Tag Archives: DMCA subpoena

RIAA Subpoenas Target Yet Another Huge YouTube-Ripping Site

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

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

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

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

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

Screenshot of Y2Mate.com

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

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

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

Y2Mate traffic stats: (SimilarWeb data)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Movie Company Uses DMCA Subpoena Shortcut to Identify Pirates

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-company-uses-dmca-subpoena-shortcut-to-identify-pirates/

In the early 2000s, the RIAA started going after against tens of thousands of alleged music pirates.

The music industry had just defeated Napster, but P2P file-sharing remained a massive problem. Applications such as KaZaA, Morpheus, Grokster, and eDonkey, had millions of users each.

Since filing federal lawsuits is relatively expensive, the RIAA attempted to take a shortcut by applying for so-called DMCA subpoenas. These are not reviewed by a judge, as regular subpoenas are, and only require a signature from the court clerk.

While this worked initially, Internet providers soon started to object. They argued that DMCA subpoenas are only valid when an Internet service stores or links to the infringing content, not when they merely pass on traffic.

Several courts, including the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, agreed with the ISPs and effectively banned the practice. If copyright holders want to go after individual downloaders, they have to file a complaint and request a regular subpoena.

While these rulings were established at the start of the last decade, Hawaii attorney Kerry Culpepper sees things differently. Representing the rightsholders of the movie “Hunter Killer,” he recently requested a DMCA subpoena against Verizon.

Culpepper and his client are not new to copyright litigation. Far from it. They have been involved in several lawsuits against alleged pirates, obtaining regular subpoenas. However, in this case, they are taking the shortcut.

Instead of filing a complaint, Culpepper applied for a DMCA subpoena to compel Verizon to identify the account holders behind 20 IP-addresses which allegedly shared a copy of the movie “Hunter Killer” via BitTorrent.

The court clerk signed off on this request, without oversight from a judge. This is pretty significant, as it means that the movie company can obtain the identities of the alleged pirates with limited expense, without having to file a lawsuit.

If this becomes common practice, it will become a goldmine for so-called copyright trolls. Now that more and more federal courts are pushing back against these cases, refusing to issue regular subpoenas, they could simply request DMCA subpoenas and avoid filing a lawsuit altogether.

There’s a big IF of course, as we noted that appeals courts outlawed similar practices over a decade ago. So how is this different now?

Looking at the filing, we see that Hunter Killer’s attorney is well aware of the precedents. They are mentioned in the subpoena application, but Culpepper argues that these earlier cases don’t necessarily apply here.

The rulings in the DC Circuit and Eighth Circuit appeals courts both concluded that DMCA subpoenas can’t be issued against ISPs that are mere conduits. This is because the “notifications” described in the DMCA could not be applied to ISPs that don’t store infringing material. As such, DMCA subpoenas were not an option.

Culpepper counters that the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court, which Hawaii and other states such as California fall under, never ruled on the mere conduit issue in a case like this. Hence, it’s an open question. In fact, Hunter Killer’s attorney notes that more recent decisions suggest that the DMCA notifications are valid in this case.

In the more recent repeat infringer cases against ISPs such as Cox and Grande, courts have concluded that these providers have no right to a DMCA safe harbor because they failed to act on DMCA notifications. This suggests that these notices are valid and apply to conduit providers.

Commenting in a personal capacity, not on behalf of his client, Culpepper informs TorrentFreak that these decisions suggest that DMCA subpoenas are valid too.

“The Fourth Circuit in BMG v. Cox, determined that Cox had no safe harbor preventing them from liability for infringement because of Cox’s failure to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers based upon the notifications received from Rightscorp among other reasons,” Culpepper says.

“These are the same types of notifications the DC Circuit and Eighth Circuit said were not valid for a 512(h) subpoena, yet here they were deemed sufficiently valid for triggering loss of safe harbor.”

Culpepper has many other counterpoints as well, but in this instance, these were not needed. The clerk issued the subpoena, which is what he and Hunter Killer were after.

The question remains, of course, is what they will do with the personal details of the alleged infringers. In theory, the information could be used to demand settlements, however, they could also serve as evidence for a bigger case.

In the past, Culpepper has approached file-sharers, not to sue or settle with them, but to build a case against the pirate apps there were using. This is what happened in a Showbox-related lawsuit, for example, and could happen here as well.

That said, the revival of the DMCA subpoena is definitely a major event that will be watched closely by rightsholders and ISPs. In this case, we see no evidence that Verizon objected, but if the practice becomes more common, the matter may end up in court.

A copy of Culpepper’s application and the signed DMCA Subpoena, spotted by Cashman, is available here (pdf)

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

RIAA Obtains Subpoena to Unmask YouTube-Ripping Site Operator

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-obtains-subpoena-to-unmask-youtube-ripping-site-operator-190515/

Stream-ripping tools have become a big deal for the music industry over the past several years.

Instead of having to revisit platforms like YouTube, Spotify or Deezer, users of ripping tools or sites are able to download content to their own machines. The labels argue this deprives artists and indeed platforms of revenue while breaching music licensing conditions.

Perhaps the biggest problem is presented by sites that allow people to rip content from YouTube, whether that’s video or audio, or audio alone. While this can be for legitimate purposes, millions use stream-ripping platforms to obtain copyrighted content for free.

One such site is YouTube-ripping service YouTubNow.com. According to SimilarWeb stats, the site currently receives around 15 million visits per month, with the highest share of its visitors hailing from the U.S.

“YouTubNow is a powerful service that allows you to find and download your favorite YouTube videos as well as music tracks quickly, easily and absolutely for free,” the site’s promo material reads.

“It’s an excellent YouTube to MP3 downloader as it makes any soundtrack a separate audio file tailored especially for you!”

This clearly isn’t something the RIAA appreciates. The music industry group targeted YouTubNow last week via a DMCA subpoena directed at the site’s domain name registrar, NameCheap.

In common with a similar process aimed at file-hosting platform NoFile and first reported here on TF, the RIAA filed its request at a federal court in Columbia, demanding that NameCheap hands over the personal details of its client. The Court was happy to oblige.

“We believe your service is hosting [YouTubNow.com] on its network,” a subsequent RIAA letter to NameCheap reads.

“The website associated with this domain name offers files containing sound recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use, including without limitation those referenced at the URL below.”

The allegedly-infringing URLS

It isn’t clear whether the RIAA has already filed any DMCA takedown notices with YouTubNow via the email address published on the site. Nevertheless, from the ‘copyright notice’ published on the site itself, YouTubNow claims no responsibility for what users do with the service.

At users’ own risk….

From the wording of the letter sent to NameCheap and the subpoena itself, the RIAA appears more concerned about the entire YouTubNow service, rather than just a few seemingly random URLs.

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

In addition to demanding the operator’s name, physical address, IP address, telephone number, email address, payment information, account updates and account history, the RIAA suggests a termination of the service’s domain might also be in order.

“We also ask that you consider the widespread and repeated infringing nature of the site operator(s)’ conduct, and whether the site(s)’ activities violate your terms of service and/or your company’s repeat infringer policy,” the RIAA writes.

This is at least the third DMCA subpoena the RIAA has obtained against allegedly-infringing sites in recent weeks. TF previously reported that the group is targeting several ‘pirate’ sites that use Cloudflare and file-hosting platform NoFile.

A copy of the RIAA’s letter, obtained by TF, 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.