Tag Archives: courts

Kodi-Addon Developer Gives Up Piracy Defense Due to Lack of Funds

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-addon-developer-gives-up-piracy-defense-due-to-lack-of-funds-180521/

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, with both facing up to $150,000 for each offense.

While TVAddons operator Adam Lackman responded to the allegations last week, ZemTV’s developer ‘Shani’ decided not to reply.

Shahjahan Durrani, Shani for short, never denied that he was the driving force behind the Kodi-addons ZemTV, LiveStreamsPro, and F4MProxy. While the London-based developer had never set foot in Texas, he initially planned to put up a defense. Financially, however, this was a problem.

ZemTV’s developer launched a fundraiser last fall to crowdsource the legal battle. While he was able to raise close to £1,000, the legal costs already exceeded that the case even got fully underway.

Without the ability to pay the legal costs Shani is unable to put up a proper defense. But speaking with TorrentFreak, he explains that after the motion to dismiss was denied, he didn’t have much hope for a fair trial anyway.

“I was shocked and disappointed, not only by reading that the court dismissed my jurisdiction appeal, they did so with just one sentence. It seems unfair and doesn’t give any confidence to me that the court/judge would be fair,” Shani tells us.

This left the developer with two options. Find a way to fund the legal battle, money which may never be recovered, or give up the fight and face a default judgment. Shani chose the latter option.

Shani told his attorney Erin Russel to cease all activity on the case and to take no further steps on his behalf.

“I don’t have enough resources to fight this case completely with four kids that I am raising and anything more I do will be seem to be submitting to the US Courts which I am not going to do unless I have enough money to fight the case,” the developer wrote in an email to Russel.

The attorney informed the court of this decision late last week and withdrew from the case.

This means that the lawsuit is steering towards a default judgment, and indeed, Dish has already moved for an entry of default.

“To date, Durrani has not filed an answer or other responsive pleading or requested additional time to do so,” Dish’s motion reads. “Accordingly, the Clerk should enter a default against Durrani.”

Shani still hopes that Dish will not push through. The developer stresses that he never operated any of the servers that provided copyright-infringing streams, nor has he ever made money from his addons.

“I hope they would let the matter go as the addon code has been taken down for more than a year now. Plus, they already know by the return of the subpoena to the servers that none of them were handled or paid by me,” Shani says.

“This was an open source addon and no one would pay hundreds of pounds to host the servers/streams in the hope that people would donate. I actually never ever asked for any donation and never ever earned a single penny from Kodi addons.”

ZemTV, like many other addons, merely offered the interface that makes it possible to watch third-party streams on the Kodi platform. While that may be infringement or not, the developer notes that despite the lawsuit, these third-party streams are still online.

“The irony of all this mess is that those servers and apps are still functional and working while I am dealing with this illogical case,” Shani concludes.

If the Texas District Court enters the default, Dish will demand a judgment which likely includes thousands of dollars in damages. However, since Durrani lives in the UK and has no assets in the US, these damages may be hard to recoup.

Dish’s request for an entry of default 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.

Singapore ISPs Block 53 Pirate Sites Following MPAA Legal Action

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/singapore-isps-block-53-pirate-sites-following-mpaa-legal-action-180521/

Under increasing pressure from copyright holders, in 2014 Singapore passed amendments to copyright law that allow ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites.

“The prevalence of online piracy in Singapore turns customers away from legitimate content and adversely affects Singapore’s creative sector,” said then Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah.

“It can also undermine our reputation as a society that respects the protection of intellectual property.”

After the amendments took effect in December 2014, there was a considerable pause before any websites were targeted. However, in September 2016, at the request of the MPA(A), Solarmovie.ph became the first website ordered to be blocked under Singapore’s amended Copyright Act. The High Court subsequently ordering several major ISPs to disable access to the site.

A new wave of blocks announced this morning are the country’s most significant so far, with dozens of ‘pirate’ sites targeted following a successful application by the MPAA earlier this year.

In total, 53 sites across 154 domains – including those operated by The Pirate Bay plus KickassTorrents and Solarmovie variants – have been rendered inaccessible by ISPs including Singtel, StarHub, M1, MyRepublic and ViewQwest.

“In Singapore, these sites are responsible for a major portion of copyright infringement of films and television shows,” an MPAA spokesman told The Straits Times (paywall).

“This action by rights owners is necessary to protect the creative industry, enabling creators to create and keep their jobs, protect their works, and ensure the continued provision of high-quality content to audiences.”

Before granting a blocking injunction, the High Court must satisfy itself that the proposed online locations meet the threshold of being “flagrantly infringing”. This means that a site like YouTube, which carries a lot of infringing content but is not dedicated to infringement, would not ordinarily get caught up in the dragnet.

Sites considered for blocking must have a primary purpose to infringe, a threshold that is tipped in copyright holders’ favor when the sites’ operators display a lack of respect for copyright law and have already had their domains blocked in other jurisdictions.

The Court also weighs a number of additional factors including whether blocking would place an unacceptable burden on the shoulders of ISPs, whether the blocking demand is technically possible, and whether it will be effective.

In common with other regions such as the UK and Australia, for example, sites targeted for blocking must be informed of the applications made against them, to ensure they’re given a chance to defend themselves in court. No fully-fledged ‘pirate’ site has ever defended a blocking application in Singapore or indeed any jurisdiction in the world.

Finally, should any measures be taken by ‘pirate’ sites to evade an ISP blockade, copyright holders can apply to the Singapore High Court to amend the blocking order. This is similar to the Australian model where each application must be heard on its merits, rather than the UK model where a more streamlined approach is taken.

According to a recent report by Motion Picture Association Canada, at least 42 countries are now obligated to block infringing sites. In Europe alone, 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way.

In Canada, where copyright holders are lobbying hard for a site-blocking regime of their own, there’s pressure to avoid the “uncertain, slow and expensive” route of going through the courts.

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

‘Blocking Pirate Sites Through Court is Uncertain, Slow and Expensive’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/blocking-pirate-sites-through-court-is-uncertain-slow-and-expensive-180517/

FairPlay Canada, a coalition of copyright holders and major players in the telco industry, wants to institute a national pirate site blocking scheme.

The group submitted its plan to the Canadian telecoms regulator CRTC earlier this year, which subsequently asked the public for input.

This consultation triggered a wave of responses. Those opposed to the blocklist idea highlight the risk of over-blocking, net neutrality threats, and the lack of judicial oversight, among other things.

Yesterday, the Fairplay Coalition responded to these comments in a new filing. Providing additional evidence, the group countered the opposition head-on, accusing some commenters of spreading false and inaccurate information.

The coalition also responded to the common argument that there is no need for a separate blocking scheme. Copyright holders can already request injunctive relief from the courts, demanding that ISPs block pirate sites, as is common in many other countries.

In its reply, Fairplay counters that this may not be as straightforward as some claim. Section 36 of the Telecommunications Act suggests that, in addition to a court order, Commission approval is needed to block a site. This is complex and makes it uncertain if courts will be willing to grant these blockades.

“It is possible a court would be dissuaded from making an order against ISPs to disable to access to a piracy site given section 36 and the Commission’s view of its impact,” Fairplay’s response reads.

In other words, the coalition suggests that with proper judicial oversight under current law, there may not be any blockades. It’s not clear how that helps their argument, as that might be the exact point of the critics, but there is more.

In addition to the uncertainty of getting a blocking order through the courts, Fairplay argues that this route will also be very expensive. To make this point, the coalition hired the law firm Hayes eLaw to calculate the potential costs and time required to complete the process.

According to this analysis, it may take more than two years before a blocking order is final, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses for just one site. This is too slow and too expensive, the coalition concludes.

“[T]he process involves first completing litigation against each egregious piracy site, and could take up to 765 days and cost up to $338,000 to address a single site,” Fairplay writes.

“While copyright enforcement actions are a crucial and powerful tool in many cases, it is not reasonable to suggest that rightsholders should spend this much time and resources to address every case in which their content is being stolen.”

Finally, Fairplay notes that those commenters who suggest the judicial route are apparently not against site blocking, but only against how these blockades are administered.

Arguments against the court option

As is often the case with consultations, both sides of the argument will present issues in a light that suits them best.

However, Fairplay goes even further and suggests that many consultation responses are based on misleading information, which is the result of online activists.

Among other things, these responses suggest that the plan would allow ISPs to unilaterally decide to block websites. However, Fairplay counters that ISPs can only block sites if they’re ordered to do so by the Commission, not on their own accord.

“The fact that the Commission received such interventions is not surprising, as every indication is that they were driven by online campaigns that made exactly this false claim,” they write.

“Indeed, the petitions or form letters submitted by CIPPIC/OpenMedia, SumOfUs, and LeadNow all explicitly contain this particular point of misinformation.”

In addition to the misinformation, Fairplay also notes that some interventions are false, while thousands of petitions are mere duplicates.

“There are a number of obviously false interventions and the identity, veracity, and location of the others can generally not be confirmed. In the case of the petitions, there are more than 14,000 identified duplicate entries, and an unknowable number of other false entries.”

Fairplay doesn’t ask the CRTC to ignore these submissions. It just points out that they cannot be relied upon, as they are not representative or based on faulty assumptions about the actual proposal.

Instead, the coalition comes up with a survey of its own. Fairplay hired Nanos Research to ask random Canadians whether their country should have less, the same, or more protection than countries that currently block piracy sites, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and France.

According to the results, 77% of Canadians believed Canada should have the same or more protection than those countries, suggesting that Canadians are not anti-site-blocking at all. That said, the above mentioned foreign blockades are court sanctioned.

The entire response from Fairplay Canada is available here (pdf). It totals more than 60 pages and further addresses the economic impact of piracy, the effectiveness of the plan, how blocking is consistent with net neutrality and freedom of speech, as well as a wide range of other topics.

While the extra context will be useful to the CRTC, it’s unlikely to sway the opposition.

Around the same time as the coalition submitted its response, a new controversy emerged. Documents published by the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications suggest that Bell discussed the site blocking plan privately with the CRTC before it was made public. While it’s apparent that site blocking was on the agenda, Bell told Mobile Syrup that there’s “nothing procedurally unusual” in this case.

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

Pirate IPTV Service Gave Customer Details to Premier League, But What’s the Risk?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-service-gave-customer-details-to-premier-league-but-whats-the-risk-180515/

In a report last weekend, we documented what appear to be the final days of pirate IPTV provider Ace Hosting.

From information provided by several sources including official liquidation documents, it became clear that a previously successful and profitable Ace had succumbed to pressure from the Premier League, which accused the service of copyright infringement.

The company had considerable funds in the bank – £255,472.00 to be exact – but it also had debts of £717,278.84, including £260,000 owed to HMRC and £100,000 to the Premier League as part of a settlement agreement.

Information received by TF late Sunday suggested that £100K was the tip of the iceberg as far as the Premier League was concerned and in a statement yesterday, the football outfit confirmed that was the case.

“A renowned pirate of Premier League content to consumers has been forced to liquidate after agreeing to pay £600,000 for breaching the League’s copyright,” the Premier League announced.

“Ace IPTV, run by Craig Driscoll and Ian Isaac, was selling subscriptions to illegal Premier League streams directly to consumers which allowed viewing on a range of devices, including notorious Kodi-type boxes, as well as to smaller resellers in the UK and abroad.”

Sources familiar with the case suggest that while Ace Hosting Limited didn’t have the funds to pay the Premier League the full £600K, Ace’s operators agreed to pay (and have already paid, to some extent at least) what were essentially their own funds to cover amounts above the final £100K, which is due to be paid next year.

But that’s not the only thing that’s been handed over to the Premier League.

“Ace voluntarily disclosed the personal details of their customers, which the League will now review in compliance with data protection legislation. Further investigations will be conducted, and action taken where appropriate,” the Premier League added.

So, the big question now is how exposed Ace’s former subscribers are.

The truth is that only the Premier League knows for sure but TF has been able to obtain information from several sources which indicate that former subscribers probably aren’t the Premier League’s key interest and even if they were, information obtained on them would be of limited use.

According to a source with knowledge of how a system like Ace’s works, there is a separation of data which appears to help (at least to some degree) with the subscriber’s privacy.

“The system used to manage accounts and take payment is actually completely separate from the software used to manage streams and the lines themselves. They are never usually even on the same server so are two very different databases,” he told TF.

“So at best the only information that has voluntarily been provided to the [Premier League], is just your email, name and address (assuming you even used real details) and what hosting package or credits you bought.”

While this information is bad enough, the action against Ace is targeted, in that it focuses on the Premier League’s content and how Ace (and therefore its users) infringed on the football outfit’s copyrights. So, proving that subscribers actually watched any Premier League content would be an ideal position but it’s not straightforward, despite the potential for detailed logging.

“The management system contains no history of what you watched, when you watched it, when you signed in and so on. That is all contained in a different database on a different server.

“Because every connection is recorded [on the second server], it can create some two million entries a day and as such most providers either turn off this feature or delete the logs daily as having so many entries slows down the system down used for actual streams,” he explains.

Our source says that this data would likely to have been the first to be deleted and is probably “long gone” by now. However, even if the Premier League had obtained it, it’s unlikely they would be able to do much with it due to data protection laws.

“The information was passed to the [Premier League] voluntarily by ACE which means this information has been given from one entity to another without the end users’ consent, not part of the [creditors’ voluntary liquidation] and without a court order to support it. Data Protection right now is taken very seriously in the EU,” he notes.

At this point, it’s probably worth noting that while the word “voluntarily” has been used several times to explain the manner in which Ace handed over its subscribers’ details to the Premier League, the same word can be used to describe the manner in which the £600K settlement amount will be paid.

No one forces someone to pay or hand something over, that’s what the courts are for, and the aim here was to avoid that eventuality.

Other pieces of information culled from various sources suggest that PayPal payment information, limited to amounts only, was also handed over to the Premier League. And, perhaps most importantly (and perhaps predictably) as far as former subscribers are concerned, the football group was more interested in Ace’s upwards supplier chain (the ‘wholesale’ stream suppliers used, for example) than those buying the service.

Finally, while the Premier League is now seeking to send a message to customers that these services are risky to use, it’s difficult to argue with the assertion that it’s unsafe to hand over personal details to an illegal service.

“Ace IPTV’s collapse also highlighted the risk consumers take with their personal data when they sign up to illegal streaming services,” Premier League notes.

TF spoke with three IPTV providers who all confirmed that they don’t care what names and addresses people use to sign up with and that no checks are carried out to make sure they’re correct. However, one concedes that in order to run as a business, this information has to be requested and once a customer types it in, it’s possible that it could be handed over as part of a settlement.

“I’m not going to tell people to put in dummy details, how can I? It’s up to people to use their common sense. If they’re still worried they should give Sky their money because if our backs are against the wall, what do you think is going to happen?” he concludes.

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

The Pirating Elephant in Uncle Sam’s Room

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirating-elephant-in-uncle-sams-room-180413/

It’s not a secret that, in sheer numbers, America is the country that harbors most online pirates.

Perhaps no surprise, since it has a large and well-connected population, but it’s important to note considering what we’re about to write today.

Over the past decade, online piracy has presented itself as a massive problem for the US and its entertainment industries. It’s a global issue that’s hard to contain, but Hollywood and the major record labels are doing what they can.

Two of the key strategies they’ve employed in recent years are website blocking and domain seizures. US companies have traveled to courts all over the world to have ISP blockades put in place, with quite a bit of success.

At the same time, US rightsholders also push foreign domain registrars and registries to suspend or seize domains. The US Government is even jumping in, applying pressure against pirate domains as well.

Previously, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica threatened to have the country’s domain name registry shut down, unless it suspended ThePirateBay.cr. This hasn’t happened, yet, but it was a clear signal.

What’s odd, though, is that ThePirateBay.cr is a relatively meaningless proxy site. The real Pirate Bay operates from an .org domain name, which happens to be managed by the US-based Public Interest Registry (PIR).

So, if the US authorities threaten to shut down Costa Rica’s domain registry over a proxy, why is the US-based PIR registry still in action? After all, it’s the registry that ‘manages’ the domain name of the largest pirate site on the entire web, and has done for nearly 15 years.

Also of note is that the entertainment industries previously launched an overseas lawsuit to seize The Pirate Bay’s .se and .is domains, but never attempted to do the same with the US-based .org domain.

There are more of these strange observations. Let’s move back to website blocking, for example.

In a detailed overview, the Motion Picture Association recently reported that ISP blocking measures, which are in place in more than two dozen countries, help to reduce piracy significantly. This is further backed up by industry-supported reports and independent academic research.

In an ideal world, the US entertainment industries would like ISPs in every country to block pirate sites. While this is all fine and understandable from the perspective of these companies, there’s also an elephant in the room.

Over the past decade, US companies have worked hard to spread their blocking message around the world, while they yet have to attempt the same on their home turf. And this happens to be the country with the most pirates of all, which could make a massive impact.

Sure, it was a major success when a court in Iceland ordered local ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. But with roughly 130,000 Internet subscriptions in the entire country, that’s peanuts compared to the US.

So why is the US, the largest “pirate nation,” ignored?

From what we’ve heard, the entertainment industries are not pushing for ISP blockades in US courts because they fear a SOPA-like backlash. This likely applies to domain suspensions as well, which aren’t all that hard to accomplish in the US.

Instead, the major entertainment companies are focusing their efforts elsewhere.

While these entertainment companies are well within their rights to lobby for these measures, there’s an elephant in the room that is hard to ignore. Personally, I can’t help but cringe every time Hollywood pushes the blocking agenda to a new country or demands domain seizures abroad.

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

ISPs Win Landmark Case to Protect Privacy of Alleged Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-win-landmark-case-protect-privacy-alleged-pirates-180508/

With waves of piracy settlement letters being sent out across the world, the last line of defense for many accused Internet users has been their ISPs.

In a number of regions, notably the United States, Europe, and the UK, most ISPs have given up the fight, handing subscriber details over to copyright trolls with a minimum of resistance. However, there are companies out there prepared to stand up for their customers’ rights, if eventually.

Over in Denmark, Telenor grew tired of tens of thousands of requests for subscriber details filed by a local law firm on behalf of international copyright troll groups. It previously complied with demands to hand over the details of individuals behind 22,000 IP addresses, around 11% of the 200,000 total handled by ISPs in Denmark. But with no end in sight, the ISP dug in its heels.

“We think there is a fundamental legal problem because the courts do not really decide what is most important: the legal security of the public or the law firms’ commercial interests,” Telenor’s Legal Director Mette Eistrøm Krüger said last year.

Assisted by rival ISP Telia, Telenor subsequently began preparing a case to protect the interests of their customers, refusing in the meantime to comply with disclosure requests in copyright cases. But last October, the District Court ruled against the telecoms companies, ordering them to provide identities to the copyright trolls.

Undeterred, the companies took their case to the Østre Landsret, one of Denmark’s two High Courts. Yesterday their determination paid off with a resounding victory for the ISPs and security for the individuals behind approximately 4,000 IP addresses targeted by Copyright Collection Ltd via law firm Njord Law.

“In its order based on telecommunications legislation, the Court has weighed subscribers’ rights to confidentiality of information regarding their use of the Internet against the interests of rightsholders to obtain information for the purpose of prosecuting claims against the subscribers,” the Court said in a statement.

Noting that the case raised important questions of European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights, the High Court said that after due consideration it would overrule the decision of the District Court. The rights of the copyright holders do not trump the individuals right to privacy, it said.

“The telecommunications companies are therefore not required to disclose the names and addresses of their subscribers,” the Court ruled.

Telenor welcomed the decision, noting that it had received countless requests from law firms to disclose the identities of thousands of subscribers but had declined to hand them over, a decision that has now been endorsed by the High Court.

“This is an important victory for our right to protect our customers’ data,” said Telenor Denmark’s Legal Director, Mette Eistrøm Krüger.

“At Telenor we protect our customers’ data and trust – therefore it has been our conviction that we cannot be forced into almost automatically submitting personal data on our customers simply to support some private actors who are driven by commercial interests.”

Noting that it’s been putting up a fight since 2016 against handing over customers’ data for purposes other than investigating serious crime, Telenor said that the clarity provided by the decision is most welcome.

“We and other Danish telecom companies are required to log customer data for the police to fight serious crime and terrorism – but the legislation has just been insufficient in relation to the use of logged data,” Krüger said.

“Therefore I am pleased that with this judgment the High Court has stated that customers’ legal certainty is most important in these cases.”

The decision was also welcomed by Telia Denmark, with Legal Director Lasse Andersen describing the company as being “really really happy” with “a big win.”

“It is a victory for our customers and for all telecom companies’ customers,” Andersen said.

“They can now feel confident that the data that we collect about them cannot be disclosed for purposes other than the terms under which they are collected as determined by the jurisdiction.

“Therefore, anyone and everybody cannot claim our data. We are pleased that throughout the process we have determined that we will not hand over our data to anyone other than the police with a court order,” Andersen added.

But as the ISPs celebrate, the opposite is true for Njord Law and its copyright troll partners.

“It is a sad message to the Danish film and television industry that the possibilities for self-investigating illegal file sharing are complicated and that the work must be left to the police’s scarce resources,” said Jeppe Brogaard Clausen of Njord Law.

While the ISPs finally stood up for users in these cases, Telenor in particular wishes to emphasize that supporting the activities of pirates is not its aim. The company says it does not support illegal file-sharing “in any way” and is actively working with anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance to prevent unauthorized downloading of movies and other content.

The full decision of the Østre Landsret can be found here (Danish, pdf)

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

Judges Refuse to Unmask Alleged Pirates, Citing Privacy Concerns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/judges-refuse-to-unmask-alleged-pirates-citing-privacy-concerns-180507/

Since the turn of the last decade, numerous people have been sued for illegal file-sharing in US courts.

These cases are generally filed by a small group of rightsholders and this year “Strike 3 Holdings” has proven itself to be one of the most active litigants.

The company, which distributes its works through various adult websites, has filed cases against hundreds of alleged defendants over the past several months.

As is common in these cases, the copyright holder only knows the defendant by an IP-address. It then asks the courts to grant a subpoena, allowing it to ask Internet providers for the personal details of the alleged offenders, so it can send a settlement request.

In most district courts this established process is usually just a matter of filing boilerplate paperwork but in Minnesota, this didn’t go as easily as Strike 3 had expected.

Late last month, Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel denied such a discovery motion. As a result, Strike 3 is not allowed to ask the ISP, Comcast in this case, for the personal details of the account holder associated with the IP-address.

According to Judge Noel, these cases present a conflict between the copyright protections of the DMCA on the one hand and the privacy rights of the public as set out in the Communications Act. Here, the scale tips in the favour of the latter.

“This Court concludes that the conflict between the statutes, DMCA and the Communications Act, compels it to deny Plaintiff’s instant ex parte motion,” Judge Noel wrote.

This order didn’t go unnoticed. Last week Magistrate Judge David Schultz cited the ruling in two similar cases, also filed by Strike 3. Again, the subpoena requests were denied to secure the privacy of the alleged BitTorrent pirates.

“From this Court’s perspective there are obvious tensions between DMCA, the Communications Act, and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45,” Schultz’s orders read.

“The Court is not unsympathetic to Plaintiff’s need to discover the actual identity of the infringer of its copyright; however, the discovery sought by Plaintiff through a Rule 45 subpoena directly collides with federal privacy protections.”

In the orders, which are all nearly identical, the magistrate judges note that unless there’s a binding precedent from the Eighth Circuit or further guidance from Congress, they have no other option than to deny these discovery requests.

While this is good news for the defendants in these cases, copyright troll watcher ‘FCT’ notes that it’s too early to celebrate. Since issuing these subpoenas is a well-established procedure, the district judge or an appeal court may reverse the denials.

This lack of agreement is also apparent from another ruling that came in right before the weekend, where another Minnesota Magistrate Judge granted a similar subpoena request from Strike 3, witch the caveat that the defendant should be able to proceed anonymously.

That said, if the orders from Magistrate Judges Noel and Schultz stand, it’s a clear win for the defendants in these cases. While it won’t stop Strike 3 from continuing it’s business, at least a few people are spared from receiving settlement demands in the mail.

The denials are available here (pdf 1,2,3) and the order granting the subpoena can be found 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.

Former Judge Accuses IP Court of Using ‘Pirate’ Microsoft Software

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/former-judge-accuses-ip-court-of-using-pirate-microsoft-software-180429/

While piracy of movies, TV shows, and music grabs most of the headlines, software piracy is a huge issue, from both consumer and commercial perspectives.

For many years, software such as Photoshop has been pirated on a grand scale and around the world, millions of computers rely on cracked and unlicensed copies of Microsoft’s Windows software.

One of the key drivers of this kind of piracy is the relative expense of software. Open source variants are nearly always available but big brand names always seem more popular due to their market penetration and perceived ease of use.

While using pirated software very rarely gets individuals into trouble, the same cannot be said of unlicensed commercial operators. That appears to be the case in Russia where somewhat ironically the Court for Intellectual Property Rights stands accused of copyright infringement.

A complaint filed by the Paragon law firm at the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Court for Intellectual Property Rights (CIP) alleges that the Court is illegally using Microsoft software, something which has the potential to affect the outcome of court cases involving the US-based software giant.

Paragon is representing Alexander Shmuratov, who is a former Assistant Judge at the Court for Intellectual Property Rights. Shmuratov worked at the Court for several years and claims that the computers there were being operated with expired licenses.

Shmuratov himself told Kommersant that he “saw the notice of an activation failure every day when using MS Office products” in intellectual property court.

A representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office confirmed that a complaint had been received but said it had been forwarded to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In respect of the counterfeit software claims, CIP categorically denies the allegations. CIP says that licenses for all Russian courts were purchased back in 2008 and remained in force until 2011. In 2013, Microsoft agreed to an extension.

Only adding more intrigue to the story, CIP Assistant chairman Catherine Ulyanova said that the initator of the complaint, former judge Alexander Shmuratov, was dismissed from the CIP because he provided false information about income. He later mounted a challenge against his dismissal but was unsuccessful.

Ulyanova said that Microsoft licensed all courts from 2006 for use of Windows and MS Office. The licenses were acquired through a third-party company and more licenses than necessary were purchased, with some licenses being redistributed for use by CIP in later years with the consent of Microsoft.

Kommersant was unable to confirm how licenses were paid for beyond December 2011 but apparently an “official confirmation letter from the Irish headquarters of Microsoft, which does not object to the transfer of CIP licenses” had been sent to the Court.

Responding to Shmuratov’s allegations that software he used hadn’t been activated, Ulyanova said that technical problems had no relationship with the existence of software licenses.

The question of whether the Court is properly licensed will be determined at a later date but observers are already raising questions concerning CIP’s historical dealings with Microsoft not only in terms of licensing, but in cases it handled.

In the period 2014-2017, the Court for Intellectual Property Rights handled around 80 cases involving Microsoft and claims of between 50 thousand ($800) and several million rubles.

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

ISP Sued For Breaching User Privacy After Blocking Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-sued-for-breaching-user-privacy-after-blocking-pirate-sites-180428/

After hinting at moves to curb online piracy last month, on April 13 the Japanese government announced
emergency measures to target websites hosting pirated manga, anime and other types of content.

In common with dozens of counterparts around the world, the government said it favored site-blocking as the first line of defense. However, with no specific legislation to fall back on, authorities asked local ISPs if they’d come along for the ride voluntarily. On Monday, the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) announced that it would.

“We have taken short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented,” NTT in a statement.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., said they would target three sites highlighted by the government – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio – which together have a huge following in Japan.

The service providers added that at least in the short-term, they would prevent access to the sites using DNS blocking and would restrict access to other sites if requested to do so by the government. But, just a few days on, NTT is already facing problems.

Lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa has now launched legal action against NTT, demanding that the corporation immediately ends its site-blocking operations.

The complaint, filed at the Tokyo District Court, notes that the lawyer uses an Internet connection provided by NTT. Crucially, it also states that in order to block access to the sites in question, NTT would need to spy on customers’ Internet connections to find out if they’re trying to access the banned sites.

The lawyer informs TorrentFreak that the ISP’s decision prompted him into action.

“NTT’s decision was made arbitrarily on the site without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous,” Nakazawa explains.

“I felt that ‘freedom,’ which is an important value of the Internet, was threatened. Actually, when the interruption of communications had begun, the company thought it would be impossible to reverse the situation, so I filed a lawsuit at this stage.”

Breaches of privacy could present a significant problem under Japanese law. The Telecommunications Business Act guarantees privacy of communications and prevents censorship, as does Article 21 of the Constitution.

“The secrecy of communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall not be violated,” the Telecommunications Business Act states, adding that “no communications being handled by a telecommunications carrier shall be censored.”

The Constitution is also clear, stating that “no censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated.”

For his part, lawyer Yuichi Nakazawa is also concerned that his contract with the ISP is being breached.

“There is an Internet connection agreement between me and NTT. I am a customer of NTT. There is no provision in the contract between me and NTT to allow arbitrary interruption of communications,” he explains.

Nakazawa doesn’t appear to be against site-blocking per se, he’s just concerned that relevant laws and agreements are being broken.

“It is necessary to restrict sites of pirated publications but that does not mean you can do anything,” Nakazawa said, as quoted by Mainichi. “We should have sufficient discussions for an appropriate measure, including revising the law.”

The question of whether site-blocking does indeed represent an invasion of privacy will probably come down to how the ISP implements it and how that is interpreted by the courts.

A source familiar with the situation told TF that spying on user connections is clearly a problem but the deployment of an outer network firewall rule that simply prevents traffic passing through might be viewed differently.

Such a rule would provide no secret or private information that wasn’t already available to the ISP when the customer requested a banned site through a web browser, although it still falls foul of the “no censorship” requirements of both the Constitution and Telecommunications Business Act.

NTT Communications has declined to comment on the lawsuit but says it had no plans to backtrack on plans to block the sites. Earlier this week, SoftBank Corp., another ISP considering a blockade, expressed concerns that site-blocking has the potential to infringe secrecy of communications rules.

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.

Pirate Party Urges Swedish Govt to Stop ‘Copyright Troll’ Invasion

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-urges-swedish-govt-to-stop-copyright-troll-invasion-180418/

In recent years, millions of file-sharers around the world have been ordered to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.

These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have been a common occurrence in several countries, with Sweden one of the latest hunting grounds.

Over the past months, tens of thousands of Swedes have been targeted in this manner.

The copyright holders go to court, armed with a list of IP-addresses, and when permission is granted they ask the associated ISPs for the account details of individual subscribers.

These suspected pirates then get a settlement demand in their mailbox, urging them to pay the equivalent of a few hundred dollars, or have their day in court.

As in many other countries, these practices are not without controversy. Several experts have spoken out against them, and ISPs have raised objections too. However, according to Swedish law, the rightsholders have the right to pursue these cases.

Despite its name, the Swedish Pirate Party has been relatively silent on the issue. However, that changed this week, as the party now calls on Justice Minister Morgan Johansson to take action.

The Pirate Party describes the copyright trolling efforts as extortion. It stresses that the evidence copyright holders rely on is far from solid, something they believe the courts should take into account.

“It is a scandal that the Swedish judicial system facilitates the mafia-like methods of copyright trolls,” says Pirate Party leader Magnus Andersson.

“To condone the sending of extortion letters without reasonable ground for suspicion of criminal activity is not acceptable. We demand the Justice Minister to do something about the situation with these copyright trolls!”

The Pirate Party sees plenty of opportunities to intervene. The Government could, for example, change how the IPRED directive is interpreted and demand higher scrutiny of the provided evidence.

Another option would be to work at the EU level to repeal the IPRED-directive in its entirety.

Besides calling on the Justice Minister to take action, the Pirate Party is also backing the anti-copyright troll initiative of Internet provider Bahnhof. Through this campaign, members of the public can voice their concerns to the Swedish Government.

Through these and other efforts, the Pirate Party hopes that something will be done to protect the public from the ‘trolling’ practices.

“We cannot accept a situation where private companies use the judicial system as a weapon of fear to extort innocent people,” Andersson tells TorrentFreak.

“This creates contempt for the judiciary and supports the view that the courts only exist to serve the state’s and the big companies’ interests,” he adds.

Thus far the copyright holders have shown no sign of backing down. They refute the “trolling” characterizations and counter that they are merely enforcing their rights. And with the courts on their side, they have little to worry about for now.

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

MPA Reveals Scale of Worldwide Pirate Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpa-reveals-scale-of-worldwide-pirate-site-blocking-180410/

Few people following the controversial topic of Internet piracy will be unaware of the site-blocking phenomenon. It’s now one of the main weapons in the entertainment industries’ arsenal and it’s affecting dozens of countries.

While general figures can be culled from the hundreds of news reports covering the issue, the manner in which blocking is handled in several regions means that updates aren’t always provided. New sites are regularly added to blocklists without fanfare, meaning that the public is kept largely in the dark.

Now, however, a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by Motion Picture Association Canada provides a more detailed overview. It was presented in support of the proposed blocking regime in Canada, so while the key figures are no doubt accurate, some of the supporting rhetoric should be viewed in context.

“Over the last decade, at least 42 countries have either adopted and implemented, or are legally obligated to adopt and implement, measures to ensure that ISPs take steps to disable access to copyright infringing websites, including throughout the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Korea,” the submission reads.

The 42 blocking-capable countries referenced by the Hollywood group include the members of the European Union plus the following: Argentina, Australia, Iceland, India, Israel, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.

While all countries have their own unique sets of legislation, countries within the EU are covered by the requirements of Article 8.3 of the INFOSEC Directive which provides that; “Member States shall ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.”

That doesn’t mean that all countries are actively blocking, however. While Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have the legal basis to block infringing sites, none have yet done so.

In a significant number of other EU countries, however, blocking activity is prolific.

“To date, in at least 17 European countries, over 1,800 infringing sites and over 5,300 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked, including in the following four countries where the positive impact of site-blocking over time has been demonstrated,” MPA Canada notes.

Major blocking nations in the EU

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that authority to block sites is currently being obtained in two key ways, either through the courts or via an administrative process.

In the examples above, the UK and Denmark are dealt with via the former, with Italy and Portugal handled via the latter. At least as far as the volume of sites is concerned, court processes – which can be expensive – tend to yield lower site blocking levels than those carried out through an administrative process. Indeed, the MPAA has praised Portugal’s super-streamlined efforts as something to aspire to.

Outside Europe, the same two processes are also in use. For example, Australia, Argentina, and Singapore utilize the judicial route while South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia have opted for administrative remedies.

“Across 10 of these countries, over 1,100 infringing sites and over 1,500 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked,” MPA Canada reveals.

To date, South Korea has blocked 460 sites and 547 domains, while Australia has blocked 91 sites and 355 domains. In the case of the latter, “research has confirmed the increasingly positive impact that site-blocking has, as a greater number of sites are blocked over time,” the Hollywood group notes.

Although by no means comprehensive, MPA Canada lists the following “Notorious Sites” as subject to blocking in multiple countries via both judicial and administrative means. Most will be familiar, with the truly notorious The Pirate Bay heading the pile. Several no longer exist in their original form but in many cases, clones are blocked as if they still represent the original target.


The methods used to block the sites vary from country to country, dependent on what courts deem fit and in consideration of ISPs’ technical capabilities. Three main tools are in use including DNS blocking, IP address blocking, and URL blocking, which can also include Deep Packet Inspection.

The MPA submission (pdf) is strongly in favor of adding Canada to the list of site-blocking countries detailed above. The Hollywood group believes that the measures are both effective and proportionate, citing reduced usage of blocked sites, reduced traffic to pirate sites in general, and increased visits to legitimate platforms.

“There is every reason to believe that the website blocking measures [presented to the CRTC] will lead to the same beneficial results in Canada,” MPA Canada states.

While plenty of content creators and distributors are in favor of proposals, all signs suggest they will have a battle on their hands, with even some ISPs coming out in opposition.

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

Forty Percent of All Mexican Roku Users are Pirates

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/forty-percent-of-all-mexican-roku-users-are-pirates-180332/

In recent years it has become much easier to stream movies and TV-shows over the Internet.

Legal services such as Netflix and HBO are flourishing, but there’s also a darker side to this streaming epidemic.

Millions of people are streaming from unauthorized sources, often paired with perfectly legal streaming platforms and devices. This issue has become particularly problematic for Roku, which sells easy-to-use media players.

Last week federal judges in Mexico City and Torreón decided that Roku sales should remain banned there, keeping last year’s suspension in place. While the ruling can still be appealed, it hurts Roku’s bottom line.

The company has more than a million users in Mexico according to statistics released by the Competitive Intelligence Unit (CIU), a local market research firm. That’s a significant number, but so is the percentage of pirating Roku users in Mexico.

“Roku has 1.1 million users in the country, of which 40 percent use it to watch content illegally,” Gonzalo Rojon, ICU’s director of ICT research, writes.

“There are 575 thousand users who access the illegal content and that is comparable to the number of subscribers a small pay-TV operator has,” he adds.

While this is indeed a significant number, that doesn’t make the Roku boxes illegal by default. There are millions who use Windows to pirate stuff, or web browsers like Chrome and Firefox, but these are generally not seen as problematic.

Still, several Mexican judges have ruled that sales should be banned so for the time being it remains that way.

According to Rojon, these type of measures are imperative to ensure that copyright holders are protected from online piracy, now that more and more content is moving online.

“Although for some people this type of action seems radical, I think it is very important that the shift towards more digitalization is accompanied by copyright and intellectual property protection, so it continues to promote innovation and a healthy competitive environment in the digital world,” he notes.

Roku clearly disagrees and last week the company told us that it will do everything in its power to have the current sales ban overturned.

“While Roku’s devices have always been and remain legal to use in Mexico, the current ban harms consumers, the retail sector and the industry. We will vigorously pursue further legal actions with the aim of restoring sales of Roku devices in Mexico,” the company said.

Meanwhile, Roku is working hard to shake the piracy elements off its platform. Last year it began showing FBI warnings to users of ‘pirate channels’ and just this week removed the entire USTVnow service from its platform.

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

Dotcom Wins Privacy Breach Case Against New Zealand Government

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dotcom-wins-privacy-breach-case-against-new-zealand-government-180326/

Following the Megaupload shutdown and the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion, many hours have been spent on the case in courts around the world.

While Dotcom and several of his former colleagues were targeted for alleged copyright crimes, thus far the major battles have been focused on other legal aspects of the case.

In a complaint filed at the Human Rights Tribunal, Dotcom accused the New Zealand Government of improperly withholding information. In 2015 Dotcom asked 28 ministers and several government departments to disclose information they held on him, without result.

The requests were labeled as “urgent” due to Dotcom’s pending legal case, but then-Attorney General Chris Finlayson denied them as being vexatious and without sufficient grounds.

Today the Human Rights Tribunal ruled that, by denying the requests, “…the Crown to be in clear breach of its obligations under the Privacy Act,” awarding the Megaupload founder $90,000 in damages for “loss of dignity or injury to feelings.”

While the financial windfall must be welcome, Dotcom also sees this ruling as a big victory in the grander scheme of things. According to the New Zealand entrepreneur, it means that the U.S. extradition bid is dead in the water.

“What does the Human Rights Tribunal Judgement mean for my Extradition case? It is OVER!” Dotcom just tweeted

“By unlawfully withholding information that could have helped my case the former Attorney General of New Zealand has perverted the course of Justice,” he adds.

It’s over…?

In addition to awarding damages, the ruling also requires the ministers and Government to comply with the original requests, as Newshub writes.

The Tribunal’s decision is a clear win for Dotcom. While it doesn’t automatically end the extradition case, going forward it certainly doesn’t hurt the position of Megaupload’s founder.

Who it could hurt, according to Dotcom, is New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner John Edwards.

“I call for the immediate resignation of the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand for his complicity with the former Attorney General and Crown Law in unlawfully withholding information that New Zealanders were legally entitled to,” Dotcom tweets.

The Privacy Commissioner retweeted Dotcom’s request without commenting on it, which elicited another blow from Dotcom.

“I appreciate the acknowledgment. The Human Rights Tribunal judgment makes you look utterly incompetent at best or co-conspiratorial at worst. Which is it? Either way, you’re done,” Dotcom added.

A copy of the Human Rights Tribunal ruling 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.

Repeat Infringer Policy Doesn’t Have to Be Spelled Out, Appeals Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/repeat-infringer-policy-doesnt-have-to-be-spelled-out-appeals-court-rules-180324/

The “repeat infringer” issue is a hot topic in US Courts, leading to much uncertainty among various Internet services.

Under the DMCA, companies are required to implement a reasonable policy to deal with frequent offenders.

This not only applies to commercial Internet providers, as Cox found out the hard way, but also to websites that host user-uploaded content, such as video and image hosting services.

Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order that provides some further clarification on how a repeat infringer policy should be documented.

The case in question was filed by adult content producer Ventura Content, which accused the adult-themed site Motherless of copyright infringement. While Motherless relies on user-uploaded content, the adult producer argued that it is liable for pirated content on its site.

In a majority ruling, the Court found that Motherless did not know about the alleged infringements before the lawsuit was filed and removed them within a day of being properly alerted.

This means that the site is entitled to safe harbor protection if it implemented a reasonable repeat infringer policy, which brings us to the crux of the case.

The operator of the site, Joshua Lange, is the sole employee who single-handedly deals with all takedown requests. The site also has a page informing users that there is a repeat infringer policy, without providing specific details.

The adult content producer argued that the site had failed to reasonably implement such a policy, but the Court disagreed, noting that the DMCA doesn’t prescribe a written policy.

“The details of the termination policy are not written down. However, the statute does not say that the policy details must be written, just that the site must inform subscribers of ‘a policy’ of terminating repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances,” the Court states.

In this case, the details of the policy were in the mind of the operator, who made his decisions based on a case-by-case evaluation.

“Lange uses his judgment, not a mechanical test, to terminate infringers based on the volume, history, severity, and intentions behind a user’s infringing content uploads.”

The fact that the details of the policy were not spelled out doesn’t mean that Motherless has no safe harbor protection, although this may be different for large companies.

“A company might need a written policy to tell its employees or independent contractors what to do if there were a significant number of them, but Motherless is not such a firm.

“So the lack of a detailed written policy is not by itself fatal to safe harbor eligibility. Neither is the fact that Motherless did not publicize its internal criteria,” the Court adds.

Surprisingly, the site’s operator didn’t keep any written logs of repeat infringers either. He simply kept track of them in his head and terminated more than a thousand accounts this way. This didn’t work flawlessly, as a few repeat infringers slipped through, but the Court believes it was good enough.

“It is tempting, perhaps, to say that a policy is not ‘reasonably’ implemented if it does not include both a database of users whose uploads have generated DMCA notices and some automated means of catching them if they do it again. But the statute does not require that,” the order reads.

Overall, the Court sides with Motherless and its operator and affirmed the summary judgment in its favor.

This case is unique in many ways. Among other things, it shows that written details or logs are not always required for a “reasonable” repeat infringer policy. While this could be different for large companies, it is likely to be referenced frequently in related cases.

This week, hosting provider Steadfast was quick to use the ruling to argue that it sufficiently adopted and informed users of its repeat infringer policy.

—-

A copy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling 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.

Controversial Roku ‘Piracy’ Ban Stays in Place in Mexico

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/controversial-roku-piracy-ban-stays-in-place-in-mexico-180323/

‘Set-top’ devices such as Amazon’s Fire TV have sold in their millions in recent years as the stream-to-your-living room craze continues.

Many commercial devices are intended to receive official programming in a legal manner but most can be reprogrammed to do illegal things.

Of course, this behavior has nothing to do with the manufacturers of such devices but a case launched in Mexico last year really took things to the next level.

Following a complaint filed by cable TV provider Cablevision, the Superior Court of Justice of the City of Mexico handed down an order in June preventing the importation of Roku devices and prohibiting stores such as Amazon, Liverpool, El Palacio de Hierro, and Sears from putting them on sale.

The ban was handed down in an effort to tackle the amount of pirated content being viewed through the devices. News circulating at the time suggested that sellers on social media were providing more than 300 channels of unauthorized content for around US$8 per month.

Of course, the same illegal content consumption also takes place via regular PCs, tablet computers, and even mobile phones. No one would consider banning them but the court in Mexico clearly didn’t see the parallels when it dropped the hammer on Roku.

Later that month, however, a light appeared at the end of the tunnel. A federal judge decided to temporarily suspend the import and sales ban, which also instructed banks to stop processing payments from accounts linked to third-party pirate services.

“Roku is pleased with today’s court decision, which paves the way for sales of Roku devices to resume in Mexico,” Roku’s General Counsel Steve Kay informed TorrentFreak at the time.

“Piracy is a problem the industry at large is facing. We prohibit copyright infringement of any kind on the Roku platform. We actively work to prevent third-parties from using our platform to distribute copyright infringing content. Moreover, we have been actively working with other industry stakeholders on a wide range of anti-piracy initiatives.”

But just as the sales began to flow once more, the celebrations were almost immediately cut short.

On June 28, 2017, a Mexico City tribunal upheld the previous decision which banned importation and distribution of Roku devices, much to the disappointment of Roku’s General Counsel.

“Today’s decision is not the final word in this complex legal matter,” Steve Kay said.

Indeed, since that date, Roku and retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Office Depot, Radio Shack and Sears have been fighting to have Roku devices put back on sale again, with several courts ruling against the appeals. Then last week there was another blow when federal judges in Mexico City and Torreón decided to keep the original suspension in place.

Forbidding the “importation, commercialization and distribution” of Roku devices, the judges maintained that Roku devices could be used as an instrument for “dishonest commerce” in violation of Mexico’s copyright law.

The main argument in support of the ban is that Roku devices can still be used by people to gain access to infringing content. As a result, Cablevision believes that Roku should modify its devices to ensure that piracy isn’t possible in the future.

“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,” a Cablevision spokesperson said.

The decision to ban Roku devices can still be appealed. The company informs TorrentFreak that further legal action is on the cards.

“There have been several recent court rulings related to the ban on the sale of Roku devices in Mexico. In fact, a Federal court in Mexico City has already determined that the ban was improper; however, the ban remains in place,” says Roku spokesperson Tricia Misfud.

“While Roku’s devices have always been and remain legal to use in Mexico, the current ban harms consumers, the retail sector and the industry. We will vigorously pursue further legal actions with the aim of restoring sales of Roku devices in Mexico.”

Despite a nationwide sales ban, people who already have a Roku in their possession remain unaffected by recent developments. Since the use of Roku devices in Mexico and elsewhere is completely legal, current users will still receive regular software updates.

In associated news, Mexico’s Telecommunications Law Institute (IDET) reports that the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) has been blocking URLs used to distribute unauthorized content and apps.

While that will undoubtedly prove unpopular with pirates, one hopes that its execution is somewhat more precise than the wholesale banning of the entire Roku platform.

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

Google Should Begin Delisting Pirate Sites, Aussie Rightsholders Say

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-should-begin-delisting-pirate-sites-aussie-rightsholders-say-180322/

After being passed almost three years ago, in February the Australian government announced a review of its pirate site-blocking laws.

The Department of Communications asked for feedback on the effectiveness of the mechanism, from initial injunction application through to website blocking and, crucially, whether further amendments are required.

“The Department welcomes single, consolidated submissions from organizations or parties, capturing all views on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 (Online Infringement Amendment) [pdf],” the consultation paper began.

Several responses from interested groups have been filed with the government and unsurprisingly, most come from entertainment industry groups seeking to expand on what has been achieved so far.

The most aggressive submissions come from the two companies that have made the most use of the blocking scheme so far – movie group Village Roadshow and TV provider Foxtel. Together the companies have had dozens of sites blocked in Australia by local ISPs but now they want the blocking regime expanded to online service platforms too.

Indeed, in the Roadshow and Foxtel submissions combined, Google is mentioned no less than 29 times as being part of the piracy problem Down Under.

“Village Roadshow strongly supported the original site blocking legislation and now we strongly support strengthening it,” Village Roadshow co-chief Graham Burke writes.

“With all major pirate sites blocked in Australia, the front door of the department store is shut. However, pirates, facilitated by Google and other search engines, are circumventing Australian Laws and Courts and opening a huge back door. Australia needs the power to require Google and other search engines to take reasonable steps to stop facilitating searches which lead to pirate sites.”

Burke goes on to criticize Google’s business model, which pushes tens of millions of people “searching for stolen goods” to pirate sites that hit them with “rogue advertising including illegal gambling, drugs, sex aids and prostitution.”

In a nutshell, the Village Roadshow co-chief suggests that Google’s business model involves profiting from knowingly leading consumers to illegal locations where they are ultimately ripped off.

“The analogy for Google is a Westfield Shopping Centre knowing they are getting big traffic to the center from a store that is using stolen goods to lure people and then robbing them!” he writes.

This anti-Google rant heads in a predictable direction. At the moment, Australia’s site-blocking regime only applies to ‘carriage service providers’, the home ISPs we all use. Village Roadshow wants that provision expanded to include ‘intermediary service providers’, which covers search engines, social media, and other types of internet intermediaries.

“Apart from ISP’s, many intermediaries are able to meaningfully impact traffic to infringing sites, and in fact, can and are currently used by pirates to find new locations and proxies to circumvent the ISP blocks,” Burke adds.

In other words, when served with an injunction, companies like Google and Facebook should delist results that lead people to pirate sites. This position is also championed by Foxtel, which points to a voluntary arrangement in the UK between search engines and the entertainment industries.

Under this anti-piracy code introduced last year, search engines agreed to further optimize their algorithms and processes to demote pirated content in search results. The aim is to make infringing content less visible and at a faster rate. At the same time, legal alternatives should be easier to find.

But like Village Roadshow, Foxtel doesn’t appear to be content with demotion – blocking and delisting is the aim.

“Foxtel strongly believes that extending the site blocking powers to search engines so that they must remove copyright infringing sites from search results would have a substantial impact on reducing piracy in Australia,” the company says.

“Search engines already remove URLs from site indexes to comply with local laws and product community standards and therefore, technologically Foxtel understands it would be a relatively simple exercise for search engines to comply with Australian blocking orders.”

Both Foxtel and Roadshow agree in other areas too. Currently, Australia’s site-blocking provisions apply to “online locations” situated outside Australia’s borders but both companies see a need for that restriction to be removed.

Neither company can understand why local pirate sites can’t be handled in the same way as those based overseas, with Foxtel arguing that proving an overseas element can be a costly process.

“Applicants must review individual domain locations and IP addresses and put on evidence relating to these matters to ensure that the location of the sites is established. This evidence, which we consider to be unnecessary, is produced at significant time and cost, all of which is borne by the rights holders,” Foxtel says.

While none of the above is particularly new in the global scheme of things, it’s interesting to note that even when agreements are reached and new legislation is formed, rightsholders always keep pushing for more.

That’s clearly highlighted in the Foxtel submission when the company says that the threshold for determining a pirate site should be lowered. Currently, a site must have a “primary purpose” to “infringe, or to facilitate the infringement” of copyright. Foxtel sees this as being too high.

In order to encompass general hosting sites that may also carry large quantities of infringing content, it would like to remove the term “primary purpose” and replace it with “substantial purpose or effect.” Given the recent criticisms leveled at Google and particularly YouTube for the infringing content it hosts, that request could prove difficult to push through.

Foxtel also sees a need to better tackle live streaming. In the UK, injunctions obtained by the Premier League and UEFA last year allow pirated live sports streams to be blocked in real-time. Although the injunctions are overseen by the courts, on a practical level the process is carried out between rightsholders and compliant ISPs.

Foxtel believes that Australia needs something similar.

“For site blocking to be effective in Australia in respect of live sport streaming sites which frequently change location, Foxtel anticipates that a similar process will ultimately be required to be implemented,” the company notes.

With the consultation process now over, dissenting submissions are in the minority. The most notable come from the Pirate Party (pdf) and Digital Rights Watch (pdf) although both are likely to be drowned out by the voices of rightsholders.

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

Dotcom’s Bid to Compel Obama to Give Evidence Rejected By High Court

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dotcoms-bid-to-compel-obama-to-give-evidence-rejected-by-high-court-180321/

With former US president Barack Obama in New Zealand until Friday, the visit provided a golden opportunity for Kim Dotcom to pile on yet more pressure over the strained prosecution of both him and his defunct cloud storage site, Megaupload.

In a statement issued yesterday, Dotcom reiterated his claims that attempts to have him extradited to the United States have no basis in law, chiefly due to the fact that the online dissemination of copyright-protected works by Megaupload’s users is not an extradition offense in New Zealand.

Mainly, however, Dotcom shone yet more light on what he perceives to be the dark politics behind the case, arguing that the Obama administration was under pressure from Hollywood to do something about copyright enforcement or risk losing funding. He says they pulled out all the stops and trampled his rights to prevent that from happening.

In a lengthy affidavit, filed this week to coincide with Obama’s visit, Dotcom called on the High Court to compel the former president to give evidence in the entrepreneur’s retaliatory multi-billion dollar damages claim against the Kiwi government.

This morning, however, Chief High Court Judge, Justice Geoffrey Venning, quickly shut that effort down.

With Obama enjoying a round of golf alongside former Prime Minister and Dotcom nemesis John Key, Justice Venning declined the request to compel Obama to give evidence, whether in New Zealand during the current visit or via letter of request to judicial authorities in the United States.

In his decision, Justice Venning notes that Dotcom’s applications were filed late on March 19 and the matter was only handed to him yesterday. As a result, he convened a telephone conference this morning to “deal with the application as a matter of urgency.”

Dotcom’s legal team argued that in the absence of a Court order it’s unlikely that Obama would give evidence. Equally, given that no date has yet been set for Dotcom’s damages hearing, it will “not be practicable” to serve Obama at a later point in the United States.

Furthermore, absent an order compelling his attendance, Obama would be unlikely to be called as a witness, despite him being the most competent potential witness currently present in New Zealand.

Dotcom counsel Ron Mansfield accepted that there would be practical limitations on what could be achieved between March 21 and March 23 while Obama is in New Zealand. However, he asked that an order be granted so that it could be served while Obama is in the country, even if the examination took place at a later date.

The Judge wasn’t convinced.

“Despite Mr Mansfield’s concession, I consider the application is still premature. The current civil proceedings were only filed on 22 December 2017. The defendants have applied for an order deferring the filing of a statement of defense pending the determination of the hearing of two appeals currently before the Court of Appeal. That application is yet to be determined,” Justice Venning’s decision reads.

The Judge also questions whether evidence Obama could give would be relevant.

He notes that Dotcom’s evidence is based on the fact that Hollywood was a major benefactor of the Democratic Party in the United States and that, in his opinion, the action against Megaupload and him “met the United States’ need to appease the Hollywood lobby” and “that the United States and New Zealand’s interests were perfectly aligned.”

However, Dotcom’s transcripts of his conversations with a lobbyist, which appeared to indicate Obama’s dissatisfaction with the Megaupload prosecution, are dismissed as “hearsay evidence”. Documentation of a private lunch with Obama and the head of the MPAA is also played down.

“Mr Dotcom’s opinion that Mr Obama’s evidence will be relevant to the present claims appears at best speculative,” the Judge notes.

But even if the evidence had been stronger, Justice Venning says that Obama would need to be given time to prepare for an examination, given that it would relate to matters that occurred several years ago.

“He would need to review relevant documents and materials from the time in preparation for any examination. That confirms the current application is premature,” the Judge writes.

In support, it is noted that Dotcom knew as early as February 21 that Obama’s visit would be taking place this week, yet his application was filed just days ago.

With that, the Judge dismissed the application, allowing Obama to play golf in peace. Well, relative peace at least. Dotcom isn’t done yet.

“I am disappointed of course because I believe my affidavit contains compelling evidence of the link between the Obama administration, Hollywood, and my extradition proceeding. However, after seven years of this, I am used to fighting to get to the truth and will keep fighting. Next round!” Dotcom said in response.

“The judgment is no surprise and we’ll get the opportunity to question Obama sooner or later,” he added.

As a further indication of the international nature of Dotcom’s case, the Megaupload founder also reminded people of his former connections to Hong Kong, noting that people in power there are keeping an eye on his case.

“The Chinese Government is watching my case with interest. Expect some bold action in the Hong Kong Courts soon. Never again shall an accusation from the US DOJ be enough to destroy a Hong Kong business. That lesson will soon be learned,” he said.

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

Vodafone Appeals Decision Forcing it to Block Pirate Streaming Site Kinox

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vodafone-appeals-decision-forcing-it-to-block-pirate-streaming-site-kinox-180317/

Streaming site Kinox has proven hugely problematic for German authorities and international rightsholders for many years.

Last year, following a three-year manhunt, one of the site’s alleged operators was detained in Kosovo. Despite this and other actions, the site remains online.

Given the profile of the platform and its popularity in Germany, it came as no surprise when Kinox became the guinea pig for site-blocking in the country. Last month following a complaint from local film production and distribution company Constantin Film, a district court in Munich handed down a provisional injunction against Internet provider Vodafone.

In common with many similar cases across the EU, the Court cited a 2017 ruling from the European Court of Justice which found that local authorities can indeed order blockades of copyright-infringing sites. The Court ordered Vodafone to prevent its subscribers from accessing the site and shortly after the provider complied, but not willingly it seems.

According to local news outlet Golem, last week Vodafone filed an appeal arguing that there is no legal basis in Germany for ordering the blockade.

“As an access provider, Vodafone provides only neutral access to the Internet, and we believe that under current law, Vodafone cannot be required to curb copyright infringement on the Internet,” a Vodafone spokesperson told the publication.

The ISP says that not only does the blocking injunction impact its business operations and network infrastructure, it also violates the rights of its customers. Vodafone believes that blocking measures can only be put in place with an explicit legal basis and argues that no such basis exists under German law.

Noting that blockades are easily bypassed by determined users, the ISP says that such measures can also block lots of legal content, making the whole process ineffective.

“[I]nternet blocking generally runs the risk of blocking non-infringing content, so we do not see it as an effective way to make accessing illegal offers more difficult,” Vodafone’s spokesperson said.

Indeed, it appears that the Kinox blockade is a simple DNS-only effort, which means that people can bypass it by simply changing to an alternative DNS provider such as Google DNS or OpenDNS.

Given all of the above, Vodafone is demanding clarification of the earlier decision from a higher court. Whether or not the final decision will go in the ISP’s favor isn’t clear but there is plenty of case law at the European level that suggests the balance of probabilities lies with Constantin Film.

When asked to balance consumer rights versus copyrights, courts have tended to side with the latter in recent years.

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