Tag Archives: DMCA

Google Sees DMCA Anti-Circumvention Notices Skyrocket

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-sees-dmca-anti-circumvention-notices-skyrocket-191208/

A few weeks ago, we reported that the RIAA targeted several YouTube converters and downloaders by sending relatively rare takedown requests to Google.

Instead of the usual DMCA copyright notices, the music group asked the search engine to remove various URLs for alleged violations of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.

This proved to be quite effective. After taking down the many links to FLVTO, 2Conv, Y2Mate, and Yout, the RIAA expanded its scope to other streamrippers. In total, the music group targeted hundreds of URLs in a few dozen notices.

And the RIAA is not alone. Other copyright holders are using the anti-circumvention route as well. This includes game companies such as Nintendo and Rockstar Games, as well as Netflix.

One upside for rightsholders is that there’s no official counter-notification option. This means that affected sites can’t easily complain when they are mistakenly targeted. However, there’s another major benefit as well.

Some sites that don’t infringe any copyrights directly, can be seen as anti-circumvention tools. This gives rightsholders an extra option to remove URLs. To illustrate this, we only have to look at the RIAA’s recent takedown efforts.

When the music group sent a standard DMCA takedown request to Google for several streamripper URLs in November, the search engine didn’t take these offline. However, a similar DMCA circumvention notice that was sent a few days later was successful.

This may be why there has been quite an increase in these anti-circumvention notices lately. While Google doesn’t list these by default in its transparency report, we used the Lumen database to find out how many notices were sent this year.

At the time of writing, Google has received 6,281 DMCA anti-circumvention notices in 2019. These notices can contain multiple links, sometimes even hundreds. The number of notices has increased significantly compared to last year when 2,960 notices came in.

In 2017 there were even fewer anti-circumvention notices, 921 to be precise.

While today’s numbers are still very modest, there’s definitely a visible upward trend that hasn’t been reported before. This increase is all the more interesting because Google now receives fewer standard copyright takedown notices.

TorrentFreak reached out to the RIAA to hear more about their motivation to use anti-circumvention notices, but the music group declined to comment on the issue.

Considering the effectiveness of their campaign to remove steamrippers from Google’s search results, we expect the efforts to continue. And when more rightsholders discover this option, we expect the number of anti-circumvention notices to grow further still.

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

RIAA Delists YouTube Rippers From Google Using Rare Anti-Circumvention Notices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-delists-youtube-rippers-from-google-using-rare-anti-circumvention-notices-191108/

While music piracy has reduced in recent years due to the popularity of platforms such as Spotify, the major labels remain highly concerned over so-called steam-ripping services.

These sites allow users to enter a YouTube URL, for example, and then download audio from the corresponding video, mostly in MP3 format. This means that users can download music and store it on their own machines, negating the need to revisit YouTube for the same content. This, the major labels say, deprives content creators of streaming revenue.

Tackling this issue has become one of the industry’s highest anti-piracy priorities. Previously, YouTube-MP3 – the largest ripping site at the time – was shut down following legal action by the major labels. Since then, lawsuits have been filed against other platforms but the battle is far from over and recently a new strategy appears to have been deployed.

A pair of DMCA notices appeared on the Lumen Database late October, having been filed there by Google. The sender of both notices is listed as the RIAA, acting on behalf of its members including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group.

They are worded slightly differently but each target the homepages of five major YouTube-ripping sites – 2conv.com, flvto.biz, y2mate.com, yout.com, and youtubeconverter.io. Both contain the following key claim:

“To our knowledge, the URLs provide access to a service (and/or software) that circumvents YouTube’s rolling cipher, a technical protection measure, that protects our members’ works on YouTube from unauthorized copying/downloading,” the notices read.

Unlike regular DMCA takedown notices filed with Google, these notices do not appear in Google’s Transparency report. However, Google has acted on them by delisting the homepages of all five platforms from its search results. Other URLs for the platforms still appear, but their homepages are all gone.

The notices are listed on the Lumen Database in the anti-circumvention section, meaning that the RIAA-labeled complaints demand action from Google under the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, rather than demanding the takedown of URLs based on the claim they carry infringing music titles.

The ‘technical measures’ allegedly being circumvented (such as the “rolling cypher” referenced in the complaints) are those put in place by YouTube, which in turn protect the copyrighted content of the labels.

TorrentFreak contacted the RIAA yesterday, requesting comment and seeking additional information on the basis for the notices. Unfortunately, the industry group declined to make any further comment on any aspect of the complaints.

Nevertheless, the RIAA and its members are no strangers to the claim that by circumventing YouTube’s ‘technological measures’, so-called ‘ripping’ sites infringe their rights too. Two of the sites targeted in the recent notices – 2conv.com and flvto.biz – were sued by the labels in 2018. The original complaint contains the following text:

From the complaint

That circumvention (at least in respect of the labels’ works when users select them for download) may also amount to an infringement of the labels’ rights seems to be supported by comments made in the Disney vs VidAngel case.

An opinion from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that “[n]o person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a [copyrighted] work. Circumvention means ‘to decrypt an encrypted work.. without the authority of the copyright owner’.”

Nevertheless, it was previously argued by the EFF that stream-ripping sites are not by definition illegal since on top of the usual fair use exemptions, some creators who upload their content to online platforms grant permission for people to freely download and modify their work.

“There exists a vast and growing volume of online video that is licensed for free downloading and modification, or contains audio tracks that are not subject to copyright,” the EFF stresses.

“Moreover, many audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe.”

The anti-circumvention notices detailed above are not only relatively rare but also have an additional interesting property – they are harder to dispute than regular DMCA takedown notices.

As detailed here last year, Google told the target of a similar complaint requesting URL delisting that “There is no formal counter notification process available under US law for circumvention, so we have not reinstated these URLs.”

The pair of DMCA anti-circumvention notices can be found here 1,2 (pdf)

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

YouTube Settles Lawsuit With Alleged DMCA Extortion Scammer for $25,000

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-settles-lawsuit-with-alleged-dmca-extortion-scammer-for-25000-191016/

YouTube’s copyright takedown policy poses one of the biggest threats to the streaming platform’s content creators.

YouTubers who receive three copyright infringement strikes can easily lose their channel, which for some equates to their livelihood.

This looming threat also provides an opportunity for scammers. As we reported a few months ago, YouTube’s copyright takedown process was being abused to extort YouTubers, including ‘ObbyRaidz’ and ‘Kenzo.’ Both repeatedly received ‘strikes’ against their channels.

The scammer in question pretended that he was the legitimate owner of the videos uploaded by the users and requested money to retract the false claims.

“We striked you. Our request is $150 PayPal, or $75 btc. You may send the money via goods/ services if you do not think we will cancel or hold up our end of the deal,” the scammer wrote.

This abuse didn’t go unnoticed by YouTube, which tracked down the alleged offender and took action.

Last month the video streaming service sued Nebraska-resident Christopher Brady, accusing him of violating the DMCA by falsely claiming the content of other YouTubers as his own.

According to YouTube, Brady repeatedly attempted to harass and extort money from content creators through his bogus copyright infringement claims.

The company believes Brady went as far as using the address of YouTube user Cxlvxn, which is shared with a rightsholder for the purpose of filing a lawsuit, in an attempt to dispatch a large number of police officers to his home.

In the complaint, YouTube demanded a jury trial but it didn’t get that far. A few hours ago they submitted an agreed judgment and permanent injunction to the Nebraska federal court, which settles the matter without any further bloodshed.

Under the proposed injunction (pdf), Brady is prevented from filing any bogus copyright claims going forward. In addition, he separately agreed to pay $25,000 for his misconduct, offering a public apology to all the people who were hurt by his actions.

“I, Christopher L. Brady, admit that I sent dozens of notices to YouTube falsely claiming that material uploaded by YouTube users infringed my copyrights,” reads the apology, which YouTube shared with The Verge.

“I apologize to the YouTube users that I directly impacted by my actions, to the YouTube community, and to YouTube itself,” Brady adds.

The proposed judgment and injunction have yet to be signed off by the court, but this is expected to happen later this week. It’s not clear whether any of the affected users will receive compensation, but YouTube says that it’s happy with this outcome.

“This settlement highlights the very real consequences for those that misuse our copyright system. We’ll continue our work to prevent abuse of our systems,” a YouTube spokesperson said.

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

Twitter Suspends Trump Meme Creator…But Not For the ‘Kingsman’ Bloodbath Video

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/twitter-suspends-trump-meme-creator-but-not-for-the-kingsman-bloodbath-video-191015/

There was uproar in the media this past weekend after a violent video meme was reportedly shown at a pro-Trump conference.

The video, a doctored version of the famous church scene from the movie Kingsman, depicts Trump killing his critics, from both the media and politics.

The video was made by TheGeekzTeam, an entity that creates content for a website run by Carpe Donktum, a prolific pro-Trump supporter and meme-maker. During the fallout on Monday, Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account was suspended, an event which led various media outlets to connect the events of the weekend with the suspension.

A Twitter spokesperson effectively confirmed that the suspension was DMCA related, noting that it responds to “valid copyright complaints sent us by a copyright owner or their authorized representatives.”

Twitter made no mention of which content had caused the suspension but the actual DMCA notice obtained by TorrentFreak confirms it had nothing to do with the ‘Kingsman’ meme published over the weekend.

The DMCA notice, served not only against Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account but also around two dozen others, was actually filed by Universal Music Group. The offending Twitter URL is highlighted below.

The Tweet in question dates back to February 5, 2018, and remains online, along with the text “In case you missed the T-Mobile Superbowl Commercial. Here it is!” However, the embedded video has been removed, indicating that this was the source of the DMCA complaint.

Comparing uploads on Carpe Donktum’s YouTube account on the very same day we find a video entitled “T-Mobile Superbowl Commercial Fixed“, which is a doctored version of T-Mobile’s official Superbowl commercial.

It’s pretty clear why Carpe Donktum’s video was taken down. While it contains other copyrighted music throughout not contained in the original video (a lullaby rendition of Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’ according to Shazam), it’s the last 14 seconds of the 80-second video causing the problems.

With Trump wearing a ‘Thug Life’ hat, obligatory sunglasses and sporting a huge joint in his mouth, the track ‘Ultimate’ by Denzel Curry booms from the video. This isn’t what Universal Music wanted and judging by comments made by Curry in 2017, it probably isn’t what he wanted either.

“I felt like I was part of the problem honestly. Being disillusioned and thinking, ‘nah, that’s not gonna happen, this nigga ain’t gonna be president.’ Then this nigga became president. So what the fuck just happened? I don’t get all the choices I want, but I definitely didn’t want this nigga to be my president,” Curry said.

One copyright complaint isn’t usually enough for Twitter to suspend an account but Carpe Donktum now has at least three against his. In addition to the notice sent Monday, two others are on record, one sent in April and another in June. Only the one sent by Universal Music has a listed sender, the other two have their details redacted.

Carpe Donktum’s Twitter account has now been restored but for how long remains open to question and probably dictated by future conduct.

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

DMCA Notice Confirms Trump Tweet Was Taken Down By Warner Music

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-notice-confirms-trump-tweet-was-taken-down-by-warner-music/

President of the United States Donald Trump is well-known for his love of Twitter.

He currently has well in excess of 65 million followers and regularly uses the platform to promote himself and attack his critics.

Earlier today, Twitter erupted when a tweet by the President, which contained a video attacking the integrity of political rival Joe Biden, received some serious editing thanks to Twitter.

While the words “LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH!” remained, the actual video had been removed following a copyright infringement complaint.

No photograph to see…

Trump’s tweet contained a video that has been doing the rounds featuring a photograph central to the recent Biden/Ukraine controversy. However, the photograph itself wasn’t the reason the video was taken down by Twitter.

The viral video contains a clip from Nickelback’s 2005 video ‘Photograph’, prompting speculation that the band itself was behind the takedown sent to Twitter. While they may have had a hand in it, the actual DMCA served on Twitter and obtained by TorrentFreak reveals that the notice was sent by Warner Music.

The DMCA notice sent to Twitter by Warner Music (Lumen Database)

The cited source material for the takedown indeed points to the ‘Photograph’ video on YouTube, confirming the Nickelback link to the takedown.

Unfortunately, if Trump wanted to legally use the track in a political context, this would usually mean requesting permission from not only the publisher but also Nickelback, who may or may not wish to be associated with the effort. The copyright takedown suggests that the required pieces probably weren’t in place.

Perhaps the most interesting thing when one ignores the political angle of Trump’s tweet is that the President has been in this and similar positions several times before.

The Lumen Database, a repository to which Twitter sends its takedown notices, currently lists at least seven DMCA complaints filed against Trump this year alone, all of which have resulted in the removal of content.

On the other hand, people receiving DMCA notices from the IFPI, which acts as a copyright enforcer for Warner on Twitter and elsewhere, get their accounts terminated for fewer strikes. Perhaps there’s a presidential exemption from the DMCA repeat infringer policy at Twitter.

Notices filed against Trump on Twitter in 2019 can be found here 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 (pdf)

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

Adult Site Calls For Google Action Against DMCA Notice ‘Carpet Bombing’

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/adult-site-calls-for-google-action-against-dmca-notice-carpet-bombing-190907/

Back in June we reported on massive waves of what appeared to be bogus DMCA notices targeting various adult-focused sites.

Some of the sites hit hard in these earlier waves were so-called ‘hentai’ sites which focus on adult-orientated comics and cartoons.

They complained that a ‘company’ called Copyright Legal Services Inc. (there’s no obvious record of such an entity online) was the author of many notices which attempted to delist thousands of URLs and in some cases homepages and even entire sites from Google. It claimed to be working on behalf of DLSite.com, a platform operated by Japan’s EYSIS, Inc.

Since the initial reports, the same kind of activity has continued, with force. However, notices similar to the ones originally sent by Copyright Legal Services are now being sent by a new entity, Right Protection Corporation, which not only target the main domain pages of various sites but also their entire web structures.

In common with Copyright Legal Services before them, Right Protection Corporation (RPC) doesn’t appear to exist on the web, even though their notices claim they have bases in at least three countries – United States, Japan and China. They are sending volume requests to delete countless thousands of URLs from Google, even though they appear to have no right to do so.

One takedown notice pointed out to TF reveals a notice that has been sent in the form of a PDF, meaning that it can’t easily be searched for using the tools offered by DMCA transparency portal Lumen Database.

However, looking inside proved useful as it reveals that the ‘RPC’ is attempting to have thousands of URLs delisted from a single site – rule34.paheal.net – including its main page which displays nothing but a warning that it carries adult material and a note about cookies. There are many other examples, such as this one, which attempt to do the same thing.

TorrentFreak is informed that some operators of the affected sites, including the operator of Konachan.com, have filed counter-notices with Google and have achieved some success in having their URLs reinstated.

However, the operator of Gelbooru.com, which was hit hard in the first wave, says he’s had huge difficulties in getting touch with Google’s legal team for them to take restorative action, as required when a proper DMCA counter-notice is filed.

“Their [Standard Operating Procedure] is ignore until sued, so we are moving forward with trying to get anyone who runs a website that was affected by this whole situation to contact us directly if they’d be interested in joining a class action that will be filed,” he informs TF.

“We require at least three others to be a class action, and Google must have ignored or denied any counter DMCA notices sent to them to be able to join. Message me, ‘lozertuser’, directly on our Discord.”

The overall aim appears to have Google either respond to the counter-notices or preferably get in touch with Gelbooru’s lawyers, in order to sort out the issue without either company having to waste any more time on the problem. Hopefully, no class action will be required but it remains a possibility.

In the meantime, it’s worth highlighting that DLSite.com, the platform which the notices claim to protect, has categorically denied it is behind the mass notices sent in its name.

A statement sent to the OneAngryGamer site, which covered our earlier report, has the company stating that it had reviewed our article and noted that “EISYS, Inc. / DLsite is not involved in this matter. When we send a DMCA request it will be via: Eisys, Inc. We do not know anything about the company: ‘Copyright Legal Services INC’.”

Them and everyone else, then…

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

YouTube Sues Alleged Scammer Over DMCA Extortion Scheme

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-sues-alleged-scammer-over-dmca-extortion-scheme-190920/

Obtaining multiple unresolved copyright complaints on a YouTube account can prove fatal to those who rely on the platform to make a living.

For those obtaining “three strikes”, it can mean the closure of an entire channel and along with it, access to potentially hundreds of otherwise revenue-generating videos.

Back in January, it was reported that a YouTuber known as ‘Obbyraidz’, who focuses on Minecraft content, was having this system turned against him.

After receiving two bogus strikes against his account, he took to Twitter to complain that he was being extorted by a scammer identifying as ‘Vengeful Flame’, who threatened a third and debilitating strike unless money was paid via PayPal or bitcoin.

A second YouTuber, known online as ‘Kenzo’ was also given similar treatment, with the scammer demanding money not to file complaints that could terminate his account.

Now, however, the tables are being turned after YouTube itself filed a complaint in federal court against Nebraska-resident Christopher Brady, the person who allegedly attempted to defraud both Obbyraidz and Kenzo.

“Defendant, Christopher L. Brady (‘Brady’), has repeatedly attempted to harass and extort money from YouTube content creators through bogus allegations of copyright infringement,” the complaint filed Monday begins.

“This lawsuit seeks to hold him accountable for that misconduct, and for the damage he has caused to YouTube.”

Detailing the DMCA takedown process in general and noting that notices can be used “maliciously to secure the removal of content that was not legitimately claimed to be infringing”, YouTube states it’s in a position to bring an action against a sender of bogus notices for damages.

“This is such an action,” the complaint reads.

According to YouTube, Brady sent the video platform dozens of DMCA notices falsely claiming that content posted by YouTube users infringed his supposed copyrights. He did this as part of a scheme to “harass and extort” innocent users, YouTube continues, in order to pressure them into payment and the avoidance of account closures.

Citing the work of three YouTubers – Obbyraidz, Kenzo and Cxlvxn – YouTube notes that between them they have uploaded around 1,000 videos related to video gaming. All are members of the YouTube Partner program, earning revenue from their work.

Brady allegedly targeted Kenzo and Obbyraidz “among others” by sending false DMCA notices to YouTube, claiming that he was the original creator of their videos, certifying as much “under penalty of perjury.” YouTube said it acted on these false claims, removing the videos.

However, when Kenzo and Obbyraidz went public with the extortion attempts, YouTube launched an investigation, restored the videos, and removed the strikes against their accounts.

The complaint alleges that in June and July 2019, Brady sent four more fraudulent notices, this time targeting Cxlvxn. However, this appears to have been an attempt to have Cxlvxn file a DMCA counter-notification, something that exposed his home address to Brady.

On July 10, 2019, six days after the counter-notification was filed, Cxlvxn reported he’d been ‘swatted’, something which YouTube describes as “the act of making a bogus call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.” YouTube believes Brady was responsible.

As a result of the above actions, YouTube states that Brady is responsible for violations of 17 U.S.C. § 512(f). The company says it successfully traced back at least 15 online identities to the man, an investigation which caused it to expend “substantial sums” in an effort to bring the behavior to a halt.

The company is demanding preliminary and permanent injunctions against Brady, compensation to be decided at trial, costs, attorneys fees, and any further relief the court deems proper.

The YouTube complaint filed in Nebraska can be downloaded 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 Targets Picosong Over Leaked Kanye West Track

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-picosong-over-leaked-kanye-west-track-190730/

In theory at least, running a content upload site should be relatively straightforward. Put the necessary infrastructure in place, wait for users to upload files, then make those files available for download or streaming.

This works extremely well for sites like YouTube, for example, because they have teams of lawyers in place that ensure that the company operates to the letter of the law while standing by to swat away any irritating lawsuits over allegedly-infringing content.

Smaller sites tend not to have these luxuries, so there’s always the chance that groups like the RIAA will come knocking, threatening legal action for copyright infringement failings. This appears to be part of the puzzle facing popular upload site Picosong.

Picosong has been around for more than ten years. Its Twitter account dates back to May 2009, a lifetime for many similar sites operating in the same niche. For much of that time, the platform has provided a simple solution for users to host music files. Soon, however, that will come to an end.

A notice currently displayed on the site’s homepage says that Picosong has reached the end of the road. There are better alternatives for hosting musicians’ content, the announcement reads, so as a result, Picosong will close in October.

While the stated aim was to assist musicians to host (presumably) their own content, it’s clear that many uploaders to the site have been sharing content that doesn’t belong to them. A cursory skim around the web reveals plenty of links to content that is almost certainly copyrighted, a situation that affects Picosong and YouTube alike.

Whether Picosong’s impending shutdown was prompted by anything other than a lack of desire to compete with Soundcloud and Bandcamp is unclear. However, a filing at a federal court in Columbia reveals that the site is firmly on the radar of the RIAA after a leaked Kanye West track was uploaded to the site.

In common with similar efforts in 2019, the RIAA applied for and obtained a DMCA subpoena compelling domain registrar Namecheap to hand over the personal details of the site’s operator. Dated July 23, the application lists three infringing tracks;

  • Ed Sheeran & Travis Scott – Antisocial
  • Tyler, the Creator – 435
  • Kanye West feat. XXXTentacion, Ty Dolla Sign – The Storm

While the first two songs are already widely available, the latter appears to be an unreleased Kanye West track that hit the web earlier this month as part of a batch of similarly-leaked titles.

Pre-release content appearing online is a particularly sensitive matter for the labels. According to a contributor on Genius.com, the leak may even put the track’s album release at risk.

“‘The Storm’ is a leaked collaboration between Kanye West, Ty Dolla $ign and the late XXXTENTACION. On the track, Ty and Kanye encourage a female listener to take control of their life. X’s rowdy verse, which was picked from his unreleased ‘Yes Indeed Remix,’ features him boasting about fighting, his sex life, and his expensive taste,” the review reads.

“‘The Storm’ is believed to be a cut from West’s upcoming album, Yandhi. However, since the track leaked online on July 12, 2019, its standing on the album is unsure.”

The Storm was previously uploaded to many hosting sites, including YouTube (where it remains at the time of writing) and Soundcloud, which appears to have responded to a takedown notice.

TorrentFreak requested comment from the operator of Picosong but at the time of publication, we were yet to receive a response.

The RIAA’s demand for a DMCA 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.

EBook.bike Owner Says Deficient DMCA Notices Means No Case to Answer

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ebook-bike-owner-says-deficient-dmca-notices-means-no-case-to-answer-190727/

On March 27, 2019, US-based author John Van Stry filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Travis McCrea, the operator of eBook platform eBook.bike.

McCrea initially chose not to become involved in the suit and in June, Van Stry’s lawyers filed for a default judgment in a Texas court.

As reported here earlier this month, the presiding judge chose not to rubber-stamp the request but instead questioned whether the court had personal jurisdiction over McCrea, a Canada resident.

The parties were invited to file simultaneous briefs, indicating whether the alleged injury to the copyright holder occurred in Texas, whether any injury was sufficient enough to imply a “substantial connection” with the forum/state, and whether McCrea knew that “his acts would be felt” by Van Stry in Texas.

This week, Van Stry’s lawyers filed documents with the Court, sent to them by McCrea but yet to be officially filed by the defendant. That will happen in due course, the author’s legal team note. They make for interesting reading.

Representing himself, McCrea writes that his engagement in the case has been limited due to a number of factors including “massive waves of cyber bullying” and direct attacks on his ability to defend himself.

Van Stry previously launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise cash to fight McCrea, an effort that to date has raised more than $23,000. However, when McCrea opened his own fundraiser on the same platform, he says GoFundMe shut it down. In an earlier conversation, he told TF he didn’t know why that had happened.

“Why GoFundMe shut down my fundraiser but allowed his is beyond me,” he told us. “They cited ‘TOS Violations’ yet when I emailed asking for further elaboration they ignored my emails.”

In the documents filed by Van Stry’s team, McCrea informs the Court that “putting food” on the table had prevented him from being as engaged in the case as he would’ve liked but that shouldn’t be perceived as a sign of disrespect.

While acknowledging the motion for default judgment, he asks the Court to consider accepting a late motion to dismiss and a motion for change of venue, to be taken as part of the Court’s request for further information on jurisdiction.

“Regardless of any argument made by the Plaintiff, it is an inarguable fact that the Plaintiff did not file proper takedown notices as required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the motion reads.

“It is not my intent to argue safe harbor at this moment, but rather the failure of the Plaintiff to even properly file a take-down notice in the first place or provide me with any reasonable notice of the infringement at all (without proper notice, the argument of safe harbor cannot even be entertained. If I am not properly informed of copyright infringement, I cannot reply to said infringement).”

McCrea points out a number of alleged deficiencies in the notices sent by Van Stry but majors on the fact that the DMCA requires takedown notices to contain “information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.” That usually means the precise URLs at which the content can be found, a detail reportedly missing from Van Stry’s notices.

One of the notices sent by Van Stry to eBook.bike

McCrea points out that one of the notices sent did contain a URL but it related to a search result page that contained no infringing material.

All notices, McCrea states, failed to meet other requirements as set out in law, by not offering “information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number”, a statement that the complaining party “has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law”, and a statement that the “information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.”

In summary, due to the above McCrea says he has “no case to answer” because the original notices sent to him did not comply with the requirements of the DMCA.

“There are many details about my life in the initial claim and many not flattering, however, I have always shown a commitment to enforce copyright on websites I am involved with,” McCrea continues.

“I advocate change in copyright law, that’s true, but I advocate for copyright terms of 15 years not no copyright. I advocate for change through the law, not against it. Please don’t [allow] the Plaintiff to file a suit because of my religion and political beliefs without having to at least fulfill his legal obligations first.”

Finally, the documents indicate that McCrea will file a request for a change of venue from Texas to Seattle. This would be the closest state for him since he’s a resident of Canada, he adds.

The eBook.bike operator acknowledges that the existence of a motion for default judgment may limit his ability to file these requests but it will nevertheless prove interesting if the Court decides to examine the DMCA notice issue in addition to the matter of jurisdiction.

The related documents can be found here (1,2,3)

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

Fake MPAA Asks Google to Remove Thousands of URLs, Including MPAA.org

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fake-mpaa-asks-google-to-remove-thousands-of-urls-including-mpaa-org-190714/

In 2012, Google first published a Transparency Report for search-related copyright takedown notices.

This rather enlightening database allows outsiders to check what URLs copyright holders want removed from the search engine.

In recent years Google has processed more than four billion URLs. While most of these requests are legitimate, there have also been plenty of errors, mistakes, and in some instances; clear abuse.

Most of the cases we covered in the past dealt with rightsholders targeting perfectly legal content, ranging from news articles, through open-source software, to Facebook’s homepage. Over the past year, however, we’ve noticed a different but equally disturbing trend.

Among the millions of notices Google receives on a weekly basis, there are now quite a few ‘fake’ submissions. Fake, in this case, means that the submitter pretends to be or represent someone else. Someone who it clearly isn’t.

We first spotted this late last year when imposters targeted many pirate sites with suspicious takedown requests. These were presumably sent by competing pirate sites, trying to remove the competition from Google’s search results. More recently, imposters even tried to remove a Netflix listing.

Today we have another example that’s perhaps even more blatant. It involves the name of Hollywood’s very own anti-piracy group, the MPAA.

In recent weeks Google received a flood of notices claiming to be from the Hollywood group. While the MPAA is based in the U.S., the notices in question are sent on behalf of “MPAA UK” and “MPAA Member Studios DE”. 

However, none of the listings below, including “MPAA Member Studios US,” are legitimate. It appears that someone is pretending to be the MPAA, sending takedown requests for tens of thousands of URLs. 

Fake MPAA’s

Looking more closely at the takedown requests, we see a familar pattern emerge. The notices mainly target a small group of ‘pirate’ sites. For example, over 10,000 URLs of the Turkish movie streaming site Filmifullizle.tv were targeted in just one week, with most notices coming from fake MPAA’s.

Filmmodu.com, and other Turkish streaming portals such as Yabancidizi.org, Fullhdfilmizleten.org, and Filmionlineizle.tv, get the same treatment, either by a fake MPAA or another scammer.

Interestingly, these imposters are rather sloppy at times. On several occasions they put the infringing URLs in the “original works” box, labeling the MPAA’s homepage as the infringing content. Luckily for the real MPAA, Google didn’t remove it.  

Pirate MPAA?

As we have highlighted in the past, these imposters are likely to be competing pirate sites, who want to take out the competition by making their opponents’ sites unfindable in Google’s search results. A clear case of abuse. 

At the time of writing, Google has complied with several of the fake takedown requests, removing the allegedly-infringing URLs. However, the search engine does appear to be aware of the problem, and has labeled some submissions as being fake. 

The imposter situation definitely doesn’t help the credibility of the takedown process. Google has its hands full and we imagine that the MPAA isn’t happy with the misuse of its name either. 

That said, the Hollywood group certainly isn’t alone in this. Several other rightsholders and anti-piracy organizations have imposters as well, including Marvel, Warner Bros., MarkMonitor, DigiGuardians, Marketly, and many others.

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

“Go Unlimited” Taunts Hollywood With DMCA-Ignore Video Hosting

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/go-unlimited-taunts-hollywood-with-dmca-ignore-video-hosting-190630/

Video streaming is more popular than ever. This is true for the YouTubes and Netflixes of this world, but also for pirate sites.

The influx of dedicated pirate streaming sites has triggered a cat and mouse game. Pirate sites are constantly trying to find stable hosting platforms, while rightsholders, Hollywood included, work hard to take videos down. 

These takedowns can be fairly effective. Most hosting platforms, even those frequently used by shady sites, accept takedown DMCA requests. As a result, the streaming portals often have to replace their videos, which can be quite a frustrating experience. 

This is also what Bader, the operator of the popular streaming portal Fushaar.com, noticed. The Kuwaiti entrepreneur operates several streaming sites which are predominantly popular in Arabic speaking countries. Fushaar, for example, is the 38th most visited website in Saudi Arabia.

Faced with a lack of stable ‘takedown resistant’ hosting providers to stream videos from, Bader decided to start one of his own, GO Unlimited.

“When I launched GO Unlimited in January 2016, I planned to host videos from my own websites, so it was a private video host. At the time my own websites were more than enough to bring in a lot of income for GO Unlimited,” Bader tells TorrentFreak. 

When this went well for a few months, Go Unlimited opened up to others. That started late 2016 when the now-defunct GoMovies.to joined. A major addition, as that was the most popular pirate streaming site on the web at the time. 

This also brought the video hosting platform to the attention of major copyright holders, which started to complain.

“When GoMovies.to joined, the journey started. The DMCA requests became more aggressive and more serious, so we started to use our own techniques to hide the original source of the video, so rightsholders didn’t have any resources to report,” Bader says. 

While the operator of Go Unlimited doesn’t go into detail, the site effectively hides where the videos are hosted. Because they are not residing on the website’s own domain name, the site ignores DMCA takedowns and similar notices. 

That didn’t stop rightsholders from submitting requests via escalating emails with titles such as URGENTLY, LAST WARNING, and LEGAL ACTIONS AHEAD, which kept pouring in. From then on, these were ignored though.

“Thanks to our techniques, by hiding the original source of the videos and misleading the networks providers, we were able to ignore the DMCA takedown requests for GoMovies,” Bader says. 

While rightsholders, including Hollywood’s MPAA, will disagree, the site’s operator believes that he’s not doing anything wrong here.

“We’re a licensed company in Kuwait and we’re a 100% legal service since we host nothing illegal at our main domain, nor do transfer copyrighted materials through our public services,” Bader says. 

For the same reason, the operator also believes that the domain name is safe. None of the hosted videos are directly hosted on the Gounlimited.to domain, so there’s nothing to complain about, the argument goes.

Upon closer inspection, it appears that Go Unlimited does disable videos for public viewing on its site on some occasions. However, third-party embeds of the same videos still work. This means that the uploaders can still use them on their own sites.

Streaming from Go Unlimited

Whether the actual videos are stored on or viewed from the official domain or not, rightsholders will point out that under most copyright laws, the site has an obligation to remove them.

Bader disagrees, however, and is not worried about any legal pressure or consequences. While he has had to make some adjustments along the way to keep network providers happy, he hasn’t run into any trouble personally.

“I am not afraid of any pressure, I use my personal credit cards to buy the resources and I’ve provided the network providers with my legal documents many times,” Bader says. 

One of the most significant setbacks has been Cloudflare’s recent decision to terminate the site’s account. The US-based CDN provider took this decision following a violation of its terms.

This is similar to what happened with other hosting platforms, such as Rapidvideo, which was thrown out for caching a disproportionate amount of non-HTML files. Neither Rapidvideo nor Go Unlimited used Cloudflare to cache video, however.

While Cloudflare didn’t mention copyright as the reason in this case either, Go Unlimited’s operator believes that it certainly played a role. 

“Our usage graph at CloudFlare shows less usage than websites with the same size who haven’t faced any problems so far and we didn’t host any media at their platform or violated their terms in any way,” Bader says.

“If it was a matter of resources, why didn’t they contact me first? Or asked me to upgrade my plan?”

While Go Unlimited suffered a few hours of downtime due to the suspension, the site swiftly returned, and since then it’s been business as usual.

Thus far the DMCA-ignore policy is working well for Go Unlimited. The site is not open to all uploaders but works with “trusted members” instead. There are a few hundreds of these now, which have all gone through a thorough vetting process. 
 
The number of actual visitors is impressive though. Bader estimates that Go Unlimited has roughly 150 million visitors per month, which are good for some rather decent ad revenue for the hosting providers as well as the uploaders. 

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

Bilibili Uses DMCA to Obtain Identities of Source Code Leakers From Github

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bilibili-uses-dmca-to-obtain-identities-of-source-code-leakers-from-github-190629/

Credit: Bilibili

Little known in the West, Bilibili is a China-based video-sharing platform with a focus on anime, comics and games.

Users are able to upload videos to the NASDAQ-listed platform for others to add their own commentary and subtitles. According to data released by Bilibili in February, the service enjoys in excess of 92 million monthly users. Shortly after, however, the site suffered a setback.

A report in April indicated that someone had uploaded a large trove of data to Github, reportedly culled from Bilibili, including source code, user names and passwords. The company played down the leak, stating that the data was from an old version of the site and “defensive steps” had been taken to ensure user security wasn’t compromised.

However, Bilibili also promised to investigate the source of the leak and there are now clear signs that it is doing so in the United States, using copyright law.

Documents obtained by TorrentFreak show a China-based law firm writing to Github on April 23, 2019, a letter which appears to indicate the problem may be more serious than it first appeared.

“On April 22, 2019 (GMT-8), a Github user (user ID: “openbilibili”) published a post with the subject of “openbilibili/go-common” in the Github website, which contained the comprehensive and detailed information of Bilibili’s source code and other trade secrets/confidential information,” the letter reads.

At least one other Github user posted the same information shortly after, which resulted in additional users forking that data. Bilibili’s law firm said these infringing acts meant that the individuals responsible for them could be held accountable under both civil and criminal law.

The letter indicates that Github had already taken measures to disable access to some of the infringing content. However, Bilibili’s legal team wanted the platform to go further, by handing over “any and all personal information” it holds on the individuals in question, including IP and email addresses, telephone numbers, browsing history, plus upload and download records.

What happened next isn’t clear but it seems likely that Github refused to comply with Bilibili’s demands in the absence of a legal document compelling it to cooperate. That probably being the case, this week Bilibili requested a DMCA subpoena at a San Francisco federal court to unmask the Github users.

It is not yet clear whether Github has already handed over the personal details of the alleged infringers but Bilibili is talking tough. Earlier documentation suggests that the company was preparing a report so that police in Shangai could “stop, investigate and punish the suspected crime immediately.”

Given that the company has used the DMCA to obtain Github users’ identities, it will be interesting to see if it actually pursues a copyright claim in the US or whether the DMCA subpoena route is simply an easy way to get things started in other areas of law.

The documents referenced above can be found here 1,2,3,4 (pdf)

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RIAA Targets Large Polish File-Hosting Site Chomikuj

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-large-polish-file-hosting-site-chomikuj-190622/

Image result for Chomikuj

In English-speaking countries, file-hosting sites such as the defunct Megaupload and its successor MEGA need little introduction.

These platforms allow(ed) users to upload files into a digital storage locker, to be shared with others as they so choose.

In Poland, Chomikuj is a similar household name. Translated roughly as “hamster”, the platform has been around since 2006 and is very popular. It’s currently receiving around 17 million visits per month, placing it just outside the top 50 most-popular sites in the country.

Like many platforms operating in the same niche, Chomikuj has to deal with users uploading content to which they don’t own the rights. It’s unclear how much infringing content is present on the platform but according to Google’s Transparency Report, with close to 27 million URLs targeted only four domains in the world are listed with more complaints against them.

After issuing takedowns for more than 7.7 million URLs, the BPI is the most active sender. In second place is the RIAA, having sent in excess of 4.2 million, which may be why the music industry group has gone to court in the United States to find out more about the platform.

In common with several other actions in recent weeks, the RIAA filed for a subpoena at a Columbia federal court ordering Cloudflare to hand over whatever personal information it holds on the operators of Chomikuj.

Citing the DMCA (17 U.S.C § 512(h)), the RIAA stated its case by declaring that it needs the information to protect its members’ copyrights.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to these websites who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization.

“This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owner, under Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the RIAA told the Court.

The music group then listed three musical works – Karma Kameleon by Culture Club, Chains of Love by Erasure, and Edge of Heaven by Wham! – stating that these titles had not been authorized for use on Chomikuj.

As was the case in several previous applications, the Court clerk was happy to sign off on the request and a letter was sent to Cloudflare demanding IP and email addresses and all other identifying information. What happens next remains unclear.

The letter to Cloudflare can be found here (pdf)

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DMCA Takedowns Try to Delist Dozens of Adult Homepages from Google

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-takedowns-try-to-delist-dozens-of-adult-homepages-from-google-190608/

Google receives millions of notices requesting the removal of allegedly-infringing links from its search results every month.

The load is truly huge, as is the flood of pirated content the DMCA notices attempt to address. It’s a huge task on all sides, so it’s not a surprise some dubious takedowns slip through the net. Over the past couple of weeks, more than usual appear to have done just that.

Without going into too much detail and annoying the purists, hentai can loosely be defined as adult-focused comics and cartoons. Hailing from Japan, hentai has a huge following worldwide and, of course, is widely pirated.

Several companies and organizations attempt to take infringing content down but this week a new one stepped up to cause waves across hundreds of sites.

It isn’t clear who is behind ‘Copyright Legal Services INC’ (CLS). A specific Google search yields nothing and its takedown notices offer no additional information either. However, several of its DMCA notices indicate that the original works it tries to protect can be bought from DLSite.com, a platform operated by Japan’s EYSIS, Inc.

At first view, the notices filed by CLS seem unremarkable. They list original works and then allegedly-infringing URLs. However, what these notices then try to do is purge from Google entire adult-site homepages, full sections, plus pages that clearly aren’t infringing.

Due to their inherent NSFW nature, we won’t quote them directly here but anyone interested can click the links provided.

For instance, this notice attempts to remove ‘xhamster.com/hd’ and the ‘subbed’ and ‘english’ tag archives on YouPorn.com.. Many other sites are listed too, with the notice even trying to take down their contact pages. Around two dozen homepages are among the 331 targeted URLs.

Another notice targets 198 URLs, six of them site homepages. In common with the other notices, some have been removed from Google search, others have not. It’s hard to make a clear determination but Google seems to delist some smaller sites while giving sites like YouPorn and xHamster a pass.

The list of notices goes on, and on, and on, and on, with the same general theme of some accurate reports, many massively overbroad ones, and notices that nearly always target some sites’ homepages, some of which were acted upon by Google.

A site operator affected by the wave of takedowns sent TorrentFreak a list of the homepages that were requested for removal from Google. They numbered 294, which is a lot by any measurement.

Of course, there are a number of other factors that also need to be highlighted.

While it’s impractical to check them all, a cursory view of a few dozen domain URLs shows that most of the sites are probably infringing someone’s copyrights, so these types of notices (when accurate) shouldn’t come as a surprise.

It’s also possible that some of the sites carried the content in question on their homepages when the notices were sent to Google. However, given the volume of sites and the limited range of content, it seems likely this would be the exception and not the rule.

The operator of one site – Gelbooru.com – which had its homepage delisted from Google despite containing no infringing content, told TorrentFreak that complaining to Google proved fruitless.

Homepage delisted

“Thanks for reaching out to us,” Google responded.

“At this time, Google has decided not to take action. We encourage you to review https://library.educause.edu/topics/policy-and-law/digital-millennium-copyright-act-dmca for more information about the DMCA. If you have legal questions about this notification, you should retain your own legal counsel.”

The full list of notices referenced above can be found here but may require registration to view in detail, as reported here.

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

‘Netflix’ Flags Netflix.com As a Pirate Site, Or Does It?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-flags-netflix-com-as-a-pirate-site-or-does-it-190602/

Netflix, like many other rightsholders, keeps a close eye on pirate sites.

The company has its own in-house anti-piracy team and also works with third-party companies, to issue takedown requests.

Over the past two years, the streaming giant has sent more than five million of these to Google alone. Many of them ask the search engine to remove links to pirate sites, but this week our eye was drawn to a more unusual request.

The notice in question was sent by the anti-piracy outfit Marketly, on behalf of Netflix, and identifies 250 URLs which presumably link to pirated copies of the movie “Triple Frontier.” However, on closer inspection, many of the reported links are not infringing at all.

The most obvious mistake is that the notice reports Netflix’s own listing of “Triple Frontier” as a pirate copy, requesting Google to remove it from its search index.

Google spotted the mistake and didn’t comply. However, that’s not the only error. The same takedown request also includes a variety of links to other legitimate websites. This article from The Wrap about Netflix’s streaming numbers for example, which mentions Triple Frontier, but isn’t piracy related.

The same is true for several other reported URLs. This includes a Hollywood Reporter story, this top ten list from Variety, this article from The Daily Dot, a Business Insider report, and IMDb’s news page for Triple Frontier. We could go on and on.

These findings could easily be used to once again argue that automated DMCA takedown processes are highly inaccurate. After all, if Google wasn’t sharp enough to spot these errors, legitimate content would have disappeared from the search results.

However, since we have seen our fair share of imposters over the past year, we’re not sure that this notice was sent by Marketly at all, or if Netflix has anything to do with it.

Marketly indeed works for Netflix and the streaming service does own the distribution rights to Triple Frontier. However, neither company is known for its negligence when it comes to these types of takedown efforts, although Marketly took down one of our tweets recently.

Upon closer inspection, our doubts started to grow. For one, the Marketly that sent this takedown requests has a separate listing in Google’s transparency report.

In addition, there have been other Marketly imposters recently. For example, Google has flagged this copycat as being fraudulent.

We’re more than happy and are inclined to chalk this clearly erroneous notice up as another scam attempt. Likely in an effort of a pirate site to punish competitors, as we’ve seen before.

However, that doesn’t make this less of a problem. In fact, if scammers continue to make claims like this, it will likely lead to overbroad takedowns. And with millions of URLs being submitted per day, Google will have a hard time catching them all.

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

Hundreds of Thousands of ‘Pirate’ Sites Disappear Following Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hundreds-of-thousands-of-pirate-sites-disappear-following-takedown-notices/

Takedown notices are a vital tool for copyright holders who want to make sure that infringing copies of their work are not widely distributed.

Every week millions of these requests are sent to hosting platforms, as well as third-party services, such as search engines. 

Quite a few of the major players, including Twitter, Google, and Bing, publish these requests online. However, due to the massive volume, it’s hard for casual observers to spot any trends in the data. 

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and Boston University aim to add some context with an elaborate study covering a broad database of takedown requests. Their results are now bundled in a paper titled: “Who Watches the Watchmen: Exploring Complaints on the Web.”

The research covers all takedown requests that were made available through the Lumen Database in 2017. The majority of these were sent to Google, with Bing, Twitter, and Periscope as runners-up. In total, more than one billion reported URLs were analyzed.

Most takedown requests or ‘web complaints’ were copyright-related, 98.6% to be precise. This means that other notices, such as defamation reports, court orders, and Government requests, make up a tiny minority. 

The researchers report that the complaints were submitted by 38,523 unique senders, covering 1.05 billion URLs.  While that’s a massive number, most reported links are filed by a very small group of senders. 

“We find that the distribution of notices is highly skewed towards a few extremely active senders. The top 10% of notice senders report over 1 billion URLs, in stark contrast to just 550K by the bottom 90%,” the researchers write.

Not surprisingly, the list of top senders is entirely made up of anti-piracy groups and trade organizations. In 2017, the top senders were Rivendell, Aiplex, and the UK music group BPI. 

On the domain side, the results are skewed as well. The top 1% of all reported domain names were targeted in 63% of all complaints. In other words, a small number of sites are responsible for the vast majority of all takedown notices. 

These and other figures provide more insight into the various takedown characteristics. What we were most surprised about, however, are the researchers’ findings regarding the availability of the reported domain names. 

The researchers carried out periodic checks on the domains and URLs to verify if the websites are still active. This revealed that a few weeks after the first takedown notices were filed, 22% of the reported domains were inactive, returning an NXDOMAIN response.

“Many domain names are soon taken offline and 22% of the URLs are inaccessible within just 4 weeks of us observing the complaints. Hence, it is clear that we shed light on a highly dynamic environment from the perspective of domain operators too,” the article reads.

With a total dataset of more than a billion domain names, this suggests that hundreds or thousands of sites simply disappeared. Whether the takedown requests have anything to do with this is unclear though, as many site owners may not even be aware of them.

The disappearing domain names mostly use more exotic TLDs, with .LOL being the most popular, followed by .LINK, .BID, .SPACE, and .WIN. The vast majority of these (97%) have an Alexa rank lower than one million, which means that they only have a few visitors per day. 

It’s not clear why these domains disappear and the authors of the article stress that follow-up research is required to find out more. It would not be a surprise, however, if many of these are related to spam or scams that rely on temporary search engine traffic. 

Finally, the article also observed worrying activity carried out by copyright holders. For example, some use seemingly fabricated URLs, as we have highlighted in the past, while others send hundreds of duplicate notices. 

All in all the research should help to provide a better understanding of how takedown requests impact various stakeholders. This type of transparency is essential to improve procedures for the senders, but also to prevent abuse.

“Transparency is critical and, as a society, it is important to know how and why information is filtered. This is particularly the case as we have found that these mechanisms might not be always used wisely,” the researchers conclude. 

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

“Confidential” HDMI Specifications Docs Hit With DMCA Takedown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/confidential-hdmi-standards-docs-hit-with-dmca-takedown-190511/

Credit: Pixabay

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) is today’s standard for transferring digital video and audio between compatible devices.

The standard variant comes as a male connector (plug) or female connector (socket). Chances are that most people will have many of these scattered around their homes, with TVs, monitors, set-top boxes, video games consoles, and dozens of other video-capable devices utilizing the interface.

It’s no surprise then that the list of companies that have adopted the HDMI standard for their products is huge, with founders including Maxell, Panasonic, Sanyo, Philips, and Sony leading the way.

Since its inception back in 2002, many versions of HDMI have been developed, each utilizing the same basic connector but with added features. While new functions aren’t available to users of pre-update hardware, the entire system is backward compatible.

These updates (which are given version numbers such as HDMI 1.0 (2002) right up to the latest HDMI 2.1 (2017)) are described in technical specifications documents. However, according to the HDMI Licensing Administrator, Inc., the licensing agent for the HDMI product, these documents are not only copyrighted but also contain secret information.

Github user ‘Glenwing’ has been archiving these documents for the last few years in his personal “Display Industry Standards Archive” but was recently hit with a DMCA takedown notice after HDMI Licensing Administrator filed a complaint against him.

GitHub itself published details of the DMCA complaint which claims copyright over the documents and further states that they aren’t for public consumption.

“HDMI Licensing Administrator, Inc. is the licensing Agent to the founders of the HDMI® Digital Interface. It has been brought to our attention that user Glenwing is publicly making confidential copyrighted content available on your hub without authorization,” the notice reads.

Since we’ve seen these documents available freely online before, we contacted Glenwing to find out what the problem was.

He told us that HDMI specification version 1.3a is available for public download from the HDMI website but considering copies of the other specifications can be found online elsewhere, he didn’t think there would be an issue putting them in one place.

“I just assumed it was something considered unimportant to them, considering there have been other hosted copies of ‘confidential’ HDMI versions that were widely linked, easily locatable by simply Googling ‘HDMI 1.4 pdf’ etc,” he explains.

“These documents have even been linked as a source on the HDMI Wikipedia page. You can’t get any more visible than that, and those copies remained online for years. But now that I’ve been revisiting my original sources I downloaded from, they’re mostly dead links. It seems HDMI Licensing may have started to clean house all over the web, not just targeting my page specifically.”

Glenwing confirmed that all copies of the specifications he uploaded to Github were just obtained from various sources on the Internet, such as Wikipedia citations or simple Google searches.

He’s clearly just a tech enthusiast with a great interest in the topic, who would like to share his knowledge with others. There’s certainly no malicious intent.

“I never really intended these documents for distribution anyway, and if I could hide the Github page from Google results with a robots.txt file or something, I would,” he says.

“I upload them primarily for my own reference, to have every version in one place, so that when I write guides trying to educate people about the capabilities of HDMI, DisplayPort, how to correctly calculate video bandwidth, how these standards have changed over time, etc., I can link these documents as sources.”

Interestingly, this takedown wasn’t the first received by Glenwing. He initially received a notice just a few days earlier from the Consumer Technology Association (of which HDMI Licensing Administrator is a member) which targeted half a dozen CTA standards documents.

“Six copyrighted CTA standards are posted in their entirety here:
https://glenwing.github.io/docs/,” the notice from CTA reads. “[T]he works are not licensed under an open source license…the best solution is removal,” it adds.

So are these documents sensitive too? Glenwing believes not.

“This notice I actually received first, and it was a bit puzzling at the time; I had six CTA documents, which are all different revisions of the same (public) standard, CTA-861 [A DTV Profile for Uncompressed High Speed Digital Interfaces]. The three latest revisions (G, F, and E) are available for free download from the CTA website, the older revisions are not, likely because they are simply outdated, not because anyone considers them secret information,” he says.

“It’s fairly common for standards organizations to only host the latest versions, and whenever a new revision is released, older versions often become difficult to find. That was sort of the point of my page, to preserve every version I could find for historical purposes.”

In the absence of his own archive on Github, Glenwing then began to link directly to pages on the Consumer Technology Association site that host the documents and offer them for download. Functionally, access to the documents should have been the same. Or at least that was the plan.

As this piece was being put together, CTA removed the copies of its own standards from its own website, leaving dead links in their place. It now appears that they can only be accessed via the CTA Store, albeit for the knockdown price of $0.00, following a registration process.

Bizarrely, there are other sources for the documents, such as this site which offers to sell one of the publicly available documents for a mere $278. People shouldn’t have to pay a penny of course, as per a May 2018 press release from the CTA which declared free document access to all….

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

Lumen Database Restricts Access to DMCA Notices But Plans to Expand

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/lumen-database-restricts-access-to-dmca-notices-plans-to-expand-190510/

With millions of takedown notices hitting Internet platforms and hosts every single week, content can often go inexplicably missing from sites and search engine indexes.

Thanks to projects like Google’s Transparency report, however, much-needed light can be shone on this murky area.

Users of Google’s service can see almost every detail of a copyright claim but when it comes to accurate research, it’s necessary to visit the Lumen Database, a research project that hosts millions of notices submitted by some of the biggest Internet companies.

The resource has become an essential tool for researchers and reporters interested in the cease-and-desist landscape. However, new changes at the resource will mean that the majority of users will now have less initial access to data.

In a nutshell, takedown notices presented in Lumen’s database will no longer list the precise URLs targeted by copyright holders. Instead, as the image below illustrates, the notices only list how many URLs were targeted at specific domains.

Lighter on detail

As is clear from the above, Lumen has removed the specific URL details, which are absolutely crucial if one is to even begin researching the effects of a particular takedown notice. However, on every redacted notice is a hyperlink which presents a system through which it is possible to get an unredacted copy.

Regular users wanting to properly research a notice now have to enter their email address to receive a single-use link to view it in full.

TorrentFreak learned that changes would be made to the system a few months ago after we discovered a development version of the platform. On a personal level, we were initially concerned at the restrictions since it is not uncommon for us to view dozens of takedown notices in preparation for a single article.

However, it now transpires that researchers and journalists will be able to obtain a special login to the Lumen Database that its operators hope will provide an experience that’s largely unchanged. That means we’ll continue to bring news on interesting takedowns and report on various trends.

That being said, the bigger question is why Lumen has taken this decision. Lumen project manager Adam Holland informs TorrentFreak that it’s all about expanding and improving the service.

“Lumen wants to remain a vibrant and valuable feature of the landscape with respect to research, journalism, and public awareness around takedown requests. We believe that we have been successful at doing this over the years and that some great work has come out of, or been predicated on, our data,” Holland says.

“But we also feel that it’s both possible and necessary for Lumen to continue to grow and improve. One obvious way in which to do so is to expand the number and type of notices we receive, as well as the range of institutions from which we receive them. We’ve heard from some companies that although they’d like to share notices with us, for a variety of idiosyncratic reasons, they don’t feel that they can do so under the current Lumen schema.”

Sensitivity over the amount of information made available by Lumen under default settings will also play an important role as the platform expands. Holland says that DMCA complaints will form just part of the project moving forward, with other forms of takedown notices from all over the world augmenting the database.

“We wish to be conscious of the concerns of those sending this broader variety of notices,” he says.

As readers will probably recall, the Lumen project has previously been subjected to criticism by copyright holders. We asked Holland if this had played a part in the decision to redact notices for more casual users of the resource, who some allege may have used it to obtain links to infringing content.

“Our traffic metrics simply don’t bear out any suggestion that the database is a viable tool for those seeking access to infringing or unauthorized content. But, we have always endeavored to strike a balance,” he explains.

“We think that the new framework allows the research community to stay informed while in no way compromising research done with the database. It also — importantly — reduces the significant workload associated with database maintenance, which will free up Lumen staff to do more productive things.”

We put it to Holland that there will probably be some members of the public who won’t enjoy jumping through additional hoops to gain full access to notices. However, he says that Lumen doesn’t really have a good sense from its traffic volumes how many people use the resource for specific reasons.

But while reduced access will probably be disappointing to some, there are those who see this development as a double-edged sword.

TorrentFreak spoke with a representative from an anti-piracy company who told us that less visibility for URLs will be welcomed by his clients.

“As a DMCA agent for copyright owners, I can say that Lumen and its predecessor Chilling Effects have long been seen as making a mockery of Google’s takedown procedure – why delist search results if those same results are all still listed in a notice linked at the bottom of the page?” he said.

“But I appreciate that the DMCA process can be and has been easily abused, so it’s important to have some kind of ability to check on potential censorship and/or erroneous takedowns.

“So while my clients will surely welcome a change that makes it trickier to access infringing material, I share the concerns of those who may feel that this places obstacles in the way of legitimate research and accountability.”

Finally, it’s worth noting the large effort expended by the Lumen team to keep the project going. The platform is currently receiving up to 70,000 notices per day (mostly filed under the DMCA) with many requiring redactions to preserve privacy.

These can be handled automatically but Holland explains that manual redactions take place frequently, with a single notice potentially taking 20 minutes or more to process.

Lumen kindly provided a list of companies and institutions that contribute (or have contributed) to the database. Any parties interesting in joining this group are invited to contact the project.

Automattic/Wordpress

Counterfeit Technology

Google

The Internet Archive

Kickstarter

Medium

Periscope

PGPSMedia [not currently sending]

Proxy.sh

Reddit [not currently sending]

Stack Exchange

Stripe [not currently sending]

Tucows

Tuebl [not currently sending]

Twitter

UC Berkeley – Infosec and policy

UC Berkeley – California Digital Library

UC Berkeley -Open Computing Facility

Vimeo

Wikia

Wikipedia/Wikimedia

YouTube

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

GoDaddy to Suspend ‘Pirate’ Domain Following Music Industry Complaints

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/godaddy-to-suspend-pirate-domain-following-music-industry-complaints-180601/

Most piracy-focused sites online conduct their business with minimal interference from outside parties. In many cases, a heap of DMCA notices filed with Google represents the most visible irritant.

Others, particularly those with large audiences, can find themselves on the end of a web blockade. Mostly court-ordered, blocking measures restrict the ability of Internet users to visit a site due to ISPs restricting traffic.

In some regions, where copyright holders have the means to do so, they choose to tackle a site’s infrastructure instead, which could mean complaints to webhosts or other service providers. At times, this has included domain registries, who are asked to disable domains on copyright grounds.

This is exactly what has happened to Fox-MusicaGratis.com, a Spanish-language music piracy site that incurred the wrath of IFPI member UNIMPRO – the Peruvian Union of Phonographic Producers.

Pirate music, suspended domain

In a process that’s becoming more common in the region, UNIMPRO initially filed a complaint with the Copyright Commission (Comisión de Derecho de Autor (CDA)) which conducted an investigation into the platform’s activities.

“The CDA considered, among other things, the irreparable damage that would have been caused to the legitimate rights owners, taking into account the large number of users who could potentially have visited said website, which was making available endless musical recordings for commercial purposes, without authorization of the holders of rights,” a statement from CDA reads.

The administrative process was carried out locally with the involvement of the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi), an autonomous public body tasked with handling anti-competitive behavior, unfair competition, and intellectual property matters.

Indecopi HQ

The matter was decided in favor of the rightsholders and a subsequent ruling included an instruction for US-based domain name registry GoDaddy to suspend Fox-MusicaGratis.com. According to the copyright protection entity, GoDaddy agreed to comply, to prevent further infringement.

This latest action involving a music piracy site registered with GoDaddy follows on the heels of a similar enforcement process back in March.

Mp3Juices-Download-Free.com, Melodiavip.net, Foxmusica.site and Fulltono.me were all music sites offering MP3 content without copyright holders’ permission. They too were the subject of an UNIMPRO complaint which resulted in orders for GoDaddy to suspend their domains.

In the cases of all five websites, GoDaddy was given the chance to appeal but there is no indication that the company has done so. GoDaddy did not respond to a request for comment.

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

Roku Displays FBI Anti-Piracy Warning to Legitimate YouTube & Netflix Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/roku-displays-fbi-anti-piracy-warning-to-legitimate-youtube-netflix-users-180516/

In 2018, dealing with copyright infringement claims is a daily issue for many content platforms. The law in many regions demands swift attention and in order to appease copyright holders, most platforms are happy to oblige.

While it’s not unusual for ‘pirate’ content and services to suddenly disappear in response to a DMCA or similar notice, the same is rarely true for entire legitimate services.

But that’s what appeared to happen on the Roku platform during the night, when YouTube, Netflix and other channels disappeared only to be replaced with an ominous anti-piracy warning.

As the embedded tweet shows, the message caused confusion among Roku users who were only using their devices to access legal content. Messages replacing Netflix and YouTube seemed to have caused the greatest number of complaints but many other services were affected.

FoxSportsGo, FandangoNow, and India-focused YuppTV and Hotstar were also blacked out. As were the yoga and transformational videos specialists over at Gaia, the horror buffs at ChillerFlix, and UK TV service BritBox.

But while users scratched their heads, with some misguidedly blaming Roku for not being diligent enough against piracy, Roku took to Twitter to reveal that rather than anti-piracy complaints against the channels in question, a technical hitch was to blame.

However, a subsequent statement to CNET suggested that while blacking out Netflix and YouTube might have been accidental, Roku appears to have been taking anti-piracy action against another channel or channels at the time, with the measures inadvertently spilling over to innocent parties.

“We use that warning when we detect content that has violated copyright,” Roku said in a statement.

“Some channels in our Channel Store displayed that message and became inaccessible after Roku implemented a targeted anti-piracy measure on the platform.”

The precise nature of the action taken by Roku is unknown but it’s clear that copyright infringement is currently a hot topic for the platform.

Roku is currently fighting legal action in Mexico which ordered its products off the shelves following complaints that its platform is used by pirates. That led to an FBI warning being shown for what was believed to be the first time against the XTV and other channels last year.

This March, Roku took action against the popular USTVNow channel following what was described as a “third party” copyright infringement complaint. Just a couple of weeks later, Roku followed up by removing the controversial cCloud channel.

With Roku currently fighting to have sales reinstated in Mexico against a backdrop of claims that up to 40% of its users are pirates, it’s unlikely that Roku is suddenly going to go soft on piracy, so more channel outages can be expected in the future.

In the meantime, the scary FBI warnings of last evening are beginning to fade away (for legitimate channels at least) after the company issued advice on how to fix the problem.

“The recent outage which affected some channels has been resolved. Go to Settings > System > System update > Check now for a software update. Some channels may require you to log in again. Thank you for your patience,” the company wrote in an update.

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