Tag Archives: hollywood

MPAA & RIAA Demand Tough Copyright Standards in NAFTA Negotiations

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-riaa-demand-tough-copyright-standards-in-nafta-negotiations-170621/

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico was negotiated more than 25 years ago. With a quarter of a decade of developments to contend with, the United States wants to modernize.

“While our economy and U.S. businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not,” the government says.

With this in mind, the US requested comments from interested parties seeking direction for negotiation points. With those comments now in, groups like the MPAA and RIAA have been making their positions known. It’s no surprise that intellectual property enforcement is high on the agenda.

“Copyright is the lifeblood of the U.S. motion picture and television industry. As such, MPAA places high priority on securing strong protection and enforcement disciplines in the intellectual property chapters of trade agreements,” the MPAA writes in its submission.

“Strong IPR protection and enforcement are critical trade priorities for the music industry. With IPR, we can create good jobs, make significant contributions to U.S. economic growth and security, invest in artists and their creativity, and drive technological innovation,” the RIAA notes.

While both groups have numerous demands, it’s clear that each seeks an environment where not only infringers can be held liable, but also Internet platforms and services.

For the RIAA, there is a big focus on the so-called ‘Value Gap’, a phenomenon found on user-uploaded content sites like YouTube that are able to offer infringing content while avoiding liability due to Section 512 of the DMCA.

“Today, user-uploaded content services, which have developed sophisticated on-demand music platforms, use this as a shield to avoid licensing music on fair terms like other digital services, claiming they are not legally responsible for the music they distribute on their site,” the RIAA writes.

“Services such as Apple Music, TIDAL, Amazon, and Spotify are forced to compete with services that claim they are not liable for the music they distribute.”

But if sites like YouTube are exercising their rights while acting legally under current US law, how can partners Canada and Mexico do any better? For the RIAA, that can be achieved by holding them to standards envisioned by the group when the DMCA was passed, not how things have panned out since.

Demanding that negotiators “protect the original intent” of safe harbor, the RIAA asks that a “high-level and high-standard service provider liability provision” is pursued. This, the music group says, should only be available to “passive intermediaries without requisite knowledge of the infringement on their platforms, and inapplicable to services actively engaged in communicating to the public.”

In other words, make sure that YouTube and similar sites won’t enjoy the same level of safe harbor protection as they do today.

The RIAA also requires any negotiated safe harbor provisions in NAFTA to be flexible in the event that the DMCA is tightened up in response to the ongoing safe harbor rules study.

In any event, NAFTA should not “support interpretations that no longer reflect today’s digital economy and threaten the future of legitimate and sustainable digital trade,” the RIAA states.

For the MPAA, Section 512 is also perceived as a problem. While noting that the original intent was to foster a system of shared responsibility between copyright owners and service providers, the MPAA says courts have subsequently let copyright holders down. Like the RIAA, the MPAA also suggests that Canada and Mexico can be held to higher standards.

“We recommend a new approach to this important trade policy provision by moving to high-level language that establishes intermediary liability and appropriate limitations on liability. This would be fully consistent with U.S. law and avoid the same misinterpretations by policymakers and courts overseas,” the MPAA writes.

“In so doing, a modernized NAFTA would be consistent with Trade Promotion Authority’s negotiating objective of ‘ensuring that standards of protection and enforcement keep pace with technological developments’.”

The MPAA also has some specific problems with Mexico, including unauthorized camcording. The Hollywood group says that 85 illicit audio and video recordings of films were linked to Mexican theaters in 2016. However, recording is not currently a criminal offense in Mexico.

Another issue for the MPAA is that criminal sanctions for commercial scale infringement are only available if the infringement is for profit.

“This has hampered enforcement against the above-discussed camcording problem but also against online infringement, such as peer-to-peer piracy, that may be on a scale that is immensely harmful to U.S. rightsholders but nonetheless occur without profit by the infringer,” the MPAA writes.

“The modernized NAFTA like other U.S. bilateral free trade agreements must provide for criminal sanctions against commercial scale infringements without proof of profit motive.”

Also of interest are the MPAA’s complaints against Mexico’s telecoms laws. Unlike in the US and many countries in Europe, Mexico’s ISPs are forbidden to hand out their customers’ personal details to rights holders looking to sue. This, the MPAA says, needs to change.

The submissions from the RIAA and MPAA can be found here and here (pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

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

Global Entertainment Giants Form Massive Anti-Piracy Coalition

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/global-entertainment-giants-form-massive-anti-piracy-coalition-170613/

It’s not unusual for companies within the same area of business to collaborate in order to combat piracy. The studios and labels that form the MPAA and RIAA, for example, have doing just that for decades.

Today, however, an unprecedented number of global content creators and distribution platforms have announced the formation of a brand new coalition to collaboratively fight Internet piracy on a global scale.

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is a coalition of 30 companies that reads like a who’s who of the global entertainment market. In alphabetical order the members are:

Amazon, AMC Networks, BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada and Bell Media, Canal+ Group, CBS Corporation, Constantin Film, Foxtel, Grupo Globo, HBO, Hulu, Lionsgate, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Millennium Media, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Pictures, SF Studios, Sky, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Star India, Studio Babelsberg, STX Entertainment, Telemundo, Televisa, Twentieth Century Fox, Univision Communications Inc., Village Roadshow, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

In a joint announcement today, ACE notes that there are now more than 480 services available for consumers to watch films and TV programs online. However, despite that abundance of content, piracy continues to pose a threat to creators and the economy.

“Films and television shows can often be found on pirate sites within days – and in many cases hours – of release,” ACE said in a statement.

“Last year, there were an estimated 5.4 billion downloads of pirated wide release films and primetime television and VOD shows using peer-to-peer protocols worldwide. There were also an estimated 21.4 billion total visits to streaming piracy sites worldwide across both desktops and mobile devices in 2016.”

Rather than the somewhat fragmented anti-piracy approach currently employed by ACE members separately, the coalition will present a united front of all major content creators and distributors, with a mission to cooperate and expand in order to minimize the threat.

At the center of the alliance appears to be the MPAA. ACE reports that the anti-piracy resources of the Hollywood group will be used “in concert” with the existing anti-piracy departments of the member companies.

Unprecedented scale aside, ACE’s modus operandi will be a familiar one.

The coalition says it will work closely with law enforcement to shut down pirate sites and services, file civil litigation, and forge new relationships with other content protection groups. It will also strive to reach voluntary anti-piracy agreements with other interested parties across the Internet.

MPAA chief Chris Dodd, whose group will play a major role in ACE, welcomed the birth of the alliance.

“ACE, with its broad coalition of creators from around the world, is designed, specifically, to leverage the best possible resources to reduce piracy,” Dodd said.

“For decades, the MPAA has been the gold standard for antipiracy enforcement. We are proud to provide the MPAA’s worldwide antipiracy resources and the deep expertise of our antipiracy unit to support ACE and all its initiatives.”

The traditionally non-aggressive BBC described ACE as “hugely important” in the fight against “theft and illegal distribution”, with Netflix noting that even its creative strategies for dealing with piracy are in need of assistance.

“While we’re focused on providing a great consumer experience that ultimately discourages piracy, there are still bad players around the world trying to profit off the hard work of others,” said Netflix General Counsel, David Hyman.

“By joining ACE, we will work together, share knowledge, and leverage the group’s combined anti-piracy resources to address the global online piracy problem.”

It’s likely that the creation of ACE will go down as a landmark moment in the fight against piracy. Never before has such a broad coalition promised to pool resources on such a grand and global scale. That being said, with great diversity comes the potential for greatly diverging opinions, so only time will tell if this coalition can really hold together.

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

No, Netflix Hasn’t Won The War on Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/no-netflix-hasnt-won-the-war-on-piracy-170604/

Recently a hacker group, or hacker, going by the name TheDarkOverlord (TDO) published the premiere episode of the fifth season of Netflix’s Orange is The New Black, followed by nine more episodes a few hours later.

TDO obtained the videos from Larson Studios, which didn’t pay the 50 bitcoin ransom TDO had requested. The hackers then briefly turned their attention to Netflix, before releasing the shows online.

In the aftermath, a flurry of articles claimed that Netflix’s refusal to pay means that it is winning the war on piracy. Torrents are irrelevant or no longer a real threat and piracy is pointless, they concluded.

One of the main reasons cited is a decline in torrent traffic over the years, as reported by the network equipment company Sandvine.

“Last year, BitTorrent traffic reached 1.73 percent of peak period downstream traffic in North America. That’s down from the 60 percent share peer-to-peer file sharing had in 2003. Netflix was responsible for 35.15 percent of downstream traffic,” one reporter wrote.

Piracy pointless?

Even Wired, a reputable technology news site, jumped on the bandwagon.

“It’s not that torrenting is so onerous. But compared to legitimate streaming, the process of downloading a torrenting client, finding a legit file, waiting for it to download, and watching it on a laptop (or mirroring it to a television) hardly seems worth it,” the articles states.

These and many similar articles suggest that Netflix’s ease of use is superior to piracy. Netflix is winning the war on piracy, which is pretty much reduced to a fringe activity carried out by old school data hoarders, they claimed.

But is that really the case?

I wholeheartedly agree that Netflix is a great alternative to piracy, and admit that torrents are not as dominant as they were before. But, everybody who thinks that piracy is limited to torrents, need to educate themselves properly.

Piracy has evolved quite a bit over the past several years and streaming is now the main source to satisfy people’s ‘illegal’ viewing demands.

Whether it’s through pirate streaming sites, mobile apps or dedicated media players hooked to TVs; it’s not hard to argue that piracy is easier and more convenient than it has even been in the past. And arguably, more popular too.

The statistics are dazzling. According to piracy monitoring outfit MUSO there are half a billion visits to video pirate sites every day. Roughly 60% of these are to streaming sites.

While there has been a small decline in streaming visits over the past year, MUSO’s data doesn’t cover the explosion of media player piracy, which means that there is likely a significant increase in piracy overall.

TorrentFreak contacted the aforementioned network equipment company Sandvine, which said that we’re “on to something.”

Unfortunately, they currently have no data to quantify the amount of pirate streaming activity. This is, in part, because many of these streams are hosted by legitimate companies such as Google.

Torrents may not be dominant anymore, but with hundreds of millions of visits to streaming pirate sites per day, and many more via media players and other apps, piracy is still very much alive. Just ask the Motion Picture Association.

I would even argue that piracy is more of a threat to Netflix than it has ever been before.

To illustrate, here is a screenshot from one of the most visited streaming piracy sites online. The site in question receives millions of views per day and featured two Netflix shows, “13 Reasons Why” and the leaked “Orange is The New Black,” in its daily “most viewed” section recently.

Netflix shows among the “most viewed” pirate streams

If you look at a random streaming site, you’ll see that they offer an overview of thousands of popular movies and TV-shows, far more than Netflix. Pirate streaming sites have more content than Netflix, often in high quality, and it doesn’t cost a penny.

Throw in the explosive growth of piracy-capable media players that can bring this content directly to the TV-screen, and you’ll start to realize the magnitude of this threat.

In a way, the boost in streaming piracy is a bigger threat to Netflix than the traditional Hollywood studios. Hollywood still has its exclusive release windows and a superior viewing experience at the box office. All Netflix content is instantly pirated, or already available long before they add it to their catalog.

Sure, pirate sites might not appeal to the average middle-class news columnist who’s been subscribed to Netflix for years, but for tens of millions of less fortunate people, who can do without another monthly charge on their household bill, it’s an easy choice.

Not the right choice, legally speaking, but that doesn’t seem to bother them much.

That’s illustrated by tens of thousands of people from all over the world commenting with their public Facebook accounts, on movies and TV-shows that were obviously pirated.

Pirate comments on a streaming site

Of course, if piracy disappeared overnight then only a fraction of these pirates would pay for a Netflix subscription, but saying that piracy is irrelevant for the streaming giant may be a bit much.

Netflix itself is all too aware of this it seems. The company has launched its own “Global Copyright Protection Group,” an anti-piracy division that’s on par with those of many major Hollywood studios.

Netflix isn’t winning the war on piracy; it just got started….

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

When a Big Torrent Site Dies, Some Hope it Will Be Right Back

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/when-a-big-torrent-site-dies-some-hope-it-will-be-right-back-170604/

For a niche that has had millions of words written about it over the past 18 years or so, most big piracy stories have had the emotions of people at their core.

When The Pirate Bay was taken down by the police eleven years ago it was global news, but the real story was the sense of disbelief and loss felt by millions of former users. Outsiders may dismiss these feelings, but they are very common and very real.

Of course, those negative emotions soon turned to glee when the site returned days later, but full-on, genuine resurrections are something that few big sites have been able to pull off since. What we have instead today is the sudden disappearance of iconic sites and a scrambling by third-party opportunists to fill in the gaps with look-a-like platforms.

The phenomenon has affected many big sites, from The Pirate Bay itself through to KickassTorrents, YTS/YIFY, and more recently, ExtraTorrent. When sites disappear, it’s natural for former users to look for replacements. And when those replacements look just like the real deal there’s a certain amount of comfort to be had. For many users, these sites provide the perfect antidote to their feelings of loss.

That being said, the clone site phenomenon has seriously got out of hand. Pioneered by players in the streaming site scene, fake torrent sites can now be found in abundance wherever there is a brand worth copying. ExtraTorrent operator SaM knew this when he closed his site last month, and he took the time to warn people away from them personally.

“Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones,” he said.

It’s questionable how many listened.

Within days, users were flooding to fake ExtraTorrent sites, encouraged by some elements of the press. Despite having previously reported SaM’s clear warnings, some publications were still happy to report that ExtraTorrent was back, purely based on the word of the fake sites themselves. And I’ve got a bridge for sale, if you have the cash.

While misleading news reports must take some responsibility, it’s clear that when big sites go down a kind of grieving process takes place among dedicated former users, making some more likely to clutch at straws. While some simply move on, others who have grown more attached to a platform they used to call home can go into denial.

This reaction has often been seen in TF’s mailbox, when YTS/YIFY went down in particular. More recently, dozens of emails informed us that ExtraTorrent had gone, with many others asking when it was coming back. But the ones that stood out most were from people who had read SaM’s message, read TF’s article stating that ALL clones were fakes, yet still wanted to know if sites a, b and c were legitimate or not.

We approached a user on Reddit who asked similar things and been derided by other users for his apparent reluctance to accept that ExtraTorrent had gone. We didn’t find stupidity (as a few in /r/piracy had cruelly suggested) but a genuine sense of loss.

“I loved the site dude, what can I say?” he told TF. “Just kinda got used to it and hung around. Before I knew it I was logging in every day. In time it just felt like home. I miss it.”

The user hadn’t seen the articles claiming that one of the imposter ExtraTorrent sites was the real deal. He did, however, seem a bit unsettled when we told him it was a fake. But when we asked if he was going to stop using it, we received an emphatic “no”.

“Dude it looks like ET and yeah it’s not quite the same but I can get my torrents. Why does it matter what crew [runs it]?” he said.

It does matter, of course. The loss of a proper torrent site like ExtraTorrent, which had releasers and a community, can never be replaced by a custom-skinned Pirate Bay mirror. No matter how much it looks like a lost friend, it’s actually a pig in lipstick that contributes little to the ecosystem.

That being said, it’s difficult to counter the fact that some of these clones make people happy. They fill a void that other sites, for mainly cosmetic reasons, can’t fill. With this in mind, the grounds for criticism weaken a little – but not much.

For anyone who has watched the Black Mirror episode ‘Be Right Back‘, it’s clear that sudden loss can be a hard thing for humans to accept. When trying to fill the gap, what might initially seem like a good replacement is almost certainly destined to disappoint longer term, when the sub-standard copy fails to capture the heart and soul of the real deal.

It’s an issue that will occupy the piracy scene for some time to come, but interestingly, it’s also an argument that Hollywood has used against piracy itself for decades. But that’s another story.

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

Torrents Help Researchers Worldwide to Study Babies’ Brains

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrents-help-researchers-worldwide-to-study-babies-brains-170603/

One of the core pillars of academic research is sharing.

By letting other researchers know what you do, ideas are criticized, improved upon and extended. In today’s digital age, sharing is easier than ever before, especially with help from torrents.

One of the leading scientific projects that has adopted BitTorrent is the developing Human Connectome Project, or dHCP for short. The goal of the project is to map the brain wiring of developing babies in the wombs of their mothers.

To do so, a consortium of researchers with expertise ranging from computer science, to MRI physics and clinical medicine, has teamed up across three British institutions: Imperial College London, King’s College London and the University of Oxford.

The collected data is extremely valuable for the neuroscience community and the project has received mainstream press coverage and financial backing from the European Union Research Council. Not only to build the dataset, but also to share it with researchers around the globe. This is where BitTorrent comes in.

Sharing more than 150 GB of data with researchers all over the world can be quite a challenge. Regular HTTP downloads are not really up to the task, and many other transfer options have a high failure rate.

Baby brain scan (Credit: Developing Human Connectome Project)

This is why Jonathan Passerat-Palmbach, Research Associate Department of Computing Imperial College London, came up with the idea to embrace BitTorrent instead.

“For me, it was a no-brainer from day one that we couldn’t rely on plain old HTTP to make this dataset available. Our first pilot release is 150GB, and I expect the next ones to reach a couple of TB. Torrents seemed like the de facto solution to share this data with the world’s scientific community.” Passerat-Palmbach says.

The researchers opted to go for the Academic Torrents tracker, which specializes in sharing research data. A torrent with the first batch of images was made available there a few weeks ago.

“This initial release contains 3,629 files accounting for 167.20GB of data. While this figure might not appear extremely large at the moment, it will significantly grow as the project aims to make the data of 1,000 subjects available by the time it has completed.”

Torrent of the first dataset

The download numbers are nowhere in the region of an average Hollywood blockbuster, of course. Thus far the tracker has registered just 28 downloads. That said, as a superior and open file-transfer protocol, BitTorrent does aid in critical research that helps researchers to discover more about the development of conditions such as ADHD and autism.

Interestingly, the biggest challenges of implementing the torrent solution were not of a technical nature. Most time and effort went into assuring other team members that this was the right solution.

“I had to push for more than a year for the adoption of torrents within the consortium. While my colleagues could understand the potential of the approach and its technical inputs, they remained skeptical as to the feasibility to implement such a solution within an academic context and its reception by the world community.

“However, when the first dataset was put together, amounting to 150GB, it became obvious all the HTTP and FTP fallback plans would not fit our needs,” Passerat-Palmbach adds.

Baby brain scans (Credit: Developing Human Connectome Project)

When the consortium finally agreed that BitTorrent was an acceptable way to share the data, local IT staff at the university had to give their seal of approval. Imperial College London doesn’t allow torrent traffic to flow freely across the network, so an exception had to be made.

“Torrents are blocked across the wireless and VPN networks at Imperial. Getting an explicit firewall exception created for our seeding machine was not a walk in the park. It was the first time they were faced with such a situation and we were clearly told that it was not to become the rule.”

Then, finally, the data could be shared around the world.

While BitTorrent is probably the most efficient way to share large files, there were other proprietary solutions that could do the same. However, Passerat-Palmbach preferred not to force other researchers to install “proprietary black boxes” on their machines.

Torrents are free and open, which is more in line with the Open Access approach more academics take today.

Looking back, it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park to share the data via BitTorrent. Passerat-Palmbach was frequently confronted with the piracy stigma torrents have amoung many of his peers, even among younger generations.

“Considering how hard it was to convince my colleagues within the project to actually share this dataset using torrents (‘isn’t it illegal?’ and other kinds of misconceptions…), I think there’s still a lot of work to do to demystify the use of torrents with the public.

“I was even surprised to see that these misconceptions spread out not only to more senior scientists but also to junior researchers who I was expecting to be more tech-aware,” Passerat-Palmbach adds.

That said, the hard work is done now and in the months and years ahead the neuroscience community will have access to Petabytes of important data, with help from BitTorrent. That is definitely worth the effort.

Finally, we thought it was fitting to end with Passerat-Palmbach’s “pledge to seed,” which he shared with his peers. Keep on sharing!


On the importance of seeding

Dear fellow scientist,

Thank for you very much for the interest you are showing in the dHCP dataset!

Once you start downloading the dataset, you’ll notice that your torrent client mentions a sharing / seeding ratio. It means that as soon as you start downloading the dataset, you become part of our community of sharers and contribute to making the dataset available to other researchers all around the world!

There’s no reason to be scared! It’s perfectly legal as long as you’re allowed to have a copy of the dataset (that’s the bit you need to forward to your lab’s IT staff if they’re blocking your ports).

You’re actually providing a tremendous contribution to dHCP by spreading the data, so thank you again for that!

With your help, we can make sure this data remains available and can be downloaded relatively fast in the future. Over time, the dataset will grow and your contribution will be more and more important so that each and everyone of you can still obtain the data in the smoothest possible way.

We cannot do it without you. By seeding, you’re actually saying “cheers!” to your peers whom you downloaded your data from. So leave your client open and stay tuned!

All this is made possible thanks to the amazing folks at academictorrents and their infrastructure, so kudos academictorrents!

You can learn more about their project here and get some help to get started with torrent downloading here.

Jonathan Passerat-Palmbach

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

Hollywood Sees Illegal Streaming Devices as ‘Piracy 3.0’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-sees-illegal-streaming-devices-as-piracy-3-0-170502/

Piracy remains a major threat for the movie industry, MPA Stan McCoy said yesterday during a panel session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

After McCoy praised the collaboration between the MPA(A) and Russian authorities in their fight against online piracy, the ‎President and Managing Director of the MPA’s EMEA region noted that pirates are not standing still.

Much like Hollywood, copyright infringers are innovators who constantly change their “business models” and means of obtaining content. Where torrents were dominant a few years ago, illegal streaming devices are now the main threat, with McCoy describing their rise as Piracy 3.0.

“Piracy is not a static challenge. The pirates are great innovators in their own right. So even as we innovate in trying to pursue these issues, and pursue novel ways of fighting piracy, the pirates are out there coming up with new business models of their own,” McCoy said.

“If you think of old-fashioned peer-to-peer piracy as 1.0, and then online illegal streaming websites as 2.0, in the audio-visual sector, in particular, we now face challenge number 3.0, which is what I’ll call the challenge of illegal streaming devices.”

The panel

The MPA boss went on to explain how the new piracy ecosystem works. The new breed of pirates relies on streaming devices such as set-top boxes, which often run Kodi and are filled with pirate add-ons.

This opens the door to a virtually unlimited library of pirated content. For one movie there may be hundreds of pirate links available, which are impossible to take down in an effective manner by rightsholders, he added, while showcasing the Exodus add-on to the public.

McCoy stressed that the devices themselves, and software such as Kodi, are ‘probably’ not illegal. However, the addition of copyright-infringing pirate add-ons turns them into an unprecedented piracy threat.

“The device itself is probably not illegal, the software itself is probably not illegal, the confluence of all three of these is a major category killer for online piracy,” McCoy said.

McCoy showing Exodus

McCoy went on to say that the new “Piracy 3.0” is not that popular in Russia yet. However, in the UK, America, and several other countries, it’s already huge, matching the popularity of legal services such as Spotify.

“The result is a pirate service operating on a truly massive scale. The scale of this kind of piracy, while it’s not huge yet in the Russian Federation, has reached epidemic levels similar to major services like Spotify, in markets like the UK, and other markets in Western Europe and North America.”

“This is a new sort of global Netflix but no rightsholder gets paid,” McCoy added.

The MPA chief stresses that this new form of piracy should be dealt with through a variety of measures including legislation, regulation, consumer education, and voluntary agreements with third-party stakeholders.

He notes that in Europe, rightsholders are backed by a recent decision of the Court of Justice, which outlawed the sales of devices with pre-loaded pirate add-ons. However, there is still a lot more work to be done to crack down on this emerging piracy threat.

“This is an area where […] innovative responses are required. We have to be just as good as the pirates in thinking of new ways to tackle these challenges,” McCoy said.

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

The Pirate Bay Remains Resilient, 11 Years After The Raid

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-remains-on-top-11-years-after-the-raid-170531/

There are a handful of traditions we have at TorrentFreak, and remembering the first raid on The Pirate Bay is one of them.

Not only was it the first major story we covered, it also had a significant impact on how the piracy ecosystem evolved over the years, and the role TPB has taken on since then.

This is just as relevant today as it was a decade ago. Following a year in which KickassTorrents, Torrentz.eu and ExtraTorrent were all shut down, The Pirate Bay remains online.

While the site has had plenty of downtime issues in recent years, many people may not realize that without a few essential keystrokes in the site’s early years, The Pirate Bay may not have been here today.

This is what happened.

The Raid

May 31, 2006, less than three years after The Pirate Bay was founded, 65 Swedish police officers entered a datacenter in Stockholm. The policemen had instructions to shut down the Pirate Bay’s servers, which were already seen as a major threat to the entertainment industry.

At the time The Pirate Bay wasn’t the giant it is today though. And ironically, the raid only made the site bigger, stronger, and more resilient.

As the police were about to enter the datacenter, Pirate Bay founders Gottfrid and Fredrik got wind that something was up.

In the months before the raid they were already being watched by private investigators day and night, but this time something was about to happen to their trackers.

At around 10 am in the morning Gottfrid told Fredrik that there were police officers at their office, and asked him to get down to the co-location facility and get rid of the ‘incriminating evidence,’ although none of it, whatever it was, was related to The Pirate Bay.

As Fredrik was leaving, he suddenly realized that the problems might be linked to their tracker. He therefore decided to make a full backup of the site, just in case.

When he later arrived at the co-location facility, the concerns turned out to be justified. There were dozens of policemen floating around taking away dozens of servers, most of which belonged to clients unrelated to The Pirate Bay.

Footage from The Pirate Bay raid

In the days that followed, it became clear that Fredrik’s decision to create a backup of the site was probably the most pivotal moment in the site’s history. Because of this backup, Fredrik and the rest of the Pirate Bay team managed to resurrect the site within three days.

Of course, the entire situation was handled with the mockery TPB had become known for.

Unimpressed, the site’s operators renamed the site “The Police Bay”, complete with a new logo shooting cannon balls at Hollywood. A few days later this logo was replaced by a Phoenix, a reference to the site rising from its digital ashes.

Logos after the raid

tpb classic

Instead of shutting it down, the raid propelled The Pirate Bay into the mainstream press, not least due to its swift resurrection. All the publicity also triggered a huge traffic spike for TPB, exactly the opposite effect Hollywood had hoped for.

Despite a criminal investigation leading to convictions for the site’s founders, The Pirate Bay kept growing and growing in the years that followed.

The site’s assets, meanwhile, were reportedly transferred to the Seychelles-based company Reservella.

Under new ownership, several major technical changes occurred. In the fall of 2009 the infamous BitTorrent tracker was taken offline, turning The Pirate Bay into a torrent indexing site.

Early 2012 The Pirate Bay went even further when it decided to cease offering torrent files for well-seeded content. The site’s operators moved to magnet links instead, allowing them to save resources while making it easier for third-party sites to run proxies.

These proxies turned out to be much-needed, as The Pirate Bay is now the most broadly censored website on the Internet. In recent years, ISPs all around the world have been ordered by courts to block subscriber access to the torrent site.

While TPB swiftly recovered from the “original” raid, it did suffer nearly two months of downtime late 2014 when another raid took place.

Initially it was believed that some of the site’s crucial servers were taken by the police, but the TPB team later said that it was barely hit and that they took the site offline as a precaution.

While the first raid made The Pirate Bay stronger, the two-month stint of downtime was a big hit. The site initially lost a lot of traffic, but after other key torrent sites were shutdown, it is now the most dominant player once again.

Although domain problems, technical issues, and outages are a regular occurance nowadays, TPB is still here. But remember, if there hadn’t been a recent backup back in 2006, things might have turned out quite differently.

The question that remains now is how long The Pirate Bay can keep going. The site has weathered several storms, but now that most other large sites are gone the pressure is growing.

To some, TPB lost its shine in recent years and several “co-founders” would rather see it gone. For now, however, that doesn’t seem to bother the current TPB-team. They do all they can to keep the site online, just like the site’s operator did on May 31, 2006.

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

To Torrent or To Stream? That is The Big Piracy Question

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/to-torrent-or-to-stream-that-is-the-big-piracy-question-170529/

As recently as perhaps six years ago, there was no question over where the majority of Internet video pirates would be getting their online fix. Just as they had done for at least as many years before, BitTorrent was the go-to protocol.

While still massively popular today to the tune of scores of millions of daily users, torrent consumption has been tempered in recent years by the rise of streaming platforms. These sites, with their glossy indexes and YouTube-like interfaces, grant easy access to a wide range of movies and TV shows, almost as quickly as their torrent counterparts.

So why, when these streaming services are so easy to use, would anyone bother with relatively cumbersome torrent downloads? The answer isn’t immediately obvious but for those with intimate experience of both, it’s a pretty serious question.

First of all, we have the important question of content ‘ownership’.

While people have easy access to the latest movies on streamingmovies123 or whatever .com, users never ‘own’ those streams. They are absolutely transient and once the stop button is pressed, that movie or TV show instance is gone forever. The user downloads the file of course, but it is almost immediately dumped into the ether.

For the same download bandwidth expenditure, the user can visit a torrent site and obtain exactly the same content. This time, however, there are two key differences. One, they help to distribute that content among other downloaders and two, they get to keep that content for as long as they choose.

Storing content locally is important to many pirates. Not only can that content be played on any device of the users’ choosing, it can also be played offline. Sure, it takes up some drive space, but it doesn’t require streamingmovies123 to stay online to be enjoyed. It can be played again, potentially forever, and certainly long after the streaming site has disappeared, which they often do.

But while maintaining control of content rarely has a downside for the consumer, the issue of whether distribution (uploading) via BitTorrent is ‘good’ depends on perspective.

Users of streaming sites will correctly argue that with no uploading, they are much safer than their torrenting counterparts. Torrent users, on the other hand, note that their participation in uploading helps to provide content to others. Torrent users are effectively a plus to the piracy ecosystem, while streamers (if we refer to them in torrent terms) are merely leechers.

There’s a whole generation of streaming consumers coming through today who literally have no idea about the concept of sharing. They do not understand where the content comes from, nor do they care. This lack of ‘pirate education’ could eventually present a negative for content availability.

While we’re on that topic, there’s the important question of how and why pirated content travels through the online ecosystem.

There are long-established routes for content from so-called ‘top sites’ to be shifted quickly to torrent sites. Furthermore, torrent sites provide platforms for non-scene P2P releasers to distribute their offerings to the public. In this respect, torrent sites contribute much more to the overall piracy ecosystem than most streaming sites.

Also, there’s the not inconsiderable issue of where streaming sites obtain their content. Of course, many people involved in that area of piracy will have either direct or indirect top-site access, but many simply choose to grab their content from either public or private torrents like the average user might. It’s not hard to see who relies on who here.

This brings us to how each kind of piracy is perceived by Hollywood interests. It doesn’t take Einstein to reveal that both torrents and streaming are the enemy, but since streaming platforms are closest to legitimate offerings such as Netflix and Amazon, the threat they pose is often portrayed as being the greatest.

Indeed, the rise of modified Kodi setups (and the aggressive response to them) seems to support that, with piracy shifting from the relatively geeky torrent environment to the point-and-click living room domain, occupied by the general public.

So the question of what is best – torrents or streaming – is largely down to consumer preference. However, for those with an interest in the piracy ecosystem, it’s a question of whether streaming can improve or even survive without torrents, and whether exclusively supporting the former is a potential road to nowhere.

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

Even Fake Leaks Can Help in Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy Wars

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/even-fake-leaks-can-help-in-hollywoods-anti-piracy-wars-170527/

On Monday 15 May, during a town hall meeting in New York, Disney CEO Bob Iger informed a group of ABC employees that hackers had stolen one of the company’s movies.

The hackers allegedly informed the company that if a ransom was paid, then the copy would never see the light of day. Predictably, Disney refused to pay, the most sensible decision under the circumstances.

Although Disney didn’t name the ‘hacked’ film, it was named by Deadline as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’. A week later, a video was published by the LA Times claiming that the movie was indeed the latest movie in the successful ‘Pirates’ franchise.

From the beginning, however, something seemed off. Having made an announcement about the ‘hack’ to ABC employees, Disney suddenly didn’t want to talk anymore, declining all requests for comment. That didn’t make much sense – why make something this huge public if you don’t want to talk about it?

With this and other anomalies nagging, TF conducted its own investigation and this Wednesday – a week and a half after Disney’s announcement and a full three weeks after the company was contacted with a demand for cash – we published our findings.

Our conclusion was that the ‘hack’ almost certainly never happened and, from the beginning, no one had ever spoken about the new Pirates film being the ‘hostage’. Everything pointed to a ransom being demanded for a non-existent copy of The Last Jedi and that the whole thing was a grand hoax.

Multiple publications tried to get a comment from Disney before Wednesday, yet none managed to do so. Without compromising our sources, TF also sent an outline of our investigation to the company to get to the bottom of this saga. We were ignored.

Then, out of the blue, one day after we published our findings, Disney chief Bob Iger suddenly got all talkative again. Speaking with Yahoo Finance, Iger confirmed what we suspected all along – it was a hoax.

“To our knowledge we were not hacked,” Iger said. “We had a threat of a hack of a movie being stolen. We decided to take it seriously but not react in the manner in which the person who was threatening us had required.”

Let’s be clear here, if there were to be a victim in all of this, that would quite clearly be Disney. The company didn’t ask to be hacked, extorted, or lied to. But why would a company quietly sit on a dubious threat for two weeks, then confidently make it public as fact but refuse to talk, only to later declare it a hoax under pressure?

That may never be known, but Disney and its colleagues sure managed to get some publicity and sympathy in the meantime.

Publications such as the LA Times placed the threat alongside the ‘North Korea’ Sony hack, the more recent Orange is the New Black leak, and the WannaCry ransomware attacks that plagued the web earlier this month.

“Hackers are seizing the content and instead of just uploading it, they’re contacting the studios and asking for a ransom. That is a pretty recent phenomenon,” said MPAA content protection chief Dean Marks in the same piece.

“It’s scary,” an anonymous studio executive added. “It could happen to any one of us.”

While that is indeed the case and there is a definite need to take things seriously, this particular case was never credible. Not a single person interviewed by TF believed that a movie was available. Furthermore, there were many signs that the person claiming to have the movie was definitely not another TheDarkOverlord.

In fact, when TF was investigating the leak we had a young member of a release group more or less laugh at us for wasting our time trying to find out of it was real or not. Considering its massive power (and the claim that the FBI had been involved) it’s difficult to conclude that Disney hadn’t determined the same at a much earlier stage.

All that being said, trying to hoax Disney over a fake leak of The Last Jedi is an extremely dangerous game in its own right. Not only is extortion a serious crime, but dancing around pre-release leaks of Star Wars movies is just about as risky as it gets.

In June 2005, after releasing a workprint copy of Star Wars: Episode 3, the FBI took down private tracker EliteTorrents in a blaze of publicity. People connected to the leak received lengthy jail sentences. The same would happen again today, no doubt.

It might seem like fun and games now, but people screwing with Disney – for real, for money, or both – rarely come out on top. If a workprint of The Last Jedi does eventually become available (and of course that’s always a possibility), potential leakers should consider their options very carefully.

A genuine workprint leak could prompt the company to go to war, but in the meantime, fake-based extortion attempts only add fuel to the anti-piracy fire – in Hollywood’s favor.

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

Sean Parker’s ‘Screening Room’ Patents Anti-Piracy Technologies

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/sean-parkers-screening-room-patents-anti-piracy-technologies-170526/

Sean Parker is no stranger when it comes to online piracy.

The American entrepreneur, who co-founded the file-sharing application Napster, brought copyright infringement to the masses at the turn of the last century.

Fast forward two decades, during which he also served as Facebook’s first president, Parker is back with another controversial idea.

With his latest project, known as the Screening Room, he wants to pipe the latest blockbusters into homes on the day they’re released. For $50 per movie, people should be able to watch new films on their own screens, instead of going to a movie theater.

The project has been praised by some and criticized by others. Several movie industry insiders are skeptical because they believe movies should be seen on the big screen. Others fear that Screening Room will provide quick, quality content for pirate sites.

Given the Napster connection, Parker and his colleagues are particularly aware of these piracy fears. This is likely one of the reasons why they plan to ship their system with advanced anti-piracy technology.

Over the past several weeks, Screening Room Media, Inc. has submitted no less than eight patent applications related to its plans, all with some sort of anti-piracy angle.

For example, a patent titled “Presenting Sonic Signals to Prevent Digital Content Misuse” describes a technology where acoustic signals are regularly sent to mobile devices, to confirm that the user is near the set-top box and is authorized to play the content.

Similarly, the “Monitoring Nearby Mobile Computing Devices to Prevent Digital Content Misuse” patent, describes a system that detects the number of mobile devices near the client-side device, to make sure that too many people aren’t tuning in.

Screening Room patents

The patents are rather technical and can be applied to a wide variety of systems. It’s clear, however, that the setup Screening Room has in mind will have advanced anti-piracy capabilities.

The general technology outlined in the patents also includes forensic watermarking and a “P2P polluter.” The watermarking technology can be used to detect when pirated content spreads outside of the protected network onto the public Internet.

“At this point, the member’s movie accessing system will be shut off and quarantined. If the abuse or illicit activity is confirmed, the member and the household will be banned from the content distribution network,” the patent reads.

P2P polluter, and more

The P2P polluter will then begin to flood file-sharing networks with corrupted content if a movie leaks to the public.

“Therefore, immediately ‘diluting’ the infringement to a rate that would be extraordinarily frustrating, if not impossible, for further piracy of that copy to take place.”

As if that wasn’t enough, Screening Room’s system also comes with a wide range of other anti-piracy scans built in. Among other things, it regularly scans the Wi-Fi network to see which devices are connected, and Bluetooth is used to check what other devices are near.

All in all, it’s clear that Parker and co. are trying to do whatever they can to prevent content from leaking online.

Whether that’s good enough to convince the movie studios to offer their content alongside a simultaneous theatrical release has yet to be seen. But, with prominent shareholders such as J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg, there is plenty support on board already.

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

Pirate Site Pubfilm Taunts Hollywood With Domain Name Whac-A-Mole

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-pubfilm-taunts-hollywood-with-domain-name-whac-a-mole-170525/

In recent years, most large pirate sites have faced domain name issues of some kind, which can be quite frustrating.

Copyright holders realize that going after a website’s domain name is a good way to decrease its traffic. Eventually, the site owner might even give up entirely.

The major Hollywood studios might have had this in mind as one of their main goals when they filed a complaint against the pirate site Pubfilm earlier this year.

The lawsuit was kept sealed initially, to prevent Pubfilm’s operator from moving to a new domain preemptively, hoping that this would maximize the effect. This worked, as the site was taken by surprise when it lost its domain name through a court order. However, Pubfilm didn’t throw in the towel.

Soon after the pubfilm.com domain name was suspended, the site moved to pubfilm.ac. And that wasn’t all. Pubfilm also started to actively advertise its new domain through Google Adsense, something we had never witnessed before.

Fast forward a few weeks and Pubfilm is still around, and so is the lawsuit. While the Hollywood studios managed to have the new .ac and .io domains suspended, Pubfilm is still not backing off.

Instead, the pirate streaming site now has a series of alternative domain names people can use to access the site.

Pubfilm.is is the main domain name since yesterday, but the operator also has Pubfilm.ru, Pubfilm.eu and Pubfilm.su in hand. These alternatives are actively advertised on the website, so users know where to go if the current domain is suspended.

“Alternative domain names: PUBFILM.IS PUBFILM.EU PUBFILM.RU PUBFILM.SU. Any other domains are fake!!” a notice on the site reads.

The domain name whac-a-mole is reminiscent of a similar situation The Pirate Bay was in two years ago. At the time, the notorious torrent site rotated close to a dozen domain names, before going back to its original .org gTLD.

The difference with Pubfilm, however, is that Hollywood has a US court order which they can wave at registrars and registries. This makes it easier to have domains suspended, although that’s not guaranteed.

We expect that other pirate sites will keep a close eye on the current situation. Instead of crushing Pubfilm, MPAA’s lawsuit may turn into a field experiment to see what domain names are safe from a US court order, which is not something Hollywood hoped for.

To be continued.

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

Was The Disney Movie ‘Hacking Ransom’ a Giant Hoax?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/was-the-disney-movie-hacking-ransom-a-giant-hoax-170524/

Last Monday, during a town hall meeting in New York, Disney CEO Bob Iger informed a group of ABC employees that hackers had stolen one of the company’s movies.

The hackers allegedly said they’d keep the leak private if Disney paid them a ransom. In response, Disney indicated that it had no intention of paying. Setting dangerous precedents in this area is unwise, the company no doubt figured.

After Hollywood Reporter broke the news, Deadline followed up with a report which further named the movie as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’, a fitting movie to parallel an emerging real-life swashbuckling plot, no doubt.

What the Deadline article didn’t do was offer any proof that Pirates 5 was the movie in question. Out of the blue, however, it did mention that a purported earlier leak of The Last Jedi had been revealed by “online chatter” to be a fake. Disney refused to comment.

Armed with this information, TF decided to have a dig around. Was Pirates 5 being discussed within release groups as being available, perhaps? Initially, our inquiries drew a complete blank but then out of the blue we found ourselves in conversation with the person claiming to be the Disney ‘hacker’.

“I can provide the original emails sent to Disney as well as some other unknown details,” he told us via encrypted mail.

We immediately asked several questions. Was the movie ‘Pirates 5’? How did he obtain the movie? How much did he try to extort from Disney? ‘EMH,’ as we’ll call him, quickly replied.

“It’s The Last Jedi. Bob Iger never made public the title of the film, Deadline was just going off and naming the next film on their release slate,” we were told. “We demanded 2BTC per month until September.”

TF was then given copies of correspondence that EMH had been having with numerous parties about the alleged leak. They included discussions with various release groups, a cyber-security expert, and Disney.

As seen in the screenshot, the email was purportedly sent to Disney on May 1. The Hollywood Reporter article, published two weeks later, noted the following;

“The Disney chief said the hackers demanded that a huge sum be paid in Bitcoin. They said they would release five minutes of the film at first, and then in 20-minute chunks until their financial demands are met,” HWR wrote.

While the email to Disney looked real enough, the proof of any leaked pudding is in the eating. We asked EMH how he had demonstrated to Disney that he actually has the movie in his possession. Had screenshots or clips been sent to the company? We were initially told they had not (plot twists were revealed instead) so this immediately raised suspicions.

Nevertheless, EMH then went on to suggest that release groups had shown interest in the copy and he proved that by forwarding his emails with them to TF.

“Make sure they know there is still work to be done on the CGI characters. There are little dots on their faces that are visible. And the colour grading on some scenes looks a little off,” EMH told one group, who said they understood.

“They all understand its not a completed workprint.. that is why they are sought after by buyers.. exclusive stuff nobody else has or can get,” they wrote back.

“That why they pay big $$$ for it.. a completed WP could b worth $25,000,” the group’s unedited response reads.

But despite all the emails and discussion, we were still struggling to see how EMH had shown to anyone that he really had The Last Jedi. We then learned, however, that screenshots had been sent to blogger Sam Braidley, a Cyber Security MSc and Computer Science BSc Graduate.

Since the information sent to us by EMH confirmed discussion had taken place with Braidley concerning the workprint, we contacted him directly to find out what he knew about the supposed Pirates 5 and/or The Last Jedi leak. He was very forthcoming.

“A user going by the username of ‘Darkness’ commented on my blog about having a leaked copy of The Last Jedi from a contact he knew from within Lucas Films. Of course, this garnered a lot of interest, although most were cynical of its authenticity,” Braidley explained.

The claim that ‘Darkness’ had obtained the copy from a contact within Lucas was certainly of interest ,since up to now the press narrative had been that Disney or one of its affiliates had been ‘hacked.’

After confirming that ‘Darkness’ used the same email as our “EMH,” we asked EMH again. Where had the movie been obtained from?

“Wasn’t hacked. Was given to me by a friend who works at a post production company owned by [Lucasfilm],” EMH said. After further prompting he reiterated: “As I told you, we obtained it from an employee.”

If they weren’t ringing loudly enough already, alarm bells were now well and truly clanging. Who would reveal where they’d obtained a super-hot leaked movie from when the ‘friend’ is only one step removed from the person attempting the extortion? Who would take such a massive risk?

Braidley wasn’t buying it either.

“I had my doubts following the recent [Orange is the New Black] leak from ‘The Dark Overlord,’ it seemed like someone trying to live off the back of its press success,” he said.

Braidley told TF that Darkness/EMH seemed keen for him to validate the release, as a member of a well-known release group didn’t believe that it was real, something TF confirmed with the member. A screenshot was duly sent over to Braidley for his seal of approval.

“The quality was very low and the scene couldn’t really show that it was in fact Star Wars, let alone The Last Jedi,” Braidley recalls, noting that other screenshots were considered not to be from the movie in question either.

Nevertheless, Darkness/EMH later told Braidley that another big release group had only declined to release the movie due to the possiblity of security watermarks being present in the workprint.

Since no groups had heard of a credible Pirates 5 leak, the claims that release groups were in discussion over the leaking of The Last Jedi intrigued us. So, through trusted sources and direct discussion with members, we tried to learn more.

While all groups admitted being involved or at least being aware of discussions taking place, none appeared to believe that a movie had been obtained from Disney, was being held for ransom, or would ever be leaked.

“Bullshit!” one told us. “Fake news,” said another.

With not even well-known release groups believing that leaks of The Last Jedi or Pirates 5 are anywhere on the horizon, that brought us full circle to the original statement by Disney chief Bob Iger claiming that a movie had been stolen.

What we do know for sure is that everything reported initially by Hollywood Reporter about a ransom demand matches up with statements made by Darkness/EMH to TorrentFreak, Braidley, and several release groups. We also know from copy emails obtained by TF that the discussions with the release groups took place well before HWR broke the story.

With Disney not commenting on the record to either HWR or Deadline (publications known to be Hollywood-friendly) it seemed unlikely that TF would succeed where they had failed.

So, without comprimising any of our sources, we gave a basic outline of our findings to a previously receptive Disney contact, in an effort to tie Darkness/EMH with the email address that he told us Disney already knew. Predictably, perhaps, we received no response.

At this point one has to wonder. If no credible evidence of a leak has been made available and the threats to leak the movie haven’t been followed through on, what was the point of the whole affair?

Money appears to have been the motive, but it seems likely that none will be changing hands. But would someone really bluff the leaking of a movie to a company like Disney in order to get a ‘ransom’ payment or scam a release group out of a few dollars? Perhaps.

Braidley informs TF that Darkness/EMH recently claimed that he’d had the copy of The Last Jedi since March but never had any intention of leaking it. He did, however, need money for a personal matter involving a family relative.

With this in mind, we asked Darkness/EMH why he’d failed to carry through with his threats to leak the movie, bit by bit, as his email to Disney claimed. He said there was never any intention of leaking the movie “until we are sure it wont be traced back” but “if the right group comes forward and meets our strict standards then the leak could come as soon as 2-3 weeks.”

With that now seeming increasingly unlikely (but hey, you never know), this might be the final chapter in what turns out to be the famous hacking of Disney that never was. Or, just maybe, undisclosed aces remain up sleeves.

“Just got another comment on my blog from [Darkness],” Braidley told TF this week. “He now claims that the Emoji movie has been leaked and is being held to ransom.”

Simultaneously he was telling TF the same thing. ‘Hacking’ announcement from Sony coming soon? Stay tuned…..

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

Kim Dotcom Says Family Trust Could Sue Mega Investor

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-says-family-trust-could-sue-mega-investor-170511/

One year after the raid on Megaupload and his sprawling mansion, Kim Dotcom fought back in grand fashion by launching new file-hosting site Mega.

It was a roaring success, signing up hundreds of thousands of users in the first few hours alone. Mega, it seemed, might soon be kicking at heels of the unprecedented traction of Megaupload.

While Mega continued to grow, in July 2015 Dotcom indicated that his previously warm connections with the site may have soured.

“I’m not involved in Mega anymore. Neither in a managing nor in a shareholder capacity,” he said.

Dotcom went on to claim that a then-unnamed Chinese investor (wanted in China for fraud) had used straw-men and businesses to accumulate more and more Mega shares, shares that were later seized as part of an investigation by the New Zealand government.

Mega bosses angrily denied that there had been any hostile takeover, noting that “those shareholders” who had decided not to subscribe to recent issues had “…been diluted accordingly. That has been their choice.”

But a year later and the war of words between Dotcom and Mega was still simmering, with the Chinese investor now being openly named as Bill Liu.

A notorious high-roller who allegedly gambled $293m at New Zealand’s SkyCity casino, Liu was soon being described by Dotcom as China’s “fifth most-wanted criminal” due to a huge investigation into the businessman’s dealings taking place back home.

Mega saw things a little differently, however.

“Mr Liu has a shareholding interest but has no management or board position so he certainly doesn’t control Mega,” the company insisted at the time.

Dotcom disagreed strongly with that assertion and this week, more than a year later, the topic has raised its head yet again.

“In a nutshell, Bill Liu has taken control of Mega by using straw men to buy shares for him, ultimately giving him the majority on the board,” Dotcom informs TF.

In common with the raid on Megaupload, the Mega/Liu backstory is like something out of a Hollywood movie.

This week the NZ Herald published an amazing report detailing Liu’s life since he first entered New Zealand in 2001. A section explains how he first got involved with Mega.

Tony Lentino, who was the founder of domain name registrar Instra, was also Mega’s first CEO. It’s reported that he later fell out with Dotcom and wanted to sell his shares in the company.

Bill Liu wanted to invest so Lentino went to meet him at his penthouse apartment on the 35th floor of the Metropolis tower in central Auckland.

Lentino later told police that Liu opened a bottle of Penfolds Grange wine during the meeting – no joke at $800 per bottle. That developed into a discussion about Liu buying Lentino’s stake in Mega and a somewhat interesting trip back home for Lentino.

“You want one of my cars to take home?” Liu allegedly asked Lentino.

The basement contained a Porsche, a Bentley and a Rolls-Royce – and Lentino was invited to take his pick. He took the NZ$400,000 Rolls as part of the NZ$4.2 million share in Mega he transferred to Liu.

Well, not quite to Liu, directly at least.

“When it came time to sign the deal, the shares were to be split into two parcels: one in the name of Zhao Wu Shen, a close friend of [Liu], and a trust company,” NZ Herald reports.

“It was the third transaction where Yan had been quietly buying into Mega – nothing was in his name, but he now controlled 18.8 per cent.”

It is not clear how much Liu currently owns but Lentino later told police (who believed that Liu was hiding his assets) that the Chinese businessman was the “invisible CEO” of Mega.

Speaking with TF this week, Dotcom says that Liu achieved his status by holding Mega back.

“Liu used his power to prevent Mega from monetizing its traffic via advertising sales or premium account sales and by doing so he created an artificial situation in which Mega had to raise more money to survive,” Dotcom says.

“He then pumped double-digit millions of dollars into the business via his straw men in order to dilute all other shareholders to almost zero.”

Dotcom says that Mega could’ve been “instantly profitable, ” but instead Liu intentionally forced the company into a loss-making situation, safe in the knowledge he could “turn on profitability at the push of a button.”

Dotcom says Liu chose not to do that until he directly or indirectly owned “almost all” of the shares in Mega. That, he says, came at the expense of his family, who had invested in Mega.

“The family trust that was setup for the benefit of my children owned the majority of Mega until Bill Liu entered the stage with his unlawful actions to take control of the company,” Dotcom says.

“He ran it at a loss when it could have been profitable, and then diluted other shareholders.”

According to Dotcom, the people behind his family trust are now considering their options, including legal action against Liu and others.

“The trustees of the family trust are now considering legal action against all parties involved in this dilution scam in light of the new information that has become public today from other court proceedings against Bill Liu,” Dotcom concludes.

It’s difficult to find a more colorful character than Dotcom, but Bill Liu certainly gives Dotcom a run for his money. His story can be found here, it’s almost unbelievable.

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

Hollywood Demands Net Neutrality Exceptions to Tackle Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-demands-net-neutrality-exceptions-to-tackle-piracy-170502/

Net neutrality is the notion that ISPs should treat all data traveling via the Internet in the same manner. Providers shouldn’t discriminate based on user, content or platform type, nor devices attached to the network.

While there are plenty of entities who support these principles, the free-flow of information is sometimes perceived as a threat. The concept of so-called fast and slow lanes with variable pricing, for example, has the potential to cause many anti-competitive headaches.

But for the content industries, particularly those involved in movies, TV shows, and other video entertainment, the concept of net neutrality has the potential to complicate plans to block and otherwise restrict access to copyright-infringing material.

As a result, Hollywood is making its feelings known both locally and overseas, including in India where it’s just contributed to the country’s net neutrality debate.

Early 2017, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) asked for input on its “Consultation Paper on Net Neutrality”, the fifth in the past two years aimed at introducing a legal framework for net neutrality.

Published by MediaNama in January, the 14-point questionnaire received responses from many stakeholders, including the Motion Picture Distribution Association, the local division of the MPA/MPAA representing Paramount, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Disney and Warner.

Exceptions to net neutrality principles for pirate content

In response to a question which asked whether there should be exceptions to net neutrality in order for ISPs to implement traffic management practices (TMP), Hollywood is clear. Net neutrality should only ever apply when Internet traffic is lawful, and ISPs should be able to take measures to deal with infringing content.

“For the Motion Picture Association’s members, as representatives of an industry that creates and distributes copyrighted content, it is critical that the Internet does not serve as a haven for illegal activity and that [service providers] should be permitted to take reasonable action to prevent the transfer of stolen copyrighted content,” the Hollywood group writes.

“It is commonly accepted that the requirements of [net neutrality] apply only in respect of access to lawful content. This implies that a [service provider] to, say, block content pursuant to a direction from authorities authorised by law to do so, and after following due process – will not be considered unreasonable.”

The studios say they’re in agreement that the Indian government should have the right to regulate content in “emergency situations” and also whenever content is deemed illegal, so in these instances, net neutrality rules would not apply.

Copyright-infringing content fits the latter category, but the MPA wants the government to include specific wording in any regulation that expressly denotes pirate material as exempt from the freedoms of net neutrality.

“We urge that a clear statement be included in any eventual net neutrality regulation that specifies that pirated and infringing content is unlawful and therefore not subject to the normal net neutrality policy of prohibiting content-based regulations,” the studios say.

Exemptions for blocking and throttling to counter piracy

The idea that infringing content should be blocked, throttled, or otherwise hindered is a cornerstone of Hollywood’s fight against infringing content worldwide, despite it being unable to achieve those things in its own backyard. In India, however, the studios see blocking as a fair response to the spread of infringing content and something that should be allowed under net neutrality rules.

“As a remedy to address the dissemination of, or unauthorized access to, unlawful content, blocking and throttling are necessary and appropriate measures,” the studios note.

“Blocking access to infringing sites is not inconsistent with net neutrality. In fact, blocking illegal sites, especially when they originate from outside the country, is often the only effective remedy to prevent access to illegal content in India.

“[Service providers] must be able to block sites that link, stream, make available, or otherwise communicate to the public unauthorized or illegal content.”

Rightsholders and ISPs should work together

In both the United States and Europe, Hollywood is an advocate of voluntary anti-piracy measures, with content owners and ISPs collaborating to hinder the spread of infringing content. According to its submission to the telecoms regulator, Hollywood would like to see something similar in India.

When forming its regulations, the studios would like to see service providers “encouraged” to work with rightsholders to “employ the best available tools and technologies” to fight piracy while affirming ISPs’ right to use traffic management practices (TMP) to deal with the spread of infringing content.

Furthermore, Hollywood would like a clear statement that the use of TMPs against infringing content “should not depend on an advance judicial or regulatory determination of ‘lawfulness’ prior to every use.” In other words, court oversight should not generally be required.

In conclusion, the MPA underlines that rightsholders and rightsholders alone should have the final say in respect of when, to whom, and under what circumstances they make content available. Should the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India interfere with that right, both domestic and international breaches of law could result.

The full submission can be found here (pdf)

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

Hackers Leak Netflix’s Orange is The New Black, Season 5 Premiere

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hackers-leak-netflixs-orange-is-the-new-black-season-5-premiere-170429/

tdo-logoMuch to the disappointment of studios everywhere, movie and TV shows leak onto the Internet every single week.

However, if what is unfolding today lives up to its billing, we could be looking at the start of one of the most significant piracy leaks of recent times.

Earlier this evening, the first episode of the brand new season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black was uploaded to The Pirate Bay, months ahead of its official June release date.

So how did this unreleased content fall into the wrong hands?

As seen from the torrent details uploaded to Pirate Bay, the leak is the work of a hacking entity calling itself TheDarkOverlord (TDO). An extraction of the .torrent file’s meta data reveals a 1.1GB file named:

‘Episode1/ORANGEep5001_HDSR_CTM_ProResProxy_8.15.16-H264_SD_16x9.mov’.

In information sent to TF, the group says that sometime during the closing months of 2016, it gained access to the systems of Larson Studios, an ADR (additional dialogue recorded) studio, based in Hollywood. The following screenshot reportedly from the leak indeed suggests a copy that was in production and possibly unfinished in some way.

After obtained its haul, TDO says it entered into “negotiations” with the video services company over the fate of the liberated content.

“After we had a copy of their data safely in our possession, we asked that we be paid a small fee in exchange for non-disclosure. We approached them on the Eve of their Christmas,” a member of the group previously told us over an encrypted channel.

So who are TDO? According to several security reports, TDO is a fairly prolific hacking group (their spokesman says they are more than one) that has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in recent months.

One, which targeted construction company Pre-Con Products Ltd, involved the leak of contracts and a video which purported to show a fatal accident. Another, concerning polyurethane and epoxy product company GS Polymers, Inc, resulted in a leak of data after the company reportedly showed a “disinterest” in “working” with TDO. The group has also targeted medical organizations and leaked gigabytes of data obtained from Gorilla Glue.

As is clear from its actions, TDO takes its business seriously and when the group allegedly contacted Larson Studios before Christmas, they had extortion (their word) in mind. In a lengthy business-like ‘contract’ shared with TorrentFreak, TDO laid out its terms for cooperation with the California-based company.

“This agreement of accord, assurances, and satisfaction is between Larson Studios (the ‘Client’) and thedarkoverlord, a subsidiary of TheDarkOverlord Solutions, a subsidiary of World Wide Web, LLC [WWW, LLC] (the ‘Proposer’),” the wordy contract begins.

In section 2 of the contract, headed “Description of Services,” TheDarkOverLord offers to “refrain from communicating in any method, design, or otherwise to any individual, corporation, computer, or other entity any knowledge, information, or otherwise,” which appears to be an offer not to leak the content obtained.

Unsurprisingly, there were a number of conditions. The subsequent section 3 reveals that the “services” come at a price – 50 bitcoins – plus potential late payment fees, at TDO’s discretion.

tdo-contract

TDO informs TF that Larson Studios agreed to the pay the ransom and even sent back the contract.

“They printed, signed, and scanned the contract back to us,” the group says.

A copy seen by TF does have a signature, but TDO claims that Larson failed to follow through with the all-important bitcoin payment by the deadline of 31st December. That resulted in follow-up contact with the company.

“A late fee was levied and they still didn’t hold up their end of the agreement,” TDO says.

In an earlier discussion with TDO after the group reached out to us, we tried to establish what makes a group like this tick. Needless to say, they gave very little away. We got the impression from news reports that the group is mostly motivated by money, possibly power, but to remove doubt we asked the question.

“Are you familiar with the famous American bank robber, Willie Sutton?” a spokesperson replied.

“In an interview, he was once asked ‘Why do you rob banks?’ To which replied, ‘Because that’s where the money is.’ It’s said that this exchange led to the creation of Sutton’s law which states that when diagnosing, one should consider the obvious. We’ll leave you to interpret what we’re motivated by.”

Later, the group stated that its only motivation is its “greed for internet money.”

TorrentFreak understands that the leak of this single episode could represent just the start of an even bigger drop of pre-release TV series and movies. TDO claims to be sitting on a massive trove of unreleased video material, all of it high-quality.

“The quality is almost publish quality. One will find small audio errors and video errors like lack of color correction, but things are mostly complete with most of the material,” TDO says.

TheDarkOverlord did not explain what it hopes to achieve by leaking this video content now, months after it was obtained. However, when questioned the group told us that the information shared with us thus far represents just “the tip of the iceberg.”

In the past few minutes the group has taken to its Twitter account, posting messages directed at Netflix who are likely to be watching events unfold.

This is a breaking news story, updates will follow

Update: The group has published a statement on Pastebin.

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

Bram Cohen Lashes Out Against BitTorrent’s Former “Starfucker” CEOs

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bram-cohen-lashes-out-against-bittorrents-former-starfucker-ceos-170423/

credit: Ijon CC BY-SA 4.0Founded by BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen, BitTorrent Inc. is best known for its torrent clients uTorrent and BitTorrent Mainline, from which it made millions over the years.

Unlike most file-sharing startups the company was well funded from the start. Accel was one of the early investors from early on, and BitTorrent was part of a fund that also included Facebook and Dropbox.

However, over the past decade, BitTorrent Inc. didn’t transform into a multi-billion dollar business. This prompted Accel to step away, taking a loss, while “getting rid of it.”

This is exactly what happened. In 2015 Accel handed over its stake in the company to a group of outside investors who promised to pay $10 million in a year, which they would take from future profits.

The outsiders included Jeremy Johnson and Robert Delamar. They became BitTorrent’s new CEOs and reportedly spent a ton of cash in the months that followed. Soon after it became clear that they had burned through way more money than they’d brought in and they left their positions, a saga that Backchannel documented in detail.

Speaking with TorrentFreak’s Steal This Show, Bram Cohen first talks about what went down in public, and his account doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

“You know the truth is we’ve actually been doing fine for quite a while now. We haven’t had technology problems or business problems, we’ve had investor problems. That’s been our problem,” Cohen notes.

“Basically, Accel took their share in BitTorrent and pretty much just gave it away to these total strangers who they didn’t know. And not only gave away their stock but gave away control of the company.”

While the new co-CEOs of the company spent a bunch of cash, Cohen doesn’t believe they had a real plan.

“Plan, why do you think they had a plan?” They were kids in a candy store. Their plan was like; Oh my god, we got money, we got power, we’re such geniuses, we can do everything here, we’ll make it great,” Cohen says.

The cynical rant continues for a while after that, but the bottom line is that BitTorrent’s inventor had little faith in the capabilities of the newcomers. They took BitTorrent to Hollywood and thought that aligning themselves with celebrities was the key to success, something Cohen isn’t particularly fond of.

“Human beings are a bunch of starfuckers, right? The United States has become this celebrity-obsessed culture, and everyone’s all about, oh, we’ll gain access. That’ll be great, and we’ll make money off of it, everybody thinks this.

“It’s like, how can I find some biz dev people who aren’t humans, so they don’t sell their soul?” Cohen adds.

According to Cohen, Accel’s attempt to close their fund nearly destroyed the company. When it was time for the new CEOs and their investment company to pay up, the money wasn’t there.

“They were just incompetent fuckups. I mean they’re losers,” he blasts, noting that it certainly wasn’t impossible to turn a decent profit in a year.

While the account is a one-sided view, it’s clear that the newcomers weren’t very welcome, or liked, by BitTorrent’s inventor. He goes on to detail how thousands of dollars were spent on first class tickets, private chauffeurs, and parties.

Cohen himself stayed far away from the razzmatazz and continued coding, back at the dull gray office in San Francisco.

“I had nothing to do with any of this. This was all just like, starfucker bullshit,” Cohen says.

When Steal This Show host Jamie King pushed one final time to ask if the new management really didn’t have a plan, the answer wasn’t much more flattering.

“Go around LA being big swinging dicks. Go to 1 Oak and spend a few thousand dollars a night on drinks. I mean, people think that there must be some like rational thought here, beyond being a talking chimpanzee,” Cohen concludes.

The full interview with Bram Cohen is available here, or on the Steal This Show website.

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

Discogs Attacked By Two Kinds of Horrible ‘Pirate’ Spam

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/discogs-attacked-by-two-kinds-of-horrible-pirate-spam-170415/

It’s often claimed that pirate sites only exist to generate revenue from other people’s hard work, but there are plenty of other entities making money from the online piracy boom too.

For every few dozen pirate sites on the Internet, there’s an anti-piracy outfit claiming that it can claw profits back for copyright holders. Whether or not they live up to these promises is up for debate, but there can be big differences in how these companies go about their trade.

While some clearly strive to be accurate, others make errors that are so huge it raises questions whether there’s much oversight at all. Case in point, the recent wave of DMCA notices targeting Discogs.

For those out of the loop, Discogs is one of the best music databases on the Internet. From its inception in 2000, it has crowdsourced information on 8,400,000 recordings and 5,000,000 artists across all genres, with a particular emphasis on electronic and dance. The site also has a massive marketplace offering more than 23 million titles for sale.

According to anti-piracy outfit Rivendell, however, Discogs is actually a hub of pirate activity.

For the past several weeks on an almost daily basis, Rivendell has been bombarding Google with requests to delist thousands of Discogs URLs, claiming that the site infringes its clients’ copyrights. A small sample is shown in the image below.

Bogus Discogs Takedown Requests

What’s most annoying about these bogus reports is that in many cases they target the work of Discog contributors, who volunteer their time to build one of the most comprehensive databases available today. The site actually works as a brilliant promotional platform, but Rivendell seems intent on making content as difficult to find as possible.

With that in mind, it’s likely that considering their aggressive attitude towards Napster, Metallica won’t appreciate the irony of their listings being repeatedly targeted by the anti-piracy outfit.

Just one of the pages targeted

Fortunately for Discogs, Google appears to be rejecting the bogus complaints filed by Rivendell which means that its listings are safe for now. However, the music database site has another piracy related problem to deal with, again through no fault of its own.

As illustrated via the custom Google search below, Discogs is being used by spammers to promote ‘pirate’ downloads. Pages and pages of results are available for a wide range of video content, from TV shows such as The Walking Dead to Hollywood movies.

Site-specific searches (such as Putlocker and Vodlocker) yield plenty of results, as do more generic terms such as ‘free’, ‘download’, and ‘HD’. However, for those thinking this might be a good way to download a movie or TV show for free, think again.

In common with most online spam, these ‘pirate’ entries on Discogs are often worse than useless, leading unsuspecting users to fake streaming sites that probably deliver malware, subscription traps, or other content best avoided.

Fake movie streaming anyone?

But of course, if they can’t tell the difference between a database entry on Discogs and a pirate music download site, anti-piracy outfits won’t be able to tell the difference between a scam and copyright infringement. To that end, they’ve been taking down fake pages too.

Taking down fake entries

It must be said though, that since these pages are designed to deceive, it shouldn’t be a surprise that some get caught up in the anti-piracy dragnet. It’s actually one of the few situations where most people would welcome a wrongful takedown.

At the time of publication, Discogs had not responded to our request for comment.

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

Adblock Plus Acquires Pirate Bay Founder’s Micropayment Service Flattr

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/adblock-plus-acquires-pirate-bay-founders-micropayment-service-flattr-170405/

After Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde cut his ties with the notorious torrent site he moved on to several new projects.

The micropayment system Flattr is one of his best-known ventures. With Flattr, people can easily send money to the websites and services they like, without having to enter their payment details time and time again.

Last year Flattr partnered with Adblock Plus to launch a new service Flattr Plus, allowing publishers to generate revenue directly from readers instead of forcing ads upon them.

Flattr Plus is built on the existing micropayment platform that was launched in 2010. Through a new browser add-on it allows users to automatically share money with website owners when an ad is blocked.

Today, the cooperation between the two companies is strengthened even further after eyeo, the parent company of Adblock Plus, aquired Flattr.

“Over the past ten months, we collaborated closely and in fact, became one team with a joint vision. So it was just natural to remove the remaining structural barriers and make it official,” Sunde says, commenting on the announcement.

“We’re excited to continue our work on the Flattr project to give back control to the users of the internet. They should decide how they want to use the internet and how they want to support the content they enjoy.”

Talking to TorrentFreak, Sunde says that he’ll stay on as an unpaid advisor. He has no official stake in Flattr so Hollywood shouldn’t expect to see any of the proceeds of the deal.

That said, he’s put a lot of work in the company over the past eight years, building it from the ground up, so it’s a big step to let someone else take over.

“It’s just that Flattr is my baby and she got married to someone who will take care of her from now,” says Sunde, summarizing his feelings.

Flattr co-founder Linus Olsson will stay on to lead the Flattr operation, and other staff members will keep their jobs as well. Sunde will have an advisory role in the company, and continues to work on various side-projects, including a new privacy service he’ll launch soon.

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

Hollywood Obtains Order to Block Pirate Streaming Sites in Ireland

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-obtains-order-block-pirate-streaming-sites-ireland-170404/

Like many other countries throughout Europe, Ireland is no stranger to pirate site blocking.

The Pirate Bay was blocked back in 2009, as part of a voluntary agreement between copyright holders and local ISP Eircom. A few years later the High Court ordered other major Internet providers to follow suit.

However, The Pirate Bay is not the only ‘infringing’ site out there, and this year the Motion Picture Association (MPA) went to the Commercial Court, hoping to expand the blockades.

On behalf of several major Hollywood studios, the group requested Irish Internet providers to block access to three popular streaming sites; movie4k.to, primewire.ag, and onwatchseries.to.

In their complaint, the movie studios, including Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, and Warner Bros, described the sites as massive copyright infringement hubs, with each offering thousands of infringing movies.

Monday evening the court approved the request. This means that the three websites will soon be rendered unavailable by Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications, and Magnet Networks.

According to Justice Brian Cregan it was “clear” that copyright infringement “manifestly occurred” on the three streaming portals. In addition, he ruled that the ISP blockades will not interfere with lawful Internet use, nor can they be characterized as disproportionate.

Watchseries

Irish Times reports that none of the ISPs opposed the blocking request. However, Eir said that the costs involved could become an issue if the number of blocked websites increases drastically in the future.

The ISP asked the court to put a cap on the number of notifications, limiting it to 50 per month. However, the movie studios objected to a blocking cap, and the judge decided not to add any limitations for now.

How the Internet providers will restrict access to the sites in question is unclear for now, but it’s likely to be through DNS, IP-addresses, or a combination of both. If Ireland follows the UK, the number of blocked domains may soon rise to several thousand.

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