Tag Archives: complaint

Epic Responds to Cheating Fortnite Kid’s Mom in Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/epic-responds-to-cheating-fortnite-kids-mom-in-court-180424/

Last fall, Epic Games released Fortnite’s free-to-play “Battle Royale” game mode, generating massive interest among gamers.

This also included thousands of cheaters, many of whom were subsequently banned. Epic Games then went a step further by taking several cheaters to court for copyright infringement.

One of the alleged cheaters turned out to be a minor, who’s referred to by his initials C.R. in the Carolina District Court. Epic Games wasn’t aware of this when it filed the lawsuit, but the kid’s mother let the company know, loud and clear.

“This company is in the process of attempting to sue a 14-year-old child,” the mother informed the Court last fall.

Among other defenses, the mother highlighted that the EULA, which the game publisher relies heavily upon in the complaint, isn’t legally binding. The EULA states that minors require permission from a parent or legal guardian, which was not the case here.

“Please note parental consent was not issued to [my son] to play this free game produced by Epic Games, INC,” the mother wrote in her letter.

After this letter, things went quiet. Epic managed to locate and serve the defendant with help from a private investigator, but no official response to the complaint was filed. This eventually prompted Epic to request an entry of default.

However, US District Court Malcolm Howard wouldn’t allow Epic to cruise to a win that easily. Instead, he ruled that the mother’s letter should be seen as a motion to dismiss the case.

“While it is true that defendant has not responded since proper service was effectuated, the letter from defendant’s mother detailing why this matter should be dismissed cannot be ignored,” Judge Howard wrote earlier this month.

As a result, Epic Games had to reply to the letter, which it did yesterday. In a redacted motion the game publisher argues that most of the mother’s arguments failed to state a claim and are therefore irrelevant.

Epic argues that the only issue that remains is the lack of parental consent when C.R. agreed to the EULA and the Terms. The mother argued that these are not valid agreements because her son is a minor, but Epic disagrees.

“This ‘infancy defense’ is not available to C.R,” Epic writes, pointing to jurisprudence where another court ruled that a minor can’t use the infancy defense to void contractual obligations while keeping the benefits of the same contract.

“C.R. affirmatively agreed to abide by Epic’s Terms and EULA, and ‘retained the benefits’ of the contracts he entered into with Epic. Accordingly, C.R. should not be able to ‘use the infancy defense to void [his] contractual obligations by retaining the benefits of the contract[s]’.”

Epic further argues that it’s clear that the cheater infringed on Epic’s copyrights and facilitated others to do the same. As such, the company asks the Court to deny the mother’s motion to dismiss.

If the Court agrees, Epic can request an entry of default. It did the same in a related case against another minor defendant earlier, which was granted by the Court late last week.

If that happens, the underage defendants risk a default judgment. This is likely to include a claim for monetary damages as well as an injunction prohibiting the minors from any copyright infringement or cheating in the future.

A copy of Epic Games’ redacted reply 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 Denies TVAddons’ Request to Dismiss U.S. Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-denies-tvaddons-request-to-dismiss-u-s-piracy-lawsuit-180423/

Last year, American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network targeted two well-known players in the third-party Kodi add-on ecosystem.

In a complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were accused of copyright infringement. As a result, both are facing up to $150,000 in damages for each offense.

While the case was filed in Texas, neither of the defendants live there, or even in the United States. The owner and operator of TVAddons is Adam Lackman, who resides in Montreal, Canada. ZemTV’s developer Shahjahan Durrani is even further away in London, UK.

According to the legal team of the two defendants, this limited connection to Texas is reason for the case to be dismissed. They filed a motion to dismiss in January, asking the court to drop the case.

“Lackman and Durrani have never been residents or citizens of Texas; they have never owned property in Texas; they have never voted in Texas; they have never personally visited Texas; they have never directed any business activity of any kind to anyone in Texas […] and they have never earned income in Texas,” the motion reads.

Dish saw things differently, however. The broadcast provider replied to the motion, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence documenting TVAddons and ZemTV’s ties to the United States.

Among other things, Dish pointed the court towards TVAddons own data, which showed that most of its users came from the United States. More than one-third of the total user base were American, it argued.

“The United States was Defendants’ largest market with approximately 34% of all TV Addons traffic coming from users located in the United States, which was three times the traffic from the second largest market.”

Late last week District Court Judge Vanessa Gilmore ruled on the motion to dismiss from both defendants, which is denied.

Denied

At the time of writing, there is no additional information available as to how Judge Gilmore reached her decision. However, it is clear that the case will now move forward.

This lawsuit is one of several related to Kodi-powered pirate steaming boxes. While TVAddons and ZemTV didn’t sell any fully loaded boxes directly, Dish argues that they both played a significant role in making copyright-infringing content available.

Earlier this year, the manufacturer of the streaming device DragonBox was sued in a separate case by Netflix, Amazon and several major Hollywood studios.

A few days ago Dragon Media denied all piracy allegations in the complaint, but the lawsuit remains ongoing. The same is true for a related case against Tickbox, another Kodi-powered box manufacturer.

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

Registrars Suspend 11 Pirate Site Domains, 89 More in the Crosshairs

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/registrars-suspend-11-pirate-site-domains-89-more-in-the-crosshairs-180423/

In addition to website blocking which is running rampant across dozens of countries right now, targeting the domains of pirate sites is considered to be a somewhat effective anti-piracy tool.

The vast majority of websites are found using a recognizable name so when they become inaccessible, site operators have to work quickly to get the message out to fans. That can mean losing visitors, at least in the short term, and also contributes to the rise of copy-cat sites that may not have users’ best interests at heart.

Nevertheless, crime-fighting has always been about disrupting the ability of the enemy to do business so with this in mind, authorities in India began taking advice from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) a couple of years ago.

After studying the model developed by PIPCU, India formed its Digital Crime Unit (DCU), which follows a multi-stage plan.

Initially, pirate sites and their partners are told to cease-and-desist. Next, complaints are filed with advertisers, who are asked to stop funding site activities. Service providers and domain registrars also receive a written complaint from the DCU, asking them to suspend services to the sites in question.

Last July, the DCU earmarked around 9,000 sites where pirated content was being made available. From there, 1,300 were placed on a shortlist for targeted action. Precisely how many have been contacted thus far is unclear but authorities are now reporting success.

According to local reports, the Maharashtra government’s Digital Crime Unit has managed to have 11 pirate site domains suspended following complaints from players in the entertainment industry.

As is often the case (and to avoid them receiving even more attention) the sites in question aren’t being named but according to Brijesh Singh, special Inspector General of Police in Maharashtra, the sites had a significant number of visitors.

Their domain registrars were sent a notice under Section 149 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure, which grants police the power to take preventative action when a crime is suspected. It’s yet to be confirmed officially but it seems likely that pirate sites utilizing local registrars were targeted by the authorities.

“Responding to our notice, the domain names of all these websites, that had a collective viewership of over 80 million, were suspended,” Singh said.

Laxman Kamble, a police inspector attached to the state government’s Cyber Cell, said the pilot project was launched after the government received complaints from Viacom and Star but back in January there were reports that the MPAA had also become involved.

Using the model pioneered by London’s PIPCU, 19 parameters were applied to list of pirate sites in order to place them on the shortlist. They are reported to include the type of content being uploaded, downloaded, and the number of downloads overall.

Kamble reports that a further 89 websites, that have domains registered abroad but are very popular in India, are now being targeted. Whether overseas registrars will prove as compliant will remain to be seen. After booking initial success, even PIPCU itself experienced problems keeping up the momentum with registrars.

In 2014, information obtained by TorrentFreak following a Freedom of Information request revealed that only five out of 70 domain registrars had complied with police requests to suspend domains.

A year later, PIPCU confirmed that suspending pirate domain names was no longer a priority for them after ICANN ruled that registrars don’t have to suspend domain names without a valid court order.

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

Netflix, Amazon and Hollywood Sue “SET TV” Over IPTV Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-amazon-and-hollywood-sue-set-tv-over-iptv-piracy-180422/

In recent years, piracy streaming tools and services have become a prime target for copyright enforcers.

This is particularly true for the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), an anti-piracy partnership forged between Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and more than two dozen other companies.

After taking action against Kodi-powered devices Tickbox and Dragonbox, key ACE members have now filed a similar lawsuit against the Florida-based company Set Broadcast, LLC, which sells the popular IPTV service SET TV.

The complaint, filed at a California federal court on Friday, further lists company owner Jason Labbosiere and employee Nelson Johnson among the defendants.

According to the movie companies, the Set TV software is little more than a pirate tool, allowing buyers to stream copyright infringing content.

“Defendants market and sell subscriptions to ‘Setvnow,’ a software application that Defendants urge their customers to use as a tool for the mass infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted motion pictures and television shows,” the complaint reads.

In addition to the software, the company also offers a preloaded box. Both allow users to connect to live streams of TV channels and ‘on demand’ content. The latter includes movies that are still in theaters, which SET TV allegedly streams through third-party sources.

“For its on-demand options, Setvnow relies on third-party sources that illicitly reproduce copyrighted works and then provide streams of popular content such as movies still exclusively in theaters and television shows.”

From the complaint

The intended use of SET TV is clear, according to the movie companies. They frame it as a pirate service and believe that this is the main draw for consumers.

“Defendants promote the use of Setvnow for overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, infringing purposes, and that is how their customers use Setvnow,” the complaint reads.

Interestingly, the complaint also states that SET TV pays for sponsored reviews to reach a broader audience. The videos, posted by popular YouTubers such as Solo Man, who is quoted in the complaint, advertise the IPTV service.

“[The] sponsored reviewer promotes Setvnow as a quick and easy way to access on demand movies: ‘You have new releases right there and you simply click on the movie … you click it and click on play again and here you have the movie just like that in 1 2 3 in beautiful HD quality’.”

The lawsuit aims to bring an end to this. The movie companies ask the California District for an injunction to shut down the infringing service and impound all pre-loaded devices. In addition, they’re requesting statutory damages which could go up to several million dollars.

At the time of writing the SET TV website is still in the air, selling subscriptions. The company itself has yet to comment on the allegations.

A copy of the complaint is available here (pdf), courtesy of GeekWire.

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

Russia Blacklists 250 Pirate Sites For Displaying Gambling Ads

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blacklists-250-pirate-sites-for-displaying-gambling-ads-180421/

Blocking alleged pirate sites is usually a question of proving that they’re involved in infringement and then applying to the courts for an injunction.

In Europe, the process is becoming easier, largely thanks to an EU ruling that permits blocking on copyright grounds.

As reported over the past several years, Russia is taking its blocking processes very seriously. Copyright holders can now have sites blocked in just a few days, if they can show their operators as being unresponsive to takedown demands.

This week, however, Russian authorities have again shown that copyright infringement doesn’t have to be the only Achilles’ heel of pirate sites.

Back in 2006, online gambling was completely banned in Russia. Three years later in 2009, land-based gambling was also made illegal in all but four specified regions. Then, in 2012, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that ISPs must block access to gambling sites, something they had previously refused to do.

That same year, telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor began publishing a list of banned domains and within those appeared some of the biggest names in gambling. Many shut down access to customers located in Russia but others did not. In response, Rozcomnadzor also began targeting sites that simply offered information on gambling.

Fast forward more than six years and Russia is still taking a hard line against gambling operators. However, it now finds itself in a position where the existence of gambling material can also assist the state in its quest to take down pirate sites.

Following a complaint from the Federal Tax Service of Russia, Rozcomnadzor has again added a large number of ‘pirate’ sites to the country’s official blocklist after they advertised gambling-related products and services.

“Rozkomnadzor, at the request of the Federal Tax Service of Russia, added more than 250 pirate online cinemas and torrent trackers to the unified register of banned information, which hosted illegal advertising of online casinos and bookmakers,” the telecoms watchdog reported.

Almost immediately, 200 of the sites were blocked by local ISPs since they failed to remove the advertising when told to do so. For the remaining 50 sites, breathing space is still available. Their bans can be suspended if the offending ads are removed within a timeframe specified by the authorities, which has not yet run out.

“Information on a significant number of pirate resources with illegal advertising was received by Rozcomnadzor from citizens and organizations through a hotline that operates on the site of the Unified Register of Prohibited Information, all of which were sent to the Federal Tax Service for making decisions on restricting access,” the watchdog revealed.

Links between pirate sites and gambling companies have traditionally been close over the years, with advertising for many top-tier brands appearing on portals large and small. However, in recent times the prevalence of gambling ads has diminished, in part due to campaigns conducted in the United States, Europe, and the UK.

For pirate site operators in Russia, the decision to carry gambling ads now comes with the added risk of being blocked. Only time will tell whether any reduction in traffic is considered serious enough to warrant a gambling boycott of their own.

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

Cloudflare Kicks Out Torrent Site For Abuse Reporting Interference

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-kicks-out-torrent-site-for-abuse-reporting-interference-180420/

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

The company’s clients include billion dollar companies and national governments, but also personal blogs, and even pirate sites.

Copyright holders are not happy with the latter category and are pressuring Cloudflare to cut their ties with sites like The Pirate Bay, both in and out of court.

Cloudflare, however, maintains that it’s a neutral service provider. They forward copyright infringement notices to their customers, for example, but deny any liability for these sites.

Generally speaking, the company only disconnects a customer in response to a court order, as it did with Sci-Hub earlier this year. That’s why it came as a surprise when the anime torrent site NYAA.si was disconnected this week.

The site, which is a replacement for the original NYAA, has millions of users and is particularly popular in Japan. Without prior warning, it became unavailable for several hours this week, after Cloudflare removed it from its services. So what happened?

TorrentFreak spoke to the operator who said that the exact reason for the termination remains a mystery to him. He reached out to Cloudflare looking for answers, but the comany simply stated that it’s about “avoiding measures taken to avoid abuse complaints,” as can be seen below.

One of Cloudflare’s messages

The operator says he hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary and showed his willingness to resolve any possible issues. However, that hasn’t changed Cloudflare’s stance.

“We asked multiple times for clarification. We also expressed that we were willing to attempt to work with them on whatever the problem actually was, if they would explain what they even mean.

“Naturally, I have been stonewalled by them at every stage. I’ve contacted numerous persons at Cloudflare and nobody will talk about this,” NYAA’s operator adds.

TorrentFreak asked Cloudflare for more details and the company confirmed that the matter was related to interference with its abuse reporting systems, without providing further detail.

“We determined that the customer had taken steps specifically intended to interfere with and thwart the operation of our abuse reporting systems,” Cloudflare’s General Counsel Doug Kramer informed us.

Cloudflare’s statement suggests that the site took active steps to interfere with the abuse process. The company added that it can’t go into detail, but says that the reason for the termination was shared with the website owner.

The website owner, on the other hand, informs us that he has no clue what the exact problem is. NYAA.si occasionally swaps IP addresses and have recently set up some mirror domains, but these were all under the same account. So, he has no idea why that would interfere with any abuse reports.

“I’m honestly unsure of what we could have done that ‘circumvents” their abuse system,” NYAA’s operator says, adding that the only abuse reports received were copyright related.

It’s unlikely, however, that copyright takedown notices alone would warrant account termination, as most of the largest torrent sites use Cloudflare.

NYAA’s operator says he can do little more than speculate at the point. Some have hinted at a secret court order while Japan’s recent crackdown on manga and anime piracy also came to mind, all without a grain of evidence of course.

Whatever the reason, NYAA.si now has to move on without Cloudflare, while the mystery remains.

“Frankly, this whole thing is a joke. I don’t understand why they would willingly host much bigger sites like ThePirateBay without any issue, or even ISIS, or the various hacking groups that have used them over time,” the operator says.

If more information about the abuse process interfere becomes available, we’ll definitely follow it up.

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

Pirates Taunt Amazon Over New “Turd Sandwich” Prime Video Quality

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirates-taunt-amazon-over-new-turd-sandwich-prime-video-quality-180419/

Even though they generally aren’t paying for the content they consume, don’t fall into the trap of believing that all pirates are eternally grateful for even poor quality media.

Without a doubt, some of the most quality-sensitive individuals are to be found in pirate communities and they aren’t scared to make their voices known when release groups fail to come up with the best possible goods.

This week there’s been a sustained chorus of disapproval over the quality of pirate video releases sourced from Amazon Prime. The anger is usually directed at piracy groups who fail to capture content in the correct manner but according to a number of observers, the problem is actually at Amazon’s end.

Discussions on Reddit, for example, report that episodes in a single TV series have been declining in filesize and bitrate, from 1.56 GB in 720p at a 3073 kb/s video bitrate for episode 1, down to 907 MB in 720p at just 1514 kb/s video bitrate for episode 10.

Numerous theories as to why this may be the case are being floated around, including that Amazon is trying to save on bandwidth expenses. While this is a possibility, the company hasn’t made any announcements to that end.

Indeed, one legitimate customer reported that he’d raised the quality issue with Amazon and they’d said that the problem was “probably on his end”.

“I have Amazon Prime Video and I noticed the quality was always great for their exclusive shows, so I decided to try buying the shows on Amazon instead of iTunes this year. I paid for season pass subscriptions for Legion, Billions and Homeland this year,” he wrote.

“Just this past weekend, I have noticed a significant drop in details compared to weeks before! So naturally I assumed it was an issue on my end. I started trying different devices, calling support, etc, but nothing really helped.

“Billions continued to look like a blurry mess, almost like I was watching a standard definition DVD instead of the crystal clear HD I paid for and have experienced in the past! And when I check the previous episodes, sure enough, they look fantastic again. What the heck??”

With Amazon distancing itself from the issues, piracy groups have already begun to dig in the knife. Release group DEFLATE has been particularly critical.

“Amazon, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to start fucking with the quality of their encodes. They’re now reaching Netflix’s subpar 1080p.H264 levels, and their H265 encodes aren’t even close to what Netflix produces,” the group said in a file attached to S02E07 of The Good Fight released on Sunday.

“Netflix is able to produce drastic visual improvements with their H265 encodes compared to H264 across every original. In comparison, Amazon can’t decide whether H265 or H264 is going to produce better results, and as a result we suffer for it.”

Arrr! The quality be fallin’

So what’s happening exactly?

A TorrentFreak source (who tells us he’s been working in the BluRay/DCP authoring business for the last 10 years) was kind enough to give us two opinions, one aimed at the techies and another at us mere mortals.

“In technical terms, it appears [Amazon has] increased the CRF [Constant Rate Factor] value they use when encoding for both the HEVC [H265] and H264 streams. Previously, their H264 streams were using CRF 18 and a max bitrate of 15Mbit/s, which usually resulted in file sizes of roughly 3GB, or around 10Mbit/s. Similarly with their HEVC streams, they were using CRF 20 and resulting in streams which were around the same size,” he explained.

“In the past week, the H264 streams have decreased by up to 50% for some streams. While there are no longer any x264 headers embedded in the H264 streams, the HEVC streams still retain those headers and the CRF value used has been increased, so it does appear this change has been done on purpose.”

In layman’s terms, our source believes that Amazon had previously been using an encoding profile that was “right on the edge of relatively good quality” which kept bitrates relatively low but high enough to ensure no perceivable loss of quality.

“H264 streams encoded with CRF 18 could provide an acceptable compromise between quality and file size, where the loss of detail is often negligible when watched at regular viewing distances, at a desk, or in a lounge room on a larger TV,” he explained.

“Recently, it appears these values have been intentionally changed in order to lower the bitrate and file sizes for reasons unknown. As a result, the quality of some streams has been reduced by up to 50% of their previous values. This has introduced a visual loss of quality, comparable to that of viewing something in standard definition versus high definition.”

With the situation failing to improve during the week, by the time piracy group DEFLATE released S03E14 of Supergirl on Tuesday their original criticism had transformed into flat-out insults.

“These are only being done in H265 because Amazon have shit the bed, and it’s a choice between a turd sandwich and a giant douche,” they wrote, offering these images as illustrative of the problem and these indicating what should be achievable.

With DEFLATE advising customers to start complaining to Amazon, the memes have already begun, with unfavorable references to now-defunct group YIFY (which was often chastized for its low quality rips) and even a spin on one of the most well known anti-piracy campaigns.

You wouldn’t download stream….

TorrentFreak contacted Amazon Prime for comment on both the recent changes and growing customer complaints but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

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

Hollywood Studios Get ISP Blocking Order Against Rarbg in India

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-studios-score-blocking-order-against-rarbg-in-india-180417/

While the major Hollywood studios are very reluctant to bring a pirate site blocking case to their home turf, they are very active abroad.

The companies are the driving force behind lawsuits in Europe, Australia, and are also active in India, where they booked a new success last week.

Website blocking is by no means a new phenomenon in India. The country is known for so-called John Doe orders, where a flurry of websites are temporarily blocked to protect the release of a specific title.

The major Hollywood studios are taking a different approach. Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. are requesting blockades, accusing sites of being structural copyright infringers.

One of the most recent targets is the popular torrent site Rarbg. The Hollywood studios describe Rarbg as a ‘habitual’ copyright infringer and demand that several Internet providers block access to the site.

“It is submitted that the Defendant Website aids and facilitates the accessibility and availability of infringing material, and induce third parties, intentionally and/or knowingly, to infringe through their websites by various means,’ the movie studios allege.

The complaint filed at the High Court of Delhi lists more than 20 Internet providers as co-defendants, and also includes India’s Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology in the mix.

The two Government departments are added because they have the power to enforce blocking orders. Specifically, the Hollywood studios note that the Department of Technology’s license agreement with ISPs requires these companies to ensure that copyright infringing content is not carried on their networks.

“It is submitted that the DoT itself acknowledges the fact that service providers have an obligation to ensure that no violation of third party intellectual property rights takes place through their networks and that effective protection is provided to right holders of such intellectual property,” the studios write.

Last week the court granted an injunction that requires local Internet providers including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Telenor, You Broadband, and Vodafone to block Rarbg.

Blocking order

As requested, the Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology are directed to notify all local internet and telecom service providers that they must block the torrent site as well.

The order is preliminary and can still be contested in court. However, given the history of similar blocking efforts around the world, it is likely that it will be upheld.

While there’s not much coverage on the matter, this isn’t the first blocking request the companies have filed in India. Last October, a similar case was filed against another popular torrent site, 1337x.to, with success.

TorrentFreak reached out to the law firm representing the Hollywood studios to get a broader overview of the blocking plans in India. At the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

A copy of the order obtained by Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros and the local Disney owned media conglomerate UTV Software, 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.

Microsoft Denies Piracy Extortion Claims, Returns Fire

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/microsoft-denies-piracy-extortion-claims-returns-fire-180416/

For many years, Microsoft and the Software Alliance (BSA) have carried out piracy investigations into organizations large and small.

Companies accused of using Microsoft software without permission usually get a letter asking them to pay up, or face legal consequences.

This also happened to Hanna Instruments, a Rhode Island-based company that sells analytical instruments. Last year, the company was accused of using Microsoft Office products without a proper license.

In a letter, BSA’s lawyers informed Hanna that it would face up to $4,950,000 in damages if the case went to court. Instead, however, they offered to settle the matter for $72,074.

Adding some extra pressure, BSA also warned that Microsoft could get a court order that would allow U.S. marshals to raid the company’s premises.

Where most of these cases are resolved behind closed doors, this one escalated. After being repeatedly contacted by BSA’s lawyers, Hanna decided to take the matter to court, claiming that Microsoft and BSA were trying to ‘extort’ money on ‘baseless’ accusations.

“BSA, Microsoft, and their counsel have, without supplying one scintilla of evidence, issued a series of letters for the sole purpose of extorting inflated monetary damages,” the company informed the court.

Late last week Microsoft and BSA replied to the complaint. While the two companies admit that they reached out to Hanna and offered a settlement, they deny several other allegations, including the extortion claims.

Instead, the companies submit a counterclaim, backing up their copyright infringement accusations and demanding damages.

“Hanna has engaged and continues to engage in the unauthorized installation, reproduction, and distribution and other unlawful use of Microsoft Software on computers on its premises and has used unlicensed copies of Microsoft Software to conduct its business,” they write.

According to Microsoft and BSA, the Rhode Island company still uses unauthorized product keys to activate and install unlicensed Microsoft software.

Turning Hanna’s own evidence against itself, they argue that two product keys were part of a batch of an educational program in China — not for commercial use in the United States.

Microsoft / BSA counterclaim

Another key could be traced back to what appears to be a counterfeit store which Microsoft has since shut down.

“The materials provided by Hanna also indicate that it purchased at least one copy of Microsoft Software from BuyCheapSoftware.com, a now-defunct website that was sued by Microsoft for selling stolen, abused, and otherwise unauthorized decoupled product keys,” Microsoft and BSA write.

According to Hanna, BSA previously failed to provide evidence to prove that the company was using unlicensed keys. However, the counterclaim suggests that the initial accusations had merit.

Whether BSA’s tactic of bringing up millions of dollars in damages and a possible raid by the U.S. Marshalls is the best strategy to resolve such a matter is up for debate of course.

It could very well be that Hanna was duped into buying counterfeit software, without knowing it. Perhaps this will come out as the case progresses. That said, it could also help if both sides simply have a good conversation to see if they can make peace, without threats.

Microsoft and BSA’s reply and counterclaim 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.

How Pirates Use New Technologies for Old Sharing Habits

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/how-pirates-use-new-technologies-for-old-sharing-habits-180415/

While piracy today is more widespread than ever, the urge to share content online has been around for several decades.

The first generation used relatively primitive tools, such as a bulletin board systems (BBS), newsgroups or IRC. Nothing too fancy, but they worked well for those who got over the initial learning curve.

When Napster came along things started to change. More content became available and with just a few clicks anyone could get an MP3 transferred from one corner of the world to another. The same was true for Kazaa and Limewire, which further popularized online piracy.

After this initial boom of piracy applications, BitTorrent came along, shaking up the sharing landscape even further. As torrent sites are web-based, pirated media became even more public and easy to find.

At the same time, BitTorrent brought back the smaller and more organized sharing culture of the early days through private trackers.

These communities often focused on a specific type of content and put strict rules and guidelines in place. They promoted sharing and avoided the spam that plagued their public counterparts.

That was fifteen years ago.

Today the piracy landscape is more diverse than ever. Private torrent trackers are still around and so are IRC and newsgroups. However, most piracy today takes place in public. Streaming sites and devices are booming, with central hosting platforms offering the majority of the underlying content.

That said, there is still an urge for some pirates to band together and some use newer technologies to do so.

This week The Outline ran an interesting piece on the use of Telegram channels to share pirated media. These groups use the encrypted communication platform to share copies of movies, TV shows, and a wide range of other material.

Telegram allows users to upload files up to 1.5GB in size, but larger ones can be split, in common with the good old newsgroups.

These type of sharing groups are not new. On social media platforms such as Facebook and VK, there are hundreds or thousands of dedicated communities that do the same. Both public and private. And Reddit has similar groups, relying on external links.

According to an administrator of a piracy-focused Telegram channel, the appeal of the platform is that the groups are not shut down so easily. While that may be the case with hyper-private groups, Telegram will still pull the plug if it receives enough complaints about a channel.

The same is true for Discord, another application that can be used to share content in ‘private’ communities. Discord is particularly popular among gamers, but pirates have also found their way to the platform.

While smaller communities are able to thrive, once the word gets out to copyright holders, the party can soon be over. This is also what the /r/piracy subreddit community found out a few days ago when its Discord server was pulled offline.

This triggered a discussion about possible alternatives. Telegram was mentioned by some, although not everyone liked the idea of connecting their phone number to a pirate group. Others mentioned Slack, Weechat, Hexchat and Riot.im.

None of these tools are revolutionary. At least, not for the intended use by this group. Some may be harder to take down than others, but they are all means to share files, directly or through external links.

What really caught our eye, however, were several mentions of an ancient application layer protocol that, apparently, hasn’t lost its use to pirates.

“I’ll make an IRC server and host that,” one user said, with others suggesting the same.

And so we have come full circle…

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

Google Search Receives Fewer Takedown Notices Than Before

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-search-receives-fewer-takedown-notices-than-before-180414/

In recent years Google has had to cope with a continuous increase in takedown requests from copyright holders, which target pirate sites in search results.

Just a few years ago the search engine removed ‘only’ a few thousand URLs per day. This has since grown to millions and has kept growing, until recently.

Around a year ago Google received a billion takedown requests a year, and for a while, it stabilized at roughly 20 million requests per week. By October last year, Google search had processed over three billion DMCA requests since it started counting.

After that, it appears that things calmed down a little. Where Google’s weekly takedown chart went up year after year, it’s now trending in a downward direction.

During the past half year, Google received ‘only’ 375 million takedown requests. That translates to roughly 15 million per week or 750 million per year. This is a 25% decrease compared the average in 2016.

Does this mean that copyright holders can no longer find enough pirated content via the search engine? We doubt it. But it’s clear that some of the big reporting agencies are sending in less complaints.

Degban, for example, which was at one point good for more than 10% of the weekly number of DMCA requests, has disappeared completely. Other big players, such as the Mexican anti-piracy outfit APDIF and Remove Your Media, have clearly lowered their volumes.

APDIF’s weekly DMCA volume

Of all the big players, UK Music Group BPI has been most consistent. Their average hasn’t dropped much in recent years, but is certainly not rising either.

It’s too early to tell whether this trend will hold, but according to the numbers we see now, Google will for the first time have a significant decrease in the number of takedown requests this year.

Despite the decrease, Google is under quite a bit of pressure from copyright holders to improve its takedown efforts. Most would like Google to delist pirate site domains entirely.

While the search engine isn’t willing to go that far, it does give a lower ranking to sites for which it receives a large volume of takedown requests. In addition, the company recently started accepting ‘prophylactic’ DMCA requests, for content that is not indexed yet.

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

Reddit Copyright Complaints Jump 138% But Almost Half Get Rejected

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/reddit-copyright-complaints-jump-138-but-almost-half-get-rejected-180411/

So-called ‘transparency reports’ are becoming increasingly popular with Internet-based platforms and their users. Among other things, they provide much-needed insight into how outsiders attempt to censor content published online and what actions are taken in response.

Google first started publishing its report in 2010, Twitter followed in 2012, and they’ve now been joined by a multitude of major companies including Microsoft, Facebook and Cloudflare.

As one of the world’s most recognized sites, Reddit joined the transparency party fairly late, publishing its first report in early 2015. While light on detail, it revealed that in the previous year the site received just 218 requests to remove content, 81% of which were DMCA-style copyright notices. A significant 62% of those copyright-related requests were rejected.

Over time, Reddit’s reporting has become a little more detailed. Last April it revealed that in 2016, the platform received ‘just’ 3,294 copyright removal requests for the entire year. However, what really caught the eye is how many notices were rejected. In just 610 instances, Reddit was required to remove content from the site, a rejection rate of 81%.

Having been a year since Reddit’s last report, the company has just published its latest edition, covering the period January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

“Reddit publishes this transparency report every year as part of our ongoing commitment to keep you aware of the trends on the various requests regarding private Reddit user account information or removal of content posted to Reddit,” the company said in a statement.

“Reddit believes that maintaining this transparency is extremely important. We want you to be aware of this information, consider it carefully, and ask questions to keep us accountable.”

The detailed report covers a wide range of topics, including government requests for the preservation or production of user information (there were 310) and even an instruction to monitor one Reddit user’s activities in real time via a so-called ‘Trap and Trace’ order.

In copyright terms, there has been significant movement. In 2017, Reddit received 7,825 notifications of alleged copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that’s up roughly 138% over the 3,294 notifications received in 2016.

For a platform of Reddit’s unquestionable size, these volumes are not big. While the massive percentage increase is notable, the site still receives less than 10 complaints each day. For comparison, Google receives millions every week.

But perhaps most telling is that despite receiving more than 7,800 DMCA-style takedown notices, these resulted in Reddit carrying out just 4,352 removals. This means that for whatever reasons (Reddit doesn’t specify), 3,473 requests were denied, a rejection rate of 44.38%. Google, on the other hand, removes around 90% of content reported.

DMCA notices can be declared invalid for a number of reasons, from incorrect formatting through to flat-out abuse. In many cases, copyright law is incorrectly applied and it’s not unknown for complainants to attempt a DMCA takedown to stifle speech or perceived competition.

Reddit says it tries to take all things into consideration before removing content.

“Reddit reviews each DMCA takedown notice carefully, and removes content where a valid report is received, as required by the law,” the company says.

“Reddit considers whether the reported content may fall under an exception listed in the DMCA, such as ‘fair use,’ and may ask for clarification that will assist in the review of the removal request.”

Considering the numbers of community-focused “subreddits” dedicated to piracy (not just general discussion, but actual links to content), the low numbers of copyright notices received by Reddit continues to baffle.

There are sections in existence right now offering many links to movies and TV shows hosted on various file-hosting sites. They’re the type of links that are targeted all the time whenever they appear in Google search but copyright owners don’t appear to notice or care about them on Reddit.

Finally, it would be nice if Reddit could provide more information in next year’s report, including detail on why so many requests are rejected. Perhaps regular submission of notices to the Lumen Database would be something Reddit would consider for the future.

Reddit’s Transparency Report for 2017 can be found here.

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

Publisher Gets Carte Blanche to Seize New Sci-Hub Domains

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/publisher-gets-carte-blanche-to-seize-new-sci-hub-domains-180410/

While Sci-Hub is loved by thousands of researchers and academics around the world, copyright holders are doing everything in their power to wipe if off the web.

Following a $15 million defeat against Elsevier last June, the American Chemical Society (ACS) won a default judgment of $4.8 million in copyright damages a few months later.

The publisher was further granted a broad injunction, requiring various third-party services to stop providing access to the site. This includes domain registries, hosting companies and search engines.

Soon after the order was signed, several of Sci-Hub’s domain names became unreachable as domain registries and Cloudflare complied with the court order. Still, Sci-Hub remained available all this time, with help from several newly registered domain names.

Frustrated by Sci-Hub’s resilience, ACS recently went back to court asking for an amended injunction. The publisher requested the authority to seize any and all Sci-Hub domain names, also those that will be registered in the future.

“Plaintiff has been forced to engage in a game of ‘whac-a-mole’ whereby new ‘sci-hub’ domain names emerge,” ACS informed the court.

“Further complicating matters, some registries, registrars, and Internet service providers have refused to disable newer Sci-Hub domain names that were not specifically identified in the Complaint or the injunction”

Soon after the request was submitted, US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed to the amended language.

The amended injunction now requires search engines, hosting companies, domain registrars, and other service or software providers, to cease facilitating access to Sci-Hub. This includes, but is not limited to, the following domain names.

‘sci-hub.ac, scihub.biz, sci-hub.bz, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.cf, sci-hub.cn, sci-hub.ga, sci-hub.gq, scihub.hk, sci-hub.is, sci-hub.la, sci-hub.name, sci-hub.nu, sci-hub.nz, sci-hub.onion, scihub22266oqcxt.onion, sci-hub.tw, and sci-hub.ws.’

From the injunction

The new injunction makes ACS’ enforcement efforts much more effective. It effectively means that third-party services can no longer refuse to comply because a Sci-Hub domain is not listed in the complaint or injunction.

This already appears to have had some effect, as several domain names including sci-hub.la and sci-hub.tv became inaccessible soon after the paperwork was signed. Still, it is unlikely that it will help to shut down the site completely.

Several service providers are not receptive to US Court orders. One example is Iceland’s domain registry ISNIC and indeed, at the time of writing, Sci-Hub.is is still widely available.

Seizing .onion domain names, which are used on the Tor network, may also prove to be a challenge. After all, there is no central registration organization involved.

For now, Sci-Hub founder and operator Alexandra Elbakyan appears determined to keep the site online, whatever it takes. While it may be a hassle for users to find the latest working domain names, the new court order is not the end of the “whac-a-mole” just yet.

A copy of the amended injunction 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.

Roku Bans Popular Social IPTV Linking Service cCloud TV

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/roku-bans-popular-social-iptv-linking-service-ccloud-tv-180409/

Despite being one of the more popular set-top box platforms, until last year Roku managed to stay completely out of the piracy conversation.

However, due to abuse of its system by third-parties, last June the Superior Court of Justice of the City of Mexico banned the importation and distribution of Roku devices in the country.

The decision followed a complaint filed by cable TV provider Cablevision, which said that some Roku channels and their users were infringing its distribution rights.

Since then, Roku has been fighting to have the ban lifted, previously informing TF that it expressly prohibits copyright infringement of any kind. That led to several more legal processes yet last month and after considerable effort, the ban was upheld, much to Roku’s disappointment.

“It is necessary for Roku to make adjustments to its software, as other online content distribution platforms do, so that violations of copyrighted content do not take place,” Cablevision said.

Then, at the end of March, Roku suddenly banned the USTVnow channel from its platform, citing a third-party copyright complaint.

In a series of emails with TF, the company declined to offer further details but there is plenty of online speculation that the decision was a move towards the “adjustments” demanded by Cablevision. Today yet more fuel is being poured onto that same fire with Roku’s decision to ban the popular cCloud TV service from its platform.

For those unfamiliar with cCloud TV, it’s a video streaming platform that relies on users to contribute media links found on the web, whether they’re movie and TV shows or live sporting events.

“Project cCloud TV is known as the ‘Popcorn Time for Live TV’. The project started with 50 channels and has grown over time and now has over 4000 channels from all around the world,” its founder ‘Bane’ told TF back in 2016.

“The project was inspired by Popcorn Time and its simplicity for streaming torrents. The service works based on media links that can be found anywhere on the web and the cCloud project makes it easier for users to stream.”

Aside from the vast array of content cCloud offers, its versatility is almost unrivaled. In an addition to working via most modern web browsers, it’s also accessible using smartphones, tablets, Plex media server, Kodi, VLC, and (until recently at least) Roku.

But cCloud and USTVnow aren’t the only services suffering bans at Roku.

As highlighted by CordCuttersNews, other channels are also suffering similar fates, such as XTV that was previously replaced with an FBI warning.

cCloud has had problems on Kodi too. Back in September 2017, TVAddons announced that it had been forced to remove the cCloud addon from its site.

“cCloud TV has been removed from our web site due to a complaint made by Bell, Rogers, Videotron and TVA on June 12th, 2017 as part of their lawsuit against our web site,” the site announced.

“Prior to hearing of the lawsuit, we had never received a single complaint relating to the cCloud TV addon for Kodi. cCloud TV for Kodi was developed by podgod, and was basically an interface for the community-based web service that goes by the same name.”

Last week, TVAddons went on to publish an “blacklist” that lists addons that have the potential to deliver content not authorized by rightsholders. Among many others, the list contains cCloud, meaning that potential users will now have to obtain it directly from the Kodi Bae Repository on Github instead.

At the time of publication, Roku had not responded to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

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

Popular Torrent Site Loses Domain After Copyright Complaint

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-torrent-site-loses-domain-after-copyright-complaint-180409/

With millions of visitors per month, Yggtorrent is one of the largest torrent sites on the Internet.

Catering to a French audience, it’s not widely known everywhere, but in France, it’s getting close to a spot among the 100 most visited sites in the country.

Yggtorrent is not the typical torrent indexer. It sees itself as a community instead and has a dedicated tracker, something that’s quite rare these days. The site is really only a few months old and filled the gap T411 left behind when it closed last year.

Its popularity hasn’t gone unnoticed by copyright holders either. In addition to sending thousands of DMCA notices, local anti-piracy group SACEM went a step further a few weeks ago, asking Yggtorrent’s domain registrar Internet.bs for help.

In a letter sent on behalf of SACEM, BrandAnalytic pointed out that the torrent site is offering copyrighted content without permission from the owners, thereby violating the law.

“This contravening domain name provides users with copyright-protected works without any express or tacit permission of the societies or their authors, composers and publishers,” the complaint reads.

BrandAnalytic/SACEM’s complaint

Strangely enough, the letter also accuses the site of phishing. As evidence, BrandAnalytic sent a screenshot of the site’s registration page while mentioning that it automatically installs cookies on users’ computers.

Since Yggtorrent uses a Whois privacy service, BrandAnalytic says it can’t identify the owners. They, therefore, ask Internet.bs to step in and take the domain offline.

“As you are the Registrar of this contravening domain name, we count on your prompt and amicable collaboration to remove it from the global domain tree,” BrandAnalytic writes.

The complaint was sent late February and Internet.bs forwarded it to the torrent site at the time, so it could respond appropriately. However, Yggtorrent did not respond at all.

After a reminder, the registrar decided to put the torrent site’s .com domain name on hold a few days ago, which means that it became inaccessible.

TorrentFreak spoke to an operator of Yggtorrent who explains that the site receives thousands of DMCA complaints and that it’s impossible to answer them all. They’ll now leave the .com domain domain behind and move to a new one, Yggtorrent.is.

Instead of using Internet.bs as registrar, the new domain name was purchased through Njalla, the privacy-oriented domain registration service that was founded by former Pirate Bay spokesperson Peter Sunde.

“Now, we know that we should not use internet.bs anymore. This is not the first time they suspend a domain name like this. It happened to Extratorrent in the past.

“We use Njalla right now, it’s safe,” Yggtorrent’s operator adds.

While the site is indeed back online, older torrents may not function as usual, as the tracker of the .com domain is no longer accessible. The site, therefore, recommends users to update the tracker address manually got get them going again.

Yggtorrent, which came under new management recently, appears to come out of this issue relatively unscathed. However, being in the crosshairs of SACEM is not without risk. The organization previously took out What.cd and Zone-Telechargement, among others.

Yggtorrent’s homepage

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

If YouTube-Ripping Sites Are Illegal, What About Tools That Do a Similar Job?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/if-youtube-ripping-sites-are-illegal-what-about-tools-that-do-a-similar-job-180407/

In 2016, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube.

While this might not have surprised those who regularly participate in the activity, IFPI said that volumes had become so vast that stream-ripping had overtaken pirate site music downloads. That was a big statement.

Probably not coincidentally, just two weeks later IFPI, RIAA, and BPI announced legal action against the world’s largest YouTube ripping site, YouTube-MP3.

“YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3’s users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3’s servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones,” the complaint read.

The labels sued YouTube-MP3 for direct infringement, contributory infringement, vicarious infringement, inducing others to infringe, plus circumvention of technological measures on top. The case was big and one that would’ve been intriguing to watch play out in court, but that never happened.

A year later in September 2017, YouTubeMP3 settled out of court. No details were made public but YouTube-MP3 apparently took all the blame and the court was asked to rule in favor of the labels on all counts.

This certainly gave the impression that what YouTube-MP3 did was illegal and a strong message was sent out to other companies thinking of offering a similar service. However, other onlookers clearly saw the labels’ lawsuit as something to be studied and learned from.

One of those was the operator of NotMP3downloader.com, a site that offers Free MP3 Recorder for YouTube, a tool offering similar functionality to YouTube-MP3 while supposedly avoiding the same legal pitfalls.

Part of that involves audio being processed on the user’s machine – not by stream-ripping as such – but by stream-recording. A subtle difference perhaps, but the site’s operator thinks it’s important.

“After examining the claims made by the copyright holders against youtube-mp3.org, we identified that the charges were based on the three main points. [None] of them are applicable to our product,” he told TF this week.

The first point involves YouTube-MP3’s acts of conversion, storage and distribution of content it had previously culled from YouTube. Copies of unlicensed tracks were clearly held on its own servers, a potent direct infringement risk.

“We don’t have any servers to download, convert or store a copyrighted or any other content from YouTube. Therefore, we do not violate any law or prohibition implied in this part,” NotMP3downloader’s operator explains.

Then there’s the act of “stream-ripping” itself. While YouTube-MP3 downloaded digital content from YouTube using its own software, NotMP3downloader claims to do things differently.

“Our software doesn’t download any streaming content directly, but only launches a web browser with the video specified by a user. The capturing happens from a local machine’s sound card and doesn’t deal with any content streamed through a network,” its operator notes.

This part also seems quite important. YouTube-MP3 was accused of unlawfully circumventing technological measures implemented by YouTube to prevent people downloading or copying content. By opening up YouTube’s own website and viewing content in the way the site demands, NotMP3downloader says it does not “violate the website’s integrity nor performs direct download of audio or video files.”

Like the Betamax video recorder before it that enabled recording from analog TV, NotMP3downloader enables a user to record a YouTube stream on their local machine. This, its makers claim, means the software is completely legal and defeats all the claims made by the labels in the YouTube-MP3 lawsuit.

“What YouTube does is broadcasting content through the Internet. Thus, there is nothing wrong if users are allowed to watch such content later as they may want,” the NotMP3downloader team explain.

“It is worth noting that in Sony Corp. of America v. United City Studios, Inc. (464 U.S. 417) the United States Supreme Court held that such practice, also known as time-shifting, was lawful representing fair use under the US Copyright Act and causing no substantial harm to the copyright holder.”

While software that can record video and sounds locally are nothing new, the developments in the YouTube-MP3 case and this response from NotMP3downloader raises interesting questions.

We put some of them to none other than former RIAA Executive Vice President, Neil Turkewitz, who now works as President of Turkewitz Consulting Group.

Turkewitz stressed that he doesn’t speak for the industry as a whole or indeed the RIAA but it’s clear that his passion for protecting creators persists. He told us that in this instance, reliance on the Betamax decision is “misplaced”.

“The content is different, the activity is different, and the function is different,” Turkewitz told TF.

“The Sony decision must be understood in its context — the time shifting of audiovisual programming being broadcast from point to multipoint. The making available of content by a point-to-point interactive service like YouTube isn’t broadcasting — or at a minimum, is not a form of broadcasting akin to that considered by the Supreme Court in Sony.

“More fundamentally, broadcasting (right of communication to the public) is one of only several rights implicated by the service. And of course, issues of liability will be informed by considerations of purpose, effect and perceived harm. A court’s judgment will also be affected by whether it views the ‘innovation’ as an attempt to circumvent the requirements of law. The decision of the Supreme Court in ABC v. Aereo is certainly instructive in that regard.”

And there are other issues too. While YouTube itself is yet to take any legal action to deter users from downloading rather than merely streaming content, its terms of service are quite specific and seem to cover all eventualities.

“[Y]ou agree not to access Content or any reason other than your personal, non-commercial use solely as intended through and permitted by the normal functionality of the Service, and solely for Streaming,” YouTube’s ToS reads.

“‘Streaming’ means a contemporaneous digital transmission of the material by YouTube via the Internet to a user operated Internet enabled device in such a manner that the data is intended for real-time viewing and not intended to be downloaded (either permanently or temporarily), copied, stored, or redistributed by the user.

“You shall not copy, reproduce, distribute, transmit, broadcast, display, sell, license, or otherwise exploit any Content for any other purposes without the prior written consent of YouTube or the respective licensors of the Content.”

In this respect, it seems that a user doing anything but real-time streaming of YouTube content is breaching YouTube’s terms of service. The big question then, of course, is whether providing a tool specifically for that purpose represents an infringement of copyright.

The people behind Free MP3 Recorder believe that the “scope of application depends entirely on the end users’ intentions” which seems like a fair argument at first view. But, as usual, copyright law is incredibly complex and there are plenty of opposing views.

We asked the BPI, which took action against YouTubeMP3, for its take on this type of tool. The official response was “No comment” which doesn’t really clarify the position, at least for now.

Needless to say, the Betamax decision – relevant or not – doesn’t apply in the UK. But that only adds more parameters into the mix – and perhaps more opportunities for lawyers to make money arguing for and against tools like this in the future.

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

PUBG Files Copyright Lawsuit to Shut Down Competition

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pubg-files-copyright-lawsuit-to-shut-down-competition-180405/

When PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) was first released little over a year ago, it became an instant hit.

Within a month a million copies of the first public beta version were sold and this has since grown to over 28 million copies on the PC alone.

This success earned the company hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, but according to PUBG, this could have been much more if others hadn’t copied their work.

This week PUBG filed a lawsuit against NetEase, the company behind the mobile games “Rules of Survival” and “Knives Out“, accusing it of copyright infringement, unfair competition and trade dress infringement.

In a complaint filed in a federal court in California, PUBG alleges that the two mobile apps were released before PUBG’s own mobile application to gain market share. In doing so, the company copied several crucial elements without permission, PUBG adds.

The 155-page complaint lists a long summary of elements that PUBG believes are infringing on its copyrighted works. This includes buildings, landscapes, vehicles, weapons, clothing, the pre-play area, and the shrinking gameplay area.

“On information and belief, Defendants copied PUBG’s expressive depictions of the pre-play area where other depictions could have been used for the purpose of evoking the same gameplay experience depicted in BATTLEGROUNDS,” one example reads.

The games also feature PUBG’s iconic “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” salute, which is displayed to the winner of the game. In addition, both games use references to this phrase in their advertising efforts.

Chicken dinner

These and other similarities are used to confuse the public into believing that the NetEase games are developed by PUBG, the company notes, repeating the same arguments for Rules of Survival (ROS) and Knives Out (KO).

“Defendants intended to create consumer confusion as to the source of ROS and intended to cause consumers to believe, incorrectly, that ROS had been developed by PUBG.”

The company highlights this point by noting that both games are regularly referred to as “PUBG” mobile in the marketplace, suggesting that there indeed is confusion.

PUBG mobile?

In January, PUBG reached out to Apple asking the company to take action against the allegedly infringing applications listed in its iOS store but NetEase denied the allegations.

As a result, the company saw no other option than to file this lawsuit. In addition to monetary damages, PUBG wants both mobile games to be taken offline permanently, to shield the company from further harm.

“PUBG has suffered irreparable harm as a result of Defendants’ infringing activities and will continue to suffer irreparable harm in the future unless Defendants are enjoined from their infringing conduct,” the suit reads.

Specifically, PUBG asks the court to order NetEase “to remove each and every version of the games Rules of Survival, Knives Out, and similarly infringing games, from distribution and to cease developing and supporting those games.”

While it appears obvious that Rules of Survival and Knives Out are inspired by PUBG, it’s up to the court to determine whether the copyright infringement and unfair competition claims hold.

A copy of PUBG’s 155-page complaint, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf). NetEase has yet to respond to the allegations.

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

Fox Networks Obtains Piracy Blocking Injunction Against Rojadirecta

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fox-networks-obtains-piracy-blocking-injunction-against-rojadirecta-180405/

Twelve years ago this October, a court in Denmark ordered a local ISP to begin blocking unlicensed Russian music site AllofMP3. It was a landmark moment that opened the floodgates.

Although most countries took a few years to follow, blocking is now commonplace across Europe and if industry lobbyists have their way, it will soon head to North America. Meanwhile, other regions are getting their efforts underway, with Uruguay the latest country to reserve a place on the list.

The news comes via Fox Sports Latin America, which expressed satisfaction this week that a court in the country had handed down an interim injunction against local ISPs which compels them to block access to streaming portal Rojadirecta.

Despite a focus on Spanish speaking regions, Rojadirecta is one of the best known and longest-standing unauthorized sports in the world. Offering links to live streams of most spectator sports, Rojadirecta has gained a loyal and international following.

This has resulted in a number of lawsuits and legal challenges in multiple regions, the latest being a criminal copyright infringement complaint by Fox Sports Latin America. As usual, the company is annoyed that its content is being made available online without the proper authorization.

“This exemplary ruling marks the beginning of judicial awareness on online piracy issues,” said Daniel Steinmetz, Chief Anti-Piracy Officer of Fox Networks Group Latin America.

“FNG Latin America works constantly to combat the illegal use of content on different fronts and with great satisfaction we have found in Uruguay an important ally in the fight against this scourge. We are on our way to ending the impunity of these illegal content relay sites.”

Fox Sports says that with this pioneering action, Uruguay is now at the forefront of the campaign to tackle piracy currently running rampant across South America.

According to a NetNames report, there are 222 million Internet users in the region, of which 110 million access pirated content. This translates to 1,377 million TV hours per year but it’s hoped that additional action in other countries will help to stem the rising tide.

“We have already presented actions in other countries in the region where we will seek to replicate what we have obtained in Uruguay,” Fox said in a statement.

Local reports indicate that Internet providers have not yet taken action to block RojaDirecta but it’s expected they will do so in the near future.

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

PrimeWire Becomes Unusable After Malicious Ad ‘Takeover’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/primewire-becomes-unusable-after-malicious-ad-takeover-180404/

With millions of visitors per month, Primewire is one of the best-known pirate linking sites on the Internet.

The site originally started as LetMeWatchThis and later became 1Channel. After several of its domains were hijacked the operator eventually landed at Primewire.ag.

That was five years ago and nothing significant has changed since then. At least, nothing that was noticeable to the public at large. Despite a few ISP blockades here and there, the site functioned normally.

This changed a few days ago when we noticed that the Primewire.ag DNS records were updated to EuroDNS, which caused the site to become unreachable.

Around the same time, the flow of new content also stopped on the backup domain Primewire.is, while existing links all changed to advertisements.

A few days have passed now and while Primewire.ag has returned online, the site is little more than an inventory of suspicious ad links. Instead of pointing people to the latest TV-shows and movies, they get scammy advertisements.

Scam ads

When clicking on a link, users are directed to dubious services such as Pushplay. These require people to enter their credit card details for a ‘free’ account, which leads to quite a few complaints from “pissed consumers.”

It’s obvious that this is a ploy to generate cash but it’s unclear why this is happening. At the moment there are plenty of rumors floating around but no word from the site’s operator. The official Twitter and Facebook accounts remain quiet as well.

Interestingly, another popular streaming link site, gowatchfreemovies.to, appears to be suffering the same fate. This site has also become unusable with all links now pointing to ads. While we can only speculate at the moment, this could very well be related.

The question remains who’s behind all this? Has the operator given up, is it a play to make quick cash, or has the site been compromised by outsiders, again?

For now, the only conclusion we can draw is that hundreds of thousands of pirates will have to get by without their goto site.

Update: A sharp Reddit user points out that the actual streaming links can still be decoded from the “ad urls.”

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

Hosting Provider Steadfast is Not Liable for ‘Pirate’ Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-is-not-liable-for-pirate-site-180403/

In 2016, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan dragged several third-party Internet services to court.

The company targeted companies including CDN provider CloudFlare and the Chicago-based hosting company Steadfast, accusing them of copyright infringement because they offered services to pirate sites.

ALS argued that Steadfast refused to shut down the servers of the image sharing platform Imagebam.com, which was operated by its client Flixya. The hosting provider had been targeted with dozens of DMCA notices, and ALS accused Steadfast of turning a blind eye to the situation.

Steadfast denied these allegations. The hosting provider did indeed lease servers to Flixya for ten years but said that it forwarded all notices to its client. The hosting company could not address individual infringements, other than shutting down the entire site, which would have been disproportionate in their view.

With a trial getting closer, the hosting company submitted a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it can’t be held liable for copyright infringement. A few days ago California District Court Judge George Wu ordered on the matter, bringing good news for Steadfast.

Judge Wu dismissed all claims against Steadfast, including contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and contributory trademark infringement, which is a clear win.

Dismissed

The order clarifies that hosting providers such as Steadfast can be held liable for pirate sites. This is also the case when these sites are hosted on servers that are leased by a company which itself has a takedown policy, something Steadfast contended.

In this case, it is clear that Steadfast knew of the infringements. It could have shut down imagebam.com but failed to do so, and continued to provide server space to known copyright infringers on the site. All these arguments could, in theory, weigh against the hosting provider.

However, in order to be liable for contributory copyright infringement, ALS Scan needed to show that Steadfast failed to take simple steps to prevent the copyright infringements at issue. This is where the adult entertainment publisher’s arguments failed.

Steadfast forwarded all notices to its customer Flixya which resulted in the removal of the infringing images. In other words, the hosting provider took simple steps that prevented further copyright infringements.

“Given these undisputed facts, the Court would find that Steadfast did not ‘[fail] to take simple measures’ to prevent the specific acts of infringement of which it was aware. Steadfast took simple steps that resulted in all of the at-issue images being removed,” Judge Wu writes.

ALS argued that Steadfast should have shut down the entire server of its customer to prevent future infringements, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Service providers only have to take measures if they know that infringements occurred or will occur in the future. The latter was not obvious here.

“As such, the Court is not convinced that Steadfast had any reason, legal or practical, to terminate Flixya’s account and power down its servers,” the order reads.

Steadfast founder and CEO Karl Zimmerman is happy with the outcome of the case. He agrees that hosting providers have a responsibility to respond to copyright infringement complaints, but stresses that his company already has the right procedures in play.

“We already check and assure the content is removed, and yes, if the content simply stays up, that is concerning and shows that more could be done,” Zimmerman informs TF.

“We took action in forwarding the complaints, tracking those complaints, and validating the content had been removed. We did what was required of us, which is why I thought it was odd we were in this case in the first place.”

Hosting providers should take measures to help curb copyright infringement, according to Steadfast. However, shutting down entire services of customers who take down infringing links when they’re asked too, goes too far. Zimmerman is glad that Judge Wu agreed with this.

“To me, it simply does not seem reasonable to have to shut down a customer just because future infringement of their users is possible, when every indication is that the customer is completely law-abiding and I’m glad the judge agreed with that,” he says.

A copy of United States District Court Judge George Wu’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.