Tag Archives: DMCA

Are Torrent Sites Using DMCA Notices to Quash Their Competition?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/are-torrent-sites-using-dmca-notices-to-quash-their-competition-180114/

Every day, copyright holders send out millions of takedown notices to various services, hoping to protect their works.

While most of these requests are legitimate, the process is also being abused. Google prominently features examples of such dubious DMCA requests in its transparency report.

This week we were contacted by the owner of YTS.me after he noticed some unusual activity. In recent weeks his domain name has been targeted with a series of takedown notices from rather unusual people.

Senders with names such as Niklas Glockner, Michelle Williams, Maria Baader, Stefan Kuefer, Anja Herzog, and Markus Ostermann asked Google to remove thousands of YTS.me URLs.

Every notice lists just one movie title, but hundreds of links, most of which have nothing to do with the movie in question.

A few URLs from a single notice

These submitters are all relatively new and there is no sign that they are authorized by the applicable copyright holder. This, and the long list of irrelevant URLs suggest that these DMCA notices are abusive.

The owner of YTS.me believes that the senders have a clear motive. The purpose of the notices is to remove well-ranked pages and push the targeted sites down in Google’s search results.

“These all are fake people names submitting fake DMCA complaints and are not authorized to submit complaints,” the YTS.me operator notes.

“Even if they are real people they would have submitted, or are authorized to submit, complaints for only a few titles. Instead, they submit fake complaints and submit all the URLs possible on our website to degrade its ranking.”

The question that remains is, who is responsible for these notices? Looking at the list of sites that are targeted by these abusive senders we see a pattern emerge. They all target copycats of defunct sites such as YTS and ExtraTorrent.

Markus Osterman’s activity

This leads the YTS.me operator to the conclusion that one of its main competitors is sending these notices. While there is no hard evidence, it seems plausible that another YTS copycat is attempting to take the competition out of Google’s search results to gain more exposure itself.

YTS.me has a good idea of who the perpetrator(s) are – a person or group that also operates several other copycat sites. Thus far there’s no bulletproof evidence though, but it’s a likely explanation.

In any case, the DMCA takedown requests are definitely out of order and warrant further investigation by Google.

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

Google Blocks Pirate Search Results Prophylactically

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-blocks-pirated-search-results-prophylactically-180103/

On an average day, Google processes more than three million takedown notices from copyright holders, and that’s for its search engine alone.

Under the current DMCA legislation, US-based Internet service providers are expected to remove infringing links, if a copyright holder complains.

This process shields these services from direct liability. In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the effectiveness of the system, but Google has always maintained that it works well.

This was also highlighted by Google’s copyright counsel Caleb Donaldson, in an article he wrote for the American Bar Association’s publication Landslide.

“The DMCA provided Google and other online service providers the legal certainty they needed to grow,” Donaldson writes.

“And the DMCA’s takedown notices help us fight piracy in other ways as well. Indeed, the Web Search notice-and-takedown process provides the cornerstone of Google’s fight against piracy.”

The search engine does indeed go beyond ‘just’ removing links. The takedown notices are also used as a signal to demote domains. Websites for which it receives a lot of takedown notices will be placed lower in search results, for example.

These measures can be expanded and complemented by artificial intelligence in the future, Google’s copyright counsel envisions.

“As we move into a world where artificial intelligence can learn from vast troves of data like these, we will only get better at using the information to better fight against piracy,” Donaldson writes.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a buzz-term that has a pretty broad meaning nowadays. Donaldson doesn’t go into detail on how AI can fight piracy. It could help to spot erroneous notices, on the one hand, but can also be applied to filter content proactively.

The latter is something Google is slowly opening up to.

Over the past year, we’ve noticed on a few occasions that Google is processing takedown notices for non-indexed links. While we assumed that this was an ‘error’ on the sender’s part, it appears to be a new policy.

“Google has critically expanded notice and takedown in another important way: We accept notices for URLs that are not even in our index in the first place. That way, we can collect information even about pages and domains we have not yet crawled,” Donaldson writes.

In other words, Google blocks URLs before they appear in the search results, as some sort of piracy vaccine.

“We process these URLs as we do the others. Once one of these not-in-index URLs is approved for takedown, we prophylactically block it from appearing in our Search results, and we take all the additional deterrent measures listed above.”

Some submitters are heavily relying on the new feature, Google found. In some cases, the majority of the submitted URLs in a notice are not indexed yet.

The search engine will keep a close eye on these developments. At TorrentFreak, we also found that copyright holders sometimes target links that don’t even exist. Whether Google will also accept these takedown requests in the future, is unknown.

It’s clear that artificial intelligence and proactive filtering are becoming more and more common, but Google says that the company will also keep an eye on possible abuse of the system.

“Google will push back if we suspect a notice is mistaken, fraudulent, or abusive, or if we think fair use or another defense excuses that particular use of copyrighted content,” Donaldson notes.

Artificial intelligence and prophylactic blocking surely add a new dimension to the standard DMCA takedown procedure, but whether it will be enough to convince copyright holders that it works, has yet to be seen.

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

Hosting Provider Steadfast Fights to Keep DMCA Safe Harbor

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-fights-to-keep-dmca-safe-harbor-171230/

Last year, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan dragged several third-party Internet services to court.

The company targeted several companies including CDN provider CloudFlare and the Chicago-based hosting company Steadfast, accusing them of copyright infringement because they offered services to pirate sites.

More than a year has passed and both sides have yet to resolve their differences.

ALS Scan recently asked the court for a partial summary judgment, determining that Steadfast contributed to copyright infringement and that it has no safe harbor protection. If this was granted, the hosting provider would be in serious trouble.

The copyright holder argued that Steadfast refused to shut down the servers of the image sharing platform imagebam.com, which was operated by its client Flixya. ALS Scan sees the site as a repeat offender as it was targeted with dozens of DMCA notices, and accuses Steadfast of turning a blind eye to the situation.

In a new filing submitted this month, Steadfast fiercely denies the allegations. The hosting provider indeed leased servers to Flixya for ten years but says it forwarded all notices to its client.

The hosting company could not address individual infringements, other than shutting down the entire site, which would be disproportionate in their view.

“Steadfast had no ability to terminate services to individual users of Imagebam.com other than unilaterally shutting down the entire server which would have violated the law. Imagebam.com was not a pirate site when it was operated by Flixya,” Steadfast informs the court.

“Steadfast was not a direct infringer; Steadfast’s client Flixya was not a direct infringer. The direct infringers of the ALS content were the users of Flixya’s Imagebam.com website. Discovery has shown that many, if not all the infringers of the ALS content, were actually ALS’s own members who posted ALS content with impunity.”

Interestingly, the users who posted pirated images on the site were ALS Scan’s own customers. According to Steadfast, ALS took absolutely no steps to curb these infringements themselves.

Instead, ALS hired an agent, Steve Easton, to track down infringements on external sites and issue takedown requests. Steadfast received several of these as well, but believes it responded appropriately, even though the notices were not DMCA compliant.

“Once Easton sent his legally insufficient notices to Steadfast, Steadfast immediately forwarded the notices to Flixya. In turn, Flixya disabled access to the allegedly infringing works that were hosted on imagebam.com,” the company writes.

While ALS Claims that imagebam.com was a repeat offender, Steadfast sees things differently. They point out that Flixya is a service provider as well, and that they were the ones who had to address the alleged infringements.

It would certainly not be an “appropriate circumstance” to disconnect the servers of an entire website, not in the way Congress intended the DMCA to work, the hosting provider notes.

“An ‘appropriate circumstance’ to terminate a user does not include terminating a user who follows the law. Here, the facts in the record demonstrate that Flixya did not blatantly infringe copyright,” Steadfast writes.

“Rather, the facts show that Flixya complied with the DMCA. Flixya posted the required DMCA information on its imagebam.com website, had users agree to the terms of service, and informed users that his or her account will be terminated.”

The hosting provider wants the case to be thrown out, but ALS Scan clearly disagrees. According to the copyright holder, Steadfast should have terminated the imagebam.com servers.

“Steadfast maintained its own theory that if its own client was an Internet service provider, Steadfast had no burden to terminate services to its client, or indeed take any action, in response to notifications of infringement,” ALS writes.

“The law is that a service provider must stop providing services to whomever it is providing such services as long as such services materially contribute to infringement.”

It is now up to the court to decide whether Steadfast is indeed liable. If the company loses its safe harbor, this will have implications for the broader hosting industry.

It would essentially mean that large hosting companies are responsible for the infringing content that their clients’ users upload or link to, which could get quite messy.

Steadfast’s response is available here (pdf) and ALS Scan’s reply can be found here (pdf).

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Filmmakers Want The Right to Break DRM and Rip Blu-Rays

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/filmmakers-want-the-right-to-break-drm-and-rip-blu-rays-171228/

The major movie studios are doing everything in their power to stop the public from copying films.

While nearly every movie and TV-show leaks on the Internet, these companies still see DRM as a vital tool to prevent piracy from spiraling out of control.

Technically speaking it’s not hard to rip a DVD or Blu-Ray disc nowadays, and the same is true for ripping content from Netflix or YouTube. However, people who do this are breaking the law.

The DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions specifically forbid it. There are some exemptions, for educational use for example, and to allow for other types of fair use, but the line between legal and illegal is not always clear.

Interestingly, filmmakers are not happy with the current law either. They often want to use small pieces of other videos in their films, but under the current exemptions, this is only permitted for documentaries.

The International Documentary Association, Kartemquin Films, Independent Filmmaker Project, University of Film and Video Association and several other organizations hope this will change.

In a comment to the Copyright Office, which is currently considering updates to the exemptions, they argue that all filmmakers should be allowed by break DRM and rip Blu-Rays.

According to the filmmakers, the documentary genre is vaguely defined. This leads to a lot of confusion whether or not the exemptions apply. They, therefore, suggest to apply it to all filmmakers, instead of criminalizing those who don’t identify themselves as documentarians.

“Since 2010, exemptions applicable to documentary filmmaking have been in effect. This exemption has helped many filmmakers, and there has been neither evidence nor any allegation that this exemption has harmed rightsholders in any way.

“There is no reason this would change if the ‘documentary’ limitation were removed. All filmmakers regularly need access to footage on DVDs and without an exemption to DVDs, many non-infringing uses simply cannot be made,” the groups add.

The submission includes letters from several filmmakers who explain why an exemption would be crucial to them.

Filmmakers Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein explain that they refrained from making a film how they wanted it to be, fearing legal trouble. Their film included a lot of drama elements and was not a typical documentary.

“Given the significant amount of drama in the film [we are working on], we decided early on that our storytelling toolbox could not include fair use of materials from DVD or Blu-ray, because the exemption did not cover accessing that material for use in a drama,” they write

“Already, we were hindered in our ability to tell these stories. So, there is already a chilling effect in that a drama-heavy documentary might be seen as a drama outright, and thus under a different set of rules.”

Another filmmaker, who wants to remain anonymous, plans on making a hybrid documentary/narrative feature about a famous film duo. Without ripping the clips he needs, this movie is never going to be made.

“I am unsure of whether my project would fall under the exemption because it is a combination of documentary and narrative, and my fear of a lawsuit once my project is publicly viewed and distributed stops me from ripping from these sources.”

These are just two of many examples where filmmakers show that they need to break DRM and rip content to make the work they want.

The MPAA and others have previously argued that these changes are not required. Instead, they pointed out that people could point their cameras or phones at the screen to record something, or use screen capture software.

However, these are not viable alternatives according to the filmmakers, as the quality is inferior. They, therefore, call on the Copyright Office to expand the exemption to cover all films and filmmakers.

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

Piracy Notices Can Mess With Your Thermostat, ISP Warns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-notices-can-mess-with-your-thermostat-isp-warns-171224/

Since the early 2000’s copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices, to alert account holders that someone’s been using their connection to share copyrighted material.

The goal of these warnings is to deter people from sharing pirated material in the future.

Internet providers are not legally obliged to forward the notices, but many do. What ISPs are required to do is implement a policy to deal with frequent offenders.

Keeping pirates on board without taking any action can make the ISP liable, as Cox found out the hard way. While this case is currently on appeal, some ISPs have already put stringent measures in place.

Take Armstrong Zoom Internet, for example, which has roughly a million subscribers in the Northeastern part of the U.S. Like many other ISPs it reserves the right to terminate repeat infringers, a policy which it doesn’t hide.

Our attention was caught by a recent letter the company sent to one of its users. The ISP points out that it received multiple copyright infringement notices, urging the customer to stop, or else.

“…please be advised that, if Armstrong receives additional notifications of infringement connected With your Zoom Internet Service, Armstrong will remove you from your current service level and place you at the lowest service level.

“This will allow you to access email, but limit your speeds and affect your ability to upload or download material to the internet or use other file-sharing capabilities.”

Armstrong warning (via)

While reduced Internet speeds are bad enough, there’s another scary prospect. The reduced service level may also prevent subscribers from controlling their thermostat remotely. Not ideal during the winter.

“Please be advised that this may affect other services which you may have connected to your internet service, such as the ability to control your thermostat remotely or video monitoring services.”

Accused pirates who want their full service restored, and regain control over their thermostats, have to answer some copyright questions and read an educational piece about copyright infringement.

When they sign an agreement acknowledging that they have done so, full Internet access is restored. However, if more complaints come in later, the consequences will be more severe.

“…if Armstrong received additional notifications after you sign the Acknowledgement, your Zoom Internet Service will be terminated,” the provider writes.

Getting back in after that is only possible after signing an affidavit, so under penalty of perjury, and by paying a fee.

Only then they will regain full control over their thermostat again.

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

IPTV Provider Stops Selling New Subscriptions Under Pressure From “UK Authorities”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/iptv-provider-stops-selling-new-subscriptions-under-pressure-from-uk-authorities-171224/

Over the past couple of decades, piracy of live TV has broadly taken two forms. That which relies on breaking broadcaster encryption (such as card sharing and hacked set-top boxes), and the more recent developments of P2P and IPTV-style transmission.

With the former under pressure and P2P systems such as Sopcast and AceTorrent moving along in the background, streaming from servers is now the next big thing, whether that’s for free via third-party Kodi plugins or for a small fee from premium IPTV providers.

Of course, copyright holders don’t like any of this usage but with their for-profit strategy, commercial IPTV providers have a big target on their backs. More evidence of this was revealed recently when UK-based IPTV service ACE TV announced they were taking action to avoid problems in the country.

In a message to prospective and existing customers, ACE TV said that potential legal issues were behind its decision to accept no new customers while locking down its service.

“It saddens me to announce this, but due to pressure from the authorities in the UK, we are no longer selling new subscriptions. This obviously includes trials,” the announcement reads.

Noting that it would take new order for just 24 hours more, ACE TV insisted that it wasn’t shutting down but would lock down the service while closing Facebook.

TF sources and unconfirmed rumors online suggest that the Federation Against Copyright Theft and partners the Premier League are involved. However, ACE TV didn’t respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment so we’re unable to confirm or deny the allegations.

That being said, even if the threats came directly from the police, it’s likely that the approach would’ve been initially prompted by companies connected to FACT, since the anti-piracy outfit often puts forward names of services for investigation on behalf of its partners.

Perhaps surprisingly, ACE TV is legally incorporated in the UK as Ace Hosting Limited, a fact it makes clear on its website. While easy to find, the company’s registered address is shared by dozens of other companies, indicating a mail forwarding operation rather than a place servers or staff can be found.

This proxy location may well be the reason the company feels emboldened to carry on some level of service rather than shutting down completely, but its legal basis for doing so is interesting at best, precarious at worst.

“This website, any content contained herein and any contract brought into being as a result of usage of this website are governed by and construed in accordance with English Law,” ACE TV’s website reads.

“The parties to any such contract agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales. All contracts are concluded in English.”

It seems likely that ACE TV has been threatened under UK law, since that’s where it’s incorporated. That would seem to explain why its concerned about UK authorities and their potential effect on the business. On the other hand, however, the service claims to operate entirely legally, but under the laws of the United States. It even has a repeat infringer policy.

“Ace Hosting operates as an intermediary to cache and deliver content hosted by others at the instruction of our subscribers. We cannot remove content hosted by others,” the company says.

“As an intermediary, we are entitled to rely upon (among other things) the DMCA safe harbor available to system caching service providers and we maintain policies and procedures to terminate subscribers that would be considered repeat infringers under the DMCA.”

Whether the notices on the site have been advised by a legal professional or are there to present an air of authenticity is unclear but it’s precarious for a service of this nature to rely solely on conduit status in order to avoid liability.

Marketing, prior conduct, and overall intent play a major role in such cases and when all of that is aired in the cold light of day, the situation can look very different to a judge, particularly in the UK, where no similar cases have been successfully defended to date.

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

Deezer Tries to Shut Down ‘Hacked’ Pirate Versions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/deezer-tries-to-shut-down-hacked-pirate-versions-171223/

Nowadays there are dozens of ways for people to pirate free music. Torrent sites, direct downloading portals, stream ripping, you name it.

While the music industry tries to crack down on these unauthorized services, there are also plenty of problems close to home.

Legitimate streaming platforms such as Spotify and Tidal has been used to rip music from, and the same is true for the French streaming giant Deezer.

Through various applications, the public can freely access and download the entire Deezer library, completely hassle-free.

Take Deezloader, for example, which makes it surprisingly easy to grab high-quality tracks, complete with proper titles and tags. Want to download a full album in one click? No problem. A custom playlist of dozens of songs? Done.

Deezloader

Deezer is obviously not happy with these applications. Through DMCA notices the company does its best to take them down. This week it sent a notice to the developer platform GitHub, targetting several of these tools.

“The following projects, in the paragraph below, make available a hacked version of our Deezer application or a method to unlawfully download the music catalogue of Deezer, in total violation of our rights and of the rights of our music licensors,” Deezer wrote.

“..therefore ask that you immediately take down the projects corresponding to the URLs below and all of the related forks by others members who have had access or even contributed to such projects.”

GitHub was quick to respond and removed access to (forks of) applications such as Deezloader, DeezerDownload, Deeze, Deezerio, Deezit, and Deedown. Instead, users who try to access these repositories now see the following notice.

Deezgone?

While the DMCA notice helps to make these projects unavailable, at least on GitHub, the applications still work. They’re also widely available through other sites and forums.

These tools have been around for a while and despite Deezer’s most recent efforts, the music’s still playing

Deezer refers to the pirate applications as “hacked” versions and appears to be unable block them from accessing its own servers. That’s a worrying prospect for the company.

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

Gamers Want DMCA Exemption for ‘Abandoned’ Online Games

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/gamers-want-dmca-exemption-for-abandoned-online-games-171221/

The U.S. Copyright Office is considering whether or not to update the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, which prevent the public from tinkering with DRM-protected content and devices.

These provisions are renewed every three years. To allow individuals and organizations to chime in, the Office traditionally launches a public consultation, before it makes any decisions.

This week a series of new responses were received and many of these focused on abandoned games. As is true for most software, games have a limited lifespan, so after a few years they are no longer supported by manufacturers.

To preserve these games for future generations and nostalgic gamers, the Copyright Office previously included game preservation exemptions. This means that libraries, archives and museums can use emulators and other circumvention tools to make old classics playable.

However, these exemptions are limited and do not apply to games that require a connection to an online server, which includes most recent games. When the online servers are taken down, the game simply disappears forever.

This should be prevented, according to The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (the MADE), a nonprofit organization operating in California.

“Although the Current Exemption does not cover it, preservation of online video games is now critical,” MADE writes in its comment to the Copyright Office.

“Online games have become ubiquitous and are only growing in popularity. For example, an estimated fifty-three percent of gamers play multiplayer games at least once a week, and spend, on average, six hours a week playing with others online.”

During the previous review, similar calls for an online exemption were made but, at the time, the Register of Copyrights noted that multiplayer games could still be played on local area networks.

“Today, however, local multiplayer options are increasingly rare, and many games no longer support LAN connected multiplayer capability,” MADE counters, adding that nowadays even some single-player games require an online connection.

“More troubling still to archivists, many video games rely on server connectivity to function in single-player mode and become unplayable when servers shut down.”

MADE asks the Copyright Office to extend the current exemptions and include games with an online connection as well. This would allow libraries, archives, and museums to operate servers for these abandoned games and keep them alive.

The nonprofit museum is not alone in its call, with digital rights group Public Knowledge submitting a similar comment. They also highlight the need to preserve online games. Not just for nostalgic gamers, but also for researchers and scholars.

This issue is more relevant than ever before, as hundreds of online multiplayer games have been abandoned already.

“It is difficult to quantify the number of multiplayer servers that have been shut down in recent years. However, Electronic Arts’ ‘Online Services Shutdown’ list is one illustrative example,” Public Knowledge writes.

“The list — which is littered with popular franchises such as FIFA World Cup, Nascar, and The Sims — currently stands at 319 games and servers discontinued since 2013, or just over one game per week since 2012.”

Finally, several ‘regular’ gaming fans have also made their feelings known. While their arguments are usually not as elaborate, the personal pleasure people still get out of older games can’t be overstated.

“I have been playing video games since the Atari 2600, for 35 years. Nowadays, game ‘museums’ — getting the opportunity to replay games from my youth, and share them with my child — are a source of joy for me,” one individual commenter wrote.

“I would love the opportunity to explore some of the early online / MMO games that I spent so much time on in the past!”

Game on?

Header image via MMOs.com

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Facebook Rejects 31% of All Piracy Takedown Requests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/facebook-rejects-31-of-all-piracy-takedown-requests-171219/

As one of the largest user-generated platforms on the Internet, Facebook has to battle a constant stream of unauthorized copyright material.

To facilitate this process, Facebook has rolled out a few anti-piracy initiatives in recent years.

The company has a “Rights Manager” tool that automatically detects infringing material and allows owners to take down or monetize this content. In addition, Facebook uses the third-party service Audible Magic to spot and remove pirated music tracks.

Thus far, little was known about the number of copyright takedown requests Facebook processes every month, but new details released in its new transparency report a few hours ago provides some context.

During the first six months of 2017, a total of 224,464 requests were received by Facebook. One request can list a single post or file, but they can contain more items. During this period, 1,818,794 items were removed from Facebook, which is roughly 10,000 per day.

“Each report submitted by a rights holder is processed by our IP Operations team, which is a global team of trained professionals who provide around-the-clock coverage in multiple languages,” Facebook writes.

“If the report is complete and valid, the team will promptly remove the reported content, typically within a day or less, and confirm that action with the rights holder that reported it.”

Another interesting statistic is that no action was taken in response to more than 31% of the 224,464 requests. This means that none of the content highlighted in these notices was removed. These rejections could be the result of an abusive, inaccurate or incomplete request, for example.

Copyright removals

In addition to takedown requests on Facebook itself, the company also shared the same data for Instagram. The numbers are roughly a third of Facebook’s, with 70,008 requests and 685,996 removed posts or items during the first half of 2017.

The social media giant stresses that it operates with the best interests of copyright holders and users in mind. For copyright holders, the takedown process is optimized and improved where possible. At the same time, the company aims to educate users who make an occasional mistake, to prevent further problems.

Facebook users who continue to post or link to pirated content repeatedly, will be dealt with eventually though. The company regularly disables accounts, removes pages, and deletes groups to stop persistent infringers.

“In addition to removing reported content, we disable the accounts of repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances. Our repeat infringer policy applies to IP violations committed via Facebook profiles and Instagram accounts, including copyright, trademark and counterfeit,” the company writes.

This is likely the reason why several pages of pirate sites disappeared from the social media platform in recent years. Interestingly, there appears to be little to stop these repeat infringers from signing up again and starting over.

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

Treasure Trove of AACS 2.0 UHD Blu-Ray Keys Leak Online

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/treasure-trove-of-aacs-2-0-uhd-blu-ray-keys-leak-online-171211/

Nowadays, movie buffs and videophiles find it hard to imagine a good viewing experience without UHD content, but disc rippers and pirates have remained on the sidelines for a long time.

Protected with strong AACS 2.0 encryption, UHD Blu-ray discs have long been one of the last bastions movie pirates had yet to breach.

This year there have been some major developments on this front, as full copies of UHD discs started to leak online. While it remained unclear how these were ripped, it was a definite milestone.

Just a few months ago another breakthrough came when a Russian company released a Windows tool called DeUHD that could rip UHD Blu-ray discs. Again, the method for obtaining the keys was not revealed.

Now there’s another setback for AACS LA, the licensing outfit founded by Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft, Intel, and others. On various platforms around the Internet, copies of 72 AACS 2.0 keys are being shared.

The first mention we can find was posted a few days ago in a ten-year-old forum thread in the Doom9 forums. Since then it has been replicated a few times, without much fanfare.

The keys

The keys in question are confirmed to work and allow people to rip UHD Blu-ray discs of movies with freely available software such as MakeMKV. They are also different from the DeUHD list, so there are more people who know how to get them.

The full list of leaked keys includes movies such as Deadpool, Hancock, Passengers, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and The Martian. Some movies have multiple keys, likely as a result of different disc releases.

The leaked keys are also relevant for another reason. Ten years ago, a hacker leaked the AACS cryptographic key “09 F9” online which prompted the MPAA and AACS LA to issue DMCA takedown requests to sites where it surfaced.

This escalated into a censorship debate when Digg started removing articles that referenced the leak, triggering a massive backlash.

Thus fas the response to the AACS 2.0 leaks has been pretty tame, but it’s still early days. A user who posted the leaked keys on MyCe has already removed them due to possible copyright problems, so it’s definitely still a touchy subject.

The question that remains now is how the hacker managed to secure the keys, and if AACS 2.0 has been permanently breached.

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

Resilient TVAddons Plans to Ditch Proactive ‘Piracy’ Screening

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/resilient-tvaddons-plans-to-ditch-proactive-piracy-screening-171207/

After years of smooth sailing, this year TVAddons became a poster child for the entertainment industry’s war on illicit streaming devices.

The leading repository for unofficial Kodi addons was sued for copyright infringement in the US by satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network. Around the same time, a similar case was filed by Bell, TVA, Videotron, and Rogers in Canada.

The latter case has done the most damage thus far, as it caused the addon repository to lose its domain names and social media accounts. As a result, the site went dead and while many believed it would never return, it made a blazing comeback after a few weeks.

Since the original TVAddons.ag domain was seized, the site returned on TVaddons.co. And that was not the only difference. A lot of the old add-ons, for which it was unclear if they linked to licensed content, were no longer listed in the repository either.

TVAddons previously relied on the DMCA to shield it from liability but apparently, that wasn’t enough. As a result, they took the drastic decision to check all submitted add-ons carefully.

“Since complying with the law is clearly not enough to prevent frivolous legal action from being taken against you, we have been forced to implement a more drastic code vetting process,” a TVAddons representative told us previously.

Despite the absence of several of the most used add-ons, the repository has managed to regain many of its former users. Over the past month, TVAddons had over 12 million unique users. These all manually installed the new repository on their devices.

“We’re not like one of those pirate sites that are shut down and opens on a new domain the next day, getting users to actually manually install a new repo isn’t an easy feat,” a TVAddons representative informs TorrentFreak.

While it’s still far away from the 40 million unique users it had earlier this year, before the trouble began, it’s still a force to be reckoned with.

Interestingly, the vast majority of all TVAddons traffic comes from the United States. The UK is second at a respectable distance, followed by Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands.

While many former users have returned, the submission policy changes didn’t go unnoticed. The relatively small selection of add-ons is a major drawback for some, but that’s about to change as well, we are informed.

TVAddons plans to return to the old submission model where developers can upload their code more freely. Instead of proactive screening, TVAddons will rely on a standard DMCA takedown policy, relying on copyright holders to flag potentially infringing content.

“We intend on returning to a standard DMCA compliant add-on submission policy shortly, there’s no reason why we should be held to a higher standard than Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Reddit given the fact that we don’t even host any form of streaming content in the first place.

“Our interim policy isn’t pragmatic, it’s nearly impossible for us to verify the global licensing of all forms of protected content. When you visit a website, there’s no way of verifying licensing beyond trusting them based on reputation.”

The upcoming change doesn’t mean that TVAddons will ignore its legal requirements. If they receive a legitimate takedown notice, proper action will be taken, as always. As such, they would operate in the same fashion as other user-generated sites.

“Right now our interim addon submission policy is akin to North Korea. We always followed the law and will always continue to do so. Anytime we’ve received a legitimate complaint we’ve acted upon it in an expedited manner.

“Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other online communities would have never existed if they were required to approve the contents of each user’s submissions prior to public posting.”

The change takes place while the two court cases are still pending. TVAddons is determined to keep up this fight. Meanwhile, they are also asking the public to support the project financially.

While some copyright holders, including those who are fighting the service in court, might not like the change, TVAddons believes that this is well within their rights. And with support from groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they don’t stand alone in this.

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Digital Rights Groups Warn Against Copyright “Parking Tickets” Bill

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/digital-rights-groups-warn-against-copyright-parking-tickets-bill-171203/

Nearly five years ago, US lawmakers agreed to carry out a comprehensive review of United States copyright law.

In the following years, the House Judiciary Committee held dozens of hearings on various topics, from DMCA reform and fair use exemptions to the possibility of a small claims court for copyright offenses.

While many of the topics never got far beyond the discussion stage, there’s now a new bill on the table that introduces a small claims process for copyright offenses.

The CASE Act, short for Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement, proposes to establish a small claims court to resolve copyright disputes outside the federal courts. This means that legal costs will be significantly reduced.

The idea behind the bill is to lower the barrier for smaller copyright holders with limited resources, who usually refrain from going to court. Starting a federal case with proper representation is quite costly, while the outcome is rather uncertain.

While this may sound noble, digital rights groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Public Knowledge, warn that the bill could do more harm than good.

One of the problems they signal is that the proposed “Copyright Claims Board” would be connected to the US Copyright Office. Given this connection, the groups fear that the three judges might be somewhat biased towards copyright holders.

“Unfortunately, the Copyright Office has a history of putting copyright holders’ interests ahead of other important legal rights and policy concerns. We fear that any small claims process the Copyright Office conducts will tend to follow that pattern,” EFF’s Mitch Stoltz warns.

The copyright claims board will have three judges who can hear cases from all over the country. They can award damages awards of up to $15,000 per infringement, or $30,000 per case.

Participation is voluntary and potential defendants can opt-out. However, if they fail to do so, any order against them can still be binding and enforceable through a federal court.

An opt-in system would be much better, according to EFF, as that would prevent abuse by copyright holders who are looking for cheap default judgments.

“[A]n opt-in approach would help ensure that both participants affirmatively choose to litigate their dispute in this new court, and help prevent copyright holders from abusing the system to obtain inexpensive default judgments that will be hard to appeal.”

While smart defendants would opt-out in certain situations, those who are less familiar with the law might become the target of what are essentially copyright parking tickets.

“Knowledgeable defendants will opt out of such proceedings, while legally unsophisticated targets, including ordinary Internet users, could find themselves committed to an unfair, accelerated process handing out largely unappealable $5,000 copyright parking tickets,” EFF adds.

In its current form, the small claims court may prove to be an ideal tool for copyright trolls, including those who made a business out of filing federal cases against alleged BitTorrent pirates.

This copyright troll issue angle highlighted by both EFF and Public Knowlege, who urge lawmakers to revise the bill.

“[I]t’s not hard to see how trolls and default judgments could come to dominate the system,” Public Knowledge says.

“Instead of creating a reliable, fair mechanism for independent artists to pursue scaled infringement claims online, it would establish an opaque, unaccountable legislation mill that will likely get bogged down by copyright trolls and questionable claimants looking for a payout,” they conclude.

Various copyright holder groups are more positive about the bill. The Copyright Alliance, for example, says that it will empower creators with smaller budgets to protect their rights.

“The next generation of creators deserves copyright protection that is as pioneering and forward-thinking as they are. They deserve practical solutions to the real-life problems they face as creators. This bill is the first step.”

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Could a Single Copyright Complaint Kill Your Domain?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/could-a-single-copyright-complaint-kill-your-domain-171203/

It goes without saying that domain names are a crucial part of any site’s infrastructure. Without domains, sites aren’t easily findable and when things go wrong, the majority of web users could be forgiven for thinking that they no longer exist.

That was the case last week when Canada-based mashup site Sowndhaus suddenly found that its domain had been rendered completely useless. As previously reported, the site’s domain was suspended by UK-based registrar DomainBox after it received a copyright complaint from the IFPI.

There are a number of elements to this story, not least that the site’s operators believe that their project is entirely legal.

“We are a few like-minded folks from the mashup community that were tired of doing the host dance – new sites welcome us with open arms until record industry pressure becomes too much and they mass delete and ban us,” a member of the Sowndhaus team informs TF.

“After every mass deletion there are a wave of producers that just retire and their music is lost forever. We decided to make a more permanent home for ourselves and Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act gave us the opportunity to do it legally.
We just want a small quiet corner of the internet where we can make music without being criminalized. It seems insane that I even have to say that.”

But while these are all valid concerns for the Sowndhaus community, there is a bigger picture here. There is absolutely no question that sites like YouTube and Soundcloud host huge libraries of mashups, yet somehow they hang on to their domains. Why would DomainBox take such drastic action? Is the site a real menace?

“The IFPI have sent a few standard DMCA takedown notices [to Sowndhaus, indirectly], each about a specific track or tracks on our server, asking us to remove them and any infringing activity. Every track complained about has been transformative, either a mashup or a remix and in a couple of cases cover versions,” the team explains.

But in all cases, it appears that IFPI and its agents didn’t take the time to complain to the site first. They instead went for the site’s infrastructure.

“[IFPI] have never contacted us directly, even though we have a ‘report copyright abuse’ feature on our site and a dedicated copyright email address. We’ve only received forwarded emails from our host and domain registrar,” the site says.

Sowndhaus believes that the event that led to the domain suspension was caused by a support ticket raised by the “RiskIQ Incident Response Team”, who appear to have been working on behalf of IFPI.

“We were told by DomainBox…’Please remove the unlawful content from your website, or the domain will be suspended. Please reply within the next 5 working days to ensure the request was actioned’,” Sowndhaus says.

But they weren’t given five days, or even one. DomainBox chose to suspend the Sowndhaus.com domain name immediately, rendering the site inaccessible and without even giving the site a chance to respond.

“They didn’t give us an option to appeal the decision. They just took the IFPI’s word that the files were unlawful and must be removed,” the site informs us.

Intrigued at why DomainBox took the nuclear option, TorrentFreak sent several emails to the company but each time they went unanswered. We also sent emails to Mesh Digital Ltd, DomainBox’s operator, but they were given the same treatment.

We wanted to know on what grounds the registrar suspended the domain but perhaps more importantly, we wanted to know if the company is as aggressive as this with its other customers.

To that end we posed a question: If DomainBox had been entrusted with the domains of YouTube or Soundcloud, would they have acted in the same manner? We can’t put words in their mouth but it seems likely that someone in the company would step in to avoid a PR disaster on that scale.

Of course, both YouTube and Soundcloud comply with the law by taking down content when it infringes someone’s rights. It’s a position held by Sowndhaus too, even though they do not operate in the United States.

“We comply fully with the Copyright Act (Canada) and have our own policy of removing any genuinely infringing content,” the site says, adding that users who infringe are banned from the platform.

While there has never been any suggestion that IFPI or its agents asked for Sowndhaus’ domain to be suspended, it’s clear that DomainBox made a decision to do just that. In some cases that might have been warranted, but registrars should definitely aim for a clear, transparent and fair process, so that the facts can be reviewed and appropriate action taken.

It’s something for people to keep in mind when they register a domain in future.

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Google Says It Can’t Filter Pirated Content Proactively

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-says-it-cant-filter-pirated-content-proactively-171202/

Over the past few years the entertainment industries have repeatedly asked Google to step up its game when it comes to its anti-piracy efforts.

These calls haven’t fallen on deaf ears and Google has steadily implemented various anti-piracy measures in response.

Still, that is not enough. At least, according to several prominent music industry groups who are advocating a ‘Take Down, Stay Down’ approach.

Currently, Google mostly responds to takedown requests that are sent in by copyright holders. The search engine deletes the infringing results and demotes the domains of frequent infringers. However, the same content often reappears on other sites, or in another location on the same site.

Earlier this year a group of prominent music groups stated that the present situation forces rightsholders to participate in a never-ending game of whack-a-mole which doesn’t fix the underlying problem. Instead, it results in a “frustrating, burdensome and ultimately ineffective takedown process.”

While Google understands the rationale behind the complaints, the company doesn’t believe in a more proactive solution. This was reiterated by Matt Brittin, President of EMEA Business & Operations at Google, during the Royal Television Society Event in London this week.

“The music industry has been quite tough with us on this. They’d like us proactively to know this stuff. It’s just not possible in this industry,” Brittin said.

That doesn’t mean that Google is sitting still. Brittin stresses that the company has invested millions in anti-piracy tools. That said, there can always be room for improvement.

“What we’ve tried to do is build tools that allow them to do that at scale easily and that work all together … I’m sure there are places where we could do better. There are teams and millions of dollars invested in this.

“Combatting bad acts and piracy is obviously very important to us,” Brittin added.

While Google sees no room for proactive filtering in search results, music industry insiders believe it’s possible.

Ideally, they want some type of automated algorithm or technology that removes infringing results without a targeted DMCA notice. This could be similar to YouTube’s Content-ID system, or the hash filtering mechanisms Google Drive employs, for example.

For now, however, there’s no sign that Google will go beyond the current takedown notice approach, at least for search. A ‘Take Down, Stay Down’ mechanism wouldn’t “understand” when content is authorized or not, the company previously noted.

And so, the status quo is likely to remain, at least for now.

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Mashup Site Hit With Domain Suspension Following IFPI Copyright Complaint

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mashup-site-hit-with-domain-suspension-following-ifpi-copyright-complaint-171127/

Mashups are musical compositions, usually made up of two or more tracks seamlessly blended together, which bring something fresh and new to the listener.

There are hundreds of stunning examples online, many created in hobbyist circles, with dedicated communities sharing their often brilliant work.

However, the majority of mashups have something in common – they’re created without any permission from the copyright holders’ of the original tracks. As such they remain controversial, as mashup platform Sowndhaus has just discovered.

This Canada-based platform allows users to upload, share and network with other like-minded mashup enthusiasts. It has an inbuilt player, somewhat like Soundcloud, through which people can play a wide range of user-created mashups. However, sometime last Tuesday, Sowndhaus’ main domain, Sowndhaus.com, became unreachable.

Sowndhaus: High-quality mashups

The site’s operators say that they initially believed there was some kind of configuration issue. Later, however, they discovered that their domain had been “purposefully de-listed” from its DNS servers by its registrar.

“DomainBox had received a DMCA notification from the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) and immediately suspended our .com domain,” Sowndhaus’ operators report.

At this point it’s worth noting that while Sowndhaus is based and hosted in Canada, DomainBox is owned by UK-based Mesh Digital Limited, which is in turn owned by GoDaddy. IFPI, however, reportedly sent a US-focused DMCA notice to the registrar which noted that the music group had “a good faith belief” that activity on Sowndhaus “is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.”

While mashups have always proved controversial, Sowndhaus believe that they operate well within Canadian law.

“We have a good faith belief that the audio files allegedly ‘infringing copyright’ in the DMCA notification are clearly transformative works and meet all criteria for ‘Non-commercial User-generated Content’ under Section 29.21 of the Copyright Act (Canada), and as such are authorized by the law,” the site says.

“Our service, servers, and files are located in Canada which has a ‘Notice and Notice regime’ and where DMCA (a US law) has no jurisdiction. However, the jurisdiction for our .com domain is within the US/EU and thus subject to its laws.”

Despite a belief that the site operates lawfully, Sowndhaus took a decision to not only take down the files listed in IFPI’s complaint but also to ditch its .com domain completely. While this convinced DomainBox to give control of the domain back to the mashup platform, Sowndhaus has now moved to a completely new domain (sowndhaus.audio), to avoid further issues.

“We neither admit nor accept that any unlawful activity or copyright infringement with respect to the DMCA claim had taken place, or has ever been permitted on our servers, or that it was necessary to remove the files or service under Section 29.21 of the Copyright Act (Canada) with which we have always been, and continue to be, in full compliance,” the site notes.

“The use of copyright material as Non-commercial User-generated Content is authorized by law in Canada, where our service resides. We believe that the IFPI are well aware of this, are aware of the jurisdiction of our service, and therefore that their DMCA notification is a misrepresentation of copyright.”

Aside from what appears to have been a rapid suspension of Sowndhaus’ .com domain, the site says that it is being held to a higher standard of copyright protection that others operating under the DMCA.

Unlike YouTube, for example, Sowndhaus says it pro-actively removes files found to infringe copyright. It also bans users who use the site to commit piracy, as per its Terms of Service.

“This is a much stronger regime than would be required under the DMCA guidelines where users generally receive warnings and strikes before being banned, and where websites complying with the DMCA and seeking to avoid legal liability do not actively seek out cases of infringement, leading to some cases of genuine piracy remaining undetected on their services,” the site says.

However, the site remains defiant in respect of the content it hosts, noting that mashups are transformative works that use copyright content “in new and creative ways to form new works of art” and as such are legal for non-commercial purposes.

That hasn’t stopped it from being targeted by copyright holders in the past, however.

This year three music-based organizations (IFPI, RIAA, and France’s SCPP) have sent complaints to Google about the platform, targeting close to 200 URLs. However, at least for more recent complaints, Google hasn’t been removing the URLs from its indexes.

Complaints sent to Google about Sowndhaus in 2017<

Noting that corporations are using their powers “to hinder, stifle, and silence protected new forms of artistic expression with no repercussions”, Sowndhaus says that it is still prepared to work with copyright holders but wishes they would “reconsider their current policies and accept non-commercial transformative works as legitimate art forms with legal protections and/or exemptions in all jurisdictions.”

While Sowndhaus is now operating from a new domain, the switch is not without its inconveniences. All URLs with links to files on sowndhaus.com are broken but can be fixed by changing the .com to .audio.

DomainBox did not respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

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‘Netflix’ Takedown Request Targets “Stranger Things” Subreddit (Update)

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-takedown-request-targets-stranger-things-subreddit-171126/

Netflix offers a great selection of movies and TV-shows and dozens of millions of people can’t go a week without it.

Netflix is seen as an alternative to piracy. However, since Netflix’s priorities are shifting more to the production of original content, piracy is also a problem.

The streaming service now has its own anti-piracy unit and works with third-party vendors to remove unauthorized content from the Internet. This includes links to their shows in Google’s search results.

While most requests are legitimate, a recent takedown notice targeting “Stranger Things,” was a bit off. Tucked in between various pirate sites, we spotted articles from news sites Express and The Wrap.

(Update: The notice in question appears to be fake/fraudulent, see update below. This is potentially an even problematic.)

Strange?

The Express article has an obvious clickbait title aimed to attract freeloaders: “Stranger Things season 2 streaming – How to watch Stranger Things online for FREE in UK.”

While there are no references to infringing content in the piece, it’s at least understandable that Netflix’ anti-piracy partner confused by it. The Wrap article, however, doesn’t even hint at anything piracy related.

That’s not all though. Netflix’s takedown request also lists the “Stranger Things” subreddit. This community page has nearly a quarter million followers and explicitly forbids any pirated content. Still, Netflix wanted it removed from Google’s search results.

Stranger Things subreddit

To give Netflix the benefit of doubt, it’s always possible that a link to pirated content slipped through at the time the notice was sent. But, if that was the case they should have at least targeted the link to the full Reddit post as well.

The more likely scenario is that there was some sort of hiccup in the automated takedown software, or perhaps a human error of some kind. Stanger things have happened.

The good news is that Google came to the rescue. After reviewing the takedown notice, the three mentioned links were discarded. This means that the subreddit is still available in Google’s search results. For now.

Reddit itself is also quite skilled at spotting faulty takedown requests. While it’s unknown whether they were contacted directly by Netflix’s anti-piracy partner, the company rejects more than half of all DMCA takedown requests it receives.

Update: A spokesman from IP Arrow, who are listed as the sender, they have nothing to do with the takedown notice. This suggests that some third party not related to IP Arrow or Netflix may have submitted it.

IP Arrow will ask Google to look into it. Strange things are clearly happening here.

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Twitter Sued Over Slow Response to DMCA Takedown Request

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/twitter-sued-over-slow-response-to-dmca-takedown-request-171112/

In common with many other user-generated content sites, Twitter is used by some of its members to host or link to copyright-infringing material.

If rightsholders submit a takedown request, Twitter swiftly takes the infringing content down. Over the past several months the company has processed thousands of requests and complied with most of them.

However, a new lawsuit filed in a California federal court suggests that Twitter’s takedown efforts aren’t perfect.

Rhode Island-based photographer Kristen Pierson filed a complaint against Twitter, accusing the company of hosting and linking to one of her works without permission.

The photo in question, taken at an Alice in Chains concert in 2006, was posted by Twitter user Karen Juanita. After Pierson found out she sent a DMCA takedown notice to Twitter on April 26 of this year.

Twitter promptly replied that it had “disabled access” to the photo, but this didn’t happen right away. While Twitter noted that it could take some time for the removal to propagate, it appears that something went wrong.

Twitter’s response

According to the complaint, it took 90 days before it was effectively taken down. It seems unlikely that Twitter intentionally waited three months, but Pierson is not looking for an excuse. Instead, she’s demanding damages from the social media outfit.

“Twitter had actual knowledge of the direct infringement and contributory infringement. Pierson provided notice to Twitter in compliance with the DMCA, and Twitter failed to expeditiously disable access to or remove the Copyrighted Photograph from their servers,” the complaint notes.

“Alternatively, Twitter directly infringed Pierson’s copyrights by continuing to allow public access to the Copyrighted Photograph on Twitter’s server or on servers controlled by Twitter.”

Theoretically, damages could go up to $150,000, should willful copyright infringement be proven. However, it’s more likely that both parties will settle their differences, or that the case will be dismissed for other reasons.

This isn’t the first time that Twitter has been sued for failing to promptly remove infringing content. Several photographers, including Pierson herself, have done so before. In most cases, these lawsuits are settled after a few weeks, behind closed doors.

A copy of the complaint is available here (pdf).

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US Court Grants ISPs and Search Engine Blockade of Sci-Hub

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-court-grants-isps-and-search-engine-blockade-of-sci-hub-171106/

Earlier this year the American Chemical Society (ACS), a leading source of academic publications in the field of chemistry, filed a lawsuit against Sci-Hub and its operator Alexandra Elbakyan.

The non-profit organization publishes tens of thousands of articles a year in its peer-reviewed journals. Because many of these are available for free on Sci-Hub, ACS wants to be compensated.

Sci-Hub was made aware of the legal proceedings but did not appear in court. As a result, a default was entered against the site.

In addition to millions of dollars in damages, ACS also requested third-party Internet intermediaries to take action against the site.

The broad request was later adopted in a recommendation from Magistrate Judge John Anderson. This triggered a protest from the tech industry trade group CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, that warned against the broad implications. However, this amicus brief was denied.

Just before the weekend, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a final decision which is a clear win for ACS. The publisher was awarded the maximum statutory damages of $4.8 million for 32 infringing works, as well as a permanent injunction.

The injunction is not limited to domain name registrars and hosting companies, but expands to search engines, ISPs and hosting companies too, who can be ordered to stop linking to or offering services to Sci-Hub.

“Ordered that any person or entity in active concert or participation with Defendant Sci-Hub and with notice of the injunction, including any Internet search engines, web hosting and Internet service providers, domain name registrars, and domain name registries, cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites through which Sci-Hub engages in unlawful access to, use, reproduction, and distribution of ACS’s trademarks or copyrighted works,” the injunction reads.

part of the injunction

There is a small difference with the recommendation from the Magistrate Judge. Instead of applying the injunction to all persons “in privity” with Sci-Hub, it now applies to those who are “in active concert or participation” with the pirate site.

The injunction means that Internet providers, such as Comcast, can be requested to block users from accessing Sci-Hub. That’s a big deal since pirate site blockades are not common in the United States. The same is true for search engine blocking of copyright-infringing sites.

It’s clear that the affected Internet services will not be happy with the outcome. While the CCIA’s attempt to be heard in the case failed, it’s likely that they will protest the injunction when ACS tries to enforce it.

Previously, Cloudflare objected to a similar injunction where the RIAA argued that it was “in active concert or participation” with the pirate site MP3Skull. Here, Cloudflare countered that the DMCA protects the company from liability for the copyright infringements of its customers, limiting the scope of anti-piracy injunctions.

However, a Florida federal court ruled that the DMCA doesn’t apply in these cases.

It’s likely that ISPs and search engines will lodge similar protests if ACS tries to enforce the injunction against them.

While this case is crucial for copyright holders and Internet services, Sci-Hub itself doesn’t seem too bothered by the blocking prospect or the millions in damages it must pay on paper.

It already owes Elsevier $15 million, which it can’t pay, and a few million more or less doesn’t change anything. Also, the site has a Tor version which can’t be blocked by Internet providers, so determined scientists will still be able to access the site if they want.

The full order is available here (pdf) and a copy of the injunction can be found here (pdf).

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Appeals Court Grills Cox and BMG in Piracy Liability Case

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/appeals-court-grills-cox-and-bmg-in-piracy-liability-case-171027/

December 2015, a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and ordered to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

Cox swiftly filed its appeal arguing that the district court made several errors that may ultimately restrict the public’s access to Internet services.

This week the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit heard oral argument from both sides, which turned out to be an interesting exercise. The panel of judges Motz, Shedd, and Wynn grilled of both attorneys in an effort to distill the crucial arguments.

Cox attorney Michael Elkin was first up. Among other things, he stressed that Cox didn’t have actual and sufficient knowledge of the claimed infringements.

While BMG uncovered internal Cox emails discussing how frequent offenders were kept on board, these were not specifically discussing BMG infringed works, he argues. However, Judge Wynn stressed that the emails in question did discuss Cox’s policy of not disconnecting infringers.

“But they’re talking about the general abuse department in terms of, where we get these things, this is what we’re going to do with them because we don’t want to lose customers. I mean, it’s the same thing,” he said.

It’s also clear that BMG sent over a million takedown notices to Cox. However, since these were not the ones referenced in the company’s internal emails, these are irrelevant when it comes to the company’s liability for alleged contributory infringement, Cox’s attorney noted.

The back and forth over various issues became rather lively up to a point where Elkin was asked to stop interrupting. “When a judge speaks, you have to be quiet,” Judge Shedd said.

BMG attorney Michael Allan was next in line to present his arguments, which were also carefully dissected by the judges. The attorney stressed that in addition to the takedown notices, BMG provided Cox with a wealth of information on the alleged infringers.

He explained that they sent 1.8 million takedown notices to Cox. When asked what the Internet provider should do with all these notices, Allan mentioned the dashboard they made available, which would help the ISP to check all claims.

“We also provided them with a dashboard. It’s a searchable website that they can search by most egregious repeat infringer, they can pull up every single piece of information we’ve ever provided to them, and they can play the actual songs that were downloaded,” BMG’s attorney said.

Judge Wynn, however, questioned whether the ISP’s abuse department would listen to thousands of infringing songs.

“An internet service provider is going to receive 20,000 of these things per day, 1.8 million a year, or whatever, I don’t care. And they’re going to start playing songs and things like that to see if it’s going on?

“You think that’s where this case is going to go?” Wynn added.

The judges then moved on to the repeat infringer question. An important question asked, was what a ‘repeat infringer’ actually is. BMG’s attorney described this as “someone who repeatedly infringes copyright,” but that wasn’t enough.

“How does somebody know a third party is an infringer? ‘Cause you say so?” Judge Shedd asked.

Cox, for example, sees a repeat infringer as someone who has been previously adjudicated, not someone who has received several takedown notices. Eventually, all had to admit that a repeat infringer is not clearly defined in the DMCA.

Judge Wynn then moved on to highlight another peculiarity. While this case deals with Cox’s failure to implement a repeat infringer policy, this legal requirement by itself is rather meaningless. Even when subscribers are disconnected, they can still join another ISP or come back to Cox after a few months, which makes it pointless.

“As Judge Motz indicated it’s not a perfect solution,” BMG’s lawyer commented.

“It’s not even a good one,” Judge Wynn added.

Another controversial topic that came up is the fact that Cox refused to pass on BMG’s demands because the ISP saw the included settlement demands as extortion. While BMG’s attorney tried to downplay the money issue, Judge Shedd made it very clear what this case is actually about.

“[The DMCA notice] says: you are infringing, you can go to this website and click and pay us $20 or $30. If not, you’re looking at a $150,000 fine. It was about collecting money. We don’t dance around that do we?” Shedd said.

Both Cox and BMG ultimately wanted money from the allegedly infringing subscribers, who might now face an even bigger threat.

“You have two corporations fighting over money, which may be justified. But the net effect of this battle is going to be up against another policy, which is, I think it is the policy, that people should have access to the Internet,” Judge Shedd said.

While the case can still go either way, the oral hearing suggests that the panel of judges is not putting too much weight on the notices sent by BMG. The internal emails from Cox appear to be the key part. Still, we’ll have to wait for the full opinion to see if that’s really true.

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

Artists Highlight YouTube Piracy and Poor Payments in New Ad Campaign

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/artists-highlight-youtube-piracy-and-poor-payments-in-new-ad-campaign-171026/

YouTube is the world’s leading video and music service and has partnerships with thousands of artists and other publishers around the globe.

While many are happy with the revenue they’re generating from the Google-owned platform, there has been a lot of negative commentary as well.

Several major record labels are complaining about the so-called ‘value gap‘ and the low payouts per streaming view, for example. This view is shared by the Content Creators Coalition (c3), an artist-run advocacy organization for musicians.

The group has just released two new ads calling on the streaming service to give artists more options to prevent piracy while calling on Congress to update the DMCA.

Rehashing the old Apple vs. Microsoft ad theme, the first video depicts an artist who is trying to get pirated content removed from the site. In the ad, YouTube is not particularly helpful, suggesting that pirated content is quickly re-uploaded after it’s removed.

Interestingly, there is no mention of the Content-ID program which many creators successfully use to prevent pirated content from reappearing. The vast majority (98%) of all copyright complaints are currently handled automatically through the Content-ID system.

Takedown Whack-a-Mole?

The second ad complains about poor payments. In this video, the artist gets paid more from all smaller streaming services, even though these generated only a fraction of the views compared to YouTube.

This complaint is not new either. Over the past several years, YouTube has been called out repeatedly for not paying enough. Not only that, the streaming service has also been accused of running a DMCA protection racket, profiting from pirated streams while hiding behind the DMCA’s safe harbor protections.

Pennies?

The Content Creators Coalition says that the advertisements will run on YouTube and other digital platforms as part of a significant new ad buy.

“Google’s YouTube has shortchanged artists while earning billions of dollars of our music. Artists know YouTube can do better,” c3 President and award-winning bassist Melvin Gibbs says.

“So, rather than hiding behind outdated laws, YouTube and Google should work to give artists more control over our music and pay music creators fairly when our songs are played on their platform.”

While these complaints are nothing new for YouTube, they are also intended to rally support from the public and lawmakers.

“Our ads send a message to the executives in Mountain View that artists are fighting back and mobilizing fans to push Congress to update the DMCA and end the legal neglect that has given Big Tech too much power over our work and society,” Gibbs adds.

YouTube itself paints an entirely different picture. The company previously stated that it goes above and beyond what it’s required to do by law, while paying billions to copyright holders.

“Content ID goes beyond a simple ‘notice-and-takedown’ system to provide a set of automated tools that empowers rightsholders to automatically claim their content and choose whether to track, block or monetize it on YouTube,” senior policy counsel Katherine Oyama noted.

“YouTube has paid out over $2 billion to rightsholders who have monetized their content through Content ID since it first launched. In fact, today well over 90% of all Content ID claims across the platform result in monetization.”

This music industry vs YouTube battle is far from over.

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