Tag Archives: Cloudflare

‘Pirate’ iTunes Download Site and Three Others Targeted By the RIAA

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-itunes-download-site-and-three-others-targeted-by-the-riaa-200315/

Despite the fact that most modern music is readily available for free on ad-supported platforms such as YouTube and Spotify, a thriving market for pirated content remains.

While streaming is convenient and mostly cheap, part of the lure of pirate sites is that music can be downloaded to users’ machines, to be played back whenever they like, with or without an Internet connection and associated costs.

The threat from unlicensed sources is actively countered by groups such as the RIAA, which is regularly seen targeting so-called YouTube-downloader sites via legal action and DMCA anti-circumvention notices. However, there are also efforts to identify the people behind these sites and the weapon of choice in that respect appears to be the DMCA subpoena.

The latest, filed by the RIAA at a district court in Columbia, targets a handful of unlicensed music platforms, all of which use or have used the services of Cloudflare. The theory is that the CDN company holds information on the operators of these sites so if the RIAA can gain access to that too, something can be done to disrupt their activities.

“We have learned that your service is hosting the below-referenced websites on its network,” the RIAA’s latest subpoena to Cloudflare reads.

“These websites are offering recording s which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind os use, including without limitation that referenced at the URLs below. We have a good faith belief that this activity is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.”

The first unlicensed site targeted by the RIAA is iPlusFree.org, a music download site that appears to specialize in tracks culled from iTunes.

iPlusFree isn’t a particularly big platform when compared to some of the most popular YouTube-ripping sites and if anything its traffic has been reducing over the past several months. However, at least a quarter of the site’s traffic comes from the United States so the RIAA appears keen to unmask its operators for offering tracks by prominent artists without permission.

They include The Other Side (SZA & Justin Timberlake), Rare by Selena Gomez, and A Boogie wit da Hoodie by Artist 2.0.

The three other sites listed in the DMCA subpoena do not appear particularly popular in the United States. However, the RIAA will be concerned by their popularity in South America, Brazil in particular, where the trio are thriving.

From virtually no traffic at all six months ago, Asmelhores.net (Portuguese: ‘The Best’) is now enjoying more than 360,000 visits per month, with 97% of users hailing from Brazil.
Baixarcdscompletos.net (Portuguese: ‘Download Complete CDs’), the second most-trafficked site in the list with 340,000 visits per month, is also big in Brazil with a similar percentage of traffic.

With more than 218,000 visits per month according to SimilarWeb, Xandaodownload.net is also dominated by traffic from the same region. Unlike the others, however, the site also offers non-musical content including movies, TV shows, software and games.

This trio are accused of offering unlicensed copies of tracks from Red Hot Chili Peppers (Scar Tissue), Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana), Sexx Dreams (Lady Gaga), Daydream (Maria Carey), plus several others.

“As is stated in the attached subpoena, you are required to disclose to the RIAA information sufficient to identify the infringers,” the letter to Cloudflare reads. “This would include the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history.”

The subpoena was signed off by a court clerk in the District of Columbia three days after it was filed, with two of those days covered by a weekend. It requires Cloudflare to hand over the personal details requested by the music industry group by 17:00 on March 13, 2020.

Whether Cloudflare holds any useful information will remain to be seen. All four sites are operational at the time of writing.

The RIAA’s subpoena to Cloudflare can be obtained here (pdf)

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Cloudflare Geo-Blocks 22 Pirate Sites in Italy Following Court Order

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-geo-blocks-22-pirate-sites-in-italy-following-court-order/

As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe. This includes many pirate sites.

In recent years many copyright holders have complained about Cloudflare’s involvement with these platforms.

Thus far the U.S. company has refused to take any action without a court order. In various legal proceedings, Cloudflare argued that it’s a neutral third-party service that merely caches content. Even when Cloudflare disconnects customers, their associated sites remain operational.

This week Cloudflare published its latest transparency report which makes this stance clear. For example, the company stresses that it doesn’t respond to DMCA notices by removing cached content. Instead, it forwards the notices to the respective customers.

According to Cloudflare, it received only three DMCA notices in 2019 that identified permanently stored content. These were dealt with appropriately. The rest of the notices were passed on to clients.

While this policy isn’t new, the transparency report also highlights a new phenomenon. According to Cloudflare, the company has started to block visitors from Italy accessing 22 domain names, following a local court order.

Cloudflare reports that an Italian court ordered the company to block access to the domains of several copyright-infringing websites. This took place last summer but as far as we know the case remains unreported in the media.

“Pending further litigation, Cloudflare took steps in July 2019 to disable access to those websites to the extent that they used Cloudflare’s services to respond to requests from Italy or used Cloudflare equipment in Italy,” Cloudflare writes.

“The court order included requests related to 131 domains and 15 accounts. Cloudflare took action to geoblock 22 domains that were using our service at the time the order was issued,” the company adds.

The domains in question are not blocked outside of Italy, but which domains are affected by the geo-blocking efforts is unknown. Cloudflare didn’t respond to our request for further details.

We also asked several legal representatives of copyright holders in Italy, but they couldn’t point us to the underlying order either.

There is a related Cloudflare case in Italy which we previously reported on. In a ruling in favor of Italian broadcaster RTI, handed down by the Commercial Court of Rome last June, Cloudflare was ordered to immediately terminate the accounts of several pirate sites. There was, however, no mention of geo-blocking or blocking in general.

TorrentFreak spoke to RTI’s attorney Alessandro La Rosa who says that the pirate sites involved in the RTI case still use the services and infrastructure provided by Cloudflare. He is not aware of any blocking efforts either.

If more details become available on the geoblocking targets we will update this article accordingly.

Italy is not the only country where Cloudflare is taking action against pirate sites. The transparency report also confirms that it reached an agreement with several large manga publishers in Japan, as we reported last month.

“As part of the resolution of a lawsuit in Japan, Cloudflare has come to an agreement with certain Japanese publishers to clear existing cached content and cease caching in Japan for certain websites determined by the Tokyo District Court to be infringing copyright,” Cloudflare writes.

The above shows that while Cloudflare may indeed be a neutral service provider, it can and does take steps to curb copyright infringement on occasion. It remains to be seen whether the two legal issues detailed above are just the start and whether new demands will appear moving forward.

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Cloudflare Agrees to Stop Caching Pirate Content in Japan, If Court Declares Sites Illegal

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-agrees-to-stop-caching-pirate-content-in-japan-if-court-declares-sites-illegal-200224/

As the largest CDN and DDoS mitigation service on the planet, Cloudflare provides services to millions of websites.

A tiny proportion of these sites are on the radars of entertainment and publishing companies since they either directly offer or link to unlicensed copies of copyrighted works. As a result, Cloudflare is under almost continual pressure to cease doing business with these entities.

As first reported here on TF in September 2019, Japan-based publishers Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan sued the ‘pirate’ site Hoshinoromi in a New York federal court. The platform, which positioned itself as a replacement for self-shuttered pirate site Mangamura, was accused of “willful and massive infringement” of the publishers’ copyrights.

That case is still ongoing and according to a filing late last week (pdf), the publishers are having considerable difficulty identifying and serving the defendants, so need an extension. Cloudflare was mentioned in that lawsuit too and it now transpires that the same publishers previously targeted the CDN company in a Japan court back in 2018.

In common with other lawsuits in Japan, details are hazy. However, according to a joint statement issued late last week, Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan filed a motion at the Tokyo District Court in August 2018 with a demand that Cloudflare should stop providing services to several ‘pirate’ platforms, Hoshinoromi included. Due to caching, that amounted to Cloudflare delivering infringing content to the public, they argued.

For reasons that appear related to the ongoing case in the United States, they have waited until now to reveal a settlement of sorts with Cloudflare. It was reportedly reached in June 2019 and seems to hinge on whether a court determines that the ‘pirate’ sites in question are copyright-infringing and therefore illegal.

The publishers’ statement indicates that when the ‘pirate’ sites using Cloudflare are viewed by users in Japan, most of those users will be accessing them via Cloudflare’s Japan-located servers. So, if the Tokyo District Court rules that the sites are illegal, Cloudflare has reportedly agreed to “stop the replication of the sites to Cloudflare’s servers in Japan.”

At least in part, the announcement is designed to be a warning to other ‘pirate’ sites that may be considering using Cloudflare’s services to improve uptime and general accessibility. Whether it will make much of a difference on the ground remains to be seen, however.

While this particular matter appears to be settled, last December Cloudflare was sued by Takeshobo, another major publisher based in Japan that distributes dozens of manga publications, many under the Bamboo Comics label.

The publisher said it was forced to sue Cloudflare because takedown notices sent to the CDN company in respect of a nameless ‘pirate’ site were effectively ignored, allowing infringing material to stay online via Cloudflare’s services. Progress in that particular case is unknown but the settlement with Shueisha, Kadowaka, Kodansha, and Shogakukan may provide a possible solution for Takeshobo.

Cloudflare is obviously extremely cautious when faced with similar lawsuits, always insisting that as a service provider it is not responsible for the activities of its users. Last week, however, the effects of a ruling handed down in December by a German court saw Cloudflare disconnect pirate music platform DDL-Music under the threat of serious fines.

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

Court Orders Cloudflare to Prevent Access to Pirated Music or Face Fines or Prison

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-cloudflare-to-prevent-access-to-pirated-music-or-face-fines-or-prison-200219/

Earlier this week, Germany-focused music piracy site DDL-Music.to suddenly became inaccessible to the public. The site had been using the services of Cloudflare but an unusual error message suggested that the US-based company had stepped in disrupt the site’s activities.

‘Error HTTP 451’ is displayed by Cloudflare when a site is “Unavailable For Legal Reasons” and at least as far as pirate sites are concerned, its appearance is very rare indeed. Cloudflare’s documentation indicates that the message should be accompanied by a reason for the response, noting that it “should include an explanation in the response body with details of the legal demand.”

As the image above shows, no explanation was provided by Cloudflare but an investigation by Tarnkappe, details of which were shared with TorrentFreak, now reveals the unusual circumstances behind DDL-Music’s disconnection.

Early June 2019, Universal Music GmbH (Germany) reportedly sent a copyright infringement complaint to Cloudflare after finding links on DDL-Music to tracks from the album Herz Kraft Werke by German singer Sarah Connor. The tracks themselves were not hosted by DDL-Music but could be found on a third-party hosting site. Universal wanted the tracks to be rendered inaccessible within 24 hours but Cloudflare didn’t immediately comply.

Universal Music reportedly followed up with a warning to Cloudflare on June 19, 2019, demanding information about DDL-Music and its operators. A day later, the CDN company responded by declaring that it’s not responsible for its customers’ activities and Universal should deal with the website’s operator and/or webhost. However, Cloudflare did provide Universal with an email address along with details of DDL-Music’s hosting provider, supposedly in Pakistan.

With an obvious dispute underway, a hearing took place at the Cologne District Court (Landgericht Köln) on December 5, 2019. Lars Sobiraj of Tarnkappe, who obtained documentation relating to the hearing, informs TF that the Court ultimately determined that Cloudflare could be held liable for infringement of Universal Music’s copyrights by facilitating access to the tracks via DDL-Music, if it failed to take action.

This “liability as a disturber” (Störerhaftung) comes into play when a service (in this case, Cloudflare) contributes to a third-party’s infringement, without the element of intent. Under German law, however, the service can be held liable for infringement, if it fails to take reasonable action to prevent infringement in future.

On January 30, 2020, the Cologne District Court handed down a preliminary injunction against Cloudflare. This was received at the Hamburg offices of Cloudflare’s law firm TaylorWessig on February 4, 2020. It informed Cloudflare that should it continue to facilitate access to the Universal Music content detailed above, it could be ordered to pay a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($270,000) or, in the alternative, the managing director of Cloudflare could serve up to six months in prison.

In the event, however, Cloudflare appears to have taken the decision to jettison DDL-Music completely, as indicated by the Error 451 message that appeared a few days ago. The district court’s decision can be appealed but whether Cloudflare will take that route is currently unknown. Despite requests from TF for comment, the company has remained silent.

Meanwhile, DDL-Music appears to be migrating to DDoS-Guard, a CDN and DDoS mitigation platform that according to its website is registered in Scotland but is most probably based in Russia. Or the Netherlands, if its Twitter account is to be believed.

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Cloudflare Blocks Access to Pirate Site For “Legal Reasons”, Displays Rare 451 Error

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-blocks-access-to-pirate-site-for-legal-reasons-displaying-rare-451-error-200217/

As one of the most important infrastructure companies on the entire Internet, Cloudflare often finds itself embroiled in copyright disputes of other entities’ making.

Along with millions of other ‘normal’ websites, ‘pirate’ sites often use Cloudflare’s services. The CDN company has a stated aim of remaining a neutral intermediary but entertainment industry groups see the company as helping to facilitate piracy by assisting sites to more efficiently stay online while rendering their true locations harder to find.

While sites like The Pirate Bay, for example, are using Cloudflare’s services trouble-free at this very moment, the same cannot be said of Germany-focused music piracy site DDL-Music.to.

This morning, Tarnkappe informed TorrentFreak that visitors to the platform utilizing German IP addresses were being blocked by Cloudflare. While these kinds of claims are relatively common given the sometimes unreliable nature of pirate sites, in this case clarity is being provided by the CDN company itself, which clearly states that it has taken action.

Tests carried out for TF using the German-based IP address listed above returned a rare “Error HTTP 451” which, as the image shows, is deployed when a site is “Unavailable For Legal Reasons.” Tests carried out by us from IP addresses elsewhere in Europe accessed the site without issue, perhaps suggesting that any “legal reason” may be specific to German territory.

This is the first time that we’ve seen an Error HTTP 451 displayed by Cloudflare when attempting to access a pirate site. The special HTTP status code was approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) back in 2015 as a more informative alternative to the “403 Forbidden” code utilized by some ISPs engaged in blocking.

“A really good Error 451 message would tell their customers how to challenge a block, how long the block’s expected to last, where the relevant legal documents are and which legal authority imposed the blocking order,” the 451 Unavailable project wrote at the time.

A nod towards providing this additional information is actually mentioned in Cloudflare’s own 4XX error code documentation that was updated only this month.

“Server is unable to deliver the resource due to legal actions,” the notes against Error 451 read. “The response should include an explanation in the response body with details of the legal demand.”

As the above screenshot of the Cloudflare error shows, no explanation for the blocking is provided. Why that is the case is currently unknown since Cloudflare has yet to respond to our request for comment. However, DDL-Music’s status as an obvious pirate site (and one with a history of being targeted by copyright groups) leads us towards a theory that Cloudflare may have been placed under pressure.

With that in mind, it’s perhaps helpful to look at the recent history surrounding ISP blockades of pirate sites in Germany and how they have played out, mostly without direct intervention from the courts.

In March 2019, Vodafone told TorrentFreak it had implemented a blockade of pirate platform Boerse.to following a notification from local music rights group GEMA, an action duplicated by its service provider 1&1. Around the same time, Vodafone also began blocking DDL-Music. Kabel Deutschland is also known to block access to the music platform.

The companies believe that principles established by the Federal Court of Justice require them to do so, without a specific court order.

On the same basis, Vodafone previously blocked access to several other ‘pirate’ sites including S.to, BS.to, Libgen and Kinox.to.

Whether Cloudflare is following a similar pattern of behavior with its restriction of DDL-Music is currently unknown but we will update this article as soon as the company responds.

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

Anti-Piracy Coalition ACE Goes After Clipwatching and Fembed

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-coalition-ace-goes-after-clipwatching-and-fembed-200208/

The online piracy ecosystem is constantly evolving.

Ten years ago the entertainment industries were mostly concerned with torrent sites. Today, online streaming sites and services are the main challenges.

To tackle this threat, some of the largest companies in the world bundled their powers. In 2017 they formed the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), which lists prominent members including major Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and other entertainment giants.

The coalition has been very active both in- and outside of court. It has shut down various streaming tools, including unofficial Kodi add-ons and builds, and secured million-dollar judgments against pirate streaming box vendors.

This week we spotted a new tactic. On behalf of ACE, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) obtained a DMCA subpoena at a California District Court. The subpoena is directed at CDN provider Cloudflare and targets the video hosting services Fembed.com and Clipwatching.com.

Both sites allow users to upload videos that can be streamed from external sites. This makes them attractive to many pirate sites, which use these platforms to host their videos.

The MPA sees these hosting sites as pirate operations. In its submission to the US Trade Representative, the industry group highlighted Clipwatching.com as one of the most notorious copyright infringers online.

“As a video host, Clipwatching.com has a generous affiliation program, offering payments of $60 for every 10,000 views in tier 1 countries. Users can pay $30 per year to access the uploaded content without advertisements,” MPA wrote.

With the recently obtained subpoena, the MPA hopes to find out more about the people running these sites. Late last week it sent a copy of the legal paperwork to Cloudflare, asking it to hand over any personal information it has on the associated account holders.

“[Y]ou are required to disclose to the Motion Picture Association, Inc. (on behalf of the ACE Members) information sufficient to identify the infringers. This would include the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history,” the MPA informed Cloudflare.

According to the MPA, both sites have exploited the exclusive rights of ACE members. This includes hosting pirated copies of the movies “The Lion King” and “Daddy’s Home,” which remain online today.

The obtained personal information will be used to “protect” the movie companies’ copyrights, the MPA notes. Exactly how that will take place is unknown, but if the information is usable, the operators can expect some legal pressure.

These DMCA subpoenas are not new. The RIAA has been using the same tactic for a few months already, with mixed success. However, as far as we know, this is the first DMCA subpoena ACE has obtained against Cloudflare.

A copy of the subpoena the MPA obtained on behalf of ACE is available here (pdf). A copy of the letter to Cloudflare can be found here (pdf).

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‘Casting Couch’ Movie Company Orders Cloudflare to Unmask Tube Site Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/casting-couch-movie-company-orders-cloudflare-to-unmask-tube-site-pirates-200118/

Before taking direct legal action against alleged copyright infringers, it helps if the identities of those people are known to the potential plaintiff. One method to obtain this information is to file an application for a DMCA subpoena.

Commonly filed against domain registries and Cloudflare, DMCA subpoenas can require such companies to give up the names of their allegedly-infringing customers, who are often the operators of ‘pirate’ sites. The process of obtaining a subpoena is attractive and relatively easy since the applications are rarely subjected to much scrutiny and can yield useful results.

Last week adult company AMA Multimedia (better known for its Casting Couch X and various other brands) filed an application at a Washington court demanding that Cloudflare provide identifying information of customers said to have infringed the company’s copyrights.

According to AMA, it previously asked Cloudflare to remove or disable access to around three dozen URLs, mostly JPG images and direct content links, on domains including the 12 million visits per month Pornmilo.com and the 15 million visits per month HLSMP4.com. With that content apparently still intact, AMA asked the court for permission to demand information from Cloudflare to identify the alleged infringers.

“For the period January 1, 2016 through the present, produce all documents and account records that identify the person(s) or entities that caused the infringement of the material described in the attached Exhibit B DMCA notifications to the DMCA Agent for Cloudflare, Inc. and/or who unlawfully uploaded AMA Multimedia LLC’s copyrighted works at the URLs listed in the notifications, including but not limited to identification by names, email addresses, IP addresses, user history, posting history, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying information,” the subpoena to Cloudflare reads.

In respect of the phrase “person(s) or entities that caused the infringement”, that could mean the operators of the various listed domains – pornmilo.com, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz, hlsmp4.com, o0-1.com, o0-2.com, o0-3.com, o0-4.com, and o0-5.com. However, when it comes to identifying the underlying infringers, that could be more tricky.

When one visits Pornmilo.com, the platform gives the initial impression of being a YouTube-like site, presumably one that hosts its own content. On closer inspection, however, the site claims not to host any video content at all.

Indeed, it appears that the videos are embedded having been supplied by Fembed, a service that advertises itself as an “All-in-one Video Platform Designed by webmasters, for webmasters.” Essentially, people can host their video files on Fembed and serve them on another site, with or without revenue-generating advertising.

Fembed.com isn’t mentioned in the DMCA subpoena but it appears to be connected to HLSMP4.com, which is mentioned multiple times. Furthermore, javbeautiful.com, 3fu.xyz, 4fu.xyz and indeed all the other domains redirect to Fembed.com, so it’s possible that they have the same owners. AMA seem pretty keen to find out exactly who they are.

That being said, it is far from clear how Cloudflare itself can establish who uploaded the infringing content on HLSMP4, Fembed, and the other sites so it can hand that information to AMA. At this early stage that may not concern AMA too much and it’s possible that outcome is already being anticipated. Nevertheless, the DMCA subpoena has the ability to get closer to the targets in a cheap and relatively easy fashion.

The DMCA subpoena documents can be found here and here (pdf, NSFW)

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Manga Publisher Takeshobo Sues Cloudflare For Copyright Infringement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The documents supporting the application for a DMCA subpoena, which was signed off by the court last year, are available here and here (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The complaint can be obtained here (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The E-Standards.org ‘pirate’ site

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

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

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

From the API subpoena to Cloudflare

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

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

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

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

RIAA Shut Down DBR.ee, Now Obtains Subpoenas to Target Replacement

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-shut-down-dbr-ee-obtains-subpoenas-to-target-replacement-191208/

In May 2019, TF discovered that the RIAA had obtained a DMCA subpoena which compelled CDN company Cloudflare to reveal the identities of several site operators using its services.

Among the several domains listed was DBR.ee, a file-hosting site that had was utilized by some of its users for hosting pre-release music leaks. This clearly didn’t sit well with the RIAA and within a month of the subpoena being obtained, DBR.ee shut itself down.

Initially it wasn’t clear if the subpoena and the closure were linked but soon after a message appeared on the site which advised that it had been shut down for copyright infringement following action by the RIAA, IFPI, and Music Canada.

The DBR.ee shutdown notice

Early September, however, a new site appeared. Sporting the DBREE name and graphics but located under a different URL (DBREE.co), the site seemed to want to pick up where the original had left off. It’s not currently known whether the same people are behind the resurrection but the RIAA appears keen to find out.

Late November the RIAA obtained a pair of DMCA subpoenas at a Columbia federal court, one targeting domain registrar Namecheap and the other CDN service Cloudflare. Their aim is to uncover the identities of several site operators, DBREE.co’s included.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the individual assigned to these websites who has induced the infringement of, and has directly engaged in the infringement of, our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization,” the subpoenas read.

DBREE.co stands accused of infringement on three tracks – Lover by Taylor Swift, Under the Graveyard by Ozzy Osbourne, and Thailand by Lil Uzi Vert.

FLACC.org, a music release blog that links to content hosted elsewhere, is also accused of infringing copyrights on three tracks from Celine Dion, Ed Sheeran, and Tech N9ne.

Hiphopeasy.xyz, an album, single, and mixtape indexing site, is currently offline. Nevertheless, the RIAA claims it infringed the rights of Post Malone, Travis Scott, and Ed Sheeran. Another platform, identified by the RIAA as operating from Ovzy.xyz and its subdomains, is also inaccessible.

As usual, the subpoenas require Namecheap and Cloudflare to give up every piece of information they hold on the site’s alleged operators. Both companies are also asked to consider “the widespread and infringing nature” of the sites to determine whether they are in breach of terms of service agreements or repeat infringer policies.

Whether Namecheap or Cloudflare have any useful information to hand over to the RIAA remains to be seen but they are both expected to comply.

The DMCA subpoenas are available here and here (pdf)

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

Cloudflare Refutes MPA and RIAA’s Piracy Concerns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-refutes-mpa-and-riaas-piracy-concerns-191018/

Earlier this month several copyright holder groups sent their annual “Notorious Markets” complaints to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The recommendations are meant to call out well-known piracy sites, apps, and services, but Cloudflare is frequently mentioned as well.

The American CDN provider can’t be officially listed since it’s not a foreign company. However, rightsholders have seizes the opportunity to point out that the CDN service helps pirate sites with their infringing activities.

The MPA and RIAA, for example, wrote that Cloudflare frustrates enforcement efforts by helping pirate sites to “hide” their hosting locations. In addition, the Hollywood-affiliated Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) pointed out that the company helps pirate sites to deliver malware.

This week Cloudflare responded to these allegations. In a rebuttal, sent to the USTR’s Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property, General Counsel Doug Kramer writes that these reports are not an accurate representation of how the company operates.

“My colleagues and I were frustrated to find continued misrepresentations of our business and efforts to malign our services,” Kramer writes.

“We again feel called on to clarify that Cloudflare does not host the referenced websites, cannot block websites, and is not in the business of hiding companies that host illegal content–all facts well known to the industry groups based on our ongoing work with them.”

Kramer points out that the copyright holder groups “rehash” previous complaints, which Cloudflare previously rebutted. In fact, some parts of the CDN provider’s own reply are rehashed too, but there are several new highlights as well.

For example, the USTR’s latest review specifically focuses on malware issues. According to Cloudflare, its services are specifically aimed at mitigating such threats.

“Our system uses the collective intelligence from all the properties on our network to support and immediately update our web application firewall, which can block malware at the edge and prevent it from reaching a site’s origin server. This protects the many content creators who use our services for their websites as well as the users of their websites, from malware,” Kramer writes.

The DCA’s submission, which included a 2016 report from the group, is out of date and inaccurate, Cloudflare says. Several of the mentioned domains are no longer Cloudflare customers, for example. In addition, the DCA never sent any malware complaints to the CDN service.

Cloudflare did previously reach out to the DCA following its malware report, but this effort proved fruitless, the company writes.

“Despite our repeated attempts to get additional information by either
phone or email, DCA cancelled at least three scheduled calls and declined to provide any specific information that would have allowed us to verify the existence of the malware and protect users from malicious activity online,” Kramer notes.

Malware aside, the allegations that Cloudflare helps pirate sites to ‘hide’ their hosting locations are not entirely true either.

Kramer points out that the company has a “Trusted Reporter” program which complainants, including the RIAA, use frequently. This program helps rightsholders to easily obtain the actual hosting locations of Cloudflare customers that engage in widespread copyright infringement.

Although Cloudflare admits that it can’t stop all bad actors online, it will continue to work with the RIAA, MPA, and others to provide them with all the information they need for their enforcement efforts.

None of this is new though. Year after year the same complaints come in and Cloudflare suggests that copyright holders are actually looking for something else. They would like the company to terminate accounts of suspected pirate sites. However, the CDN provider has no intention to do so.

“Their submissions to the Notorious Markets process seem intended to pressure Cloudflare to take over efforts to identify and close down infringing websites for them, but that is something that we are not obligated to do,” Kramer says.

While it would be technically possible, it would require the company to allocate considerable resources to the task. These resources are currently needed to pursue its primary goal, which is to keep the Internet secure and protect users from malware and other risks.

It’s clear that Cloudflare doesn’t want to take any action against customers without a court order. While it has occasionally deviated from this stance by kicking out Daily Stormer and 8Chan, pirate sites are on a different level.

A copy of the letter Cloudflare’s General Counsel Doug Kramer sent to the USTR’s Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property, Jacob Ewerdt, is available here (pdf).

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

Cloudflare Flags Copyright Lawsuits as Potential Liabilities Ahead of IPO

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-flags-copyright-lawsuits-as-potential-liabilities-ahead-of-ipo-190816/

As a CDN and security company, Cloudflare currently serves around 20 million “Internet properties”, ranging from domains and websites through to application programming interfaces (APIs) and mobile applications.

At least hundreds of those properties, potentially more, are considered ‘pirate’ platforms by copyright groups, which has resulted in Cloudflare being sucked into copyright infringement lawsuits due to the activities of its customers.

On Thursday, Cloudflare filed to go public by submitting the required S-1 registration statement. It contains numerous warnings that copyright infringement lawsuits, both current and those that may appear in the future, could present significant issues of liability for the company.

Noting that some of Cloudflare’s customers may use its services in violation of the law, the company states that existing laws relating to the liability of service providers are “highly unsettled and in flux”, both in the United States and further afield.

“For example, we have been named as a defendant in a number of lawsuits, both in the United States and abroad, alleging copyright infringement based on content that is made available through our customers’ websites,” the filing reads.

“There can be no assurance that we will not face similar litigation in the future or that we will prevail in any litigation we may face. An adverse decision in one or more of these lawsuits could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.”

Cloudflare goes on to reference the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, noting that they may not offer “complete protection” for the company or could even be amended in the future to its detriment.

“If we are found not to be protected by the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, CDA [Communications Decency Act] or other similar laws, or if we are deemed subject to laws in other countries that may not have the same protections or that may impose more onerous obligations on us, we may face claims for substantial damages and our brand, reputation, and financial results may be harmed. Such claims may result in liability that exceeds our ability to pay or our insurance coverage,” Cloudflare warns.

As a global company, it’s not only US law the company has to consider. Cloudflare references the recently-approved Copyright Directive in the EU, noting that also has the potential to expose Cloudflare and other online platforms to liability.

As recently as last month and in advance of any claims under that particular legislation, Cloudflare experienced an adverse ruling in an Italian court. Local broadcaster RTI successfully argued that Cloudflare can be held liable if it willingly fails to act in response to copyright infringement notices. In addition, Cloudflare was ordered to terminate the accounts of several pirate sites.

Of course, it’s not uncommon for S-1 filings to contain statements that can be interpreted as impending doom, since companies are required to be frank about their business’s prospects. However, with single copyright cases often dealing with millions of dollars worth of alleged infringement, Cloudflare’s appraisal of the risks seems entirely warranted.

Cloudflare’s S-1 filing can be viewed here

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

Will Cloudflare Kicking 8chan Undermine Pirate Sites?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/will-cloudflare-kicking-8chan-undermine-pirate-sites-190805/

Another day, another senseless mass shooting in the United States, claiming the lives of yet more innocent victims.

While the authorities attempt to sift through this catastrophe and work out what drives people to carry out such terrible acts, attention is being placed on how their messages of evil are spread. Somewhat inevitably, parts of the Internet are set to shoulder at least some of the blame.

Not at all unsurprisingly, service providers are usually reluctant to take any responsibility for the actions of their users or some cases, customers. However, in an announcement early this morning, CDN company Cloudflare said it would cease its work with 8chan, the “cesspool of hate” messaging board where it’s alleged the shooter shared his manifesto.

“8chan is among the more than 19 million Internet properties that use Cloudflare’s service. We just sent notice that we are terminating 8chan as a customer effective at midnight tonight Pacific Time,” CEO Matthew Prince wrote in a statement.

“The rationale is simple: they have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths. Even if 8chan may not have violated the letter of the law in refusing to moderate their hate-filled community, they have created an environment that revels in violating its spirit.”

While other publications will quite rightly focus on the human aspect of this weekend’s awful events, our reporting of issues affecting Cloudflare always center on the company’s involvement in copyright infringement actions. And there are several, almost every month.

Cloudflare is not a copyright infringer and always acts within the law but if 8chan is guilty of violating “the spirit” of the law and ripe for termination, it will be no surprise that copyright-focused groups will now be quietly rubbing their hands in anticipation.

The Pirate Bay, perhaps the most high-profile ‘pirate’ customer of Cloudflare, provides the most obvious example of a site with a stated aim of violating the law – copyright law, to be specific.

Yet to date nothing has been done to prevent the site from being a Cloudflare customer, because from Cloudflare’s side – perhaps counterintuitively – the CDN service itself hasn’t broken any laws. A similar argument can be made for the many hundreds or even thousands of comparable ‘pirate’ platforms which use Cloudflare in the same way.

It would be distasteful to compare the events of this past weekend with the sharing of movies, TV shows, and music, but copyright holders have had no problem using that as leverage in the past.

In a case brought against Cloudflare by ALS Scan, the adult publisher reminded the court that Cloudflare had previously terminated its business dealings with the Daily Stormer but hadn’t terminated its pirate site customers. Cloudflare didn’t want that discussion to take place at trial but its arguments were rejected by the judge.

In the end, Cloudflare and ALS Scan agreed to settle their case, meaning that a claim for contributory copyright infringement – through the prism of the Daily Stormer disconnection – didn’t get placed in front of a jury. But here we are, a little over a year later, with 8chan also having been terminated by Cloudflare under broadly similar circumstances.

In his message this morning, CEO Matthew Prince highlighted the fact that Cloudflare realizes that having policies that are more conservative than those of their customers would undermine customers’ abilities to run their ships as they see fit. This, the CEO says, means that the company sometimes has to bite its tongue – up to a point.

“We reluctantly tolerate content that we find reprehensible, but we draw the line at platforms that have demonstrated they directly inspire tragic events and are lawless by design. 8chan has crossed that line. It will therefore no longer be allowed to use our services,” Prince added.

Copyright holders regularly argue that pirate sites are “lawless” by their very nature but none have ever caused or inspired the kind of tragic events inflicted upon innocents in recent times.

All that being said, Cloudflare’s decision to terminate a site it states may have only violated “the spirit” of the law will eventually come back to haunt it, even if it was absolutely right to do so. No brand wants to be associated with those reveling in murder, but the clock is already ticking to see which copyright holder brings it up first, to support a case against Cloudflare and its customers.

It’s happened once, it will surely happen again.

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

‘Repeat Copyright Infringer’ Case Against Cloudflare Can Continue, Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/repeat-copyright-infringer-case-against-cloudflare-can-continue-court-rules-190716/

Popular CDN and DDoS protection service Cloudflare has come under a lot of pressure from copyright holders in recent years.

The company offers its services to millions of sites, including some of the world’s leading pirate sites.

Many rightsholders are not happy with this. They accuse Cloudflare of facilitating copyright infringement by continuing to provide access to these platforms. At the same time, they call out the CDN service for masking the true hosting locations of these ‘bad actors’.

Cloudflare’s activities have also triggered some lawsuits. Just last week, we reported that an Italian court ordered the company to terminate the accounts of several pirate sites. In the U.S. there’s an ongoing copyright infringement case as well, which brought more bad news for the company a few days ago.

The case in question wasn’t filed by any of the major entertainment industry players, but by two manufacturers and wholesalers of wedding dresses. Not a typical “piracy” lawsuit, but it’s a copyright case that could have broad effects.

In a complaint filed at a federal court in California last year, Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero Designs argued that even after multiple warnings, Cloudflare fails to terminate sites operated by counterfeit vendors. This makes Cloudflare liable for the associated copyright infringements, they said.

Cloudflare responded to the allegations and in April it filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. The company said that the rightsholders failed to state a proper claim, as the takedown notices were not proof of infringement, among other things. In addition, the notices were not formatted properly. 

“Plaintiffs characterize their notifications as ‘credible’ without stating any facts that demonstrate their credibility. In any event, defective notifications, like those the plaintiffs sent to Cloudflare, cannot support any claim of actual knowledge,” Cloudflare argued.

According to Cloudflare, the notifications “may or may not be true”. Without a court determining whether they are accurate or not, the company says they don’t “convey actual knowledge of infringement.” As such, the company doesn’t believe it can be held liable.

District Judge Vince Chhabria disagrees, however. In an order signed a few days ago he denies the motion to dismiss. According to the Judge, the allegations and claims made by the wedding dress manufacturers are sufficient at this stage of the case.

“Cloudflare’s main argument – that contributory liability cannot be based on a defendant’s knowledge of infringing conduct and continued material contribution to it – is wrong,” Judge Chhabria writes.

“Allegations that Cloudflare knew its customer-websites displayed infringing material and continued to provide those websites with faster load times and concealed identities are sufficient to state a claim,” he adds.

Cloudflare also pointed out other deficiencies in the notices, and stressed that it’s not a hosting provider, but these comments were countered too. At this stage of the case, it’s enough to show that Cloudflare was aware of the alleged infringements, the Court notes.

“The notices allegedly sent by the plaintiffs gave Cloudflare specific information, including a link to the offending website and a link to the underlying copyrighted material, to plausibly allege that Cloudflare had actual knowledge of the infringing activity,” Judge Chhabria writes.

The denial of Cloudflare’s motion to dismiss means that the case will move forward. While the case has nothing to do with traditional pirate sites, any rulings could spill over, which means that other copyright holders will watch this case closely.

Mon Cheri Bridals and Maggie Sottero ultimately hope to recoup damages for the losses they’ve suffered as well preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to stop all infringing activity.

Cloudflare, for its part, will argue that it’s not actively participating in any infringing activity and that it merely has a role as a third-party intermediary, which is not liable for the alleged infringing activities of its customers.

A copy of District Judge Vince Chhabria’s order is available here (pdf).

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

Court Orders Cloudflare to Terminate Accounts of Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-cloudflare-to-terminate-accounts-of-pirate-sites-190711/

As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe. This includes many pirate sites.

In recent years many copyright holders have complained about Cloudflare’s involvement with these platforms. RTI, a company owned by the Italian mass media giant Mediaset, took things a step further and went to court.

RTI complained that Cloudflare offered its services to various pirate sites, which made available its TV-shows, including Grande Fratello (Big Brother), and L’isola dei Famosi (The Celebrity Island ).

The broadcaster argued that Cloudflare could be seen, among other things, as a hosting provider under the e-Commerce directive (Directive 2000/31/CE) . And, since it was made explicitly aware of the infringing actions of its clients but failed to take action, the company could be held liable.

US-based Cloudflare disagreed. It countered that the Italian court didn’t have jurisdiction and that the e-Commerce directive didn’t apply to foreign companies, but those objections were rejected.

In a ruling handed down by the Commercial Court of Rome late last month, Cloudflare was ordered to immediately terminate the accounts of the contested pirate sites. These include filmpertutti.uno, italiaserie.tv, piratestreaming.watch, cinemalibero.red, and various others.

In addition, Cloudflare was ordered to share the personal details of the site owners and their hosting companies with RTI.

If Cloudflare fails to comply with any of the above, it must pay a fine of €1,000 for each day the infringements continue.

While Cloudflare doesn’t see itself as a hosting provider, the Court concluded that it can be seen as such, under European law. Among other things, its “Always Online” service hosts various website resources even when the site’s servers go offline.

This means that unlike an ISP, which merely passes on traffic, Cloudflare can be held liable for the infringements of its customers, if it deliberately fails to respond properly to copyright takedown notices or similar complaints.

Interestingly, most of the pirate sites listed in the complaint are still online today. Some are redirecting to new domains, but Italiaserie.org is still operational using Cloudflare. We couldn’t see any RTI content on the site, however.

According to RTI’s attorney Alessandro La Rosa, Cloudflare would violate the court order if any of the mentioned sites make RTI content available through its service. This would mean that Cloudflare is liable to pay €1,000 per day.

The ruling from the Court of Rome can’t be appealed and there are also two similar proceedings against the company before the same Court. These were filed by RTI and Medusa Film (both companies of the Mediaset Group) and remain ongoing.

Cloudflare did not immediately reply to our request for comment.

The full list of affected domains as mentioned in the complaint reads as follows: filmpertutti.uno,  piratestreaming.watch, cinemalibero.red, altadefinizione.review, guardaserie.watch, serietvu.club, casacinema.news, italiaserie.org, italiaserie.tv, cinemasubito.org, and ctrlhits.online.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10Convert.com

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

Amoyshare.com

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

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

Anything2MP3.cc

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

IMP3Juices.com

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

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

BigConverter.com

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

YouTubeMP4.to

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

QDownloader.net

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

GenYouTube.net

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

Break.TV

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

MP3XD.com

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

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

DL-YouTube-MP3.net

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

ConvertBox.net

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

Downloaders.io

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

Hexupload.net

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIAA Subpoenas Target Yet Another Huge YouTube-Ripping Site

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot of Y2Mate.com

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

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

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

Y2Mate traffic stats: (SimilarWeb data)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The RIAA’s letters to Cloudflare and NameCheap can be found here and here (pdf)

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

RIAA Obtains Subpoena to Expose ‘Infringing’ Cloudflare Users

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-obtains-subpoena-to-expose-infringing-cloudflare-users-180506/

Despite the increased availability of legal options, millions of people still stream, rip, or download MP3s from unofficial sources.

These sites are a thorn in the side of the RIAA, one of the music industry’s leading anti-piracy outfits. 

The RIAA has a long history of going after, what it sees as, pirate sites. The problem, however, is that many owners of such sites operate anonymously. The group, therefore, often has to turn to third-party intermediaries to find out more. 

While some services may be willing to voluntarily share information with the music industry group, many don’t. Cloudflare falls into the latter category. While the CDN service does voluntarily reveal the true hosting locations of some of its users, it doesn’t share any personal info. At least, not without a subpoena. 

Luckily for rightsholders, getting a subpoena isn’t very hard in the US. Under the DMCA, copyright holders only have to ask a court clerk for a signature to be able to demand the personal information of alleged copyright infringers. That’s exactly what the RIAA did last week. 

In a letter sent by Mark McDevitt, the RIAA’s vice president of online anti-piracy, the music group informs Cloudflare that it requests personal details including names, addresses and payment information relating to the operators of six domains, which are all Cloudflare users. 

The domains/URLs

The domains in question include those connected to the file-hosting site DBREE,  music release site RapGodFathers, file-host AyeFiles, and music download portal Plus Premieres. The sites are accused of sharing copyrighted tracks from artists such as Pink, Drake, and Taylor Swift.

“We have determined that users of your system or network have infringed our member record companies’ copyrighted sound recordings. Enclosed is a subpoena compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the RIAA’s McDevitt writes.

“As is stated in the attached subpoena, you are required to disclose to the RIAA information sufficient to identify the infringers. This would include the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history.”

The RIAA stresses that the mentioned files are offered without permission and it asks Cloudflare to consider the widespread and repeated infringing nature of the sites and whether these warrant a termination under its repeat infringer policy. 

From the letter RIAA sent to Cloudflare

At the time of writing the sites are still using Cloudflare’s services. However, the allegedly infringing files are no longer available. These were presumably removed by the site owners.

There is no obvious connection between all the targeted sites. However, RapGodFathers is a familiar name when it comes to anti-piracy enforcement. Nearly ten years ago, the site was targeted by the U.S. Government, but the name is still around today.  

It is unclear what RIAA plans to do with the requested information. It could form the basis of a legal complaint, but the music group may also use it to contact the site operators more directly. The letter only mentions that the information will be used to protect the rights of RIAA member companies.

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

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

What this “protection” entails remains a mystery for now. 

While the court clerk signed the DMCA subpoena, Cloudflare still has the option to object, by asking the court to quash it. However, thus far there are no signs that the company plans to do so.

A copy of the letter RIAA sent to Cloudflare, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf).

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

DNS over HTTPS in Firefox

Post Syndicated from corbet original https://lwn.net/Articles/756262/rss

The Mozilla blog has an
article
describing the addition of DNS over HTTPS (DoH) as an optional
feature in the Firefox browser. “DoH support has been added to
Firefox 62 to improve the way Firefox interacts with DNS. DoH uses
encrypted networking to obtain DNS information from a server that is
configured within Firefox. This means that DNS requests sent to the DoH
cloud server are encrypted while old style DNS requests are not
protected.
” The configured server is hosted by Cloudflare, which
has posted this
privacy agreement
about the service.