Tag Archives: iptv

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)

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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.

24% of French Internet Users Stream Live TV Content Illegally

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/24-of-french-internet-users-stream-live-tv-content-illegally-190528/

Just over a decade ago this month, France adopted new legislation allowing the country to more easily crack down on Internet piracy.

The so-called Hadopi law, which also spawned a government anti-piracy agency of the same name, was initially focused on the threat posed by peer-to-peer file-sharing systems, BitTorrent in particular.

However, ten years is a long time and since then, live streaming has stormed onto the scene as a convenient way for the public to view both licensed and unlicensed content. As a result, Hadopi is now taking an increased interest in how the latter is consumed online.

The findings of a new study carried out by Hadopi in conjunction with market research company IFOP, reveals that almost a quarter of French Internet users (24%) now access live TV programming illegally.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, streaming sites are the most popular locations, with 17% of all respondents admitting to using them to access live TV. Social networks prove slightly less popular at 14%, with just 5% admitting to using a dedicated IPTV device or application.

Platforms falling into the streaming site category are web-based affairs, often with embedded players, such as RojaDirecta, StreamonSports, and FootStream.tv etc. Of those using these services, 52% say they do so more than three times per week.

How live streaming sites work, as per Hadopi

The social network category is populated by services such as YouTube Live, Facebook Live, or Periscope, where Internet users share pirated streams of live content with each other. Six out of ten (61%) of these users admit to accessing streams more than three times per week.

The third category, IPTV, is defined as a service that’s accessible via devices including smart TVs, dedicated boxes, smartphones, tablets, or software. These provide users with access to often premium channels that would usually be available as part of a legal package from an official provider.

Almost three quarters (73%) of these users admit to using these services in excess of three times per week, something which is clearly bothering Hadopi, despite just 5% of respondents currently using them.

How ‘Pirate’ IPTV services work, as per Hadopi

The agency says this relatively small IPTV usage figure is increasing and has a more damaging effect on legal consumption due to “cannibalization”. ‘Pirate’ IPTV services are the closest one can get to an official streaming package so people are more likely to switch.

“54% of illegal IPTV users have already unsubscribed from a legal offer,” the report notes.

Additional uptake of pirate IPTV appears to have been driven by World Cup and Champions League fans after only some of these matches were delivered unencrypted to the public.

While the study focuses on live TV, it acknowledges that IPTV services pose a broader threat, since many also offer a VOD (Video-On-Demand) service containing hundreds if not thousands of movies and TV shows to be consumed at a time and place of the user’s choosing.

It’s clear from the study that many of those using pirate IPTV devices and apps do so because of the cost. Of those who admitted using them, 66% pay less than 100 euros per year for a package, including some (9%) who pay nothing at all.

As a comparison, combined annual subscriptions to BEIN Sports, Canal+, SFR Sport and OCS amounts to more than 760 euros per year. However, even when a subscriber buys them all the offer can’t compete with the offerings of a regular IPTV provider.

“After this first phase of the study of the uses [detailed above], the Hadopi agency will continue its analysis of the ecosystem of the illegal supply of live TV programs in order to detect, anticipate and warn, against emerging illicit practices,” the agency writes.

“In connection with the rights holders, television channels, Hadopi brings its technical and legal expertise to promote the implementation of actions to ensure effective and efficient protection of sustainable creation on the Internet.”

Hadopi’s paper can be downloaded here (pdf, French)

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Vader & the Truth About Pirate IPTV Services

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vader-the-truth-about-pirate-iptv-services-100512/

Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, CBS All Access, fuboTV, DAZN, NowTV, the forthcoming Disney+, cable TV, terrestrial TV, satellite, cinema.

How long is this list? Nowhere near long enough if you want to come close to matching what’s currently being offered by premium pirate IPTV services.

If any of the important ‘pirate’ IPTV providers flicked a magic switch and suddenly became legal overnight, all of the above would struggle to keep their heads above water. Add another dozen legal services to the list, and the statement would still stand.

The range of content offered by ‘pirate’ IPTV services demolishes that offered by all of the world’s key providers combined. And many do it for between $5 and $25 per month – because they don’t have to worry about the costs of making it.

It usually takes a couple of minutes to sign up and that content is available on a wide range of devices, from phones through to smart TVs. Almost any device, wherever people like. How it should be.

The public wants what the public gets, at least when they sail the IPTV high seas. Until it all goes to shit in an instant, of course.

This week, Vader – one of the most recognized ‘pirate’ IPTV services – suddenly disappeared, taking not only the subscriptions of users with them but also money handed over by resellers of the service. Communication with what are effectively creditors was scrappy at best, quite incredible at worst.

After declaring that there had been “no choice but to close down Vader”, supposed facts about the closure were widely circulated by various parties, sometimes accompanied by documents and quotes to back up often-conflicting claims.

Depending on which version one believes, if any, Vader was raided, sued, told to enter into a settlement agreement with ACE (the huge anti-piracy coalition founded by the MPAA, Netflix and Amazon), or had simply taken everyone’s money and headed for the hills. Or perhaps a combination of the above. Or none.

The ‘running’ theory gained traction following a statement from Vader which asked people to “take the financial losses we are all going to take, as resellers and direct sellers”, i.e please don’t ask for your money back. That was further compounded by another statement in which the service asked for donations to fund its legal defense and to help pay back people who doggedly asked for a refund.

Now, if Vader was “raided” as some pretty detailed missives have claimed this week, would it still have control over its customer list and bank accounts, in order to make these refunds happen? That doesn’t seem likely, but stranger things have happened. If it was being sued it probably would, but there’s no evidence of that either.

While there appears to be no public record of Vader getting served, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the subject of legal action, won’t be in the future, or doesn’t need a big cash injection. For example, if ACE has really offered the service the opportunity to settle, Vader will be given a set of demands. If they do not comply, then legal action might follow.

We have proof that ACE, among other things, demanded cooperation as part of previous settlement agreements with other entities. That meant promising to hand over information on others in the ecosystem. But would ACE really offer such a giant service the opportunity to take the easy route when it has chosen to sue the likes of TickBox, Dragon Box, and SETTV?

To find out, within hours of Vader’s shutdown TorrentFreak contacted ACE directly and asked them to confirm or deny that the MPAA (which now conducts its anti-piracy activities through ACE) was involved in the shutdown of Vader. We were told that the ACE coalition was working on a statement. Perfect.

Four days later we had received nothing, so we prompted the anti-piracy group for a response. We were told that our request hadn’t been forgotten and that it was hoped it could get a statement to us this week.

Perhaps needless to say, we haven’t received anything.

This is, of course, interesting in itself. If ACE wasn’t involved in the closure of Vader, then a simple response to clarify that fact would have been simple and could have been done in two letters – NO. However, if ACE was involved, that would make any statement much more complex.

If some kind of deal is indeed being thrashed out, we know that previous agreements sent out by ACE contained clauses that recipients can’t talk about the settlement to anyone but their lawyers. Vader clearly doesn’t want to talk about much in public and, at least for now, neither does ACE. Draw your own conclusions.

However, the fact that ACE hasn’t made a statement to confirm or deny might also be advantageous, intentional or otherwise, from an anti-piracy perspective.

Whether ACE is involved in this debacle or not, the complete lack of clarity surrounding this entire situation only serves to undermine trust in pirate IPTV providers. Granted, a public lawsuit would achieve similar goals, but right now the lack of information looks bad on Vader, not on ACE. In fact, if they aren’t involved, this is a free lunch for ACE and a big minus for Vader and by extension, pirate IPTV.

And this brings us to the point. Pirate IPTV services do not operate like legitimate companies such as Netflix. When people give Netflix their hard earned cash they can be pretty sure that they’ll get what they pay for but should the company be unable to fulfill its obligations, a very clear public statement will be made.

It certainly won’t shut down with zero notice, with no proper explanation, and begin asking for donations to dig it out of a hole. But come on, does anyone really expect an entity in this niche to operate any differently?

The main reason why anyone chooses to do business with a pirate IPTV provider (whether that’s Vader or any other) is because they don’t play by “the rules”. It’s because they thumb their noses at authority. It’s because they solve the problems of having dozens of subscription packages. It’s because they offer great value for money.

People want all this with no drawbacks? Think again.

Fulfilling all of these demands flat-out requires them to be unorthodox. It requires them to be ambiguous. It requires them to act illegally and it requires them to save their own asses when the sheriff comes to town.

Anyone who thinks it should play out differently should stick to buying bridges.

The truth about ‘pirate’ TV services is simple. You pay your money, you take a chance. People should approach IPTV subscriptions expecting to lose their money – that’s why month-to-month packages are often recommended to those with an aversion to losing cash.

People should not be surprised when such services go down temporarily or indeed permanently without notice. And they should presume that they’ll buffer at times but be happy when they don’t. Expectations should be set low by default to avoid disappointment.

‘Pirate’ IPTV services are a gamble, pure and simple. The odds are usually stacked in the user’s favor so their popularity is unlikely to wane in the near future. That says a lot about the service they mostly deliver. But make no mistake, there are no guarantees in this game.

There’s a whole new generation of pirates entering this market on both sides, supply and demand, whose motivations – one way or another – is to either make or save money. In the end, it is that balancing act that will tip the scales of success for providers and users alike.

Vader may be gone for now but there are still plenty of options around. As soon as its demise was announced, many suppliers went into overdrive to pick up the slack. How many customers will now choose to stay away is anyone’s guess but with bargains on offer, there probably won’t be any shortage of money changing hands.

Just don’t expect anyone to be particularly upfront about what’s really going on, whether that’s the providers, resellers, or anti-piracy groups. There’s way too much at stake to unmuddy the waters just because some people want answers.

The truth is always the first casualty of any war and this one is no different.

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

When Joe Public Becomes a Commercial Pirate, a Little Knowledge is Dangerous

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/joe-public-becomes-commercial-pirate-little-knowledge-dangerous-180603/

Back in March and just a few hours before the Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker fight, I got chatting with some fellow fans in the local pub. While some were intending to pay for the fight, others were going down the Kodi route.

Soon after the conversation switched to IPTV. One of the guys had a subscription and he said that his supplier would be along shortly if anyone wanted a package to watch the fight at home. Of course, I was curious to hear what he had to say since it’s not often this kind of thing is offered ‘offline’.

The guy revealed that he sold more or less exclusively on eBay and called up the page on his phone to show me. The listing made interesting reading.

In common with hundreds of similar IPTV subscription offers easily findable on eBay, the listing offered “All the sports and films you need plus VOD and main UK channels” for the sum of just under £60 per year, which is fairly cheap in the current market. With a non-committal “hmmm” I asked a bit more about the guy’s business and surprisingly he was happy to provide some details.

Like many people offering such packages, the guy was a reseller of someone else’s product. He also insisted that selling access to copyrighted content is OK because it sits in a “gray area”. It’s also easy to keep listings up on eBay, he assured me, as long as a few simple rules are adhered to. Right, this should be interesting.

First of all, sellers shouldn’t be “too obvious” he advised, noting that individual channels or channel lists shouldn’t be listed on the site. Fair enough, but then he said the most important thing of all is to have a disclaimer like his in any listing, written as follows:

“PLEASE NOTE EBAY: THIS IS NOT A DE SCRAMBLER SERVICE, I AM NOT SELLING ANY ILLEGAL CHANNELS OR CHANNEL LISTS NOR DO I REPRESENT ANY MEDIA COMPANY NOR HAVE ACCESS TO ANY OF THEIR CONTENTS. NO TRADEMARK HAS BEEN INFRINGED. DO NOT REMOVE LISTING AS IT IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH EBAY POLICIES.”

Apparently, this paragraph is crucial to keeping listings up on eBay and is the equivalent of kryptonite when it comes to deflecting copyright holders, police, and Trading Standards. Sure enough, a few seconds with Google reveals the same wording on dozens of eBay listings and those offering IPTV subscriptions on external platforms.

It is, of course, absolutely worthless but the IPTV seller insisted otherwise, noting he’d sold “thousands” of subscriptions through eBay without any problems. While a similar logic can be applied to garlic and vampires, a second disclaimer found on many other illicit IPTV subscription listings treads an even more bizarre path.

“THE PRODUCTS OFFERED CAN NOT BE USED TO DESCRAMBLE OR OTHERWISE ENABLE ACCESS TO CABLE OR SATELLITE TELEVISION PROGRAMS THAT BYPASSES PAYMENT TO THE SERVICE PROVIDER. RECEIVING SUBSCRIPTION/BASED TV AIRTIME IS ILLEGAL WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT.”

This disclaimer (which apparently no sellers displaying it have ever read) seems to be have been culled from the Zgemma site, which advertises a receiving device which can technically receive pirate IPTV services but wasn’t designed for the purpose. In that context, the disclaimer makes sense but when applied to dedicated pirate IPTV subscriptions, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

It’s unclear why so many sellers on eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist and other platforms think that these disclaimers are useful. It leads one to the likely conclusion that these aren’t hardcore pirates at all but regular people simply out to make a bit of extra cash who have received bad advice.

What is clear, however, is that selling access to thousands of otherwise subscription channels without permission from copyright owners is definitely illegal in the EU. The European Court of Justice says so (1,2) and it’s been backed up by subsequent cases in the Netherlands.

While the odds of getting criminally prosecuted or sued for reselling such a service are relatively slim, it’s worrying that in 2018 people still believe that doing so is made legal by the inclusion of a paragraph of text. It’s even more worrying that these individuals apparently have no idea of the serious consequences should they become singled out for legal action.

Even more surprisingly, TorrentFreak spoke with a handful of IPTV suppliers higher up the chain who also told us that what they are doing is legal. A couple claimed to be protected by communication intermediary laws, others didn’t want to go into details. Most stopped responding to emails on the topic. Perhaps most tellingly, none wanted to go on the record.

The big take-home here is that following some important EU rulings, knowingly linking to copyrighted content for profit is nearly always illegal in Europe and leaves people open for targeting by copyright holders and the authorities. People really should be aware of that, especially the little guy making a little extra pocket money on eBay.

Of course, people are perfectly entitled to carry on regardless and test the limits of the law when things go wrong. At this point, however, it’s probably worth noting that IPTV provider Ace Hosting recently handed over £600,000 rather than fight the Premier League (1,2) when they clearly had the money to put up a defense.

Given their effectiveness, perhaps they should’ve put up a disclaimer instead?

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 Sellers Sign Abstention Agreements Under Pressure From BREIN

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-sellers-sign-abstention-agreement-under-pressure-from-brein-180528/

Earlier this month, Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN revealed details of its case against Netherlands-based company Leaper Beheer BV.

BREIN’s complaint, which was filed at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht, claimed that
Leaper sold access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies. Around 4,000 live channels and 1,000 movies were included in the package, which was distributed to customers in the form of an .M3U playlist.

BREIN said that distribution of the playlist amounted to a communication to the public in contravention of the EU Copyright Directive. In its defense, Leaper argued that it is not a distributor of content itself and did not make anything available that wasn’t already public.

In a detailed ruling the Court sided with BREIN, noting that Leaper communicated works to a new audience that wasn’t taken into account when the content’s owners initially gave permission for their work to be distributed to the public.

The Court ordered Leaper to stop providing access to the unlicensed streams or face penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros. Further financial penalties were threatened for non-compliance with other aspects of the ruling.

In a fresh announcement Friday, BREIN revealed that three companies and their directors (Leaper included) have signed agreements to cease-and-desist, in order to avert summary proceedings. According to BREIN, the companies are the biggest sellers of pirate IPTV subscriptions in the Netherlands.

In addition to Leaper Beheer BV, Growler BV, DITisTV and their respective directors are bound by a number of conditions in their agreements but primarily to cease-and-desist offering hyperlinks or other technical means to access protected works belonging to BREIN’s affiliates and their members.

Failure to comply with the terms of the agreement will see the companies face penalties of 10,000 euros per infringement or per day (or part thereof).

DITisTV’s former website now appears to sell shoes and a search for the company using Google doesn’t reveal many flattering results. Consumer website Consumentenbond.nl enjoys the top spot with an article reporting that it received 300 complaints about DITisTV.

“The complainants report that after they have paid, they have not received their order, or that they were not given a refund if they sent back a malfunctioning media player. Some consumers have been waiting for their money for several months,” the article reads.

According to the report, DiTisTV pulled the plug on its website last June, probably in response to the European Court of Justice ruling which found that selling piracy-configured media players is illegal.

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

Police Forces Around Europe Hit Pirate IPTV Operation

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-forces-around-europe-hit-pirate-iptv-operation-180519/

Once upon a time, torrent and web streaming sites were regularly in the headlines while being targeted by the authorities. With the rise of set-top box streaming, actions against pirate IPTV operations are more regularly making the news.

In an operation coordinated by the public prosecutor’s office in Rome, 150 officers of the Provincial Command of the Guardia di Finanza (GdF) this week targeted what appears to be a fairly large unauthorized IPTV provider.

Under the banner Operation Spinoff, in Italy, more than 50 searches were carried out in 20 provinces of 11 regions. Five people were arrested. Elsewhere in Europe – in Switzerland, Germany and Spain – the Polizei Basel-Landschaft, the Kriminal Polizei and the Policia Nacional coordinated to execute warrants.

A small selection of the service on offer

“Through technical and ‘in-the-field’ investigations and the meticulous reconstruction of financial flows, carried out mainly through prepaid credit cards or payment web platforms, investigators have reconstructed the activity of a pyramid-like criminal structure dedicated to the illegal decryption and diffusion of pay-per-view television content through the Internet,” the GdF said in a statement.

Italian authorities report that the core of the IPTV operation were its sources of original content and channels. These were located in a range of diverse locations such as companies, commercial premises, garages and even private homes. Inside each location was equipment to receive, decrypt and capture signals from broadcasters including Sky TV.

Italian police examine hardware

These signals were collected together to form a package of channels which were then transmitted via the Internet and sold to the public in the form of an IPTV subscription. Packages were reportedly priced between 15 and 20 euros per month.

It’s estimated that between the 49 individuals said to be involved in the operation, around one million euros was generated. All are suspected of copyright infringement and money laundering offenses. Of the five Italian citizens reported to be at the core of the operations, four were taken into custody and one placed under house arrest.

Reports identify the suspects as: ‘AS’, born 1979 and residing in Lorrach, Germany. ‘RM’, born 1987 and living in Sarno, Italy. ‘LD’, born 1996 and also living in Sarno, Italy. ‘GP’, born 1990, living in Pordenone, Italy. And ‘SM’, born 1981 and living in Zagarolo, Italy.

More hardware

Players at all levels of the business are under investigation, from the sources who decrypted the signals to the sellers and re-sellers of the content to end users. Also under the microscope are people said to have laundered the operation’s money through credit cards and payment platforms.

The GdF describes the pirate IPTV operation in serious terms, noting that it aimed to set up a “parallel distribution company able to provide services that are entirely analogous to lawful companies, from checks on the feasibility of installing the service to maintaining adequate standards and technical assistance to customers.”

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 Service Gave Customer Details to Premier League, But What’s the Risk?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-service-gave-customer-details-to-premier-league-but-whats-the-risk-180515/

In a report last weekend, we documented what appear to be the final days of pirate IPTV provider Ace Hosting.

From information provided by several sources including official liquidation documents, it became clear that a previously successful and profitable Ace had succumbed to pressure from the Premier League, which accused the service of copyright infringement.

The company had considerable funds in the bank – £255,472.00 to be exact – but it also had debts of £717,278.84, including £260,000 owed to HMRC and £100,000 to the Premier League as part of a settlement agreement.

Information received by TF late Sunday suggested that £100K was the tip of the iceberg as far as the Premier League was concerned and in a statement yesterday, the football outfit confirmed that was the case.

“A renowned pirate of Premier League content to consumers has been forced to liquidate after agreeing to pay £600,000 for breaching the League’s copyright,” the Premier League announced.

“Ace IPTV, run by Craig Driscoll and Ian Isaac, was selling subscriptions to illegal Premier League streams directly to consumers which allowed viewing on a range of devices, including notorious Kodi-type boxes, as well as to smaller resellers in the UK and abroad.”

Sources familiar with the case suggest that while Ace Hosting Limited didn’t have the funds to pay the Premier League the full £600K, Ace’s operators agreed to pay (and have already paid, to some extent at least) what were essentially their own funds to cover amounts above the final £100K, which is due to be paid next year.

But that’s not the only thing that’s been handed over to the Premier League.

“Ace voluntarily disclosed the personal details of their customers, which the League will now review in compliance with data protection legislation. Further investigations will be conducted, and action taken where appropriate,” the Premier League added.

So, the big question now is how exposed Ace’s former subscribers are.

The truth is that only the Premier League knows for sure but TF has been able to obtain information from several sources which indicate that former subscribers probably aren’t the Premier League’s key interest and even if they were, information obtained on them would be of limited use.

According to a source with knowledge of how a system like Ace’s works, there is a separation of data which appears to help (at least to some degree) with the subscriber’s privacy.

“The system used to manage accounts and take payment is actually completely separate from the software used to manage streams and the lines themselves. They are never usually even on the same server so are two very different databases,” he told TF.

“So at best the only information that has voluntarily been provided to the [Premier League], is just your email, name and address (assuming you even used real details) and what hosting package or credits you bought.”

While this information is bad enough, the action against Ace is targeted, in that it focuses on the Premier League’s content and how Ace (and therefore its users) infringed on the football outfit’s copyrights. So, proving that subscribers actually watched any Premier League content would be an ideal position but it’s not straightforward, despite the potential for detailed logging.

“The management system contains no history of what you watched, when you watched it, when you signed in and so on. That is all contained in a different database on a different server.

“Because every connection is recorded [on the second server], it can create some two million entries a day and as such most providers either turn off this feature or delete the logs daily as having so many entries slows down the system down used for actual streams,” he explains.

Our source says that this data would likely to have been the first to be deleted and is probably “long gone” by now. However, even if the Premier League had obtained it, it’s unlikely they would be able to do much with it due to data protection laws.

“The information was passed to the [Premier League] voluntarily by ACE which means this information has been given from one entity to another without the end users’ consent, not part of the [creditors’ voluntary liquidation] and without a court order to support it. Data Protection right now is taken very seriously in the EU,” he notes.

At this point, it’s probably worth noting that while the word “voluntarily” has been used several times to explain the manner in which Ace handed over its subscribers’ details to the Premier League, the same word can be used to describe the manner in which the £600K settlement amount will be paid.

No one forces someone to pay or hand something over, that’s what the courts are for, and the aim here was to avoid that eventuality.

Other pieces of information culled from various sources suggest that PayPal payment information, limited to amounts only, was also handed over to the Premier League. And, perhaps most importantly (and perhaps predictably) as far as former subscribers are concerned, the football group was more interested in Ace’s upwards supplier chain (the ‘wholesale’ stream suppliers used, for example) than those buying the service.

Finally, while the Premier League is now seeking to send a message to customers that these services are risky to use, it’s difficult to argue with the assertion that it’s unsafe to hand over personal details to an illegal service.

“Ace IPTV’s collapse also highlighted the risk consumers take with their personal data when they sign up to illegal streaming services,” Premier League notes.

TF spoke with three IPTV providers who all confirmed that they don’t care what names and addresses people use to sign up with and that no checks are carried out to make sure they’re correct. However, one concedes that in order to run as a business, this information has to be requested and once a customer types it in, it’s possible that it could be handed over as part of a settlement.

“I’m not going to tell people to put in dummy details, how can I? It’s up to people to use their common sense. If they’re still worried they should give Sky their money because if our backs are against the wall, what do you think is going to happen?” he concludes.

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 Service Goes Bust After Premier League Deal, Exposing Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-service-goes-bust-after-premier-league-deal-exposing-users-180913/

For those out of the loop, unauthorized IPTV services offering many thousands of unlicensed channels have been gaining in popularity in recent years. They’re relatively cheap, fairly reliable, and offer acceptable levels of service.

They are, however, a huge thorn in the side of rightsholders who are desperate to bring them to their knees. One such organization is the UK’s Premier League, which has been disrupting IPTV services over the past year, hoping they’ll shut down.

Most have simply ridden the wave of blocks but one provider, Ace Hosting in the UK, showed signs of stress last year, revealing that it would no longer sell new subscriptions. There was little doubt in most people’s minds that the Premier League had gotten uncomfortably close to the IPTV provider.

Now, many months later, the amazing story can be told. It’s both incredible and shocking and will leave many shaking their heads in disbelief. First up, some background.

Doing things ‘properly’ – incorporation of a pirate service…

Considering how most operators of questionable services like to stay in the shade, it may come as a surprise to learn that Ace Hosting Limited is a proper company. Incorporated and registered at Companies House on January 3, 2017, Ace has two registered directors – family team Ian and Judith Isaac.

In common with several other IPTV operators in the UK who are also officially registered with the authorities, Ace Hosting has never filed any meaningful accounts. There’s a theory that the corporate structure is basically one of convenience, one that allows for the handling of large volumes of cash while limiting liability. The downside, of course, is that people are often more easily identified, in part due to the comprehensive paper trail.

Thanks to what can only be described as a slow-motion train wreck, the Ace Hosting debacle is revealing a bewildering set of circumstances. Last December, when Ace said it would stop signing up new members due to legal pressure, a serious copyright threat had already been filed against it.

Premier League v Ace Hosting

Documents seen by TorrentFreak reveal that the Premier League sent legal threats to Ace Hosting on December 15, 2017, just days before the subscription closure announcement. Somewhat surprisingly, Ace apparently felt it could pay the Premier League a damages amount and keep on trading.

But early March 2018, with the Premier League threatening Ace with all kinds of bad things, the company made a strange announcement.

“The ISPs in the UK and across Europe have recently become much more aggressive in blocking our service while football games are in progress,” Ace said in a statement.

“In order to get ourselves off of the ISP blacklist we are going to black out the EPL games for all users (including VPN users) starting on Monday. We believe that this will enable us to rebuild the bypass process and successfully provide you with all EPL games.”

It seems doubtful that Ace really intended to thumb its nose at the Premier League but it had continued to sell subscriptions since receiving threats in December, so all things seemed possible. But on March 24 that all changed, when Ace effectively announced its closure.

Premier League 1, Ace Hosting 0

“It is with sorrow that we announce that we are no longer accepting renewals, upgrades to existing subscriptions or the purchase of new credits. We plan to support existing subscriptions until they expire,” the team wrote.

“EPL games including highlights continue to be blocked and are not expected to be reinstated before the end of the season.”

Indeed, just days later the Premier League demanded a six-figure settlement sum from Ace Hosting, presumably to make a lawsuit disappear. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“When the proposed damages amount was received it was clear that the Company would not be able to cover the cost and that there was a very high probability that even with a negotiated settlement that the Company was insolvent,” documents relating to Ace’s liquidation read.

At this point, Ace says it immediately ceased trading but while torrent sites usually shut down and disappear into the night, Ace’s demise is now a matter of record.

Creditors – the good, the bad, and the ugly

On April 11, 2018, Ace’s directors contacted business recovery and insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP to obtain advice on the company’s financial position. Begbies Traynor was instructed by Ace on April 23 and on May 8, Ace Hosting director Ian Isaac determined that his company could not pay its debts.

First the good news. According to an official report, Ace Hosting has considerable cash in the bank – £255,472.00 to be exact. Now the bad news – Ace has debts of £717,278.84. – the details of which are intriguing to say the least.

First up, Ace has ‘trade creditors’ to whom it owes £104,356. The vast majority of this sum is a settlement Ace agreed to pay to the Premier League.

“The directors entered into a settlement agreement with the Football Association Premier League Limited prior to placing the Company into liquidation as a result of a purported copyright infringement. However, there is a residual claim from the Football Association Premier League Limited which is included within trade creditors totaling £100,000,” Ace’s statement of affairs reads.

Bizarrely (given the nature of the business, at least) Ace also owes £260,000 to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in unpaid VAT and corporation tax, which is effectively the government’s cut of the pirate IPTV business’s labors.

Former Ace Hosting subscriber? Your cash is as good as gone

Finally – and this is where things get a bit sweaty for Joe Public – there are 15,768 “consumer creditors”, split between ‘retail’ and ‘business’ customers of the service. Together they are owed a staggering £353,000.

Although the documentation isn’t explicit, retail customers appear to be people who have purchased an Ace IPTV subscription that still had time to run when the service closed down. Business customers seem likely to be resellers of the service, who purchased ‘credits’ and didn’t get time to sell them before Ace disappeared.

The poison chalice here is that those who are owed money by Ace can actually apply to get some of it back, but that could be extremely risky.

“Creditor claims have not yet been adjudicated but we estimate that the majority of customers who paid for subscription services will receive less than £3 if there is a distribution to unsecured creditors. Furthermore, customer details will be passed to the relevant authorities if there is any suggestion of unlawful conduct,” documentation reads.

We spoke with a former Ace customer who had this to say about the situation.

“It was generally a good service notwithstanding their half-arsed attempts to evade the EPL block. At its heart there were people who seemed to know how to operate a decent service, although the customer-facing side of things was not the greatest,” he said.

“And no, I won’t be claiming a refund. I went into it with my eyes fully open so I don’t hold anyone responsible, except myself. In any case, anyone who wants a refund has to complete a claim form and provide proof of ID (LOL).”

The bad news for former subscribers continues…potentially

While it’s likely that most people will forgo their £3, the bad news isn’t over for subscribers. Begbies Traynor is warning that the liquidators will decide whether to hand over subscribers’ personal details to the Premier League and/or the authorities.

In any event, sometime in the next couple of weeks the names and addresses of all subscribers will be made “available for inspection” at an address in Wiltshire for two days, meaning that any interested parties could potentially gain access to sensitive information.

The bottom line is that Ace Hosting is in the red to the tune of £461,907 and will eventually disappear into the bowels of history. Whether its operators will have to answer for their conduct will remain to be seen but it seems unimaginable at this stage that things will end well.

Subscribers probably won’t get sucked in but in a story as bizarre as this one, anything could yet happen.

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

Court Orders Pirate IPTV Linker to Shut Down or Face Penalties Up to €1.25m

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-pirate-iptv-linker-to-shut-down-or-face-penalties-up-to-e1-25m-180911/

There are few things guaranteed in life. Death, taxes, and lawsuits filed regularly by Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN.

One of its most recent targets was Netherlands-based company Leaper Beheer BV, which also traded under the names Flickstore, Dump Die Deal and Live TV Store. BREIN filed a complaint at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht, claiming that Leaper provides access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies.

The anti-piracy outfit claimed that around 4,000 live channels were on offer, including Fox Sports, movie channels, commercial and public channels. These could be accessed after the customer made a payment which granted access to a unique activation code which could be entered into a set-top box.

BREIN told the court that the code returned an .M3U playlist, which was effectively a hyperlink to IPTV channels and more than 1,000 movies being made available without permission from their respective copyright holders. As such, this amounted to a communication to the public in contravention of the EU Copyright Directive, BREIN argued.

In its defense, Leaper said that it effectively provided a convenient link-shortening service for content that could already be found online in other ways. The company argued that it is not a distributor of content itself and did not make available anything that wasn’t already public. The company added that it was completely down to the consumer whether illegal content was viewed or not.

The key question for the Court was whether Leaper did indeed make a new “communication to the public” under the EU Copyright Directive, a standard the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) says should be interpreted in a manner that provides a high level of protection for rightsholders.

The Court took a three-point approach in arriving at its decision.

  • Did Leaper act in a deliberate manner when providing access to copyright content, especially when its intervention provided access to consumers who would not ordinarily have access to that content?
  • Did Leaper communicate the works via a new method to a new audience?
  • Did Leaper have a profit motive when it communicated works to the public?
  • The Court found that Leaper did communicate works to the public and intervened “with full knowledge of the consequences of its conduct” when it gave its customers access to protected works.

    “Access to [the content] in a different way would be difficult for those customers, if Leaper were not to provide its services in question,” the Court’s decision reads.

    “Leaper reaches an indeterminate number of potential recipients who can take cognizance of the protected works and form a new audience. The purchasers who register with Leaper are to be regarded as recipients who were not taken into account by the rightful claimants when they gave permission for the original communication of their work to the public.”

    With that, the Court ordered Leaper to cease-and-desist facilitating access to unlicensed streams within 48 hours of the judgment, with non-compliance penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros.

    But the Court didn’t stop there.

    “Leaper must submit a statement audited by an accountant, supported by (clear, readable copies of) all relevant documents, within 12 days of notification of this judgment of all the relevant (contact) details of the (person or legal persons) with whom the company has had contact regarding the provision of IPTV subscriptions and/or the provision of hyperlinks to sources where films and (live) broadcasts are evidently offered without the permission of the entitled parties,” the Court ruled.

    Failure to comply with this aspect of the ruling will lead to more penalties of 5,000 euros per day up to a maximum of 250,000 euros. Leaper was also ordered to pay BREIN’s costs of 20,700 euros.

    Describing the people behind Leaper as “crooks” who previously sold media boxes with infringing addons (as previously determined to be illegal in the Filmspeler case), BREIN chief Tim Kuik says that a switch of strategy didn’t help them evade the law.

    “[Leaper] sold a link to consumers that gave access to unauthorized content, i.e. pay-TV channels as well as video-on-demand films and series,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak.

    “They did it for profit and should have checked whether the content was authorized. They did not and in fact were aware the content was unauthorized. Which means they are clearly infringing copyright.

    “This is evident from the CJEU case law in GS Media as well as Filmspeler and The Pirate Bay, aka the Dutch trilogy because the three cases came from the Netherlands, but these rulings are applicable throughout the EU.

    “They just keep at it knowing they’re cheating and we’ll take them to the cleaners,” Kuik concludes.

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

    YouTube Won’t Put Up With Blatant Piracy Tutorials Forever

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-wont-put-up-with-blatant-piracy-tutorials-forever-180506/

    Once upon a time, Internet users’ voices would be heard in limited circles, on platforms such as Usenet or other niche platforms.

    Then, with the rise of forum platforms such as phpBB in 2000 and Invision Power Board in 2002, thriving communities could gather in public to discuss endless specialist topics, including file-sharing of course.

    When dedicated piracy forums began to gain traction, it was pretty much a free-for-all. People discussed obtaining free content absolutely openly. Nothing was taboo and no one considered that there would be any repercussions. As such, moderation was limited to keeping troublemakers in check.

    As the years progressed and lawsuits against both sites and services became more commonplace, most sites that weren’t actually serving illegal content began to consider their positions. Run by hobbyists, most didn’t want the hassle of a multi-million dollar lawsuit, so links to pirate content began to diminish and the more overt piracy tutorials began to disappear underground.

    Those that remained in plain sight became much more considered. Tutorials on how to pirate specific Hollywood blockbusters were no longer needed, a plain general tutorial would suffice. And, as communities matured and took time to understand the implications of their actions, those without political motivations realized that drawing attention to potential criminality was neither required nor necessary.

    Then YouTube and social media happened and almost overnight, no one was in charge and anyone could say whatever they liked.

    In this new reality, there were no irritating moderator-type figures removing links to this and that, and nobody warning people against breaking rules that suddenly didn’t exist anymore. In essence, previously tight-knit and street-wise file-sharing and piracy communities not only became fragmented, but also chaotic.

    This meant that anyone could become a leader and in some cases, this was the utopia that many had hoped for. Not only couldn’t the record labels or Hollywood tell people what to do anymore, discussion site operators couldn’t either. For those who didn’t abuse the power and for those who knew no better, this was a much-needed breath of fresh air. But, like all good things, it was unlikely to last forever.

    Where most file-sharing of yesterday was carried out by hobbyist enthusiasts, many of today’s pirates are far more casual. They’re just as thirsty for content, but they don’t want to spend hours hunting for it. They want it all on a plate, at the flick of a switch, delivered to their TV with a minimum of hassle.

    With online discussions increasingly seen as laborious and old-fashioned, many mainstream pirates have turned to easy-to-consume videos. In support of their Kodi media player habits, YouTube has become the educational platform of choice for millions.

    As a result, there is now a long line of self-declared Kodi piracy specialists scooping up millions of views on YouTube. Their videos – which in many cases are thinly veiled advertisements for third party addons, Kodi ‘builds’, illegal IPTV services, and obscure Android APKs – are now the main way for a new generation to obtain direct advice on pirating.

    Many of the videos are incredibly blatant, like the past 15 years of litigation never happened. All the lessons learned by the phpBB board operators of yesteryear, of how to achieve their goals of sharing information without getting shut down, have been long forgotten. In their place, a barrage of daily videos designed to generate clicks and affiliate revenue, no matter what the cost, no matter what the risk.

    It’s pretty clear that these videos are at least partly responsible for the phenomenal uptick in Kodi and Android-based piracy over the past few years. In that respect, many lovers of free content will be eternally grateful for the service they’ve provided. But like many piracy movements over the years, people shouldn’t get too attached to them, at least in their current form.

    Thanks to the devil-may-care approach of many influential YouTubers, it won’t be long before a whole new set of moderators begin flexing their muscles. While your average phpBB moderator could be reasoned with in order to get a second chance, a determined and largely faceless YouTube will eject offenders without so much as a clear explanation.

    When this happens (and it’s only a question of time given the growing blatancy of many tutorials) YouTubers will not only lose their voices but their revenue streams too. While YouTube’s partner programs bring in some welcome cash, the profitable affiliate schemes touted on these channels for external products will also be under threat.

    Perhaps the most surprising thing in this drama-waiting-to-happen is that many of the most popular YouTubers can hardly be considered young and naive. While some are of more tender years, most – with their undoubted skill, knowledge and work ethic – should know better for their 30 or 40 years on this planet. Yet not only do they make their names public, they feature their faces heavily in their videos too.

    Still, it’s likely that it will take some big YouTube accounts to fall before YouTubers respond by shaving the sharp edges off their blatant promotion of illegal activity. And there’s little doubt that those advertising products (which is most of them) will have to do so sooner rather than later.

    Just this week, YouTube made it clear that it won’t tolerate people making money from the promotion of illegal activities.

    “YouTube creators may include paid endorsements as part of their content only if the product or service they are endorsing complies with our advertising policies,” YouTube told the BBC.

    “We will be working with creators going forward so they better understand that in video promotions [they] must not promote dishonest activity.”

    That being said, like many other players in the piracy and file-sharing space over the past 18 years, YouTubers will eventually begin to learn that not only can the smart survive, they can flourish too.

    Sure, there will be people out there who’ll protest that free speech allows citizens to express themselves in a manner of their choosing. But try PM’ing that to YouTube in response to a strike, and see how that fares.

    When they say you’re done, the road back is a long one.

    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 Blocking Case is No Slam Dunk Says Federal Court Judge

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-blocking-case-is-no-slam-dunk-says-federal-court-judge-180502/

    Last year, Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) applied for a blocking injunction against several unauthorized IPTV services.

    Under the Copyright Act, the broadcaster asked the Federal Court to order ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG plus their subsidiaries to block access to seven Android-based services named as A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.

    Unlike torrent site and streaming portal blocks granted earlier, it soon became clear that this case would present unique difficulties. TVB not only wants Internet locations (URLs, domains, IP addresses) related to the technical operation of the services blocked, but also hosting services akin to Google Play and Apple’s App Store that host the app.

    Furthermore, it is far from clear whether China-focused live programming is eligible for copyright protection in Australia. If China had been a party to the 1961 Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, it would receive protection. As it stands, it does not.

    That causes complications in respect of Section 115a of the Copyright Act which allows rightsholders to apply for an injunction to have “overseas online locations” blocked if they facilitate access to copyrighted content. Furthermore, the section requires that the “primary purpose” of the location is to infringe copyrights recognized in Australia. If it does not, then there’s no blocking option available.

    “If most of what is occurring here is a reproduction of broadcasts that are not protected by copyright, then the primary purpose is not to facilitate copyright infringement,” Justice Nicholas said in April.

    This morning TVB returned to Federal Court for a scheduled hearing. The ISPs were a no-show again, leaving the broadcaster’s legal team to battle it out with Justice Nicholas alone. According to details published by ComputerWorld, he isn’t making it easy for the overseas company.

    The Judge put it to TVB that “the purpose of this system [the set-top boxes] is to make available a broadcast that’s not copyright protected in this country, in this country,” he said.

    “If 10 per cent of the content was infringing content, how could you say the primary purpose is infringing copyright?” the Judge asked.

    But despite the Judge’s reservations, TVB believes that the pirate IPTV services clearly infringe its rights, since alongside live programming, the devices also reproduce TVB movies which do receive protection in Australia. However, the company is also getting creative in an effort to sidestep the ‘live TV’ conundrum.

    TVB counsel Julian Cooke told the Court that live TVB broadcasts are first reproduced on foreign servers from where they are communicated to set-top devices in Australia with a delay of between one and four minutes. This is a common feature of all pirate IPTV services which potentially calls into question the nature of the ‘live’ broadcasts. The same servers also carry recorded content too, he argued.

    “Because the way the system is set up, it compounds itself … in a number of instances, a particular domain name, which we refer to as the portal target domain name, allows a communication path not just to live TV, but it’s also the communication path to other applications such as replay and video on demand,” Cooke said, as quoted by ZDNet.

    Cooke told the Court that he wasn’t sure whether the threshold for “primary purpose” was set at 50% of infringing content but noted that the majority of the content available through the boxes is infringing and the nature of the servers is even more pronounced.

    “It compounds the submission that the primary purpose of the online location which is the facilitating server is to facilitate the infringement of copyright using that communication path,” he said.

    As TF predicted in our earlier coverage, TVB today got creative by highlighting other content that it does receive copyright protection for in Australia. Previously in the UK, the Premier League successfully stated that it owns copyright in the logos presented in a live broadcast.

    This morning, Cooke told the court that TVB “literary works” – scripts used on news shows and subtitling services – receive copyright protection in Australia so urged the Court to consider the full package.

    “If one had concerns about live TV, one shouldn’t based on the analysis we’ve done … if one adds that live TV infringements together with video on demand together with replay, there could be no doubt that the primary purpose of the online locations is to infringe copyright,” he said.

    Due to the apparent complexity of the case, Justice Nicholas reserved his decision, telling TVB that his ruling could take a couple of months after receiving his “close attention.”

    Last week, Village Roadshow and several major Hollywood studios won a blocking injunction against a different pirate IPTV service. HD Subs Plus delivers around 600 live premium channels plus hundreds of movies on demand, but the service will now be blocked by ISPs across Australia.

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

    Danish Traffic to Pirate Sites Increases 67% in Just a Year

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/danish-traffic-to-pirate-sites-increases-67-in-just-a-year-180501/

    For close to 20 years, rightsholders have tried to stem the tide of mainstream Internet piracy. Yet despite increasingly powerful enforcement tools, infringement continues on a grand scale.

    While the problem is global, rightsholder groups often zoom in on their home turf, to see how the fight is progressing locally. Covering Denmark, the Rights Alliance Data Report 2017 paints a fairly pessimistic picture.

    Published this week, the industry study – which uses SimilarWeb and MarkMonitor data – finds that Danes visited 2,000 leading pirate sites 596 million times in 2017. That represents a 67% increase over the 356 million visits to unlicensed platforms made by citizens during 2016.

    The report notes that, at least in part, this explosive growth can be attributed to mobile-compatible sites and services, which make it easier than ever to consume illicit content on the move, as well as at home.

    In a sea of unauthorized streaming sites, Rights Alliance highlights one platform above all the others as a particularly bad influence in 2017 – 123movies (also known as GoMovies and GoStream, among others).

    “The popularity of this service rose sharply in 2017 from 40 million visits in 2016 to 175 million visits in 2017 – an increase of 337 percent, of which most of the traffic originates from mobile devices,” the report notes.

    123movies recently announced its closure but before that the platform was subjected to web-blocking in several jurisdictions.

    Rights Alliance says that Denmark has one of the most effective blocking systems in the world but that still doesn’t stop huge numbers of people from consuming pirate content from sites that aren’t yet blocked.

    “Traffic to infringing sites is overwhelming, and therefore blocking a few sites merely takes the top of the illegal activities,” Rights Alliance chief Maria Fredenslund informs TorrentFreak.

    “Blocking is effective by stopping 75% of traffic to blocked sites but certainly, an upscaled effort is necessary.”

    Rights Alliance also views the promotion of legal services as crucial to its anti-piracy strategy so when people visit a blocked site, they’re also directed towards legitimate platforms.

    “That is why we are working at the moment with Denmark’s Ministry of Culture and ISPs on a campaign ‘Share With Care 2′ which promotes legal services e.g. by offering a search function for legal services which will be placed in combination with the signs that are put on blocked websites,” the anti-piracy group notes.

    But even with such measures in place, the thirst for unlicensed content is great. In 2017 alone, 500 of the most popular films and TV shows were downloaded from P2P networks like BitTorrent more than 15 million times from Danish IP addresses, that’s up from 11.9 million in 2016.

    Given the dramatic rise in visits to pirate sites overall, the suggestion is that plenty of consumers are still getting through. Rights Alliance says that the number of people being restricted is also hampered by people who don’t use their ISP’s DNS service, which is the method used to block sites in Denmark.

    Additionally, interest in VPNs and similar anonymization and bypass-capable technologies is on the increase. Between 3.5% and 5% of Danish Internet users currently use a VPN, a number that’s expected to go up. Furthermore, Rights Alliance reports greater interest in “closed” pirate communities.

    “The data is based on closed [BitTorrent] networks. We also address the challenges with private communities on Facebook and other [social media] platforms,” Fredenslund explains.

    “Due to the closed doors of these platforms it is not possible for us to say anything precisely about the amount of infringing activities there. However, we receive an increasing number of notices from our members who discover that their products are distributed illegally and also we do an increased monitoring of these platforms.”

    But while more established technologies such as torrents and regular web-streaming continue in considerable volumes, newer IPTV-style services accessible via apps and dedicated platforms are also gaining traction.

    “The volume of visitors to these services’ websites has been sharply rising in 2017 – an increase of 84 percent from January to December,” Rights Alliance notes.

    “Even though the number of visitors does not say anything about actual consumption, as users usually only visit pages one time to download the program, the number gives an indication that the interest in IPTV is increasing.”

    To combat this growth market, Rights Alliance says it wants to establish web-blockades against sites hosting the software applications.

    Also on the up are visits to platforms offering live sports illegally. In 2017, Danish IP addresses made 2.96 million visits to these services, corresponding to almost 250,000 visits per month and representing an annual increase of 28%.

    Rights Alliance informs TF that in future a ‘live’ blocking mechanism similar to the one used by the Premier League in the UK could be deployed in Denmark.

    “We already have a dynamic blocking system, and we see an increasing demand for illegal TV products, so this could be a natural next step,” Fredenslund explains.

    Another small but perhaps significant detail is how users are accessing pirate sites. According to the report, large volumes of people are now visiting platforms directly, with more than 50% doing so in preference to referrals from search engines such as Google.

    In terms of deterrence, the Rights Alliance report sticks to the tried-and-tested approaches seen so often in the anti-piracy arena.

    Firstly, the group notes that it’s increasingly encountering people who are paying for legal services such as Netflix and Spotify so believe that allows them to grab something extra from a pirate site. However, in common with similar organizations globally, the group counters that pirate sites can serve malware or have other nefarious business interests behind the scenes, so people should stay away.

    Whether significant volumes will heed this advice will remain to be seen but if a 67% increase last year is any predictor of the future, piracy is here to stay – and then some. Rights Alliance says it is ready for the challenge but will need some assistance to achieve its goals.

    “As it is evident from the traffic data, criminal activities are not something that we, private companies (right holders in cooperation with ISPs), can handle alone,” Fredenslund says.

    “Therefore, we are very pleased that DK Government recently announced that the IP taskforce which was set down as a trial period has now been made permanent. In that regard it is important and necessary that the police will also obtain the authority to handle blocking of massively infringing websites. Police do not have the authority to carry out blocking as it is today.”

    The full report is available here (Danish, pdf)

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

    Aussie Federal Court Orders ISPs to Block Pirate IPTV Service

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/aussie-federal-court-orders-isps-to-block-pirate-iptv-service-180427/

    After successful applying for ISP blocks against dozens of traditional torrent and streaming portals, Village Roadshow and a coalition of movie studios switched tack last year.

    With the threat of pirate subscription IPTV services looming large, Roadshow, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount targeted HDSubs+ (also known as PressPlayPlus), a fairly well-known service that provides hundreds of otherwise premium live channels, movies, and sports for a relatively small monthly fee.

    The injunction, which was filed last October, targets Australia’s largest ISPs including Telstra, Optus, TPG, and Vocus, plus subsidiaries.

    Unlike blocking injunctions targeting regular sites, the studios sought to have several elements of HD Subs+ infrastructure rendered inaccessible, so that its sales platform, EPG (electronic program guide), software (such as an Android and set-top box app), updates, and sundry other services would fail to operate in Australia.

    After a six month wait, the Federal Court granted the application earlier today, compelling Australia’s ISPs to block “16 online locations” associated with the HD Subs+ service, rendering its TV services inaccessible Down Under.

    “Each respondent must, within 15 business days of service of these orders, take reasonable steps to disable access to the target online locations,” said Justice Nicholas, as quoted by ZDNet.

    A small selection of channels in the HDSubs+ package

    The ISPs were given flexibility in how to implement the ban, with the Judge noting that DNS blocking, IP address blocking or rerouting, URL blocking, or “any alternative technical means for disabling access”, would be acceptable.

    The rightsholders are required to pay a fee of AU$50 fee for each domain they want to block but Village Roadshow says it doesn’t mind doing so, since blocking is in “public interest”. Continuing a pattern established last year, none of the ISPs showed up to the judgment.

    A similar IPTV blocking application was filed by Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) last year.

    TVB wants ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG plus their subsidiaries to block access to seven Android-based services named as A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.

    The application was previously heard alongside the HD Subs+ case but will now be handled separately following complications. In April it was revealed that TVB not only wants to block Internet locations related to the technical operation of the service, but also hosting sites that fulfill a role similar to that of Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

    TVB wants to have these app marketplaces blocked by Australian ISPs, which would not only render the illicit apps inaccessible to the public but all of the non-infringing ones too.

    Justice Nicholas will now have to decide whether the “primary purpose” of these marketplaces is to infringe or facilitate the infringement of TVB’s copyrights. However, there is also a question of whether China-focused live programming has copyright status in Australia. An additional hearing is scheduled for May 2 for these matters to be addressed.

    Also on Friday, Foxtel filed yet another blocking application targeting “15 online locations” involving 27 domain names connected to traditional BitTorrent and streaming services.

    According to ComputerWorld the injunction targets the same set of ISPs but this time around, Foxtel is trying to save on costs.

    The company doesn’t want to have expert witnesses present in court, doesn’t want to stage live demos of websites, and would like to rely on videos and screenshots instead. Foxtel also says that if the ISPs agree, it won’t serve its evidence on them as it has done previously.

    The company asked Justice Nicholas to deal with the injunction application “on paper” but he declined, setting a hearing for June 18 but accepting screenshots and videos as evidence.

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

    MPAA Chief Says Fighting Piracy Remains “Top Priority”

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-chief-says-fighting-piracy-remains-top-priority-180425/

    After several high-profile years at the helm of the movie industry’s most powerful lobbying group, last year saw the departure of Chris Dodd from the role of Chairman and CEO at the MPAA.

    The former Senator, who earned more than $3.5m a year championing the causes of the major Hollywood studios since 2011, was immediately replaced by another political heavyweight.

    Charles Rivkin, who took up his new role September 5, 2017, previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs in the Obama administration. With an underperforming domestic box office year behind him fortunately overshadowed by massive successes globally, this week he spoke before US movie exhibitors for the first time at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

    “Globally, we hit a record high of $40.6 billion at the box office. Domestically, our $11.1 billion box office was slightly down from the 2016 record. But it exactly matched the previous high from 2015. And it was the second highest total in the past decade,” Rivkin said.

    “But it exactly matched the previous high from 2015. And it was the second highest total in the past decade.”

    Rivkin, who spent time as President and CEO of The Jim Henson Company, told those in attendance that he shares a deep passion for the movie industry and looks forward optimistically to the future, a future in which content is secured from those who intend on sharing it for free.

    “Making sure our creative works are valued and protected is one of the most important things we can do to keep that industry heartbeat strong. At the Henson Company, and WildBrain, I learned just how much intellectual property affects everyone. Our entire business model depended on our ability to license Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, and the Muppets and distribute them across the globe,” Rivkin said.

    “I understand, on a visceral level, how important copyright is to any creative business and in particular our country’s small and medium enterprises – which are the backbone of the American economy. As Chairman and CEO of the MPAA, I guarantee you that fighting piracy in all forms remains our top priority.”

    That tackling piracy is high on the MPAA’s agenda won’t comes as a surprise but at least in terms of the numbers of headlines plastered over the media, high-profile anti-piracy action has been somewhat lacking in recent years.

    With lawsuits against torrent sites seemingly a thing of the past and a faltering Megaupload case that will conclude who-knows-when, the MPAA has taken a broader view, seeking partnerships with sometimes rival content creators and distributors, each with a shared desire to curtail illicit media.

    “One of the ways that we’re already doing that is through the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment – or ACE as we call it,” Rivkin said.

    “This is a coalition of 30 leading global content creators, including the MPAA’s six member studios as well as Netflix, and Amazon. We work together as a powerful team to ensure our stories are seen as they were intended to be, and that their creators are rewarded for their hard work.”

    Announced in June 2017, ACE has become a united anti-piracy powerhouse for a huge range of entertainment industry groups, encompassing the likes of CBS, HBO, BBC, Sky, Bell Canada, CBS, Hulu, Lionsgate, Foxtel and Village Roadshow, to name a few.

    The coalition was announced by former MPAA Chief Chris Dodd and now, with serious financial input from all companies involved, appears to be picking its fights carefully, focusing on the growing problem of streaming piracy centered around misuse of Kodi and similar platforms.

    From threatening relatively small-time producers and distributors of third-party addons and builds (1,2,3), ACE is also attempting to make its mark among the profiteers.

    The group now has several lawsuits underway in the United States against people selling piracy-enabled IPTV boxes including Tickbox, Dragon Box, and during the last week, Set TV.

    With these important cases pending, Rivkin offered assurances that his organization remains committed to anti-piracy enforcement and he thanked exhibitors for their efforts to prevent people quickly running away with copies of the latest releases.

    “I am grateful to all of you for recognizing what is at stake, and for working with us to protect creativity, such as fighting the use of illegal camcorders in theaters,” he said.

    “Protecting our creativity isn’t only a fundamental right. It’s an economic necessity, for us and all creative economies. Film and television are among the most valuable – and most impactful – exports we have.

    Thus far at least, Rivkin has a noticeably less aggressive tone on piracy than his predecessor Chris Dodd but it’s unlikely that will be mistaken for weakness among pirates, nor should it. The MPAA isn’t known for going soft on pirates and it certainly won’t be changing course anytime soon.

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

    Automating the Creation of Consistent Amazon EBS Snapshots with Amazon EC2 Systems Manager (Part 2)

    Post Syndicated from Bryan Liston original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/compute/automating-the-creation-of-consistent-amazon-ebs-snapshots-with-amazon-ec2-systems-manager-part-2/

    Nicolas Malaval, AWS Professional Consultant

    In my previous blog post, I discussed the challenge of creating Amazon EBS snapshots when you cannot turn off the instance during backup because this might exclude any data that has been cached by any applications or the operating system. I showed how you can use EC2 Systems Manager to run a script remotely on EC2 instances to prepare the applications and the operating system for backup and to automate the creating of snapshots on a daily basis. I gave a practical example of creating consistent Amazon EBS snapshots of Amazon Linux running a MySQL database.

    In this post, I walk you through another practical example to create consistent snapshots of a Windows Server instance with Microsoft VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service).

    Understanding the example

    VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) is a Windows built-in service that coordinates backup of VSS-compatible applications (SQL Server, Exchange Server, etc.) to flush and freeze their I/O operations.

    The VSS service initiates and oversees the creation of shadow copies. A shadow copy is a point-in-time and consistent snapshot of a logical volume. For example, C: is a logical volume, which is different than an EBS snapshot. Multiple components are involved in the shadow copy creation:

    • The VSS requester requests the creation of shadow copies.
    • The VSS provider creates and maintains the shadow copies.
    • The VSS writers guarantee that you have a consistent data set to back up. They flush and freeze I/O operations, before the VSS provider creates the shadow copies, and release I/O operations, after the VSS provider has completed this action. There is usually one VSS writer for each VSS-compatible application.

    I use Run Command to execute a PowerShell script on the Windows instance:

    $EbsSnapshotPsFileName = "C:/tmp/ebsSnapshot.ps1"
    
    $EbsSnapshotPs = New-Item -Type File $EbsSnapshotPsFileName -Force
    
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotPs '$InstanceID = Invoke-RestMethod -Uri http://169.254.169.254/latest/meta-data/instance-id'
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotPs '$AZ = Invoke-RestMethod -Uri http://169.254.169.254/latest/meta-data/placement/availability-zone'
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotPs '$Region = $AZ.Substring(0, $AZ.Length-1)'
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotPs '$Volumes = ((Get-EC2InstanceAttribute -Region $Region -Instance "$InstanceId" -Attribute blockDeviceMapping).BlockDeviceMappings.Ebs |? {$_.Status -eq "attached"}).VolumeId'
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotPs '$Volumes | New-EC2Snapshot -Region $Region -Description " Consistent snapshot of a Windows instance with VSS" -Force'
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotPs 'Exit $LastExitCode'

    First, the script writes in a local file named ebsSnapshot.ps1 a PowerShell script that creates a snapshot of every EBS volume attached to the instance.

    $EbsSnapshotCmdFileName = "C:/tmp/ebsSnapshot.cmd"
    $EbsSnapshotCmd = New-Item -Type File $EbsSnapshotCmdFileName -Force
    
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotCmd 'powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -file $EbsSnapshotPsFileName'
    Add-Content $EbsSnapshotCmd 'exit $?'

    It writes in a second file named ebsSnapshot.cmd a shell script that executes the PowerShell script created earlier.

    $VssScriptFileName = "C:/tmp/scriptVss.txt"
    $VssScript = New-Item -Type File $VssScriptFileName -Force
    
    Add-Content $VssScript 'reset'
    Add-Content $VssScript 'set context persistent'
    Add-Content $VssScript 'set option differential'
    Add-Content $VssScript 'begin backup'
    
    $Drives = Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_LogicalDisk |? {$_.VolumeName -notmatch "Temporary" -and $_.DriveType -eq "3"} | Select-Object DeviceID
    
    $Drives | ForEach-Object { Add-Content $VssScript $('add volume ' + $_.DeviceID + ' alias Volume' + $_.DeviceID.Substring(0, 1)) }
    
    Add-Content $VssScript 'create'
    Add-Content $VssScript "exec $EbsSnapshotCmdFileName"
    Add-Content $VssScript 'end backup'
    
    $Drives | ForEach-Object { Add-Content $VssScript $('delete shadows id %Volume' + $_.DeviceID.Substring(0, 1) + '%') }
    
    Add-Content $VssScript 'exit'

    It creates a third file named scriptVss.txt containing DiskShadow commands. DiskShadow is a tool included in Windows Server 2008 and above, that exposes the functionality offered by the VSS service. The script creates a shadow copy of each logical volume stored on EBS, runs the shell script ebsSnapshot.cmd to create a snapshot of underlying EBS volumes, and then deletes the shadow copies to free disk space.

    diskshadow.exe /s $VssScriptFileName
    Exit $LastExitCode

    Finally, it runs DiskShadow in script mode.

    This PowerShell script is contained in a new SSM document and the maintenance window executes a command from this document every day at midnight on every Windows instance that has a tag “ConsistentSnapshot” equal to “WindowsVSS”.

    Implementing and testing the example

    First, use AWS CloudFormation to provision some of the required resources in your AWS account.

    1. Open Create a Stack to create a CloudFormation stack from the template.
    2. Choose Next.
    3. Enter the ID of the latest AWS Windows Server 2016 Base AMI available in the current region (see Finding a Windows AMI) in pWindowsAmiId.
    4. Follow the on-screen instructions.

    CloudFormation creates the following resources:

    • A VPC with an Internet gateway attached.
    • A subnet on this VPC with a new route table, to enable access to the Internet and therefore to the AWS APIs.
    • An IAM role to grant an EC2 instance the required permissions.
    • A security group that allows RDP access from the Internet, as you need to log on to the instance later on.
    • A Windows instance in the subnet with the IAM role and the security group attached.
    • A SSM document containing the script described in the section above to create consistent EBS snapshots.
    • Another SSM document containing a script to restore logical volumes to a consistent state, as explained in the next section.
    • An IAM role to grant the maintenance window the required permissions.

    After the stack creation completes, choose Outputs in the CloudFormation console and note the values returned:

    • IAM role for the maintenance window
    • Names of the two SSM documents

    Then, manually create a maintenance window, if you have not already created it. For detailed instructions, see the “Example” section in the previous blog post.

    After you create a maintenance window, assign a target where the task will run:

    1. In the Maintenance Window list, choose the maintenance window that you just created.
    2. For Actions, choose Register targets.
    3. For Owner information, enter WindowsVSS.
    4. Under the Select targets by section, choose Specifying tags. For Tag Name, choose ConsistentSnapshot. For Tag Value, choose WindowsVSS.
    5. Choose Register targets.

    Finally, assign a task to perform during the window:

    1. In the Maintenance Window list, choose the maintenance window that you just created.
    2. For Actions, choose Register tasks.
    3. For Document, select the name of the SSM document that was returned by CloudFormation, with which to create snapshots.
    4. Under the Target by section, choose the target that you just created.
    5. Under the Role section, select the IAM role that was returned by CloudFormation.
    6. Under Execute on, for Targets, enter 1. For Stop after, enter 1 errors.
    7. Choose Register task.

    You can view the history either in the History tab of the Maintenance Windows navigation pane of the Amazon EC2 console, as illustrated on the following figure, or in the Run Command navigation pane, with more details about each command executed.

    Restoring logical volumes to a consistent state

    DiskShadow―the VSS requester in this case―uses the Windows built-in VSS provider. To create a shadow copy, this built-in provider does not make a complete copy of the data. Instead, it keeps a copy of a block data before a change overwrites it, in a dedicated storage area. The logical volume can be restored to its initial consistent state, by combining the actual volume data with the initial data of the changed blocks.

    The DiskShadow command create instructs the VSS service to proceed with the creation of shadow copies, including the release of I/O operations by the VSS writers after the shadow copies are created. Therefore, the EBS snapshots created by the next command exec may not be fully consistent.

    Note: A workaround could be to build your own VSS provider in charge of creating EBS snapshots. Doing so would enable the EBS snapshots to be created before I/O operations are released. We will not develop this solution in this blog post.

    Therefore, you need to “undo” any I/O operations that may have happened between the moment when the shadow copy was created and the moment when the EBS snapshots were created.

    A solution consists of creating an EBS volume from the snapshot, attaching it to an intermediate Windows instance and to “revert” the VSS shadow copy to restore the EBS volume to a consistent state. For sake of simplicity, use the Windows instance that was backed up as the intermediate instance.

    To manually restore an EBS snapshot to a consistent state:

    1. In the Amazon EC2 console, choose Instances.
    2. In the search box, enter Consistent EBS Snapshots – Windows with VSS. The search results should display a single instance. Note the Availability Zone for this instance.
    3. Choose Snapshots.
    4. Select the latest snapshot with the description “Consistent snapshot of Windows with VSS” and choose Actions, Create Volume.
    5. Select the same Availability Zone as the instance and choose Create, Volumes.
    6. Select the volume that was just created and choose Actions, Attach Volume.
    7. For Instance, choose Consistent EBS Snapshots – Windows with VSS and choose Attach.
    8. Choose Run Command, Run a command.
    9. In Command document, select the name of a SSM document to restore snapshots returned by CloudFormation. For Target instances, select the Windows and choose Run.

    Run Command executes the following PowerShell script on the Windows instance. It retrieves the list of offline disks—which corresponds in this case to the EBS volume that you just attached—and for each offline disk, takes it online, revert existing shadow copies and takes it offline again.

    $OfflineDisks = (Get-Disk |? {$_.OperationalStatus -eq "Offline"})
    
    foreach ($OfflineDisk in $OfflineDisks) {
      Set-Disk -Number $OfflineDisk.Number -IsOffline $False
      Set-Disk -Number $OfflineDisk.Number -IsReadonly $False
      Write-Host "Disk " $OfflineDisk.Signature " is now online"
    }
    
    $ShadowCopyIds = (Get-CimInstance Win32_ShadowCopy).Id
    Write-Host "Number of shadow copies found: " $ShadowCopyIds.Count
    
    foreach ($ShadowCopyId in $ShadowCopyIds) {
      "revert " + $ShadowCopyId | diskshadow
    }
    
    foreach ($OfflineDisk in $OfflineDisks) {
      $CurrentSignature = (Get-Disk -Number $OfflineDisk.Number).Signature
      if ($OfflineDisk.Signature -eq $CurrentSignature) {
        Set-Disk -Number $OfflineDisk.Number -IsReadonly $True
        Set-Disk -Number $OfflineDisk.Number -IsOffline $True
        Write-Host "Disk " $OfflineDisk.Number " is now offline"
      }
      else {
        Set-Disk -Number $OfflineDisk.Number -Signature $OfflineDisk.Signature
        Write-Host "Reverting to the initial disk signature: " $OfflineDisk.Signature
      }
    }

    The EBS volume is now in a consistent state and can be detached from the intermediate instance.

    Conclusion

    In this series of blog posts, I showed how you can use Amazon EC2 Systems Manager to create consistent EBS snapshots on a daily basis, with two practical examples for Linux and Windows. You can adapt this solution to your own requirements. For example, you may develop scripts for your own applications.

    If you have questions or suggestions, please comment below.