Tag Archives: Domain Seizure

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.