Tag Archives: lawsuit

Cox: Supreme Court Suggests That Pirates Shouldn’t Lose Internet Access

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-supreme-court-suggests-that-pirates-shouldnt-lose-internet-access-170627/

December 2015 a Virginia federal jury held Internet provider Cox Communications responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

The ISP refused to disconnect alleged pirates and was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement. In addition, it was ordered to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

Cox has since filed an appeal and this week it submitted an additional piece of evidence from the US Supreme Court, stating that this strongly supports its side of the argument.

Last week the Supreme Court issued an important verdict in Packingham v. North Carolina, ruling that it’s unconstitutional to bar convicted sex offenders from social media. The Court described the Internet as an important tool for people to exercise free speech rights.

While nothing in the ruling refers to online piracy, it could turn out to be crucial in the case between Cox and BMG. The Internet provider now argues that if convicted criminals have the right to use the Internet, accused file-sharers should have it too.

“Packingham is directly relevant to what constitute ‘appropriate circumstances’ to terminate Internet access to Cox’s customers. The decision emphatically establishes the centrality of Internet access to protected First Amendment activity..,” Cox writes in its filing at the Court of Appeals.

“As the Court recognized, Internet sources are often ‘the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge’.”

Citing the Supreme Court ruling, Cox notes that the Government “may not suppress lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech.” This would be the case if entire households lost Internet access because a copyright holder accused someone of repeated copyright infringements.

“The Court’s analysis strongly suggests that at least intermediate scrutiny must apply to any law that purports to restrict the ability of a class of persons to access the Internet,” ISP writes (pdf).

In its case against BMG, Cox was held liable because it failed to take appropriate action against frequent pirates, solely based on allegations of piracy monitoring outfit Rightscorp. Cox doesn’t believe these one-sided complaints should be enough for people to be disconnected from the Internet.

If convicted sex offenders still have the right to use social media, accused pirates should not be barred from the Internet on a whim, the argument goes.

“And if it offends the Constitution to cut off a portion of Internet access to convicted criminals, then the district court’s erroneous interpretation of Section 512(i) of the DMCA — which effectively invokes the state’s coercive power to require ISPs to terminate all Internet access to merely accused infringers — cannot stand,” Cox writes.

Whether the Court of Appeals will agree has yet to be seen, but with the stakes at hand this issue is far from resolved. In addition to the case between BMG and Cox, the MPAA recently filed a lawsuit against Grande Communications, which centers around the same issue.

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

Sci-Hub Ordered to Pay $15 Million in Piracy Damages

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/sci-hub-ordered-to-pay-15-million-in-piracy-damages-170623/

Two years ago, academic publisher Elsevier filed a complaint against Sci-Hub and several related “pirate” sites.

It accused the websites of making academic papers widely available to the public, without permission.

While Sci-Hub is nothing like the average pirate site, it is just as illegal according to Elsevier’s legal team, who obtained a preliminary injunction from a New York District Court last fall.

The injunction ordered Sci-Hub’s founder Alexandra Elbakyan to quit offering access to any Elsevier content. However, this didn’t happen.

Instead of taking Sci-Hub down, the lawsuit achieved the opposite. Sci-Hub grew bigger and bigger up to a point where its users were downloading hundreds of thousands of papers per day.

Although Elbakyan sent a letter to the court earlier, she opted not engage in the US lawsuit any further. The same is true for her fellow defendants, associated with Libgen. As a result, Elsevier asked the court for a default judgment and a permanent injunction which were issued this week.

Following a hearing on Wednesday, the Court awarded Elsevier $15,000,000 in damages, the maximum statutory amount for the 100 copyrighted works that were listed in the complaint. In addition, the injunction, through which Sci-Hub and LibGen lost several domain names, was made permanent.

Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan says that even if she wanted to pay the millions of dollars in revenue, she doesn’t have the money to do so.

“The money project received and spent in about six years of its operation do not add up to 15 million,” Elbakyan tells torrentFreak.

“More interesting, Elsevier says: the Sci-Hub activity ’causes irreparable injury to Elsevier, its customers and the public’ and US court agreed. That feels like a perfect crime. If you want to cause an irreparable injury to American public, what do you have to do? Now we know the answer: establish a website where they can read research articles for free,” she adds.

Previously, Elbakyan already confirmed to us that, lawsuit or not, the site is not going anywhere.

“The Sci-Hub will continue as usual. In case of problems with the domain names, users can rely on TOR scihub22266oqcxt.onion,” Elbakyan added.

Sci-Hub is regularly referred to as the “Pirate Bay for science,” and based on the site’s resilience and its response to legal threats, it can certainly live up to this claim.

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) is happy with the outcome of the case.

“As the final judgment shows, the Court has not mistaken illegal activity for a public good,” AAP President and CEO Maria A. Pallante says.

“On the contrary, it has recognized the defendants’ operation for the flagrant and sweeping infringement that it really is and affirmed the critical role of copyright law in furthering scientific research and the public interest.”

Matt McKay, a spokesperson for the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM) in Oxford went even further, telling Nature that the site doesn’t offer any value to the scientific comunity.

“Sci-Hub does not add any value to the scholarly community. It neither fosters scientific advancement nor does it value researchers’ achievements. It is simply a place for someone to go to download stolen content and then leave.”

Hundreds of thousands of academics, who regularly use the site to download papers, might contest this though.

With no real prospect of recouping the damages and an ever-resilient Elbakyan, Elsevier’s legal battle could just be a win on paper. Sci-Hub and Libgen are not going anywhere, it seems, and the lawsuit has made them more popular than ever before.

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

The Dangers of Secret Law

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/06/the_dangers_of_.html

Last week, the Department of Justice released 18 new FISC opinions related to Section 702 as part of an EFF FOIA lawsuit. (Of course, they don’t mention EFF or the lawsuit. They make it sound as if it was their idea.)

There’s probably a lot in these opinions. In one Kafkaesque ruling, a defendant was denied access to the previous court rulings that were used by the court to decide against it:

…in 2014, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) rejected a service provider’s request to obtain other FISC opinions that government attorneys had cited and relied on in court filings seeking to compel the provider’s cooperation.

[…]

The provider’s request came up amid legal briefing by both it and the DOJ concerning its challenge to a 702 order. After the DOJ cited two earlier FISC opinions that were not public at the time — one from 2014 and another from 2008­ — the provider asked the court for access to those rulings.

The provider argued that without being able to review the previous FISC rulings, it could not fully understand the court’s earlier decisions, much less effectively respond to DOJ’s argument. The provider also argued that because attorneys with Top Secret security clearances represented it, they could review the rulings without posing a risk to national security.

The court disagreed in several respects. It found that the court’s rules and Section 702 prohibited the documents release. It also rejected the provider’s claim that the Constitution’s Due Process Clause entitled it to the documents.

This kind of government secrecy is toxic to democracy. National security is important, but we will not survive if we become a country of secret court orders based on secret interpretations of secret law.

Court Grants Subpoenas to Unmask ‘TVAddons’ and ‘ZemTV’ Operators

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-grants-subpoenas-to-unmask-tvaddons-and-zemtv-operators-170621/

Earlier this month we broke the news that third-party Kodi add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were being sued in a federal court in Texas.

In a complaint filed by American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network, both stand accused of copyright infringement, facing up to $150,000 for each offense.

While the allegations are serious, Dish doesn’t know the full identities of the defendants.

To find out more, the company requested a broad range of subpoenas from the court, targeting Amazon, Github, Google, Twitter, Facebook, PayPal, and several hosting providers.

From Dish’s request

This week the court granted the subpoenas, which means that they can be forwarded to the companies in question. Whether that will be enough to identify the people behind ‘TVAddons’ and ‘ZemTV’ remains to be seen, but Dish has cast its net wide.

For example, the subpoena directed at Google covers any type of information that can be used to identify the account holder of [email protected], which is believed to be tied to ZemTV.

The information requested from Google includes IP address logs with session date and timestamps, but also covers “all communications,” including GChat messages from 2014 onwards.

Similarly, Twitter is required to hand over information tied to the accounts of the users “TV Addons” and “shani_08_kodi” as well as other accounts linked to tvaddons.ag and streamingboxes.com. This also applies the various tweets that were sent through the account.

The subpoena specifically mentions “all communications, including ‘tweets’, Twitter sent to or received from each Twitter Account during the time period of February 1, 2014 to present.”

From the Twitter subpoena

Similar subpoenas were granted for the other services, tailored towards the information Dish hopes to find there. For example, the broadcast provider also requests details of each transaction from PayPal, as well as all debits and credits to the accounts.

In some parts, the subpoenas appear to be quite broad. PayPal is asked to reveal information on any account with the credit card statement “Shani,” for example. Similarly, Github is required to hand over information on accounts that are ‘associated’ with the tvaddons.ag domain, which is referenced by many people who are not directly connected to the site.

The service providers in question still have the option to challenge the subpoenas or ask the court for further clarification. A full overview of all the subpoena requests is available here (Exhibit 2 and onwards), including all the relevant details. This also includes several letters to foreign hosting providers.

While Dish still appears to be keen to find out who is behind ‘TVAddons’ and ‘ZemTV,’ not much has been heard from the defendants in question.

ZemTV developer “Shani” shut down his addon soon after the lawsuit was announced, without mentioning it specifically. TVAddons, meanwhile, has been offline for well over a week, without any notice in public about the reason for the prolonged downtime.

The court’s order granting the subpoenas and letters of request is available here (pdf).

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

Internet Provider Refutes RIAA’s Piracy Allegations

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/internet-provider-refutes-riaas-piracy-allegations-170620/

For more than a decade copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices to alert them that their subscribers are sharing copyrighted material.

Under US law, providers have to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers “in appropriate circumstances” and increasingly they are being held to this standard.

Earlier this year several major record labels, represented by the RIAA, filed a lawsuit in a Texas District Court, accusing ISP Grande Communications of failing to take action against its pirating subscribers.

“Despite their knowledge of repeat infringements, Defendants have permitted repeat infringers to use the Grande service to continue to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights without consequence,” the RIAA’s complaint read.

Grande and its management consulting firm Patriot, which was also sued, both disagree and have filed a motion to dismiss at the court this week. Grande argues that it doesn’t encourage any of its customers to download copyrighted works, and that it has no control over the content subscribers access.

The Internet provider doesn’t deny that it has received millions of takedown notices through the piracy tracking company Rightscorp. However, it believes that these notices are flawed as Rightscorp is incapable of monitoring actual copyright infringements.

“These notices are so numerous and so lacking in specificity, that it is infeasible for Grande to devote the time and resources required to meaningfully investigate them. Moreover, the system that Rightscorp employs to generate its notices is incapable of detecting actual infringement and, therefore, is incapable of generating notices that reflect real infringement,” Grande writes.

Grande says that if they acted on these notices without additional proof, its subscribers could lose their Internet access even though they are using it for legal purposes.

“To merely treat these allegations as true without investigation would be a disservice to Grande’s subscribers, who would run the risk of having their Internet service permanently terminated despite using Grande’s services for completely legitimate purposes.”

Even if the notices were able to prove actual infringement, they would still fail to identify the infringer, according to the ISP. The notices identify IP-addresses which may have been used by complete strangers, who connected to the network without permission.

The Internet provider admits that online copyright infringement is a real problem. But, they see themselves as a victim of this problem, not a perpetrator, as the record labels suggest.

“Grande does not profit or receive any benefit from subscribers that may engage in such infringing activity using its network. To the contrary, Grande suffers demonstrable losses as a direct result of purported copyright infringement conducted on its network.

“To hold Grande liable for copyright infringement simply because ‘something must be done’ to address this growing problem is to hold the wrong party accountable,” Grande adds.

In common with the previous case against Cox Communications, Rightscorp’s copyright infringement notices are once again at the center of a prominent lawsuit. According to Grande, Rightscorp’s system can’t prove that infringing content was actually downloaded by third parties, only that it was made available.

The Internet provider sees the lacking infringement notices as a linchpin that, if pulled, will take the entire case down.

It’s expected that, if the case moves forward, both parties will do all they can to show that the evidence is sufficient, or not. In the Cox lawsuit, this was the case, but that verdict is currently being appealed.

Grande Communication’s full motion to dismiss is avalaible here (pdf).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

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

Court Orders Google to Remove Links to Takedown Notice

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-google-to-remove-links-to-takedown-notice-170616/

On an average day Google processes more than three million takedown notices from copyright holders, and that’s for its search engine alone.

Thanks to Google’s transparency report, the public is able to see where these notices come from and what content they’re targeting. In addition, Google partners with Lumen to post copies of most notices online.

Founded by Harvard’s Berkman Center, Lumen is one of the few tools that helps to keep copyright holders accountable, while offering an invaluable database for researchers and the public in general.

However, not everyone is pleased with the service. Many copyright holders find it unfair that Google still indirectly links to the infringing URLs, because the search results point people to the takedown notice on Lumen, where these are listed in public.

Google linking to a standard DMCA notice

In Germany, a similar complaint was at the center of a lawsuit. A local company found that when people entered its name into the search engine combined with the term ‘suspected fraud’ (Betrugsverdacht), several search results would appear suggesting that the two were linked.

Since making false claims against companies is not allowed in Germany, the company wanted the results removed. The court agreed with this assessment and ordered Google to take action, which it did. However, after removing the results, Google added a mention at the bottom of the results pointing users to the takedown request on Lumen.

“As a reaction to a legal request that was sent to Google, we have removed one search result. You can find further information at LumenDatabase.org,” Google noted, with a link.

The company wasn’t happy with this and wanted Google to remove this mention, since it indirectly linked to the offensive URLs. After a lower court first sided with Google, the Higher Regional Court of Munich has now ordered (pdf) the search engine to remove the link to the Lumen notice.

Mirko Brüß, a lawyer and expert on German copyright law, wrote a detailed overview of the case in question on IPKAT explaining the court’s reasoning.

“By presenting its users an explanation about the deleted search result, combined with a hyperlink to the Lumen website where the deleted search result could be clicked, Google (still) enabled users to find and read the infringing statements, even after being ordered by a court to discontinue doing so,” he notes.

“The court found that it made no difference whether one or two clicks are needed to get to the result,” Brüß adds.

Lumen

While the order only refers to the link at the bottom of the search results, it may also apply to the transparency report itself, Brüß informs TorrentFreak.

It will be interesting to see if copyright holders will use similar means to ensure that Google stops linking to copies of their takedown notices. That would seriously obstruct Google’s well-intentioned transparency efforts, but thus far this hasn’t happened.

Finally, it is worth noting that Google doesn’t index the takedown notices from Lumen itself. Links to takedown notices are only added to search results where content has been removed, either by court order or following a DMCA request.

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

Kodi Turmoil Continues as TVAddons Mysteriously Disappears

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-turmoil-continues-as-tvaddons-mysteriously-disappears-170613/

Last week we broke the news that third-party Kodi add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were being sued in a federal court in Texas.

Since then, the ‘pirate’ Kodi community has been in turmoil. Several popular Kodi addons decided to shut down, and now TVAddons itself appears to be in trouble as well.

TVAddons is pne of the largest repositories of Kodi add-ons, many of which allow users to watch pirated content. The site has grown massively in recent years and reported that nearly 40 million unique users connected to the site’s servers in March.

Since yesterday, however, these millions of users can no longer access the site. Without prior warning or a public explanation, TVAddons’ domain name stopped responding. The domain’s DNS entries have been removed which means that it’s no longer accessible to the public.

Those who try to access the site either get a browser error message, or are redirected to a page of TVAddons’ domain name registrar Uniregistry.com (in some cases people may still see the site, if the DNS entries are cached).

TVAddons.ag can’t be reached

For now, it’s unclear who removed the DNS entries and why. The registrar could have taken this action, but TVAddons may have done it themselves too.

TorrentFreak reached out to TVAddons a few times over the past several days but without response. The site’s spokesperson was previously quick to reply, but after the Dish lawsuit became public this changed.

In response to our latest email inquiry, we received an error message, suggesting that the site’s official email addresses are no longer functioning due to the domain troubles.

TVAddons has also gone quiet on social media, where TVAddons has been very active in the past. However, the last updates on Twitter and Facebook date back more than a week ago. In fact, a few hours ago TVAddons’ Facebook page disappeared completely.

Facebook page unavailable

Based on the current downtime issues, it’s no surprise that people are getting worried. If TVAddons doesn’t return, the Kodi-addon community has lost what’s arguably its biggest player.

The site’s extensive library listed 1,500 different add-ons, of which the community-maintained Exodus addon was one of the most popular. Now that the site is no longer available, people may run into issues while updating these.

That said, it’s best not to jump to conclusions without an official explanation from the team. If we find out more, this article will be updated accordingly.

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

Copyright Holders Keep Targeting Dead Torrent Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-holders-keep-targeting-dead-torrent-sites-170611/

Over the past year several major torrent sites have shut down, causing quite an uproar among file-sharers.

Interestingly, however, several copyright holders still appear to think that these sites are alive and kicking. That is, judging from the takedown notices they send to Google.

Publisher Penguin Random House is particularly forgetful. Through its anti-piracy partner Digimarc, the company has reported hundreds of ‘infringing’ KickassTorrents URLs. Not only was KAT shut down last summer, the reported URLs are no longer listed in Google’s search results either.

Penguin is not alone though. Other rightsholders such as Sony Music, Dreamroom Productions, Taylor & Francis Group, The University of Chicago Press and many others have made the same mistakes recently.

Over the past month alone Google has received 1,340 takedown notices for Kat.cr URLs and an additional 775 for the Kat.ph domain name.

The problem is not limited to KAT either. Torrentz.eu, another major torrent site that went offline last summer, is still being targeted at well.

For example, earlier this week Sony Pictures asked Google to remove a Torrentz.eu URL that linked to the series Community, even though it is no longer indexed. In just one month copyright holders sent Google 4,960 takedown requests for “dead” Torrentz URLs.

Recent takedown requests for Torrentz.eu

Apparently, the reporting outfits have failed to adjust their piracy monitoring bots for the changing torrent landscape.

The mistakes are likely due to automated keyword filters that scour sites and forums for links to hosting services. These bots don’t bother to check whether Google actually indexes the content, nor do they remove dead sites from their system.

While targeting dead KAT and Torrentz links is bad enough, things can get worse.

The iconic torrent search isoHunt.com shut down following a MPAA lawsuit in 2013, well over three years ago. Nonetheless, rightsholders still sent Google takedown notices for the site, more than a dozen a month actually.

Or what about BTJunkie. This torrent indexer closed its doors voluntarily more than half a decade ago. Dead or not, some copyright holders still manage to find infringing links in some of the darkest corners of the Internet.

Apparently, torrent users are far quicker to adapt to the changing landscape than the monitoring outfits of some copyright holders…

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

Who’s To Blame For The Kodi Crackdown?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/whos-to-blame-for-the-kodi-crackdown-170611/

Perfectly legal as standard, the Kodi media player can be easily modified to turn it into the ultimate streaming piracy machine.

Uptake by users has been nothing short of phenomenal. Millions of people are now consuming illicit media through third-party Kodi addons. With free movies, TV shows, sports, live TV and more on tap, it’s not difficult to see why the system is so popular.

As a result, barely a day goes by without Kodi making headlines and this week was no exception. On Monday, TorrentFreak broke the news that the ZEMTV addon and TV Addons, one of the most popular addon communities, were being sued by Dish Network for copyright infringement.

Within hours of the announcement and apparently as a direct result, several addons (including the massively popular Phoenix) decided to throw in the towel. Quite understandably, users of the platforms were disappointed, and that predictably resulted in people attempting to apportion blame.

The first comment to catch the eye was posted directly beneath our article. Interestingly, it placed the blame squarely on our shoulders.

“Thanks Torrentfreak, for ruining Kodi,” it read.

While shooting the messenger is an option, it’s historically problematic. Town criers were the original newsreaders, delivering important messages to the public. Killing a town crier was considered treason, but it was also pointless – it didn’t change the facts on the ground.

So if we can’t kill those who read about a lawsuit in the public PACER system and reported it, who’s left to blame? Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of targets, but most of them fall short.

The underlying theme is that most people voicing a negative opinion about the profile of Kodi do not appreciate their previously niche piracy system being in the spotlight. Everything was just great when just a few people knew about the marvelous hidden world of ‘secret’ XBMC/Kodi addons, many insist, but seeing it in the mainstream press is a disaster. It’s difficult to disagree.

However, the point where this all falls down is when people are asked when the discussion about Kodi should’ve stopped. We haven’t questioned them all, of course, but it’s almost guaranteed that while most with a grievance didn’t want Kodi getting too big, they absolutely appreciate the fact that someone told them about it. Piracy and piracy techniques spread by word of mouth so unfortunately, people can’t have it both ways.

Interestingly, some people placed the blame on TV Addons, the site that hosts the addons themselves. They argued that the addon scene didn’t need such a high profile target and that the popularity of the site only brought unwanted attention. However, for every critic, there are apparently thousands who love what the site does to raise the profile of Kodi. Without that, it’s clear that there would be fewer users and indeed, fewer addons.

For TV Addons’ part, they’re extremely clear who’s responsible for bringing the heat. On numerous occasions in emails to TF, the operators of the repository have blamed those who have attempted to commercialize the Kodi scene. For them, the responsibility must be placed squarely on the shoulders of people selling ‘Kodi boxes’ on places like eBay and Amazon. Once big money got involved, that attracted the authorities, they argue.

With this statement in mind, TF spoke with a box seller who previously backed down from selling on eBay due to issues over Kodi’s trademark. He didn’t want to speak on the record but admitted to selling “a couple of thousand” boxes over the past two years, noting that all he did was respond to demand with supply.

And this brings us full circle and a bit closer to apportioning blame for the Kodi crackdown.

The bottom line is that when it comes to piracy, Kodi and its third-party ‘pirate’ addons are so good at what they do, it’s no surprise they’ve been a smash hit with Internet users. All of the content that anyone could want – and more – accessible in one package, on almost any platform? That’s what consumers have been demanding for more than a decade and a half.

That brings us to the unavoidable conclusion that modified Kodi simply got too good at delivering content outside controlled channels, and that success was impossible to moderate or calm. Quite simply, every user that added to the Kodi phenomenon by installing the software with ‘pirate’ addons has to shoulder some of the blame for the crackdown.

That might sound harsh but in the piracy world it’s never been any different. Without millions of users, The Pirate Bay raid would never have happened. Without users, KickassTorrents might still be rocking today. But of course, what would be the point?

Users might break sites and services, but they also make them. That’s the piracy paradox.

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

Cloudflare Fails to Limit Scope of Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-fails-to-limit-scope-of-piracy-lawsuit-170610/

cloudflareAs one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe.

This includes thousands of “pirate” sites, including the likes of The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, which rely on the U.S.-based company to keep server loads down.

Many rightsholders have complained about CloudFlare’s involvement with these sites and last year adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan took things up a notch by dragging the company to court.

ALS Scan accused the CDN service of various counts of copyright and trademark infringement and listed 15 customers that used the Cloudflare’s servers to distribute infringing material.

Through an early motion, Cloudflare managed to have several counts dismissed, but the accusation of contributory copyright infringement remained.

Hoping to further limit the scope of the lawsuit, Cloudflare asked the California federal court to grant a summary motion that would exclude 14 of the 15 listed ‘pirate’ sites from the lawsuit, as the original sites are not hosted on U.S. servers.

The image hosting sites in question include imgchili.com, slimpics.com, bestofsexpics.com, greenpics.com, imgspot.org and imgsen.se, among others.

Cloudflare argued that in order to be contributing to copyright infringement, the ‘pirate’ sites have to be direct infringers, which isn’t the case if are they are hosted abroad as that would fall outside the scope of U.S. courts.

However, according to the Court, which ordered on the motion for partial summary judgment a few days ago, this argument doesn’t hold.

“Here, it is undisputed that cache copies of Cloudflare clients’ files are stored on Cloudflare’s data servers; it is also undisputed that some of those data servers are located in the United States,” the order (pdf) reads.

These cached files are the result of the pirate sites’ decisions to sign up and pay for Cloudflare’s services. This ties direct infringements to U.S. servers.

“Thus, to the extent cache copies of Plaintiff’s images have been stored on Cloudflare’s U.S. servers, the creation of those copies would be an act of direct infringement by a given host website within the United States,” the court adds.

The Court further clarified that unlike Cloudflare claimed, under U.S. law the company can be held liable for caching content of copyright infringing websites.

In addition, Cloudflare’s argument that “infrastructure-level caching” is a type of fair use was denied as well.

Based on a detailed analysis of all the arguments provided, the Court concludes that the motion for summary judgment is denied for 13 of the 14 contended sites. This means than Cloudflare has to defend itself against the associated copyright infringement claims in an eventual trial.

The lawsuit is a crucial matter for Cloudflare, and not only because of the potential damages it faces in this case. If Cloudflare loses, other rightsholders are likely to make similar demands, forcing the company to actively police potential pirate sites.

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

US Court Orders Pirate Streaming Site FMovies to Pay $210,000

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-court-orders-pirate-streaming-site-fmovies-to-pay-210000-170609/

Last year, media conglomerate ABS-CBN took the popular pirate streaming site FMovies to court in the United States.

FMovies is one of several streaming sites that has grown explosively over the past year. It offers tens of thousands of mainstream movies and TV-shows to an audience of millions of people.

In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the media company branded FMovies as a classic pirate site, offering unauthorized streams of content they own.

Despite facing hefty damages, FMovies’ operators didn’t defend themselves. Several months passed without any response from FMovies in court, which prompted the copyright media company to move ahead and file for a default judgment.

This week District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II issued his verdict, which doesn’t offer much good news for the streaming site.

Without evidence to the contrary, the Judge went along with ABS-CBN’s assessment that FMovies’ operators used the company’s trademarks and copyrighted works to draw in more visitors, generating a healthy profit through advertising.

In total, FMovies was found guilty on six counts; federal trademark infringement, false designation of origin, direct copyright infringement, contributory copyright infringement, unfair competition and false advertising.

Judge Wright’s order compels FMovies’ operators to pay the requested $30,000 in statutory copyright infringement damages for seven works, as well as $7,200 in attorneys’ fees and costs.

“Defendants shall pay ABS-CBN Two Hundred Eighteen Thousand Two Hundred Dollars ($218,200) in attorneys’ fees, costs, and statutory damages for Defendants’ infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrights,” the judgment (pdf) reads.

Fmovies.to/se

The media conglomerate was also granted a preliminary injunction, which forbids FMovies from infringing ABS-CBN’s trademarks and copyrights going forward. In addition, ABS-CBN can also take over the FMovies.to domain name, according to the default judgment.

At the time of writing, Fmovies is still operational from the .to and .se domain names, but that may change in the near future, if the court order is enforced.

With a user base of millions of people, FMovies.to is by far the largest movie streaming site that has ever been targeted in a U.S. Court. With this in mind, it’s somewhat surprising that ABS-CBN ‘only’ requested $210,000 in statutory damages.

In a similar default judgment ABS-CBN requested two years ago, a U.S. federal court in Oregon ordered the operator of several tiny streaming sites to pay $10 million in damages to the company.

Then again, the FMovies operators have thus far remained in the shadows, so it’s unlikely that any damages will ever be paid.

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

Popular Kodi Add-ons Quit Following Prominent Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-kodi-add-ons-quit-following-prominent-piracy-lawsuit-170607/

On Monday we broke the news that third-party Kodi add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were being sued in a federal court in Texas.

In a complaint filed by American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network, both stand accused of copyright infringement, facing up to $150,000 for each offense.

The news came as a shock to many add-on developers, most of whom release their software as a hobby, with no financial motive. A potential lawsuit that can run to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages clearly takes away most of the fun.

This could very well explain why several add-ons have shut down over the past 48 hours. While the lawsuit isn’t specifically named in most cases, there appears to be a direct connection.

One of the main add-ons that has thrown in the towel is Phoenix, which offered access to a wide range of channels, broadcasts, movies and TV shows.

“In light of current events we have decided to close down Phoenix. This is not something that was easy for us to do; we have all formed a bond that cannot be broken as a team and have a HUGE support base that we are thankful of,” Phoenix developer Cosmix writes.

“I can speak for myself when I say thank you to everybody that has ever been involved in Phoenix and it will always be one of my fondest memories,” he adds.

Cosmix’s announcement

Developer One242415, known for his work on Navi-X, Phoenix and later his own add-on, took a similar decision. He announced the news directly from his add-on which will be closed in a few days.

“I am removing my addon for good. It was a hell of a ride for me. First starting off with Navi-X, then with Mashup, then with Phoenix, and for two months with my own add-on.”

In a similar vein, developer Echo Coder also announced that all his addons will be shut down. Again, without naming a specific reason. On Twitter, he did say, however, that the recent spike in popularity of third-party add-ons was not beneficial to the community.

“The reality is we did say the growth of third party popularity would hinder us. Unfortunately, now it looks like an implosion,” he tweeted yesterday.

A few hours later this message was followed up with a note that he had pulled his own add-ons offline.

“Thank you for the last year. My addons are now off-line. Its been emotional. Take care,” Echo Coder wrote.

Echo Coder’s announcement

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. Several other third-party projects and add-ons have also shut down, announced a temporary hiatus, or other changes.

Various Kodi community websites, including Kodi Geeks, are trying to keep up with all the add-ons that are toppling, and uncertainty remains. The community is in a state of turmoil, and it will take several more days to see what the exact fallout will be.

Assuming that the Dish lawsuit is indeed the main trigger for the recent uproar, it is clear that many developers prefer to stay out of trouble. And with Kodi related piracy in the spotlights of copyright holders, legal pressure is likely to increase.

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

Dish Network Sues ‘ZemTV’ and ‘TV Addons’ For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-network-sues-zemtv-and-tv-addons-for-copyright-infringement-170605/

More and more people are starting to use Kodi-powered set-top boxes to stream video content to their TVs.

While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, third-party add-ons can turn it into the ultimate pirate machine, providing access to movies, TV-shows and IPTV channels.

These add-ons are direct competition for traditional broadcast providers, such as Dish Network in the United States, which filed a lawsuit in a Texas federal court late last week.

The complaint lists the add-on ZemTV as the prime target. The service in question allows users to watch a variety of Dish channels, without permission.

“The ZemTV service is retransmitting these channels over the Internet to end-users that download the ZemTV add-on for the Kodi media player, which is available for download at the websites www.tvaddons.ag and www.tvaddons.org,” Dish’s lawyers write.

The TVAddons platform, which hosts hundreds of unofficial Kodi add-ons including ZemTV, is also listed as a defendant. According to Dish, TVAddons plays an important role in the distribution of the infringing add-on.

The ZemTV operator, who is only known as “Shani” and “Shani_08,” used the TVAddons platform to share and promote its service while asking for donations, the complaint alleges.

“Website Operators have actual or constructive knowledge of this infringing activity and materially contribute to that activity by providing the forum where the ZemTV add-on can be downloaded and soliciting and accepting donations from ZemTV users,” Dish writes.

“But for the availability of the ZemTV add-on at www.tvaddons.ag or www.tvaddons.org, most if not all of Developer’s distribution and/or public performance would not occur,” the complaint adds.

Dish claims that it sent numerous takedown requests to Internet service providers associated with the ZemTV service, but the developer has continued to offer the add-on, circumventing any countermeasures.

With the lawsuit, the broadcast provider holds ZemTV accountable for direct copyright infringement, demanding $150,000 per infringement in damages. TVAddons is accused of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement and also faces statutory damages.

TorrentFreak spoke to a representative from TVAddons, who wasn’t aware of the lawsuit. Dish has not contacted them directly with any takedown requests, he says.

“This is the first we’ve heard of this lawsuit. No one ever sent us any type of takedown or DMCA notice or even tried to contact us prior, they could have easily done so through our contact page or site emails,” TVAddons informs us.

TVAddons says that the ZemTV add-on was already removed prior to the lawsuit due to a technical issue, and it won’t return.

“The Zem addon was actually removed from our addon library and community tools weeks ago due to a completely unrelated technical issue. I have already spoken to the developer, and he has since deleted the Zem addon entirely,” the TVAddons representative says.

Also, shortly after we started to inquire about the lawsuit, the ZemTV add-on appears to have shut down completely. According to Kodi Tips, developer “Shani” said it became too popular to maintain, but the legal threat likely played a role as well.

The lawsuit against ZemTV and TVAddons is the first of its kind in the United States. As such, it will be closely watched by other rightsholders, add-on developers, and platforms similar to TVAddons that distribute software.

The full complaint Dish Network filed is available here (pdf).

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

FUNimation Targets ‘Pirate’ Streaming Site KissAnime

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/funimation-targets-pirate-streaming-site-kissanime-170601/

American anime distributor FUNimation is no stranger to hunting down pirates.

Headquartered in Texas, the company targeted 1337 alleged BitTorrent downloaders of the anime series “One Piece” at a local court a few years ago.

While the company no longer targets individual users through the U.S. legal system, it now appears to have its eyes set on a higher profile target, the popular anime streaming site KissAnime.

With millions of pageviews per day, KissAnime is the go-to site for many anime fans. The site is listed among the 250 most visited websites in the United States, making it one of the largest unauthorized streaming platforms in the world.

This is a thorn in the side of FUNimation, which recently obtained a DMCA subpoena to unmask part of the site’s infrastructure. Like many other streaming portals, KissAnime uses Google’s servers to host videos. These videos are served through CDN links, presumably to make them harder to take down.

FUNimation traced a CDN IP-address, used by KissAnime to stream pirated “One Piece” content, back to U.S. cloud hosting platform DigitalOcean, and asked the company to disable the associated link.

“Through our investigations, we have a good faith belief that a web server for which Digital Ocean, Inc. provides service, located at 138.68.244.174, is being used for the unauthorized copying and distribution […] of digital files embodying the Property,” FUNimation lawyer Evan Stone recently wrote to the company.

“FUNimation hereby requests that Digital Ocean expeditiously causes all such infringing materials to be removed or blocked or freezes the account at issue until the account holder removes all infringing materials or disables access thereto.”

FUNimation DMCA notice sent to Digital Ocean

Although KissAnime isn’t specifically mentioned in the DMCA notice or the subpoena request, a source close to the issue informs TorrentFreak that the IP-address in question is linked to the anime streaming site.

Because the CDN links keep rotating, FUNimation now wants to know the name of the customer that’s connected to the IP-address in question. The company therefore requested a DMCA subpoena from a federal court in Texas, which was granted earlier this month.

The subpoena orders DigitalOcean to hand over any and all contact information they have on the customer linked to the offending IP-address.

The DMCA subpoena

To find out what FUNimation intends to do with the information, provided that DigitalOcean will hand it over, we contacted the company’s lawyer Evan Stone. He couldn’t confirm the target but noted that it’s not about an end-user.

“We are targeting someone associated with disseminating infringing content on a MASSIVE scale, for profit. This is not a prelude to an end-user lawsuit, nor does this involve your typical fan uploader,” Stone told TF.

It’s likely that Funimation will pursue further action against the DigitalOcean customer associated with the pirates KissAnime streams. Whether this will be a central player or someone only remotely connected to the site remains unknown for now.

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

Anti-Piracy Group Shuts Down ‘Pirate’ Kodi Repos and Add-Ons

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-group-shuts-down-pirate-kodi-repos-and-add-ons-170531/

The Kodi media player software, previously known as XBMC, has seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years.

More and more people have started to use Kodi as their primary source of entertainment, often with help from unofficial add-ons that allow them to access pirated movies and TV-shows.

While the Kodi software itself is perfectly legal, a lot of third-party software are not. In Israel, this prompted the local anti-piracy group ZIRA to take action against several popular Kodi add-ons and repositories.

Last week the group filed for an injunction to stop the site owners from offering their ‘pirate’ Kodi tools, but before the cases went to court, the industry group already announced a settlement with three of them.

A few days ago abeksis.com, kodiwizardil.net, and kodi-senyor.co.il ceased operating, without prior warning. The Abeksis repository was one main targets, as it offered an easy way to turn the Kodi media player into a piracy hub.

Abeksis

The targeted Kodi repos and add-ons were not monetizing their services and some also offered access to legal content. However, facing the threat of a lawsuit by the anti-piracy group, they chose to cease their services indefinitely.

ZIRA is happy with the outcome and notes that the shutdowns are “another victory in the struggle against the pirated content on the Internet and the preservation of Israeli creators and content.”

The operators of the sites reportedly paid a settlement of a few thousand shekels. In addition, they will have to pay 100,000 more ($28,000) if the repositories or add-ons reappear in the future.

As a warning to the public, the three sites in question replaced their regular content with a message from ZIRA. The message informs visitors about the shutdown, and the threat piracy poses to the local content industry.

“The site you’ve entered was taken down since it was violating intellectual property rights. The site’s operators were fined by the court and therefore the site ceased to operate!” the message reads.

“The cost of copyright infringement is paid by the Israeli population, Israeli culture and the income of the producers,” it adds.

ZIRA’s message

The enforcement actions have caused quite a bit of uncertainty among developers of Kodi add-ons and repositories. Several members of the community feel that the services in question did nothing wrong. Some other developers, however, also prefer to play it safe from now on.

The IsraeLive add-on, for example, which offered access to streams that are available through public websites, decided to remove all Israeli content and rename itself GlobeTV. This was presumably done to prevent legal issues with the respective rightsholders.

“Israeli broadcast streams are available on official websites and not using our add-on, and that’s due to legal reasoning and the Laws of the State of Israel,” the developer posted recently.

Whether ZIRA’s enforcement actions will have a lasting effect on the use of streaming piracy in Israel has yet to be seen. However, as the first broad enforcement action against developers of ‘pirate’ Kodi repos and add-ons, it’s a landmark case that could very well be copied elsewhere in the future.

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

Danish ISPs Stand Up Against ‘Mafia-Like’ Copyright Trolls

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/danish-isps-stand-up-against-mafia-like-copyright-trolls-170530/

In recent years, file-sharers all across Europe have been threatened with lawsuits, if they don’t pay a significant settlement fee.

The process was pioneered in Germany where it turned into an industry by itself, and copyright holders later went after alleged pirates in the UK, Finland and elsewhere.

These so-called “copyright trolls” have also landed in Denmark, where the number of targeted Internet subscribers is growing at a rapid rate.

In 2015, rightsholders received permission from courts to obtain the personal details of 6,187 alleged BitTorrent pirates, based on their IP-addresses. A year later the number of accused subscribers increased by nearly 250 percent, to 21,163.

Local ISPs are not happy with this development and plan to fight it in court, Berlingske Business reports.

“We think there is a fundamental legal problem because the courts do not really decide what is most important: the legal security of the public or the law firms’ commercial interests,” Telenor’s Legal Director Mette Eistrøm Krüger says.

As is often the case in these type anti-piracy campaigns, the rightsholders prefer to settle out of court. Thus far, no named defendant has mounted a defense before a Danish judge.

“There was a verdict in one case, and this was a default judgment because the defendant didn’t show up,” Mette Eistrøm Krüger adds.

To stop the trolling efforts from getting out of hand, Telenor is now preparing to build a new case at the Frederiksberg Court, hoping to protect the identities of its subscribers.

This is not the first time Telenor has taken action against these anti-piracy efforts. The ISP did the same in Norway, with success. Last month the Norwegian Supreme Court threw out several troll cases due to a lack of evidence.

In Denmark, Telenor is supported by fellow Internet provider Telia, which says it will be more critical toward trolling efforts going forward.

The branch organization Telecommunications Industry in Denmark notes that other ISPs are backing Telenor’s efforts as well. The group’s director, Jakob Willer, describes the copyright trolling scheme as a “mafia-like” practice, which should be stopped.

“There is full support from the industry to Telenor to take this fight and protect customers against mafia-like practices,” Willer says.

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

Hardware Provider is Liable For Live Streaming Piracy, Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hardware-provider-is-liable-for-live-streaming-piracy-court-rules-170529/

While ‘pirate’ sports streaming sites have been around for over a decade, in recent years rightsholders have taken a more aggressive stance.

The UK Premier League has triggered several police investigations, for example, which have led to the shutdown of several streaming platforms.

In Germany, the local football league (DFL) and Sky Deutschland are involved in a similar battle. The rightsholder and broadcaster feel that unauthorized streaming sites threaten their livelihoods so they’ve initiated legal action in response.

One of the prime targets of these efforts was the streaming portal Stream4u.tv, which was broadcasting sports events without permission. In addition to the site’s operator, a civil lawsuit filed by Sky also targeted the hardware provider that offered the equipment used to decrypt and distribute the streaming signal.

Last week Sky declared a major victory after The District Court of Hamburg ruled that both the site operator and hardware provider are liable for copyright infringement.

Together, both defendants must now pay €18,000 in damages. A clear win for Sky, especially since the streaming portal has been shut down as well.

Stream4u.tv (via)

Aside from the damages, Sky highlights that this is the first time that a third-party intermediary has been held liable for copyright infringement in a case like this. They hope the result will send a strong deterrent message to others.

According to Sky, the ruling effectively means that every technical service provider faces a significant liability risk if they are aware of the illegal use of its services and do not immediately address legitimate complaints.

“The ruling is a warning for all those involved in the illegal distribution of Sky content,” says Thomas Stahn, Director Anti-Piracy & Technology at Sky Deutschland, commenting on the case.

“In contrast to criminal law, every helper is also liable for the full damages suffered by the injured parties – regardless of whether or not it profited from the illegal business,” he adds.

Sky informs TorrentFreak that the Stream4u.tv operator was not present at the court hearings, only the hardware provider. The company could not provide any additional details on the provider but noted that the hardware itself is not illegal.

“The hardware in question was used to receive the Sky broadcast signal and encode it for transmission via the internet. The hardware itself is not illegal in general,” a Sky spokesperson told us.

This isn’t the first victory of its kind for the German division of Sky. As Tarnkappe points out, late last year two people were convicted for their involvement with a sports streaming platform, resulting in a prison sentence for one of them.

Sky Deutschland has several criminal and civil copyright cases pending in Germany, so this isn’t likely to be the last verdict we’ll see against sports streaming sites and services.

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

Copyright Troll Piracy ‘Witness’ Went Back to the Future – and Lost

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-piracy-witness-went-back-to-the-future-and-lost-170526/

Since the early 2000s, copyright trolls have been attempting to squeeze cash from pirating Internet users and fifteen years later the practice is still going strong.

While there’s little doubt that trolls catch some genuine infringers in their nets, the claim that actions are all about protecting copyrights is a shallow one. The aim is to turn piracy into profit and history has shown us that the bigger the operation, the more likely it is they’ll cut corners to cut costs.

The notorious Guardaley trolling operation is a prime example. After snaring the IP addresses of hundreds of thousands of Internet users, the company extracts cash settlements in the United States, Europe and beyond. It’s a project of industrial scale based on intimidation of alleged infringers. But, when those people fight back, the scary trolls suddenly become less so.

The latest case of Guardaley running for the hills comes courtesy of SJD from troll-watching site FightCopyrightTrolls, who reports on an attempt by Guardaley partner Criminal Productions to extract settlement from Zach Bethke, an alleged downloader of the Ryan Reynolds movie, Criminal.

On May 12, Bethke’s lawyer, J. Christopher Lynch, informed Criminal Productions’ lawyer David A. Lowe that Bethke is entirely innocent.

“Neither Mr. Bethke nor his girlfriend copied your client’s movie and they do not know who, if anyone, may have done so,” Lynch wrote.

“Mr. Bethke does not use BitTorrent. Prior to this lawsuit, Mr. Bethke had never heard of your client’s movie and he has no interest in it. If he did have any interest in it, he could have rented it for no marginal cost using his Netflix or Amazon Prime accounts.”

Lynch went on to request that Criminal Productions drop the case. Failing that, he said, things would probably get more complicated. As reported last year, Lynch and Lowe have been regularly locking horns over these cases, with Lynch largely coming out on top.

Part of Lynch’s strategy has been to shine light on Guardaley’s often shadowy operations. He previously noted that its investigators were not properly licensed to operate in the U.S. and the company had been found to put forward a fictitious witness, among other things.

In the past, these efforts to bring Guardaley out into the open have resulted in its clients’, which include several film companies, dropping cases. Lynch, it appears, wants that to happen again in Bethke’s case, noting in his letter that it’s “long past due for a judge to question the qualifications” of the company’s so-called technical experts.

In doing so he calls Guardaley’s evidence into account once more, noting inconsistencies in the way alleged infringements were supposedly “observed” by “foreign investigator[s], with a direct financial interest in the matter.”

One of Lynch’s findings is that the “observations” of two piracy investigators overlap each others’ monitoring periods in separate cases, while reportedly monitoring the same torrent hash.

“Both declarations cover the same ‘hash number’ of the movie, i.e. the same soak. This overlap seems impossible if we stick with the fictions of the Complaint and Motion for Expedited Discovery that the declarant ‘observed’ the defendant ‘infringing’,” Lynch notes.

While these are interesting points, the quality of evidence presented by Guardaley and Criminal Productions is really called into question following another revelation. Daniel Macek, an ‘observing’ investigator used in numerous Guardaley cases, apparently has a unique talent.

As seen from the image below, the alleged infringements relating to Mr. Bethke’s case were carried out between June 25 and 28, 2016.

However, the declaration (pdf) filed with the Court on witness Macek’s behalf was signed and dated either June 14 or 16, more than a week before the infringements allegedly took place.

Time-traveler? Lynch thinks not.

“How can a witness sign a declaration that he observed something BEFORE it happened?” he writes.

“Criminal Productions submitted four such Declarations of Mr. Macek that were executed BEFORE the dates of the accompanying typed up list of observations that Mr. Macek swore that he made.

“Unless Daniel Macek is also Marty McFly, it is impossible to execute a declaration claiming to observe something that has yet to happen.”

So what could explain this strange phenomenon? Lynch believes he’s got to the bottom of that one too.

After comparing all four Macek declarations, he found that aside from the case numbers, the dates and signatures were identical. Instead of taking the issue of presenting evidence before the Court seriously, he believes Criminal Productions and partner Guardaley have been taking short cuts.

“From our review, it appears these metaphysical Macek declarations are not just temporally improper, they are also photocopies, including the signatures not separately executed,” he notes.

“We are astonished by your client’s foreign representatives’ apparent lack of respect for our federal judicial system. Use of duplicate signatures from a witness testifying to events that have yet to happen is on the same level of horror as the use of a fictitious witness and ‘his’ initials as a convenience to obtain subpoenas.”

Not entirely unexpectedly, five days later the case against Bethke and other defendants was voluntarily dismissed (pdf), indicating once again that like vampires, trolls do not like the light. Other lawyers defending similar cases globally should take note.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued.

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