Tag Archives: cyberlockers

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.


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.


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.


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.


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 sales@adultking.co.uk 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.


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.