Tag Archives: cyberlockers

Netflix Expands Content Protection Team to Reduce Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-expands-content-protection-team-to-reduce-piracy-171015/

There is little doubt that, in the United States and many other countries, Netflix has become the standard for watching movies on the Internet.

Despite the widespread availability, however, Netflix originals are widely pirated. Episodes from House of Cards, Narcos, and Orange is the New Black are downloaded and streamed millions of times through unauthorized platforms.

The streaming giant is obviously not happy with this situation and has ramped up its anti-piracy efforts in recent years. Since last year the company has sent out over a million takedown requests to Google alone and this volume continues to expand.

This growth coincides with an expansion of the company’s internal anti-piracy division. A new job posting shows that Netflix is expanding this team with a Copyright and Content Protection Coordinator. The ultimate goal is to reduce piracy to a fringe activity.

“The growing Global Copyright & Content Protection Group is looking to expand its team with the addition of a coordinator,” the job listing reads.

“He or she will be tasked with supporting the Netflix Global Copyright & Content Protection Group in its internal tactical take down efforts with the goal of reducing online piracy to a socially unacceptable fringe activity.”

Among other things, the new coordinator will evaluate new technological solutions to tackle piracy online.

More old-fashioned takedown efforts are also part of the job. This includes monitoring well-known content platforms, search engines and social network sites for pirated content.

“Day to day scanning of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, Google Search, Bing Search, VK, DailyMotion and all other platforms (including live platforms) used for piracy,” is listed as one of the main responsibilities.

Netflix’ Copyright and Content Protection Coordinator Job

The coordinator is further tasked with managing Facebook’s Rights Manager and YouTube’s Content-ID system, to prevent circumvention of these piracy filters. Experience with fingerprinting technologies and other anti-piracy tools will be helpful in this regard.

Netflix doesn’t do all the copyright enforcement on its own though. The company works together with other media giants in the recently launched “Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment” that is spearheaded by the MPAA.

In addition, the company also uses the takedown services of external anti-piracy outfits to target more traditional infringement sources, such as cyberlockers and piracy streaming sites. The coordinator has to keep an eye on these as well.

“Liaise with our vendors on manual takedown requests on linking sites and hosting sites and gathering data on pirate streaming sites, cyberlockers and usenet platforms.”

The above shows that Netflix is doing its best to prevent piracy from getting out of hand. It’s definitely taking the issue more seriously than a few years ago when the company didn’t have much original content.

The switch from being merely a distribution platform to becoming a major content producer and copyright holder has changed the stakes. Netflix hasn’t won the war on piracy, it’s just getting started.

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

RIAA Identifies Top YouTube MP3 Rippers and Other Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-identifies-top-youtube-mp3-rippers-and-other-pirate-sites-171006/

Around the same time as Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA has also submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

These submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement.

The RIAA’s overview begins positively, announcing two major successes achieved over the past year.

The first is the shutdown of sites such as Emp3world, AudioCastle, Viperial, Album Kings, and im1music. These sites all used the now-defunct Sharebeast platform, whose operator pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement.

Another victory followed a few weeks ago when YouTube-MP3.org shut down its services after being sued by the RIAA.

“The most popular YouTube ripping site, youtube-mp3.org, based in Germany and included in last year’s list of notorious markes [sic], recently shut down in response to a civil action brought by major record labels,” the RIAA writes.

This case also had an effect on similar services. Some stream ripping services that were reported to the USTR last year no longer permit the conversion and download of music videos on YouTube, the RIAA reports. However, they add that the problem is far from over.

“Unfortunately, several other stream-ripping sites have ‘doubled down’ and carry on in this illegal behavior, continuing to make this form of theft a major concern for the music industry,” the music group writes.

“The overall popularity of these sites and the staggering volume of traffic it attracts evidences the enormous damage being inflicted on the U.S. record industry.”

The music industry group is tracking more than 70 of these stream ripping sites and the most popular ones are listed in the overview of notorious markets. These are Mp3juices.cc, Convert2mp3.net, Savefrom.net, Ytmp3.cc, Convertmp3.io, Flvto.biz, and 2conv.com.

Youtube2mp3’s listing

The RIAA notes that many sites use domain privacy services to hide their identities, as well as Cloudflare to obscure the sites’ true hosting locations. This frustrates efforts to take action against these sites, they say.

Popular torrent sites are also highlighted, including The Pirate Bay. These sites regularly change domain names to avoid ISP blockades and domain seizures, and also use Cloudflare to hide their hosting location.

“BitTorrent sites, like many other pirate sites, are increasing [sic] turning to Cloudflare because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site.”

Finally, the RIAA reports several emerging threats reported to the Government. Third party app stores, such as DownloadAtoZ.com, reportedly offer a slew of infringing apps. In addition, there’s a boom of Nigerian pirate sites that flood the market with free music.

“The number of such infringing sites with a Nigerian operator stands at over 200. Their primary method of promotion is via Twitter, and most sites make use of the Nigerian operated ISP speedhost247.com,” the report notes

The full list of RIAA’s “notorious” pirate sites, which also includes several cyberlockers, MP3 search and download sites, as well as unlicensed pay services, can be found below. The full report is available here (pdf).

Stream-Ripping Sites

– Mp3juices.cc
– Convert2mp3.net
– Savefrom.net
– Ytmp3.cc
– Convertmp3.io
– Flvto.biz
– 2conv.com.

Search-and-Download Sites

– Newalbumreleases.net
– Rnbxclusive.top
– DNJ.to

BitTorrent Indexing and Tracker Sites

– Thepiratebay.org
– Torrentdownloads.me
– Rarbg.to
– 1337x.to

Cyberlockers

– 4shared.com
– Uploaded.net
– Zippyshare.com
– Rapidgator.net
– Dopefile.pk
– Chomikuj.pl

Unlicensed Pay-for-Download Sites

– Mp3va.com
– Mp3fiesta.com

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

Ukraine Faces Call for US Trade Sanctions over Online Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ukraine-faces-call-us-trade-sanctions-over-online-piracy-170918/

The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) is recommending that the U.S. Government should suspend Ukraine’s GSP trade benefits, claiming that the country doesn’t do enough to protect the interests of copyright holders.

Last year Ukraine enjoyed $53.7 million in unilateral duty-free benefits in the US, while US companies suffering millions of dollars in losses in Ukraine due to online piracy, they argue.

The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, BSA and ESA, characterizes the country as a safe harbor for pirate sites. While physical piracy was properly addressed ten years ago after a previous sanction, digital piracy remains rampant.

One of the main problems is that local hosting companies are offering their services to a wide variety of copyright-infringing websites. Without proper enforcement, more and more websites have moved their services there.

“By allowing these problems to fester for years, weak digital enforcement has resulted in an exponential increase in the number of illegal peer-to-peer (‘P2P’) hosting and website-based Internet piracy sites, including some of the world’s largest BitTorrent sites located in Ukraine,” IIPA writes.

“Some Internet pirates have purposefully moved their servers and operations to Ukraine in the past few years to take advantage of the current lawless situation. Many of these illegal services and sites target audiences throughout Europe and the United States.”

The copyright holders highlight the defunct ExtraTorrent site as an example but note that there are also many other torrent sites, pirate streaming sites, cyberlockers, and linking sites in Ukraine.

While pirate sites are hosted all over the world, the problem is particularly persistent in Ukraine because many local hosting companies fail to process takedown requests. This, despite repeated calls from copyright holders to work with them.

“Many of the websites offering pirated copyright materials are thriving in part because of the support of local ISPs,” IIPA writes.

“The copyright industries have, for years, sought private agreements with ISPs to establish effective mechanisms to take down illegal websites and slow illegal P2P traffic. In the absence of legislation, however, these voluntary efforts have generally not succeeded, although, some ISPs will delete links upon request.”

In order to make real progress, the copyright holders call for new legislation to hold Internet services accountable and to make it easier to come after pirate sites that are hosted in Ukraine.

“Legislation is needed to institute proper notice and takedown provisions, including a requirement that service providers terminate access to individuals (or entities) that have repeatedly engaged in infringement, and the retention of information for law enforcement, as well as to provide clear third party liability regarding ISPs.”

In addition to addressing online piracy, IIPA further points out that the collecting societies in Ukraine are not functioning properly. At the moment there are 18 active and competing organizations, creating a chaotic situation where rightsholders are not properly rewarded, they suggest.

IIPA recommends that the U.S. Government accepts its petition and suspends or withdraws Ukraine’s benefits until the country takes proper action.

Ukraine’s Government, for its part, informs the US Government that progress is being made. There are already several new laws in the works to improve intellectual property protection. The issue is one of the Government’s “key priorities,” they state, hoping to avert any sanctions.

IIPA’s full submission to the US Trade Representative is available here (pdf).

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

New UK IP Crime Report Reveals Continued Focus on ‘Pirate’ Kodi Boxes

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/new-uk-ip-crime-report-reveals-continued-focus-on-pirate-kodi-boxes-170908/

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office has published its annual IP Crime Report, spanning the period 2016 to 2017.

It covers key events in the copyright and trademark arenas and is presented with input from the police and trading standards, plus private entities such as the BPI, Premier League, and Federation Against Copyright Theft, to name a few.

The report begins with an interesting statistic. Despite claims that many millions of UK citizens regularly engage in some kind of infringement, figures from the Ministry of Justice indicate that just 47 people were found guilty of offenses under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act during 2016. That’s down on the 69 found guilty in the previous year.

Despite this low conviction rate, 15% of all internet users aged 12+ are reported to have consumed at least one item of illegal content between March and May 2017. Figures supplied by the Industry Trust for IP indicate that 19% of adults watch content via various IPTV devices – often referred to as set-top, streaming, Android, or Kodi boxes.

“At its cutting edge IP crime is innovative. It exploits technological loopholes before they become apparent. IP crime involves sophisticated hackers, criminal financial experts, international gangs and service delivery networks. Keeping pace with criminal innovation places a burden on IP crime prevention resources,” the report notes.

The report covers a broad range of IP crime, from counterfeit sportswear to foodstuffs, but our focus is obviously on Internet-based infringement. Various contributors cover various aspects of online activity as it affects them, including music industry group BPI.

“The main online piracy threats to the UK recorded music industry at present are from BitTorrent networks, linking/aggregator sites, stream-ripping sites, unauthorized streaming sites and cyberlockers,” the BPI notes.

The BPI’s website blocking efforts have been closely reported, with 63 infringing sites blocked to date via various court orders. However, the BPI reports that more than 700 related URLs, IP addresses, and proxy sites/ proxy aggregators have also been rendered inaccessible as part of the same action.

“Site blocking has proven to be a successful strategy as the longer the blocks are in place, the more effective they are. We have seen traffic to these sites reduce by an average of 70% or more,” the BPI reports.

While prosecutions against music pirates are a fairly rare event in the UK, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Specialist Fraud Division highlights that their most significant prosecution of the past 12 months involved a prolific music uploader.

As first revealed here on TF, Wayne Evans was an uploader not only on KickassTorrents and The Pirate Bay, but also some of his own sites. Known online as OldSkoolScouse, Evans reportedly cost the UK’s Performing Rights Society more than £1m in a single year. He was sentenced in December 2016 to 12 months in prison.

While Evans has been free for some time already, the CPS places particular emphasis on the importance of the case, “since it provided sentencing guidance for the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, where before there was no definitive guideline.”

The CPS says the case was useful on a number of fronts. Despite illegal distribution of content being difficult to investigate and piracy losses proving tricky to quantify, the court found that deterrent sentences are appropriate for the kinds of offenses Evans was accused of.

The CPS notes that various factors affect the severity of such sentences, not least the length of time the unlawful activity has persisted and particularly if it has done so after the service of a cease and desist notice. Other factors include the profit made by defendants and/or the loss caused to copyright holders “so far as it can accurately be calculated.”

Importantly, however, the CPS says that beyond issues of personal mitigation and timely guilty pleas, a jail sentence is probably going to be the outcome for others engaging in this kind of activity in future. That’s something for torrent and streaming site operators and their content uploaders to consider.

“[U]nless the unlawful activity of this kind is very amateur, minor or short-lived, or in the absence of particularly compelling mitigation or other exceptional circumstances, an immediate custodial sentence is likely to be appropriate in cases of illegal distribution of copyright infringing articles,” the CPS concludes.

But while a music-related trial provided the highlight of the year for the CPS, the online infringement world is still dominated by the rise of streaming sites and the now omnipresent “fully-loaded Kodi Box” – set-top devices configured to receive copyright-infringing live TV and VOD.

In the IP Crime Report, the Intellectual Property Office references a former US Secretary of Defense to describe the emergence of the threat.

“The echoes of Donald Rumsfeld’s famous aphorism concerning ‘known knowns’ and ‘known unknowns’ reverberate across our landscape perhaps more than any other. The certainty we all share is that we must be ready to confront both ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’,” the IPO writes.

“Not long ago illegal streaming through Kodi Boxes was an ‘unknown’. Now, this technology updates copyright infringement by empowering TV viewers with the technology they need to subvert copyright law at the flick of a remote control.”

While the set-top box threat has grown in recent times, the report highlights the important legal clarifications that emerged from the BREIN v Filmspeler case, which found itself before the European Court of Justice.

As widely reported, the ECJ determined that the selling of piracy-configured devices amounts to a communication to the public, something which renders their sale illegal. However, in a submission by PIPCU, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, box sellers are said to cast a keen eye on the legal situation.

“Organised criminals, especially those in the UK who distribute set-top boxes, are aware of recent developments in the law and routinely exploit loopholes in it,” PIPCU reports.

“Given recent judgments on the sale of pre-programmed set-top boxes, it is now unlikely criminals would advertise the devices in a way which is clearly infringing by offering them pre-loaded or ‘fully loaded’ with apps and addons specifically designed to access subscription services for free.”

With sellers beginning to clean up their advertising, it seems likely that detection will become more difficult than when selling was considered a gray area. While that will present its own issues, PIPCU still sees problems on two fronts – a lack of clear legislation and a perception of support for ‘pirate’ devices among the public.

“There is no specific legislation currently in place for the prosecution of end users or sellers of set-top boxes. Indeed, the general public do not see the usage of these devices as potentially breaking the law,” the unit reports.

“PIPCU are currently having to try and ‘shoehorn’ existing legislation to fit the type of criminality being observed, such as conspiracy to defraud (common law) to tackle this problem. Cases are yet to be charged and results will be known by late 2017.”

Whether these prosecutions will be effective remains to be seen, but PIPCU’s comments suggest an air of caution set to a backdrop of box-sellers’ tendency to adapt to legal challenges.

“Due to the complexity of these cases it is difficult to substantiate charges under the Fraud Act (2006). PIPCU have convicted one person under the Serious Crime Act (2015) (encouraging or assisting s11 of the Fraud Act). However, this would not be applicable unless the suspect had made obvious attempts to encourage users to use the boxes to watch subscription only content,” PIPCU notes, adding;

“The selling community is close knit and adapts constantly to allow itself to operate in the gray area where current legislation is unclear and where they feel they can continue to sell ‘under the radar’.”

More generally, pirate sites as a whole are still seen as a threat. As reported last month, the current anti-piracy narrative is that pirate sites represent a danger to their users. As a result, efforts are underway to paint torrent and streaming sites as risky places to visit, with users allegedly exposed to malware and other malicious content. The scare strategy is supported by PIPCU.

“Unlike the purchase of counterfeit physical goods, consumers who buy unlicensed content online are not taking a risk. Faulty copyright doesn’t explode, burn or break. For this reason the message as to why the public should avoid copyright fraud needs to be re-focused.

“A more concerted attempt to push out a message relating to malware on pirate websites, the clear criminality and the links to organized crime of those behind the sites are crucial if public opinion is to be changed,” the unit advises.

But while the changing of attitudes is desirable for pro-copyright entities, PIPCU says that winning over the public may not prove to be an easy battle. It was given a small taste of backlash itself, after taking action against the operator of a pirate site.

“The scale of the problem regarding public opinion of online copyright crime is evidenced by our own experience. After PIPCU executed a warrant against the owner of a streaming website, a tweet about the event (read by 200,000 people) produced a reaction heavily weighted against PIPCU’s legitimate enforcement action,” PIPCU concludes.

In summary, it seems likely that more effort will be expended during the next 12 months to target the set-top box threat, but there doesn’t appear to be an abundance of confidence in existing legislation to tackle all but the most egregious offenders. That being said, a line has now been drawn in the sand – if the public is prepared to respect it.

The full IP Crime Report 2016-2017 is available here (pdf)

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

Pirate Bay Ruling is Bad News For Google & YouTube, Experts Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-ruling-is-bad-news-for-google-youtube-experts-says-170615/

After years of legal wrangling, yesterday the European Court of Justice handed down a decision in the case between Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN and ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL.

BREIN had demanded that the ISPs block The Pirate Bay, but both providers dug in their heels, forcing the case through the Supreme Court and eventually the ECJ.

For BREIN, yesterday’s decision will have been worth the wait. Although The Pirate Bay does not provide the content that’s ultimately downloaded and shared by its users, the ECJ said that it plays an important role in how that content is presented.

“Whilst it accepts that the works in question are placed online by the users, the Court highlights the fact that the operators of the platform play an essential role in making those works available,” the Court said.

With that established the all-important matter is whether by providing such a platform, the operators of The Pirate Bay are effectively engaging in a “communication to the public” of copyrighted works. According to the ECJ, that’s indeed the case.

“The Court holds that the making available and management of an online sharing platform must be considered to be an act of communication for the purposes of the directive,” the ECJ said.

Add into the mix that The Pirate Bay generates profit from its activities and there’s a potent case for copyright liability.

While the case was about The Pirate Bay, ECJ rulings tend to have an effect far beyond individual cases. That’s certainly the opinion of Enzo Mazza, chief at Italian anti-piracy group FIMI.

“The ruling will have a major impact on the way that entities like Google operate, because it will expose them to a greater and more direct responsibility,” Mazza told La Repubblica.

“So far, Google has worked against piracy by eliminating illegal content after it gets reported. But that is not enough. It is a fairly ineffective intervention.”

Mazza says that platforms like Google, YouTube, and thousands of similar sites that help to organize and curate user-uploaded content are somewhat similar to The Pirate Bay. In any event, they are not neutral intermediaries, he insists.

The conclusion that the decision is bad for platforms like YouTube is shared by Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with Sarzana and Partners, a law firm specializing in Internet and copyright disputes.

“In the ruling, the Court has in fact attributed, for the first time, secondary liability to sharing platforms due to the violation of copyrights carried out by the users of a platform,” Sarzana informs TF.

“This will have consequences for video-sharing platforms and user-generated content sites like YouTube, but it excludes responsibility for platforms that play a purely passive role, without affecting users’ content. This the case with cyberlockers, for example.”

Sarzana says that “unfortunate judgments” like this should be expected, until the approval of a new European copyright law. Enzo Mazza, on the other hand, feels that the copyright reform debate should take account of this ruling when formulating legislation to stop platforms like YouTube exploiting copyright works without an appropriate license.

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

Online Platforms Should Collaborate to Ban Piracy and Terrorism, Report Suggests

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/online-platforms-collaborate-ban-piracy-terrorism-report-suggests-170608/

With deep ties to the content industries, the Digital Citizens Alliance periodically produces reports on Internet piracy. It has published reports on cyberlockers and tried to blame Cloudflare for the spread of malware, for example.

One of the key themes pursued by DCA is that Internet piracy is inextricably linked to a whole bunch of other online evils and that tackling the former could deliver a much-needed body blow to the latter.

Its new report, titled ‘Trouble in Our Digital Midst’, takes this notion and runs with it, bundling piracy with everything from fake news to hacking, to malware and brand protection, to the sextortion of “young girls and boys” via their computer cameras.

The premise of the report is that cybercrime as a whole is undermining America’s trust in the Internet, noting that 64% of US citizens say that their trust in digital platforms has dropped in the last year. Given the topics under the spotlight, it doesn’t take long to see where this is going – Internet platforms like Google, Facebook and YouTube must tackle the problem.

“When asked, ‘In your opinion, are digital platforms doing enough to keep the Internet safe and trustworthy, or are do they need to do more?’ a staggering 75 percent responded that they need to do more to keep the Internet safe,” the report notes.

It’s abundantly clear that the report is mostly about piracy but a lot of effort has been expended to ensure that people support its general call for the Internet to be cleaned up. By drawing attention to things that even most pirates might find offensive, it’s easy to find more people in agreement.

“Nearly three-quarters of respondents see the pairing of brand name advertising with offensive online content – like ISIS/terrorism recruiting videos – as a threat to the continued trust and integrity of the Internet,” the report notes.

Of course, this is an incredibly sensitive topic. When big brand ads turned up next to terrorist recruiting videos on YouTube, there was an almighty stink, and rightly so. However, at every turn, the DCA report manages to weave the issue of piracy into the equation, noting that the problem includes the “$200 million in advertising that shows up on illegal content theft websites often unbeknownst to the brands.”

The overriding theme is that platforms like Google, Facebook, and YouTube should be able to tackle all of these problems in the same way. Filtering out a terrorist video is the same as removing a pirate movie. And making sure that ads for big brands don’t appear alongside terrorist videos will be just as easy as starving pirates of revenue, the suggestion goes.

But if terrorism doesn’t grind your gears, what about fake news?

“64 percent of Americans say that the Fake News issue has made them less likely to trust the Internet as a source of information,” the report notes.

At this juncture, Facebook gets a gentle pat on the back for dealing with fake news and employing 3,000 people to monitor for violent videos being posted to the network. This shows that the company “takes seriously” the potential harm bad actors pose to Internet safety. But in keeping with the theme running throughout the report, it’s clear DCA are carefully easing in the thin end of the wedge.

“We are at only the beginning of thinking through other kinds of illicit and illegal activity happening on digital platforms right now that we must gain or re-gain control over,” DCA writes.

Quite. In the very next sentence, the group goes on to warn about the sale of drugs and stolen credit cards, adding that the sale of illicit streaming devices (modified Kodi boxes etc) is actually an “insidious yet effective delivery mechanism to infect computers with malware such as Remote Access Trojans.”

Both Amazon and Facebook receive praise in the report for their recent banning (1,2) of augmented Kodi devices but their actions are actually framed as the companies protecting their own reputations, rather than the interests of the media groups that have been putting them under pressure.

“And though this issue underscores the challenges faced by digital platforms – not all of which act with the same level of responsibility – it also highlights the fact digital platforms can and will step up when their own brands are at stake,” the report reads.

But pirate content and Remote Access Trojans through Kodi boxes are only the beginning. Pirate sites are playing a huge part as well, DCA claims, with one in three “content theft websites” exposing people to identify theft, ransomware, and sextortion via “the computer cameras of young girls and boys.”

Worst still, if that was possible, the lack of policing by online platforms means that people are able to “showcase live sexual assaults, murders, and other illegal conduct.”

DCA says that with all this in mind, Americans are looking for online digital platforms to help them. The group claims that citizens need proactive protection from these ills and want companies like Facebook to take similar steps to those taken when warning consumers about fake news and violent content.

So what can be done to stop this tsunami of illegality? According to DCA, platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter need to up their game and tackle the problem together.

“While digital platforms collaborate on policy and technical issues, there is no evidence that they are sharing information about the bad actors themselves. That enables criminals and bad actors to move seamlessly from platform to platform,” DCA writes.

“There are numerous examples of industry working together to identify and share information about exploitive behavior. For example, casinos share information about card sharks and cheats, and for decades the retail industry has shared information about fraudulent credit cards. A similar model would enable digital platforms and law enforcement to more quickly identify and combat those seeking to leverage the platforms to harm consumers.”

How this kind of collaboration could take place in the real world is open to interpretation but the DCA has a few suggestions of its own. Again, it doesn’t shy away from pulling people on side with something extremely offensive (in this case child pornography) in order to push what is clearly an underlying anti-piracy agenda.

“With a little help from engineers, digital platforms could create fingerprints of unlawful conduct that is shared across platforms to proactively block such conduct, as is done in a limited capacity with child pornography,” DCA explains.

“If these and other newly developed measures were adopted, digital platforms would have the information to enable them to make decisions whether to de-list or demote websites offering illicit goods and services, and the ability to stop the spread of illegal behavior that victimizes its users.”

The careful framing of the DCA report means that there’s something for everyone. If you don’t agree with them on tackling piracy, then their malware, fake news, or child exploitation angles might do the trick. It’s quite a clever strategy but one that the likes of Google, Facebook, and YouTube will recognize immediately.

And they need to – because apparently, it’s their job to sort all of this out. Good luck with that.

The full report can be found here (pdf)

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

EFF Criticizes PIPCU’s New Domain Name Policing Effort

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eff-criticizes-pipcus-new-domain-name-policing-effort-170406/

The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is a specialist unit dedicated to the reduction of all IP-related crime, including actions against pirate sites and their operators, sellers of Kodi-type devices, and those who counterfeit luxury goods.

While at times the unit is able to take down infrastructure, it appears to have a broader strategy of disruption, making life difficult for those committing infringement in the hope that they give up or move on.

In recent years, PIPCU has been putting a lot of effort into having domains taken down or suspended. Sometimes it achieves this after applying pressure to pirate site operators, for example, but the majority of takedowns are actioned via voluntary agreements with industry players.

This week, PIPCU announced that it will begin collaborating with the International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) to take down websites in association with the IACC’s ‘RogueBlock‘ program.

RogueBlock was launched in January 2012 following rights-holder negotiations with the payment industry to develop a strategy for dealing with so-called ‘rogue’ websites. It began by focusing on sites selling counterfeits but in 2015 was expanded to deal with cyberlocker-type sites.

With MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, MoneyGram, American Express, Discover, PULSE, Diners Club and Western Union as members, the program focuses on disrupting revenue streams, such as payments for fake items or subscriptions to file-hosting sites that fail to comply with the requirements of the DMCA.

Since the program began, it claims to have terminated more than 5,300 accounts connected to a claimed 200,000 websites. Now it has a new ally in PIPCU, which will augment the program with its own Operation Ashiko, an initiative aimed at seizing allegedly infringing website domains.

“Since its inception Operation Ashiko has suspended in excess of 20,000 websites by working with our industry partners,” PIPCU says.

“This creates a safer environment for consumers to purchase genuine goods and disrupts the funding of criminals committing intellectual property crime.”

This partnership is an extension of similar industry and voluntary agreements currently gathering momentum in both Europe and the United States. Freed from the shackles of expensive and formal legal action, industry players and police now work together in order to disrupt piracy in all its forms, hitting website infrastructure and revenue collection mechanisms.

While supporters in the creative industries see such programs as nimble and effective in the fight against IP crime, critics such as the EFF are concerned by the lack of transparency and accountability.

“If a website is wrongly listed by the IACC in its RogueBlock program, thereby becoming a target for blocking by the City of London Police and the payment processors, there is no readily accessible pathway to have its inclusion reviewed and, if necessary, reversed,” the EFF says.

“This opens up much scope for websites to be wrongly listed for anti-competitive or political reasons, or simply by mistake.”

The EFF says that it would prefer that action against sites was backed up by enforcement through legal channels. However, as the group points out, that could prove complex due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Internet.

“The latest expansion of the program to facilitate the takedown of domains threatens to compound these problems, particularly if the City of London Police apply it against websites that are not globally infringing, or if private domain registries or registrars join the program and begin to act on claims of infringement directly,” it concludes.

While PIPCU will certainly bring something to the table, domain suspensions in the UK don’t always go smoothly. Registrars have previously declined to work with the unit to suspend torrent site domains and in 2014 it was revealed that out of 70 similar requests, just five were granted.

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

Capcom Gets Resident Evil 7 “Link Shortener” Pirate Banned

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/capcom-gets-resident-evil-7-link-shortener-pirates-banned-170204/

uploadAccording to copyright holders, online piracy is fueled by people’s desire to make money. The statement carries some truth but has traditionally applied to a relatively small number of people at the top of the food chain.

The advent of file-hosting platforms, however, has enabled the smaller guy to turn a small profit.

While many ‘cyberlockers’ pay out a commission to uploaders when a file is downloaded every 1000 times, there are some other ways to make a bit of cash too.

At their core, link shortening services such as Google’s goo.gl convert unmanageably long URLs into compact ones for easy sharing. They also offer analytics so people can understand who is clicking on their content.

However, there are also other services that pay out a small commission for each click. As a result, they have become popular with anyone looking to monetize all kinds of content, including pirates hoping to make a few extra bucks.

One such pirate contacted TF this week following the leaking of Resident Evil 7 online. With its Denuvo protection neutralized, owner Capcom reverted to sending DMCA notices, including to Google which was asked to remove well over 1,700 URLs from its search results.

Those notices contained requests to remove “link shortener” URLs – such as those provided by Adf.ly, Shorte.st, and Linkbucks.com – all of which pay commission to users when others click their links.

However, in addition to taking down Resident Evil 7 links from Google search, file-hosting and torrent sites, it appears that Capcom also sent complaints directly to Adf.ly. Of course, that meant the referrer links died, which in turn killed the revenue stream.

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While there’s no doubt that Adf.ly links are widely used by pirates, the company informs TorrentFreak that it has a strict repeat infringer policy in place.

“We operate a 3 strike repeat offender policy. If the Company has received three valid DMCA notices, the Company will notify [the] user they have 72 hours to issue any Counter-Notices or their account will be suspended,” the policy reads.

That not only cost our source his links, but also his account and all of the commission money held in it.

“Upon suspension, no funds will be paid to the account owner and no links will be accessible belonging to the user’s account,” Adf.ly confirmed.

But perhaps of most interest is the effect this type of action has on uploader morale. If those who post Adf.ly and similar commission-based links to infringing content keep losing their accounts, ALL of the links in their account become useless for generating revenue, even if just one copyright holder such as Capcom continually files complaints.

There are also knock-on effects if content uploaders want to recover their position, our tipster notes.

“[This could] possibly screw [shortener] pirates for good since all these links are hardcoded into blog posts and not dynamically generated. Meaning once you get banned you have to manually ‘fix’ each and every link on all the previous uploads,” he explains.

“Capcom is very aggressive. If you reupload the thing they report it again after a few days. I got banned from Adfly thanks to Capcom. Adfly has a 3 strikes (in a 6 month period) policy. For me it worked, I stopped uploading Capcom games altogether.”

TF asked how easy it is to open another account with Adf.ly, in order to wipe the slate clean and start again. Apparently, it’s not straightforward since the company uses a number of techniques to spot those signing back up.

For example, according to our experience when simply accessing their site, Adf.ly blocks some popular VPN ranges. However, since the company keeps all of the money in closed accounts, other options are preferred.

“Adfly keeps all the money. No questions asked. You lose all rights immediately,” our source explains. “People usually give up and move to the next link shortener.”

And so, the cycle continues.

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

BREIN Shuts Down ‘Pirate Cinema’ on Facebook

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-shuts-down-pirate-cinema-on-facebook-170130/

biosIn the present day and age, online piracy is perhaps more scattered than it’s ever been.

Torrent sites, streaming services, cyberlockers, mobile apps, linking sites and many more are all labeled as infringing sources.

But, the piracy problem is not restricted to ‘shady’ sites and services alone. On many ‘legal’ platforms there’s a wide availability of copyright infringing material as well, Facebook included.

While anyone can casually post an infringing video or song on Facebook, there are some who dedicate entire pages to it. This was also the case for the Dutch page “LiveBioscoop” (LiveCinema) which was started by a 23-year-old man from Rotterdam.

As the name suggests, the page regularly streamed movies online with help from Facebook’s own live streaming service. In a relatively short period, it amassed over 25,000 followers who could regularly vote on which movies the ‘cinema’ should stream next.

The site’s popularity spilled over to the Dutch press last week, with the AD reporting on the unusual activity of LiveBioscoop and a similar page, Livebios. Commenting on the issue, anti-piracy group BREIN said they would investigate the issue, and not without result.

The operator of the Facebook page was quickly confronted by the anti-piracy group. Facing an ex-parte court order from a local court, the man agreed to stop the infringing activities and sign a settlement of €7,500. While the Facebook page itself is still online, infringements have stopped.

Commenting on the issue, BREIN director Tim Kuik says that they decided to go to court straight away, due to the gravity of the issue.

“This is just stealing revenue from cinemas and rightsholders. It has to end as soon as possible. That is why we have opted for an ex parte injunction with a penalty, instead of first issuing a summons,” Kuik says.

The other ‘pirate cinema’ on Facebook wasn’t mentioned by BREIN, but is no longer available at the time of writing. It seems likely that the operator of this page decided to stop voluntarily to avoid further problems.

Instead of simply cracking down on all these pages, copyright holders could also learn from them. As it turns out, many LiveBioscoop users sincerely enjoyed and appreciated the social cinema visit, which may prove to be an interesting opportunity.

“LiveBioscoop has to stay. It feels better and is more fun that way. People can talk. Netflix is just like, I watch a movie and that was it. Since I found LiveBioscoop I no longer watched Netflix movies,” one follower commented.

While this is the first time that we have seen a settlement with a Facebook live streamer, movie piracy is relatively common on the social network. There still are dozens, if not hundreds of popular pages dedicated to pirated movies and TV-shows.

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

Anti-Piracy Crusader’s Sex Engine is Now a Pirate Linking Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-crusaders-sex-engine-is-now-a-pirate-linking-site-161228/

In 2012, adult industry businessman Robert King embarked on a mission to destroy the “bad players” of the cyberlocker market. At the time, the Australian told TF that he would stop at nothing to rid the world of their influence.

“What I hope to achieve is very simple. I want to tear apart the illegal file locker industry by removing its supply of funds and then ultimately removing its supply of network connectivity,” King said.

“In the main file lockers are simply modern-day ‘fences’ of stolen goods. Just like a thief would take a stolen television or car radio to the pub and sell it for a few dollars, there are thousands of people around the world who take copyright content, upload it to an incentivized file locker, then get a few dollars to as much as $30 for 1000 downloads of that content.”

During the months that followed, King became one of the most hated people in the cyberlocker and linking-site sphere. Within three months of the launch of the campaign, King claimed to have shut down payment processing for more than 500 sites.

For almost three more years, controversy continued to build but suddenly, in April 2015, King announced the shutdown of the project, declaring a victory of sorts. Today, however, an ironic situation of head-shaking proportions has emerged.

It appears to have begun during the summer when King told members of the GFY forum (NSFW) that he’d begun work on a new search engine for porn.

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Exactly how Node.xxx started life isn’t clear (Wayback Machine has no archive) but there can be no doubt what purpose it is being put to today. The domain is serving up a fully-fledged pirate streaming link index catering for consumers of every TV show imaginable.

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Aside from the mere existence of the site, perhaps the greatest irony is to be found in the places where Node.xxx-indexed TV shows are hosted. Yes, of course, they’re all hosted on cyberlocker sites, the same kind of sites King waged war on during his StopFileLockers campaign.

nodex2

To give a specific example, this page (indexing Gangland Undercover) has a “Click Here to Play” button, which opens up the episode in question which had previously been uploaded to cyberlocker Openload.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Node.xxx domain was registered by AdultKing (backup image here) and uses [email protected] as the contact email.

The AdultKing.co.uk domain (also owned by Robert King) points to the same server as AdultKing.com.au, a domain which is owned and operated by Robert King’s Melbourne-based company, AdultKing PTY Ltd.

Domain-wise, however, that’s just the tip of the iceberg (backup) of those owned by AdultKing PTY, with Node.xxx nestled somewhere in the middle of a long list.

A mirror of Node.xxx (which in turn appears to be a clone of watchseriesgo.to) can be found here, should this mystery deepen with the mysterious taking down of the site following the publication of this article.

We’ve asked Robert King for a comment and will update when we receive a response. He has plenty of enemies so while there are other explanations, it’s possible that someone is having some excitement at his expense.

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

Streaming Cyberlockers ‘Hate’ Pirate Kodi Add-Ons

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/streaming-cyberlockers-hate-pirate-kodi-add-ons-161126/

tvaddonsStreaming piracy is on the rise with popular media player Kodi at the center of attention.

While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, millions of people use third-party add- ons to turn it into the ultimate pirate machine.

TVAddons is a leading player in this field. Over the past year alone, the add-on repository has seen the number of unique users double. However, not everyone is happy with the service.

In a recent interview with TorrentFreak’s Steal This Show, Eleazar, one of the people behind TVAddons, explained that several cyberlockers would rather see them go.

While there are a wide variety of add-ons, quite a few allow users to stream pirated movies and TV-shows, which are hosted by streaming cyberlockers.

These cyberlockers generate revenue through advertising. However, many Kodi add-ons strip these ads, which means that they only cost these sites valuable resources. In response, several cyberlockers are now trying to ban these add-ons from ‘stealing’ their content.

“They change the coding to break the Kodi Add-on, and that’s specifically being done because Kodi add-ons are causing a spike in server load and that costs them money and bandwidth,” Eleazar explained.

This week TorrentFreak spoke to an operator of one of the largest streaming cyberlockers, who preferred not have his site named. He confirmed that Kodi add-ons are indeed a thorn in their side.

“Kodi plugins are harming cyberlockers due to their massive bandwidth usage, which is not compensated in any way,” he said.

tvaddonsexo

According to the cyberlocker operator, several of his competitors have already shut down due to this problem. With so many people leeching bandwidth, the sites are no longer as profitable as they were.

“I would also say that some hosts, which are already gone, were heavily affected from draining bandwidth from third party applications.”

Other sites, including the one we’ve spoken to, are trying very hard to block Kodi add-ons from their service. This is somewhat successful, but often the add-on developers find their way around it.

“To fight this, we keep our streaming links obfuscated, changing them multiple times a week,” the cyberlocker operator says.

Ironically, the above means that the Kodi add-ons might be destroying their own sources, making it harder to find pirated content in the long run.

There is a way out though, according to the operator. With one add-on developer they have struck an agreement to use their service with permission. However, this is relatively rare.

“Unfortunately most of the Kodi plugin developers seems not to be interested in finding a solution like this, so it’s a continued cat and mouse game like we also have with adblockers,” the operator notes.

And so the blocking wars continue, on several fronts.

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