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Steam Censors MEGA.nz Links in Chats and Forum Posts

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/steam-censors-mega-nz-links-in-chats-and-forum-posts-180421/

With more than 150 million registered accounts, Steam is much more than just a game distribution platform.

For many people, it’s also a social hangout and a communication channel.

Steam’s instant messaging tool, for example, is widely used for chats with friends. About games of course, but also to discuss lots of other stuff.

While Valve doesn’t mind people socializing on its platform, there are certain things the company doesn’t want Steam users to share. This includes links to the cloud hosting service Mega.

Users who’d like to show off some gaming footage, or even a collection of cat pictures they stored on Mega, are unable to do so. As it turns out, Steam actively censors these type of links from forum posts and chats.

In forum posts, these offending links are replaced by the text {LINK REMOVED} and private chats get the same treatment. Instead of the Mega link, people on the other end only get a mention that a link was removed.

Mega link removed from chat

While Mega operates as a regular company that offers cloud hosting services, Steam notes on their website that the website is “potentially malicious.”

“The site could contain malicious content or be known for stealing user credentials,” Steam’s link checker warns.

Potentially malicious…

It’s unclear what malicious means in this context. Mega has never been flagged by Google’s Safe Browsing program, which is regarded as one of the industry standards for malware and other unwanted software.

What’s more likely is that Mega’s piracy stigma has something to do with the censoring. As it turns out, Steam also censors 4shared.com, as well as Pirate Bay’s former .se domain name.

Other “malicious sites” which get the same treatment are more game oriented, such as cheathappens.com and the CSGO Skin Screenshot site metjm.net. While it’s understandable some game developers don’t like these, malicious is a rather broad term in this regard.

Mega clearly refutes that they are doing anything wrong. Mega Chairman Stephen Hall tells TorrentFreak that the company swiftly removes any malicious content, once it receives an abuse notice.

“It is crazy for sites to block Mega links as we respond very quickly to disable any links that are reported as malware, generally much quicker than our competitors,” Hall says.

Valve did not immediately reply to our request for clarification so the precise reason for the link censoring remains unknown.

That said, when something’s censored the public tends to work around any restrictions. Mega links are still being shared on Steam, with a slightly altered URL. In addition, Mega’s backup domain Mega.co.nz still works fine too.

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

AIY Projects 2: Google’s AIY Projects Kits get an upgrade

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/google-aiy-projects-2/

After the outstanding success of their AIY Projects Voice and Vision Kits, Google has announced the release of upgraded kits, complete with Raspberry Pi Zero WH, Camera Module, and preloaded SD card.

Google AIY Projects Vision Kit 2 Raspberry Pi

Google’s AIY Projects Kits

Google launched the AIY Projects Voice Kit last year, first as a cover gift with The MagPi magazine and later as a standalone product.

Makers needed to provide their own Raspberry Pi for the original kit. The new kits include everything you need, from Pi to SD card.

Within a DIY cardboard box, makers were able to assemble their own voice-activated AI assistant akin to the Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s own Google Home Assistant. The Voice Kit was an instant hit that spurred no end of maker videos and tutorials, including our own free tutorial for controlling a robot using voice commands.

Later in the year, the team followed up the success of the Voice Kit with the AIY Projects Vision Kit — the same cardboard box hosting a camera perfect for some pretty nifty image recognition projects.

For more on the AIY Voice Kit, here’s our release video hosted by the rather delightful Rob Zwetsloot.

AIY Projects adds natural human interaction to your Raspberry Pi

Check out the exclusive Google AIY Projects Kit that comes free with The MagPi 57! Grab yourself a copy in stores or online now: http://magpi.cc/2pI6IiQ This first AIY Projects kit taps into the Google Assistant SDK and Cloud Speech API using the AIY Projects Voice HAT (Hardware Accessory on Top) board, stereo microphone, and speaker (included free with the magazine).

AIY Projects 2

So what’s new with version 2 of the AIY Projects Voice Kit? The kit now includes the recently released Raspberry Pi Zero WH, our Zero W with added pre-soldered header pins for instant digital making accessibility. Purchasers of the kits will also get a micro SD card with preloaded OS to help them get started without having to set the card up themselves.

Google AIY Projects Vision Kit 2 Raspberry Pi

Everything you need to build your own Raspberry Pi-powered Google voice assistant

In the newly upgraded AIY Projects Vision Kit v1.2, makers are also treated to an official Raspberry Pi Camera Module v2, the latest model of our add-on camera.

Google AIY Projects Vision Kit 2 Raspberry Pi

“Everything you need to get started is right there in the box,” explains Billy Rutledge, Google’s Director of AIY Projects. “We knew from our research that even though makers are interested in AI, many felt that adding it to their projects was too difficult or required expensive hardware.”

Google AIY Projects Vision Kit 2 Raspberry Pi
Google AIY Projects Vision Kit 2 Raspberry Pi
Google AIY Projects Vision Kit 2 Raspberry Pi

Google is also hard at work producing AIY Projects companion apps for Android, iOS, and Chrome. The Android app is available now to coincide with the launch of the upgraded kits, with the other two due for release soon. The app supports wireless setup of the AIY Kit, though avid coders will still be able to hack theirs to better suit their projects.

Google has also updated the AIY Projects website with an AIY Models section highlighting a range of neural network projects for the kits.

Get your kit

The updated Voice and Vision Kits were announced last night, and in the US they are available now from Target. UK-based makers should be able to get their hands on them this summer — keep an eye on our social channels for updates and links.

The post AIY Projects 2: Google’s AIY Projects Kits get an upgrade appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

How Pirates Use New Technologies for Old Sharing Habits

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/how-pirates-use-new-technologies-for-old-sharing-habits-180415/

While piracy today is more widespread than ever, the urge to share content online has been around for several decades.

The first generation used relatively primitive tools, such as a bulletin board systems (BBS), newsgroups or IRC. Nothing too fancy, but they worked well for those who got over the initial learning curve.

When Napster came along things started to change. More content became available and with just a few clicks anyone could get an MP3 transferred from one corner of the world to another. The same was true for Kazaa and Limewire, which further popularized online piracy.

After this initial boom of piracy applications, BitTorrent came along, shaking up the sharing landscape even further. As torrent sites are web-based, pirated media became even more public and easy to find.

At the same time, BitTorrent brought back the smaller and more organized sharing culture of the early days through private trackers.

These communities often focused on a specific type of content and put strict rules and guidelines in place. They promoted sharing and avoided the spam that plagued their public counterparts.

That was fifteen years ago.

Today the piracy landscape is more diverse than ever. Private torrent trackers are still around and so are IRC and newsgroups. However, most piracy today takes place in public. Streaming sites and devices are booming, with central hosting platforms offering the majority of the underlying content.

That said, there is still an urge for some pirates to band together and some use newer technologies to do so.

This week The Outline ran an interesting piece on the use of Telegram channels to share pirated media. These groups use the encrypted communication platform to share copies of movies, TV shows, and a wide range of other material.

Telegram allows users to upload files up to 1.5GB in size, but larger ones can be split, in common with the good old newsgroups.

These type of sharing groups are not new. On social media platforms such as Facebook and VK, there are hundreds or thousands of dedicated communities that do the same. Both public and private. And Reddit has similar groups, relying on external links.

According to an administrator of a piracy-focused Telegram channel, the appeal of the platform is that the groups are not shut down so easily. While that may be the case with hyper-private groups, Telegram will still pull the plug if it receives enough complaints about a channel.

The same is true for Discord, another application that can be used to share content in ‘private’ communities. Discord is particularly popular among gamers, but pirates have also found their way to the platform.

While smaller communities are able to thrive, once the word gets out to copyright holders, the party can soon be over. This is also what the /r/piracy subreddit community found out a few days ago when its Discord server was pulled offline.

This triggered a discussion about possible alternatives. Telegram was mentioned by some, although not everyone liked the idea of connecting their phone number to a pirate group. Others mentioned Slack, Weechat, Hexchat and Riot.im.

None of these tools are revolutionary. At least, not for the intended use by this group. Some may be harder to take down than others, but they are all means to share files, directly or through external links.

What really caught our eye, however, were several mentions of an ancient application layer protocol that, apparently, hasn’t lost its use to pirates.

“I’ll make an IRC server and host that,” one user said, with others suggesting the same.

And so we have come full circle…

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

Pirate Site-Blocking? Music Biz Wants App Blocking Too

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-music-biz-wants-app-blocking-too-180415/

In some way, shape or form, Internet piracy has always been carried out through some kind of application. Whether that’s a peer-to-peer client utilizing BitTorrent or eD2K, or a Usenet or FTP tool taking things back to their roots, software has always played a crucial role.

Of course, the nature of the Internet beast means that software usage is unavoidable but in recent years piracy has swung more towards the regular web browser, meaning that sites and services offering pirated content are largely easy to locate, identify and block, if authorities so choose.

As revealed this week by the MPA, thousands of platforms around the world are now targeted for blocking, with 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains blocked in Europe alone.

However, as the Kodi phenomenon has shown, web-based content doesn’t always have to be accessed via a standard web browser. Clever but potentially illegal addons and third-party apps are able to scrape web-based resources and present links to content on a wide range of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to set-top boxes.

While it’s still possible to block the resources upon which these addons rely, the scattered nature of the content makes the process much more difficult. One can’t simply block a whole platform because a few movies are illegally hosted there and even Google has found itself hosting thousands of infringing titles, a situation that’s ruthlessly exploited by addon and app developers alike.

Needless to say, the situation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has spent the last year (1,2,3) targeting many people involved in the addon and app scene, hoping they’ll take their tools and run, rather than further develop a rapidly evolving piracy ecosystem.

Over in Russia, a country that will happily block hundreds or millions of IP addresses if it suits them, the topic of infringing apps was raised this week. It happened during the International Strategic Forum on Intellectual Property, a gathering of 500 experts from more than 30 countries. There were strong calls for yet more tools and measures to deal with films and music being made available via ‘pirate’ apps.

The forum heard that in response to widespread website blocking, people behind pirate sites have begun creating applications for mobile devices to achieve the same ends – the provision of illegal content. This, key players in the music industry say, means that the law needs to be further tightened to tackle the rising threat.

“Consumption of content is now going into the mobile sector and due to this we plan to prevent mass migration of ‘pirates’ to the mobile sector,” said Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry.

The same concerns were echoed by Alexander Blinov, CEO of Warner Music Russia. According to TASS, the powerful industry player said that while recent revenues had been positively affected by site-blocking, it’s now time to start taking more action against apps.

“I agree with all speakers that we can not stop at what has been achieved so far. The music industry has a fight against illegal content in mobile applications on the agenda,” Blinov said.

And if Blinov is to be believed, music in Russia is doing particularly well at the moment. Attributing successes to efforts by parliament, the Ministry of Communications, and copyright holders, Blinov said the local music market has doubled in the past two years.

“We are now in the top three fastest growing markets in the world, behind only China and South Korea,” Blinov said.

While some apps can work in the same manner as a basic web interface, others rely on more complex mechanisms, ‘scraping’ content from diverse sources that can be easily and readily changed if mitigation measures kick in. It will be very interesting to see how Russia deals with this threat and whether it will opt for highly technical solutions or the nuclear options demonstrated recently.

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

Cybersecurity Insurance

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/04/cybersecurity_i_1.html

Good article about how difficult it is to insure an organization against Internet attacks, and how expensive the insurance is.

Companies like retailers, banks, and healthcare providers began seeking out cyberinsurance in the early 2000s, when states first passed data breach notification laws. But even with 20 years’ worth of experience and claims data in cyberinsurance, underwriters still struggle with how to model and quantify a unique type of risk.

“Typically in insurance we use the past as prediction for the future, and in cyber that’s very difficult to do because no two incidents are alike,” said Lori Bailey, global head of cyberrisk for the Zurich Insurance Group. Twenty years ago, policies dealt primarily with data breaches and third-party liability coverage, like the costs associated with breach class-action lawsuits or settlements. But more recent policies tend to accommodate first-party liability coverage, including costs like online extortion payments, renting temporary facilities during an attack, and lost business due to systems failures, cloud or web hosting provider outages, or even IT configuration errors.

In my new book — out in September — I write:

There are challenges to creating these new insurance products. There are two basic models for insurance. There’s the fire model, where individual houses catch on fire at a fairly steady rate, and the insurance industry can calculate premiums based on that rate. And there’s the flood model, where an infrequent large-scale event affects large numbers of people — but again at a fairly steady rate. Internet+ insurance is complicated because it follows neither of those models but instead has aspects of both: individuals are hacked at a steady (albeit increasing) rate, while class breaks and massive data breaches affect lots of people at once. Also, the constantly changing technology landscape makes it difficult to gather and analyze the historical data necessary to calculate premiums.

BoingBoing article.

Reddit Copyright Complaints Jump 138% But Almost Half Get Rejected

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/reddit-copyright-complaints-jump-138-but-almost-half-get-rejected-180411/

So-called ‘transparency reports’ are becoming increasingly popular with Internet-based platforms and their users. Among other things, they provide much-needed insight into how outsiders attempt to censor content published online and what actions are taken in response.

Google first started publishing its report in 2010, Twitter followed in 2012, and they’ve now been joined by a multitude of major companies including Microsoft, Facebook and Cloudflare.

As one of the world’s most recognized sites, Reddit joined the transparency party fairly late, publishing its first report in early 2015. While light on detail, it revealed that in the previous year the site received just 218 requests to remove content, 81% of which were DMCA-style copyright notices. A significant 62% of those copyright-related requests were rejected.

Over time, Reddit’s reporting has become a little more detailed. Last April it revealed that in 2016, the platform received ‘just’ 3,294 copyright removal requests for the entire year. However, what really caught the eye is how many notices were rejected. In just 610 instances, Reddit was required to remove content from the site, a rejection rate of 81%.

Having been a year since Reddit’s last report, the company has just published its latest edition, covering the period January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

“Reddit publishes this transparency report every year as part of our ongoing commitment to keep you aware of the trends on the various requests regarding private Reddit user account information or removal of content posted to Reddit,” the company said in a statement.

“Reddit believes that maintaining this transparency is extremely important. We want you to be aware of this information, consider it carefully, and ask questions to keep us accountable.”

The detailed report covers a wide range of topics, including government requests for the preservation or production of user information (there were 310) and even an instruction to monitor one Reddit user’s activities in real time via a so-called ‘Trap and Trace’ order.

In copyright terms, there has been significant movement. In 2017, Reddit received 7,825 notifications of alleged copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that’s up roughly 138% over the 3,294 notifications received in 2016.

For a platform of Reddit’s unquestionable size, these volumes are not big. While the massive percentage increase is notable, the site still receives less than 10 complaints each day. For comparison, Google receives millions every week.

But perhaps most telling is that despite receiving more than 7,800 DMCA-style takedown notices, these resulted in Reddit carrying out just 4,352 removals. This means that for whatever reasons (Reddit doesn’t specify), 3,473 requests were denied, a rejection rate of 44.38%. Google, on the other hand, removes around 90% of content reported.

DMCA notices can be declared invalid for a number of reasons, from incorrect formatting through to flat-out abuse. In many cases, copyright law is incorrectly applied and it’s not unknown for complainants to attempt a DMCA takedown to stifle speech or perceived competition.

Reddit says it tries to take all things into consideration before removing content.

“Reddit reviews each DMCA takedown notice carefully, and removes content where a valid report is received, as required by the law,” the company says.

“Reddit considers whether the reported content may fall under an exception listed in the DMCA, such as ‘fair use,’ and may ask for clarification that will assist in the review of the removal request.”

Considering the numbers of community-focused “subreddits” dedicated to piracy (not just general discussion, but actual links to content), the low numbers of copyright notices received by Reddit continues to baffle.

There are sections in existence right now offering many links to movies and TV shows hosted on various file-hosting sites. They’re the type of links that are targeted all the time whenever they appear in Google search but copyright owners don’t appear to notice or care about them on Reddit.

Finally, it would be nice if Reddit could provide more information in next year’s report, including detail on why so many requests are rejected. Perhaps regular submission of notices to the Lumen Database would be something Reddit would consider for the future.

Reddit’s Transparency Report for 2017 can be found here.

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

Publisher Gets Carte Blanche to Seize New Sci-Hub Domains

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/publisher-gets-carte-blanche-to-seize-new-sci-hub-domains-180410/

While Sci-Hub is loved by thousands of researchers and academics around the world, copyright holders are doing everything in their power to wipe if off the web.

Following a $15 million defeat against Elsevier last June, the American Chemical Society (ACS) won a default judgment of $4.8 million in copyright damages a few months later.

The publisher was further granted a broad injunction, requiring various third-party services to stop providing access to the site. This includes domain registries, hosting companies and search engines.

Soon after the order was signed, several of Sci-Hub’s domain names became unreachable as domain registries and Cloudflare complied with the court order. Still, Sci-Hub remained available all this time, with help from several newly registered domain names.

Frustrated by Sci-Hub’s resilience, ACS recently went back to court asking for an amended injunction. The publisher requested the authority to seize any and all Sci-Hub domain names, also those that will be registered in the future.

“Plaintiff has been forced to engage in a game of ‘whac-a-mole’ whereby new ‘sci-hub’ domain names emerge,” ACS informed the court.

“Further complicating matters, some registries, registrars, and Internet service providers have refused to disable newer Sci-Hub domain names that were not specifically identified in the Complaint or the injunction”

Soon after the request was submitted, US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema agreed to the amended language.

The amended injunction now requires search engines, hosting companies, domain registrars, and other service or software providers, to cease facilitating access to Sci-Hub. This includes, but is not limited to, the following domain names.

‘sci-hub.ac, scihub.biz, sci-hub.bz, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.cf, sci-hub.cn, sci-hub.ga, sci-hub.gq, scihub.hk, sci-hub.is, sci-hub.la, sci-hub.name, sci-hub.nu, sci-hub.nz, sci-hub.onion, scihub22266oqcxt.onion, sci-hub.tw, and sci-hub.ws.’

From the injunction

The new injunction makes ACS’ enforcement efforts much more effective. It effectively means that third-party services can no longer refuse to comply because a Sci-Hub domain is not listed in the complaint or injunction.

This already appears to have had some effect, as several domain names including sci-hub.la and sci-hub.tv became inaccessible soon after the paperwork was signed. Still, it is unlikely that it will help to shut down the site completely.

Several service providers are not receptive to US Court orders. One example is Iceland’s domain registry ISNIC and indeed, at the time of writing, Sci-Hub.is is still widely available.

Seizing .onion domain names, which are used on the Tor network, may also prove to be a challenge. After all, there is no central registration organization involved.

For now, Sci-Hub founder and operator Alexandra Elbakyan appears determined to keep the site online, whatever it takes. While it may be a hassle for users to find the latest working domain names, the new court order is not the end of the “whac-a-mole” just yet.

A copy of the amended injunction is available here (pdf).

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

Amazon SageMaker Now Supports Additional Instance Types, Local Mode, Open Sourced Containers, MXNet and Tensorflow Updates

Post Syndicated from Randall Hunt original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/amazon-sagemaker-roundup-sf/

Amazon SageMaker continues to iterate quickly and release new features on behalf of customers. Starting today, SageMaker adds support for many new instance types, local testing with the SDK, and Apache MXNet 1.1.0 and Tensorflow 1.6.0. Let’s take a quick look at each of these updates.

New Instance Types

Amazon SageMaker customers now have additional options for right-sizing their workloads for notebooks, training, and hosting. Notebook instances now support almost all T2, M4, P2, and P3 instance types with the exception of t2.micro, t2.small, and m4.large instances. Model training now supports nearly all M4, M5, C4, C5, P2, and P3 instances with the exception of m4.large, c4.large, and c5.large instances. Finally, model hosting now supports nearly all T2, M4, M5, C4, C5, P2, and P3 instances with the exception of m4.large instances. Many customers can take advantage of the newest P3, C5, and M5 instances to get the best price/performance for their workloads. Customers also take advantage of the burstable compute model on T2 instances for endpoints or notebooks that are used less frequently.

Open Sourced Containers, Local Mode, and TensorFlow 1.6.0 and MXNet 1.1.0

Today Amazon SageMaker has open sourced the MXNet and Tensorflow deep learning containers that power the MXNet and Tensorflow estimators in the SageMaker SDK. The ability to write Python scripts that conform to simple interface is still one of my favorite SageMaker features and now those containers can be additionally customized to include any additional libraries. You can download these containers locally to iterate and experiment which can accelerate your debugging cycle. When you’re ready go from local testing to production training and hosting you just change one line of code.

These containers launch with support for Tensorflow 1.6.0 and MXNet 1.1.0 as well. Tensorflow has a number of new 1.6.0 features including support for CUDA 9.0, cuDNN 7, and AVX instructions which allows for significant speedups in many training applications. MXNet 1.1.0 adds a number of new features including a Text API mxnet.text with support for text processing, indexing, glossaries, and more. Two of the really cool pre-trained embeddings included are GloVe and fastText.
<

Available Now
All of the features mentioned above are available today. As always please let us know on Twitter or in the comments below if you have any questions or if you’re building something interesting. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go experiment with some of those new MXNet APIs!

Randall

Hosting Provider Steadfast is Not Liable for ‘Pirate’ Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-is-not-liable-for-pirate-site-180403/

In 2016, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan dragged several third-party Internet services to court.

The company targeted companies including CDN provider CloudFlare and the Chicago-based hosting company Steadfast, accusing them of copyright infringement because they offered services to pirate sites.

ALS argued that Steadfast refused to shut down the servers of the image sharing platform Imagebam.com, which was operated by its client Flixya. The hosting provider had been targeted with dozens of DMCA notices, and ALS accused Steadfast of turning a blind eye to the situation.

Steadfast denied these allegations. The hosting provider did indeed lease servers to Flixya for ten years but said that it forwarded all notices to its client. The hosting company could not address individual infringements, other than shutting down the entire site, which would have been disproportionate in their view.

With a trial getting closer, the hosting company submitted a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it can’t be held liable for copyright infringement. A few days ago California District Court Judge George Wu ordered on the matter, bringing good news for Steadfast.

Judge Wu dismissed all claims against Steadfast, including contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and contributory trademark infringement, which is a clear win.

Dismissed

The order clarifies that hosting providers such as Steadfast can be held liable for pirate sites. This is also the case when these sites are hosted on servers that are leased by a company which itself has a takedown policy, something Steadfast contended.

In this case, it is clear that Steadfast knew of the infringements. It could have shut down imagebam.com but failed to do so, and continued to provide server space to known copyright infringers on the site. All these arguments could, in theory, weigh against the hosting provider.

However, in order to be liable for contributory copyright infringement, ALS Scan needed to show that Steadfast failed to take simple steps to prevent the copyright infringements at issue. This is where the adult entertainment publisher’s arguments failed.

Steadfast forwarded all notices to its customer Flixya which resulted in the removal of the infringing images. In other words, the hosting provider took simple steps that prevented further copyright infringements.

“Given these undisputed facts, the Court would find that Steadfast did not ‘[fail] to take simple measures’ to prevent the specific acts of infringement of which it was aware. Steadfast took simple steps that resulted in all of the at-issue images being removed,” Judge Wu writes.

ALS argued that Steadfast should have shut down the entire server of its customer to prevent future infringements, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Service providers only have to take measures if they know that infringements occurred or will occur in the future. The latter was not obvious here.

“As such, the Court is not convinced that Steadfast had any reason, legal or practical, to terminate Flixya’s account and power down its servers,” the order reads.

Steadfast founder and CEO Karl Zimmerman is happy with the outcome of the case. He agrees that hosting providers have a responsibility to respond to copyright infringement complaints, but stresses that his company already has the right procedures in play.

“We already check and assure the content is removed, and yes, if the content simply stays up, that is concerning and shows that more could be done,” Zimmerman informs TF.

“We took action in forwarding the complaints, tracking those complaints, and validating the content had been removed. We did what was required of us, which is why I thought it was odd we were in this case in the first place.”

Hosting providers should take measures to help curb copyright infringement, according to Steadfast. However, shutting down entire services of customers who take down infringing links when they’re asked too, goes too far. Zimmerman is glad that Judge Wu agreed with this.

“To me, it simply does not seem reasonable to have to shut down a customer just because future infringement of their users is possible, when every indication is that the customer is completely law-abiding and I’m glad the judge agreed with that,” he says.

A copy of United States District Court Judge George Wu’s order is available here (pdf).

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

Cloudflare Doesn’t Want Daily Stormer Evidence at Piracy Trial

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-doesnt-want-daily-stormer-evidence-at-piracy-trial-180327/

Last summer Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince decided to terminate the account of controversial neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer.

“I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet,” he announced.

It was later explained that the move was meant as an ‘intellectual exercise’ to start a conversation regarding censorship and free speech on the internet. In this respect, it was a success, but the discussion went much further than Prince had intended.

Cloudflare always had a policy not to remove any accounts without a court order, so when this was exceeded, eyebrows were raised. In particular, copyright holders wondered why the company could terminate this account but not those of the most notorious pirate sites.

The Daily Stormer removal also became an issue in the piracy liability case adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan had filed previously. After Cloudflare’s CEO was questioned on the matter, it could now be brought up before a jury during the trial as well.

This is something Cloudflare would like to avoid, it appears. A few days ago the company asked the court to exclude any hate group related evidence or arguments from the trial.

“Cloudflare respectfully asks this Court to exclude any evidence or arguments that ALS intends to offer relating to Cloudflare’s services, including termination or non-termination of services, to hate groups,” the company writes.

“This includes but is not limited to services that Cloudflare historically provided to the Daily Stormer website, and Cloudflare’s decision to terminate services to that website following the tragic events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.”

No hate groups

ALS previously harped on the fact that the CEO arbitrarily decided to remove one site from the service, while requiring court orders in other instances.

The adult publisher could use the information to argue that Cloudflare can take action against certain websites and that this has a significant impact on their operation.

Cloudflare disagrees. It doesn’t deny that it can terminate accounts but maintains that it can’t “remove” them from the Internet as they are merely hosting a cached version. According to the company, ALS wants to use the issue to cloud the jury’s opinion.

“The apparent reason that ALS seeks to offer is not for its probative value but rather for its distracting emotional impact,” Cloudflare argues.

“Given the strong feelings such evidence would almost certainly arouse among members of the jury, this evidence creates an unwarranted and impermissible risk of unfair prejudice to Cloudflare.”

The CDN provider adds that the Daily Stormer removal had nothing to do with copyright and is therefore irrelevant. The main reason the company decided to terminate the Daily Stormer account was that the site suggested that Cloudflare supported its views.

To prevent any guilt by association or distracting emotional impact, the CDN provider urges the court to prohibit the issue from being raised at trial.

“Cloudflare respectfully requests that the Court grant this motion and enter an order barring ALS from presenting to the jury any evidence regarding Cloudflare’s provision or non-provision of Internet services to “hate” websites such as the Daily Stormer,” the company writes.

Cloudflare’s motion to exclude evidence relating to provision or termination of services to hate groups can be found here (pdf).

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

Rapidgator Plans to Launch Blockchain Powered File-Storage Platform

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/rapidgator-plans-to-launch-blockchain-powered-file-storage-platform-180325/

For several years, Rapidgator has been one of the leading file-sharing sites on the Internet.

While Rapidgator’s functionality hasn’t drastically changed in recent years, the site’s CEO has been working on an ambitious new project. This month, he’s introducing their blockchain powered file-sharing and distribution platform Market.space to the world.

Generally speaking, we’re not too eager to cover ICOs and new cryptocurrencies but with a major file-sharing player getting involved, we decided to take a closer look.

Simply speaking, the new platform will act as a hosting aggregator. Professional hosting services can offer their unused capacity, creating a market where consumers can pick the option that’s best for them, with bulletproof anonymity.

Decentralized file-storage services are not new by any means. Platforms such as Filecoin and Storj.io have been around for a while, so how does Market.space differentiate itself?

According to Rapidgator’s operator and CEO, Alex Rakhmanov, Market.space will focus on partnerships with large professional hosting companies. This as opposed to storing content on computers of the public.

“Market.space will be booking.com for storage where the customer can select the best location for his storage and the lowest price,” Rakhmanov says.

On the demand side, the audience can be quite diverse, ranging from companies who need a file-storage solution to artists or scientists who want to share their data.

The technical details and fine print of the plan are spelled out in the whitepaper, although it’s hard to judge a project without being able to try a working version. The most interesting part to us, at this point, is the link to Rapidgator, which is publicly promoted.

The Market.space website highlights the CEO and mentions Rapidgator as an established file-sharing platform with a storage capacity of more than 20 Petabytes and 40 million visitors per month.

Although that’s a testament to its file-sharing expertise, critics are likely to point out the piracy label copyright holders have applied to the site over the years.

Market.space’s Background

While the site can be used to share any type of file, it has often been criticized as a piracy haven. Earlier this year, the site was also featured on the US Trade Representative’s list of notorious markets.

These characterizations are not new, but Rapidgator’s CEO categorically refutes the claims.

“Rapidgator is a highly acclaimed file-sharing website, with an established technology behind it. We comply with the DMCA and remove files when they are reported,” Rakhmanov tells TorrentFreak.

He stresses that Rapidgator currently works with major industry players such as IFPI, who have direct access to their takedown tools. Market.space will also comply with DMCA takedown notices, although this isn’t expected to be a major issue.

“As for market.space it is more a business to business model. I don’t think there will be any copyright issues,” Rakhmanov says.

“Still, we’ll have to register the new project for DMCA purposes and remove files if they are reported. If a report is false, the user can send a counternotice and restore it,” he adds.

Market.space’s token sale, which will various tokens including SIA and Storj, starts on April 16. The ICO has a hard cap of $50 million, and a minimum of $15 million is required to get the project off the ground.

Market.space

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Russia Blocked 8,000 Pirate Sites in 2017, “Visits to Cinemas Up 11%”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocked-8000-pirate-sites-in-2017-visits-to-cinemas-up-11-180325/

Blocking sites is one of the most popular anti-piracy mechanisms of recent times. The practice is now commonplace in the UK, Europe, and Australia and, if entertainment industry groups get their way, it’ll soon be installed in Canada too.

While most regions with blocking legislation carry out their work with enthusiasm, perhaps surprisingly it’s Russia setting the standards. With almost constant amendments to copyright law, the country is able to block pirate sites, mirrors, and proxies in a very short timeframe indeed. And it has been doing so, in huge numbers.

According to data shared with Izvestia by local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor, in 2017 Russia blocked a staggering 8,000 pirate sites, more than any other country on the planet. In a clear sign of the way things are going, that figure represents a four-fold increase over the 2,000 sites that were blocked on copyright grounds in 2016.

While blocks can be authorized for infringement of copyright on everything from music to software and from books to TV shows, it is the movie industry leading the way in volume terms. In 65% of cases of site-blocking in 2017, the requests came from companies involved in the production and distribution of films.

Sheer volume aside, there’s nothing really surprising about the site-blocking movement in Russia. However, it differs from most other regions when it comes to assessing its usefulness.

Groups in many other countries have claimed that site-blocking is effective in reducing visits to pirate sites and even reducing piracy itself, but the majority steer clear of claiming that it actually does anything to increase sales. Not so Russia.

According to data from Russia’s Cinema Foundation cited by Rozcomnadzor alongside site-blocking statistics, last year “the aggregate box office of the national film distribution” grew by 10.9% amounting to 53.6 billion rubles [US$927.3m], up from 48.4 billion rubles [US$837.3m] in 2016.

In addition, the telecoms regulator said that cinema attendance across the country had increased by 11.4% over the previous year.

A court process is required to block infringing sites that fail to cooperate when rightsholders ask for content to be taken down. Those that push the boundaries by refusing to remove content on multiple occasions can find themselves blocked on a permanent basis.

In 2017, a total of 530 sites were added to Russia’s permanent blacklist, up from ‘just’ 107 sites in 2017. In addition, 459 pirate site “mirrors” were blocked by ISPs with no hope of reprieve. Following changes to the law last October, permanently blocked sites are also removed from search engine results.

But while the current system presents no significant obstacles to having many thousands of sites blocked during the course of a year, Russian authorities want more anti-piracy tools in their arsenal. New proposals would see pirate sites blocked without the need for any court process at all.

It’s already possible to have mirror sites blocked without a separate process but if the Ministry of Culture has its way, copyright complaints issued to hosting services and sites that go completely unanswered without deletion of content could suffer the same fate.

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Repeat Infringer Policy Doesn’t Have to Be Spelled Out, Appeals Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/repeat-infringer-policy-doesnt-have-to-be-spelled-out-appeals-court-rules-180324/

The “repeat infringer” issue is a hot topic in US Courts, leading to much uncertainty among various Internet services.

Under the DMCA, companies are required to implement a reasonable policy to deal with frequent offenders.

This not only applies to commercial Internet providers, as Cox found out the hard way, but also to websites that host user-uploaded content, such as video and image hosting services.

Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order that provides some further clarification on how a repeat infringer policy should be documented.

The case in question was filed by adult content producer Ventura Content, which accused the adult-themed site Motherless of copyright infringement. While Motherless relies on user-uploaded content, the adult producer argued that it is liable for pirated content on its site.

In a majority ruling, the Court found that Motherless did not know about the alleged infringements before the lawsuit was filed and removed them within a day of being properly alerted.

This means that the site is entitled to safe harbor protection if it implemented a reasonable repeat infringer policy, which brings us to the crux of the case.

The operator of the site, Joshua Lange, is the sole employee who single-handedly deals with all takedown requests. The site also has a page informing users that there is a repeat infringer policy, without providing specific details.

The adult content producer argued that the site had failed to reasonably implement such a policy, but the Court disagreed, noting that the DMCA doesn’t prescribe a written policy.

“The details of the termination policy are not written down. However, the statute does not say that the policy details must be written, just that the site must inform subscribers of ‘a policy’ of terminating repeat infringers in appropriate circumstances,” the Court states.

In this case, the details of the policy were in the mind of the operator, who made his decisions based on a case-by-case evaluation.

“Lange uses his judgment, not a mechanical test, to terminate infringers based on the volume, history, severity, and intentions behind a user’s infringing content uploads.”

The fact that the details of the policy were not spelled out doesn’t mean that Motherless has no safe harbor protection, although this may be different for large companies.

“A company might need a written policy to tell its employees or independent contractors what to do if there were a significant number of them, but Motherless is not such a firm.

“So the lack of a detailed written policy is not by itself fatal to safe harbor eligibility. Neither is the fact that Motherless did not publicize its internal criteria,” the Court adds.

Surprisingly, the site’s operator didn’t keep any written logs of repeat infringers either. He simply kept track of them in his head and terminated more than a thousand accounts this way. This didn’t work flawlessly, as a few repeat infringers slipped through, but the Court believes it was good enough.

“It is tempting, perhaps, to say that a policy is not ‘reasonably’ implemented if it does not include both a database of users whose uploads have generated DMCA notices and some automated means of catching them if they do it again. But the statute does not require that,” the order reads.

Overall, the Court sides with Motherless and its operator and affirmed the summary judgment in its favor.

This case is unique in many ways. Among other things, it shows that written details or logs are not always required for a “reasonable” repeat infringer policy. While this could be different for large companies, it is likely to be referenced frequently in related cases.

This week, hosting provider Steadfast was quick to use the ruling to argue that it sufficiently adopted and informed users of its repeat infringer policy.

—-

A copy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling is available here (pdf).

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Japan Becomes Latest Country to Consider Pirate Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japan-becomes-latest-country-to-consider-pirate-site-blocking-180324/

When attempting to deal with the flood of pirate content on the Internet, companies have many options at their disposal.

One of the most controversial is site-blocking, but despite its unpopularity with consumers, dozens of countries around the world are now involved in the practice. Quite regularly new countries consider getting involved, Canada for example. The latest new addition is Japan.

Speaking at a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the Japanese government is considering taking measures to prohibit access to pirate sites, largely to protect the country’s manga and anime industries.

“The damage is getting worse. We are considering the possibilities of all measures including site blocking,” he said.

“Manga and anime are important types of content that represent the ‘Cool Japan’ initiative. I would like to take countermeasures as soon as possible under the cooperation of the relevant ministries and agencies.”

Cool Japan is a campaign to promote Japan, its culture, products and businesses both at home and overseas, in order to generate interest in the country while boosting investment and tourism.

Outline of the Cool Japan initiative

According to a lawyer cited by the Sankei news outlet, piracy in Japan is largely facilitated by roughly two kinds of sites – hosting and linking.

While the former can be anywhere but can be dealt with locally, Japan has an estimated 200 sites that link to pirated content. Their legal status doesn’t appear to be as clear as many would like.

“In the conventional theory the link itself is not illegal,” the lawyer notes. “There is no legal basis to declare the act of facilitating piracy of other sites as ‘illegal’. Without a [linking] site, many users can not reach pirated versions, [so the government] needs to define malicious [linking] sites properly and regulate them.”

It appears that like many nations, Japan doesn’t view piracy as a predominantly domestic issue, at least on the supply front. In common with the UK, Australia and many other ‘blocking’ nations, it sees the problem as being fueled by overseas actors over which it has limited control. Site-blocking locally, therefore, could stop the problem at the borders.

Whether any plan will be any more effective than the programs elsewhere will remain to be seen but since the Japanese hold both anime and manga close to their hearts, the debate is bound to get emotional.

“As long as the normal business model of content is undermined, the number of people trying to become new professional creators will decrease, and if you are an animator, know-how such as drawing, editing and reviewing may be lost. There is a danger that you will be unable to read interesting cartoons in future, as the biggest victim of piracy is actually the reader himself,” the lawyer concludes.

This past week saw perhaps the single wildest display of copyright infringement ever directed at Japanese culture by those in authority. Local governments across South America defied the Japanese government by airing the latest episode of Dragon Ball Super in public places to tens of thousands of people, all without obtaining the necessary licensing.

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Owner of ShareBeast and AlbumJams Sentenced To Five Years in Prison

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/owner-of-sharebeast-and-albumjams-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison-180323/

According to the RIAA, ShareBeast.com and AlbumJams.com were responsible for the illegal distribution of “a massive library” of popular albums and tracks.

With a nod to the sensitivity of pre-release piracy, the sites were blamed for offering “thousands of songs” that hadn’t yet reached their official release dates. In September 2015, U.S. authorities shut them down, placing seizure notices on both domains.

The RIAA claimed that ShareBeast was the largest illegal file-sharing site operating in the United States, noting that the site’s IP addresses at the time indicated that at least some hosting had taken place in Illinois.

“Millions of users accessed songs from ShareBeast each month without one penny of compensation going to countless artists, songwriters, labels and others who created the music,” RIAA Chairman & CEO Cary Sherman commented at the time.

Two years later in September 2017, then 29-year-old former ShareBeast operator Artur Sargsyan pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal copyright infringement, admitting to the unauthorized distribution and reproduction of over one billion copies of copyrighted works.

“Through Sharebeast and other related sites, this defendant profited by illegally distributing copyrighted music and albums on a massive scale,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn.

“The collective work of the FBI and our international law enforcement partners have shut down the Sharebeast websites and prevented further economic losses by scores of musicians and artists.”

The Department of Justice reported that from 2012 to 2015, Sargsyan used ShareBeast as a pirate music repository, illegally hosting music by Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Kanye West, and Justin Bieber, among others. Sargsyan linked to that content from Newjams.net and Albumjams.com, and granted access to the public.

If Sargsyan had responded to takedown notices more positively, it’s possible that things may have progressed in a different direction. The RIAA sent the site more than 100 copyright-infringement emails over a three-year period but to no effect.

This led the music industry group to get out its calculator and inform the DoJ that the total monetary loss to its member companies was “a conservative” $6.3 billion “gut-punch” to music creators who were paid nothing by the service.

Given the huge numbers involved, it’s likely that Sargsyan hoped his 2017 guilty plea would result in a more forgiving sentence. Yesterday, however, the full weight of the law came crashing down.

California resident Artur Sargsyan was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. The now 30-year-old was also ordered to pay $458,200 restitution and ordered to forfeit $184,768.87.

“Sargsyan operated one of the most successful illegal music sharing websites on the Internet,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.

“His reproduction of copyrighted musical works were made available only to generate undeserved profits for himself. The incredible work done by our law enforcement partners and prosecutors in light of the complexity of Sargsyan’s operation demonstrates that we will employ all of our resources to stop this kind of theft.”

David J. LaValley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said that Sargsyan was warned several times that he was violating the law by illegally sharing copyrighted works, but chose to ignore the warnings.

“His sentence sends a message that no matter how complex the operation, the FBI, its federal partners and law enforcement partners around the globe will go to every length to protect the property of hard working artists and the companies that produce their art,” LaValley said.

Given the music group’s lengthy statements on the Sharebeast topic in the past, thus far the RIAA has been relatively brief. Welcoming news of the sentencing via Twitter, the major labels’ figurehead congratulated the law enforcement bodies behind the successful prosecution.

“Congrats to U.S. Attorney BJay Pak + his team along with @TheJusticeDept CCIPS Division and @FBIAtlanta for their leadership on this important case,” the RIAA wrote.

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Google Should Begin Delisting Pirate Sites, Aussie Rightsholders Say

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-should-begin-delisting-pirate-sites-aussie-rightsholders-say-180322/

After being passed almost three years ago, in February the Australian government announced a review of its pirate site-blocking laws.

The Department of Communications asked for feedback on the effectiveness of the mechanism, from initial injunction application through to website blocking and, crucially, whether further amendments are required.

“The Department welcomes single, consolidated submissions from organizations or parties, capturing all views on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 (Online Infringement Amendment) [pdf],” the consultation paper began.

Several responses from interested groups have been filed with the government and unsurprisingly, most come from entertainment industry groups seeking to expand on what has been achieved so far.

The most aggressive submissions come from the two companies that have made the most use of the blocking scheme so far – movie group Village Roadshow and TV provider Foxtel. Together the companies have had dozens of sites blocked in Australia by local ISPs but now they want the blocking regime expanded to online service platforms too.

Indeed, in the Roadshow and Foxtel submissions combined, Google is mentioned no less than 29 times as being part of the piracy problem Down Under.

“Village Roadshow strongly supported the original site blocking legislation and now we strongly support strengthening it,” Village Roadshow co-chief Graham Burke writes.

“With all major pirate sites blocked in Australia, the front door of the department store is shut. However, pirates, facilitated by Google and other search engines, are circumventing Australian Laws and Courts and opening a huge back door. Australia needs the power to require Google and other search engines to take reasonable steps to stop facilitating searches which lead to pirate sites.”

Burke goes on to criticize Google’s business model, which pushes tens of millions of people “searching for stolen goods” to pirate sites that hit them with “rogue advertising including illegal gambling, drugs, sex aids and prostitution.”

In a nutshell, the Village Roadshow co-chief suggests that Google’s business model involves profiting from knowingly leading consumers to illegal locations where they are ultimately ripped off.

“The analogy for Google is a Westfield Shopping Centre knowing they are getting big traffic to the center from a store that is using stolen goods to lure people and then robbing them!” he writes.

This anti-Google rant heads in a predictable direction. At the moment, Australia’s site-blocking regime only applies to ‘carriage service providers’, the home ISPs we all use. Village Roadshow wants that provision expanded to include ‘intermediary service providers’, which covers search engines, social media, and other types of internet intermediaries.

“Apart from ISP’s, many intermediaries are able to meaningfully impact traffic to infringing sites, and in fact, can and are currently used by pirates to find new locations and proxies to circumvent the ISP blocks,” Burke adds.

In other words, when served with an injunction, companies like Google and Facebook should delist results that lead people to pirate sites. This position is also championed by Foxtel, which points to a voluntary arrangement in the UK between search engines and the entertainment industries.

Under this anti-piracy code introduced last year, search engines agreed to further optimize their algorithms and processes to demote pirated content in search results. The aim is to make infringing content less visible and at a faster rate. At the same time, legal alternatives should be easier to find.

But like Village Roadshow, Foxtel doesn’t appear to be content with demotion – blocking and delisting is the aim.

“Foxtel strongly believes that extending the site blocking powers to search engines so that they must remove copyright infringing sites from search results would have a substantial impact on reducing piracy in Australia,” the company says.

“Search engines already remove URLs from site indexes to comply with local laws and product community standards and therefore, technologically Foxtel understands it would be a relatively simple exercise for search engines to comply with Australian blocking orders.”

Both Foxtel and Roadshow agree in other areas too. Currently, Australia’s site-blocking provisions apply to “online locations” situated outside Australia’s borders but both companies see a need for that restriction to be removed.

Neither company can understand why local pirate sites can’t be handled in the same way as those based overseas, with Foxtel arguing that proving an overseas element can be a costly process.

“Applicants must review individual domain locations and IP addresses and put on evidence relating to these matters to ensure that the location of the sites is established. This evidence, which we consider to be unnecessary, is produced at significant time and cost, all of which is borne by the rights holders,” Foxtel says.

While none of the above is particularly new in the global scheme of things, it’s interesting to note that even when agreements are reached and new legislation is formed, rightsholders always keep pushing for more.

That’s clearly highlighted in the Foxtel submission when the company says that the threshold for determining a pirate site should be lowered. Currently, a site must have a “primary purpose” to “infringe, or to facilitate the infringement” of copyright. Foxtel sees this as being too high.

In order to encompass general hosting sites that may also carry large quantities of infringing content, it would like to remove the term “primary purpose” and replace it with “substantial purpose or effect.” Given the recent criticisms leveled at Google and particularly YouTube for the infringing content it hosts, that request could prove difficult to push through.

Foxtel also sees a need to better tackle live streaming. In the UK, injunctions obtained by the Premier League and UEFA last year allow pirated live sports streams to be blocked in real-time. Although the injunctions are overseen by the courts, on a practical level the process is carried out between rightsholders and compliant ISPs.

Foxtel believes that Australia needs something similar.

“For site blocking to be effective in Australia in respect of live sport streaming sites which frequently change location, Foxtel anticipates that a similar process will ultimately be required to be implemented,” the company notes.

With the consultation process now over, dissenting submissions are in the minority. The most notable come from the Pirate Party (pdf) and Digital Rights Watch (pdf) although both are likely to be drowned out by the voices of rightsholders.

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