Tag Archives: iptv

The Xtream Codes IPTV Takedown is Complex and Confused

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-xtream-codes-iptv-takedown-is-complex-and-confused-190919/

As reported Wednesday, police in Italy and several other European countries coordinated to take down Xtream Codes, at least one IPTV provider, and more than twenty individuals and related equipment linked to the services.

The precise roles of all these people remain unclear. However, there can be little doubt that emphasis is being placed on the importance of the Xtream Codes management system which, according to law enforcement officials, lay at the very heart of the targeted criminal operation even though the software didn’t supply any content.

This very large operation involved police forces in Italy, the Netherlands, France and Bulgaria. It was coordinated across borders with the assistance of Eurojust, an EU agency that helps agencies from member states to co-operate in criminal matters.

Yesterday afternoon, a press conference took place to explain how the operation panned out, who it had targeted, and to detail various additional pieces of information. It began with Filippo Spiezia, National Member for Italy at Eurojust, explaining that hundreds of officers had been involved in the operation to dismantle the technological infrastructure of a “criminal IPTV network.”

Spiezia confirmed that 181 servers had been taken down and seized and more than 800,000 users (police reported 700,000 earlier yesterday) had been disconnected from the Xtream Codes service when it was taken down.

In what became a common theme throughout the conference with several participants, Spieza sometimes appeared to speak generally about the entire operation, which included the takedown of at least one actual IPTV provider, then sometimes in relation to Xtream Codes alone.

This ambiguity and lack of clarity appear to be causing confusion. For example, Reuters reported the following yesterday:

“The biggest illegal platform shut down on Wednesday, dubbed Xtream Codes, had around 50 millions users worldwide,” Reuters reported, citing Gianluca Berruti of the Italian tax police.

“It sold a bundled pay-TV service that included premium content from Comcast’s Sky Italia, Netflix, Mediaset, Dazn, for a monthly subscription of 12 euros,” it claimed Berruti added.

Again, ‘pirate’ IPTV sellers utilizing the Xtream Codes platform may have been doing just that but, at this stage, the second claim above doesn’t make sense or indeed add up. Fifty million users multiplied by 12 euros a month is a staggering amount of money that wasn’t supported by financial information provided later in the conference.

In common with all of those present at yesterday’s gathering, Filippo Spiezia expressed satisfaction at the success of the international operation, noting that cross-border cooperation had proved invaluable since the investigation began.

“During these months of work at Eurojust, we have adapted to the judicial needs of the Italian authorities….to the specific legal requirements of our new partners. This is the first example of an action conducted with these modalities,” he said.

“Thanks to this action we have sent out a very clear signal to criminals that even in this specific domain, even in this specific area which represents the most advanced form of criminality, we will [respond] to them.”

Vincenzo Piscitelli, Deputy Prosecutor in Naples, painted a picture of small offenses by end-users (pirate IPTV subscribers) fueling “huge illegal activities” behind the scenes.

“So this is why we really tried to hit these organizational structures at the heart and that was done through the investigation that was carried out by the public prosecutor’s office of Naples,” he said.

Next up was Valeria Sico, Public Prosecutor in Naples. Sico spoke quickly and through a translator, so that may account for what at times felt like confusing output. While clearly an expert in law, those looking for clear and specific technical details from the Prosecutor failed to receive them.

Some of what Sico said made sense but the fact that Xtream Codes isn’t normally understood to be an actual provider of illegal streams (although it is undoubtedly used by outsiders to manage them), it’s worth reproducing some of her words in full, to see how muddied this has become.

“There was software created by two citizens of Greek nationality. They have a company which had a legal seat in Bulgaria,” Sico said, confirming the information previously supplied by the Italian authorities.

“So this software enables the disclosure and the transmission of [pirate] TV signals through digital ways to different servers which were constructed by the organizations, by the host providers in the Netherlands and in France.

“Through these servers, the signal – the digital signal – was therefore sent to different IP addresses of final users and these people would then receive the [illegal] television signal in their homes.”

Again, it’s worth reiterating that Sico was speaking through a translator so some context and detail may have been lost but from there, the explanation didn’t really become any more clear.

“For the first time, having identified the company that was producing the software, we went directly to the company that was producing the software so they were enabling people to decrypt the signal,” she said.

“So this is why we also went right to the physical place where the disclosure [broadcast] of the signal would take place within these hosting provider companies in Holland and in France….the signal was broadcast to the company that had created the illegal signal – the software company – and then that was sent to the end-users.”

Again, this isn’t the broadly accepted function of the Xtream Codes system, unless the company itself was also involved in the provision of illicit streams. That claim has been the subject of speculation in the past 24 hours, perhaps based on the Reuters report.

Thankfully, Cybercrime Prosecutor Lodewijk Van Zwieten from the Netherlands kept things fairly simple in his prepared speech.

He began by noting that 93 servers had been taken down in one location in the Netherlands, all of which had targeted the Italian market. This seems to be a reference to equipment operated by the actual IPTV provider shown in the video published yesterday.

According to a chart published by the authorities and reproduced below, it was using the Xtream Codes management software, something which seems to have led the company’s software becoming embroiled in the investigation.

Credit: Zougla.gr

Van Zwieten said that no offenses had been committed by Dutch citizens but confirmed that local Internet infrastructure had been abused by the ‘criminal’ network.

“In the Netherlands, we are proud of the fact that we have a big affordable hosting industry which is very important for our economy but we don’t want these services to be used on a large scale for criminal activities,” he said.

“That is why we find it so important, together with the Dutch hosting industry, to act very diligently against abuse. So it was our pleasure to comply with a request from our Italian colleagues.”

Riccardo Croce, Head of Financial Cybercrime Investigation with the State Police in Italy, said that the “criminal group” (again, no precise explanation of which entities that phrase encompasses) had five million users in Italy alone, contributing to the 2,180,000 euros generated every month in illicit funds.

As highlighted earlier, the figures offered by various parties don’t add up, lack clarity, and as a result, appear to contradict each other.

In common with Sico’s speech, Creco’s was also presented through a translator. However, Creco was absolutely clear that the plan was to get to the “complex mapping of international technological infrastructure and to really hit them at the heart of the infrastructure.”

He spoke briefly about the complex technological network being used to transfer the actual streams but then appeared to touch on the importance of Xtream Codes once again, noting that entities in the chain were able to use a particular service to sell the product to the public.

“Our investigation was based on this, to go to the source level of this illegal signal, to disarticulate completely all servers in various European countries in which the infrastructure existed to replicate these signals,” Creco said.

“And, to hit for the first time, the company that was offering this very interesting support to the criminal infrastructure which put at its disposal these panels, network panels, the computer system through which the multitude of pay channels were able to be sold and resold through a chain of people called resellers throughout Europe so it could end up at the end-users.”

The paragraph above is possibly the clearest description of Xtream Codes’ function from someone in authority since yesterday’s raids. Creco’s statement not only separates the system from the actual provision of illegal streams but describes its function as most people understand it.

While many will argue that Xtream Codes was content-agnostic and capable of being put to plenty of legitimate uses, it’s clear that the authorities do not believe that was the intent at all. Through their statements, as confusing as they were at times, the message seems to be that Xtream Codes was perhaps the most important cog in the wheel.

There are many huge questions now being asked in the unlicensed IPTV community but perhaps the biggest is what information was held on the servers of Xtream Codes at the moment they were seized. They are a potential goldmine of information, not only relating to the many IPTV providers and sellers that used the service but also their customers. The worldwide fallout could be immense.

Importantly, however, Xtream Codes (as popular as it was) is not the only product out there capable of doing this kind of management job. So while the company’s days may already be over, others are already gearing up to fill in the gaps. Whether anyone will want to centralize their data with a vulnerable third-party again will be up for debate, however.

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

Xtream Codes IPTV System Targeted in Massive Police Operation

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/xtream-codes-iptv-system-targeted-in-massive-police-operation/

Reports of legal action and law enforcement activities against IPTV services and providers are a regular occurrence but news coming out of Italy this morning is particularly interesting.

According to the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), a law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, a huge operation is underway to target and dismantle the software service known as Xtream Codes.

What makes the case unusual is that Xtream Codes isn’t an IPTV provider as such. Usually operating from Xtream-codes.com, the company behind the software/system offers a comprehensive package that allows people to manage their own IPTV reselling service and its customers.

The system is subscription-based, starting at around 15 euros per month and running to 59 euros per month for the powerful “all-in-one” solution.

The Guardia di Finanza say that 100 officers from its Special Unit for the Protection of Privacy and Technological Fraud (NSPFT) are taking part in the operation to take Xtream Codes down.

Early reports suggest that the system has been “seized”, allegedly preventing 700,000 users from accessing the platform. Xtream Codes itself recently reported having more than 5,000 clients servicing in excess of 50,000,000 end clients.

The Italian police unit is describing Xtream Codes as an international criminal group that’s being targeted not only in Italy but with simultaneous searches in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Greece and Bulgaria.

Xtream Codes is registered as a company in Bulgaria, has a local VAT number, and lists an address in Petrich for its offices. According to its now-disappeared website, it was founded by two students. Police say that 25 “managers” have been identified but there’s no specific mention of any arrests.

Disruption is already being reported by some IPTV sellers utilizing the Xtream Codes system. Authorities in Italy are set to provide more information on the operation this morning so we’ll update this article as more news comes in.

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

UK ‘Pirate’ IPTV Users’ Favorite Channels “Are Free-to-Air”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-pirate-iptv-users-favorite-channels-are-free-to-air-190915/

While the TV licensing system in the UK is viewed as an unpopular tax by many citizens, millions hand over money every year in order to receive broadcasts into their homes.

For the sum of £154.50 for a color TV license and £52 for a black and white equivalent, residents can potentially obtain access to dozens of channels via satellite (Freesat) or antenna (Freeview), none of which come with a subscription charge. In fact, those who don’t pay the license fee can still receive them, just not entirely legally.

Of course, those subscribing to a ‘pirate’ IPTV provider gain access to thousands of channels, including all the premium channels that would otherwise add hundreds of pounds of costs to the average bill.

There’s no doubt that gaining access to Sky’s premium offerings for next to nothing is an attractive proposition for customers. However, a UK-based IPTV provider informs TorrentFreak that these aren’t always the most popular channels with his subscribers.

Perhaps surprisingly, when looking at the Top 10 most-watched channels on the service, BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 all get a prominent position. Every single one is not only available for free (license permitting) via satellite or antenna but also available via the Internet for UK residents.

TF was able to review data from the IPTV provider’s panel which listed the service’s most popular streams from a few weeks ago. It showed that the most-viewed channel was ITV HD with just over 16%, with BBC1 HD in second place with close to 13%. National Geographic, a non-free to air channel, sat in third with just under 10%, closely followed by free to air Channel 4 HD.

Of the top 12 most popular channels listed in a provided chart, six are already free to air – ITV, BBC1 One, Channel 4, BBC Two, 4seven, Channel 5, ITV2, E4, Quest Red, and Quest. So why the inflated interest in channels already covered by a TV license and free-to-air?

The IPTV provider said it polled some customers, with a number of interesting reasons reportedly coming up, most of which appear to center around service-related issues. Firstly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, users of Freeview complained about not being able to get a good enough signal.

The digital Freeview service is supposedly available to 98% of the population but anecdotal evidence suggests that many are left with a poor signal, a reduced channel offering, picture break up, or not being able to receive the service at all.

Freesat (satellite) users can usually overcome most of these issues but many televisions don’t come with an appropriate tuner and in all cases, an external satellite dish must be installed, which presents another barrier to entry.

IPTV services, on the other hand, require a broadband connection and a cheap subscription, no external equipment (satellite dishes, antenna, or tuners) required.

It could be countered that several of the main BBC channels can be acquired via the Internet using the BBC iPlayer, which unquestionably provides a first-class service. However, online offerings from ITV (ITV Hub), Channel 4 (All 4), and Channel 5 (My5) only come in SD quality and in some cases, that’s a best-case scenario.

Most of the rest of the channels in the ‘free’ range (outside the regular TV license fee) have no online offer at all but an IPTV service can provide them all, in most cases in HD quality.

Only adding to the hassle of going legal is the fact that most if not all of the above channels’ online offerings now require registration, meaning that users have to have accounts with them all to receive them on a TV. On the other side, a subscription with an IPTV provider requires a single sign-up.

According to the provider, users don’t like to have accounts with all of these different official suppliers and they don’t enjoy the low-quality images on offer from their online portals, even if they are free to access. They also prefer the flexibility of being able to watch channels on any device they like, rather than being restricted to the platforms supported by various providers.

A UK user with experience of all of the systems above confirmed that while having Freeview or Freesat is a nice option, switching from app to app to receive other channels on various devices is a sub-standard experience when compared to that offered by unlicensed providers. He also questioned whether “any harm was being done” to the legitimate providers by accessing their channels from an IPTV provider.

“I pay my license for the BBC and I don’t use up any of their Internet [bandwidth]. I watch all the adverts on everything else same as everyone. Where’s the negative, I don’t see any?” he said.

In common with the provider we spoke with, the TV viewer pointed out that having everything in one place (a single IPTV subscription) is much more convenient than having to switch around various sources, even if that means paying a few pounds per month.

So while some people clearly latch on to unlicensed IPTV subscriptions for premium content usually offered by companies such as Sky, it seems that at least, in this case, convenience is also playing a big factor.

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

DISH Sues ‘Pirate’ IPTV Suppliers One Box TV & Miracle Box

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-sues-pirate-iptv-services-one-box-tv-miracle-box-190830/

Unlicensed IPTV services are now billed as one of the biggest threats faced by producers of movies and television shows.

There are numerous cases pending against alleged operators of ‘pirate’ services actioned under copyright law.

However, in the United States, DISH Networks and NagraStar are increasingly using the Federal Communications Act to target companies and individuals who it claims are involved in the capture and subsequent rebroadcasting of its satellite signals via ‘pirate’ IPTV services.

The latest targets are One Box TV, LLC and alleged sole manager Donna Fogle, both of Florida. It’s alleged that One Box TV sold $19 per month IPTV subscriptions containing unlicensed DISH programming and Android-style boxes configured with the same features for around $275.

In common with another recent DISH case filed against unlicensed IPTV provider IPGuys, the broadcaster claims that it was able to use technical means determine that at least some of the content offered by One Box TV was illegally sourced from its satellite broadcasts.

“The DISH Programming distributed on the OneBox service was received from DISH’s satellite communications without authorization from DISH,” the complaint reads.

“During testing of the OneBox service, encoded messages incorporated into DISH’s satellite communications of the Willow Cricket channel, for example, were detected on the Willow Cricket channel retransmitted to customers of the OneBox service, thereby confirming this content originated from DISH’s satellite communications.”

While One Box TV is an LLC, the company doesn’t appear to have particularly grand premises. According to DISH, the company operates from a booth at a flea market and websites including OneBoxLive.com and OneBoxTV.com.

OneBoxTV.com..before it disappeared

A note in the complaint indicates that DISH had a “pre-suit discussion” with One Box TV during which the company said that it had the ability to “remove channels” from its service. It’s not clear when that communication took place but if customer complaints posted to the Better Business Bureau website are any indicator, One Box TV went down during May.

“When we purchased our TV streaming box, we were promised lifetime updates. Our box needs updated [sic], and we can’t find this seller. E-mails returned. We paid $175 cash for the OneBox about 2-3 years ago. Model No. OneBoxTVPlus. We were promied lifetme updates [sic], but we cannot find the seller,” one reads.

Another complainant indicated that they went to the company’s place of business, but left disappointed.

“We received notice of them stopping their business. We went to see what’s up and the booth they were at is empty. We are out over $350 on our equipment. Sales rep was Donna F. She sold us 2 boxes and a monthly service and now we get an email saying they are discontinuing their business. We are out $350 for equipment,” a complaint posted May 13 reads.

Yet another complaint says that the company took back a previously-sold box to update it, but then closed down without returning the device. Subsequent phone calls went unanswered and the company’s voicemail was reportedly full.

DISH is now demanding a broad permanent injunction against One Box TV and its alleged operator, plus actual or statutory damages of between $10,000 and $100,000 per violation, plus costs.

Finally, the DISH case against IPGuys reported last week listed Miracle Box Media as a reseller of that service. Court records indicate that Virginia-based Miracle Box Media LLC and alleged operator Melvin Crawley Jr. are also being sued by DISH along broadly similar lines.

The One Box TV and Miracle Box complaints can be found here and here.

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

IPTV Providers Reject Claims of Links to Drugs, Weapons, People Trafficking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/iptv-providers-reject-claims-of-links-to-drugs-weapons-people-trafficking-190825/

For as long as piracy and counterfeiting have existed, there have been claims that groups engaged in the practices have links to other, more serious crimes.

Over the past couple of decades the claims have persisted but even the most serious legal cases (ones for which people have been jailed for many years) have failed to turn up evidence that people running pirate sites, services, and similar platforms are connected to even more serious crimes.

This week, however, following news from FACT that it had targeted numerous IPTV sellers and providers in the UK, Lesley Donovan – the National Coordinator for the multi-agency Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) – repeated similar claims.

Referencing even the smaller players – those who re-sell access to larger IPTV providers – Donovan said that they are contributing to what many people consider to be some of the most serious crimes.

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

Clearly, most members of the general public wouldn’t want to feel that they’re funding drug supply, helping to encourage the flow of weapons, or contributing to the suffering of those trafficked illegally across or even within borders.

However, these claims are rarely (if ever) backed up with references to cases where people can see evidence of that happening for themselves in Internet cases. And with the word “often” being used twice in the GAIN statement, one might be forgiven for thinking it’s commonplace.

Several weeks ago, while in discussion with the operator of an IPTV service based in Europe, this very topic raised its head. Our contact, while acknowledging that what goes on the IPTV space isn’t exactly legal, bemoaned claims that links to wider crime are rampant.

“The truth is that most IPTV services that I know of only do IPTV. The other half have normal jobs that they do day in, day out,” he explained.

Indeed, TF is informed from several sources that IT professionals, both former and current (and particularly those in the networking space), have close interests in supplying IPTV services to the public. “A natural progression and salary supplement,” is how one described it recently.

Interestingly, one provider spoke of how supplying IPTV to the public has actually become an alternative option for those who may have become involved in other types of crime. Nevertheless, gun-running and people trafficking aren’t part of the equation.

“I’m not saying they are whiter than white but they certainly aren’t some mobster gangsters involved in human trafficking,” he said.

Another thing that seems to have irritated IPTV suppliers is the claim by anti-piracy groups that members of the public open themselves up to being stolen from when they deal with ‘pirate’ IPTV providers.

It’s often claimed that handing over personal information along with payment details can result in people being deprived of their cash through ancillary fraudulent transactions. But again, this is something rarely reported in public by any alleged victims, or backed up by evidence from law enforcement.

“Nobody is forced to give real details when signing up [to an IPTV service]. In fact we don’t care what name or address you put as we aren’t going verify the information,” one source told TF.

“We use third-party gateways for payment such as PayPal or Stripe and so on, so none of us ever see card details [enabling us to] commit fraud.”

Of course, it could also be argued that in common with the thus-far unsubstantiated claims that IPTV providers are involved in more serious crime, the claims of these providers are also without supporting evidence.

Nevertheless, they seem keen to distance themselves from the claims and in the main, approached us first to dispel the narrative they’re involved in anything other than the supply of illegal streams.

In the interim, it will be for the public to decide who to believe and a court case showing otherwise to run its course and reveal if such connections are both real and substantiated. Until then, the business will remain in the shadows, with both claims and counterclaims up for debate.

Finally, we spoke to one lower-tier reseller and asked him about the recent involvement of organized crime units and whether “organized crime” was an accurate description of his reseller sideline.

“I’ve got about 250 customers,” he told TF. “It’s too many for me really and if it is crime it’s VERY disorganized. So no.”

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

IPGuys ‘Pirate’ IPTV Service Sued by DISH Networks

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ipguys-pirate-iptv-service-sued-by-dish-networks-190822/

Those involved in the sale of unlicensed IPTV services appear to be coming under attack from an increasing number of angles.

Just this week, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment confirmed that it was behind the closure of previously popular IPTV service Vader Streams.

Just days earlier, the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft said it had served cease-and-desist notices in 16 locations to individuals involved in the supply of infringing sports streams, with at least some acting as resellers of ‘pirate’ IPTV services.

Today, another well-known provider is added to the growing list.

IPGuys is a recognized brand in the IPTV space. It has no website of its own, with subscribers to the service gaining access through a network of resellers. For how much longer that will be the case will remain to be seen, as the service is now being sued in the United States.

In a lawsuit filed by DISH Networks and NagraStar yesterday, the broadcaster names Ontario, Canada-based Tomasz Kaczmarek as the operator of IPGuys.

“Kaczmarek operates an illicit streaming service called IPGuys, where he acquires DISH’s satellite broadcasts of television programming and retransmits that programming without authorization to customers of his IPGuys service,” the complaint reads.

According to DISH, Brooklyn, New York-based husband and wife team John and Julia Defoe participate in the “rebroadcasting scheme” by creating and maintaining DISH subscription accounts that are used to supply the IPGuy’s service with DISH’s programming.

The additional Does 1-10 are described as “one or more persons” responsible for DISH subscription accounts that were created with false information and used to supply DISH content to the scheme.

DISH says the accounts were created through a former retailer in Brooklyn named Ratiann Enterprise Inc. and registered to addresses in the same area. The company hopes that the discovery process will enable it to identify the people behind those accounts.

The suit states that DISH used technical means to determine that the content being offered by IPGuys originated from its satellite broadcasts.

“During testing of the IPGuys service, encoded messages delivered as part of DISH’s satellite communications were detected on the DISH Programming retransmitted on the IPGuys service, confirming the DISH Programming provided by Kaczmarek is originating from DISH’s satellite communications and DISH subscriber accounts,” the complaint reads.

Seven of the so-called “seeder accounts” (the accounts that allegedly provided the content to IPGuys) shared one or more credit cards as the source of payment and all had either the same passwords or password hints, DISH adds.

Furthermore, the same credit cards were also used to pay for “at least twenty” additional subscriber accounts established with false information. One of the twenty accounts was held in the name of John Defoe, DISH claims, adding that Kaczmarek sent Julia Defoe “tens of thousands of dollars”, while specifically mentioning DISH.

From here, DISH begins to tackle some of the resellers of the IPGuys service, which offered the roughly $15 per month packages to the public. The primary sellers are named in the suit as Romie IPTV World, IPTV Bazaar, GetIPTVOnline and IPGuys-Live. Two secondary sellers are named as The Napster and Miracle Media Box Media.

DISH states that Kaczmarek and the Defoes were given notice by the company that their activities violated various aspects of the Federal Communications Act back in April 2019, but the IPGuys service continued to operate.

As a result, DISH is now demanding a broad permanent injunction against all defendants, plus actual or statutory damages of between $10,000 and $100,000 per violation, plus costs.

DISH’s complaint against the IPGuys operation 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.

TV Distributors Abandon IPTV Blocking Application Down Under

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tv-distributors-abandon-iptv-blocking-application-down-under-190814/

Changes to the law now make it relatively straightforward to have blatant ‘pirate’ sites blocked by ISPs in Australia.

Entertainment industry groups have targeted dozens of sites using the streamlined system, including many of the top torrent and streaming platforms. For reasons that remain unclear, however, one application for a blocking order now appears to have hit the stops.

Back in February, an application for injunction filed in Federal Court saw TV distributor International Media Distribution (IMD) targeting Reelplay, an IPTV provider that specializes in Italian, Greek, and Arabic programming.

The Reelplay offering (from Reelplay.co)

Luxembourg-registered IMD describes itself as the single largest provider of ethnic channels to US-based multi-billion dollar TV distributor, Dish Network, and the “leading aggregator and marketer of niche television services to various ethnic communities around the globe.”

In the application for an injunction (pdf), IMD was joined by two other companies – Netherlands-based distributor Overlook Management BV and Lebanon-based pan-Arab TV station Al Jadeed. Together they complained that Reelplay offered 15 TV channels for which they are the exclusive licensee.

Given that Reelplay indicates on its site that it is “not responsible for the content and do not guarantee nor claim any rights to the content”, this seemed like a fairly straightforward case for the applicants, at least on the surface. However, something appears to have gone wrong.

ComputerWorld reports that during a case management hearing in March, the Judge indicated he would be looking closely at a couple of points of interest.

“Justice Burley told the applicants that he would pay ‘particularly close attention’ to proof of service in the matter and said that [the applicants] needed to ensure they fulfilled the requirements of Section 115a of the Copyright Act,” writes Rohan Pearce.

Since then the Judge issued several orders which required, among other things, for Overlook Management to be joined as an applicant, and the applicants to serve affidavit and schedules of evidence.

On June 28, 2019, the Judge noted that the matter had been listed for hearing on August 16, 2019. However, a subsequent order, dated August 8, stated that the applicants had been granted leave to file a notice of discontinuance. Yesterday, the court indicated that a final order had been handed down, terminating the case.

No details to explain the move are on record at the court, so it remains open to question whether some kind of agreement has been reached with Reelplay or if the case hit some kind of technical or legal block. Reelplay doesn’t list the channels it offers to the public on its site but discontinuing the disputed channels would at least have the potential to undermine the action.

Either way, the Reelplay site appears to be fully functional and capable of taking orders for the Arabic package in question. It features an Android-based box loaded with 450+ channels plus a 24-month subscription, priced at AUS$230. Only time will tell if the companies in question will return for a second bite at the cherry.

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

DISH Sues ‘Pirate’ IPTV Providers Including Two Already ‘Seized’ By ACE

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-sues-pirate-iptv-providers-including-two-already-seized-by-ace-190802/

Threats of legal action backed up by litigation was once regular news in the torrent site arena but as streaming has begun to take over, particularly among more casual pirates, it’s IPTV grabbing most of the headlines.

DISH Networks is rapidly becoming one of the most litigious companies around and this week, in collaboration with partner NagraStar – a joint venture between Dish Network and Kudelski – it added yet another anti-IPTV lawsuit to its growing roster.

Filed in a New Jersey federal court, the suit targets individuals and companies said to be behind what appears to be at least six IPTV providers and/or brands.

“Defendant [Wilmey] Jimenez created and operates and/or operated unauthorized pirate television streaming services under various brand names including BimoTV, TVStreamsNow, OneStepTV, IbexTV, and MagnumStreams,” the complaint reads.

“Defendant [Fernandez Manuel] DaRocha created and operates and/or operated unauthorized pirate television streaming services under the brand name SolTV, and Defendant DaRocha also uses SoITV to provide unauthorized and pirated programming content to Defendant Jimenez, which Defendant Jimenez then retransmits.”

The heart of the complaint centers around the unlicensed distribution of DISH’s programming. The company says that it believes that the defendants worked in concert with others with similar aims and this is where things begin to get a little tangled.

DISH claims that Jimenez and DaRocha “have a history in trafficking in similar piracy streaming services”, claiming that they sold access to the now-defunct SetTV, the IPTV provider that was ordered to settle with DISH for an eye-watering $90 million.

Previously, SetTV was also sued by the Alliance For Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a case that ended in a $7.6m default judgment just this week. There are some interesting ACE cross-overs in this case too.

While the domain of BimoTV appears to have disappeared out of use, the same cannot be said about those previously linked to TVStreamsNow and OneStepTV. As reported here in May and July, those domains are already in the hands of the MPAA. They display a copyright infringement warning before diverting to ACE’s website, which is also operated by the MPAA.

While unconfirmed by any official sources, this type of domain ‘seizure’ behavior usually points to some kind of settlement, in this case potentially with ACE and/or the MPAA. DISH is not a member of ACE, however, which suggests that settling with one group doesn’t grant immunity from another.

Unlike other cases involving IPTV providers, the DISH lawsuit isn’t based in copyright law. The company alleges violations of the Federal Communications Act (FCA) while demanding a permanent injunction to prevent the defendants from receiving and redistributing DISH content, and selling/distributing subscriptions and any associated reception devices.

DISH also requests an order to have the defendants’ social media pages removed, along with any advertising for the ‘pirate’ IPTV services. DISH further demands that their websites are handed over to the broadcaster. Of course, the company wants damages on top, which could reach $100,000 for each violation of the FCA. Very big numbers indeed.

The complaint can be obtained 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.

Premier League & UEFA Obtain Court Orders to Block Piracy in 2019/20

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-uefa-obtain-court-orders-to-block-piracy-in-2019-20-190729/

While rightsholders and anti-piracy groups often deploy multiple strategies for dealing with online copyright infringement, blocking websites, streams, and servers is now one of the most common.

The Premier League broke new ground on this front in 2017, after it obtained a pioneering injunction which enabled it to track live ‘pirate’ streams and have them blocked by leading ISPs BT, Virgin Media, EE, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk in real-time.

With backing from the High Court, the Premier League deployed its system during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons. We can now confirm that the Court recently granted permission for the efforts to continue during the 2019/20 campaign.

A High Court order signed off July 15, 2019, by Justice Arnold, but as yet unannounced by the Premier League or the Court, will be the basis for the blocking mechanism during the upcoming season. Thus far, one ISP has confirmed the existence of the order.

“A number of unidentified servers associated with infringing Premier League match footage will be blocked until the end of the 2019/20 Premier League season,” Sky notes.

Unlike other blocking orders targeting torrent sites or streaming platforms with a fixed domain, the servers streaming Premier League content are “unidentified” until its anti-piracy partners are able to locate them a few minutes before matches begin. The relevant IP addresses are then forwarded to the ISPs who block them under the authority of the Court.

TorrentFreak has been able to confirm that other ISPs are aware of the new Premier League order but are yet to make a public statement.

Late 2017, UEFA followed in the footsteps of the Premier League by obtaining a similar order covering the period February 13, 2018, to May 26, 2018, in an effort to protect European matches. A month later in July 2018, UEFA was given permission by the High Court to expand and extend its campaign until July 12, 2019.

Earlier this month, UEFA obtained permission from the High Court to continue. As yet, no associated documents have been published by the Court but both Sky and Virgin have confirmed they will be blocking ‘pirate’ servers again, with the Court’s authorization, until 2021.

“A number of unidentified servers associated with infringing UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Nations League, UEFA European Qualifiers and UEFA Friendlies match footage will be blocked until the end of the 2020/21 Champions League or Europa League competitions,” Sky notes.

Virgin states that it will block “Various Target Servers notified to Virgin Media by UEFA or its appointed agent for the duration of the UEFA 2019/2020 & 2020/2021 competition seasons.”

The technical details of the blocking systems deployed by both the Premier League and UEFA (TF understands they’re managed by different anti-piracy companies) are largely secret although some insiders have recently been prepared to talk more about what happens behind the scenes.

As the new season progresses, we expect to report more on how this digital game of cat-and-mouse is playing out.

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

‘Hosting Providers Who Turn a Blind Eye to IPTV Pirates Should Be Prosecuted’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-providers-who-turn-a-blind-eye-to-iptv-pirates-should-be-prosecuted-190728/

Increasingly, people are canceling their expensive cable subscriptions, opting to use cheaper or niche-based Internet TV instead.

While there are plenty of legal options available, there’s also a broad offer of easy-to-use set-top boxes which are specifically configured to receive pirated content.

These pirate IPTV boxes are often sold bundled with a monthly or yearly subscription. This created an industry that’s worth billions of dollars worldwide and may grow even bigger.

It is safe to conclude that IPTV piracy makes up a large part of the pirate ecosystem. This hasn’t gone unnoticed to copyright holders of course. Over the past year, we have seen enforcement actions against hundreds of sellers and more are likely to follow.

Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is one of the outfits that have IPTV-pirates high on their agenda. This was highlighted in an interview with local radio station BNR in which director Tim Kuik referred to the criminal nature of this problem.

While IPTV sellers come in all shapes and sizes, the true masterminds behind the pirated signals often remain unseen. According to BREIN, many resellers are actually afraid to identify their sources.

“The signals are stolen by criminal organizations. These set up the infrastructure and provide vendors with the codes. Sellers are afraid to name their suppliers out of fear of retaliation. ‘That would put my life at risk,’ we regularly hear.”

The Hollywood-backed anti-piracy group mostly takes action against public sellers. It tracks down these companies and successfully demands hefty settlements. However, in order to tackle the problem properly, more resources are needed.

“We target sellers and take their money. A settlement costs them tens of thousands of euros, but to tackle the infrastructure you need better resources and a criminal investigation,” BREIN notes.

Potential investigations should target the criminal masterminds behind the scenes but BREIN says that Dutch hosting providers should remain alert as well. Also, providers who willingly host illegal IPTV services should face charges themselves.

“Providers who shelter such illegal services and willingly turn a blind eye should be prosecuted,” the anti-piracy group argues.

Because of its good Internet infrastructure, the Netherlands is typically a popular location for IPTV vendors to host their services. These ISPs generally claim that they are not aware of the criminal nature of their clients. However, many rightsholders have their doubts about that.

According to BREIN, there is a small number of Dutch hosting providers that frequently does business with these IPTV services. These companies don’t get actively involved when complaints come in but forward them to their customers instead.

“Reports of rightsholders are only forwarded to the criminals who obviously do nothing with it. If the provider has to take action, it gives the illegal customer plenty of time to keep his service online,” BREIN adds.

Whether the hosting companies are required to do more under Dutch law remains the question. However, BREIN would clearly like these companies to take more responsibility. Or, alternatively, have a proper criminal investigation where the role of a hosting provider is seriously considered.

In the past, we have already reported on large Europol raids where servers in the Netherlands were targeted. However, as far as we know, Dutch hosting providers were never accused or criminally charged as part of these operations.

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

Inside the UK’s ‘Pirate’ IPTV Blocking System

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/inside-the-uks-secret-pirate-iptv-blocking-system-190728/

Millions of people in the UK cite football (soccer for those over the pond) as their favorite sport. Every week, huge numbers head off to grounds far and wide but for the travel averse, watching matches on TV is the only option.

Broadcasters like Sky and BT Sport would like consumers to choose their premium offerings but that can be prohibitively expensive. Even then, the Premier League’s top games played on a Saturday afternoon are banned from TV, thanks to the somewhat archaic “3pm blackout“.

As a result, pirate IPTV services, which all but eliminate high costs while completely ignoring the blackout, are thriving. In response, the Premier League obtained a pioneering injunction from the High Court in 2017 that compelled the largest ISPs to block ‘pirate’ servers for a season. It has obtained permission to continue along the same lines twice since.

Based on information made available in the initial injunction, we previously provided a rough guide on how the system operates. However, the High Court also accepted that other details were secret and agreed to them not being detailed in public.

Since then, TF has received various pieces of information about how the blocking system works in practice but recently a new source came forward offering much more detail, from both the perspective of IPTV providers dealing with the technology and based on information that we’re told was leaked from inside an anti-piracy company.

TF was able to review copies of some of the information. We have been unable to confirm the manner in which the leaks allegedly took place but a secondary source, who has proven reliable in the past, acknowledged that a leak had taken place. It therefore seems likely that the company in question, which we have also chosen not to name, is already familiar with the circumstances.

We’re told that the original source of the leaks, with whom TF has had no contact and whose identity is unknown to us, went AWOL a number of months ago and stopped providing data. Exactly why is unclear but at this point, the details aren’t particularly important.

Inside the Blocking System

In a detailed analysis, our source explained that, unsurprisingly, the anti-piracy company first needs to become a customer of the providers it targets. That means signing up to services in the usual manner and handing over money to what are essentially illegal services.

Documents reviewed by TF also suggest the use of fake online social media accounts which solicit IPTV providers for trials. One particular account, created less than a week before the new season began in August 2017, had nothing but these kinds of requests in its timeline. At least one provider responded in public, apparently unaware of the nature of his potential customer.

Other information supplied suggests that in some instances PayPal accounts with fake details were used to sign up to IPTV providers. This, the source says, probably caused problems because the details on the accounts didn’t match real people’s identities, so they would eventually fail PayPal’s checks and become much less useful.

Once signed up, the anti-piracy company could act like any other subscriber but this didn’t go unnoticed. TF was shown a screenshot from an IPTV service’s customer panel, dated sometime in 2018, which revealed a suspect subscriber who had been a member for many months. The last login was actioned from a particular IP address which, according to current public WHOIS information, remains registered to the anti-piracy company in question.

An invoice for between 10 and 20 euros, dated 2019, which the source says was issued to one of the anti-piracy accounts, gave a name plus an address in London. The supplied postcode relates to an address in another country of the UK. When all put together it is clearly a fake account, although we weren’t able to positively link it to a specific anti-piracy operative.

Nevertheless, it seems clear from the supplied channel surfing logs (which we were told were retained and supplied by a cooperative third-party IPTV provider) that a normal human viewer almost certainly wasn’t behind the subscription.

The logs show that sports channels were systematically selected, presumably to be analyzed back at base, and then skipped to fresh channels over pretty precise set periods. According to our source, these durations were sometimes varied, in his opinion to avoid detection as a computerized system.

Of course, not all attempts at subscribing to channels for anti-piracy purposes are spotted early by the affected IPTV providers. Once in, we’re informed that the preferred method of scanning for infringement is via the humble .m3u playlist file, with channels to be monitored being captured for set periods and then rotated.

The scanning system reportedly allows for a VPN to be assigned to each .m3u line/account, in order to make detection more difficult. VPNs are also sometimes used to sign up and/or used for contact via customer support services offered by the providers.

According to the source, captured frames from ‘pirate’ streams are compared with a direct source from the original content. If there’s an automatic match (sometimes manual intervention is required) then the source server’s IP address is logged and sent to the big six ISPs in the UK for blocking.

We’re told that an email is also sent to the hosting companies of the servers informing them of the block, accompanied by a link to the High Court order. Often these notices aren’t passed on to the operators of IPTV services.

According to one IPTV provider, the process for checking for infringing streams begins around 15 minutes before a match begins and continues for 15 minutes after. Further checks are conducted in the interim to catch any IP address or other network changes carried out by the providers.

However, while infringing streams are apparently blocked in just a “few seconds”, it can take a couple of hours for them to become unblocked by ISPs after the games have finished.

While reports online indicate that some services have been affected by this type of blocking, it has also had some unintended consequences that may have made IPTV providers more resilient and more adept at countering the blocking program. We’ll cover some of those next time.

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

LaLiga & Pro League Team Up With New Anti-Piracy Deal

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/laliga-pro-league-team-up-in-new-anti-piracy-deal-190726/

Football is big business around the world and in Europe, Spain’s LaLiga is without doubt one of the biggest players.

Less referenced by its full name – Campeonato Nacional de Liga de Primera División – LaLiga is the top professional football league in the country and like its counterparts in England, Italy, and Germany, has a piracy problem to contend with.

Around 2014, LaLiga began using new tools to combat the unlicensed reproduction of matches and associated content on the Internet. In 2018 it reported that 268,000 unlicensed videos had been removed from social media with 9,000 associated accounts blocked. The company also claimed to have “disabled” 10,000 card sharing servers, which are systems designed to bypass access controls on consumer TV equipment in order to avoid paying a subscription.

In the same year, LaLiga revealed it would be teaming up with Pro League, Belgium’s top-tier football league. The latter would begin using the former’s anti-piracy resources with an option to extend the agreement beyond the 2019/2019 campaign.

According to an update provided by LaLiga Thursday, that has now been taken up.

“[R]enewing [the agreement] is a guarantee that the work carried out in collaboration with the Belgian league is bearing fruit,” says Melcior Soler, director of LaLiga’s audiovisual department.

“The increase in data is a reason to keep working to defend competitions’ audiovisual value. Fighting against piracy is a priority for LaLiga and the Pro League and together we’ll continue to invest in technical tools and human resources to keep developing in this field.”

According to LaLiga, its successes over the last year are numerous. Across platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Periscope and SportsTube, the company claims to have removed 23,652 videos and deleted 100 associated accounts.

It’s also been busy targeting the app-based market too. The league says that across Google Play and Apple’s App Store, 703 apps that had the ability to stream top-tier football were removed following takedown requests. Together, they had clocked up more than 10 million downloads.

Of course, LaLiga has been looking to hinder IPTV providers too but its strategy is a curious one. Instead of going after the sources, in the way that the Premier League has, they’ve instead targeted IPTV sales web portals by asking Google to delist them from search.

LaLiga says it has successfully removed 6,000 links in this manner but it’s up for debate whether this has had much of an effect on content availability, particularly when one considers that IPTV subscriptions are often sold through re-sellers and via word of mouth.

Concluding its summary, LaLiga notes that it’s also removed 5,700 links to live streaming sites from Google search, adding that following requests to advertisers to prevent their ads from appearing on ‘pirate’ sites, there has been cooperation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the league didn’t mention its 250,000 euro fine for using fans’ phones to spy on piracy and breaching the GDPR in the process.

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

Groupe TVA, Bell, Rogers Team Up to Sue ‘Pirate’ IPTV Service

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/groupe-tva-bell-rogers-team-up-to-sue-pirate-iptv-service-190724/

There are currently thousands of providers of unlicensed IPTV services around the world so stopping them all will prove a herculean task.

Nevertheless, entertainment industry groups and anti-piracy outfits seem to determined to take on the challenge, in the hope that strategic action here and there will deter others from getting involved in this growing business.

The latest action comes from Quebecor Inc.’s Groupe TVA Inc., BCE Inc. (Bell Canada Enterprises), and Rogers Communications Inc., who have teamed up to tackle a ‘pirate’ IPTV provider targeting the Canadian market.

The complaint, first reported by The Wire Report, sees the broadcasting giants taking on the operators of GoldTV.ca and GoldTV.biz in Federal Court, claiming that the service provides access to their TV content without licenses or authorization.

“The GoldTV.biz Service provides unauthorized access to hundreds (if not thousands) of live television channels and video-on-demand content,” the complaint filed in court July 18 reads.

Canada’s ‘premium IPTV provider’

A cursory review of the subscriptions offered by GoldTV.ca shows the kind of packages currently being offered by hundreds of other providers operating in the same niche.

Its fairly comprehensive channel list suggests that more than 7,600 are currently available from a huge range of broadcasting companies, although that number is likely to ebb and flow depending on the provider’s third-party sources.

That being said, it’s immediately apparent that from the prices being asked, the fact that’s there no contract, and customers being told they can play content on any device, anywhere, this doesn’t fit the parameters of any normal or sanctioned service.

No contract? Any device? Cheap? Probably pirate

Clicking through to the payment options reveals prices in Canadian dollars, something which adds weight to the claim that the service targets the local market. PayPal appears to be the default option, which probably means that personal details relating to the account will be sought by the plaintiffs at some point.

According to the complaint, GoldTV has been in business since at least 2017. A domain Whois query reveals GoldTV.ca as registered in March 2017 with the .biz variant registered in July of the same year. These records provide no useful information as to who is behind the domains and the plaintiffs state they have had no success in identifying the service’s operators.

Nevertheless, the complaint demands a trial in Montreal where the companies hope to win damages and an injunction to shutter the service.

Groupe TVA, Bell, and Rogers aren’t the only companies to have noticed the activities of GoldTV.ca in 2019.

Earlier this year Spanish soccer league La Liga sent a pair of DMCA notices (1,2) that removed close to 150 of the site’s URLs from Google’s search results. In both of these cases, none of the listed URLs pointed to any copyright-infringing content but instead targeted the service’s sales and support pages.

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

Police Dismantle Pirate IPTV Provider, Seize Cash, Crypto, Gold Bars

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-dismantle-pirate-iptv-provider-seize-cash-crypto-gold-bars-190723/

Rightsholders, anti-piracy outfits, and police are stepping up their efforts to disrupt ‘pirate’ IPTV operations around Europe, the United States, and the rest of the world.

These unlicensed services are considered one of the prime threats to the profits of broadcasters since they offer hundreds and often thousands of live TV channels to Internet users at a fraction of their official retail price.

Italy’s Postal and Communications Police (Polizia Postale e delle Comunicazioni) is the latest body to report success in this area, after targeting a source (perhaps the main source) of popular local provider ZSat, a service that offered the entire programming schedule of media giant Sky.

Following what authorities are describing as a highly technical and complex operation carried out under the coordination of the Public Prosecutor of Palermo, the cybercrime unit says it targeted the Palermo home of a 35-year-old man.

In his bedroom police found a total of 57 Sky Italia satellite decoders which were configured to receive Sky’s broadcasts. In turn, these receivers were connected to equipment which allowed channels to be retransmitted over the Internet for consumption by IPTV subscribers.

According to the authorities, the scale of the business was supported by the discovery of various assets at the property, including 186,900 euros in cash and a car. A banknote counter and gold bars were found hidden in a toilet and garbage disposal areas.

Police also found virtual wallets containing various cryptocurrencies. No value has yet been placed on the digital haul but the Postal and Communications Police says the amount is “certainly high” but will be better estimated following further “technical assessments”.

The discovery of a large number of satellite decoders at the address indicates that this wasn’t a low-level provider. Considerable effort is required to put together this kind of operation and it’s likely that the resulting Internet streams would have been utilized by other IPTV providers.

Authorities say the man is now under investigation for suspected criminal offenses under Art. 171 of local copyright law which carries penalties of up to three years in prison for commercial infringement.

Video released by police

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

Organized Crime Unit Orders Pirate IPTV Sellers to Cease & Desist

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/organized-crime-unit-orders-pirate-iptv-sellers-to-cease-desist-190717/

Over the past couple of years, it has become abundantly clear that entertainment industry groups are taking the rise of ‘pirate’ TV boxes very seriously.

Where previously the supply of unlicensed content into living rooms mainly took place via hacked satellite and cable boxes, the latest threat is content delivered directly via the Internet.

Thousands of live channels are now readily available via cheap monthly subscriptions, modified Kodi installations, or dedicated apps, all of which are considered a threat by small and large broadcasters alike.

There are many civil strategies available for reducing the flow but in the UK, high-tier police forces are now getting involved. According to an organized crime unit based in the north of England, a wave of activity took place just this week.

The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) is a collaboration between police forces across Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, and North Wales. During Tuesday, the unit said it contacted people involved in the supply of ‘pirate’ IPTV subscriptions (sometimes known as ‘lines’) and the sale of modified set-top boxes.

“Our disruption team have been working with GAIN (Government Agency Intelligence Network) & @FACTUK & today issued cease & desist notices in Wrexham & Blackburn to people involved in the sale of illegal IPTV subscriptions & cracked online television boxes,” the unit said in a statement.

GAIN is a multi-agency group that provides a mechanism for various agencies to work together and share information. More than four years ago it was involved in raids against several ‘pirate’ box sellers.

FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) needs little introduction, as it has been involved in similar operations against a number of entities working in the ‘pirate’ IPTV arena, whether that’s via subscription-based services or modified set-top boxes.

Early today, TorrentFreak sought comment from FACT chief Kieron Sharp on the events of yesterday. We asked about the nature of the campaign, whether it would be expanded to other areas, and requested further details on those targeted. We were also keen to know which laws are allegedly being broken.

Due to the nature of the investigation and the involvement of various police units, Sharp couldn’t immediately offer a comment but we’ll update when we receive a more detailed response.

The brief police statement does not make it clear whether those ordered to cease and desist are lower-tier players (resellers of subscriptions) or those closer to the top (IPTV providers), or a combination of both. The former seems more likely but in the absence of more detail, it’s impossible to say.

The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit has now been involved in action against illicit streaming on at least two occasions in as many months.

In June, its officers arrested the alleged operator of the Supremacy Kodi add-on repository after it was reported to the unit by FACT in association with the Premier League, Sky, BT Sport, and Virgin Media.

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

DISH Sues Hosting Company & ‘Pirate’ IPTV Customer

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-sues-hosting-company-pirate-iptv-customer-190713/

Broadcaster DISH Networks is emerging as one of the most litigious companies in the world when it comes to tackling unlicensed IPTV providers.

A lawsuit filed this week in a Delaware federal court has the company targeting Serverlogy Corporation and several John Does, “together doing business” as East IPTV.

The twist here is that Serverlogy Corporation is a hosting company, reportedly offering bandwidth to a client running an IPTV service, but one that failed to act following numerous copyright infringement complaints regarding its customer.

East IPTV’s website is a professional affair, giving visitors the impression that it’s a legitimate service. DISH sees things differently, however, stating that the service is guilty of direct copyright infringement due to channels licensed to DISH being illegally broadcasted via the East IPTV service.

The suit claims that the people behind East IPTV capture live DISH programming and transcode it for streaming over the Internet, shifting it to other servers operated by the company for delivery to end-users. Customers can buy a set-top box with a one-year subscription for $199.99 and additional $99.99 subscriptions for each subsequent year.

The lawsuit states that DISH has been sending infringement notices concerning East IPTV to content delivery networks (CDNs) for some time, with at least two CDNs removing DISH’s content in March and June 2018. However, the broadcaster says that East IPTV interfered with these efforts by moving their channel offerings to other providers.

Overall, 34 infringement notices demanding that East IPTV cease and desist its activities were sent by DISH between January 2017 and the date of the lawsuit. This means that East IPTV as “actual knowledge” of its infringements, DISH says.

Shifting to Serverlogy, DISH describes the company as a CDN that markets and sells hosting solutions, through which is has “knowingly contributed to, and reaped profits from, copyright infringement committed by East,” causing great harm to the broadcaster.

“Since September 11, 2018, Serverlogy has deliberately refused to take reasonable measures to stop East from using its services and servers to infringe on DISH’s copyrights —even after Serverlogy became aware of East’s specific and repeated acts of infringement,” the lawsuit reads.

“DISH and Networks sent eight notices of infringement to Serverlogy advising Serverlogy of East’s blatant and systematic use of Serverlogy’s services and servers to transmit, distribute, and publicly perform the Protected Channels to Service Users.

“Rather than work with DISH to curb this infringement, Serverlogy willfully blinded itself to East’s repeat infringement, failing to terminate them or take any action to remove or disable the infringing content.”

As a result, DISH says Serverlogy cannot rely on the DMCA’s ‘safe harbor’ provisions. Not only did it fail to take steps in response to copyright complaints, the hosting provider does not have a registered DMCA agent either. On top, it has failed to adopt and reasonably implement a repeat infringer policy, DISH says.

In summary, DISH is suing East IPTV for direct infringement and Serverlogy for contributory and vicarious infringement, while describing the hosting company’s actions as “willful, malicious, intentional, purposeful, and in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of DISH.”

Alongside, DISH demands a permanent injunction against all defendants and statutory damages of up to $150,000 per registered work infringed, plus legal fees. At the time of writing, the East IPTV website remains in operation.

The complaint filed by DISH can be downloaded 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.

BT Sport Subscribers Test Pirate Sites After UFC PPV Decision

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bt-sport-subscribers-test-pirate-sites-after-ufc-ppv-decision/

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion in the world.

It is based in the United States and as a result, the majority of its events take place there, meaning that fans in Europe face having to stay awake all night if they are to watch live UFC events.

Since 2013, this has been possible for subscribers to BT Sport, who have enjoyed all live shows as part of their regular subscriptions. However, that all changed on Saturday night with UFC 239, which BT Sport recently decided shouldn’t be included in customers’ packages after all.

Instead, people were told they’d have to pay out an extra £19.95 to view the admittedly-stacked card on BT Sport Box Office, a decision that went down like a lead balloon with fans, especially those who’d taken out a subscription solely for UFC events.

In the weeks leading up to the fight, there were long discussion threads on various forums (including BT Sport’s own) complaining about the move and suggesting a boycott.

Whether this took place at scale on Sunday morning UK/Ireland time isn’t yet known but fan outrage was clear to see on social media, including in a poll conducted by MMA reporter Niall McGrath.

Of course, a boycott of PPV buying doesn’t necessarily mean a boycott on watching the event. Indeed, if fans’ claims leading up to the event were anything to go by, many would be hitting the pirate high seas Saturday/Sunday to express their displeasure at BT Sport’s decision.

Widely circulated ‘boycott’ poster

Since live events are mainly streamed from ‘pirate’ websites, obtaining viewing figures is not as easy as tracking users in torrent swarms, for example. However, we spoke to a seller of ‘pirate’ IPTV services before and after the event to see if there had been any greater uptake than usual.

“No more orders than we usually get on a Friday/Saturday/Sunday but more people definitely asked if we could get BT Sport Box Office for the fights. We couldn’t promise that channel in advance but we have others that give the same thing. Good enough,” the seller explained.

A long thread on Reddit, which appeared after the fights finished on Sunday, patted everyone on the back who took part in the boycott. As expected, it’s littered with comments about BT Sport screwing over dedicated fans and, of course, people turning to piracy.

“It literally took me 40 seconds on my first duckduckgo search (because google censors a lot of this kind of stuff) to find a site where I was able to watch the entire event live in HD with no interruptions. Hard for a pathetic business model to compete with that,” one commenter wrote.

“Cancelled my bt sports and got an IPTV set up,” said another. “Probably the smoothest viewing experience I’ve had watching any UFC event. No commercials and no cutting the sound on interviews every time someone swears.”

And then things descended to the bottom, quickly.

With another fan declaring that this is the first time “in years” he’d pirated an event, the discussions continued with how that’s possible, where to do it, and the inevitable private messages where one can only guess at the content but draw an obvious conclusion. And this isn’t even a piracy-focused sub-Reddit, it’s /r/mma with close to 780K members.

While people will rightly point that this is a mere subset of BT Sport’s customers not paying an extra £19.95, the people who turned to a pirate IPTV service on Saturday/Sunday will have immediately discovered that ALL of BT Sport’s live content is also available for less than £10 per month.

If pirate IPTV gains traction with them (and their friends, and their friends’ friends), £30 to £40 per month regular subscriptions to BT Sports could get boycotted too, along with those paid to Sky Sports and other companies.

Bloody Elbow’s piece on why BT Sport’s decision to go PPV with UFC 239 was wrong really hits the spot but only time will tell if the PPV model in the UK will persist – or if it will go down with a huge headache quicker than previously undefeated Ben Askren did during the red-eye hours of Sunday morning.

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

MPAA Now Controls at Least 3 ‘Pirate’ IPTV Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-now-controls-at-least-3-pirate-iptv-domains-190707/

Unlicensed IPTV services have been running for many years, offering thousands of otherwise premium channels to consumers for a fraction of their market price.

As recently as three years ago such services received little mainstream attention. However, the rise of piracy-focused Kodi add-ons has encouraged countless thousands of pirates to take a step up to sample the experience of a more reliable and generally higher-quality ‘pirate’ service.

This rising popularity, which is inextricably linked to large volumes of people looking to stream live content, is being met with increasing resistance by anti-piracy groups. One of the main players is the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a global anti-piracy coalition headed up by Hollywood, Netflix, Amazon, and dozens of other huge media companies.

Back in May, we reported how the domain of OneStepTV, a former ‘pirate’ IPTV provider, had been taken over by ACE and the MPAA. No official details have been made available by ACE but it seems likely there may have been some kind of cease-and-desist agreement reached with its operator. We can now report that further domains have also been scooped up.

After being registered in September 2017, TVStreamsNow.com acted as the portal to another ‘pirate’ IPTV service. Offering more than 500 channels for ‘just’ $25 per month, the service gained traction among users who perhaps didn’t realize that superior products are available for far less.

TVStreamsNow.com before the takeover

While many customers would have enjoyed the content on offer, this ‘bargain’ would eventually come to an end. A couple of months ago the service disappeared after telling customers via email that another domain would be handling their transactions in the future.

It’s unclear whether that shift ever took place but there is clear evidence that the original domain is now in the hands of ACE members. Not only does it redirect to the official ACE website, but WHOIS details also reveal the domain is now controlled by the MPAA.

Another ACE victim can be found when visiting DoozerIPTV.com. As the image below shows, the platform offered “all the content you could ever want” while “eliminating extortionate monthly bills and contractual agreements.”

DoozerIPTV – how it used to look

Unfortunately for its former operators, DoozerIPTV no longer offers these services, at least from this domain. After being registered in July 2018, last month it appears to have been taken over by the MPAA.

It currently redirects to the Alliance’s website like the other domains, along with a message that it’s no longer available “due to copyright infringement.”

Quite how many more of these takeovers have taken place isn’t clear. However, it seems likely that these three services won’t be the last to hand their domains to the MPAA following threats from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

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

Pirate IPTV Network Shut Down After Police Raid Cable Operators

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-network-shut-down-after-police-raid-cable-operators/

With pirate IPTV services continuing to gain traction around the world, moves to undermine their businesses are on the increase.

Many publicized enforcement actions feature IPTV providers and their resellers but news coming out of Bulgaria indicates that a player higher up the chain has been targeted by authorities.

Cybercrime officers from an anti-organized crime unit of the Ministry of the Interior have targeted five cable operators accused of intercepting and rebroadcasting foreign and local channels without permission from the rightsholders.

Supported by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), the operation is said to have taken down a pirate IPTV service with an estimated 700,000 worldwide subscribers.

Authorities say that following the raids across eight cities in Bulgaria, all of the hardware used in the operation was seized, including the servers that were used to provide content to the IPTV provider’s mobile applications.

Images from the raids (Credit: Ministry of the Interior)

According to the Ministry of the Interior, permission for the raids was obtained from several district courts. Eight teams were formed which carried out simultaneous actions on offices and other premises targeting technical equipment used by the cable operators.

Several TV companies are reported to have suffered damage from the alleged intellectual property offenses, including private national broadcasting channel bTV, local TV network Nova, and US cable and satellite network HBO.

The Ministry of the Interior reports that intellectual property crimes have caused damage to the country’s reputation overseas. Indeed, the USTR called out Bulgaria in its latest Special 301 Report, noting that “online and broadcast piracy remains a challenging copyright enforcement issue” in the country.

A full investigation is underway in respect of intellectual property violations but the government says that alongside it will be looking for evidence of tax evasion.

Moving forward, regular checks will be carried out at all cable operators, with those suspected of illegal activity treated as a priority.

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

DISH and Bell IPTV ‘Pirates’ Pressed to Settle Or Face Legal Action

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-and-bell-iptv-pirates-are-pressed-to-settle-or-face-legal-action-190612/

Traditional file-sharing pirates are no stranger to settlement demands from copyright holders.  For over a decade, companies have been monitoring BitTorrent swarms in an effort to extract cash from alleged infringers. 

These efforts have now carried over to IPTV streaming pirates. Generally speaking, it’s impossible for rightsholders to see who’s using pirate IPTV services unless the provider is willing to hand over customer details. This is exactly what’s happening. 

The IPTV settlement campaign is run by NagraStar, which is a joint venture between DISH Network and Kudelski Group. While some rightsholders try to keep these efforts out of the public eye, NagraStar has a public website explaining in detail what they do. 

The company is already known for demanding settlements from and filing lawsuits against people who decrypt satellite signals including IKS (Intenet Key Sharing) pirates. As Cord Cutters News spotted, this has now carried over to pirate IPTV subscribers. 

NagraStar’s efforts focus on people who obtain programming from DISH Network and Bell TV, without permission. These generally are subscribers of unlicensed IPTV services. These subscriber records are not public, but some vendors hand them over when they are caught. 

“When NagraStar settles with pirates who operate online services that sell illegal content, we commonly receive transaction evidence of all the sales made to end users and secondary resellers. NagraStar uses this information to send letters and emails proposing a settlement amount to avoid litigation,” NagraStar explains.

The company says that these settlements are needed to recoup the losses it suffers from these pirate IPTV services. The demands aren’t cheap either. Pirate subscribers typically get a settlement offer of $3,500 while resellers of unauthorized IPTV subscriptions have to cough up $7,500.

NagraStar knows that many of the targeted subscribers may not realize that they are doing something wrong. However, on paper there appears to be little clemency, aside from the offer to pay the settlement in monthly installments for those who can’t afford to pay at once.

In addition, people who are willing to hand over illicit streaming devices or pirate set-top boxes can get a discount. The same is true for those who are willing to give up their credentials to piracy forums, which NagraStar will likely use to gather further intel.

The company stresses that its letters are not a scam. Ignoring a settlement demand isn’t wise either, it states, noting that the case will then be escalated to its legal team.

“Choosing to ignore this letter will result in your referral to our legal team. This usually leads to a lawsuit, which results in a judgment that is public record,” NagraStar writes.

“In court, every illegal purchase made can carry a hefty fine of up to $10,000. It is in your best interest, as well as NagraStar’s, to settle this matter outside of court with a pre-suit settlement offer to avoid heavy fines and to keep this matter confidential.”

This threatening language is self-serving, of course, and aimed at motivating people to pay up. That said, the risk of a lawsuit is indeed legitimate. NagraStar has previously filed several lawsuits against vendors and individual pirates.

NagraStar’s website also features several testimonies from pirates, or statements of compliance, as they are called. This includes a “Rocket IPTV” pirate, and a former subscriber of an unnamed pirate IPTV service.

While its unlikely that NagraStar will pursue legal action against all who ignore the letters, disregarding the settlement demands is not without risk.

Chicago law firm ‘The Russell Firm‘, which has experience with defending people accused of piracy, including in this matter, urges recipients to take the letters seriously. 

“Whatever you do, do not ignore the letter. Legal matters don’t get cheaper with time. They get more complicated and more expensive,” the law firm advises, noting that they offer a free consultation.

NagraStar, for its part, points out that a lawyer is not required to settle a claim. The company stresses that its associates will do their best to negotiate a reasonable settlement offer, whatever that may be. 

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