Tag Archives: European Court of Justice

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.

Pirate Bay Ruling is Bad News For Google & YouTube, Experts Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-ruling-is-bad-news-for-google-youtube-experts-says-170615/

After years of legal wrangling, yesterday the European Court of Justice handed down a decision in the case between Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN and ISPs Ziggo and XS4ALL.

BREIN had demanded that the ISPs block The Pirate Bay, but both providers dug in their heels, forcing the case through the Supreme Court and eventually the ECJ.

For BREIN, yesterday’s decision will have been worth the wait. Although The Pirate Bay does not provide the content that’s ultimately downloaded and shared by its users, the ECJ said that it plays an important role in how that content is presented.

“Whilst it accepts that the works in question are placed online by the users, the Court highlights the fact that the operators of the platform play an essential role in making those works available,” the Court said.

With that established the all-important matter is whether by providing such a platform, the operators of The Pirate Bay are effectively engaging in a “communication to the public” of copyrighted works. According to the ECJ, that’s indeed the case.

“The Court holds that the making available and management of an online sharing platform must be considered to be an act of communication for the purposes of the directive,” the ECJ said.

Add into the mix that The Pirate Bay generates profit from its activities and there’s a potent case for copyright liability.

While the case was about The Pirate Bay, ECJ rulings tend to have an effect far beyond individual cases. That’s certainly the opinion of Enzo Mazza, chief at Italian anti-piracy group FIMI.

“The ruling will have a major impact on the way that entities like Google operate, because it will expose them to a greater and more direct responsibility,” Mazza told La Repubblica.

“So far, Google has worked against piracy by eliminating illegal content after it gets reported. But that is not enough. It is a fairly ineffective intervention.”

Mazza says that platforms like Google, YouTube, and thousands of similar sites that help to organize and curate user-uploaded content are somewhat similar to The Pirate Bay. In any event, they are not neutral intermediaries, he insists.

The conclusion that the decision is bad for platforms like YouTube is shared by Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with Sarzana and Partners, a law firm specializing in Internet and copyright disputes.

“In the ruling, the Court has in fact attributed, for the first time, secondary liability to sharing platforms due to the violation of copyrights carried out by the users of a platform,” Sarzana informs TF.

“This will have consequences for video-sharing platforms and user-generated content sites like YouTube, but it excludes responsibility for platforms that play a purely passive role, without affecting users’ content. This the case with cyberlockers, for example.”

Sarzana says that “unfortunate judgments” like this should be expected, until the approval of a new European copyright law. Enzo Mazza, on the other hand, feels that the copyright reform debate should take account of this ruling when formulating legislation to stop platforms like YouTube exploiting copyright works without an appropriate license.

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

ISP Doesn’t Have to Expose Alleged BitTorrent Pirates, Finnish Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-doesnt-have-to-expose-alleged-bittorrent-pirates-finnish-court-rules-170615/

finlandStarting three years ago, copyright holders began sending out thousands of settlement letters to alleged pirates in Finland, a practice often described as copyright trolling.

This week, however, the local Market Court has put the brakes on these efforts, with a rather significant ruling.

In the case in question, filmmakers requested the personal information of hundreds of alleged BitTorrent users from Internet provider DNA. However, after a careful review by a panel of seven judges, the Court decided not to grant the request.

The rightsholders provided a detailed log from a BitTorrent monitoring tool as evidence. While the Court didn’t doubt that the pirated material had been shared, it questioned how significant the infringements were.

The provided list of IP-addresses and timestamps don’t show how much data was shared, or for how long.

The evidence included an overview of the total number of users sharing the same file in a single BitTorrent swarm. However, the fact that thousands of people were sharing the same file says nothing about the significance of individual infringements.

“[T]he applicant has not claimed or provided any explanation that would indicate that the distribution of its work, by an IP address in the application, would have repeatedly occurred or for a longer period of time,” the Market Court writes.

The verdict, first reported by Iltalethi, refers to a recent case in the European Court of Justice, and stressed that the significance of an infringement must be weighed against the defendants’ privacy rights. In this case, the court decided that the evidence doesn’t warrant the exposure of the alleged pirates.

“Since the applicant has not provided sufficient proof of compliance with the conditions set out in Article 60a of the Copyright Act to adoption of an application, the application must be dismissed,” the Market Court writes.

The outcome is a clear victory for the accused BitTorrent users. Time will tell whether rightsholders will adapt their evidence to the ruling, or whether they will test their luck elsewhere. The current ruling can still be appealed.

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

Streaming Site Operator Jailed For Three Years After Landmark Trial

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/streaming-site-operator-jailed-for-three-years-after-landmark-trial-170516/

Founded more than half a decade ago, Swefilmer grew to become Sweden’s most popular movie and TV show streaming site. It was credited alongside another streaming portal for serving up to 25% of all online video streaming in Sweden.

With this level of prominence, it was only a question of time before authorities stepped in to end the free streaming bonanza. In 2015, that happened when an operator of the site in his early twenties was raided by local police.

This was followed by the arrest of a now 26-year-old Turkish man in Germany, who was accused of receiving donations from users and setting up Swefilmer’s deals with advertisers.

The pair, who had never met in person, appeared at the Varberg District Court in January, together accused of making more than $1.5m from their activities between November 2013 and June 2015.

As the trial progressed, it was clear that the outcome was not likely to be a good one for the men.

Prosecutor Anna Ginner described the operation as being like “organized crime”, with lawyer Henrik Pontén of RightsAlliance claiming that the evidence only represented a small part of the money made by the pair.

From the beginning, it was always claimed that the 26-year-old was the main player behind the site, with the now 23-year-old playing a much smaller role. While the latter received an estimated $4,000 of the proceeds, the former was said to have enriched himself with more than $1.5m in advertising revenue.

The Varberg District Court has now handed down its ruling and it’s particularly bad news for the 26-year-old, who is reported to have led a luxury lifestyle with proceeds from the site.

In a short statement the court confirmed he had been convicted of 1,044 breaches of copyright law and serious money laundering offenses. He was sentenced to serve three years in prison and ordered to forfeit $1.59m. The Court was far more lenient with the younger man.

After being found guilty of four counts of copyright infringement but playing almost no role in the site’s revenue operations, no sentencing for money laundering was handed down. He was instead handed probation and ordered to complete 120 hours of community service, a sentence that was positively affected by his age when the offenses were committed.

It’s worth noting that the sentence received by the 26-year-old goes way beyond the sentences handed down even in the notorious Pirate Bay case, where defendants Fredrik Neij, Peter Sunde and Gottfrid Svartholm received 10 months, 12 months and 8 months respectively.

However, with Henrik Pontén describing the Swefilmer case as being primarily about money laundering, his group is clearly unhappy that copyright offenses aren’t considered serious enough to warrant lengthy sentences in their own right.

“We welcome the judgment, but it is clear that copyright law must be adapted to today’s serious piracy. The penalty for copyright infringement should in itself be enough to deter people from crime,” Pontén says.

“The low level of penalties allows foreign piracy organizations to locate their operations in Sweden. The trend is very worrying.”

An important factor in the case moving forward is that in determining whether infringement had taken place, the Court drew heavily on the GS Media ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice last September.

In that decision, the Court found that linking to copyrighted material is only allowed when there is no intent to profit and when the linker is unaware that the content is infringing.

When there is a profit motive, which there clearly was in the Swefilmer case, operators of a site are expected to carry out the “checks necessary” to ensure that linked works have not been illegally published.

The operators of Swefilmer failed on all counts, so the local court determined that the platform had communicated copyrighted works to the public, in breach of copyright law.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, the 23-year-old expressed relief at his relatively light sentence but noted it may not be over yet.

“I was really happy when the judgment came. The long wait is finally over,” he said.

“RightsAlliance will appeal because they did not receive any compensation for the trial. But the prosecutor is satisfied with the judgment so it is only RightsAlliance who are dissatisfied.”

According to IDG, the lawyer of the 26-year-old believes that his client’s sentence is far too severe, so there may be an appeal in that direction too.

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

BREIN ‘Hunts Down’ Pirate Media Player Vendors

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-hunts-down-pirate-media-player-vendors-170512/

A surge of cheap media players, which often use the open source Kodi software, has made it easy for people to stream video from the Internet directly to their TVs.

In some cases vendors add pirate add-ons to these devices, selling these “fully-loaded” boxes through their own stores or marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.

Over the past several years, there has been little enforcement effort on this front. However, this changed a few weeks ago, when the European Court of Justice ruled that selling devices pre-configured to obtain copyright-infringing content is illegal.

The media players themselves can still be sold, and the Kodi software is legal too, but vendors who ship boxes with pirate add-ons could get a letter from rightsholders. The Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, is particularly active on this front.

The group states that 84 vendors have already halted their sales in response to the European court ruling. Roughly half of these stopped before the ruling was announced, and 44 followed afterwards.

BREIN says that it contacted 51 sellers after the court order and 37 of these did indeed stop. The group also filed complaints against 11 vendors of which one has halted its sales, with six others stopping voluntarily.

Those who continue to offer “fully-loaded” boxes now risk hefty fines, BREIN Director Tim Kuik warns.

“The use of this type of player is causing major damage to the makers and providers of films, series, and sports broadcasts. The progress and settlements are therefore solid and run to tens of thousands of euros and more,” Kuik notes.

“The longer the vendors persist in their offering of illegal media players, the more expensive it becomes for them.”

In addition to online sellers, BREIN says it’s also keeping an eye on offline sales via markets and brick and mortar stores.

“It’s not just about webshops and ordinary stores, market traders will also get their turn. Sellers must realize that this is punishable as a crime. BREIN will ensure that this kind of crime does not pay.”

While there’s little doubt that BREIN’s efforts and threats have an effect, it appears that there are still plenty of vendors who continue to offer “fully loaded” boxes. So the ‘hunt’ is likely to continue for a while.

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

Hold ISPs Responsible For Piracy After Brexit, Music Biz Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hold-isps-responsible-for-piracy-after-brexit-music-biz-says-170512/

UK Music is an umbrella organization representing music interests in the UK, from artists and composers, through to studios, recording labels and collecting societies.

The group counts many influential bodies as members, including the BPI, PRS for Music, and licensing outfit PPL. No surprise then that it has a keen anti-piracy agenda, much in tune with its member groups.

Yesterday, UK Music published its 2017 manifesto, covering a wide range of topics from regional development, skills and education, to finance and investment. Needless to say, anti-piracy measures feature prominently, with the group urging vigilance during the Brexit process to ensure music gets a good deal.

“Copyright and its enforcement should be a key part of the trade negotiations, ensuring that our trading partners protect not only their respective creative industries but also the interests of the UK music industry,” the group says.

“Maintaining and strengthening the copyright framework is of great importance to the music industry during the Brexit negotiations and beyond.”

When the UK leaves the EU mid-2019, the government proposes to convert all EU law into UK law. According to David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the so-called Great Repeal Bill will provide “clarity and certainty” for businesses and citizens alike.

However, the Bill will also grant power for MPs to change these laws once the UK has left the EU. For UK Music, this should be a time for stability for the music business.

“Withdrawal from the EU does not require substantial changes to the UK copyright framework. This continuity is critical to ensuring confidence amongst music businesses,” the group says.

“There is no evidence of the need for new exceptions to copyright. If this is not accepted by the Government then it would only serve to take away rights and undermine the potential for growth.”

But while stressing the importance of post-Brexit stability for the music industry, UK Music sees no problem with changing the law to impose additional responsibilities on others.

“There were 7.2 billion visits to copyright-infringing stream-ripping websites in 2016, representing a 60% increase in the previous year. Withdrawal from the EU provides an opportunity for the UK to strengthen the enforcement of copyright,” the group says.

That toughening-up of the law should be focused on tech companies, UK Music insists.

“Initiatives should be developed to place responsibility on internet service providers and require them to have a duty of care for copyright protected music,” the group says.

While UK Music has a clear mandate to look after its own interests, it’s likely that service providers would also like the opportunity to enjoy both continuity and stability after the Brexit negotiations are complete. Being held responsible for piracy is unlikely to help them reach that goal.

Nevertheless, UK Musicwill require further support from ISPs, if it is to meet another of its manifesto goals. Currently, several of the UK’s largest providers are cooperating with the industry to send piracy notices to their subscribers. UK Music would like to expand the scheme.

“The Get It Right From A Genuine Site campaign, designed to promote greater copyright understanding online, is also showing evidence of success. With further support it has the potential to broaden its reach,” the organization says.

Finally, UK Music says that Brexit will give the UK an opportunity to put forward “a coherent definition of hyperlinking under copyright law.”

The group doesn’t go into specifics, but it could be argued that the recent GS Media case handled by the European Court of Justice offers all the clarity the UK needs to transfer the decision into local law.

The full manifesto can be downloaded here (pdf)

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

Illegal IPTV & VOD Provider Settles With BREIN

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/illegal-iptv-vod-provider-settles-with-brein-170504/

While movies can be obtained from BitTorrent sites and live TV watched on unlicensed streaming portals, the combined experience generally lacks convenience when compared to official services. There is, however, a massive price difference to sweeten the deal.

Illicit IPTV services, on the other hand, nicely fill the middle ground. Providing decent quality streaming TV with VOD services often alongside, they offer superior convenience at bargain basement prices. As a result, these are increasingly being targeted by copyright holders.

IPTV services are prevalent across Europe with many anti-piracy groups trying to mitigate the threat. One such outfit is Netherlands-based BREIN who recently went to court in an effort to shut down an IPTV supplier.

In an ex-parte application dated April 27, 2017, BREIN asked for an immediate injunction to prevent live TV and on-demand streams being offered by the provider. BREIN described the infringement as both “large scale” and “professional”.

According to the anti-piracy outfit, the supplier offered subscriptions costing between 80 euros and 119.95 euros per year, which provided almost 1,800 channels of infringing content.

Included in the package was a VOD service, which offered around 545 HD movies organized into categories including action, comedy, sci-fi, kids and drama. These kinds of services often contain the latest movies, beyond what even Netflix is able to offer.

Since the content provided by the supplier was accessed via a hyperlink (in this case an .M3U file), BREIN cited the recent GS Media decision from the European Court of Justice, which found that there is a communication to the public when illicit content is supplied via a for-profit link.

The anti-piracy group also noted that streams would often be accompanied by corresponding movie posters or DVD covers, which also amounts to copyright infringement according to local case law.

On May 1, 2017, the supplier received the ex parte order, upon which BREIN agreed to enter into a settlement agreement of 10,000 euros plus further potential multiple penalties of the same amount.

“The provider has the obligation to pay a penalty of 10,000 euros for each individual IPTV subscription, individual hyperlink, or day that he acts in violation of the court order and continues with the sale of IPTV subscriptions,” BREIN said in a statement.

While these amounts may sound large, the initial 10,000 euro settlement seems relatively reasonable given the substantial penalties that could be handed down following a successful direct infringement lawsuit.

Of course, if the supplier wants to avoid further penalties, his service needs to come down, something which is likely to infuriate customers that have already paid money up front. BREIN is happy to pile on the pressure in this respect and is encouraging people to be proactive.

“We advise consumers who bought such a media player and / or subscription to retrieve their money from the seller,” says Kuik.

“Once the links are no longer tracked, the boxes and subscriptions stop working. People are getting excited. It’s better to spend your money on legal offerings, so you pay for innovation and creation and you can keep enjoying new content.”

In the meantime, dozens of similar suppliers will move in to fill the gap. Whether once-bitten customers will risk another spend will remain to be seen but the usual advice around IPTV discussion forums is not to commit to long-term subscriptions – they can end in disappointment.

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

What Now For ‘Pirate’ Boxes & Streaming Following the ECJ Ruling?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/what-now-for-pirate-boxes-streaming-following-the-ecj-ruling-170429/

On Wednesday, the European Court of Justice handed down its decision in the long-running case between Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and Filmspeler.nl.

Filmspeler sold Android-type devices with Kodi software installed. However, it augmented otherwise legal setups with third-party addons designed to deliver infringing content to customers.

Filmspeler’s owners felt that its pre-configured devices were legal, but both BREIN and ultimately the ECJ disagreed, with the latter noting that their sale amounted to a “communication to the public” in respect of infringing content.

So what does this decision mean for the sale of so-called “fully-loaded” devices in the EU? In the very short term, probably very little. Longer term, some changes probably lie ahead.

Suppliers

There can be little doubt that one of the first places people turn to for such devices are places like eBay. But despite some recent UK tabloid claims that the auction site had banned their sale, a cursory search today reveals hundreds of listings for devices that are clearly configured for piracy.

Over time – whether due to eBay tightening its policies, more aggressive reporting of infringing listings by rights holders, or increased caution on the part of sellers due to prosecutions – it’s likely that these kinds of blatant ‘pirate’ listings will become much less common. However, sellers will find subtle ways to get their message across, without attracting too much attention.

For instance, people hoping to watch satellite TV without paying for an expensive subscription can head over to eBay and pop the otherwise benign terms “satellite” and “gift” into the search box. Hundreds of listings appear, the majority of which offer a pirate subscription to an illegal card-sharing service. ‘Pirate’ box sellers are likely to employ similar tactics in future.

While sprawling, eBay is relatively easy to police but the same cannot be said of the listings that appear in local classified papers. These ads are often placed by regular people who have nurtured a small cottage industry selling a few boxes per week. These people could find themselves targeted by authorities, but sheer numbers will dictate that most fly under the radar.

For suppliers still intent on shifting volume, safer strategies exist.

Pirate addons? Get ready for a DIY boom

This week’s ECJ ruling has nothing to do with the sale of basic hardware and everything to do with infringing software. In other words, if box suppliers sell devices with little other than an operating system installed, they are not breaking the law. This presents a problem, however.

A typical ‘pirate’ box buyer hasn’t got the knowledge to turn an Android device into a piracy machine, that’s why he bought the thing off eBay in the first instance. This means that these kinds of people will be much less likely to buy if they have to mess around themselves. However, if they only have to click a couple of links to get going, that probably won’t be too much of a problem.

That’s certainly the case with native Android apps such as Showbox, Popcorn Time, Mobdro, and Terrarium TV, which are all installed to a set-top device with a couple of clicks, even by the complete novice. With this in mind, it’s likely that sellers will very gently direct customers to sites offering the software and tutorials, rather than take the risk themselves.

Custom installers for Kodi (such as TVAddons’ Fusion) are also widely available and will no doubt gain further traction if the availability of pre-configured ‘pirate’ boxes is restricted. Expect there to be a lot of innovation in this area, with an emphasis on making this as close to a ‘one-click’ process as possible.

But will users be breaking the law using these setups?

In a word – probably.

Up until this week, it was widely believed that users who merely stream pirated content are not breaking the law. It was a position even held by UK Trading Standards, who have an important prosecution pending against a box seller.

But the ECJ’s decision published on Wednesday appears to have removed all doubt, noting that a “copyright-protected work obtained by streaming from a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder” does not qualify for exemption from reproduction rights.

In other words, streaming copyrighted content from an illicit source is now just as illegal in the EU as downloading from an illicit source. So what does this mean for the average ‘pirate’ box user? In the short term, probably not a great deal.

When a user downloads or streams infringing content, whether that’s from a file-hosting site, streaming portal, or even YouTube, no third parties are legally able to get in the way to monitor what’s going on. The user’s connection is directly communicating with the source, and unlike BitTorrent, there are no easily monitored and potentially risky uploads going on.

So yes, streaming is now apparently confirmed illegal but will remain a hidden offense carried out by dozens of millions of people all around the EU. Even in the face of an ECJ ruling, only their consciences will stand between them and illicit content, whether a box seller installed the addons, or if they did the deed themselves.

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

Selling Piracy-Configured Media Players is Illegal, EU Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/selling-piracy-configured-media-players-is-illegal-eu-court-rules-170426/

Probably the biggest story in online piracy scene over the past 12 months has been the massive increase in popularity of piracy-configured set-top devices.

Mostly running Android, these devices are often supplied with software such as the neutral Kodi platform augmented with third-party addons, each designed to receive the latest films, TV shows or live sports, with minimum input from the user.

One of perhaps hundreds of sites involved in these sales was Netherlands-based Filmspeler.nl (Movie Player), an online store that found itself targeted by Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. Filmspeler’s owners felt that its pre-configured devices were legal, arguing that their sale did not amount to a “communication to the public” as determined by the EU Copyright Directive.

In 2015, the Dutch District Court referred the case to the EU Court of Justice. It was asked to consider whether it’s illegal to sell a product (in this case a media player) with pre-installed add-ons containing hyperlinks to websites from where copyrighted works such as movies, TV shows and live broadcasts are made available without copyright holders’ permission.

A year later, Advocate General (AG) Campos Sánchez-Bordona issued his recommendation to the Court.

Describing how Filmspeler owner Mr. Wullems knowingly added infringing add-ons to Kodi devices, with hyperlinks to content published by known ‘pirate’ sites, the AG added that Filmspeler advertised its media players as ways to watch content without paying. This, he said, amounted to a communication to the public and hence copyright infringement.

But while the AG’s opinion was important, it is the EU Court of Justice’s opinion that holds absolute legal weight. After months of deliberation it handed down its decision a few minutes ago and it’s bad news for purveyors of ‘pirate’ devices all around the EU.

In a long and complex ruling, the ECJ said that a media player with pre-installed addons, accessed through structured menus, grants users “direct access to the protected works published without the permission of the copyright owners” and “must be regarded as an act of communication to the public.”

That large numbers of people have bought these players was taken by the Court to mean that there are an “indeterminate number of potential viewers” involving a large number of people (the public).

On the crucial question of whether the copyright works were transmitted to a “new public”, the Court found that the audience for these devices was not something taken into account by the copyright holders when they first gave permission for their works to be distributed.

Referencing the earlier GS Media case, the ECJ placed emphasis on whether links were offered in the knowledge they were infringing and whether the subsequent communication to the public had a profit element.

“It is common ground that the sale of the ‘filmerspeler’ multimedia player was made in full knowledge of the fact that the add-ons containing hyperlinks pre-installed on that player gave access to works published illegally on the internet,” the decision reads.

“In addition, it cannot be disputed that the multimedia player is supplied with a view to making a profit, the price for the multimedia player being paid in particular to obtain direct access to protected works available on streaming websites without the consent of the copyright holders.

“Therefore, it is necessary to hold that the sale of such a multimedia player constitutes a ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29.”

Having determined that such piracy-configured players can be considered infringing by EU member courts, the ECJ goes on to provide greater clarity on the status of copyrighted content streamed on the Internet without copyright holders’ permission.

The ECJ states that reproduction of content may only be exempt from reproduction rights when it fulfils five conditions:

– When the act is temporary
– When it’s transient or incidental
– When it’s an integral and essential part of a technological process
– When the sole purpose of that process is to enable a transmission in a network between third parties by an intermediary or a lawful use of a work or protected subject matter
– The act has no independent economic significance

Since copyrighted works are obtained from streaming websites without obtaining permission from copyright holders, the above standards are not completely met and no copyright exceptions are available. Streaming copyrighted content from an illicit source can therefore be considered illegal.

The Filmspeler case will now head back to the Dutch court but this decision is likely to echo all around Europe and have a notable and immediate effect on pending cases involving ‘pirate’ boxes and illicit streaming.

Update: The two key points from the decision, as published by the ECJ.

1. The concept of ‘communication to the public’, within the meaning of Article 3(1) of Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society, must be interpreted as covering the sale of a multimedia player, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, on which there are pre-installed add-ons, available on the internet, containing hyperlinks to websites — that are freely accessible to the public — on which copyright-protected works have been made available to the public without the consent of the right holders.

2. Article 5(1) and (5) of Directive 2001/29 must be interpreted as meaning that acts of temporary reproduction, on a multimedia player, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, of a copyright-protected work obtained by streaming from a website belonging to a third party offering that work without the consent of the copyright holder does not satisfy the conditions set out in those provisions.

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

Pirate Site Operators Caught By Money Trail, Landmark Trial Hears

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-operators-caught-by-money-trail-landmark-trial-hears-170411/

Founded half a decade ago, Swefilmer grew to become Sweden’s most popular movie and TV show streaming site. At one stage, Swefilmer and fellow streaming site Dreamfilm were said to account for 25% of all web TV viewing in Sweden.

In 2015, local man Ola Johansson took to the Internet to reveal that he’d been raided by the police under suspicion of being involved in running the site. In March 2016, a Turkish national was arrested in Germany on a secret European arrest warrant.

After a couple of false starts, one last June and another this January, the case finally got underway yesterday in Sweden.

The pair stand accused of the unlawful distribution of around 1,400 movies, owned by a dozen studios including Warner, Disney and Fox. Investigators tested 67 of the titles and ten had been made available online before their DVD release.

Anti-piracy group Rights Alliance claims that the site generated a lot of money from advertising without paying for the appropriate licenses. On the table are potential convictions for copyright infringement and money laundering.

Follow the money

In common with so many file-sharing related cases, it’s clear that the men in this case were tracked down from traces left online. Those included IP address evidence and money trails from both advertising revenues and site donations.

According to Sveriges Radio who were in court yesterday, police were able to trace two IP addresses used to operate Swefilmer back to Turkey.

In an effort to trace the bank account used by the site to hold funds, the prosecutor then sought assistance from Turkish authorities. After obtaining the name of the 26-year-old, the prosecutor was then able to link that with advertising revenue generated by the site.

Swefilmer also had a PayPal account used to receive donations and payments for VIP memberships. That account was targeted by an investigator from Rights Alliance who donated money via the same method. That allowed the group to launch an investigation with the payment processor.

The PayPal inquiry appears to have been quite fruitful. The receipt from the donation revealed the account name and from there PayPal apparently gave up the email and bank account details connected to the account. These were linked to the 26-year-old by the prosecutor.

Advertising

The site’s connections with its advertisers also proved useful to investigators. The prosecution claimed that Swefilmer received its first payment in 2013 and its last in 2015. The money generated, some $1.5m (14m kronor), was deposited in a bank account operated by the 26-year-old by a Stockholm-based ad company.

The court heard that while the CEO of the advertising company had been questioned in connection with the case, he is not suspected of crimes.

Connecting the site’s operators

While the exact mechanism is unclear, investigators from Rights Alliance managed to find an IP address used by the 22-year-old. This IP was then traced back to his parents’ home in Kungsbacka, Sweden. The same IP address was used to access the man’s Facebook page.

In court, the prosecution read out chat conversations between both men. They revealed that the men knew each other only through chat and that the younger man believed the older was from Russia.

The prosecution’s case is that the 26-year-old was the ring-leader and that his colleague was a minor player. With that in mind, the latter is required to pay back around $4,000, which is the money he earned from the site.

For the older man, the situation is much more serious. The prosecution is seeking all of the money the site made from advertising, a cool $1.5m.

The case was initially set to go ahead last year but was postponed pending a ruling from the European Court of Justice. Last September, the Court determined that it was illegal to link to copyrighted material if profit was being made.

Claes Kennedy, the lawyer for the 22-year-old, insists that his client did nothing wrong. His actions took place before the ECJ’s ruling so should be determined legal, he says.

The case continues.

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

Germany Approves Draft Law to Protect WiFi Operators From Piracy Liability

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/germany-approves-draft-law-to-protect-wifi-operators-from-piracy-liability-170407/

In most jurisdictions it’s standard practice for those who commit online copyright infringement to be held responsible for their own actions. In Germany, however, the situation is more complex.

Due to a legal concept known as ‘Störerhaftung’ (‘interferer liability’), a third party who played no intentional part in someone else’s infringements can be held responsible for them. This type of liability has raised its head in a number of file-sharing cases where WiFi owners have been considered liable for other people’s piracy.

As a direct result of this precarious legal position, Germany has found itself trailing behind its European neighbors when it comes to providing public Internet hotspots. Some have described the situation as an embarrassment for one of the most advanced countries in the world.

Under pressure and in response to a European Court of Justice opinion on the matter last March, the government eventually decided to rescind liability for open WiFi operators. In September, a full decision from the EU Court of Justice further underlined the position.

Since then the government has been working on changes to local law to bring it into line with EU standards. This Wednesday a third draft presented by Brigitte Zypries, Minister for Economics and Energy, was adopted by the cabinet.

Should the amendments receive parliamentary approval, businesses will be free to offer open WiFi to their customers, without fear of being held liable for their actions. They will also be able to offer truly open WiFi, with no requirement to verify the identities of users or have them log in with a password.

While copyright holders won’t be pleased by the changes, they will still have opportunities to clamp down on infringement. If a certain WiFi location is connected with online piracy, a properly filed complaint will require the operator to bar access to websites connected with the infringement.

How this will work in respect of P2P transfers like BitTorrent will remain to be seen but WiFi operators are likely to be more relaxed blocking domains in their routers than appearing in court charged with copyright infringement.

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

Streaming ‘Pirate’ Video is Illegal, High Court Judge Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/streaming-pirate-video-is-illegal-high-court-judge-says-170319/

Copyright education has come a long way in recent years, with a much greater proportion of Internet users now aware when their activities might fall foul of the law.

There is no doubt that many still have a problem with the level of freedoms available when it comes to sharing content online without copyright holders’ permission, but an understanding of how that is viewed by the authorities is certainly helpful.

In most areas certainty is available. In many jurisdictions, downloading and then sharing content online using BitTorrent, for example, is considered unlawful distribution, an act punishable by law. But what about those who only consume unauthorized content via online streaming and are not involved in dissemination?

What looks like a straightforward question does not have a straightforward answer. That’s somewhat unfortunate since streaming video is now an extremely popular activity engaged in by millions of Internet users.

Legal experts have gone back and forth on the issue of streaming for years. The idea that people who stream do not make any more than a transient copy of content on their own machine has led some to conclude the activity is either legal or sits in a gray area. That opinion is not shared by rightsholders.

One such example can be found in the case between Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and Filmspeler.nl, a store which sold “piracy configured” Kodi-type devices. The case was referred to the EU Court of Justice, where several questions were discussed during a hearing late September. One question tackled streaming directly.

“Is it lawful under EU law to temporarily reproduce content through streaming if the content originates from a third-party website where it’s made available without permission?” it asked.

Interestingly, in this case, the European Commission equated streaming to watching, which in its opinion is legal from a viewer perspective. Based on this conclusion the Advocate General is to offer a recommendation, to be followed by a final verdict from the EU Court of Justice sometime in 2017.

With that moment still to arrive and anti-piracy groups still insisting that streaming illegal content is, well, illegal, earlier this month Derbyshire Council Trading Standards in the UK offered its opinion, which essentially supports the position of the EC.

“Accessing premium paid-for content without a subscription is considered by the industry as unlawful access, although streaming something online, rather than downloading a file, is likely to be exempt from copyright laws,” a spokesperson said.

But before streaming pirates begin celebrating too much, a rather influential individual has just thrown his hat, or indeed wig, into the arena.

Mr Justice Arnold has presided over a number of important copyright cases in the UK, including those involving The Pirate Bay and Newzbin2. He hasn’t been asked to rule directly whether users who stream content break the law, but he gave an opinion on the topic as part of the recent injunction application by The Premier League.

Before handing down an order to block pirate streams of Premier League matches, Justice Arnold had to consider whether “the operators and users” of pirate servers infringed the League’s copyrights.

In respect of operators, the decision was straightforward. They have a copy of Premier League content which they distribute unlawfully to the public. It’s an open and shut case dealt with under existing case law, something that cannot be said about user streaming specifically.

Nevertheless, Justice Arnold appears to have reached his decision with ease. The Judge decided that although they do not distribute, users do make unlawful copies of Premier League content, even if they only stream it to a device.

“In the course of streaming the Works, users who access a stream cause their computer, mobile device or set-top box to create copies of the Works in the memory of those devices. In some cases, a substantial part of a Work may be copied in a single frame (for example, a Logo),” the Judge said.

In an earlier case, it was determined that no copyright exists in a live match but The Premier League (FAPL) has now closed that loophole. It now records a copy of a match momentarily before transmission to the public, so it holds a copyright in the same way as a movie or TV show company would over their products.

“[T]he Clean Live Feed for each match is now recorded prior to onward transmission and so the FAPL now claims copyright in those films. In addition, FAPL now claims copyright in new logos and graphics,” the injunction reads.

It’s worth noting that to breach the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, a person needs to copy a “substantial” part of a work, whether that’s a movie, TV show, or indeed a football match. However, despite the transient nature of streaming video to the memory of a viewer’s device, the Judge said that a substantial part of the work would be copied if users stream content in any meaningful way.

“In the case of films of matches, copying of a substantial part is very likely to occur if users stream footage of any appreciable segment of the match,” he wrote.

So what we have here is a conflict of opinion. On the one hand, the European Commission doesn’t have a problem with users streaming under EU law, and on the other, a prominent High Court Judge believes that streaming amounts to illegally copying a substantial part of a copyrighted work into a computer’s memory.

What happens from here isn’t clear, but an opinion from the European Court of Justice is awaited, which should provide greater clarity. In the meantime, consumers of unauthorized streaming content will have to wait, unsure whether they’re breaking the law or not, which is far from ideal.

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

Filmmakers Take Dutch State to Court Over Lost Piracy Revenue

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/filmmakers-take-dutch-state-court-lost-piracy-revenue-170309/

Like many other countries around the world, downloading music and movies is hugely popular in the Netherlands.

In part, the popularity was facilitated by the fact that downloading pirated music had long been legal under local law.

This tolerant stance towards online piracy changed in 2014 when the European Court of Justice ruled it to be unlawful. As a result, the Dutch Government quickly outlawed unauthorized downloading.

Despite the legislative change piracy rates remain high, much to the frustration of the local entertainment industries. Dutch filmmakers and distributors previously accused the Government of not doing enough to counter piracy, while threatening legal action.

Last year the Dutch Government denied these allegations, noting that the filmmakers could go after downloaders directly if they want to recoup their losses. However, they are not backing down.

On Tuesday a group of film and TV show companies issued a summons announcing their legal action, NRC reports. Through the court they hope to hold the Government liable, and if that’s the case, a separate damages procedure will likely follow.

“The producers could have a good chance,” says lawyer Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm, who specializes in Internet issues. The lawyer added that the film companies “must be able to demonstrate that they have suffered financial loss.”

Fellow lawyer Arnoud Engelfriet agrees but notes that it might be tricky to calculate the scale of the damages since a pirate download doesn’t directly translate to a lost sale.

In any case, the claimed compensation will be substantial. Last year film industry group VPSO already asked for 1.2 billion euros ($1.27 billion) in damages for piracy losses that were allegedly suffered since 2004.

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

Music, Movie & Gaming Industries Seek Piracy Blockades in Belgium

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/music-movie-gaming-industries-seek-piracy-blockades-170206/

blocked-censorBack in 2011, Belgium was one of the first countries to implement a court-ordered Pirate Bay blockade. The action was the result of a lawsuit between the Belgian Anti-Piracy Foundation (BAF) and ISPs Belgacom and Telenet.

After being tested in many countries around Europe, especially the UK where thousands of domains are now inaccessible, the site-blocking train has returned to Belgium.

The Belgian Entertainment Association was formed nine years ago following a local merger of International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI, music industry), the Belgian Video Federation (BVF, videos), and the Belgian Luxembourg Interactive Software Association (BLISA, videogames).

On Wednesday, the organization filed a lawsuit at the French commercial court in Brussels. Belgian news outlet De Tijd reports that it wants local Internet service providers to block subscriber access to several ‘pirate’ sites.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, BEA director Olivier Maeterlinck says that several popular streaming sites are being targeted initially.

“Our action aims to block nine of the most popular streaming sites which offer copyright-protected content on a massive scale and without authorisation,” Maeterlinck says.

“In accordance with the principles established by the CJEU (UPC Telekabel and GS Media), BEA seeks a court order confirming the infringement and imposing site blocking measures on the ISPs, who are content providers as well.”

In common with earlier blocking cases elsewhere in Europe, the ISPs named in the case (Brutélé, Nethys, Proximus, Telenet) first want confirmation that the sites they’re being asked to block are acting illegally. That is the stated purpose of the BEA lawsuit.

“Site blocking is nothing new in Belgium. The Pirate Bay and Popcorn Time – which are not involved in the current action – have been blocked for a long time,” Maeterlinck continues.

“Studies and figures from abroad (e.g. UK, Portugal) have shown that site blocking has a positive impact on the legal offer while the visits to the blocked sites drop massively (approximately a 90% drop in Belgium with The Pirate Bay) and the overall piracy level decreases as well.

“Site blocking actions are effective and if we want to support the continuing development of the legal offer and increase consumer confidence in the online economy, these enforcement initiatives need to be continued,” Maeterlinck concludes.

In the UK, well over a thousand domains are blocked on copyright grounds and in Portugal, where a voluntary mechanism is in place, the current tally is more than 900.

Next door to Belgium in the Netherlands, the blocking process has been much more drawn out. Rather than being largely compliant, ISPs have dug in their heels and objected at every turn after being asked to block The Pirate Bay. That case was referred to the European Court of Justice and it will eventually fall to the Dutch Supreme Court to make a decision.

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

UK Police Threats Fail to ‘Impress’ Pirate Site Operator

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-police-threats-fail-to-impress-pirate-site-operator-170121/

city-pipcuFor most police departments, online piracy has no priority, but in recent years City of London Police have made copyright infringement one of their main targets.

In September 2013, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) was founded, marking the start of a broad enforcement campaign to decrease traffic to online pirate sites.

To achieve this goal PIPCU has targeted hosting services, advertisers and payment processors, asking them to cut ties with allegedly infringing sites. In addition, police also sent out warning letters to pirate site owners directly, asking them to go legit or shut down.

In recent years, hundreds of sites have been approached. This week it appears that another batch of letters was sent out which, compared to earlier versions, are extended with added references to UK legislation and increased threats.

One of the websites that was targeted is DNJ.to (DailyNewJams), a music portal that allows users to stream and download a wide variety of tracks.

In their letter, PIPCU accuses the site of facilitating copyright infringement. They state that the operator may be liable to prosecution for conspiracy to defraud, offences under the Fraud Act, the Copyright, Design & Patents Act, as well as the Serious Crime Act.

“Should a conviction be brought for the above offences, UK courts may impose sentences of imprisonment and/or fines,” the letter reads, adding that “PIPCU has criminal and civil powers in UK law to seize money, belongings and any property in connection with these offences.”

Part of PIPCU’s recent letter

pipcu2017

The new letter, which comes in the form of a flashy PDF, also references a recent ruling from the European Court of Justice, which clarified that knowingly linking to infringing material for profit is against the law.

PIPCU suggests that DNJ.to is making copyright-infringing material available with a profit motive, and urges the site to stop doing so. If no action is taken in a few weeks, they may become subject to various enforcement efforts.

“If no contact is made before 3rd February 2017, then you and/or the DNJ.TO website may face further police action. This may include steps to disrupt revenue made from advertisements and/or payment services; alongside internet infrastructure disruption,” PIPCU writes.

TorrentFreak spoke to one of the people behind DNJ.to, who doesn’t appear to be impressed by the threatening language. Since the site has no direct ties with the UK, they plan to disregard the letter.

“They accuse us of breaking the UK Law but we have no relation to the UK nor do any of us live there. We don’t even try to actively drive UK traffic to the blog. In fact we completely don’t care about the UK,” DNJ.to’s operator says.

The various enforcement threats also fail to make an impact. While PIPCU had some success in convincing advertising networks to ban ‘pirate’ sites, there are many lined up who are still eager to take the traffic.

Similarly, there are also plenty of webhosting providers who are more than happy to service these type of sites as long as they pay, despite the enforcement efforts from PIPCU and others.

“It’s not like they haven’t already been trying this for years. Is it working? Nope, its not. Did they ever take a look how many new advertising companies are opening every month? They would be happy if PIPCU would close some of the big [advertising networks].

“We get like five advertising offers a week from ad networks who beg us to join them. There are tons of hosting providers who absolutely don’t care about so-called ‘copyright infringement’,” DNJ.to’s operator adds.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the letters are entirely useless.

It’s certainly possible that some smaller sites that will fold when facing PIPCU’s strong language. However, it’s clear that DNJ.to plans to keep its site running as usual.

A full copy of PIPCU’s letter is available here (pdf).

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

Landmark Movie Streaming Trial Gets Underway in Sweden

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/landmark-movie-streaming-trial-gets-underway-in-sweden-170116/

swefilmlogoFounded half a decade ago, Swefilmer grew to become Sweden’s most popular movie and TV show streaming site. Together with Dreamfilm, another site operating in the same niche, Swefilmer is said to have accounted for 25% of all web TV viewing in Sweden.

In the summer of 2015, local man Ola Johansson revealed that he’d been raided by the police under suspicion of being involved in running the site. In March 2015, a Turkish national was arrested in Germany on a secret European arrest warrant. The now 26-year-old was accused of receiving donations from users and setting up Swefilmer’s deals with advertisers.

In a subsequent indictment filed at the Varberg District Court, the men were accused of copyright infringement offenses relating to the unlawful distribution of more than 1,400 movies. However, just hours after the trial got underway last June, it was suspended, when a lawyer for one of the men asked to wait for an important EU copyright case to run its course.

That case, between Dutch blog GeenStijl.nl and Playboy, had seen a Dutch court ask the EU Court of Justice to rule whether unauthorized links to copyrighted content could be seen as a ‘communication to the public’ under Article 3(1) of the Copyright Directive, and whether those links facilitated copyright infringement.

Last September, the European Court of Justice ruled that it is usually acceptable to link to copyrighted content without permission when people are not aware content is infringing and when they do so on a non-profit basis. In commercial cases, the rules are much more strict.

The Swefilmer siteswefilmer

In light of that ruling, the pair return to the Varberg District Court today, accused of making more than $1.5m from their activities between November 2013 and June 2015.

While Swedish prosecutions against sites such as The Pirate Bay have made global headlines, the case against Swefilmer is the first of its kind against a stream-links portal. Prosecutor Anna Ginner and Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén believe they have the evidence needed to take down the pair.

“Swefilmer is a typical example of how a piracy operation looks today: fully commercial, well organized and great efforts expended to conceal itself. This applies particularly to the principal of the site,” Pontén told IDG.

According to Ginner, the pair ran an extensive operation and generated revenues from a number of advertising companies. They did not act alone but the duo were the ones that were identified by, among other things, their IP addresses.

The 26-year-old, who was arrested in Germany, was allegedly the money man who dealt with the advertisers. In addition to copyright infringement offenses, he stands accused of money laundering.

According to IDG, he will plead not guilty. His lawyer gave no hints why but suggested the reasons will become evident during the trial.

The younger man, who previously self-identified as Ola Johansson, is accused of being the day-to-day operator of the site, which included uploading movies to other sites where Swefilmer linked. He is said to have received a modest sum for his work, around $3,800.

“I think what’s interesting for the Swedish court is that this case has such clear elements of organized crime compared to what we have seen before,” Anna Ginner concludes.

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

BREIN Reveals Anti-Piracy Tactics and Achievements

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-reveals-anti-piracy-tactics-and-achievements-170111/

breinlogoWhen it comes to civil anti-piracy enforcement, BREIN is without a doubt one of the best known players in the industry.

The group, which receives support from Hollywood and other content industries, has shuttered hundreds of smaller sites in recent history and took on the likes of Mininova and The Pirate Bay.

In 2016 BREIN continued its enforcement actions in full swing. Besides targeting pirate sites throughout the world, it also increased its focus on individual uploaders of infringing content.

The group just published a detailed overview of what it accomplished over the past 12 months. This provides some clear insights into its anti-piracy priorities and offers a glimpse of what to expect in the near future.

To begin, BREIN stresses that copyright enforcement is needed to make sure that legal offerings can flourish. The main reason why people pirate is because the content is free, it says.

“This means that enforcement is essential. Not only for creation and production, but also for online and offline distribution and further investment in innovation in these areas.”

To ensure a broad impact, BREIN targets a wide range of pirate sources, services, and facilitators. While it’s impossible to make piracy go away completely, it hopes to disrupt the ecosystem enough to lower its prevalence.

“The purpose of enforcement is the disruption of illegal supply and use. BREIN therefore uses a ‘full spectrum’ approach that covers all players,” the group notes.

This strategy includes targeting websites and their hosting providers, search engines, social media, advertisers, payment providers, but also uploaders of infringing content and those who consume it.

Looking at the numbers we see that the anti-piracy group is closing the books on a productive year.

BREIN pulled 231 illegal sites and services offline, for example. This includes 84 linking sites, 63 streaming portals, and 34 torrent sites. Some of these shut down completely and others were forced to leave their hosting providers.

In addition, BREIN also took action against or caught 26 prolific uploaders, removed 18 Facebook groups where infringing content was being shared, removed 2,559,525 search results from Google, and took down 4,159 ads for illegal content.

With regards to uploaders, the anti-piracy group relied on ex-parte court orders in several cases. With these orders in hand it managed to secure several settlements. This includes actions against people who shared content on torrent sites, Usenet and Facebook.

BREIN says it always keeps the personal financial circumstances of its targets in mind when determining a settlement. While these never come cheap, this approach can certainly be seen as more reasonable than the jail sentence that was handed out in the UK for a similar offense.

The targeted uploaders and site operators were identified using a variety of forensic tools and techniques, including IP-address monitoring and requests for personal information to hosting providers or other intermediaries.

Looking ahead, BREIN plans to continue its efforts in the new year. It’s also looking forward to the conclusion of several pending cases, such as the local Pirate Bay blockade, which is currently under review by the European Court of Justice.

In addition, BREIN has started to collect the IP-addresses of pirating users. Ideally, they would like to cooperate with Internet providers to send them warnings, similar to the UK alerts system that will be rolled out soon.

“A warning system can contribute to compliance and prevent naively pirating consumers being faced with settlement claims from individual rightsholders. If compliance increases, only persistent offenders will be targeted,” BREIN writes.

More details on the full review and BREIN’s outlook for the new year are available in Dutch, on their official website.

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

Public Domain Project Calls on EU to Abandon Piracy Filter Proposals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/public-domain-project-calls-on-eu-to-abandon-piracy-filter-proposals-170110/

Last September, during his State of the Union address, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans to modernize copyright law in Europe.

The proposals (pdf) are part of the Digital Single Market reforms, which have been developed over the past several years.

While the proposals cover a broad range of copyright-related issues, Article 13 is one of the most controversial. The proposal requires online service providers to proactively police copyrighted content using “appropriate and proportionate measures.” User-generated content sites, for example, would be required to install fingerprinting and filtering systems to block copyright-infringing files.

The proposals quickly caused concern, with early criticism coming from Digital rights group EDRi and Julia Reda of the Pirate Party, among others. Now, an influential group founded to protect the public domain has aired its concerns.

Founded in 2007 by groups including Creative Commons and Wikimedia, Communia has a mission to protect and expand the range of content freely available to the public by limiting the scope of exclusive copyright. Until 2011 it was actually funded by the European Commission but now finds itself criticizing the EC’s proposals.

In its fifth paper published on the Commission’s proposals for reform, Communia is clear. In an effort to address the much-discussed “value gap,” any introduction of Article 13 has the potential to serve as a “censorship machine” and will violate users’ fundamental rights while distorting the existing legal framework.

“The measures proposed in the Commission’s proposal stem from an unbalanced vision of copyright as an issue between rightsholders and ‘infringers.’ The proposal chooses to ignore limitations and exceptions to copyright, fundamental freedoms, and existing users’ practices,” Communia says.

“In addition, the proposal fails to establish clear rules with regard to how citizens can use protected works in transformative ways — such as remixes and other forms of so-called ‘user-generated content’ (UGC). As a result, a system of this kind would greatly restrict the way Europeans create, share, and communicate online.”

Communia also puts emphasis on the legal uncertainty the measures in Article 13 would create. Users’ rights are completely omitted from the proposal while a lack of proportionality would “pose a dangerous precedent” in European law.

From its report it’s clear that Communia is concerned over the totality of such a filtering system. By its very nature, all user-generated content would have to be passed through it for approval, resulting in a censorship mechanism that exists “just in case” there is an infringement.

“As a result, users’ activity will be constrained before any infringement happens. This approach goes against both fundamental rights and the European law,” the project writes.

Communia also highlights an imbalance over who has access to information concerning the operation of the mechanisms proposed by Article 13. While service providers will be required to report to rightsholders on how the system is functioning, users having their content filtered (and potentially censored) will enjoy no such luxury.

“The proposed requirements for the filtering system do not include any obligation to inform users on how the system functions, or to make rights claims transparent to end users. This leaves users without information necessary to defend themselves in case their use fits one of the exceptions or limitations,” Communia warns.

Of course, not all uses of copyrighted content actually constitute copyright infringement. However, it’s unlikely that any filtering system will be sufficiently technologically advanced to determine a parody or news report from a genuine infringement of copyright, for example.

“This type of a system, combined with an ineffective redress mechanism, will create a chilling effect that will thwart users’ rights online,” Communia notes.

Also of interest is Communia’s stance that filtering of user-uploaded content could actually be contrary to EU law. In the Sabam v Netlog case the European Court of Justice ruled that hosting sites can’t be forced to filter copyrighted content. That would violate the privacy of users and hinder freedom of information, the Court said. If the Commission’s proposals extend to hosting providers, this would raise problems.

Furthermore, Communia says that the proposals contained in Article 13 also contradict the E-Commerce Directive. Service providers are not liable for information stored by their users but the group says the proposals introduces liability for hosting services that currently enjoy safe harbor.

“If the Commission’s proposal is adopted, safe harbor may be at risk because the scope of ISSPs covered by the Directive is not clear. In this way, the proposal challenges the established practice under the E-Commerce Directive, and as such is detrimental to the EU rule of law,” Communia adds.

In conclusion, the group has a simple request – that Article 13 be completely removed from the European Commission’s proposals. Failing that, Communia would like the EU legislator to clearly define how existing content may be used.

“This can be achieved by introducing in the proposal a new, mandatory exception to copyright that allows noncommercial transformative uses of copyrighted works by private individuals, and their dissemination via online platforms. Rightsholders must not be granted any authority to remove or block user uploads that fall within the scope of such an exception, or any other exception,” Communia says.

In a final demand (pdf), the group says that users should also be granted access to transparent information regarding the functioning of any filter and be able to contest any removal actions carried out by it.

Creative Commons has a run-down of issues raised by other reform proposals.

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

Unknowingly Linking to Infringing Content is Still Infringement, Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/unknowingly-linking-to-infringing-content-is-still-infringement-court-rules-161210/

In 2011, Dutch blog GeenStijl.nl published an article which linking to leaked Playboy photos which were stored on third-party hosting sites. Playboy publisher Sanoma said this amounted to infringement.

The European Court of Justice was asked to rule on whether the links posted by GeenStijl amounted to a ‘communication to the public’ under Article 3(1) of the EU Copyright Directive and therefore a copyright infringement.

In September the ECJ handed down its decision which drew a line in the sand between for-profit and not-for-profit linking.

Generally, a person who posts a casual link to a work freely available on another website isn’t expected to conduct research to find out whether the copyright holder has granted permission for that work to be there.

On the other hand, those who post a link within a commercial context are expected to carry out the “checks necessary” to ensure that the linked work has not been illegally published, the ECJ says.

The EU ruling has now been applied in a German case. It involved a photographer who discovered that one of his Creative Commons-licensed images had been posted on a website without the correct attribution. The photographer also found a third-party site that was linking to the infringing image.

Leipzig law firm Spirit Legal LLP says it represented the photographer in a case against the third-party site to discover how the ECJ’s earlier ruling would be applied under German law.

In a ruling handed down in November but just published by the law firm, the Hamburg Regional Court found that while the original publication of the image amounted to infringement, the operator of the third-party site that published the link to the image was also liable for infringement.

In part, liability was determined from the conclusion that the link communicated the infringing image to a “new audience,” outside that intended by the copyright holder.

On the commercial aspect previously cited by the ECJ, the Court found that no profit needed to be generated from the specific link, only that there was a general intent to benefit from the link on the site as a whole. Since that was the case, the website owner was responsible for carrying out the “checks necessary” to ensure that the image wasn’t infringing.

Finding the operator of the third-party website liable for infringement, the Court ordered him to cease providing a link to the photographer’s image or face a fine.

Dr. Jonas Kahl, a lawyer with Spirit Legal, says the ruling is important for anyone with online commercial interests.

“[T]he decision of the Hamburg Regional Court represents a massive tightening of their inspection obligations and their liability in itself,” Dr. Kahl explains.

“In order to exclude the possibility of a copyright infringement, in the future you should check, before each linking, whether the page operator has the necessary rights for the photos published there. If this is not the case, you should not link, if you do not want to take a liability risk.”

The full ruling is available here (PDF, German)

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