Tag Archives: iptv

ACE Coalition Seizes Four More ‘Pirate’ IPTV Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ace-coalition-seizes-four-more-pirate-iptv-domains-200322/

The Alliance for Creativity Entertainment (ACE) is the largest anti-piracy coalition in history. It pools the resources of all the major Hollywood studios plus Netflix, Amazon and dozens of other companies to tackle piracy on a global scale.

ACE has made many announcements over the past couple of years celebrating successful conclusions to multiple operations. Most relate to closures of file-hosting services, IPTV providers and other platforms involved in the unlicensed streaming of movies and TV shows.

However, for reasons best known to the coalition, not all of its investigations are publicized. Many fly under the radar until visitors to once-active websites find themselves being directed to the ACE anti-piracy portal when they expected to find a ‘pirate’ platform.

According to information obtained by TorrentFreak, four new domains have recently begun redirecting to ACE. The first, ausmediastreaming.com.au, comes as no surprise. In early March, ACE revealed that it had secured the closure of the IPTV supplier following a cease-and-desist order.

“The closure of Aus Media Streaming is the latest in a series of victories that can protect Australian creators and ensure that legal services can continue to thrive,” said Karyn Temple, Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel of the Motion Picture Association.

The second fresh domain under ACE/MPA control is watchmoviesfree.com.au. When it was online, the site asked prospective customers whether they wanted to watch “Every single movie, TV show, sporting event, documentary, kids TV and movie ever made, free?”

Concluding that the answer must be “Of course you do”, the site then went on to offer Android-based set-top devices named Octo-Ninja and Ninja-Quad. It’s unclear what was in those devices but either a pre-loaded setup and/or a subscription-based IPTV service seems likely. Before it was taken down, the domain offered an Australian telephone number for people to get in touch.

EmpireTV.ca is the third domain. According to its now disappeared website and Facebook pages, it claimed to be the “top streaming service in Canada”, offering over 5,000 channels plus on-demand movies, TV shows, PPV and more from $9.99 per month.

Various packages were made available by the site, varying in price according to subscription length and levels of content available. The site was previously targeted in a DMCA complaint after supplying German football content without permission. It also had a detailed disclaimer that clearly didn’t cut much ice with ACE.

“We have no association with any of the IP channels shown or any of these products. TV channels and video content of the services are being provided without any liability from us regarding copyrights,” it began.

“Per our knowledge all channels provided by the server sellers abide by all relevant countries copyright laws and any copyright issues must be taken up directly with the server owners. EMPIRETV.CA does not take any liability as to what is aired on the servers and EMPIRETV.CA have NO control over the servers or streams.”

With EmpireTV.ca now redirecting to the ACE portal, the fourth domain to be placed under the anti-piracy group’s control (or more accurately, that of the MPA) is ZeddIPTV.com. Little is known about this supplier but given that it was previously offered via classified listings in Australia, it may have been focused on that region.

Although nothing has been officially confirmed by ACE in respect of ‘seizing’ any of these domains, it seems likely that following pressure from the anti-piracy group, domains were handed over as part of a settlement. ACE has shuttered close to three dozen operations to date but publicized just a few.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

OMI IN A HELLCAT Claims Comcast Got FBI to Pursue Gears IPTV Case

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/omi-in-a-hellcat-claims-comcast-got-fbi-to-pursue-gears-iptv-case-200229/

When large ‘pirate’ services are taken down, the tendency is for copyright holders and/or the authorities to make a lot of noise. Taking out big players is seen as an achievement and is often held up as an example to others not to follow the same path.

Last November, when the founder of Gears Reloaded ‘pirate’ IPTV service Omar Carrasquillo was reportedly targeted in a massive FBI raid, not a single person in authority would confirm the existence of an investigation. Independent eyewitnesses appeared on TV to reveal what they saw but now, several months on, information from official sources remains non-existent.

Carrasquillo, better known by his social media handle OMI IN A HELLCAT, has been talking a lot, however. He’s appeared in TV interviews with his lawyer, decrying the seizure of dozens of luxury cars, huge volumes of jewelry, and “at least” $5.2m in cash. He says the entire operation against him grew out of his position as the founder of Gears, an unpaid tax bill, plus allegations of money laundering.

Nevertheless, he keeps maintaining his innocence. Time and again he’s said that capturing live TV broadcasters from cable providers and streaming channels to end-users over the Internet at an affordable price is completely legal. He found a loophole, he says, and companies didn’t like it.

Until now, Carrasquillo has never directly pointed a finger at who might have prompted the case against him. In a live stream this week, however, he claimed that the second-largest telecoms company in the United States is at the root of his troubles. (Note: most expletives removed)

“There’s nothing worse than coming home and grabbing your bills – electric company you gotta pay, water is an essential, gas you need to cook, $300 cable bill – what the fuck?” he said.

“Everybody hates the cable companies, they’re a monopoly. So when you come out with a service that’s affordable to the world and it’s not illegal, oh my God, I’m in somebody’s pocket.”

And then the bombshell.

“Comcast is paying for this investigation [unintelligible]. There’s an unfiled Comcast claim but why didn’t Comcast sue me? ‘Cos they knew it was an uphill battle so what did they do? They got the FBI involved, tried to take me down,” he claimed.

Coincidentally or not, Carrasquillo’s main home is in Philadelphia. Comcast has its headquarters in the same city.

According to several videos posted by Carrasquillo in recent weeks, he has been working hard behind the scenes through official channels to try and reclaim his property. However, he claims there has been significant pushback after the FBI began using his videos and social media postings as evidence against him.

Insisting again and again that streaming captured TV broadcasts to the public is not illegal, Carrasquillo says he filed a motion to get his property back. In response, the FBI had to send in evidence to support why the goods should continue to be held while the investigation continues.

According to him, they “took his [social media] posts and sent them to the judge”. Since the raid, most of Carrasquillo’s posts have centered on him getting back on his feet, allegedly making significant amounts of money, some of it used to replenish his car collection. He believes those videos are now undermining him.

“Look judge, he’s saying that he’s still a millionaire, he doesn’t need the money. We can still hold it throughout the whole investigation,” he said in a mocking summary of what was allegedly reported to the court.

At this point, Carrasquillo seems to imply that not everything portrayed in those videos and postings should necessarily be taken at face value and that, in some cases, those in the entertainment business may face pressures to impress.

“Entertainers, we have a certain image to uphold and this is why I don’t show anything anymore because frankly, it ain’t nobody’s business. Whether I got it or I don’t got it, I ain’t gonna say it no more. Because obviously you’re using what I say as an exhibit and send it to the judge,” he added.

Carrasquillo says he’s hoping to settle his case with the IRS via a payment plan but he insists that any claims of money laundering are nonsense. He says he’s not upset with anyone working on the case and says that he’s “pretty sure” that the two investigators and district attorneys “are pretty nice guys.” That said, he is unhappy with what he describes as an “unethical process and the events that took place.”

Just before he was raided, Carrasquillo went to the Dominican Republic and he believes this prompted the authorities to act earlier than they would’ve preferred.

“Be honest you guys came to [sic] early I broke no laws apology accepted,” he wrote in a separate post. “While Gears is down 20 more shitty services came up and I don’t see you guys doing shit about it. Want to know why? Steaming isn’t illegal. It’s victimless and not against the law. I did not host shit on servers this was a matter for copyright holders to sue. Not for the FBI to get involved.”

Only time will tell when the other side of this pretty one-sided story will see the light of day. As indicated previously, no one in authority is prepared to comment at this stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Box Seller Arrested By LAPD, ABS-CBN Files Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuits

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-box-seller-arrested-by-lapd-abs-cbn-files-multi-million-dollar-lawsuits-200227/

ABS-CBN is the largest media and entertainment company in the Philippines but is regularly active in US courts as it attempts to disrupt online piracy.

In April 2019, for example, a district court in Florida ordered the operators of 27 pirate sites to each pay $1 million in damages.

Then, last December, ABS-CBN sued a Texas man for millions of dollars after he allegedly sold pirate streaming devices via Facebook. It now appears that the media giant is set to expand the campaign against those involved in the supply of pirate IPTV devices.

According to ABS-CBN, on February 7, 2020, Los Angeles Police Department carried out a sting operation during which undercover officers purchased five ‘pirate’ set-top boxes from Romula Araneta Castillo, also known as Jon Castillo. The media company reports that the suspect was arrested for alleged violations of California Penal Code 593(d), which relates to “intercepting, receiving, or using any program or other service carried by a multichannel video.”

Just days later, ABS-CBN filed two lawsuits in US district courts, one against Castillo in California and another against his alleged cousin, Alberto Ace Mayol, in Texas. Both lawsuits allege violations of 47 U.S. Code § 605 (unauthorized publication or use of communications) and other offenses under state law.

“Upon information and belief, Defendant has been engaged in a scheme to, without authorization, sell Pirate Equipment that retransmits ABS-CBN’s programming to his customers as Pirate Services,” both of the complaints read.

“[I]n order to gain access to ABS-CBN’s protected communications and copyrighted content, Defendant’s Pirate Equipment is designed to illegally access ABS-CBN’s live communications. This system allows for the circumvention of ABS-CBN’s encryption technology and the reception, disclosure, and publication of ABS-CBN’s protected communications and copyrighted content.”

Together, the lawsuits against both men are worth millions of dollars in damages, should the full amounts be awarded. ABS-CBN appears to have made covert purchases itself and has published photographic evidence on its site.

“This arrest and accompanying civil lawsuits mark the first actions this year by ABS-CBN in a coming wave against the nationwide epidemic of IPTV box sellers,” the company said, commenting on the lawsuits.

“ABS-CBN conducted a months-long investigation into the scheme perpetrated by Castillo and his cousin, Alfaro, including undercover purchases from the targets. The lawsuits allege that Castillo and Alfaro engaged in this multi-state scheme to sell these pirated set top boxes to the unsuspecting public.”

ABS-CBN Global Anti-Piracy Head Elisha Lawrence thanked US police for their assistance.

“We are thankful for the cooperation of the LA Police Dept. in investigating and arresting Castillo, a kingpin in this pirate box scheme. Defrauding the public by selling these fake boxes is a scam operation and preying on innocent people. We are very happy to have the cooperation of the police to enforce against these pirates,” Lawrence said.

The civil lawsuits filed by ABS-CBN can be found here and here (pdf)

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

Amazon Fire TV Stick is the Preferred Device for Pirate IPTV Subscribers

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/amazon-fire-stick-is-the-preferred-device-for-pirate-iptv-subscribers-200227/

In recent years, unlicensed TV subscriptions have been flourishing, with hundreds of vendors offering virtually any channel imaginable for a small monthly fee.

This phenomenon has become a grave concern for entertainment industry outfits, who launched the global anti-piracy coalition ACE to counter the threat.

ACE has booked some successes in recent years, both through lawsuits and by reaching out to key players directly. Similarly, over in Europe, law enforcement agencies have brought down large-scale IPTV operations. However, despite these efforts, the problem persists.

This week, Canadian broadband management company Sandvine released a new report on the state of pirate IPTV subscriptions. The company gathered data in Canada, the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, monitoring traffic from six major networks that have a total of 65 million fixed internet subscribers.

The company uses similar data to prepare its Internet traffic reports but in the most recent whitepaper it focuses specifically on pirate IPTV subscriptions.

The new data, collected last year from July to the end of September, show that 6.9% of U.S. subscribers accessed pirate IPTV subscriptions. In Canada, this is even more prevalent, 9.3% of all sampled subscribers.

In both countries, the percentages have increased significantly compared to the previous measurement from 2018. However, they are substantially lower than in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT).

Of all subscribers in the MENAT region, 23.4% could be linked to pirate IPTV services. According to Sandvine, this is in part because the availability of legal services is more limited. In general, decreased availability triggers more piracy.

The Sandvine report also reports European IPTV data for the first time. It finds that, across its limited sample of 100,000 subscribers, 5.8% could be linked to pirate IPTV services. However, the company adds that this may go up during the football season.

Aside from the geographical popularity of these unauthorized IPTV platforms, Sandvine also looked at the devices people use to access these services. This shows that Amazon’s Fire TV Stick comes out on top, followed by the MAG box and general Android devices.

The fact that more than a third of all pirate IPTV subscriptions run through Amazon devices is noteworthy, as Amazon is a member of the ACE anti-piracy coalition, which tries to shut down this type of illicit activity.

The problem is, of course, that many perfectly legal technologies such as the Fire TV Stick and MAG box can also be used for illegal purposes. For example, the Fire TV Stick is also the third most popular device to access licensed services, behind Roku and operator-owned set-top boxes.

Finally, Sandvine also reports where most pirate IPTV servers are located. Surprisingly, the United States comes out on top with the most servers. However, looking at the actual bandwidth that’s transferred the US is in third place, behind Canada and the Czech Republic.

Overall, the whitepaper provides a unique insight into the pirate IPTV ecosystem. According to Sandvine its a clear and growing problem that’s well worth monitoring closely.

“While legal services like Netflix are still more widely adopted, subscription pirate television services have grown rapidly after having no adoption five years ago,” Sandvine notes.

Sandvine considers the reported data as a floor and not a ceiling. It doesn’t cover any on-demand piracy that takes place through these set-top boxes and doesn’t capture any streaming activity generated by traditional web browsers either.

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

Italian Police Report 223 Pirate IPTV Subscribers to the Judicial Authorities

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/italian-police-report-223-pirate-iptv-subscribers-to-the-judicial-authorities-200220/

Last summer the pirate IPTV market was thrown into turmoil when Italian authorities took down Xtream-Codes.

The IPTV management service was believed to be connected to 5,000 pirate services that catered to around 50 million end-users.

The enforcement actions caused problems at many IPTV services, with IPTV traffic dropping by half, but in the weeks that followed many providers managed to recover. That doesn’t mean, however, that law enforcement authorities are giving up.

This week the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), the law enforcement agency connected to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, announced another IPTV-related enforcement operation. This time, it is targeted at customers of these pirate IPTV services.

Following an in-depth investigation, Guardia di Finanza tracked down 223 subscribers of illegal IPTV services. These people were subsequently reported to the judicial authorities, where they face further prosecution.

According to the law enforcement agency, the investigation remains ongoing. This means that more IPTV subscribers may be identified and reported in the future.

The subscribers in question are being held responsible for the crime of “receiving stolen goods.” If found guilty, they risk a penalty of 25,000 euros as well as an eight-year prison sentence, the authorities state.

The investigations were carried out with help from Italian anti-piracy group FAPAV, which provided technical assistance. FAPAV sees IPTV piracy as a major and growing threat to the entertainment industries.

Federico Bagnoli Rossi, Secretary-General of FAPAV, thanks Guardia di Finanza for its operation which he believes is needed to show that end users are also at risk.

“The operation is crucial because, for the first time in Italy, it doesn’t only focus on the operators of the pirate portals but also the users of these services,” Rossi says.

FAPAV hopes that these enforcement actions will continue. It believes that the growing problems pirate IPTV services cause are underestimated, so clamping down on all aspects is essential.

“In just one year we have seen an increase of over a million [pirate IPTV] users,” Rossi notes, adding that copyright holders are severely affected by these illegal services.

If and how many of the reported IPTV subscribers will indeed be prosecuted is unknown. However, the operation does show that subscribers are not untouchable, which will likely be used as a warning message to others.

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

Court Gives ‘Dynamic’ Pirate Site-Blocking the Green Light in Spain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-gives-dynamic-pirate-site-blocking-the-green-light-in-spain-200220/

The unlicensed streaming of live sporting events has presented problems for rightsholders for years but more recently, with the rise of ‘pirate’ IPTV services, it has become a worldwide issue.

The phenomenon is being tackled from multiple directions, from targeting third-party Kodi add-on and app developers to attacking systems such as Xtream-Codes. The overall aim, however, is to prevent end-users from accessing streams, primarily via web-blocking mechanisms.

Following a lawsuit filed last November and a ruling handed down by the Madrid Commerical Court, Spanish broadcaster Telefónica Audiovisual Digital hopes it can benefit from this approach. A copy of the decision, handed down on February 11, 2019, and obtained by Cinco Días, reveals a broad injunction that targets many of the country’s Internet service providers.

The injunction targets prominent operators such as Vodafone, Orange, MásMóvil, Euskaltel, Lycamobile, and also Telefónica Audiovisual Digital’s own ISP, Telefónica. As a starting point, it identifies 44 pirate sites and services (reportedly managed by 30 ‘known piracy groups’), requiring that their URLs, domain names, and IP addresses are blocked within 72 hours.

All ISPs will be required to notify Telefónica Audiovisual Digital when they have blocked these resources, stating the day, hour and minute in each case. In addition, the inunction has a trick up its sleeve, in that it allows the broadcaster to notify new sites, URLs, domains and IP addresses to the ISPs every week for blocking, without having to refer to the court for permission.

The ISPs will be advised of the new online locations at exactly the same and they will be expected to act expeditiously in order to prevent their customers from accessing their pirated streams.

“The blocking of the new web resources (URLs, domains or IP addresses) must be done under access in HTTP and HTTP protocols, and within a maximum period of three hours from the notification of the new listing,” the decision reads, as cited by Cinco Días.

This part of the injunction is an obvious move designed to mitigate the threat posed by pirate services that implement their own technical measures to prevent being blocked. The theory is that if live data can be relayed to ISPs regarding the services’ current locations, they can be tackled more efficiently, a mechanism often referred to as ‘dynamic’ blocking.

Dynamic blocking orders can take several forms, with the most basic targeting relatively static services such as torrent and web-based streaming portals.

One such injunction was handed down in Sweden recently against The Pirate Bay and several other sites, targeting the platforms themselves plus any new URLs or IP addresses that may subsequently appear. A similar one was obtained by Foxtel in Australia last August.

However, given the fluid nature of live stream providers, it seems likely that the injunction just handed down in Spain will be more comparable to those previously obtained by the Premier League covering the UK market and La Liga, active in Denmark.

The new injunction obtained by Telefónica Audiovisual Digital is reportedly valid until May 25, 2022, and covers three football seasons. The company was awarded football broadcasting rights in June 2018 and that license is set to expire in 2022.

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

IPTV Supplier Omniverse Wants Hovsat to Pay its $50 Million Piracy Damages Bill

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/iptv-supplier-omniverse-wants-hovsat-to-pay-its-50-million-piracy-damages-bill-200204/

Last year, several major Hollywood studios filed a piracy lawsuit against Omniverse One World Television.

Under the flag of anti-piracy group ACE, the companies accused Omniverse and its owner Jason DeMeo of supplying pirated streaming channels to various IPTV services.

Omniverse offered live-streaming services to third-party distributors, such as Dragon Box and HDHomerun, which in turn offered live TV streaming packages to customers. According to ACE, the company was a pirate streaming TV supplier, offering these channels without permission from its members.

The IPTV supplier initially denied the allegations and countered that it did everything by the book. The company pointed to a licensing deal it had with cable company Hovsat, which relied on a long-standing agreement with DirecTV to distribute TV content.

As the case progressed, the Hovsat deal didn’t turn out to be as solid as expected. After several IPTV providers distanced themselves from Omniverse, it threw in the towel. Last November the company agreed to a liability judgment of $50 million for the copyright infringements it caused.

While Omniverse agreed to the monstrous judgment, it mostly blames Hovsat, as it made clear in a separate complaint that was filed against the company last summer. The IPTV supplier always believed that it was properly licensed and wants Hovsat to cover the multi-million piracy bill.

As time went by it became apparent that Hovsat, a revoked New Jersey corporation, wasn’t responding in court. The same is true for its alleged owner Shant Hovnanian. This lack of response has now prompted Omniverse to request a default judgment.

In a new filing submitted at a federal court in California, Omniverse is demanding $50 million, the exact damages amount it agreed with the Hollywood studios last November.

“HovSat is the party responsible for the copyright infringement alleged by the Plaintiffs by way of misrepresenting to Omniverse that HovSat actually received a license to distribute the copyrighted content through agreements with DirecTV,” Omniverse writes.

The defunct IPTV supplier accuses Hovsat of fraudulently claiming that it had a valid and lawful copyright license from DirecTV. This breach of contract made Omniverse liable for millions of dollars in damages.

“Had HovSat not made the misrepresentations regarding acquiring the distribution licenses for the copyrighted content, and thus not breached their contract with Omniverse, Omniverse would have never been subject to the above-caption lawsuit raised by Plaintiffs. It logically follows that HovSat’s misrepresentations thus proximately and directly caused the $50,000,000 in damages suffered by Omniverse,” the filing adds.

The court has yet to sign off on the default judgment. However, since Hovsat is not defending itself in court, there is a good chance that the IPTV supplier will indeed come out the winner. Whether it will ever recoup any of the potential damages from Hovsat is another question.

A copy of the proposed default judgment, which has yet to be signed off, is available here (pdf).

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

Italian Court Orders ISPs to Block IPTV Sites Over Serie A Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/italian-court-orders-isps-to-block-iptv-sites-over-serie-a-piracy-200121/

In common with several top football leagues around Europe, Italy’s Serie A has an ongoing problem with piracy of its live broadcasts.

Sites with embedded streaming players regularly show Serie A matches but perhaps the biggest threat is posed by unlicensed IPTV services. These offer subscription packages that closely mimic and can even outdo those delivered by Serie A’s official broadcasting partners.

This has provoked a range of anti-piracy actions, such as the one now being reported by anti-piracy group FAPAV (Federazione Anti-Pirateria Audiovisiva). Following a complaint by Serie A and a request from the public prosecutor’s office, the Court of Rome has handed down a preventative ruling that requires 15 websites offering ‘pirate’ IPTV services to be blocked in Italy.

“Among the methods of access to pirated content, illegal IPTVs are a phenomenon of great importance and with a growing incidence linked not only to audiovisual content but also to live sporting events,” says FAPAV Secretary-General, Federico Bagnoli Rossi.

“According to FAPAV / Ipsos research, five million people use this method to watch movies, series and TV shows. As regards sports content in particular, 4.7 million people watched live sports events in a non-legal manner, a figure that has increased compared to 2017.”

FAPAV says that these types of pirate services not only cause damage to the entertainment industries but also to the economy as a whole. As a result, those affected cannot wait any longer before taking action to stem the tide.

While the ruling from the Court of Rome is yet to be published, the big question here is how effective these types of blockades can be, given the way that IPTV services are set up.

As previously reported, Sky has been working hard to have IPTV service management platform URLs removed from Google search. However, other than a reduction in search traffic, the tactic does little if anything to affect the underlying IPTV services which are generally not run from the domains in question.

Furthermore, the effect of blocking sales portal domains does nothing to counter the thousands of resellers funneling customers to the platforms either. It’s an important point that FAPAV appears to recognize, even going as far as suggesting that customers themselves could become part of their inquiries.

“The ongoing investigations have as a main objective the identification of the complex structure of the organization made up of dozens of ‘resellers’ as well as the hundreds of customers who, by purchasing the subscriptions, not only illegally take advantage of the vision of sporting events and pay-per-view television schedules, but also feed the criminal circuit,” the group says.

“The piracy market represents a very thriving business that rests on a large number of customers who feed it, probably unaware of the consequences to which they expose themselves and of the economic damage to the rights holders when compared to citizens who honestly buy regular products.”

It’s clear that no single aspect of anti-piracy activity, whether that’s sales site blocking or targeting some resellers, will bring all pirate IPTV services to their knees. Instead, groups like FAPAV are deploying a multi-pronged strategy that attempts to disrupt activity wherever it can, thus making life more difficult for pirates and their customers.

Blocking of IPTV services has been taking place in Italy since at least 2017 and in the summer of 2019, a “high-level” provider was taken down after providing Sky programming to the public.

Italian authorities were also heavily involved in the raids that targeted Xtream-Codes and others last year, an operation that caused the most disruption the IPTV scene has ever seen, even if it did eventually recover.

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

ACE Shuts Down UlangoTV ‘Pirate’ IPTV App, Seizes Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ace-shuts-down-ulango-tv-pirate-iptv-app-seizes-domain-200113/

There are dozens of apps available online today that act as straightforward players of IPTV streams. These usually cause no copyright infringement issues for their operators as they come with no pre-loaded content.

While many can be configured with a premium subscription so that infringing content can be received at the direction of users, others blur the lines by attempting to aggregate links to streams that exist in open form on the Internet.

One of these players was known as UlangoTV. Previously available via Google Play, Amazon, CNET, and many other third-party download sites, variants of the UlangoTV app acted as a search engine for live IPTV streams, which were color-coded to provide additional information.

“Every day thousands of new stream URLs are found, analyzed and classified,” the publisher’s description on CNET reads.

“For the safety of users and for the protection of the content owners, the search results are flagged with color codes: Yellow streams have been known to us for more than 6 months. Typically these ‘official’ streams are without license problems. All registered users can see these streams freely. Blue streams have been known to us for more than 6 weeks. Also these are usually ‘official’ streams without license problems.”

However, as acknowledged by its publisher, not all streams made available in the app could be considered trouble-free.

“Magenta streams are usually short-lived and have only been known to us recently. These streams are likely to originate from unlicensed sources,” the developer noted.

This type of link aggregation teeters fairly close to the edge of legality but with UlangoTV+, a premium and premium plus subscription option offered by the same developer, broadcasters may have considered the line had been crossed.

“So in this app UlangoTV+ we introduced a new option called Premium Plus, which is only available to a few users who want to pay a premium price and now receive handpicked streams with tightly controlled connectivity,” the marketing added.

With no user shortage for the popular app, during October last year an unexpected message appeared on UlangoTV’s Twitter account which indicated that the project had come to an end.

The tweet gave no clear indication of the reason behind the decision to close but now, several months later, we have the strongest message yet that legal threats from entertainment industry groups played a key role.

Users who visit the Ulango.TV domain today get an all-too-familiar message that due to claims of copyright infringement, the site and associated app have been shut down by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

After the usual countdown timer expires, visitors are redirected to the ACE anti-piracy portal. There is no mention there of the shutdown which tends to suggest that a relatively peaceful agreement was reached with the app’s developer, which would’ve included shutting down and handing over the Ulango domain.

Indeed, domain records show that Ulango.tv is now owned by the Motion Picture Association, which adds to a growing list of dozens of domains taken over as part of the Alliance’s ongoing anti-piracy activities.

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

PrimeStreams IPTV Redirecting to ACE But its Not an Anti-Piracy Seizure

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/primestreams-iptv-redirecting-to-ace-but-its-not-an-anti-piracy-seizure-200109/

For the past several weeks, some ‘pirate’ IPTV services have been subjected to ‘hacks’ carried out by as-yet unidentified people.

In early December, Helix Hosting became the first reported case. Its homepage was defaced with a message explaining that the service had been asked to pay a ransom or face having its customer database leaked online.

Just a few days later, PrimeStreams became the victim of similar blackmail efforts. Its operator revealed that a weak password had been exploited and that 10 bitcoin was being demanded in order to prevent the service’s confidential data from being exposed to the world.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that other services were also targeted in December, which may or may not have settled in the face of similar threats. However, PrimeStreams’ situation appears to be ongoing as a quick visit to what used to be its main servicing domain (PrimeStreams.store) reveals a rather ominous message.

This countdown-timer message usually indicates that a domain has been taken over by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the global anti-piracy coalition headed up by the MPA. It is currently displayed on dozens of file-sharing and IPTV platforms, commonly after they have reached some kind of settlement with the world’s largest entertainment groups. Vaders and Openload are two of the most obvious examples.

Of course, seeing that message will probably be enough to send many customers running for the hills but the truth is relatively easy to uncover. This isn’t a domain seizure carried out by ACE but most probably the work of a malicious actor, as a dive into the domain’s details reveal.

As the image above shows, at the time of writing the PrimeStreams domain is using the services of Njalla, the domain registration and hosting service closely associated with Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde. That doesn’t mean that Njalla has anything to do with the issue, of course, but it does indicate in a particularly clear way that ACE isn’t the entity in control here.

When ACE does take control of a domain, Openload.co for example, there are many tell-tale signs that the seizure is legitimate, including the use of the MPA’s own nameservers, redirection to certain banks of servers in the United States, not to mention contact details that relate to bodies and individuals at the MPA.

If we rule out the highly unlikely possibility that the operator of PrimeStreams redirected his own domain to ACE’s anti-piracy servers, then we’re left with a situation that was most probably engineered by a malicious actor. Whether that was the same person who threatened the site in December is unknown but losing a domain to an unauthorized third-party is an extremely serious matter.

The double-edged sword here is the involvement of Njalla. While there’s a possibility that there might be an element of sympathy at the sight of an unlawful hack (not to mention that some of the team were previously involved in The Pirate Bay and Piratbyrån), Njalla is utterly militant when it comes to the privacy of its users so may not even be able to help.

That might have played a part in PrimeStreams’ decision to dump this domain entirely and transfer to a new one. The big question, however, was whether the service had any more big security headaches waiting to kick in. Sure enough, within hours of going live, incredibly that domain was ‘hacked’ as well.

In the meantime, ACE gets yet another traffic boost.

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

Funding a Pirate Business’s Lawsuit is Mostly Unpopular With Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/funding-a-pirate-businesss-lawsuit-is-mostly-unpopular-with-pirates-191226/

For as long as there have been torrent sites, streaming platforms, ‘pirate’ apps, download sites, services, and any variation thereof, there have been lawsuits attempting to hinder, paralyze, or shut them down.

It’s hardly breaking news to state that defending such legal action can be a punishing affair, not just emotionally but financially too. Usually brought by powerful entertainment companies and broadcasters, anyone tackling the above needs not only a steely disposition but also the deepest of deep pockets.

As a result, people facing lawsuits for operating such platforms have regularly run fundraisers, invariably claiming that they need huge sums of money to battle what are frequently depicted as marauding copyright bullies intent on destroying the free Internet.

While in some cases that might be at least partially true, many rely on the same language as their aggressors in an effort to rally the masses to part with their cash. In some cases people have a reasonable argument. In others they do not.

Nevertheless, these situations are always interesting, particularly when one factors in the response from the public.

Platforms that have always provided a free service, for example, are often considered more worthy of a donation when it comes to fighting ‘Goliath’. The same can be said of those who operated in a perceived gray area, such as unblocking platforms that have never offered any copyright works, or dual-use open-source projects.

Indeed, one rarely needs to be in receipt of a law degree to assess a platform and decide whether the litigation at hand is warranted or a true case of bullying that warrants a bit of moral and financial support. Equally, spotting the most ridiculous of ’causes’ shouldn’t be hard for anyone.

For example, take the matter of iStreamItAll that is currently trying to raise $10,000 via a GoFundMe campaign to battle Hollywood and the US Government.

“We need all the help we can to fight Hollywood, and the federal charges brought upon one of the owners Darryl Polo. Any help would be appreciated and will go towards our legal defense,” it reads.

Ignoring the not insignificant fact that the defendants have already pleaded guilty, $10,000 won’t go anywhere in a case like this. It would take perhaps several hundred thousand dollars to fight in any meaningful way but it would be money down the drain – people do not easily win cases like this in the US. That’s why there are others that are aiming higher – a lot higher.

A couple of months ago we reported on the case of Boom Media, a full-blown pirate IPTV reselling business that is now being sued by DISH Networks in the United States. Boom Media is asking for $250,000 in donations to get things started in what is being portrayed as a battle to prevent DISH getting its hands on subscriber data.

If the broadcaster does get what it wants (and to be fair this seems likely) that could mean subscribers to the service receiving demands for cash settlements. This, of course, is somewhat akin to copyright-trolling, with low-level users being pursued for thousands of dollars to make supposed lawsuits go away.

That’s why the response to this plea for donations was of particular interest. Even when scouring the usual ‘pirate’ haunts, discussions, forums and chats, finding a supporting voice for the fundraiser is particularly hard.

The general consensus seems to be that this was a business that has never shared a single penny of its profits with its users yet is now asking for donations to fight off a lawsuit on the basis that doing so will prevent subscribers’ details ending up on the desks of DISH lawyers. The irony, particularly when viewed in the light of copyright trolls’ actions in general, is not difficult to spot.

Companies like Boom Media knew very well what they were doing. They knew the consequences of running a pirate IPTV service or selling access to one. Lawsuits like this one should’ve been expected, prepared for, with litigation costs factored in as a cost of doing business. You know, like regular properly-run businesses do every day.

That the costs of keeping user data safe should now fall to the users of those services, some of whom will have had no idea that Boom wasn’t legitimate, is as offensive to users as the copyright holders complaining about their activities. But for other users, who knew they were buying into a cheap “black market” service (Boom’s own words), there should be zero surprises that this was a potential outcome.

Paying the company’s legal fees, which will then get swallowed up by lawyers in a case that cannot be reasonably won, is the choice of the donor. But the fact is that these fundraisers rarely raise any notable funds and in every case – every case – donors get absolutely nothing back, not even a free subscription in the million to once chance the service reappears offering the same thing.

This isn’t really about fighting for freedom, for the Internet, or helping David beat an evil Goliath, it’s about supporting people who knew from the start that what they were doing was illegal and now want yet more money to bail them out of a hole. And from the dozens of posts we’ve read on the topic, pirates everywhere know that and do not appreciate it.

All pirates have their causes, from the lowly “media is too expensive” to the militant “sticking it to the man”. But funding a for-profit ‘pirate’ LLC’s fight against a for-profit broadcaster which is also an LLC is clearly not on most pirates’ agendas.

Funny that….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After Helix Hosting, PrimeStreams IPTV Suffers Hack, $70K Extortion Attempt

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/after-helix-hosting-primestreams-iptv-suffers-hack-70k-extortion-attempt-191217/

Just one week ago, customers and resellers of ‘pirate’ IPTV service Helix Hosting were handed bad news via the service’s homepage.

A message, placed there by a hacker, warned that Helix had been hacked and its operator had been given the option to either pay a ransom or face the personal details of his subscribers being leaked out onto the Internet.

Initial reports suggested that Helix refused to pay but precisely what went on behind the scenes was hard to confirm. Nevertheless, just a week later, a second IPTV service has found itself in a similar position and has cast some additional light on the earlier attack against Helix.

Last evening the operator of IPTV service PrimeStreams made an announcement to its customers that it too had suffered a hack, albeit not a very complex one. The attacker exploited a password on the service’s billing panel and then advised the service through its own ticketing system what had happened.

“Well you have changed the password so it is obvious you have ready my ticket [sic],” a communication from the hacker read, according to a screenshot of the discussion. “Do I not get a reply or a thank you.”

The operator of PrimeStreams was polite in response, thanked the hacker for the heads-up, and offered a free account for advising the vulnerability. But that wasn’t enough.

“The bad news for yourselves is that this mistake is going to cost you,” the person replied.

Detailing internal information about how many subscribers’ the service has on the books, including around 121,000 with active subscriptions, the attacker went on to state that the business had a responsibility to protect its customers “and this is a responsibility you have failed.”

PrimeStreams’ operator did the responsible thing and didn’t attempt to hide anything from his customers. Knowing that the information would probably leak out anyway, he took full responsibility for the breach.

“100% my fault and I accept 100% responsibility,” he wrote.

Nevertheless, the attacker wanted to make PrimeStreams pay. Claiming that he/she was the same person that had targeted Helix last week, the person demanded that PrimeStreams should either shut down or pay a significant ransom.

“They are now demanding 10BTC from me 70K lol,” PrimeStreams’ operator wrote. “I have no idea if it’s the same person, I have no idea if they actually were able to use the info in the store site to get into the [database] and download it, I will say that it would be possible though.”

Interestingly the brief chat with the hacker also revealed two further pieces of information. Firstly, it claims that Helix tried to “outsmart” the attacker last week so, in response, the attacker “made a leak to torrentfreak that destroyed there business [sic].”

While we have no information about Helix’s actions behind the scenes, we can categorically deny the claim that any leak of any kind was made to TF. All of the information in our earlier report came from the notice placed by the attacker on Helix’s homepage or was culled from other public sources. At no time have we been offered, seen, or published any private information relating to the alleged hack.

The final detail is that Helix allegedly paid the ransom after the attacker began leaking information online, claims that we have been unable to confirm. Equally, we have been unable to confirm whether PrimeStreams paid a ransom after they were given just six hours to pay a huge amount in bitcoin or shut down their business.

Last evening, PrimeStreams was said to be “working diligently” to see if any logs could be found to indicate what the attacker may have downloaded or had obtained access to. This, its operator said, was to see “if this is a legit threat or just someone trolling.”

The outcome of that work isn’t clear but the latest report from PrimeStreams indicates that the issue has now been sorted out.

Given this is the second time in a week that an IPTV provider has suffered a security breach, questions will no doubt be raised about security at other suppliers.

We spoke to someone involved in the IPTV supply chain who informs us that while he prefers not to comment on operational security matters at specific providers, at the bare minimum customers should be signing up to services with a fake name and address, using a ‘clean’ email address, while avoiding PayPal, whenever possible.

“It won’t stop these low-level attacks but if they happen again only less useful info will be dumped,” 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.

FBI Seized “At Least” $5.2m from Bank Says Gears Reloaded IPTV Boss OMI IN A HELLCAT

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fbi-seized-at-least-5-2m-says-gears-reloaded-iptv-boss-omi-in-a-hellcat-191216/

While most people behind unlicensed IPTV services prefer to sit in the shadows, popular YouTube celebrity OMI IN A HELLCAT took an entirely different approach.

Real name Omar Carrasquillo, OMI flaunted massive wealth in his videos, many featuring his beautiful houses, huge supercar collection, not to mention masses of jewelry. Last month, however, OMI revealed that a combination of his position as founder of IPTV service Gears Reloaded, an unpaid tax bill, and allegations of money laundering, had led to an unwelcome visit from the FBI “who took pretty much everything.”

Right from the very beginning, a small number of vocal individuals took to YouTube and social media platforms declaring that the whole thing was either a giant publicity stunt or an elaborate scam designed to fool the masses. However, around a week after the news was first reported, a reporter from local TV outlet Fox 29 appeared on air with some of OMI’s neighbors who witnessed the whole thing.

Despite there being no obvious reason why OMI would immerse himself in a month-long multi-level lie laid out in many more videos published since the authorities came in November, he says he’s still under pressure to show that he isn’t lying about the whole thing. That resulted in a new statement over the weekend where he attempted, once again, to provide irrefutable evidence.

“I don’t let things bother me, I’m not that kind of person to listen to outside noise. But the one thing that does bother me is that my life is in jeopardy and there are a lot of people who believe that this shit is fake,” OMI said.

“Like I don’t get it, I don’t understand it. There are so many people affected by this: 30 employees, good families – people who right now aren’t going to have Christmas.”

OMI says he believes the FBI is sitting back and laughing at his YouTube videos. He says they want people to believe that what happened is fake and they don’t want the attention. According to him, however, there will be plenty of attention very soon due to an upcoming high-profile interview. In the meantime, he’s been providing more detail on what happened last month.

“My friends…we all got hit simultaneously. I got hit in this house [Philadelphia], my kids’ mom got hit in the house in Swedesboro where they took all my cars. Here, they took my Mercedes, my Bentley, my work van. They took the Dodge Caravan [used by OMI’s video guy],” OMI explains.

“They went to one of my friend’s house a few blocks away from the house I’m currently living in. I sold him a Jeep Trackhawk a while ago and we never transferred it to his name and they took that from their house.”

According to OMI’s statement, the impact of what happened stretches far beyond him. The FBI allegedly took another friend’s car and then had to give it back. OMI says his nephew, who worked for him in construction, also had his car seized and all of his money and savings. But that wasn’t the end.

“They hit my friend Wolfie in Los Angeles. They hit some of the houses in Philly trying to look for servers and all this other stuff,” he added.

OMI’s long video statement (linked below) also contains CCTV footage that OMI says was given to him by his neighbors which apparently shows the FBI arriving at one of the addresses in several SUVs, cars, and pickup trucks. Shouts of “FBI, police,” can be heard after officers approached an address (identified as 3412 N Hope St, Philadelphia) after blocking a nearby street with their vehicles.

OMI says the show of force was extreme, with around 60 FBI agents and police officers targeting the address detailed above. The commotion in the street was recorded by at least one witness who uploaded the footage to the Internet and later shown briefly on OMI’s channel. Around 30 officers and agents raided OMI’s property in Philadelphia, which according to him was a terrifying experience.

“Can you imagine looking out this door, watching this whole driveway full of cars, and all these agents right here with their guns drawn?” he asks.

In his video, a clearly exasperated OMI explains that he feels the need to prove this isn’t an elaborate scam. However, since he hasn’t actually been charged with anything yet, he doesn’t want to release his case number in public. That being said, he believes the authorities’ strategy is to take everything he has so that he can’t afford to defend himself and ensure that he doesn’t run away. He will not do that, he insists.

Included in a five-page Department of Justice receipt detailing the many cars, pieces of jewelry, electronic and other sundry items seized, appears two items described as “lists of channels and email accounts” plus bank account information under the name “Bill Castillo” linked to “streaming video”.

“The only thing I have now is my YouTube [channel],” OMI says. “Honestly speaking, everything else is shut down. I have nothing else. My assistant hasn’t been paid, my secretary hasn’t been paid, my manager hasn’t got paid, my right-hand man in construction hasn’t got paid.

“And everyone’s like ‘But what did they do? He was committing fraud’. I never committed fraud a day in my damn life. This is for not paying taxes on a service. A service, not a Ponzi scheme, none of that shit. On a service.”

Interestingly, OMI claims that the FBI told him not to talk about the case in public but he refused to agree to that. But keeping things quiet wouldn’t be possible, not least since someone on Instagram posted a video of a convoy of his vehicles being taken away on trucks, including a Lamborghini that OMI previously had wrapped in very distinctive Power Ranger graphics.

Finally, in addition to all of the physical items that were seized, the FBI was looking for OMI’s money. He doesn’t reveal exactly how much was taken but he did show a screenshot from just one of his accounts that shows that on the day of the raid, more than $5.2m was removed, a transaction that left him in the red.

A second account, the details of which weren’t revealed, was also the subject of a seizure according to OMI. The ‘transaction’ reportedly left him $126,000 “in the negative”.

While all of the items presented in evidence can still be disputed, it seems unthinkable that OMI would destroy the most valuable thing he has left – the trust of his still-loyal fanbase. The authorities still refuse to confirm or deny any action against the YouTuber but at some point, they will probably have to go on the record, one way or another.

The entire 24-minute video can be viewed here

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

Sky on a Mission to Purge Hundreds of Pirate IPTV Sites From Google

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sky-on-a-mission-to-purge-hundreds-of-pirate-iptv-sites-from-google-191215/

When a massive police operation in Italy took down IPTV management outfit Xtream-Codes in September 2019, a large proportion of the pirate market was thrown into turmoil.

According to figures obtained by TorrentFreak from network equipment company Sandvine, overall pirate streaming traffic dropped by 50%. But three months is an awfully long time on the Internet and today the market seems to have largely recovered, with providers and sellers finding alternative solutions and users relatively happy once again.

Nevertheless, when chaos reigned back in September, there can be little doubt that customers left high and dry turned to search engines in order to find a replacement. It’s certainly not the best strategy to find a reliable supplier but if Comcast-owned broadcaster Sky has anything to do with it, it won’t be an easy option either.

Back in March, we reported that the broadcaster had been sending thousands of takedown notices to Google in an effort to remove IPTV suppliers’ entire websites from the search provider’s indexes. That effort has not only continued but also been stepped up in recent weeks.

Just as an example, a notice sent in November contains 495 URLs and attempts to delist the entire websites of three suppliers – miglioriptv.net, iptvthebest.ws, migliorstreaming.net – from Google. But that is just the tip of a pretty large iceberg.

The delisting efforts are considerable and target many thousands of URLs (e.g 1,2,3,4). The majority of notices were previously filed on behalf of Sky in Italy but Sky in the UK are also getting in on the act.

As the notice above shows, Sky UK goes down the classic route of claiming that the sites in question directly infringe its rights by providing access to its licensed content. While that may be the case in some instances, it’s far more likely that the services use completely different URLs to deliver that content so at best, the above domains might be considered as facilitating infringement, rather than directly infringing Sky’s rights.

However, when it comes to Sky Italy’s notices, the company has a more detailed approach that may prove even more effective.

“The reported sites illegally provide external links with which users can access and/or download unauthorized copyrighted contents, exclusively owned by broadcaster Sky Italia,” the notices state.

“Reported URLs pages are using without any authorization copyrighted images and logos owned by Sky Italia, which are used to promote and selling unauthorized IPTV services or video-on-demand library with show schedules or video catalogs owned by Sky Italia.”

In this context, the use of Sky graphics to promote and sell pirate IPTV packages to consumers is a slam dunk for the company when it comes to the DMCA. Hundreds of platforms not only use official logos in this manner but also images of Sky box controllers, culled from Sky’s own sites.

Having sites delisted from Google on those grounds alone should be relatively simple for the broadcaster. Copyright infringement of logos and graphics is much easier to determine than IPTV seller site URLs that may (but probably do not) contain any copyright-infringing material.

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

Helix IPTV: Hackers Threaten to Expose Resellers & Customers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/helix-iptv-hackers-threaten-to-expose-resellers-customers-191210/

Pirate IPTV providers have become a pretty big deal in recent years.

Offering cut-price access to otherwise subscription TV channels, PPVs, and video-on-demand archives, customers have flocked to them in their millions.

One popular provider operating in the space is Helix Hosting but if a message that appeared on the service’s homepage is anything to go by, the Christmas period may become memorable for all the wrong reasons.

The statement, published hours ago on the official Helix Hosting homepage, claimed that Helix had been hacked and was being held to ransom. The implication of the message was typical: Helix should pay up to appease the attackers or face potential damage to their business.

“Helix Hosting Has Been Hacked – They have had the option to pay a small amount to protect its customers or have all customer details leaked online putting you all at risk,” the message read.

“They have chosen to not accept this offer and would prefer your details to be leaked online.”

Pay up – or else

The overall threat was to release the personal details of all customers and resellers of Helix but to “make it fair”, the proposed leak would also expose “at the least” one owner and/or staff member of the service along with their name, address, phone numbers, and IP addresses.

While someone had clearly placed the message on the front page of the site, other areas of the Helix site remained functional for a while. At the time the ‘hacked’ notice appeared, Helix’s app and repo indexes were functioning normally and its web player login page was also accessible.

However, as the minutes passed by, other aspects of the web portal were apparently disabled and the ransom message disappeared too. This morning, however, the ‘hacked’ message is back for all to see.

Only time will tell how this episode will end and whether the threats to go nuclear on Helix over its failure to “pay a small amount” will be carried out. It’s also unclear what information Helix holds and what use that information would be to third-parties, even if it was leaked online.

The warning currently on display still mentions a 23:00 deadline to pay the ransom but there is no indication of which day, country, or time zone that refers to. So, depending on the timing, the leak could’ve happened already, could be about to happen, or may not even happen at all.

That said, giving in to blackmail is a big decision to make, especially when copies of data are easily made leaving attackers in a position to have a second bite at the cherry on a whim.

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 Reseller Boom Media Wants $250,000 in Donations to Fight Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-reseller-boom-media-wants-250000-in-donations-to-fight-lawsuit-191130/

Until recently, Boom Media was one of the most active and recognizable ‘pirate’ IPTV reseller brands available to the public.

Operating in the United States under the name Boom Media LLC, the company acted as a reseller for IPTV subscription services including MFG TV, Beast TV, Nitro TV, Murica Streams, Epic IPTV, Vader Streams, and OK2.

As reported early November, this attracted the unwanted attention of DISH Network and partner NagraStar, who teamed up to sue Boom Media LLC and son and mother team John and Debra Henderson.

The broadcaster claimed that the Boom Media service, which was allegedly operated from John’s home, received payments from customers via accounts operated by mother Debra. This operation, DISH said, resulted in willful violations of the company’s rights under the Federal Communications Act.

While some of DISH’s similar lawsuits have dragged on for some time in court, there’s evidence to suggest that in addition to obtaining cash settlements from targets such as Boom, the broadcaster views such litigation as a stepping-stone to further litigation against their associates. And, of course, more settlements.

John Henderson certainly believes this is the case. In an expletive-ridden video posted to YouTube this week, he says that DISH and NagraStar want to break him down in their hunt for information on others involved in the IPTV supply and consumption chain.

He says he’s not comfortable with that at all so he wants to take the fight to DISH in order to prevent that from happening. But of course, that will take money – lots of money – and he wants that to be donated by former customers and other interested parties.

“I set up a GoFundMe to help me pay for legal fees. The point of that is i’m gonna take this shit to a trial by jury, that’s my intent. So basically, the lawyer just to start is $15,000,” he says.

“The basic point is in order for me to get any kind of settlement, I have to turn over information on fucking everything, everything I’ve ever known, and I’m just not comfortable doing that. Yeah, so you bought [subscriptions to IPTV services through Boom] but they have the right to subpoena Google and PayPal.”

The $15,000 to get started is, well, just that. The GoFundMe currently has a target of $250,000 but whether that sizeable amount will cover the costs of lengthy litigation is up for debate. Nevertheless, Henderson says that by biting back, he can stop DISH from getting his customers’ details and sending them demands for cash settlements for alleged piracy.

“What they’ve done with these cookie-cutter lawsuits is that they’ve turned them into a stream of revenue for themselves. This isn’t really about fucking lawsuits and protecting anything at this point, it’s about getting information to send you a fucking letter demanding $3,500, which is what they’ve been doing with everyone.

“Everyone has settled, no one has taken them to trial, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it unfolds,” he says.

Henderson acknowledges that the legal process is going to cost “a shit-load of money” but if people don’t want to support him, “that’s fine”. However, he warns that these types of cases can set a precedent and handing over the information is something he wants to avoid, to protect everyone in the supply and consumption chain.

“I think I have some valid points why they shouldn’t be able to get that information at all. That’s really all there is to it, I’m asking for support. I think resellers across the fucking globe should be jumping on this because whatever happens to me, does affect you because now they can say ‘we got this from Boom Media’, this is the way it worked out, now you must settle,” he adds.

Henderson believes that IPTV providers themselves should also take an interest in a successful outcome to the case because if resellers are no longer a legal target, they won’t have any reason to give up information on their suppliers.

“The only reason that people are getting snitched on is because resellers are pussies, I mean that’s just the way it is,” he claims.

Boom Media: We need $250,000 to fight DISH lawsuit

“I have [the GoFundMe] up for $250,000. I know that when TVAddons was going through this, that’s pretty much how it went. They just bled them dry,” Henderson says.

While TVAddons did have a huge legal dispute with DISH that undoubtedly cost founder Adam Lackman a lot of money, Lackman insists that he never handed over his users’ data to DISH. That suggests there may be a way out of Henderson’s situation without compromising his suppliers and former customers but only time will tell if a jury trial can deliver the type of victory that avoids that.

If it even gets that far, that is.

While a quarter of a million dollars is a significant sum, Henderson fully expects to face tactics designed to break his ability to fight back. Already he claims that DISH is attempting to get a gag order to prevent him from telling the world “what garbage they are for suing an innocent woman, my mother, knowing goddamn well she had nothing to do with anything.”

Until he gets served with a gag order, however, he’s not shutting up at all, he insists. Meanwhile, he says that DISH is generating money from a “stupid tax”, a reference to all the IPTV and IKS (Internet Key Sharing) users to whom DISH sends letters and receives settlements in return.

The fundraiser’s goals

“They [DISH] want everything from me. They want my soul, they want all the information, they want me to roll on everyone, which isn’t even really possible but I’m not gonna do it,” Henderson adds.

“I’m fully prepared to go to war over this shit but I’m gonna need financial help. Obviously, everyone knows I’m out of business, that’s the way it is. I’m not a millionaire, I’m not a billionaire, I’m barely a thousandaire.”

Henderson doesn’t provide any proof, but claims that Vader Streams – a pirate IPTV provider that was targeted by the MPA-backed Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment earlier this year, “snitched on everyone, they snitched and they rolled over and they gave up everything.” Prior to the settlement agreement, Vader said it would not compromise customers.

Henderson says he doesn’t want to go down the disclosure route but DISH is on record wanting Boom Media to do just that. In addition to a permanent injunction against the company, it wants Boom’s domain name plus “all hard copy and electronic records” regarding persons involved in the entire “Rebroadcasting Scheme”.

At the time of writing, the GoFundMe has raised $700 of its $250,000 target.

The original complaint against Boom Media can be found here (pdf)

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

Pirate IPTV Services Generate Nearly €1 Billion Per Year, EU Study Shows

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-services-generate-nearly-e1-billion-per-year-eu-study-shows-191128/

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

While there are plenty of legal options available, there’s also a broad offer of easy-to-use set-top boxes, sites, and apps that are specifically configured to deliver pirated content.

There are some free alternatives, but high-quality pirate IPTV services are often sold through a monthly or yearly subscription. This has created an industry that’s worth a lot of money. According to a new report from the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), nearly €1 billion in Europe alone.

This is the result of an in-depth study of the IPTV ecosystem published by the EUIPO this week. The research reveals the prevalence of IPTV piracy, who the main players are, how they operate, and what business models are used.

EUIPO looked at hundreds of allegedly illegal IPTV services and combined this with data from the Eurostat household survey data. Based on these figures, it estimates that pirate IPTV services generated €941.7 million annual unlawful revenue in the EU during 2018.

The research further finds that IPTV piracy is a problem across all EU member states. On average, 3.1% of the EU population access these unauthorized services. This translates to a customer base of 13.7 million users.

However, the scale of the problem varies from country to country. The Netherlands and Sweden have the highest percentage of pirate IPTV users, with 8.9% and 8.5% respectively. In Romania and Bulgaria, it’s far less common with 0.7% and 1.3% respectively.

The average subscriber pays a little over five euros per month for a subscription, with rates varying across Europe. Most revenue is generated in the UK, France, and Germany. Together these three countries deliver more than half of the total income, €532 million.

These statistics show that IPTV piracy is a major problem. EUIPO acknowledges this and provides a detailed overview of various actors in the ecosystem, as well as the legal remedies and enforcement options that are available.

EUIPO’s definition of IPTV appears to be quite broad, as cyberlockers and the BitTorrent-powered Popcorn Time are mentioned as well. In general, however, most traditional IPTV services rely on direct streaming feeds and playlists.

Regarding enforcement, EUIPO points out that EU law provides the means to go after developers, operators, and vendors of infringing services. Through civil and criminal actions against the alleged offenders, for example, or website blocking injunctions.

In addition, facilitators could technically face legal problems as well. This includes blogs and YouTube channels that show people how to configure pirate devices, for example.

“Depending on the level of involvement in the provision of illegal services, the facilitator can be co-liable for IPR infringement and can be prosecuted for aiding and abetting,” EUIPO notes.

Whether individual IPTV users can be easily targeted remains an open question. According to EUIPO, requiring operators of illegal IPTV services to disclose information on their users could be incompatible with EU data protection law.

The study is the most elaborate research into the illegal IPTV market to date. While it doesn’t arrive at any concrete recommendations, EUIPO’s Executive Director, Christian Archambeau, believes that understanding the ecosystem will help to raise awareness.

“This is a market area in which infringing business models change quickly as they adapt to new technology and business opportunities. This research clarifies the technology used, the complex supply chains and legal issues.

“It also casts much-needed light on a hidden area of an everyday activity, which is being exploited by organized crime, and should help raise awareness among EU citizens,” Archambeau adds.

In addition to the IPTV study, EUIPO also released new data on the use of pirated content in EU countries. This reveals that there was a 15% decrease from 2017 to 2018. Music piracy, in particular, dropped very fast, 32% on average across the EU

A copy of the report titled “Illegal IPTV in the European Union” is available here (pdf).

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

Gears Reloaded: FBI Just Took Everything, Says Pirate IPTV Boss OMI IN A HELLCAT

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/gears-reloaded-fbi-took-everything-says-iptv-boss-omi-in-a-hellcat-191121/

OMI with custom ‘Reloaded’ bling

It is not uncommon for anti-piracy groups to state that some ‘pirates’ make a lot of money.

However, whenever that is the case, there’s a tendency for most in the piracy world to maintain a low profile.

Take that position, multiply it by a million. You’re now just halfway to the crazy world of YouTube sensation OMI IN A HELLCAT.

Regularly seen on his channel adding yet another supercar to his huge collection (a recent addition was a McLaren 720s Spider), OMI — real name Omar Carrasquillo — is the founder and owner of ‘pirate’ IPTV service Gears Reloaded.

There’s no suggestion that all of OMI’s rumored $50m fortune came from piracy (he reportedly owns real estate, a restaurant, and several other businesses) but it seems highly likely that the Gears Reloaded gig is well and truly over.

Starting early yesterday, users of the Gears Reloaded IPTV service reported rare downtime. The website connected to the service displays a message indicating ‘down for maintenance’ but according to OMI himself, that’s only part of the story.

“This ain’t clickbait. This ain’t fake, this is not fake. This is 100% real,” OMI said in a noticeably subdued live Q&A with his fans a couple of hours ago, streamed from a friend’s house in Philadelphia.

“I’m gonna let you guys know exactly…and by the way, the FBI is in here [the channel] watching right now as we speak. What i’m gonna need you guys to do for me, i’m gonna need you to buy that merch when it drops,” the persistent entrepreneur began.

“Pretty much they seized all my cars. One thing they didn’t seize was the things I was able to sell a few weeks ago, even a few days ago before this shit happened. A few cars and shit.

“When I tell you they took ‘everything’, they took every SD card, every camera, every television in my house — HOUSES. They took every car. They took ALL my Hellcats. They only thing they didn’t take was my dick because it’s attached to my balls.”

Car collection, now seized

Describing himself for the benefit of newcomers, OMI insisted that his wealth isn’t the result of selling drugs. He began as an app developer for Kodi, one that “got hacked early on.” He then answered the million-dollar question — what happened with the FBI?

“It was pretty much IPTV and taxes and shit and hiring the wrong CPA [accountant]. This is really important for you guys, make sure your taxes are paid for,” he said.

That “taxes and shit” is apparently a reference to pending tax evasion and money laundering charges following a two-year IRS investigation. This is particularly interesting when one considers that OMI has regularly and persistently described pirate IPTV as legal.

“I hit a great area and exploited it and they just didn’t like it. I made a ton of money but at the same time a lot of the money I made super-legit,” he told the Q&A.

“I felt that what I was doing wasn’t illegal. Streaming is totally legal, it’s just the way they’re trying to word it, it’s a little different. But streaming isn’t illegal. It was never live television, it was always delayed television and there’s no laws against it. There’s no laws against it.

“This is Napster 2.0. This wasn’t killing anybody. If anything I saved hundreds of thousands of people [with] cheaper cable. IPTV is not illegal in the US. It isn’t. It isn’t. It’s illegal in other countries but it’s not illegal in the US.

“The [Copyright Act] has nothing to do with streaming and when they seize those servers and they realize there’s nothing being stored on these servers, you have nothing on me. Streaming is not illegal. I saw a window, I saw an opportunity, I exploited the fuck out of it. That’s all it is.”

In earlier videos, OMI said that he previously made lots of money from hosting services, including Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto servers. He also talked about selling huge numbers of Firesticks. Generally, it’s difficult to find a video where the amount of money he’s made isn’t either the sole topic of conversation or at least heavily featured.

But according to OMI, that might be more difficult in the future.

“[My friend] had to lend me a phone because I don’t have a phone. They seized millions of dollars out of all my accounts. They took all the cash I had laying around,” he says. “They took all my jewelry [a recent video has OMI apparently buying $300K’s worth], kids’ things, they took Xboxes, they took computers, laptops, cellphones. They didn’t even leave drones.”

Having previously watched a good number of OMI’s videos, his optimism and positivity have always shone through. That wasn’t the case during this Q&A. By his own estimation, he’s going to prison “for a few years” although he says he’ll also take the rap for those who worked with him.

Another particular point of interest is that OMI insists that entertainment companies never sued him.

“I could’ve dealt with the MPA or the NFL suing me, that never happened. They never gave me fair warning, which by law they have to. Especially when it comes down to a crime like this, when it comes down to ‘copyright infringement’. They were supposed to hit me with a seize operation, or a cease and desist.

“They never hit me with that. I would’ve took it right down,” he adds.

However, OMI also admits that he had been receiving takedown notices issued from the UK on behalf of “the European leagues”, which seems like a reference to either Premier League or UEFA blocking efforts. He also acknowledges receiving notices from Sky, HBO, and similar “fucking stupid channels.”

If there is a point where a defendant in a serious criminal case should stop talking and consult a lawyer, OMI doesn’t seem to know where that point is. He told viewers that the FBI is accusing him of “stealing channels” but he insists he always paid for his — before capturing them and distributing them to his customers.

“I paid for my channels. I did things the old school way. I used capture cards. I take full responsibility so anybody on my team and shit, I pretty much hope you guys don’t ever go to jail now,” he explained.

According to OMI, he knew an investigation was underway since an associate he names as ‘Hector Fuentes’ was a CI (an informant).

“So he used to come around and shit, with a little wire on and could see the wire through his fucking shirt and would say dumb shit to see how far it would get him. The mother-fucker was a confidential informant. The whole time, he was putting people in jail for a long time,” OMI claimed.

Considering this was a Q&A streamed live on YouTube, things then got dark, very dark indeed. OMI says that after being detained by the FBI and being run to the station, all he could think of was killing himself, live on YouTube.

“I’m gonna go on live….and i’m going to kill myself. I’m gonna go on live, express how I feel and then shoot myself on live.”

Thankfully, for everyone’s sake, that didn’t happen.

OMI laying everything out there a few months ago

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