use automated content identification technology to prevent the same work from being uploaded in the future,” the groups write.

“Automated content identification technologies are one important type of standard technical measure that should be adopted across the industry, and at a minimum by service providers who give the public access to large amounts of works uploaded by users.”

These anti-piracy filters are already in use by some companies and are relatively cheap to implement, even for relatively smaller services, the music groups note.

The whack-a-mole problem doesn’t only apply to hosting providers but also to search engines, the music groups complain.

While companies such as Google remove links to infringing material upon request, these links often reappear under a different URL. At the same time, pirate sites often appear before legitimate services in search results. A fix for this problem would be to stop indexing known pirate sites completely.

“One possible solution would be to require search engines to de-index structurally infringing sites that are the subject of a large number of takedown notices,” the groups recommend.

Ideally, they want copyright holders and Internet services to reach a voluntary agreement on how to filter pirated content. This could be similar to YouTube’s Content-ID system, or the hash filtering mechanisms Dropbox and Google Drive employ, for example.

If service providers are not interested in helping out, however, the music industry says new legislation might be needed to give them a push.

“The Music Community stands ready to work with service providers and other copyright owners on the development and implementation of standard technical measures and voluntary measures. However, to the extent such measures are not forthcoming, legislative solutions will be necessary to restore the balance Congress intended,” the recommendation reads.

Interestingly, this collaborative stance doesn’t appear to apply to all parties. File-hosting service 4Shared previously informed TorrentFreak that several prominent music groups have shown little interest in their voluntary piracy fingerprint tool.

The notion of piracy filters isn’t new. A few months ago the European Commission released its proposal to modernize the EU’s copyright law, under which online services will also be required to install mandatory piracy filters.

Whether the U.S. Government will follow suit has yet to be seen. In any case, rightsholders are likely to keep lobbying for change until they see significant improvements.

The full submission of the music groups is available here (pdf).

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

Kids Shouldn’t Use the Internet, Russia’s Site-Blocking Chief Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russias-site-blocking-chief-kids-shouldnt-use-the-internet-170218/

Whether we like it or not, there are entities out there that like to try and control what we can and cannot see.

From the MPAA ratings system in the United States to the British Board of Film Censors Classification in the UK, various bodies like to remind us that there are filters in place, ostensibly for our own protection.

Of course, if run properly these kinds of systems can sometimes provide us with useful guidance, which is often welcome. At least they’re relatively subtle when compared to the flat-out Internet censorship provided by the Great Firewall of China, we assure ourselves.

But behind all of this censorship are claims that it’s all done for the greater good, to prevent the undermining of the state, to protect children, or to prevent damage to media companies, for example. Russia takes all of these things fairly seriously, and now blocks thousands of platforms on all kinds of grounds, from extremism to online piracy.

In certain quarters there’s an assumption that those behind such blocking know what they’re doing and can be trusted to do the right thing. This week, however, a few sentences from the boss of Russian telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor (which oversees site-blocking) revealed just how far away these people can drift.

In a Q&A session with AIF.ru, Alexander Zharov spoke on a number of issues, including online safety, especially for children. Naturally, kids need to be protected but the Rozcomnadzor chief has some quite radical ideas when it comes to them using the Internet.

“I believe that a child under 10-years-old should not go online. To use [the Internet] actively they need to start even later than that,” Zharov said.

As that begins to sink in, with parents around the globe destroying their kids’ smartphones, tablets, and games consoles in agreement, Zharov hasn’t finished.

“Some parents are proud of the fact that their three-year-old kid can deftly control a tablet and use it to watch cartoons. It is nothing good, in my opinion. A small child will begin to consider the virtual world part of the real world, and it changes their perception of reality.”

To put these ‘banning kids from the Internet’ statements into some kind of perspective, the image below shows figures compiled by UK telecoms regulator OFCOM for its Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report 2016 (pdf).

As we can see, around 80% of kids up to the age of 11 use tablets to consume media, which in many cases is delivered via the Internet. Throw the online capabilities of smartphones and games consoles into the mix and we have a massively connected group of 3 to 10-year-olds, all of them becoming conversant with the vital online world.

That the head of the body overseeing web-blocking in Russia believes that none of them should have access to the Internet is truly mind-boggling, especially when one considers the value children bring to the table.

According to a study just published by eMarketeer, 88.6% of internet users under four-years-old will watch digital video online in 2017, something which in turn will positively affect consumption volumes overall.

“Buoyed by the growth in younger age categories, overall video numbers are up, in 2017 eMarketer estimates that 43.2 million people, equating to 79.4 per cent of Internet users will be watching online videos,” Advanced Television reports.

But credit where it’s due. Zharov does have some good advice for parents, such as limiting the time kids spend online and keeping an eye out for behavior that might indicate cyber-bullying.

“With older children in my family, we have agreed as follows: when on the web, any unusual situation, you need to discuss it with your parents,” he wisely says.

Fortunately for Zharov, the embarrassing “Daddy, what’s a VPN?” question won’t raise its ugly head for at least another half a decade, if he can keep his youngest child (whose coming five) off the Internet for that long.

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

BitChute is a BitTorrent-Powered YouTube Alternative

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bitchute-is-a-bittorrent-powered-youtube-alternative-170129/

bitchute-logoYouTube attracts over a billion visitors every month, with many flocking to the platform to view original content uploaded by thousands of contributors. However, those contributors aren’t completely free to upload and make money from whatever they like.

Since it needs to please its advertisers, YouTube has rules in place over what kind of content can be monetized, something which caused a huge backlash last year alongside claims of censorship.

But what if there was an alternative to YouTube, one that doesn’t impose the same kinds of restrictions on uploaders? Enter BitChute, a BitTorrent-powered video platform that seeks to hand freedom back to its users.

“The idea comes from seeing the increased levels of censorship by the large social media platforms in the last couple of years. Bannings, demonetization, and tweaking algorithms to send certain content into obscurity and, wanting to do something about it,” BitChute founder Ray Vahey informs TorrentFreak.

“I knew building a clone wasn’t the answer, many have tried and failed. And it would inevitably grow into an organization with the same problems anyway.”

As seen in the image below, the site has a familiar layout for anyone used to YouTube-like video platforms. It has similar video controls, view counts, and the ability to vote on content. It also has a fully-functioning comment section.


Of course, one of the main obstacles for video content hosting platforms is the obscene amounts of bandwidth they consume. Any level of success is usually accompanied by big hosting bills. But along with its people-powered philosophy, BitChute does things a little differently.

Instead of utilizing central servers, BitChute uses WebTorrent, a system which allows people to share videos directly from their browser, without having to configure or install anything. Essentially this means that the site’s users become hosts of the videos they’re watching, which slams BitChute’s hosting costs into the ground.

“Distributed systems and WebTorrent invert the scalability advantage the Googles and Facebooks have. The bigger our user base grows, the more efficiently it can serve while retaining the simplicity of the web browser,” Vahey says.

“Also by the nature of all torrent technology, we are not locking users into a single site, and they have the choice to retain and continue sharing the files they download. That puts more power back in the hands of the consumer where it should be.”

The only hints that BitChute is using peer-to-peer technology are the peer counts under each video and a short delay before a selected video begins to play. This is necessary for the system to find peers but thankfully it isn’t too intrusive.

As far as we know, BitChute is the first attempt at a YouTube-like platform that leverages peer-to-peer technology. It’s only been in operation for a short time but according to its founder, things are going well.

“As far as I could tell, no one had yet run with this idea as a service, so that’s what myself and few like-minded people decided. To put it out there and see what people think. So far it’s been an amazingly positive response from people who understand and agree with what we’re doing,” Vahey explains.

“Just over three weeks ago we launched with limited upload access on a first come first served basis. We are flat out busy working on the next version of the site; I have two other co-founders based out of the UK who are supporting me, watch this space,” he concludes.

Certainly, people will be cheering the team on. Last September, popular YouTuber Bluedrake experimented with WebTorrent to distribute his videos after becoming frustrated with YouTube’s policies.

“All I want is a site where people can say what they want,” he said at the time. “I want a site where people can operate their business without having somebody else step in and take away their content when they say something they don’t like.”

For now, BitChute is still under development, but so far it has impressed Feross Aboukhadijeh, the Stanford University graduate who invented WebTorrent.

“BitChute is an exciting new product,” he told TF this week. “This is exactly the kind of ‘people-powered’ website that WebTorrent technology was designed to enable. I’m eager to see where the team takes it.”

BitChute can be found here.

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

Researchers Issue Security Warning Over Android VPN Apps

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/researchers-issue-security-warning-over-android-vpn-apps-170125/

warningThere was a time when the Internet was a fairly straightforward place to navigate, with basic software, basic websites and few major security issues. Over the years, however, things have drastically changed.

Many people now spend their entire lives connected to the web in some way, particularly via mobile devices and apps such as Facebook and the countless thousands of others now freely available online.

For some users, the idea of encrypting their traffic has become attractive, from both a security and anti-censorship standpoint. On the one hand people like the idea of private communications and on the other, encryption can enable people to bypass website blocks, wherever they may occur and for whatever reason.

As a result, millions are now turning to premium VPN packages from reputable companies. Others, however, prefer to use the all-in-one options available on Google’s Play store, but according to a new study, that could be a risky strategy.

A study by researchers at CSIRO’s Data 61, University of New South Wales, and UC Berkley, has found that hundreds of VPN apps available from Google Play presented significant security issues including malware, spyware, adware and data leaks.

Very often, users look at the number of downloads combined with the ‘star rating’ of apps to work out whether they’re getting a good product. However, the researchers found that among the 283 apps tested, even the highest ranked and most-downloaded apps can carry nasty surprises.

“While 37% of the analyzed VPN apps have more than 500K installs and 25% of them receive at least a 4-star rating, over 38% of them contain some malware presence according to VirusTotal,” the researchers write.

The five types of malware detected can be broken down as follows: Adware (43%), Trojan (29%), Malvertising (17%), Riskware (6%) and Spyware (5%). The researchers ordered the most problematic apps by VirusTotal AV-Rank, which represents the number of anti-virus tools that identified any malware activity.

The worst offenders, according to the reportvpn-worst

The researchers found that only a marginal number of VPN users raised any security or privacy concerns in the review sections for each app, despite many of them having serious problems. The high number of downloads seem to suggest that users have confidence in them, despite their issues.

“According to the number of installs of these apps, millions of users appear to trust VPN apps despite their potential maliciousness. In fact, the high presence of malware activity in VPN apps that our analysis has revealed is worrisome given the ability that these apps already have to inspect and analyze all user’s traffic with the VPN permission,” the paper reads.

The growing awareness of VPNs and their association with privacy and security has been a hot topic in recent years, but the researchers found that many of the apps available on Google Play offer neither. Instead, they featured tracking of users by third parties while demanding access to sensitive Android permissions.

“Even though 67% of the identified VPN Android apps offer services to enhance online privacy and security, 75% of them use third-party tracking libraries and 82% request permissions to access sensitive resources including user accounts and text messages,” the researchers note.

Even from this low point, things manage to get worse. Many VPN users associate the product they’re using with encryption and the privacy it brings, but for almost one-fifth of apps tested by the researchers, the concept is alien.

“18% of the VPN apps implement tunneling protocols without encryption despite promising online anonymity and security to their users,” they write, adding that 16% of tested apps routed traffic through other users of the same app rather than utilizing dedicated online servers.

“This forwarding model raises a number of trust, security, and privacy concerns for participating users,” the researchers add, noting that only Hola admits to the practice on its website.

And when it comes to the handling of IPv6 traffic, the majority of the apps featured in the study fell short in a dramatic way. Around 84% of the VPN apps tested had IPv6 leaks while 66% had DNS leaks, something the researchers put down to misconfigurations or developer-induced errors.

“Both the lack of strong encryption and traffic leakages can ease online tracking activities performed by inpath middleboxes (e.g., commercial WiFi [Access Points] harvesting user’s data) and by surveillance agencies,” they warn.

While the study (pdf) is detailed, it does not attempt to rank any of the applications tested, other than showing a table of some of the worst offenders. From the perspective of the consumer looking to install a good VPN app, that’s possibly not as helpful as they might like.

Instead, those looking for a VPN will have to carry out their own research online before taking the plunge. Sticking with well-known companies that are transparent about their practices is a great start. And, if an app requests access to sensitive data during the install process for no good reason, get rid of it. Finally, if it’s a free app with a free service included, it’s a fair assumption that strings may be attached.

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

China Bans Unauthorized VPN Services in Internet Crackdown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/china-ban-unauthorized-vpn-services-in-internet-crackdown-170123/

blocked-censorWhile the Internet is considered by many to be the greatest invention of modern time, to others it presents a disruptive influence that needs to be controlled.

Among developed nations nowhere is this more obvious than in China, where the government seeks to limit what citizens can experience online. Using technology such as filters and an army of personnel, people are routinely barred from visiting certain websites and engaging in activity deemed as undermining the state.

Of course, a cat-and-mouse game is continuously underway, with citizens regularly trying to punch through the country’s so-called ‘Great Firewall’ using various techniques, services, and encryption technologies. Now, however, even that is under threat.

In an announcement yesterday from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the government explained that due to Internet technologies and services expanding in a “disorderly” fashion, regulation is needed to restore order.

“In recent years, as advances in information technology networks, cloud computing, big data and other applications have flourished, China’s Internet network access services market is facing many development opportunities. However, signs of disorderly development show the urgent need for regulation norms,” MIIT said.

In order to “standardize” the market and “strengthen network information security management,” the government says it is embarking on a “nationwide Internet network access services clean-up.” It will begin immediately and continue until March 31, 2018, with several aims.

All Internet services such as data centers, ISPs, CDNs and much-valued censorship-busting VPNs, will need to have pre-approval from the government to operate. Operating such a service without a corresponding telecommunications business license will constitute an offense.

“Internet data centers, ISP and CDN enterprises shall not privately build communication transmission facilities, and shall not use the network infrastructure and IP addresses, bandwidth and other network access resources…without the corresponding telecommunications business license,” the notice reads.

It will also be an offense to possess a business license but then operate outside its scope, such as by exceeding its regional boundaries or by operating other Internet services not permitted by the license. Internet entities are also forbidden to sub-lease to other unlicensed entities.

In the notice, VPNs and similar technologies have a section all to themselves and are framed as “cross-border issues.”

“Without the approval of the telecommunications administrations, entities can not create their own or leased line (including a Virtual Private Network) and other channels to carry out cross-border business activities,” it reads.

The notice, published yesterday, renders most VPN providers in China illegal, SCMP reports.

Only time will tell what effect the ban will have in the real world, but in the short-term there is bound to be some disruption as entities seek to license their services or scurry away underground.

As always, however, the Internet will perceive censorship as damage, and it’s inevitable that the most determined of netizens will find a way to access content outside China (such as Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter), no matter how strict the rules.

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

Internet Freedom Day: How Massive ‘Blackout’ Protests Killed Two Anti-Piracy Bills

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/internet-freedom-day-how-blackout-protests-killed-two-anti-piracy-bills-170118/

internetfreedomsopaAt the start of the decade several new bills were introduced in the United States, aiming to make it easier for copyright holders to enforce their rights online.

The proposals, including SOPA and PIPA, would’ve streamlined the shutting down of allegedly infringing domain names and threatened to increase liability for third party services, among other things.

Fearing broad Internet censorship, the proposals ignited a wave of protests led by various activist groups. But, what started as a small protest movement was swiftly elevated to mainstream news, when tech giants such as Google and Wikipedia joined in.

Exactly five years ago, following months of scattered protests, the opposition peaked into a massive Internet blackout campaign.

As a result, the balance of power tipped and Hollywood and the music industry were forced into retreat. Soon after the blackout, both bills were declared dead, a victory which is still frequently referenced today.

A year after the succesfull blackout campaign, January 18 was declared Internet Freedom Day. While the first celebration attracted international news headlines, it’s now become a relatively small event.

Still, many of the concerns that were brought up half a decade ago remain relevant today. Site blocking efforts and domain name seizures are still high on the agenda, and the same is true for search engine ‘censorship’ and liability for ISPs and other third party services.

What has changed is that, instead of tackling these issues through legislation, rightsholders are now focusing on individual lawsuits and voluntary agreements.

This means that for activists, Internet Freedom Day could still be relevant now, both as a remembrance and as a call to action. In any case, it’s worth noting that without the protests things could have been very different today.

Below are a few of the many ‘blackout’ pages that were up (or down) five years ago.


Wikipedia was completely inaccessible for 24 hours, except the pages about censorship, PIPA and SOPA, of course.


Google blacked out its logo to protest PIPA/SOPA and added a link to a resource page where people could take action.

google strike


Reddit directed its users to a resource site where they could take action.



The image sharing site Imgur offered information on the protests as well as steps to take action.



Demonoid, one of the largest BitTorrent communities at the time, went dark completely, with a nice spotlight effect.



Firefox users were welcomed with a dark themed default homepage, alerting people about the looming PIPA/SOPA threats.


The online classified advertisements portal Craigslist directed the public to a resource site where they could take action.



WordPress joined the protest too, and decided to censor itself for the day.



Minecraft protested as well, but in red with the tagline “PIPA & SOPA, How About NOPA.”



Yes, we also took part, giving readers the option to save the Internet, or… Meh…


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

Internet Filtering in Authoritarian Regimes

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/01/internet_filter.html

Interesting research: Sebastian Hellmeier, “The Dictator’s Digital Toolkit: Explaining Variation in Internet Filtering in Authoritarian Regimes,” Politics & Policy, 2016 (full paper is behind a paywall):

Abstract: Following its global diffusion during the last decade, the Internet was expected to become a liberation technology and a threat for autocratic regimes by facilitating collective action. Recently, however, autocratic regimes took control of the Internet and filter online content. Building on the literature concerning the political economy of repression, this article argues that regime characteristics, economic conditions, and conflict in bordering states account for variation in Internet filtering levels among autocratic regimes. Using OLS-regression, the article analyzes the determinants of Internet filtering as measured by the Open Net Initiative in 34 autocratic regimes. The results show that monarchies, regimes with higher levels of social unrest, regime changes in neighboring countries, and less oppositional competition in the political arena are more likely to filter the Internet. The article calls for a systematic data collection to analyze the causal mechanisms and the temporal dynamics of Internet filtering.

Public Domain Project Calls on EU to Abandon Piracy Filter Proposals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/public-domain-project-calls-on-eu-to-abandon-piracy-filter-proposals-170110/

Last September, during his State of the Union address, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans to modernize copyright law in Europe.

The proposals (pdf) are part of the Digital Single Market reforms, which have been developed over the past several years.

While the proposals cover a broad range of copyright-related issues, Article 13 is one of the most controversial. The proposal requires online service providers to proactively police copyrighted content using “appropriate and proportionate measures.” User-generated content sites, for example, would be required to install fingerprinting and filtering systems to block copyright-infringing files.

The proposals quickly caused concern, with early criticism coming from Digital rights group EDRi and Julia Reda of the Pirate Party, among others. Now, an influential group founded to protect the public domain has aired its concerns.

Founded in 2007 by groups including Creative Commons and Wikimedia, Communia has a mission to protect and expand the range of content freely available to the public by limiting the scope of exclusive copyright. Until 2011 it was actually funded by the European Commission but now finds itself criticizing the EC’s proposals.

In its fifth paper published on the Commission’s proposals for reform, Communia is clear. In an effort to address the much-discussed “value gap,” any introduction of Article 13 has the potential to serve as a “censorship machine” and will violate users’ fundamental rights while distorting the existing legal framework.

“The measures proposed in the Commission’s proposal stem from an unbalanced vision of copyright as an issue between rightsholders and ‘infringers.’ The proposal chooses to ignore limitations and exceptions to copyright, fundamental freedoms, and existing users’ practices,” Communia says.

“In addition, the proposal fails to establish clear rules with regard to how citizens can use protected works in transformative ways — such as remixes and other forms of so-called ‘user-generated content’ (UGC). As a result, a system of this kind would greatly restrict the way Europeans create, share, and communicate online.”

Communia also puts emphasis on the legal uncertainty the measures in Article 13 would create. Users’ rights are completely omitted from the proposal while a lack of proportionality would “pose a dangerous precedent” in European law.

From its report it’s clear that Communia is concerned over the totality of such a filtering system. By its very nature, all user-generated content would have to be passed through it for approval, resulting in a censorship mechanism that exists “just in case” there is an infringement.

“As a result, users’ activity will be constrained before any infringement happens. This approach goes against both fundamental rights and the European law,” the project writes.

Communia also highlights an imbalance over who has access to information concerning the operation of the mechanisms proposed by Article 13. While service providers will be required to report to rightsholders on how the system is functioning, users having their content filtered (and potentially censored) will enjoy no such luxury.

“The proposed requirements for the filtering system do not include any obligation to inform users on how the system functions, or to make rights claims transparent to end users. This leaves users without information necessary to defend themselves in case their use fits one of the exceptions or limitations,” Communia warns.

Of course, not all uses of copyrighted content actually constitute copyright infringement. However, it’s unlikely that any filtering system will be sufficiently technologically advanced to determine a parody or news report from a genuine infringement of copyright, for example.

“This type of a system, combined with an ineffective redress mechanism, will create a chilling effect that will thwart users’ rights online,” Communia notes.

Also of interest is Communia’s stance that filtering of user-uploaded content could actually be contrary to EU law. In the Sabam v Netlog case the European Court of Justice ruled that hosting sites can’t be forced to filter copyrighted content. That would violate the privacy of users and hinder freedom of information, the Court said. If the Commission’s proposals extend to hosting providers, this would raise problems.

Furthermore, Communia says that the proposals contained in Article 13 also contradict the E-Commerce Directive. Service providers are not liable for information stored by their users but the group says the proposals introduces liability for hosting services that currently enjoy safe harbor.

“If the Commission’s proposal is adopted, safe harbor may be at risk because the scope of ISSPs covered by the Directive is not clear. In this way, the proposal challenges the established practice under the E-Commerce Directive, and as such is detrimental to the EU rule of law,” Communia adds.

In conclusion, the group has a simple request – that Article 13 be completely removed from the European Commission’s proposals. Failing that, Communia would like the EU legislator to clearly define how existing content may be used.

“This can be achieved by introducing in the proposal a new, mandatory exception to copyright that allows noncommercial transformative uses of copyrighted works by private individuals, and their dissemination via online platforms. Rightsholders must not be granted any authority to remove or block user uploads that fall within the scope of such an exception, or any other exception,” Communia says.

In a final demand (pdf), the group says that users should also be granted access to transparent information regarding the functioning of any filter and be able to contest any removal actions carried out by it.

Creative Commons has a run-down of issues raised by other reform proposals.

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

A Bunch of Weak Anti-Piracy Measures Are Still a Pest to Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/a-bunch-of-weak-anti-piracy-measures-are-still-a-pest-to-pirates-170107/

crypirateJust before Christmas, the Federal Court in Australia ordered The Pirate Bay and several other sites to be blocked by ISPs. Completely unsurprisingly, the first iteration of the block was defeated within minutes, much to the joy of anti-censorship advocates.

It’s often said that the Internet views censorship as damage, so it routes around it. But, branding site-blocking as an ineffective anti-piracy tool is probably missing the point.

Whatever reputation they may have built online, rightsholders and their anti-piracy partners are rarely naive, and few think that site-blocking alone will solve their problems. Indeed, most of them know that blocking is just one small weapon in their increasingly diverse anti-piracy arsenal.

While never is a long time, piracy is not going away anytime soon. However, making the practice frustrating is achievable, particularly when targeting inexperienced “new recruits” to the pastime. Even when armed with a VPN, merely visiting an established site is not as easy as it once was.

For example, thanks to seizures, sites are now more prone to jumping to new domains. If that happens abruptly, even long-standing users of those sites may not immediately know where the new site can be found. And then, even when word begins to spread, questions are raised over the authenticity of the site at the new domain. Is it real? Is it an imposter? Is it some kind of trap? While experienced users will tend to find out the truth, casual users can have their confidence undermined.

At the same time, not all domain changes are involuntary. Thanks to Google’s downranking of domains for which it receives lots of DMCA takedown notices, pirate sites often choose to migrate to a fresh domain name of their own accord, to one that is yet to feel the effects of Google’s efforts. Even when controlled, these domain switches have a destabilizing effect among users, especially those sensitive to change.

So, like domain blocking, DMCA notices are often seen as merely a drop in the ocean when it comes to tackling rapidly reappearing “whac-a-mole” content. But as the need to domain-hop illustrates, they are all part of the frustration effort.

Equally, simply visiting pirate sites used to be a relatively painless experience but lately, things have been going a little downhill. Sure, the quality of advertising has often left plenty of room for improvement, but these days the situation with junk ads is getting worse. On some sites it has become absolutely unbearable.

While some might blame site operators for this decline (and some are indeed guilty), the problem is largely down to rightsholders tightening the noose on companies prepared to advertise on pirate sites. Continuous pressure means that sites have fewer options, resulting in a decline in quality and an increase in the annoyance factor.

Of course, any visitor can use a decent adblocker to make their experience a bit better, but that deprives sites of revenue. Make no mistake, with their “follow the money” approach, that’s what rightsholders want. It’s just another way of chipping away at the ecosystem.

So, while site-blocking can be neutralized with VPNs and DNS tweaks, there’s no mechanism to stop sites having their brands undermined by domain-hopping, whether caused by seizures, unofficial clones, or efforts to get better search rankings. Equally, junk ads can be eliminated with something like uBlock Origin, but that deprives sites of revenue.

Clearly, none of these measures are good enough to hit piracy hard enough to kill it, but the barriers to entry are being raised. In addition to a fast broadband service, a decent VPN provider is now almost essential for many file-sharers, whether that’s for circumventing blockades or avoiding those pesky sharing warnings.

Equally, keeping on top of the latest news, changes, developments, and domain switches can be a time-consumer in itself. That certainly wasn’t the case ten years ago. And if that isn’t enough, running the junk ad gauntlet requires a skill set all of its own, one that can potentially affect all sites running in a browser, whether they’re guilty of bad behavior or not.

Somewhat inevitably, all this can lead to frustration if not sheer confusion. Is a site failing to load because it’s been raided? Because it’s been blocked? Because my VPN isn’t working? Because I’ve accidentally flicked the wrong ad-blocker? Or maybe a combination of them all – where do I start?

Experienced file-sharers probably won’t have a major problem overcoming these issues but for new-comers, the situation is less straightforward. In any event, for many people mainstream web-based piracy definitely isn’t as convenient as it once was. No wonder modded-Kodi setups and other IPTV solutions are gaining in popularity.

And so the cycle continues……..

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

New KickassTorrents Team Condemns Jailing of Music Pirate

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/new-kickasstorrents-team-condemns-jailing-of-music-pirate-161231/

katcommFollowing a joint investigation with licensing outfit PRS for Music, last year officers from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and Merseyside police raided an address in Everton, Liverpool.

They arrested Wayne Evans, a local DJ who was involved in the online distribution of digital music. Known online as OldSkoolScouse, Evans uploaded packs of the UK’s current Top 40 Singles to torrent sites each week. They included at least 200 uploaded to KickassTorrents.

After pleading guilty during an earlier hearing, this month Evans was sentenced for copyright infringement and fraud. The 39-year-old, who had no previous convictions, was jailed for a year.

Both police and rightsholders celebrated the conviction, describing the 12 months sentence as a deterrent to others considering music piracy. But of course, among file-sharers the long-term detention of Evans was less well received and has been widely criticized online.

Now, the team behind the resurrected KickassTorrents have added their dissenting voices, slamming the sentence as a waste of time and money.

“We find the 12-month sentence of OldSkoolScouse which the judge ruled a ‘deterrent to others’ offensive in the extreme and an irresponsible waste of taxpayer resources,” the team told TF in a statement.

“One questions the motivations of the agencies and resources assigned in regards to copyright infringements whilst actual criminals walk free. Is this what our legal systems have now become?”

While Evans undoubtedly knew that what he was doing was illegal on some level, it’s unlikely he’d have expected a knock on the door from the UK’s most elite anti-piracy unit followed by a major conviction for fraud. Undoubtedly a show of force and a stern warning would’ve ensured no more uploads, but clearly the police and PRS were out to prove a point.

But herein lies the problem. Whether copyright holders like it or not, the general public simply does not see infringement as a serious crime, so when hefty sentences like this are handed out, the numbers are rarely seen to add up.

For instance, take the woman who smashed a glass into another woman’s head in an unprovoked nightclub attack in May. This November, she also received a 12-month sentence.

Another man, who regularly tortured his girlfriend and subjected her to waterboarding sessions, got the same sentence in August.

Worse still, over the past 15 years many convicted terrorists in the UK have been released after serving just 12 months in prison.

It’s no surprise at all that the public has difficulty equating the seriousness of file-sharing to these violent and obnoxious crimes and it’s hard to imagine a time when that will change. However, the authorities have clearly drawn a line in the sand, so if they wanted a deterrent, then they definitely have one here.

Finally, the KickassTeam call for solidarity and wish Evans all the best for the future.

“We urge OldSkoolScouse to appeal the case and allow justice to prevail. Now is the time for the community to show its full support and put an end to corporate greed, bullying, ransom and censorship.

“We wish OldSkoolScouse a positive outcome and know that there are millions of people globally who support you,” they conclude.

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

2016-12-29 33c3 – малко лекции

Post Syndicated from Vasil Kolev original https://vasil.ludost.net/blog/?p=3332

Тази година гледам 33c3 от вкъщи, и май гледам по-малко лекции. Ето какво съм гледал до тук:
(обработените лекции са на media.ccc.de, ако ги няма тук може да се търсят на relive)

What could possibly go wrong with <insert x86 instruction here>? беше описание и демонстрационен код как може да чрез ползване на кеша (flush-ване, напълване и т.н.) да се комуникира между несвързани процеси или дори виртуални машини, които се schedule-ват на същия процесор (т.е. и между core-ове, които споделят кеш).

How Do I Crack Satellite and Cable Pay TV? беше за reverse-ване на чиповете, които декриптират сателитна телевизия, прилично интересно.

Building a high throughput low-latency PCIe based SDR са хора, които разработват software-defined radio на mini PCIe карта, което може да се използва за всякакви по-сериозни цели (има включително синхронизация на часовника от GPS), като за момента са до средата (не са си постигнали целта за скорост на устройството), и ако постигнат прилична цена, това може да се окаже идеалното устройство за правене на софтуерни GSM/LTE неща.

Shut Up and Take My Money! беше за как са счупили на някакви хора мобилното приложение, което се занимава с потребителски транзакции. Звучеше като да трябва да затворят тия, дето са го мислили/писали.

What’s It Doing Now? беше доста интересна лекция за автопилоти по самолети, как тоя тип автоматика трябва да се следи внимателно и като цяло, че нещата не са толкова автомагически, колкото ни се иска. Лекциите за самолетни проблеми винаги са интересни 🙂

Nintendo Hacking 2016 описа какво са счупили по разлините nintendo устройства, exploit-и по boot loader-и и всякакви такива неща. Това беше една от лекциите, в която се споменаваше техниката с glitching – да се подаде по-нисък волтаж за малко, така че дадена инструкция да се намаже и да има шанс да се JMP-не някъде в наш код в някакъв момент, така че да можем да dump-нем нещо.

Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? беше лекция за чупенето на системите за резервиране на самолетни билети и като цяло пътувания. Силно тъжно, казаха си в началото, че няма много хакване в лекцията, понеже нещата са твърде счупени и лесни за атака. Кратък съвет – не си публикувайте снимка на boarding pass-а.

You can -j REJECT but you can not hide: Global scanning of the IPv6 Internet е разработка с DNS за сравнително лесно сканиране на всички съществуващи IPv6 DNS PTR записи, та да се намерят повечето съществуващи сървъри. Доста идейно и вероятно ще го тествам някъде 🙂

Tapping into the core описва интересно устройство за дебъгване/слушане на intel-ски процесори през USB и вероятно и мрежа, т.е. дебъгер, който може директно да пипа процесора. Звучи многообещаващо (лекцията гледаше основно на това като начин за правене на rootkit-ове).

Recount 2016: An Uninvited Security Audit of the U.S. Presidential Election беше много празни приказки за изборите в щатите, за пре-преброяване, в което не са открили проблем, и като цяло за счупената им система.

The Untold Story of Edward Snowden’s Escape from Hong Kong разказваше за двете седмици на Edward Snowden в Хонг Конг и бежанците, при които са го крили, преди да отлети, заедно с призив за fundraiser за тях.

State of Internet Censorship 2016 беше нормалното описание, заедно с проектите, чрез които се изследва. В общи линии изводът беше, че вече цензурирането е узаконено почти навсякъде, където се случва и става все по-често явление някоя държава да си спре internet-а за малко, около разни събития.

Million Dollar Dissidents and the Rest of Us описа какви таргетирани методи се използват от различни правителства (и кой им ги продава и учи) за hack-ване и вадене на данни от всякакви устройства на неприятни за тях хора. Нещата са прилично напреднали и е все по-ясно как повечето ни софтуер не става за secure дейности.

On Smart Cities, Smart Energy, And Dumb Security беше за колко са счупени “smart” електромерите и как сигурността на тия неща никой не и обръща сериозно внимание.

Dissecting modern (3G/4G) cellular modems беше интересно описание на съществуващ хардуер, който може да се използва за 3g/4g модем (който се използва в единия iPhone даже), и който накрая се оказа, че търкаля android/linux в себе си (т.е. може спокойно да се каже, че в iPhone 6 (ако не се лъжа) има един linux/adroid).

Тия дни ще догледам още някакви от записи и каквото остава утре и ще пиша пак. Много ми се иска да изгледам повечето неща за random генераторите и лекцията за HDMI.

How Signal Is Evading Censorship

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/12/how_signal_is_e.html

Signal, the encrypted messaging app I prefer, is being blocked in both Egypt and the UAE. Recently, the Signal team developed a workaround: domain fronting.

Signal’s new anti-censorship feature uses a trick called “domain fronting,” Marlinspike explains. A country like Egypt, with only a few small internet service providers tightly controlled by the government, can block any direct request to a service on its blacklist. But clever services can circumvent that censorship by hiding their traffic inside of encrypted connections to a major internet service, like the content delivery networks (CDNs) that host content closer to users to speed up their online experience — or in Signal’s case, Google’s App Engine platform, designed to host apps on Google’s servers.

“Now when people in Egypt or the United Arab Emirates send a Signal message, it’ll look identical to something like a Google search,” Marlinspike says. “The idea is that using Signal will look like using Google; if you want to block Signal you’ll have to block Google.”

The trick works because Google’s App Engine allows developers to redirect traffic from Google.com to their own domain. Google’s use of TLS encryption means that contents of the traffic, including that redirect request, are hidden, and the internet service provider can see only that someone has connected to Google.com. That essentially turns Google into a proxy for Signal, bouncing its traffic and fooling the censors.

This isn’t a new trick (Tor uses it too, for example), but it does work.

Australia’s Pirate Site Blockade Boosts Demand For VPNs

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/australias-pirate-site-blockade-boosts-demand-for-vpns-161217/

FCT tyAustralia has been called out as the world’s piracy capital for several years, a trend local copyright holders hope to curb now that several pirate sites have been ordered to be blocked.

Earlier this week the Federal Court ruled in favor of key movie industry players, ordering ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, SolarMovie, and proxy and mirror services.

The landmark decision will make it harder for torrent users Down Under to visit these sites, but it won’t be impossible. In fact, before the blocks are implemented many of them are already actively looking into countermeasures.

Depending on the blocking methods ISPs will use, bypassing them may be as easy as switching to an alternative DNS service. Another option is to use Tor, or special “pirate browsers,” such as the one RARBG launched earlier.

Alternatively, a VPN service should also do the trick, as that will prevent ISPs from seeing users’ traffic.

This VPN option is in high demand in Australia. Data from Google Trends reveals that interest in anonymizing services has surged, with searches for “VPN” doubling right after the news broke on Thursday.

Aussie VPN searches


TF spoke to several VPN providers who confirm this observation. Many have noticed an increase in both traffic and sales from Down Under.

“We had nearly double the number of visitors from Australia yesterday,” ExpressVPN‘s David Lang informed TF, adding that they have little faith in the effectiveness of the court order.

“We are opposed to Internet censorship in any form, and in this case, we doubt the ruling will have a significant impact on torrent usage in Australia.”

At TorGuard, Benjamin Van Pelt noticed a massive traffic boost too.

“Since the site blocking decision was made official we immediately began seeing a 100% increase in traffic from Australia. I fully expect this trend to continue and we have already begun adding bandwidth in our Sydney and Melbourne data centers to accommodate the influx,” he says.

TorGuard’s traffic spike


NordVPN observed a similar spike in traffic during the same period, which they see as a direct result of Thursday’s ruling.

“There’s 110% increase in new users over the past 24 hours from Australia. The court order made a strong impact and people are in search of privacy it seems,” Iggy Holzman of NordVPN told TF.

Finally, the same is happening at Private Internet Access, where signups increased as well.

“After the news broke, we have definitely seen an increase in the region. I don’t have stats other than overall signups, but nonetheless, that number has increased. Simultaneously, our analytics shows that Australia has increased more as well,” PIA’s Andrew Lee said.

It is safe to conclude that restricting people’s access to pirate sites is not going to change everyone’s piracy habits overnight. Looking at similar cases in the past, that doesn’t come as a surprise really.

Earlier this year, research from Carnegie Mellon University showed that the UK blocks reduced traffic to pirate sites, but that they also significantly increased people’s interest in VPN services.

Disclaimer: PIA, NordVPN and ExpressVPN are TF sponsors.

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

ISPs: Blocking The Pirate Bay is Dangerous Censorship

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-blocking-the-pirate-bay-is-dangerous-censorship-161211/

thepirateThe Pirate Bay is without doubt the most censored website on the Internet.

Countries all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, with Europe being at the forefront.

This week copyright holders and ISPs went to court in Sweden, as part of a prolonged legal battle to have the site blocked on its home turf.

Two years ago Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget to block access to The Pirate Bay and Swefilmer.

The rightsholders argued that the ISP is liable for the copyright infringements of its customers if it fails to implement a blockade. However, the Stockholm District Court disagreed and sided with the Internet provider in its ruling late last year.

Now, both parties have argued their case before the Appeals Court. A final decision will be issued at a later date, but Bredbandsbolaget and fellow ISP Telenor warn that a blocking requirement will have serious implications.

“It is a dangerous path to go down, which forces Internet providers to monitor and evaluate content on the Internet and block websites with illegal content in order to avoid becoming accomplices,” the companies write in a joint statement.

Copyright holders have pointed out that similar orders were issued in neighboring countries, but the ISPs stress that a mandatory block will be an unprecedented form of censorship under Swedish law.

“The copyright holders argue that the blockades they request are similar to those in neighboring Nordic countries. But with the legislation we have in Sweden, it means rightsholders’ demands require a form of censorship that has no equivalent in any other EU country.”

The ISPs hope that the Court of Appeal will come to the same conclusion as the District Court; that ISPs which merely provide access to the Internet are not complicit in crimes that are committed by their customers.

While Bredbandsbolaget and Telenor don’t expect that the case will go to the Supreme Court, they believe that the rightsholders will try to convince lawmakers to make blocking requests easier. This is not the right way to go, they say.

“We don’t think that tougher legislation and blocking requirements are an effective way to stop the illegal distribution of copyrighted works on the Internet,” the ISPs note.

Instead, they urge media companies and Internet providers to start collaborating to come to effective and mutually agreeable solutions. Thus far, they have shown little interest in doing that, the ISPs note.

“We hope that the rightholders will be more open to dialogue when this lawsuit is over,” they conclude.

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

Analyzing WeChat

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/12/analyzing_wecha.html

Citizen Lab has analyzed how censorship works in the Chinese chat app WeChat:

Key Findings:

  • Keyword filtering on WeChat is only enabled for users with accounts registered to mainland China phone numbers, and persists even if these users later link the account to an International number.
  • Keyword censorship is no longer transparent. In the past, users received notification when their message was blocked; now censorship of chat messages happens without any user notice.

  • More keywords are blocked on group chat, where messages can reach a larger audience, than one-to-one chat.

  • Keyword censorship is dynamic. Some keywords that triggered censorship in our original tests were later found to be permissible in later tests. Some newfound censored keywords appear to have been added in response to current news events.

  • WeChat’s internal browser blocks China-based accounts from accessing a range of websites including gambling, Falun Gong, and media that report critically on China. Websites that are blocked for China accounts were fully accessible for International accounts, but there is intermittent blocking of gambling and pornography websites on International accounts.

Lots more details in the paper.

Pirate Party On Course For Historic Election Win in Iceland

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-on-course-for-historic-election-win-in-iceland-161023/

pirate-iceFounded in 2006 by Rick Falkvinge, the Pirate party movement has scored some significant victories over the years.

The greatest success is the continuing presence in the European Parliament, but in Iceland the local Pirate Party is writing history as well.

Iceland’s Pirates have a great track record already, with three members in the national Parliament. However, more may join in the future as the party has added many new supporters in recent months.

With elections just a week away the tension is growing. The Pirates have been leading the polls for most of the year and are currently neck-and-neck with the Social Democratic Alliance to become the largest party in the country.

This brings the Pirates in an unusual position where they have to start thinking about possible partners to form a coalition Government, for the first time in history.

TF spoke with Ásta Helgadóttir, Member of Parliament for the Icelandic Pirate Party, who says that the party is ready to bring the change many citizens are longing for.

“Firstly, by adopting a new constitution which has already been voted on in a non-binding referendum,” Helgadóttir says.

asta“This will change how Iceland functions as a democracy, transitioning into a much more meaningful democracy. The Pirates are focused on decentralization of power, access to information and civil and human rights. The pillars of any meaningful notion of democracy.”

Despite the Pirate name, copyright issues are not central to their plans. That said, they have spoken out against recent web-blocking efforts.

Iceland’s ISPs have been ordered to block access to ‘infringing’ sites such as The Pirate Bay, which the party sees as a step in the wrong direction. The party fears that these censorship efforts will lead to more stringent measures.

“These measures are not a solution and only exacerbate the problem. There needs to be a review of copyright law and how creators are compensated for their work,” Helgadóttir notes, adding that some ISPs are planning to fight the blockades in court.

While the Pirate Party movement has always appealed to the younger generations, in Iceland it receives support across all age groups. One of their main selling points is a broad and clear vision for Iceland that breaks with the current political establishment.

The Pirate Party was in part formed by supporters of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, a unanimously adopted parliamentary resolution to create the optimal environment for freedom of information and free expression.

“This work is still under way but something the Pirates want to implement,” Helgadóttir says.

“The resolution brings limited liability for intermediaries, whistleblower protection, enhanced source protection, due process, defamation law reform and data protection, among other things.”

With just a week to go, there’s a realistic chance that the Pirates will book a historic election win, allowing them to govern the country during the years to come.

In that regard, the timing could hardly be any better. With the recent revelations from the Panama Papers scandal and the banking crisis fresh in mind, people are longing for change.

According to Helgadóttir, the party hasn’t set any specific goals in terms of a vote percentage they want to reach. Whatever the outcome, they will to their best to and steer the country in the right direction once again.

“We do not have a specific target in terms of percentages. Our objective is to get the ball rolling on some fundamental issues, whether that happens with 10% of the vote or 40% of the vote is not paramount.”

The parliamentary elections will take place next week, October 29.

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

Cybersecurity Issues for the Next Administration

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/10/cybersecurity_i.html

On today’s Internet, too much power is concentrated in too few hands. In the early days of the Internet, individuals were empowered. Now governments and corporations hold the balance of power. If we are to leave a better Internet for the next generations, governments need to rebalance Internet power more towards the individual. This means several things.

First, less surveillance. Surveillance has become the business model of the Internet, and an aspect that is appealing to governments worldwide. While computers make it easier to collect data, and networks to aggregate it, governments should do more to ensure that any surveillance is exceptional, transparent, regulated and targeted. It’s a tall order; governments such as that of the US need to overcome their own mass-surveillance desires, and at the same time implement regulations to fetter the ability of Internet companies to do the same.

Second, less censorship. The early days of the Internet were free of censorship, but no more. Many countries censor their Internet for a variety of political and moral reasons, and many large social networking platforms do the same thing for business reasons. Turkey censors anti-government political speech; many countries censor pornography. Facebook has censored both nudity and videos of police brutality. Governments need to commit to the free flow of information, and to make it harder for others to censor.

Third, less propaganda. One of the side-effects of free speech is erroneous speech. This naturally corrects itself when everybody can speak, but an Internet with centralized power is one that invites propaganda. For example, both China and Russia actively use propagandists to influence public opinion on social media. The more governments can do to counter propaganda in all forms, the better we all are.

And fourth, less use control. Governments need to ensure that our Internet systems are open and not closed, that neither totalitarian governments nor large corporations can limit what we do on them. This includes limits on what apps you can run on your smartphone, or what you can do with the digital files you purchase or are collected by the digital devices you own. Controls inhibit innovation: technical, business, and social.

Solutions require both corporate regulation and international cooperation. They require Internet governance to remain in the hands of the global community of engineers, companies, civil society groups, and Internet users. They require governments to be agile in the face of an ever-evolving Internet. And they’ll result in more power and control to the individual and less to powerful institutions. That’s how we built an Internet that enshrined the best of our societies, and that’s how we’ll keep it that way for future generations.

This essay previously appeared on Time.com, in a section about issues for the next president. It was supposed to appear in the print magazine, but was preempted by Donald Trump coverage.

Popular YouTuber Experiments With WebTorrent to Beat Censorship

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-youtuber-experiments-with-webtorrent-to-beat-censorship-160930/

sadyoutubeWhen discussing the most influential websites on the planet, there can be little doubt that YouTube is a true giant. The video-hosting platform is the second most popular site on the Internet behind its owner’s Google.com

YouTube attracts well over a billion visitors every month, with many flocking to the platform to view the original content uploaded by its army of contributors. However, with great power comes great responsibility and for YouTube that means pleasing advertisers.

As a result, YouTube has rules in place over what kind of content can be monetized, something which caused a huge backlash recently.

In a nutshell, if you don’t produce content that is almost entirely “appropriate for all audiences,” (without references to drugs, violence, and sex, for example), your content is at risk of making no money. But YouTube goes further still, by flagging “controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies.” Awkward.

Many YouTubers view this refusal to monetize content as a form of censorship but recognize that as long as they’re in bed with the company, they’re going to have to play by its rules. For some, this means assessing alternatives.

Popular YouTuber Connor Hill (Bluedrake42 – 186,600 subscribers) is no stranger to YouTube flagging his videos. As a result, he’s decided to take matters into his own hands by experimenting with WebTorrent.


As previously reported, WebTorrent brings torrents to the web. Instead of using standalone applications it allows people to share files directly from their browser, without having to configure or install anything.

Early on, WebTorrent creator Feross Aboukhadijeh identified “people-powered websites” as a revolutionary application for WebTorrent.

“Imagine a video site like YouTube, where visitors help to host the site’s content. The more people that use a WebTorrent-powered website, the faster and more resilient it becomes,” he told TF.

It is exactly this application for the technology that has excited Bluedrake. By taking his content, embedding it in his website, and using his own fans for distribution, Bluedrake says he can take back control.

“This solution does not require torrent clients, this solution does not require torrent files, this is a seamless video-player hosted solution, with a completely decentralized database, supported by the people watching the content itself,” Bluedrake says in a new video. “And it works…REALLY well.

Of course, all torrents need seeds to ensure that older content is always available, so Bluedrake says that the servers already funded by his community will have backup copies of all videos ready to seed, whenever that’s necessary.

“That’s literally the best of both worlds. A CDN and a TVDN – a Torrent Video Distribution Network – at the same time. It will be community-funded and community supported…and then we’ll have truly censorship-free, entirely impervious video content, in a network. That gives me chills,” Bluedrake adds.

But while this solution offers the opportunity to avoid censorship, there is no intention to break the law. Bluedrake insists that the freedom of peer-to-peer will only be used for speech, not to infringe copyright.

“All I want is a site where people can say what they want. I want a site where people can operate their business without having somebody else step in and take away their content when they say something they don’t like. We’re going to host our own content distribution network within a peer-to-peer, web-socketed torrent service,” he says.

The development has excited WebTorrent creator Feross Aboukhadijeh.

“This is just one of the extremely creative uses for WebTorrent that I’ve heard about. I’m continually amazed at what WebTorrent users are building with the open source torrent engine,” Feross informs TF.

“When a video site uses WebTorrent, visitors help to host the site’s content. The more people that use a WebTorrent-powered website, the faster and more resilient it becomes. I think that’s pretty cool. It’s something that traditional CDNs cannot offer.

“The magic of WebTorrent is that people can use it however they like. It’s not just a desktop torrent app but it’s a JavaScript library that anyone can use anywhere on the web.”

Of course, one YouTuber using the technology is a modest start but the potential is there for this to get much bigger if Bluedrake can make a success of it.

“The way that we get P2P technology to go mainstream is simple: make it easy, make it better,” Feross says.

“This is part of a larger trend of decentralized protocols replacing centralized services, as we’ve seen with Bitcoin and blockchain apps.”

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

German Library Claims Copyright on “Nazi Anthem,” Censors Documentary on YouTube

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/german-library-claims-copyright-nazi-anthem-censors-documentary-youtube-160924/

docudownWhen it comes to Nazi propaganda, Germany has an extensive censorship track record. After the Second World War it was policy to ban all Nazi propaganda, most famously Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

Even today the issue is still a hot topic. For example, earlier this week our attention was drawn towards a rather unusual censorship effort on behalf of the German National Library.

With help from BR:Enter Music, the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek sent a takedown request to YouTube, targeting the historical 2006 documentary You Don’t Know Hitler.

The film in question serves as a reminder of the horrors Hitler brought forth. It is composed of historical material and other propaganda footage, including clips from Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 film Triumph of the Will.

The content that triggered the takedown request is a version of the infamous Horst Wessel Lied, also known to a wider public as the Nazi Anthem. According to the claim, the library owns the right to the recording.

Documentarian and filmmaker James K. Lambert informs TorrentFreak that this is not the first time that his film has been targeted, but usually these claims are dropped when he protests them.

“The complete film has been posted for nearly four years and I periodically get claims against me from companies who say they own this sound recording or that image. These false claims were always dropped once I pushed back.”

Copyright claim


This time, however, that was not enough. The National German Library insists that the film infringes on their rights and as a result the filmmaker has been slapped with a copyright strike.

“According to BR Enter, DNB owns the ‘sound recording’ rights to this track, ‘Version 11’ specifically, which is allegedly the version I used in my film when I extracted it from the Nazi propaganda documentary, Triumph Of The Will.”

While it seems strange that the German state would own the rights to a 87-year-old song it didn’t produce, the issue is a bit of a minefield. Over the years, Germany has indeed obtained the copyrights to a lot of Nazi propaganda, some of which are still enforceable today.

On the other hand, there is a long history of denying Nazi copyrights or permitting its use, starting with the US Government which sanctioned it in Frank Capra’s counter propaganda series Why We Fight.

What’s clear, however, is that after all these years Nazi copyrights are still being enforced. This is something Lambert is fiercely protesting. According to the documentarian, people have the right to see history for what it was.

“Nazi propaganda is part of the criminal record of their Crimes Against Humanity; they are not marketable commodities that should exclusively belong to anyone,” Lambert tells us.

To get his documentary reinstated Lambert submitted a counter-notice which he documented in detail in a lengthy blog post. According to Lambert the song he used is in the public domain and even if it isn’t, it would fall under fair use.

TorrentFreak contacted both BR:Enter and the National German Library several days ago asking for comment on the issue. However, at the time of publication we have yet to hear back.

Lambert hopes that his counterclaim will be accepted and that the documentary will be reinstated soon. For the future, he hopes that YouTube will improve its processes so it can better deal with these fair use cases, keeping the rights of documentarians in mind.

“This matter should never have reached this absurd point. YouTube should not have given unquestioned deference to BR Enter Music’s claim against me and my documentary should not have been taken down from YouTube.

“I hope this counter-claim will finally resolve this matter and restore the video to my channel because I am completely within my rights to have made this film and to publicly show it to others,” Lambert concludes.

For those who are interested, Lambert’s documentary You Don’t Know Hitler is still available on Vimeo.

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

Former Disney Digital Boss Says He “Loves Piracy”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/former-disney-digital-boss-says-he-loves-piracy-160919/

disney-pirateThe piracy debate can be broadly split into two camps – those who believe it’s a destructive thing that needs to be stopped at all costs, and those who maintain the phenomenon has its upsides.

Unsurprisingly, many of those in the first camp hail from entertainment industry companies with a shared mission to harness every possible sale. As a result, they’re often united when it comes to condemning unauthorized sharing and downloading.

Every now and again, however, someone comes along with a controversial opinion of their own.

Samir Bangara is the former managing director of The Walt Disney Company in India (Disney UTV). Appointed in 2012, Bangara helped to drive growth in video, games and audio for mobile, online and interactive TV following a restructuring of Disney’s digital assets.

Later, Bangara left Disney to form media startup Qyuki.com as MD and CEO. Qyuki is a platform for artists to share their creations, connect with others, and generate revenue. With these goals in mind, one might think the company would take an anti-piracy stance. Instead, its MD suggests otherwise.

“I’m going to put it out there. I love piracy,” said Bangara during the huge All That Matters content conference in Singapore.

With key players from Netflix, Spotify, Merlin, FOX, Universal, Warner, UFC, Disney, Beggars Group and RIAJ all speaking at the event, Bangara’s statement probably raised a few eyebrows. However, there was method in his madness.

According to Mumbrella, the former Disney boss believes that one of the main problems in today’s content-rich world is getting noticed.

“I love piracy. Because guess what, the biggest problem right now is discoverability,” Bangara told a panel moderated by Tony Zameczkowski, Vice President of Business Development for Asia-Pacific at Netflix.

While Bangara’s love of piracy probably wasn’t shared by many in attendance, illicit consumption has always been useful for showing what is popular among the fans. Indeed, the concept is one Netflix is very familiar with.

Back in 2013, the streaming platform revealed that it had been monitoring pirate sites in order to gauge the popularity of shows.

The data compiled by Netflix was subsequently used to decide which shows to invest in. The company could buy with confidence, safe in the knowledge that the content they were buying had already been tested in the market.

With huge volumes of content available online, Bangara says that finding the good stuff can be a challenge. But knowing in advance what will work is definitely an advantage.

“There are tens of thousands of hours of content getting uploaded. The challenge is finding what is working,” he told the panel.

“What is getting pirated is by default working. Game of Thrones is great, so it’s going to get pirated,” he said.

Netflix took the same approach when it launched in the Netherlands. The company discovered that Prison Break was “exceptionally popular” on pirate sites, so took the decision to buy the show.

Of course, not everyone listening to Bangara shared his love of piracy. Shufen Lin, Vice-President & Head at Singapore-based telecoms and content company Starhub, said that piracy was “the biggest thing that keeps us awake at night.”

Interestingly, however, Lin says the challenge presented by piracy in Singapore isn’t simply competing with ‘free’, at least not in the traditional sense. By Western standards, Singapore has strict censorship in place, meaning that content available on torrent sites provides an attractive alternative to locally censored material.

In reality, many companies use piracy networks to gather information which helps their businesses. In most cases, they just aren’t as up front about it as Bangara or indeed Netflix.

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