Tag Archives: fact

Man Who Sold Pirate IPTV Must Pay £521,000 or Face Five More Years in Prison

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/man-who-sold-pirate-iptv-must-pay-521000-or-face-five-more-years-in-prison-200228/

From 2009 until 2016, John Dodds and Jason Richards were involved in an operation selling ‘pirate’ IPTV to around 270 pubs and clubs in the North-East of England.

For less than £200 per month, the pair provided a set-top box plus a service, which included Premier League soccer and pay-per-view boxing matches. The subscription package, which at some point was branded ‘Full Effects HD Sports’, eventually attracted the attention of the Premier League which launched a private prosecution for fraud offenses.

The football organization told the court that the “highly professional broadcasting service” was sold to subscribers at a rate designed to undercut legitimate broadcasters and in 2018, Dodds and Richards were sentenced to four-and-a-half years each in prison. That wasn’t the end of the matter, however.

According to a joint press statement by the Premier League and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), a judge at Newcastle Crown Court has now ordered Dodds to pay back £521,000 to the public purse. Failure to do so within three months will result in his prison sentence being extended by an additional five years.

The judge handling the matter reportedly described Dodds “as an unreliable and dishonest character” who concealed the proceeds of his criminal activities by hiding large amounts of cash in his house and placing assets in his daughter’s name.

“This is a welcome judgment and we are pleased the courts have recognized how serious an issue illegal streaming is – it is a crime which has very significant consequences,” commented Kevin Plumb, Director of Legal Services at the Premier League.

“The defendant has now been ordered to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities, which we have requested go directly back to the public purse. The money recovered will go towards funding the courts and law enforcement agencies to help continue the brilliant work they do in helping bring people like this to justice.”

FACT, which worked with the Premier League on the cases against both Dodds and Richards, welcomed the decision and took the opportunity to warn others considering the same type of business model.

“This is a warning to anyone selling subscriptions or devices that allow access to content without remunerating the legitimate provider – you risk time in jail and the loss of your properties, cars and other proceeds of crime,” said FACT CEO Kieron Sharp.

“FACT will continue to work with members to crackdown on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their actions.”

According to local sources at the time of original convictions, the scheme was lucrative for the pair. Using a fraudulent company, the men generated revenues of £1.5m, which among other things funded the purchase of luxury cars and foreign homes.

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Jury Finds Pirate TV Box Sellers Guilty Under the Serious Crime Act

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/jury-finds-pirate-tv-box-sellers-guilty-under-the-serious-crimes-act-200204/

Those looking for a way to obtain otherwise premium subscription TV packages at a cheap price will find that piracy-configured TV devices are easily available online. Equally, those who prefer to see the goods before buying them can often find them for sale at markets up and down the UK.

Markets that develop a reputation for pirated and counterfeit goods can attract the attention of the authorities, including local councils. That was the case in July 2017 when Hertfordshire Trading Standards officers carried out a covert operation at Bovingdon Market.

According to Hertfordshire Council, the officers carried out a filmed, undercover purchase from traders operating from a stand under the BlackBox.tv banner. The piracy-configured device was sold on the premise that it gave access to movies and sports without the buyer having to pay a subscription.

The case took two-and-a-half years to go to trial but following a four-day hearing, two men – Thomas Tewelde and Mohamed Abdou, both from London – have now been found guilty of offenses under the Serious Crime Act 2007 and Fraud Act 2006.

During the trial, jurors were shown the covert video recorded by Trading Standards and unanimously found that the men had intentionally encouraged buyers of the devices to obtain paid TV services dishonestly. Or, in Serious Crime Act terms, they “encouraged or assisted the commission of an offense.”

Furthermore, after tests carried out by Trading Standards reportedly revealed electrical safety issues with the supplied devices, the pair were found guilty of supplying devices that failed to comply with Electrical Equipment Safety Regulations.

“We’re keen to support the growth of the creative industries which is significant in Hertfordshire. The sale of these boxes, allowing free access to copyrighted material, puts this industry and Hertfordshire jobs at risk,” commented Terry Hone, Cabinet Member for Community Safety.

“People who are buying these boxes may not be aware that they too could be committing a serious act of fraud as well as the associated risk of buying a box, which may not have been subject to safety checks, as in this case. If the deal appears too good to be true it likely is.”

In a tweet welcoming the convictions, Andrew Butler, Head of Regulatory Services at Hertfordshire County Council, revealed that the Federation Against Copyright Theft had been involved in the prosecution of the men. FACT Chief Executive Kieron Sharp issued a warning to others considering the same line of business.

“The message is very clear,” Sharp said. “If you sell a device that provides access to content that is not licensed or owned by you, you will face a criminal conviction and we thank Hertfordshire Trading Standards for their work on this case.”

The two men will be sentenced on February 28, 2019, at St. Albans Crown Court.

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Man Who Sold £400K of Pirate IPTV Subscriptions Handed Suspended Sentence

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/man-who-sold-400k-of-pirate-iptv-subscriptions-handed-suspended-sentence-191220/

For years, downloading movies and TV shows has been enough for many online pirates but the broad availability of illicit live streaming services is now a huge draw.

No longer limited to watching after-the-fact recorded content, streaming websites and IPTV services now offer packages that compete and even out-do traditional cable and satellite providers, with the added bonus of being delivered at almost pocket-money prices.

While consumers reap the benefits of low costs and a broader choice of content, suppliers of illicit IPTV products are lured by the proposition of making good money. In Europe alone, the market is edging towards an estimated billion euros per year and there is no shortage of people looking for a piece of the pie.

UK-based Steven Underwood was one of those streaming entrepreneurs but in January this year, things came crashing down. Following an investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft and Cornwall Trading Standards, the Police Regional Organised Crime Unit entered Underwood’s home with a search warrant.

An investigation revealed that the Redruth man had sold around £400,000 worth of subscriptions to his IPTV service. The platform was never named publicly named but it’s believed to have been in operation for at least two years, supplying illegal streams of Sky, BT, and Premier League content, among others.

It is relatively rare for these types of cases to go to trial and this one was no exception. In November, Underwood appeared before Truro Magistrates Court, pleading guilty to copyright and fraud offenses. All that remained was a hearing to determine his punishment.

At a sentencing hearing yesterday, the Court heard that between December 2016 and January 2019, 34-year-old Underwood admitted communicating a copyrighted work to the public for personal gain, contrary to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act, and further admitted an offense under the Fraud Act 2006.

Prosecutor Harry Ahuja told the Court that Underwood “had specific skills in IT” and used them to obtain illegal streams that were uploaded to remote servers, which cost the Cornwall man between £6,000 and £8,000 a month to maintain.

“You were engaged in a highly profitable piece of completely illegal activity,” Judge Bob Linford told Underwood.

Labeling the crimes as “extremely serious”, the Judge handed Underwood a one-year prison sentence suspended for two years, a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement (to lessen the likelihood of future offending), and made him the subject of a £10 confiscation order, Falmouth Packet reports.

“We are constantly working to remove sellers of illegal streaming subscriptions from the market and bring them to justice,” said Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT, commenting on the sentencing.

“The message is clear – if you are tempted to sell access to content that is not licensed or owned by you, you risk facing a criminal conviction.”

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Google’s Top UK “Where to Watch” Searches Weren’t a Piracy Concern in 2019

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/googles-top-where-to-watch-searches-werent-a-piracy-concern-in-2019-191211/

That Google knows every detail of what its users search for is no secret – after all, the company itself processes all of the requests.

Armed with this data, Google publishes its annual ‘Year in Search‘ report, the latest of which appeared yesterday. From our perspective, there were very few – if any – piracy-related aspects to report, something which should be encouraging to rightsholders.

However, after the BBC published its take on Google’s UK search statistics, noting that several questions in the “How to” category were directed at how to watch sports events and TV shows, the Federation Against Copyright Theft took to Twitter to issue a warning.

“Whether it’s a re-stream on social media, a piracy site, or using a TV-connected device, avoiding official providers to access content is illegal,” FACT wrote, linking to the BBC article.

Of course, it is FACT’s job to draw attention to such things but we wondered, given that Google is quite specific about the top titles searched for in 2019, whether Google’s search results were worthy of particular panic. Or, indeed, whether “where to watch” searches should always be considered dangerous and piracy related. But first, some background.

Over the past several years, copyright holders and anti-piracy groups have regularly complained that Google and other search engines help people find content online in a way that prioritizes pirated over legitimate content.

That isn’t the company’s intention, of course, but there have been numerous instances of pirate sites appearing higher in searches than those offering licensed content. In the UK, Google and various industry players agreed to tackle this and similar issues with the signing of a voluntary anti-piracy agreement back in 2017.

So, when placed alongside these top “how to” searches, has it worked?

#1: How to watch Champions League Final

This search clearly related to the match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool from which the latter emerged victorious, two goals to nil. However, the related Google search is particularly interesting since all of the top results showed users how to watch the match for free.

While that might sound like a cause for concern, these results linked exclusively to completely legal streams offered via established broadcasters. Clearly, the incentive to pirate had been mostly eliminated by giving consumers what they want.

#2: How to watch Game of Thrones

As one of the most popular shows in living memory, it’s no surprise that Game of Thrones appears in Google’s top search lists for the UK. In past years, this kind of search would’ve likely displayed ‘pirate’ results prominently but that is no longer the case. In our tests we had to go through several pages of Google results with links to either buy the show or articles detailing how to watch the show legally first. Pirate results were not prominent.

#5: How to watch KSI vs. Logan

Given the controversy surrounding this pair of YouTube celebrities, searches on how to watch the fight were bound to score highly. However, a search for the fight yet again yielded pages and pages of legitimate sources or articles detailing how to access the bout legally.

#10: How to watch Chernobyl

The results displayed following a “where to watch Chernobyl” search are very similar to those that are returned following a similar Game of Thrones query. One has to skip through pages and pages of legitimate results to find any pirate sources and, on the way, the emphasis to go legal is clear.

The legal choices, as they appear in Google’s results, are as follows: YouTube, Google Play, Amazon, NowTV, HBO, Sky, Hulu, iTunes, Showmax, DirectTV, HBONordic, HBOGo, and Verizon. Admittedly, not all of those are available to UK users, but that’s four pages deep into the results and not one pirate link in sight.

Conclusion

While this is a very limited sample, there does appear to have been a notable change in the way that Google displays its results in the UK when faced with a basic query of “where to watch X”. There is now a pretty clear bias towards legitimate sources in results presented in the first few pages.

Of course, those that wish to refine their searches to actively seek out pirated content will have more immediate success, that’s the way searches work. However, it’s now more difficult to argue that users will be diverted to pirated sources when they’re seeking out legal options, at least for the samples listed above.

It’s worth noting, however, that pirate users’ viewing habits are probably shifting. There is now less reliance on search engines and more emphasis on apps and tools that are designed to produce infringing results by default, which is the exact opposite of what Google offers in respect of the above.

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

UK Man Admits to Selling £400,000 in Pirate Streaming Subscriptions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-man-admits-to-selling-400000-in-pirate-streaming-subscriptions-191121/

Pirate streaming services remain widely appealing to a broad audience. At a fraction of the cost of regular subscriptions, they open the door to all sorts of entertainment.

This practice is a thorn in the side of rights holders, who are increasingly cracking down on this business. In the UK, anti-piracy group FACT has been leading the charge.

The group’s referrals have resulted in several successful convictions, which often include prison sentences. This morning, Steven Underwood, another FACT target, faced justice before the Truro Magistrates Court.

FACT suspected the man of selling pirate subscriptions and in January, the Police Regional Organised Crime Unit entered his home with a search warrant. They seized his phone and laptop, among other things, which later confirmed his involvement.

A follow-up investigation revealed that Underwood sold roughly £400,000 worth of subscriptions. That’s a substantial amount, but the yearly profits are likely much lower. The service may have been running for years already and the man likely had to pay a supplier as well.

The subscriptions provided access to a wide variety of content, including that of  Sky, BT, and the Premier League.

While these types of cases can be drawn out, the seller admitted both copyright and fraud charges, FACT informs TorrentFreak. Following this guilty plea, the court’s main decision is to determine the appropriate conviction.

As is common with these announcements, details are scarce. The name of the streaming service or what it offered exactly is unknown. FACT CEO Kieron Sharp is, however, using the opportunity to warn other vendors.

“We are constantly working to remove sellers of illegal streaming subscriptions from the market and bring them to justice. The message is clear – if you are tempted to sell access to content that is not licensed or owned by you, you risk facing a criminal conviction,” Sharp says.

The sentencing of Underwood is scheduled to take place next month. He faces a maximum prison sentence of up to two years for the copyright offense, and ten years for fraud.

That said, history has shown that actual sentences depend on a variety of factors which can vary quite a bit.

This summer, FACT boasted that the mastermind behind the Dreambox service was sentenced to seven years and four months of jail time. A few weeks later, however, a seller of pirate streaming devices was handed a sentence of 300 hours unpaid community service.

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KodiUKTV Considers its Future Following FACT Cease & Desist

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kodiuktv-considers-its-future-following-fact-cease-desist-191117/

This week, news began to filter through that the shutdown of a pair of Kodi add-on related resources had taken place under serious legal pressure.

KodiUKTV and OneNation weren’t specific in their announcements but TorrentFreak was able to confirm that the Federation Against Copyright Theft was behind both actions. Indeed, the anti-piracy group told us that other groups were targeted too but at this stage, we haven’t been able to identify them.

What we do know is at the end of October, FACT sent out cease and desist notices titled ‘Unauthorized Distribution of Film, Television and Sport Subject to Copyright’.

The letters stated that FACT investigators had established that the platforms were “providing or facilitating access without authorization, to broadcasts or premium pay channels” containing content belonging to Sky, BT Sport, and The Premier League.

Demanding an immediate end to “unlawful activity”, the notices added that “all infringing links, listings and information from webpages, social media and any other medium” should be permanently removed. If not, a criminal investigation might get underway.

A recipient of one of the cease-and-desist letters, Matt – founder of KodiUKTV – told us that if he’d have received a simple takedown notice at any point in the past, he would’ve been happy to investigate and take action if any add-on breached copyright. Instead, it appears that FACT went for straight for the jugular.

Part of the problem for Matt, at least from our discussions, is that he doesn’t believe he was doing anything wrong. His platform didn’t develop or host any add-ons but offered a tool so that Kodi users could download and install them from elsewhere.

“Ultimately it was at the risk of the add-on designers and end-users, should such add-ons contain possibly infringing content that we had absolutely no control over,” he explains.

Matt says that he contacted FACT within an hour of receiving their cease-and-desist notice with a request for more information. He also gave FACT a commitment that the site will not deal with add-ons or builds in the future. At the time of writing, he is yet to receive a response.

As a result and at least for now, his entire site remains down, which Matt feels is both disproportionate and frustrating since much of the content the site offered (guides etc) had nothing to do with any of the companies mentioned by FACT.

“We didn’t actually host anything for the add-on guys and we don’t make any add-ons ourselves. We just offered a place for people to put their add-ons to be installed by the end-user, which is very common for many repos,” Matt explains.

“This means we were just a hub for the community for help and guides. This was always my key focus for KODIUKTV – creating guides & voicing our opinion on issues within the community to help others.

“We do not want to kiss goodbye to the website and the community we have been so involved in over the past five years. We are hoping we can continue the website on a publication standpoint and move forward.”

The site was founded by Matt in 2014 after he found himself “tinkering” with XBMC (as Kodi was formerly known) on a Raspberry Pi, installing add-ons, and eventually coming up with a ‘build’

“I’ve always been interested in publications & running a media site. So once the community started to rise we needed a home for our guides and tutorials, our news, and even the odd giveaway over the years,” he explains.

“We grew at a rapid rate which gave me and the team a huge learning curve of what it took to manage and maintain a website/project of this size. We became the go-to for people looking for help.”

At KodiUKTV’s peak last year, Matt says it was receiving around eight million users per month, a figure that’s dropped a little this year to a still-impressive six million.

But with this growth has come problems, not only in respect of FACT and its clients, but with various claims against the site’s social media accounts, and even strikes against Matt’s personal pages that had nothing to do with the project. Now, however, he is hopeful that things can move forward.

Matt says he’s just a hobbyist doing what he loves, one that also cares about freedom on the Internet. He has no desire to get into a fight with big media companies and hopes this dispute with FACT can be dealt with quickly while keeping the community intact.

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

London Retailer Convicted for Selling Pirate Streaming Boxes

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/london-retailer-convicted-for-selling-pirate-streaming-boxes-191005/

Pirate streaming boxes remain widely appealing to a broad audience. At a fraction of the normal costs, they open the door to all sorts of broadcasts, including football matches.

On the sports side, BeoutQ has shown to be is a thorn in the side of many rightsholders. It launched in 2017 and ever since various parties have tried to stop it’s infringing activity.

While BeoutQ remains widely available today, the Premier League can chalk up a new victory with the conviction of a London seller of streaming boxes. The devices in question offered access to BeoutQ as well as several other illegal channels, such as beIN and Sky.

The conviction, handed down by the City of London Magistrates’ Court this week, follows a joint investigation from the English Football League and FACT. The Premier League subsequently prosecuted the 39-year-old seller, Ammar Al-Silawi, with success.

Following a trial earlier this month, Mr. Al-Silawi received a sentence of 300 hours of unpaid community service. In addition, the vendor is required to pay the Premier League’s legal costs.

The sentencing is unique, according to the Premier League. In the UK, it’s the first time that selling pirate set-top boxes was deemed to be an act of communicating infringing copies of copyright works to the public. This is in line with the Filmspeler judgment from the European Court of Justice.

“The law is very clear that the sale of ISDs is illegal and it is an issue taken very seriously by both the police and the courts,” says Kevin Plumb, Premier League Director of Legal Services.

“We will continue to investigate and pursue all suppliers of illegal streaming services, regardless of the size or scale of their operation, to protect the intellectual property that enables the Premier League to be so competitive and compelling.”

FACT is equally pleased with the outcome and Chief Executive Kieron Sharp notes that it serves as a stark warning to other vendors.

“The message is now unequivocal; if you sell a device that provides access to content that is not licensed or owned by you, you will face a criminal conviction. Illicit retailers should be aware of the Court’s view that ignoring a cease and desist notice was a clear aggravating factor in this case,” Sharp says.

While the rightsholders certainly have something to be pleased about, the community order sentence pales in comparison with earlier pirate streaming vendor convictions, which resulted in multi-year prison sentences.

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

FACT Confirms Premier League Anti-Piracy Action Against IPTV Suppliers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fact-confirms-premier-league-anti-piracy-action-against-iptv-suppliers-190820/

Last month, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) said it had targeted people involved in the supply of ‘pirate’ IPTV subscriptions and the sale of modified set-top boxes.

Its ‘disruption team’ reported working with GAIN (Government Agency Intelligence Network) and the Federation Against Copyright Theft, targeting people in Wrexham and Blackburn. It now transpires that a broader operation took place.

This morning, FACT revealed that following a collaboration with the Premier League, aimed at disrupting the availability of illegal sports streams ahead of the new 2019/2020 football season, it had teamed up with law enforcement agencies to serve cease-and-desist notices.

FACT’s Eddy Leviten, who has just returned to the anti-piracy outfit following a period at the Alliance for Intellectual Property as its Director-General, informs TorrentFreak that actions were “taken across the country”.

In total, 16 premises were targeted in the operation, with cease-and-desist notices served on individuals suspected of supplying illegal sports streams.

Leviten declined to be more precise on the exact nature of the targets at this stage, but confirmed that “those involved were all engaged at a level sufficient to attract our interest.”

However, FACT does note that those targeted were all “promoting unauthorized access to premium television content” which combined with NWROCU’s earlier comments about IPTV could be compatible with lower-level IPTV subscription re-sellers.

These are individuals who operate no service of their own but buy ‘credits’ from bigger players in order to offer packages to the public. NWROCU previously mentioned “cracked online television boxes” too, which are potentially Android-style devices configured for piracy. Again, no further details are currently available.

Nevertheless, the involvement of the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU) Disruption Teams may raise alarm bells with those operating in a similar niche. FACT, in conjunction with its Premier League partner, hopes that the cease-and-desist notices will stop the activity in hand while “deterring others from getting involved.”

Kieron Sharp, FACT Chief Executive says that last month’s activity is just one of the tactics being deployed against people committing offenses that affect both rightsholders and broadcasters.

“We have a program of continuous activity targeting different elements of the global piracy landscape, with consideration given to the scale of the offending so that the most effective and proportionate response is deployed,” Sharp says.

“The message is clear. If you are involved in any way in providing illegal streaming services, on any scale, you are not invisible or immune from action from FACT, rights owners and law enforcement.”

National GAIN Coordinator Lesley Donovan adds that the serving of cease-and-desist notices is intended to send a message to those “trying to make a quick buck” out of illegal streaming.

“Their actions are feeding a wider illicit industry which not only denies the economy of millions both in copyright theft and undeclared income but poses a direct risk to our communities due to their lack of parental controls and fire safety,” Donovan says.

“This type of activity is also often a cog in a larger criminal machine, often ultimately funding drugs, weapons and people trafficking.”

The claims of higher-tier offending such as those detailed by Donovan are often cited in connection with all forms of piracy. However, it is extremely rare (perhaps unheard of) for those claims to be backed up with publicly-available evidence. There have been claims in the media that paramilitary groups are involved in some way in Ireland, but no evidence beyond that.

Just recently, TorrentFreak spoke with one IPTV provider who contested the notion that most players in the market are high-level criminals involved in anything other than the supply of unlicensed streams. Since the matter has now been raised again, we’ll reestablish contact to see if they are prepared to respond to the allegations.

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

Confirmed: Supremacy Kodi Repo Was Indeed Targeted By Police

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/confirmed-supremacy-kodi-repo-was-indeed-targeted-by-police-190626/

On June 13, 2019, the Covert Development and Disruption Team of the UK’s North West Regional Organised Crime Unit arrested an individual said to be responsible for an allegedly-infringing Kodi add-on.

The unit revealed that the 40-year-old man was detained in Winsford, Cheshire, following an investigation in cooperation with the Federation Against Copyright Theft. The add-on was unnamed but was reportedly configured to supply illegal online streams.

When TorrentFreak tried to fill in the gaps, considerable circumstantial evidence pointed to the likelihood that the arrested man was connected to the Supremacy add-on repository. Today we are in a position to confirm that belief following discussion with FACT director general Kieron Sharp.

Since there are limitations on what can be discussed when a case is ongoing, we asked Sharp why the matter had been referred to the authorities. There have been numerous instances of add-on developers in the UK being served with private cease-and-desist notices so why was this case different and why did it warrant an organized crime unit getting involved?

“This was a decision taken by FACT who advised rights holders such as PL [Premier League], Sky, BT Sport and VM [Virgin Media] that police action was the most proportionate response to the level of damage and harm that was being caused by these entities,” Sharp explains.

“Other industry groups have used different tactics which are reasonable in certain circumstances, but FACT have the partnerships in LEA’s [law enforcement agencies] to enable this type of action to be considered.”

Sharp says that when FACT presented its evidence to the police, they considered the case serious enough to take action, which resulted in the individual operating as ‘Supremacy’ being arrested.

FACT’s director general rejects the notion that handing a case over to the police is the easy option, insisting that a referral to the authorities requires that an investigation takes place to particular standards.

“To get any LEA to act in these matters requires a high level of evidence. Given the pressure on LEA resources and many other priorities, FACT are very careful in which cases they will approach LEA’s with and have many other strategies for disrupting illegal activity which are used constantly,” Sharp says.

In the wake of the arrest, several other Kodi add-on repositories shut down, presumably due to fears of similar action. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by FACT, with Sharp noting that several strategies to disrupt piracy are deployed with the results taken on board.

“[I]t would appear, from their own comments, that the action has panicked the others. This is not uncommon but more often seen after a criminal conviction. It shows that action needs to be taken and that it can have an impact on the piracy problem. There is no one solution so a range of tactics have to be tried and implemented and the outcomes monitored,” Sharp concludes.

There can be little doubt that the involvement of the police in the shutdown of a Kodi repository and associated add-ons is somewhat of a game-changer in the UK. Where once a sternly-worded letter may have been a warning sign, there is now a worrying precedent for those engaged in similar activity.

What the final charges will be in this case, if any, remain unclear. However, FACT has a history of pursuing convictions under the Fraud Act, which can carry harsher sentences than those actioned under copyright law.

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

Flight Sim Company Threatens Reddit Mods Over “Libelous” DRM Posts

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/flight-sim-company-threatens-reddit-mods-over-libellous-drm-posts-180604/

Earlier this year, in an effort to deal with piracy of their products, flight simulator company FlightSimLabs took drastic action by installing malware on customers’ machines.

The story began when a Reddit user reported something unusual in his download of FlightSimLabs’ A320X module. A file – test.exe – was being flagged up as a ‘Chrome Password Dump’ tool, something which rang alarm bells among flight sim fans.

As additional information was made available, the story became even more sensational. After first dodging the issue with carefully worded statements, FlightSimLabs admitted that it had installed a password dumper onto ALL users’ machines – whether they were pirates or not – in an effort to catch a particular software cracker and launch legal action.

It was an incredible story that no doubt did damage to FlightSimLabs’ reputation. But the now the company is at the center of a new storm, again centered around anti-piracy measures and again focused on Reddit.

Just before the weekend, Reddit user /u/walkday reported finding something unusual in his A320X module, the same module that caused the earlier controversy.

“The latest installer of FSLabs’ A320X puts two cmdhost.exe files under ‘system32\’ and ‘SysWOW64\’ of my Windows directory. Despite the name, they don’t open a command-line window,” he reported.

“They’re a part of the authentication because, if you remove them, the A320X won’t get loaded. Does someone here know more about cmdhost.exe? Why does FSLabs give them such a deceptive name and put them in the system folders? I hate them for polluting my system folder unless, of course, it is a dll used by different applications.”

Needless to say, the news that FSLabs were putting files into system folders named to make them look like system files was not well received.

“Hiding something named to resemble Window’s “Console Window Host” process in system folders is a huge red flag,” one user wrote.

“It’s a malware tactic used to deceive users into thinking the executable is a part of the OS, thus being trusted and not deleted. Really dodgy tactic, don’t trust it and don’t trust them,” opined another.

With a disenchanted Reddit userbase simmering away in the background, FSLabs took to Facebook with a statement to quieten down the masses.

“Over the past few hours we have become aware of rumors circulating on social media about the cmdhost file installed by the A320-X and wanted to clear up any confusion or misunderstanding,” the company wrote.

“cmdhost is part of our eSellerate infrastructure – which communicates between the eSellerate server and our product activation interface. It was designed to reduce the number of product activation issues people were having after the FSX release – which have since been resolved.”

The company noted that the file had been checked by all major anti-virus companies and everything had come back clean, which does indeed appear to be the case. Nevertheless, the critical Reddit thread remained, bemoaning the actions of a company which probably should have known better than to irritate fans after February’s debacle. In response, however, FSLabs did just that once again.

In private messages to the moderators of the /r/flightsim sub-Reddit, FSLabs’ Marketing and PR Manager Simon Kelsey suggested that the mods should do something about the thread in question or face possible legal action.

“Just a gentle reminder of Reddit’s obligations as a publisher in order to ensure that any libelous content is taken down as soon as you become aware of it,” Kelsey wrote.

Noting that FSLabs welcomes “robust fair comment and opinion”, Kelsey gave the following advice.

“The ‘cmdhost.exe’ file in question is an entirely above board part of our anti-piracy protection and has been submitted to numerous anti-virus providers in order to verify that it poses no threat. Therefore, ANY suggestion that current or future products pose any threat to users is absolutely false and libelous,” he wrote, adding:

“As we have already outlined in the past, ANY suggestion that any user’s data was compromised during the events of February is entirely false and therefore libelous.”

Noting that FSLabs would “hate for lawyers to have to get involved in this”, Kelsey advised the /r/flightsim mods to ensure that no such claims were allowed to remain on the sub-Reddit.

But after not receiving the response he would’ve liked, Kelsey wrote once again to the mods. He noted that “a number of unsubstantiated and highly defamatory comments” remained online and warned that if something wasn’t done to clean them up, he would have “no option” than to pass the matter to FSLabs’ legal team.

Like the first message, this second effort also failed to have the desired effect. In fact, the moderators’ response was to post an open letter to Kelsey and FSLabs instead.

“We sincerely disagree that you ‘welcome robust fair comment and opinion’, demonstrated by the censorship on your forums and the attempted censorship on our subreddit,” the mods wrote.

“While what you do on your forum is certainly your prerogative, your rules do not extend to Reddit nor the r/flightsim subreddit. Removing content you disagree with is simply not within our purview.”

The letter, which is worth reading in full, refutes Kelsey’s claims and also suggests that critics of FSLabs may have been subjected to Reddit vote manipulation and coordinated efforts to discredit them.

What will happen next is unclear but the matter has now been placed in the hands of Reddit’s administrators who have agreed to deal with Kelsey and FSLabs’ personally.

It’s a little early to say for sure but it seems unlikely that this will end in a net positive for FSLabs, no matter what decision Reddit’s admins take.

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

Storing Encrypted Credentials In Git

Post Syndicated from Bozho original https://techblog.bozho.net/storing-encrypted-credentials-in-git/

We all know that we should not commit any passwords or keys to the repo with our code (no matter if public or private). Yet, thousands of production passwords can be found on GitHub (and probably thousands more in internal company repositories). Some have tried to fix that by removing the passwords (once they learned it’s not a good idea to store them publicly), but passwords have remained in the git history.

Knowing what not to do is the first and very important step. But how do we store production credentials. Database credentials, system secrets (e.g. for HMACs), access keys for 3rd party services like payment providers or social networks. There doesn’t seem to be an agreed upon solution.

I’ve previously argued with the 12-factor app recommendation to use environment variables – if you have a few that might be okay, but when the number of variables grow (as in any real application), it becomes impractical. And you can set environment variables via a bash script, but you’d have to store it somewhere. And in fact, even separate environment variables should be stored somewhere.

This somewhere could be a local directory (risky), a shared storage, e.g. FTP or S3 bucket with limited access, or a separate git repository. I think I prefer the git repository as it allows versioning (Note: S3 also does, but is provider-specific). So you can store all your environment-specific properties files with all their credentials and environment-specific configurations in a git repo with limited access (only Ops people). And that’s not bad, as long as it’s not the same repo as the source code.

Such a repo would look like this:

project
└─── production
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks
└─── staging
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks
└─── on-premise-client1
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks
└─── on-premise-client2
|   |   application.properites
|   |   keystore.jks

Since many companies are using GitHub or BitBucket for their repositories, storing production credentials on a public provider may still be risky. That’s why it’s a good idea to encrypt the files in the repository. A good way to do it is via git-crypt. It is “transparent” encryption because it supports diff and encryption and decryption on the fly. Once you set it up, you continue working with the repo as if it’s not encrypted. There’s even a fork that works on Windows.

You simply run git-crypt init (after you’ve put the git-crypt binary on your OS Path), which generates a key. Then you specify your .gitattributes, e.g. like that:

secretfile filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt
*.key filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt
*.properties filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt
*.jks filter=git-crypt diff=git-crypt

And you’re done. Well, almost. If this is a fresh repo, everything is good. If it is an existing repo, you’d have to clean up your history which contains the unencrypted files. Following these steps will get you there, with one addition – before calling git commit, you should call git-crypt status -f so that the existing files are actually encrypted.

You’re almost done. We should somehow share and backup the keys. For the sharing part, it’s not a big issue to have a team of 2-3 Ops people share the same key, but you could also use the GPG option of git-crypt (as documented in the README). What’s left is to backup your secret key (that’s generated in the .git/git-crypt directory). You can store it (password-protected) in some other storage, be it a company shared folder, Dropbox/Google Drive, or even your email. Just make sure your computer is not the only place where it’s present and that it’s protected. I don’t think key rotation is necessary, but you can devise some rotation procedure.

git-crypt authors claim to shine when it comes to encrypting just a few files in an otherwise public repo. And recommend looking at git-remote-gcrypt. But as often there are non-sensitive parts of environment-specific configurations, you may not want to encrypt everything. And I think it’s perfectly fine to use git-crypt even in a separate repo scenario. And even though encryption is an okay approach to protect credentials in your source code repo, it’s still not necessarily a good idea to have the environment configurations in the same repo. Especially given that different people/teams manage these credentials. Even in small companies, maybe not all members have production access.

The outstanding questions in this case is – how do you sync the properties with code changes. Sometimes the code adds new properties that should be reflected in the environment configurations. There are two scenarios here – first, properties that could vary across environments, but can have default values (e.g. scheduled job periods), and second, properties that require explicit configuration (e.g. database credentials). The former can have the default values bundled in the code repo and therefore in the release artifact, allowing external files to override them. The latter should be announced to the people who do the deployment so that they can set the proper values.

The whole process of having versioned environment-speific configurations is actually quite simple and logical, even with the encryption added to the picture. And I think it’s a good security practice we should try to follow.

The post Storing Encrypted Credentials In Git appeared first on Bozho's tech blog.

ISP Questions Impartiality of Judges in Copyright Troll Cases

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-questions-impartiality-of-judges-in-copyright-troll-cases-180602/

Following in the footsteps of similar operations around the world, two years ago the copyright trolling movement landed on Swedish shores.

The pattern was a familiar one, with trolls harvesting IP addresses from BitTorrent swarms and tracing them back to Internet service providers. Then, after presenting evidence to a judge, the trolls obtained orders that compelled ISPs to hand over their customers’ details. From there, the trolls demanded cash payments to make supposed lawsuits disappear.

It’s a controversial business model that rarely receives outside praise. Many ISPs have tried to slow down the flood but most eventually grow tired of battling to protect their customers. The same cannot be said of Swedish ISP Bahnhof.

The ISP, which is also a strong defender of privacy, has become known for fighting back against copyright trolls. Indeed, to thwart them at the very first step, the company deletes IP address logs after just 24 hours, which prevents its customers from being targeted.

Bahnhof says that the copyright business appeared “dirty and corrupt” right from the get go, so it now operates Utpressningskollen.se, a web portal where the ISP publishes data on Swedish legal cases in which copyright owners demand customer data from ISPs through the Patent and Market Courts.

Over the past two years, Bahnhof says it has documented 76 cases of which six are still ongoing, 11 have been waived and a majority 59 have been decided in favor of mainly movie companies. Bahnhof says that when it discovered that 59 out of the 76 cases benefited one party, it felt a need to investigate.

In a detailed report compiled by Bahnhof Communicator Carolina Lindahl and sent to TF, the ISP reveals that it examined the individual decision-makers in the cases before the Courts and found five judges with “questionable impartiality.”

“One of the judges, we can call them Judge 1, has closed 12 of the cases, of which two have been waived and the other 10 have benefitted the copyright owner, mostly movie companies,” Lindahl notes.

“Judge 1 apparently has written several articles in the magazine NIR – Nordiskt Immateriellt Rättsskydd (Nordic Intellectual Property Protection) – which is mainly supported by Svenska Föreningen för Upphovsrätt, the Swedish Association for Copyright (SFU).

“SFU is a member-financed group centered around copyright that publishes articles, hands out scholarships, arranges symposiums, etc. On their website they have a public calendar where Judge 1 appears regularly.”

Bahnhof says that the financiers of the SFU are Sveriges Television AB (Sweden’s national public TV broadcaster), Filmproducenternas Rättsförening (a legally-oriented association for filmproducers), BMG Chrysalis Scandinavia (a media giant) and Fackförbundet för Film och Mediabranschen (a union for the movie and media industry).

“This means that Judge 1 is involved in a copyright association sponsored by the film and media industry, while also judging in copyright cases with the film industry as one of the parties,” the ISP says.

Bahnhof’s also has criticism for Judge 2, who participated as an event speaker for the Swedish Association for Copyright, and Judge 3 who has written for the SFU-supported magazine NIR. According to Lindahl, Judge 4 worked for a bureau that is partly owned by a board member of SFU, who also defended media companies in a “high-profile” Swedish piracy case.

That leaves Judge 5, who handled 10 of the copyright troll cases documented by Bahnhof, waiving one and deciding the remaining nine in favor of a movie company plaintiff.

“Judge 5 has been questioned before and even been accused of bias while judging a high-profile piracy case almost ten years ago. The accusations of bias were motivated by the judge’s membership of SFU and the Swedish Association for Intellectual Property Rights (SFIR), an association with several important individuals of the Swedish copyright community as members, who all defend, represent, or sympathize with the media industry,” Lindahl says.

Bahnhof hasn’t named any of the judges nor has it provided additional details on the “high-profile” case. However, anyone who remembers the infamous trial of ‘The Pirate Bay Four’ a decade ago might recall complaints from the defense (1,2,3) that several judges involved in the case were members of pro-copyright groups.

While there were plenty of calls to consider them biased, in May 2010 the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, a fact Bahnhof recognizes.

“Judge 5 was never sentenced for bias by the court, but regardless of the court’s decision this is still a judge who shares values and has personal connections with [the media industry], and as if that weren’t enough, the judge has induced an additional financial aspect by participating in events paid for by said party,” Lindahl writes.

“The judge has parties and interest holders in their personal network, a private engagement in the subject and a financial connection to one party – textbook characteristics of bias which would make anyone suspicious.”

The decision-makers of the Patent and Market Court and their relations.

The ISP notes that all five judges have connections to the media industry in the cases they judge, which isn’t a great starting point for returning “objective and impartial” results. In its summary, however, the ISP is scathing of the overall system, one in which court cases “almost looked rigged” and appear to be decided in favor of the movie company even before reaching court.

In general, however, Bahnhof says that the processes show a lack of individual attention, such as the court blindly accepting questionable IP address evidence supplied by infamous anti-piracy outfit MaverickEye.

“The court never bothers to control the media company’s only evidence (lists generated by MaverickMonitor, which has proven to be an unreliable software), the court documents contain several typos of varying severity, and the same standard texts are reused in several different cases,” the ISP says.

“The court documents show a lack of care and control, something that can easily be taken advantage of by individuals with shady motives. The findings and discoveries of this investigation are strengthened by the pure numbers mentioned in the beginning which clearly show how one party almost always wins.

“If this is caused by bias, cheating, partiality, bribes, political agenda, conspiracy or pure coincidence we can’t say for sure, but the fact that this process has mainly generated money for the film industry, while citizens have been robbed of their personal integrity and legal certainty, indicates what forces lie behind this machinery,” Bahnhof’s Lindahl concludes.

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

Friday Squid Blogging: Do Cephalopods Contain Alien DNA?

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/06/friday_squid_bl_627.html

Maybe not DNA, but biological somethings.

Cause of Cambrian explosion — Terrestrial or Cosmic?“:

Abstract: We review the salient evidence consistent with or predicted by the Hoyle-Wickramasinghe (H-W) thesis of Cometary (Cosmic) Biology. Much of this physical and biological evidence is multifactorial. One particular focus are the recent studies which date the emergence of the complex retroviruses of vertebrate lines at or just before the Cambrian Explosion of ~500 Ma. Such viruses are known to be plausibly associated with major evolutionary genomic processes. We believe this coincidence is not fortuitous but is consistent with a key prediction of H-W theory whereby major extinction-diversification evolutionary boundaries coincide with virus-bearing cometary-bolide bombardment events. A second focus is the remarkable evolution of intelligent complexity (Cephalopods) culminating in the emergence of the Octopus. A third focus concerns the micro-organism fossil evidence contained within meteorites as well as the detection in the upper atmosphere of apparent incoming life-bearing particles from space. In our view the totality of the multifactorial data and critical analyses assembled by Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickramasinghe and their many colleagues since the 1960s leads to a very plausible conclusion — life may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago); and living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind.

Two commentaries.

This is almost certainly not true.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

Some quick thoughts on the public discussion regarding facial recognition and Amazon Rekognition this past week

Post Syndicated from Dr. Matt Wood original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/some-quick-thoughts-on-the-public-discussion-regarding-facial-recognition-and-amazon-rekognition-this-past-week/

We have seen a lot of discussion this past week about the role of Amazon Rekognition in facial recognition, surveillance, and civil liberties, and we wanted to share some thoughts.

Amazon Rekognition is a service we announced in 2016. It makes use of new technologies – such as deep learning – and puts them in the hands of developers in an easy-to-use, low-cost way. Since then, we have seen customers use the image and video analysis capabilities of Amazon Rekognition in ways that materially benefit both society (e.g. preventing human trafficking, inhibiting child exploitation, reuniting missing children with their families, and building educational apps for children), and organizations (enhancing security through multi-factor authentication, finding images more easily, or preventing package theft). Amazon Web Services (AWS) is not the only provider of services like these, and we remain excited about how image and video analysis can be a driver for good in the world, including in the public sector and law enforcement.

There have always been and will always be risks with new technology capabilities. Each organization choosing to employ technology must act responsibly or risk legal penalties and public condemnation. AWS takes its responsibilities seriously. But we believe it is the wrong approach to impose a ban on promising new technologies because they might be used by bad actors for nefarious purposes in the future. The world would be a very different place if we had restricted people from buying computers because it was possible to use that computer to do harm. The same can be said of thousands of technologies upon which we all rely each day. Through responsible use, the benefits have far outweighed the risks.

Customers are off to a great start with Amazon Rekognition; the evidence of the positive impact this new technology can provide is strong (and growing by the week), and we’re excited to continue to support our customers in its responsible use.

-Dr. Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at AWS

Amazon SageMaker Updates – Tokyo Region, CloudFormation, Chainer, and GreenGrass ML

Post Syndicated from Randall Hunt original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/sagemaker-tokyo-summit-2018/

Today, at the AWS Summit in Tokyo we announced a number of updates and new features for Amazon SageMaker. Starting today, SageMaker is available in Asia Pacific (Tokyo)! SageMaker also now supports CloudFormation. A new machine learning framework, Chainer, is now available in the SageMaker Python SDK, in addition to MXNet and Tensorflow. Finally, support for running Chainer models on several devices was added to AWS Greengrass Machine Learning.

Amazon SageMaker Chainer Estimator


Chainer is a popular, flexible, and intuitive deep learning framework. Chainer networks work on a “Define-by-Run” scheme, where the network topology is defined dynamically via forward computation. This is in contrast to many other frameworks which work on a “Define-and-Run” scheme where the topology of the network is defined separately from the data. A lot of developers enjoy the Chainer scheme since it allows them to write their networks with native python constructs and tools.

Luckily, using Chainer with SageMaker is just as easy as using a TensorFlow or MXNet estimator. In fact, it might even be a bit easier since it’s likely you can take your existing scripts and use them to train on SageMaker with very few modifications. With TensorFlow or MXNet users have to implement a train function with a particular signature. With Chainer your scripts can be a little bit more portable as you can simply read from a few environment variables like SM_MODEL_DIR, SM_NUM_GPUS, and others. We can wrap our existing script in a if __name__ == '__main__': guard and invoke it locally or on sagemaker.


import argparse
import os

if __name__ =='__main__':

    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()

    # hyperparameters sent by the client are passed as command-line arguments to the script.
    parser.add_argument('--epochs', type=int, default=10)
    parser.add_argument('--batch-size', type=int, default=64)
    parser.add_argument('--learning-rate', type=float, default=0.05)

    # Data, model, and output directories
    parser.add_argument('--output-data-dir', type=str, default=os.environ['SM_OUTPUT_DATA_DIR'])
    parser.add_argument('--model-dir', type=str, default=os.environ['SM_MODEL_DIR'])
    parser.add_argument('--train', type=str, default=os.environ['SM_CHANNEL_TRAIN'])
    parser.add_argument('--test', type=str, default=os.environ['SM_CHANNEL_TEST'])

    args, _ = parser.parse_known_args()

    # ... load from args.train and args.test, train a model, write model to args.model_dir.

Then, we can run that script locally or use the SageMaker Python SDK to launch it on some GPU instances in SageMaker. The hyperparameters will get passed in to the script as CLI commands and the environment variables above will be autopopulated. When we call fit the input channels we pass will be populated in the SM_CHANNEL_* environment variables.


from sagemaker.chainer.estimator import Chainer
# Create my estimator
chainer_estimator = Chainer(
    entry_point='example.py',
    train_instance_count=1,
    train_instance_type='ml.p3.2xlarge',
    hyperparameters={'epochs': 10, 'batch-size': 64}
)
# Train my estimator
chainer_estimator.fit({'train': train_input, 'test': test_input})

# Deploy my estimator to a SageMaker Endpoint and get a Predictor
predictor = chainer_estimator.deploy(
    instance_type="ml.m4.xlarge",
    initial_instance_count=1
)

Now, instead of bringing your own docker container for training and hosting with Chainer, you can just maintain your script. You can see the full sagemaker-chainer-containers on github. One of my favorite features of the new container is built-in chainermn for easy multi-node distribution of your chainer training jobs.

There’s a lot more documentation and information available in both the README and the example notebooks.

AWS GreenGrass ML with Chainer

AWS GreenGrass ML now includes a pre-built Chainer package for all devices powered by Intel Atom, NVIDIA Jetson, TX2, and Raspberry Pi. So, now GreenGrass ML provides pre-built packages for TensorFlow, Apache MXNet, and Chainer! You can train your models on SageMaker then easily deploy it to any GreenGrass-enabled device using GreenGrass ML.

JAWS UG

I want to give a quick shout out to all of our wonderful and inspirational friends in the JAWS UG who attended the AWS Summit in Tokyo today. I’ve very much enjoyed seeing your pictures of the summit. Thanks for making Japan an amazing place for AWS developers! I can’t wait to visit again and meet with all of you.

Randall

Majority of Canadians Consume Online Content Legally, Survey Finds

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/majority-of-canadians-consume-online-content-legally-survey-finds-180531/

Back in January, a coalition of companies and organizations with ties to the entertainment industries called on local telecoms regulator CRTC to implement a national website blocking regime.

Under the banner of Fairplay Canada, members including Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media, spoke of an industry under threat from marauding pirates. But just how serious is this threat?

The results of a new survey commissioned by Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) aims to shine light on the problem by revealing the online content consumption habits of citizens in the Great White North.

While there are interesting findings for those on both sides of the site-blocking debate, the situation seems somewhat removed from the Armageddon scenario predicted by the entertainment industries.

Carried out among 3,301 Canadians aged 12 years and over, the Kantar TNS study aims to cover copyright infringement in six key content areas – music, movies, TV shows, video games, computer software, and eBooks. Attitudes and behaviors are also touched upon while measuring the effectiveness of Canada’s copyright measures.

General Digital Content Consumption

In its introduction, the report notes that 28 million Canadians used the Internet in the three-month study period to November 27, 2017. Of those, 22 million (80%) consumed digital content. Around 20 million (73%) streamed or accessed content, 16 million (59%) downloaded content, while 8 million (28%) shared content.

Music, TV shows and movies all battled for first place in the consumption ranks, with 48%, 48%, and 46% respectively.

Copyright Infringement

According to the study, the majority of Canadians do things completely by the book. An impressive 74% of media-consuming respondents said that they’d only accessed material from legal sources in the preceding three months.

The remaining 26% admitted to accessing at least one illegal file in the same period. Of those, just 5% said that all of their consumption was from illegal sources, with movies (36%), software (36%), TV shows (34%) and video games (33%) the most likely content to be consumed illegally.

Interestingly, the study found that few demographic factors – such as gender, region, rural and urban, income, employment status and language – play a role in illegal content consumption.

“We found that only age and income varied significantly between consumers who infringed by downloading or streaming/accessing content online illegally and consumers who did not consume infringing content online,” the report reads.

“More specifically, the profile of consumers who downloaded or streamed/accessed infringing content skewed slightly younger and towards individuals with household incomes of $100K+.”

Licensed services much more popular than pirate haunts

It will come as no surprise that Netflix was the most popular service with consumers, with 64% having used it in the past three months. Sites like YouTube and Facebook were a big hit too, visited by 36% and 28% of content consumers respectively.

Overall, 74% of online content consumers use licensed services for content while 42% use social networks. Under a third (31%) use a combination of peer-to-peer (BitTorrent), cyberlocker platforms, or linking sites. Stream-ripping services are used by 9% of content consumers.

“Consumers who reported downloading or streaming/accessing infringing content only are less likely to use licensed services and more likely to use peer-to-peer/cyberlocker/linking sites than other consumers of online content,” the report notes.

Attitudes towards legal consumption & infringing content

In common with similar surveys over the years, the Kantar research looked at the reasons why people consume content from various sources, both legal and otherwise.

Convenience (48%), speed (36%) and quality (34%) were the most-cited reasons for using legal sources. An interesting 33% of respondents said they use legal sites to avoid using illegal sources.

On the illicit front, 54% of those who obtained unauthorized content in the previous three months said they did so due to it being free, with 40% citing convenience and 34% mentioning speed.

Almost six out of ten (58%) said lower costs would encourage them to switch to official sources, with 47% saying they’d move if legal availability was improved.

Canada’s ‘Notice-and-Notice’ warning system

People in Canada who share content on peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent without permission run the risk of receiving an infringement notice warning them to stop. These are sent by copyright holders via users’ ISPs and the hope is that the shock of receiving a warning will turn consumers back to the straight and narrow.

The study reveals that 10% of online content consumers over the age of 12 have received one of these notices but what kind of effect have they had?

“Respondents reported that receiving such a notice resulted in the following: increased awareness of copyright infringement (38%), taking steps to ensure password protected home networks (27%), a household discussion about copyright infringement (27%), and discontinuing illegal downloading or streaming (24%),” the report notes.

While these are all positives for the entertainment industries, Kantar reports that almost a quarter (24%) of people who receive a notice simply ignore them.

Stream-ripping

Once upon a time, people obtaining music via P2P networks was cited as the music industry’s greatest threat but, with the advent of sites like YouTube, so-called stream-ripping is the latest bogeyman.

According to the study, 11% of Internet users say they’ve used a stream-ripping service. They are most likely to be male (62%) and predominantly 18 to 34 (52%) years of age.

“Among Canadians who have used a service to stream-rip music or entertainment, nearly half (48%) have used stream-ripping sites, one-third have used downloader apps (38%), one-in-seven (14%) have used a stream-ripping plug-in, and one-in-ten (10%) have used stream-ripping software,” the report adds.

Set-Top Boxes and VPNs

Few general piracy studies would be complete in 2018 without touching on set-top devices and Virtual Private Networks and this report doesn’t disappoint.

More than one in five (21%) respondents aged 12+ reported using a VPN, with the main purpose of securing communications and Internet browsing (57%).

A relatively modest 36% said they use a VPN to access free content while 32% said the aim was to access geo-blocked content unavailable in Canada. Just over a quarter (27%) said that accessing content from overseas at a reasonable price was the main motivator.

One in ten (10%) of respondents reported using a set-top box, with 78% stating they use them to access paid-for content. Interestingly, only a small number say they use the devices to infringe.

“A minority use set-top boxes to access other content that is not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (16%), or to access live sports that are not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (11%),” the report notes.

“Individuals who consumed a mix of legal and illegal content online are more likely to use VPN services (42%) or TV set-top boxes (21%) than consumers who only downloaded or streamed/accessed legal content.”

Kantar says that the findings of the report will be used to help policymakers evaluate how Canada’s Copyright Act is coping with a changing market and technological developments.

“This research will provide the necessary information required to further develop copyright policy in Canada, as well as to provide a foundation to assess the effectiveness of the measures to address copyright infringement, should future analysis be undertaken,” it concludes.

The full report can be found here (pdf)

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

FCC Asks Amazon & eBay to Help Eliminate Pirate Media Box Sales

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fcc-asks-amazon-ebay-to-help-eliminate-pirate-media-box-sales-180530/

Over the past several years, anyone looking for a piracy-configured set-top box could do worse than search for one on Amazon or eBay.

Historically, people deploying search terms including “Kodi” or “fully-loaded” were greeted by page after page of Android-type boxes, each ready for illicit plug-and-play entertainment consumption following delivery.

Although the problem persists on both platforms, people are now much less likely to find infringing devices than they were 12 to 24 months ago. Under pressure from entertainment industry groups, both Amazon and eBay have tightened the screws on sellers of such devices. Now, however, both companies have received requests to stem sales from a completetey different direction.

In a letter to eBay CEO Devin Wenig and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first spotted by Ars, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly calls on the platforms to take action against piracy-configured boxes that fail to comply with FCC equipment authorization requirements or falsely display FCC logos, contrary to United States law.

“Disturbingly, some rogue set-top box manufacturers and distributors are exploiting the FCC’s trusted logo by fraudulently placing it on devices that have not been approved via the Commission’s equipment authorization process,” O’Rielly’s letter reads.

“Specifically, nine set-top box distributors were referred to the FCC in October for enabling the unlawful streaming of copyrighted material, seven of which displayed the FCC logo, although there was no record of such compliance.”

While O’Rielly admits that the copyright infringement aspects fall outside the jurisdiction of the FCC, he says it’s troubling that many of these devices are used to stream infringing content, “exacerbating the theft of billions of dollars in American innovation and creativity.”

As noted above, both Amazon and eBay have taken steps to reduce sales of pirate boxes on their respective platforms on copyright infringement grounds, something which is duly noted by O’Rielly. However, he points out that devices continue to be sold to members of the public who may believe that the devices are legal since they’re available for sale from legitimate companies.

“For these reasons, I am seeking your further cooperation in assisting the FCC in taking steps to eliminate the non-FCC compliant devices or devices that fraudulently bear the FCC logo,” the Commissioner writes (pdf).

“Moreover, if your company is made aware by the Commission, with supporting evidence, that a particular device is using a fraudulent FCC label or has not been appropriately certified and labeled with a valid FCC logo, I respectfully request that you commit to swiftly removing these products from your sites.”

In the event that Amazon and eBay take action under this request, O’Rielly asks both platforms to hand over information they hold on offending manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers.

Amazon was quick to respond to the FCC. In a letter published by Ars, Amazon’s Public Policy Vice President Brian Huseman assured O’Rielly that the company is not only dedicated to tackling rogue devices on copyright-infringement grounds but also when there is fraudulent use of the FCC’s logos.

Noting that Amazon is a key member of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) – a group that has been taking legal action against sellers of infringing streaming devices (ISDs) and those who make infringing addons for Kodi-type systems – Huseman says that dealing with the problem is a top priority.

“Our goal is to prevent the sale of ISDs anywhere, as we seek to protect our customers from the risks posed by these devices, in addition to our interest in protecting Amazon Studios content,” Huseman writes.

“In 2017, Amazon became the first online marketplace to prohibit the sale of streaming media players that promote or facilitate piracy. To prevent the sale of these devices, we proactively scan product listings for signs of potentially infringing products, and we also invest heavily in sophisticated, automated real-time tools to review a variety of data sources and signals to identify inauthentic goods.

“These automated tools are supplemented by human reviewers that conduct manual investigations. When we suspect infringement, we take immediate action to remove suspected listings, and we also take enforcement action against sellers’ entire accounts when appropriate.”

Huseman also reveals that since implementing a proactive policy against such devices, “tens of thousands” of listings have been blocked from Amazon. In addition, the platform has been making criminal referrals to law enforcement as well as taking civil action (1,2,3) as part of ACE.

“As noted in your letter, we would also appreciate the opportunity to collaborate further with the FCC to remove non-compliant devices that improperly use the FCC logo or falsely claim FCC certification. If any FCC non-compliant devices are identified, we seek to work with you to ensure they are not offered for sale,” Huseman concludes.

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

Getting Rid of Your Mac? Here’s How to Securely Erase a Hard Drive or SSD

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-wipe-a-mac-hard-drive/

erasing a hard drive and a solid state drive

What do I do with a Mac that still has personal data on it? Do I take out the disk drive and smash it? Do I sweep it with a really strong magnet? Is there a difference in how I handle a hard drive (HDD) versus a solid-state drive (SSD)? Well, taking a sledgehammer or projectile weapon to your old machine is certainly one way to make the data irretrievable, and it can be enormously cathartic as long as you follow appropriate safety and disposal protocols. But there are far less destructive ways to make sure your data is gone for good. Let me introduce you to secure erasing.

Which Type of Drive Do You Have?

Before we start, you need to know whether you have a HDD or a SSD. To find out, or at least to make sure, you click on the Apple menu and select “About this Mac.” Once there, select the “Storage” tab to see which type of drive is in your system.

The first example, below, shows a SATA Disk (HDD) in the system.

SATA HDD

In the next case, we see we have a Solid State SATA Drive (SSD), plus a Mac SuperDrive.

Mac storage dialog showing SSD

The third screen shot shows an SSD, as well. In this case it’s called “Flash Storage.”

Flash Storage

Make Sure You Have a Backup

Before you get started, you’ll want to make sure that any important data on your hard drive has moved somewhere else. OS X’s built-in Time Machine backup software is a good start, especially when paired with Backblaze. You can learn more about using Time Machine in our Mac Backup Guide.

With a local backup copy in hand and secure cloud storage, you know your data is always safe no matter what happens.

Once you’ve verified your data is backed up, roll up your sleeves and get to work. The key is OS X Recovery — a special part of the Mac operating system since OS X 10.7 “Lion.”

How to Wipe a Mac Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

NOTE: If you’re interested in wiping an SSD, see below.

    1. Make sure your Mac is turned off.
    2. Press the power button.
    3. Immediately hold down the command and R keys.
    4. Wait until the Apple logo appears.
    5. Select “Disk Utility” from the OS X Utilities list. Click Continue.
    6. Select the disk you’d like to erase by clicking on it in the sidebar.
    7. Click the Erase button.
    8. Click the Security Options button.
    9. The Security Options window includes a slider that enables you to determine how thoroughly you want to erase your hard drive.

There are four notches to that Security Options slider. “Fastest” is quick but insecure — data could potentially be rebuilt using a file recovery app. Moving that slider to the right introduces progressively more secure erasing. Disk Utility’s most secure level erases the information used to access the files on your disk, then writes zeroes across the disk surface seven times to help remove any trace of what was there. This setting conforms to the DoD 5220.22-M specification.

  1. Once you’ve selected the level of secure erasing you’re comfortable with, click the OK button.
  2. Click the Erase button to begin. Bear in mind that the more secure method you select, the longer it will take. The most secure methods can add hours to the process.

Once it’s done, the Mac’s hard drive will be clean as a whistle and ready for its next adventure: a fresh installation of OS X, being donated to a relative or a local charity, or just sent to an e-waste facility. Of course you can still drill a hole in your disk or smash it with a sledgehammer if it makes you happy, but now you know how to wipe the data from your old computer with much less ruckus.

The above instructions apply to older Macintoshes with HDDs. What do you do if you have an SSD?

Securely Erasing SSDs, and Why Not To

Most new Macs ship with solid state drives (SSDs). Only the iMac and Mac mini ship with regular hard drives anymore, and even those are available in pure SSD variants if you want.

If your Mac comes equipped with an SSD, Apple’s Disk Utility software won’t actually let you zero the hard drive.

Wait, what?

In a tech note posted to Apple’s own online knowledgebase, Apple explains that you don’t need to securely erase your Mac’s SSD:

With an SSD drive, Secure Erase and Erasing Free Space are not available in Disk Utility. These options are not needed for an SSD drive because a standard erase makes it difficult to recover data from an SSD.

In fact, some folks will tell you not to zero out the data on an SSD, since it can cause wear and tear on the memory cells that, over time, can affect its reliability. I don’t think that’s nearly as big an issue as it used to be — SSD reliability and longevity has improved.

If “Standard Erase” doesn’t quite make you feel comfortable that your data can’t be recovered, there are a couple of options.

FileVault Keeps Your Data Safe

One way to make sure that your SSD’s data remains secure is to use FileVault. FileVault is whole-disk encryption for the Mac. With FileVault engaged, you need a password to access the information on your hard drive. Without it, that data is encrypted.

There’s one potential downside of FileVault — if you lose your password or the encryption key, you’re screwed: You’re not getting your data back any time soon. Based on my experience working at a Mac repair shop, losing a FileVault key happens more frequently than it should.

When you first set up a new Mac, you’re given the option of turning FileVault on. If you don’t do it then, you can turn on FileVault at any time by clicking on your Mac’s System Preferences, clicking on Security & Privacy, and clicking on the FileVault tab. Be warned, however, that the initial encryption process can take hours, as will decryption if you ever need to turn FileVault off.

With FileVault turned on, you can restart your Mac into its Recovery System (by restarting the Mac while holding down the command and R keys) and erase the hard drive using Disk Utility, once you’ve unlocked it (by selecting the disk, clicking the File menu, and clicking Unlock). That deletes the FileVault key, which means any data on the drive is useless.

FileVault doesn’t impact the performance of most modern Macs, though I’d suggest only using it if your Mac has an SSD, not a conventional hard disk drive.

Securely Erasing Free Space on Your SSD

If you don’t want to take Apple’s word for it, if you’re not using FileVault, or if you just want to, there is a way to securely erase free space on your SSD. It’s a little more involved but it works.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let me state for the record that this really isn’t necessary to do, which is why Apple’s made it so hard to do. But if you’re set on it, you’ll need to use Apple’s Terminal app. Terminal provides you with command line interface access to the OS X operating system. Terminal lives in the Utilities folder, but you can access Terminal from the Mac’s Recovery System, as well. Once your Mac has booted into the Recovery partition, click the Utilities menu and select Terminal to launch it.

From a Terminal command line, type:

diskutil secureErase freespace VALUE /Volumes/DRIVE

That tells your Mac to securely erase the free space on your SSD. You’ll need to change VALUE to a number between 0 and 4. 0 is a single-pass run of zeroes; 1 is a single-pass run of random numbers; 2 is a 7-pass erase; 3 is a 35-pass erase; and 4 is a 3-pass erase. DRIVE should be changed to the name of your hard drive. To run a 7-pass erase of your SSD drive in “JohnB-Macbook”, you would enter the following:

diskutil secureErase freespace 2 /Volumes/JohnB-Macbook

And remember, if you used a space in the name of your Mac’s hard drive, you need to insert a leading backslash before the space. For example, to run a 35-pass erase on a hard drive called “Macintosh HD” you enter the following:

diskutil secureErase freespace 3 /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

Something to remember is that the more extensive the erase procedure, the longer it will take.

When Erasing is Not Enough — How to Destroy a Drive

If you absolutely, positively need to be sure that all the data on a drive is irretrievable, see this Scientific American article (with contributions by Gleb Budman, Backblaze CEO), How to Destroy a Hard Drive — Permanently.

The post Getting Rid of Your Mac? Here’s How to Securely Erase a Hard Drive or SSD appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Recording lost seconds with the Augenblick blink camera

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/augenblick-camera/

Warning: a GIF used in today’s blog contains flashing images.

Students at the University of Bremen, Germany, have built a wearable camera that records the seconds of vision lost when you blink. Augenblick uses a Raspberry Pi Zero and Camera Module alongside muscle sensors to record footage whenever you close your eyes, producing a rather disjointed film of the sights you miss out on.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Blink and you’ll miss it

The average person blinks up to five times a minute, with each blink lasting 0.5 to 0.8 seconds. These half-seconds add up to about 30 minutes a day. What sights are we losing during these minutes? That is the question asked by students Manasse Pinsuwan and René Henrich when they set out to design Augenblick.

Blinking is a highly invasive mechanism for our eyesight. Every day we close our eyes thousands of times without noticing it. Our mind manages to never let us wonder what exactly happens in the moments that we miss.

Capturing lost moments

For Augenblick, the wearer sticks MyoWare Muscle Sensor pads to their face, and these detect the electrical impulses that trigger blinking.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Two pads are applied over the orbicularis oculi muscle that forms a ring around the eye socket, while the third pad is attached to the cheek as a neutral point.

Biology fact: there are two muscles responsible for blinking. The orbicularis oculi muscle closes the eye, while the levator palpebrae superioris muscle opens it — and yes, they both sound like the names of Harry Potter spells.

The sensor is read 25 times a second. Whenever it detects that the orbicularis oculi is active, the Camera Module records video footage.

Augenblick blink recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

Pressing a button on the side of the Augenblick glasses set the code running. An LED lights up whenever the camera is recording and also serves to confirm the correct placement of the sensor pads.

Augenblick blink camera recording using a Raspberry Pi Zero

The Pi Zero saves the footage so that it can be stitched together later to form a continuous, if disjointed, film.

Learn more about the Augenblick blink camera

You can find more information on the conception, design, and build process of Augenblick here in German, with a shorter explanation including lots of photos here in English.

And if you’re keen to recreate this project, our free project resource for a wearable Pi Zero time-lapse camera will come in handy as a starting point.

The post Recording lost seconds with the Augenblick blink camera appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Google’s Chrome Web Store Spammed With Dodgy ‘Pirate’ Movie Links

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/googles-chrome-web-store-spammed-with-dodgy-pirate-movie-links-180527/

Launched in 2010, Google’s Chrome Store is the go-to place for people looking to pimp their Chrome browser.

Often referred to as apps and extensions, the programs offered by the platform run in Chrome and can perform a dazzling array of functions, from improving security and privacy, to streaming video or adding magnet links to torrent sites.

Also available on the Chrome Store are themes, which can be installed locally to change the appearance of the Chrome browser.

While there are certainly plenty to choose from, some additions to the store over the past couple of months are not what most people have come to expect from the add-on platform.

Free movies on Chrome’s Web Store?

As the image above suggests, unknown third parties appear to be exploiting the Chrome Store’s ‘theme’ section to offer visitors access to a wide range of pirate movies including Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Rampage.

When clicking through to the page offering Ready Player One, for example, users are presented with a theme that apparently allows them to watch the movie online in “Full HD Online 4k.”

Of course, the whole scheme is a dubious scam which eventually leads users to Vioos.co, a platform that tries very hard to give the impression of being a pirate streaming portal but actually provides nothing of use.

Nothing to see here

In fact, as soon as one clicks the play button on movies appearing on Vioos.co, visitors are re-directed to another site called Zumastar which asks people to “create a free account” to “access unlimited downloads & streaming.”

“With over 20 million titles, Zumastar is your number one entertainment resource. Join hundreds of thousands of satisfied members and enjoy the hottest movies,” the site promises.

With this kind of marketing, perhaps we should think about this offer for a second. Done. No thanks.

In extended testing, some visits to Vioos.co resulted in a redirection to EtnaMedia.net, a domain that was immediately blocked by MalwareBytes due to suspected fraud. However, after allowing the browser to make the connection, TF was presented with another apparent subscription site.

We didn’t follow through with a sign-up but further searches revealed upset former customers complaining of money being taken from their credit cards when they didn’t expect that to happen.

Quite how many people have signed up to Zumastar or EtnaMedia via this convoluted route from Google’s Chrome Store isn’t clear but a worrying number appear to have installed the ‘themes’ (if that’s what they are) offered on each ‘pirate movie’ page.

At the time of writing the ‘free Watch Rampage Online Full Movie’ ‘theme’ has 2,196 users, the “Watch Avengers Infinity War Full Movie” variant has 974, the ‘Watch Ready Player One 2018 Full HD’ page has 1,031, and the ‘Watch Black Panther Online Free 123putlocker’ ‘theme’ has more than 1,800. Clearly, a worrying number of people will click and install just about anything.

We haven’t tested the supposed themes to see what they do but it’s a cast-iron guarantee that they don’t offer the movies displayed and there’s always a chance they’ll do something awful. As a rule of thumb, it’s nearly always wise to steer clear of anything with “full movie” in the title, they can rarely be trusted.

Finally, those hoping to get some guidance on quality from the reviews on the Chrome Store will be bitterly disappointed.

Garbage reviews, probably left by the scammers

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