Tag Archives: Domain Seizure

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.

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

Tech Giants Protest Looming US Pirate Site Blocking Order

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/tech-giants-protest-looming-us-pirate-site-blocking-order-171013/

While domain seizures against pirate sites are relatively common in the United states, ISP and search engine blocking is not. This could change soon though.

In an ongoing case against Sci-Hub, regularly referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” a magistrate judge in Virginia recently recommended a broad order which would require search engines and Internet providers to block the site.

The recommendation followed a request from the academic publisher American Chemical Society (ACS) that wants these third-party services to make the site in question inaccessible. While Sci-Hub has chosen not to defend itself, a group of tech giants has now stepped in to prevent the broad injunction from being issued.

This week the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes members such as Cloudflare, Facebook, and Google, asked the court to limit the proposed measures. In an amicus curiae brief submitted to the Virginia District Court, they share their concerns.

“Here, Plaintiff is seeking—and the Magistrate Judge has recommended—a permanent injunction that would sweep in various Neutral Service Providers, despite their having violated no laws and having no connection to this case,” CCIA writes.

According to the tech companies, neutral service providers are not “in active concert or participation” with the defendant, and should, therefore, be excluded from the proposed order.

While search engines may index Sci-Hub and ISPs pass on packets from this site, they can’t be seen as “confederates” that are working together with them to violate the law, CCIA stresses.

“Plaintiff has failed to make a showing that any such provider had a contract with these Defendants or any direct contact with their activities—much less that all of the providers who would be swept up by the proposed injunction had such a connection.”

Even if one of the third party services could be found liable the matter should be resolved under the DMCA, which expressly prohibits such broad injunctions, the CCIA claims.

“The DMCA thus puts bedrock limits on the injunctions that can be imposed on qualifying providers if they are named as defendants and are held liable as infringers. Plaintiff here ignores that.

“What ACS seeks, in the posture of a permanent injunction against nonparties, goes beyond what Congress was willing to permit, even against service providers against whom an actual judgment of infringement has been entered.That request must be rejected.”

The tech companies hope the court will realize that the injunction recommended by the magistrate judge will set a dangerous precedent, which goes beyond what the law is intended for, so will impose limits in response to their concerns.

It will be interesting to see whether any copyright holder groups will also chime in, to argue the opposite.

CCIA’s full amicus curiae brief is available here (pdf).

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

SOPA Ghosts Hinder U.S. Pirate Site Blocking Efforts

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/sopa-ghosts-hinder-u-s-pirate-site-blocking-efforts-171008/

Website blocking has become one of the entertainment industries’ favorite anti-piracy tools.

All over the world, major movie and music industry players have gone to court demanding that ISPs take action, often with great success.

Internal MPAA research showed that website blockades help to deter piracy and former boss Chris Dodd said that they are one of the most effective anti-tools available.

While not everyone is in agreement on this, the numbers are used to lobby politicians and convince courts. Interestingly, however, nothing is happening in the United States, which is where most pirate site visitors come from.

This is baffling to many people. Why would US-based companies go out of their way to demand ISP blocking in the most exotic locations, but fail to do the same at home?

We posed this question to Neil Turkewitz, RIAA’s former Executive Vice President International, who currently runs his own consulting group.

The main reason why pirate site blocking requests have not yet been made in the United States is down to SOPA. When the proposed SOPA legislation made headlines five years ago there was a massive backlash against website blocking, which isn’t something copyright groups want to reignite.

“The legacy of SOPA is that copyright industries want to avoid resurrecting the ghosts of SOPA past, and principally focus on ways to creatively encourage cooperation with platforms, and to use existing remedies,” Turkewitz tells us.

Instead of taking the likes of Comcast and Verizon to court, the entertainment industries focused on voluntary agreements, such as the now-defunct Copyright Alerts System. However, that doesn’t mean that website blocking and domain seizures are not an option.

“SOPA made ‘website blocking’ as such a four-letter word. But this is actually fairly misleading,” Turkewitz says.

“There have been a variety of civil and criminal actions addressing the conduct of entities subject to US jurisdiction facilitating piracy, regardless of the source, including hundreds of domain seizures by DHS/ICE.”

Indeed, there are plenty of legal options already available to do much of what SOPA promised. ABS-CBN has taken over dozens of pirate site domain names through the US court system. Most recently even through an ex-parte order, meaning that the site owners had no option to defend themselves before they lost their domains.

ISP and search engine blocking is also around the corner. As we reported earlier this week, a Virginia magistrate judge recently recommended an injunction which would require search engines and Internet providers to prevent users from accessing Sci-Hub.

Still, the major movie and music companies are not yet using these tools to take on The Pirate Bay or other major pirate sites. If it’s so easy, then why not? Apparently, SOPA may still be in the back of their minds.

Interestingly, the RIAA’s former top executive wasn’t a fan of SOPA when it was first announced, as it wouldn’t do much to extend the legal remedies that were already available.

“I actually didn’t like SOPA very much since it mostly reflected existing law and maintained a paradigm that didn’t involve ISP’s in creative interdiction, and simply preserved passivity. To see it characterized as ‘copyright gone wild’ was certainly jarring and incongruous,” Turkewitz says.

Ironically, it looks like a bill that failed to pass, and didn’t impress some copyright holders to begin with, is still holding them back after five years. They’re certainly not using all the legal options available to avoid SOPA comparison. The question is, for how long?

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

RIAA Identifies Top YouTube MP3 Rippers and Other Pirate Sites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youtube2mp3’s listing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stream-Ripping Sites

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

Search-and-Download Sites

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

BitTorrent Indexing and Tracker Sites

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

Cyberlockers

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

Unlicensed Pay-for-Download Sites

– Mp3va.com
– Mp3fiesta.com

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

US Court Orders Dozens of “Pirate” Site Domain Seizures

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-court-orders-dozens-of-pirate-site-domain-seizures-170927/

ABS-CBN, the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines, has delivered another strike to pirate sites in the United States.

Last week a federal court in Florida signed a default judgment against 43 websites that offered copyright-infringing streams of ABS-CBN owned movies, including Star Cinema titles.

The order was signed exactly one day after the complaint was filed, in what appears to be a streamlined process.

The media company accused the websites of trademark and copyright infringement by making free streams of its content available without permission. It then asked the court for assistance to shut these sites down as soon as possible.

“Defendants’ websites operating under the Subject Domain Names are classic examples of pirate operations, having no regard whatsoever for the rights of ABS-CBN and willfully infringing ABS-CBN’s intellectual property.

“As a result, ABS-CBN requires this Court’s intervention if any meaningful stop is to be put to Defendants’ piracy,” ABS-CBN wrote.

Instead of a lengthy legal process that can take years to complete, ABS-CBN went for an “ex-parte” request for domain seizures, which means that the websites in question are not notified or involved in the process before the order is issued.

After reviewing the proposed injunction, US District Judge Beth Bloom signed off on it. This means that all the associated registrars must hand over the domain names in question.

“The domain name registrars for the Subject Domain Names shall immediately assist in changing the registrar of record for the Subject Domain Names, to a holding account with a registrar of Plaintiffs’ choosing..,” the order (pdf) reads.

In the days that followed, several streaming-site domains were indeed taken over. Movieonline.io, 1movies.tv, 123movieshd.us, 4k-movie.us, icefilms.ws and others are now linking to a notice page with information about the lawsuit instead.

The notice

Gomovies.es, which is also included, has not been transferred yet, but the operator appears to be aware of the lawsuit as the site now redirects to Gomovies.vg. Other domains, such as Onlinefullmovie.me, Putlockerm.live and Newasiantv.io remain online as well.

While the targeted sites together are good for thousands of daily visitors, they’re certainly not the biggest fish.

That said, the most significant thing about the case is not that these domain names have been taken offline. What stands out is the ability of an ex-parte request from a copyright holder to easily take out dozens of sites in one swoop.

Given ABS-CBN’s legal track record, this is likely not the last effort of this kind. The question now is if others will follow suit.

The full list of targeted domain is as follows.

1 movieonline.io
2 1movies.tv
3 gomovies.es
4 123movieshd.us
5 4k-movie.us
6 desitvflix.net
7 globalpinoymovies.com
8 icefilms.ws
9 jhonagemini.com
10 lambinganph.info
11 mrkdrama.com
12 newasiantv.me
13 onlinefullmovie.me
14 pariwiki.net
15 pinoychannel.live
16 pinoychannel.mobi
17 pinoyfullmovies.net
18 pinoyhdtorrent.com
19 pinoylibangandito.pw
20 pinoymoviepedia.ch
21 pinoysharetv.com
22 pinoytambayanhd.com
23 pinoyteleseryerewind.info
24 philnewsnetwork.com
25 pinoytvrewind.info
26 pinoytzater.com
27 subenglike.com
28 tambayantv.org
29 teleseryi.com
30 thepinoy1tv.com
31 thepinoychannel.com
32 tvbwiki.com
33 tvnaa.com
34 urpinoytv.com
35 vikiteleserye.com
36 viralsocialnetwork.com
37 watchpinoymoviesonline.com
38 pinoysteleserye.xyz
39 pinoytambayan.world
40 lambingan.lol
41 123movies.film
42 putlockerm.live
43 yonip.zone
43 yonipzone.rocks

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

Peru Authorities Shut Down First ‘Pirate’ Websites, Three Arrested

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/peru-authorities-shut-down-first-pirate-websites-three-arrested-170925/

For a country with a soaring crime rate, where violent car-jackings and other violent crime are reportedly commonplace, Internet piracy isn’t something that’s been high on the agenda in Peru.

Nevertheless, under pressure from rightsholders, local authorities have now taken decisive action against the country’s most popular ‘pirate’ sites.

On the orders of prosecutor Miguel Ángel Puicón, a specialized police unit carried out searches earlier this month looking for the people behind Pelis24 (Movies24) and Series24, sites that are extremely popular across all of South America, not just Peru.

Local media reports that an initial search took place in the Los Olivos district of the Lima Province where two people were arrested in connection with the sites. On the same day, a second search was executed in the town of Rimac where a third person was detained.

The case was launched following a rightsholder complaint to the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Customs Crimes and Intellectual Property in Lima. It stated that three domains – pelis24.com, pelis24.tv and series24.tv were offering unlicensed movies and TV shows to the public.

“In view of the abundant evidence, the office requested measures indicative of the right to the criminal judge. A search was carried out in search of the property and the preliminary 48-hour detention of the people investigated was requested,” authorities said in a statement.

The warrant not only covered seizure of physical items but also the domain names associated with the platforms. As shown in the image below, they now display the following seizure banner (translated from Spanish).

Pelis24/Series24 Seizure Banner

Authorities say that a detailed preliminary investigation took place in order to corroborate the information provided by the complainant. Once the measures were approved by a judge, the Prosecutor’s Office acted in coordination with the Investigations Division of the High Technology Crimes unit to carry out the operation.

According to Puicón, this is the first action against the operators of a pirate site in Peru.

“The purpose was to have the detainees close the sites voluntarily after providing us with the login codes,” he said. “We do not have a technology department, so the specialized high-tech police and complainants were present to preserve evidence.”

Local sources indicate that sentences for piracy can be as long as six years in serious cases. However, Peru has been exclusively tackling counterfeiting of physical discs, with online piracy being allowed to run rampant.

“The Office of the Prosecutor has the competency to deal with crimes against intellectual property but has been working exclusively in cases of physical piracy,” Puicón says.

“Online piracy has another connotation, we must use other procedures, another form of investigation and another strategy. Therefore, the authorities that are aware of these crimes must be trained on technological issues.”

It’s believed that at least a million Peruvians download infringing content from the Internet each week, a problem that will need to be tackled moving forward, when the authorities can gather the expertise to do so.

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

Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit Secures Funding Until 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-intellectual-property-crime-unit-secures-funding-until-2019-170823/

When compared to the wide range of offenses usually handled by the police, copyright infringement is a relatively rare offense.

Historically most connected to physical counterfeiting, in recent years infringement has regularly featured a significant online component.

Formed four years ago and run by the City of London Police, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has a mission to tackle IP crime wherever it may take place but with a special online focus. It is tightly linked to the music, movie, and publishing industries so can most often be viewed protecting their products from infringement.

PIPCU announced its arrival in the summer of 2013 and officially launched a few months later in December 2013, complete with £2.56million in funding from the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO). However, the unit had been already in operation for some time, writing warning letters to torrent and streaming site advising them to shut down – or else.

PIPCU’s initial funding secured the future of the unit until June 2015 but in October 2014, well in advance of that deadline, PIPCU secured another £3m from the IPO to fund the unit to September 2017.

Having received £5.56 million in public funds over three years, PIPCU needed to show some bang for its buck. As a result, the unit publicised numerous actions including streaming arrests, attempted domain seizures, torrent site closures and advertising disruptions. PIPCU also shut down several sports streaming and ebook sites plus a large number of proxies

With August 2017 already upon us, PIPCU should be officially out of funds in a month’s time but according to the Law Gazette, the unit is going nowhere.

An Intellectual Property Office (IPO) spokesperson told the publication that PIPCU has received £3.32m in additional funding from the government which runs from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019 – the unit’s sixth anniversary.

Much of PIPCU’s more recent activity appears to have been focused in two key areas, both operated under its ‘Operation Creative’ banner. The first concerns PIPCU’s Infringing Website List, which aims to deter advertisers from inadvertently finding ‘pirate’ sites.

Earlier this year, PIPCU claimed success after revealing a 64% drop in “mainstream advertising” revenue on 200 unauthorized platforms between January 2016 and January 2017. More recently, PIPCU revealed that gambling advertising, which is often seen on ‘pirate’ platforms, had reduced by 87% on IWL sites over the previous 12 months.

Finally, PIPCU has been taking action alongside local police forces, FACT, Sky, Virgin, BT, and The Premier League, against suppliers of so-called ‘fully loaded’ set-top boxes, many featuring Kodi bundled with illicit third party addons. However, after a fairly sustained initial flurry, the last publicized operation was in February 2017.

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

Pirate App Store Operator Jailed for Criminal Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-app-store-operator-jailed-for-criminal-copyright-infringement-170710/

Assisted by police in France and the Netherlands, the FBI took down the “pirate” Android stores Appbucket, Applanet and SnappzMarket during the summer of 2012.

The domain seizures were the first ever against “rogue” mobile app marketplaces and followed similar actions against BitTorrent and streaming sites.

During the years that followed several people connected to the Android app sites were arrested and indicted. This is also true for the now 27-year-old Joshua Taylor, a resident of Kentwood, Michigan.

Taylor, who arranged SnappzMarket’s servers, was previously convicted of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and has now been sentenced (pdf) to 16 months in prison for his role in the operation.

According to the Department of Justice, SnappzMarket distributed more than one million pirated apps with a retail value exceeding $1.7 million.

In a sentencing memorandum, defense attorney John Lovell argued that his client never made any “profits” from his involvement, noting that the co-conspirators played a much more significant role.

“Josh Taylor is 27 years old with no other criminal history. His offense involved procuring storage space for the masterminds of the operation,” Lovell wrote. “SnappzMarket did not pay Josh. Whatever profits were generated by SnappzMarket were split between Sharp and Peterson.”

The court record further reveals that Taylor had a very tough childhood and was plagued by both mental and physical challenges.

According to the testimony from his psychologist Meredith Davis, he didn’t understand that he was committing a felonious act, and lacked the cognitive capacity do so intentionally.

The psychologist stressed that her client deeply regrets what happened and she doesn’t think it’s likely that would run into similar problems in the future.

“He has expressed a great deal of remorse for his involvement in the charged crime. Mr. Taylor possesses a high degree of vigilance to avoid any further contact with the law,” Davis wrote to the court.

Despite these arguments, U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten Sr. found a prison sentence appropriate.

While 16 months is significant, it’s not as much as 46 month prison sentence co-conspirator Scott Walton received earlier. Kody Peterson, another key SnappzMarket operator, only received a one year sentence but he agreed to do undercover work for the FBI.

Gary Edwin Sharp II, the only remaining defendant, previously pleaded guilty and is currently scheduled to be sentenced in November. Like the others, he also faces up to several years in prison.

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

The Pirate Bay Isn’t Affected By Adverse Court Rulings – Everyone Else Is

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-isnt-affected-by-adverse-court-rulings-everyone-else-is-170618/

For more than a decade The Pirate Bay has been the world’s most controversial site. Delivering huge quantities of copyrighted content to the masses, the platform is revered and reviled across the copyright spectrum.

Its reputation is one of a defiant Internet swashbuckler, but due to changes in how the site has been run in more recent times, its current philosophy is more difficult to gauge. What has never been in doubt, however, is the site’s original intent to be as provocative as possible.

Through endless publicity stunts, some real, some just for the ‘lulz’, The Pirate Bay managed to attract a massive audience, all while incurring the wrath of every major copyright holder in the world.

Make no mistake, they all queued up to strike back, but every subsequent rightsholder action was met by a Pirate Bay middle finger, two fingers, or chin flick, depending on the mood of the day. This only served to further delight the masses, who happily spread the word while keeping their torrents flowing.

This vicious circle of being targeted by the entertainment industries, mocking them, and then reaping the traffic benefits, developed into the cheapest long-term marketing campaign the Internet had ever seen. But nothing is ever truly for free and there have been consequences.

After taunting Hollywood and the music industry with its refusals to capitulate, endless legal action that the site would have ordinarily been forced to participate in largely took place without The Pirate Bay being present. It doesn’t take a law degree to work out what happened in each and every one of those cases, whatever complex route they took through the legal system. No defense, no win.

For example, the web-blocking phenomenon across the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia was driven by the site’s absolute resilience and although there would clearly have been other scapegoats had The Pirate Bay disappeared, the site was the ideal bogeyman the copyright lobby required to move forward.

Filing blocking lawsuits while bringing hosts, advertisers, and ISPs on board for anti-piracy initiatives were also made easier with the ‘evil’ Pirate Bay still online. Immune from every anti-piracy technique under the sun, the existence of the platform in the face of all onslaughts only strengthened the cases of those arguing for even more drastic measures.

Over a decade, this has meant a significant tightening of the sharing and streaming climate. Without any big legislative changes but plenty of case law against The Pirate Bay, web-blocking is now a walk in the park, ad hoc domain seizures are a fairly regular occurrence, and few companies want to host sharing sites. Advertisers and brands are also hesitant over where they place their ads. It’s a very different world to the one of 10 years ago.

While it would be wrong to attribute every tightening of the noose to the actions of The Pirate Bay, there’s little doubt that the site and its chaotic image played a huge role in where copyright enforcement is today. The platform set out to provoke and succeeded in every way possible, gaining supporters in their millions. It could also be argued it kicked a hole in a hornets’ nest, releasing the hell inside.

But perhaps the site’s most amazing achievement is the way it has managed to stay online, despite all the turmoil.

This week yet another ruling, this time from the powerful European Court of Justice, found that by offering links in the manner it does, The Pirate Bay and other sites are liable for communicating copyright works to the public. Of course, this prompted the usual swathe of articles claiming that this could be the final nail in the site’s coffin.

Wrong.

In common with every ruling, legal defeat, and legislative restriction put in place due to the site’s activities, this week’s decision from the ECJ will have zero effect on the Pirate Bay’s availability. For right or wrong, the site was breaking the law long before this ruling and will continue to do so until it decides otherwise.

What we have instead is a further tightened legal landscape that will have a lasting effect on everything BUT the site, including weaker torrent sites, Internet users, and user-uploaded content sites such as YouTube.

With The Pirate Bay carrying on regardless, that is nothing short of remarkable.

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

Swedish Govt. Mulls Tougher Punishments to Tackle Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/swedish-govt-mulls-tougher-punishments-to-tackle-pirate-sites-170131/

law-hammerWhen most country’s copyright laws were first laid down, the Internet simply did not exist. So, when the world-changing network began to develop, the law was often left playing catch-up.

Through various amendments and interpretations, many developed countries have found a way to shoehorn existing legislation to apply to the Internet era. But the fit is rarely perfect and for copyright holders keen to protect their interests, not nearly tight enough to deal with the rise of pirate sites.

Among others, Sweden is now considering its options when it comes to its future prosecutions of large-scale copyright infringement cases. As part of a review now underway, the government is accessing the powers it needs to deal with more serious cases of copyright infringement.

Police national coordinator for intellectual property crimes Paul Pintér hopes that any changes will enable police to operate more efficiently in the future.

“If you have a felony, you can get access to a whole new toolkit. In the terms of reference for the inquiry, the government mentions almost all of the points that we have previously proposed,” he told IDG.

Considering the way anti-piracy enforcement has developed over the past several years, few of the suggestions from the police come as a surprise.

At the top of the tree is treating pirate site operators as more than just large-scale copyright infringers. The Justice Department says that due to the manner in which sites are organized and the subsequent development of revenue, treating them as self-contained crime operations may be appropriate.

“With the help of well-organized sites, infringement is made fast, easy, and both openly and more or less anonymous,” says Anna Enbert, legal adviser at the Department of Justice.

“Not infrequently, there is a business motive for the major players, which is roughly comparable to organized crime. This has made infringement more extensive, difficult to investigate, and harmful in relation to both rights holders, consumers, and society at large.”

Like the UK, the current maximum sentence for online copyright infringement in Sweden is two years in prison. The UK is about to boost this to ten years via the Digital Economy Act but in recent years has seen many prosecutions carried out under fraud legislation.

This kind of amendment has caught the eyes of Sweden. By viewing ‘pirate’ sites as platforms for commercial and organized crime, harsher sentences may also become available. Currently, punishments are often limited to fines and suspended sentences.

Also on the table for discussion are domain seizures and site-blocking. In a memorandum submitted to the government last year, Pintér said that websites that violate copyright or trademark law should be blocked by ISPs. Furthermore, while preliminary investigations are underway, domain names should be seized by the authorities.

While specific provisions in law for both blockades and seizures would undoubtedly be welcomed by both police and rightsholders, current law may yet be up to the job. Attempts to seize The Pirate Bay’s domains are still ongoing and ISPs are digging in over demands to block the site. Nevertheless, both could still succeed.

In the meantime, however, the review will press ahead, although not at a speed that pleases the police. IDG notes that the investigation is to presented in February 2018, a time-scale that Paul Pintér finds unacceptable.

“The only thing is, is that the review will take far too long. It should be completed faster than a year,” he concludes.

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

Pirate App Store Operator Convicted for Criminal Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-app-store-operator-convicted-for-criminal-copyright-infringement-161119/

snappzAssisted by police in France and the Netherlands, the FBI took down the “pirate” Android stores Appbucket, Applanet, and SnappzMarket during the summer of 2012.

The domain seizures were the first ever against “rogue” mobile app marketplaces and followed similar actions against BitTorrent and streaming sites.

During the years that followed several people connected to the Android app sites were arrested and indicted. Most cases are still pending, but this week one of the operators of SnappzMarket was convicted.

The now 26-year-old Joshua Taylor, a resident of Kentwood, Michigan, was convicted of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement during a bench trial this week.

Taylor’s attorney had filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming that the indictment was inadequate and unclear, but U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten Sr. denied this request.

Taylor was found guilty instead and now awaits his sentencing, which is scheduled to take place February next year.

Taylor found guilty

taylotguilty

The Department of Justice (DoJ) is pleased with the guilty verdict. They note that Taylor and his co-conspirators distributed more than a million apps without permission from the copyright holders, causing significant losses.

“The total retail value of the more than one million pirated apps distributed by the SnappzMarket Group was estimated to have been more than $1.7 million, according to evidence presented at previous court proceedings,” DoF notes.

Two other co-conspirators, Jon Peterson Gary Edwin Sharp II, previously pleaded guilty and will be sentenced at a later date as well. The three all face up to several years in prison.

This summer, SnappzMarket’s ‘PR manager’ Scott Walton was the first of the group to receive his sentence. He was convicted to 46 months in prison for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.

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

Court Orders Landmark Mass Blocking of 152 Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-landmark-mass-blocking-of-152-pirate-sites-161108/

The Guardia di Finanza (GdF) is a department under Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance. Tasked with dealing with financial crime, in recent years the department has also been at the forefront of anti-piracy operations.

In order to disrupt the activities of pirate sites, the GdF takes direct action against site operators, with raids of sites deemed to be locally significant. Sites considered to be operated from elsewhere are regularly targeted with legal action, with most major sites now blocked by ISPs.

Now, according to lawyer Fulvia Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners law firm which specializes in Internet and copyright disputes, the GdF is engaged in the largest action yet against pirate sites.

Describing the move as “sensational”, Sarzana says 152 sites involved in the unauthorized streaming of movies and sports have been targeted by police.

Far-reaching injunctions were signed by Judge Alessandro Boffi in Rome today, which according to Sarzana are the most important since Italy began its piracy crackdown eight years ago.

“It is the most important police operation involving copyright since 2008, when this type of order was introduced in Italy,” Sarzana told TF.

“The seizures concern the largest football and movie streaming sites and covers roughly the first four pages of results on Google with regard to the search terms streaming, football and films.”

Sarzana says that the injunction orders local ISPs to block subscriber access to the sites, something that has happened many times before in the country but never on this scale in a single act.

In January 2015, around 120 sites were targeted following a complaint from 21st Century Fox’s Sky TV but this latest action is even bigger. It also challenges the total blocking efforts of local telecoms watchdog AGCOM.

“To give you a comparison, just think that in three years of activities on copyright, the Authority for the Communications Authority (AGCOM), with a lot of energy and personnel, carried out more or less the same number of injunctions of what happened today with a single Judicial Authority act,” Sarzana says.

For now the injunctions concern only blockades and there are no instructions for domain seizures. However, more trouble could lie ahead.

“The novelty of the measure is that they were also given the IP addresses of the servers, which could mean that more detailed investigations on the origin of the content were undertaken,” Sarzana says.

“At the moment it is unknown whether investigations have been made on the advertising activities related to the sites but this is the most recent trend of the Italian Financial Authorities,” he concludes.

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

Mexican Police Target Popular KickassTorrents ‘Clone,’ Seize Domain

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mexican-police-target-popular-kickasstorrents-clone-seize-domain-160923/

kickasstorrents_500x500Two months ago KickassTorrents (KAT) was shut down by the U.S. Government, following the arrest of the site’s alleged owner.

Soon after the official site went offline various mirrors and clones launched to take its place, to the pleasure of hundreds of thousands of users.

One of the most popular mirrors started as KAT.am. While this domain name was swiftly seized, and later picked up by scammers, the initial site continued to operate from kickass.cd and kickass.mx.

However, this week the site got in trouble again. Without prior notice the .MX domain name was taken out of circulation by the registry, following an intervention from Mexico’s federal police.

The authorities say they were tipped off by copyright holders and wasted no time in containing the threat.

“This action took place after various distribution companies reported intellectual property infringements. In response, staff at the Center for Prevention of Electronic Crimes started a cyber intelligence operation to locate the source where this crime was committed,” the federal police reported.

“Currently the website is out of service, and our research continues to locate the administrators,” they added.

Although there is no doubt that Kickass.mx is offline, in a rather confusing press release police keep referring to kickass.com.mx, which appears to be an unrelated website.

TorrentFreak reached out to the operator of the Kickass.mx “clone,” which is really just a Pirate Bay mirror with a KickassTorrents skin, who was surprised by the domain seizure.

“The suspension of the MX TLD was very unexpected and came as a shock to us because we used EasyDNS to register the domain name,” the Kickass.mx operator says.

EasyDNS has a track record of standing up against domain seizures and suspensions that are requested without a proper court order. However, in this case EasyDNS was bypassed as the police went directly to the MX domain registry.

“Their team is trying to get into touch with the Mexican registry to get the domain back though any positive development in this regard seems unlikely,” the operator adds.

For now, the KAT-themed site remains available from the Kickass.cd domain and more backup domains are expected to follow in the near future, probably without Mexican ties.

“We already have three more TLDs and plan to set up mirror sites on them to increase resilience,” he concludes.

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

Pirate Android App ‘Store’ Member Jailed For 46 Months

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-android-app-store-member-jailed-for-46-months-160831/

snappzAssisted by police in France and the Netherlands, the FBI took down the “pirate” Android stores Appbucket, Applanet and SnappzMarket during the summer of 2012.

The domain seizures were the first ever against “rogue” mobile app marketplaces and followed similar actions against BitTorrent and streaming sites.

During the years that followed several people connected to the Android app sites were arrested and indicted, but progress has been slow. Today, we can report on what we believe to be the first sentencing in these cases.

Earlier this month, Scott Walton of Lovejoy, Georgia, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and sentenced to 46 months in prison.

The sentence hasn’t been announced publicly by the Department of Justice, but paperwork (pdf) obtained by TorrentFreak confirms that it was handed down by Georgia District Court Judge Timothy Batten.

The Judgement

walton

According to the prosecution, one of Walton’s primary tasks was to manage public relations for SnappzMarket.

“In this role, defendant Walton monitored the Facebook fan page for SnappzMarket, provided responses to support inquiries, developed new ideas for SnappzMarket, and assisted with finding solutions to technical problems,” the indictment reads.

“In addition, defendant Walton searched for and downloaded copies of copyrighted apps, burned those copies to digital media such as compact discs, and mailed them to defendant Gary Edwin Sharp.”

The sentencing itself doesn’t come as a surprise, but it took a long time to be finalized.

Together with several co-defendants, Walton had already pleaded guilty two years ago, when he admitted to being involved in the illegal copying and distribution of more than a million pirated Android apps with a retail value of $1.7 million.

Before sentencing, Walton’s attorney Jeffrey Berhold urged the court to minimize the sentence. Citing letters from family and friends, he noted that his client can be of great value to the community.

“The Court can make this world a better place by releasing Scott Walton sooner rather than later,” Berhold wrote.

Whether these pleas helped is unknown. The 46-month sentence is short of the five years maximum, but it remains a very long time.

Initially, Walton was able to await his sentencing as a free man, but last year he was incarcerated after violating his pretrial release conditions. This means that he has already served part of his sentence.

The two other SnappzMarket members who were indicted, Joshua Ryan Taylor and Gary Edwin Sharp, are expected to be sentenced later this year. The same is true for co-conspirator Kody Jon Peterson.

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

Romanian Govt. Seizes Leading Pirate Site Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/romanian-govt-seizes-leading-pirate-site-domain-160711/

domainseizedOver the past several years, many countries in mainly Western Europe have responded to pressure from US-based companies to act against Internet piracy.

In some cases, this has involved passing new legislation to make life harder for pirates but largely it has been left to national courts and informal industry-led stakeholders groups to decide how to deal with unauthorized distribution.

In Eastern Europe, anti-piracy activity is much more limited but now it appears that tough measures can be taken when the authorities see fit. According to reports coming out of Romania, the government has seized the domain of one of the country’s most popular streaming portals.

990.ro was among Romania’s top 100 most popular sites overall and looked like this before being shut down by the state.

rom-seized1

A TorrentFreak reader familiar with the site confirmed that 990.ro was one of the most popular locations for streaming video, TV shows in particular.

“Game of Thrones episodes were live within just a few hours after airing, complete with new (local) translations. This site was huge, you could almost watch any TV show on the planet and about 90% of the latest movies,” he explained.

For now, however, the show(s) won’t go on. Following action by the government, 990.ro’s domain is now under the control of the Ministry of Justice and displays the following message.

rom-seized

While no notice was given of this seizure, the action didn’t entirely come out of the blue. In 2012, Romania’s Audiovisual Council (CNA) reported more than 40 ‘pirate’ movie and TV show websites to the police, demanding action to shut them down.

990.ro was among those reported. The list also included Vplay.ro, the largest site of its type at the time. That domain is also under the control of the Ministry of Justice. Many of the others mentioned have since shut down, moved to new domains and/or had old ones seized.

The action against 990.ro follows a similar crackdown carried out in June 2015 which received assistance from the FBI. Three sites were shut down then and several people were arrested.

Thus far there has been no reports of arrests following the latest domain seizure. However, more serious breaches of Romanian copyright law can be punishable by fines and jail sentences of up to four years.

Since 990.ro carried a lot of advertising, it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear that tax evasion and money laundering offenses are being investigated, just as they were following last year’s raids.

Local media initially reported that 990.ro is owned by Romanian news and entertainment portal Romania Online but the company is now denying the allegations.

“The 990.ro site does not belong and has never belonged to the company ROL ONLINE NETWORK SA or any other companies in the group ROL.ro,” the company said in a statement.

“990.ro site was one of the 145,232 customers of the FASTUPLOAD.ro free service that lets you store, transfer and viewing files. FASTUPLOAD.ro site is the largest Romanian storage services and file transfer and operates under Romanian law.”

According to ROL.ro’s Linkedin page, ROL.ro is indeed affiliated with FASTUPLOAD but says that any liability lies with that company, not them.

A direct IP address for 990.ro has since ceased to function and there is no news of any return for the site.

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