Tag Archives: movie piracy

IP Address Fail: ISP Doesn’t Have to Hand ‘Pirates’ Details to Copyright Trolls

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ip-address-fail-isp-doesnt-have-to-hand-pirates-details-to-copyright-trolls-180414/

On October 27, 2016, UK-based Copyright Management Services (CMS) filed a case against Sweden-based ISP, Tele2.

CMS, run by Patrick Achache of German-based anti-piracy outfit MaverickEye (which in turn is deeply involved with infamous copyright troll outfit Guardaley), claimed that Tele2 customers had infringed its clients’ copyrights on the movies Cell and IT by sharing them via BitTorrent.

Since Tele2 had the personal details of the customers behind those IP addresses, CMS asked the Patent and Market Court to prevent the ISP from deleting the data before it could be handed over. Once in its possession, CMS would carry out the usual process of writing to customers and demanding cash settlements to make supposed lawsuits go away.

Tele2 complained that it could not hand over the details of customers using NAT addresses since it simply doesn’t hold that information. The ISP also said it could not hand over details of customers if IP address information had previously been deleted.

Taking these objections into consideration, in November 2017 the Court approved an interim order in respect of the remaining IP addresses. But there were significant problems which led the ISP to appeal.

According to tests carried out by Tele2, many of the IP addresses in the case did not relate to Sweden or indeed Tele2. In fact, some IP addresses belonged to foreign companies or mere affiliates of the ISP.

“Tele2 thus lacks the actual ability to provide information regarding a large part of the IP addresses covered by the submission,” the Court of Appeal noted in a decision published this week.

The problem appears to lie with the way the MaverickEye monitoring system attributed monitored IP addresses to Tele2.

The Court notes that the company relied on the RIPE Database which stated that the IP addresses in question were allocated to the “geographic area of Sweden”. According to Tele2, however, that wasn’t the case and as such, it had no information to hand over.

CMS, on the other hand, maintained that according to RIPE’s records, Tele2 was indeed the controller of the IP addresses in question so must hand over the information as requested.

While the Patent and Market Court said that Tele2 didn’t object to the MaverickEye monitoring software in terms of the data it collects on file-sharers, it noted that CMS had failed to initiate an investigation in respect of the IP addresses allegedly not belonging to Tele2.

“CMS has not invoked any investigation showing how the identification of the IP addresses in question is made in this case or who at Maverickeye UG was responsible for this,” the Court writes.

“Nor did CMS use the opportunity to hear representatives of Tele2 or others with Tele2 in mind to discover if the company has access to any of the current IP addresses and, if so, which.”

Considering the above, the Court notes that Tele2’s statement, that it doesn’t have access to the data, must stand.

“In these circumstances, CMS, against Tele2’s appeal, has not shown that Tele2 holds the information requested by the disclosure order. CMS’ application for a disclosure order should therefore be rejected,” the Court concludes.

The decision cannot be appealed so Copyright Management Services won’t get its hands on the personal details of the people behind the IP addresses, at least through this process.

The decision (Swedish, pdf)

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

Release Windows of Digital Movie Downloads Are Shrinking

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/release-windows-of-digital-movie-downloads-are-shrinking-180322/

After a film first shows up in theaters, movie fans usually have to wait a few months before they can get a DVD or digital download, depending on the local release strategy.

This delay tactic, known as a release window, helps movie theaters to maximize their revenues. However, for many pirates, this is also a reason to turn to unauthorized sites and services.

Many of the most pirated movie titles are not yet available to buy or rent online, but they are on The Pirate Bay, Fmovies, and elsewhere. Perhaps only a fraction of these pirates would pay, if they could, but release windows are not helping.

This critique isn’t new and, according to a working paper published by Pepperdine University researchers, the tide is turning. Movie release windows are shrinking rapidly, for digital downloads at least.

In their paper titled: Popcorn or Snack? Empirical Analysis of Movie Release Windows, the researchers compared the release windows of DVDs to those of electronic sell-through movies (EST) on iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube. EST movies are also called “download to own” and have a comparable release date to rentals, in most cases.

The results show that between 2012 and 2017, the release windows for DVDs remained relatively stable at three to four months. However, for digital downloads there was a sharp decrease over the same period.

“Based on our results, the EST release date has been approaching the DVD release date at a steady and significant average rate of about 23 days per year,” the researchers write.

“Within only two years, we have seen the average EST release window shrink by more than half, from 255 days in the 2nd quarter of 2012 to 114 days in the 2nd quarter of 2014. The EST window has pretty much reached the average 113 day DVD window in our sample.”

Shrinking window

Since 2015, digital downloads actually have a slightly smaller release window than DVDs on average, making it the first release channel after movie theaters.

While this is good news for movie fans, it’s uncertain if this trend will continue. The current release windows appear to be carefully chosen to ensure that they don’t cannibalize box office revenues.

This is nicely illustrated in the figure below, which shows that 95% of all box office revenues are generated in the first two months, and 99% after four months. The optimal release window falls somewhere in the middle.

That would also explain why the DVD release window isn’t shrinking any further.

Cumulative box office revenue

The researchers see room for further improvement, however. Decreasing the video on demand release window can cost a few percents of box office revenue, at most, but it might result in a significant boost in online sales.

And with the piracy rates not showing any decline, movie studios might feel the need to experiment a little.

“Given that most of the theater revenues are captured within the first two months and given that movie piracy shows no signs of slowing down, there will be increasing pressure for studios to release movies earlier in secondary channels to increase revenues coming from these channels,” the researchers write.

The full paper, written by Dr. Nelson Granados and Dr. John Mooney, is available here.

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

MPAA Brands 123Movies as the World’s Most Popular Illegal Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-brands-123movies-as-the-worlds-most-popular-illegal-site-180316/

With millions of visitors per day, pirate streaming site 123movies, also known as GoMovies, is a force to be reckoned with.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is fully aware of this and previously alerted the US Trade Representative about this “notorious market.”

However, since the site is not operating from the US, Hollywood’s industry group is also reaching out to 123movies’ alleged home turf, Vietnam. Following in the footsteps of the US ambassador, the MPAA seeks assistance from local authorities.

The MPAA is currently in Vietnam where it’s working with the Office of the Police Investigation Agency to combat pirate sites. According to the MPAA’s Executive Vice President & Chief of Global Content Protection, Jan van Voorn, 123movies is one of the prime targets.

“Right now, the most popular illegal site in the world, 123movies.to (at this point), is operated from Vietnam, and has 98 million visitors a month,” Van Voorn said, quoted by VNExpress.

“There are more services like this – sites that are not helpful for local legitimate businesses,” he adds.

The MPAA hopes that the Vietnamese authorities will step in to take these pirate sites offline, so that legal alternatives can grow. In addition, it stresses that the public should be properly educated, to change their views on movie piracy.

While it’s clear that 123movies is a threat to Hollywood, there are bigger fish out there.

The 98 million number MPAA mentions appears to come from SimilarWeb’s January estimate. While this is a lot of traffic indeed, it’s not the largest pirate site. The Pirate Bay, for example, had an estimated 282 million visitors during the same period.

TorrentFreak asked the MPAA to confirm the claim but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. Perhaps Van Voorn was referring to streaming sites specifically, which would make more sense.

In any case, it’s clear that Hollywood is concerned about 123movies and similar sites and will do everything in its power to get them offline.

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

Copyright Trolls Target Up to 22,000 Norwegians for Movie Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-trolls-target-up-to-22000-norwegians-for-movie-piracy-180220/

Last January it was revealed that after things had become tricky in the US, the copyright trolls behind the action movie London Has Fallen were testing out the Norwegian market.

Reports emerged of letters being sent out to local Internet users by Danish law firm Njord Law, each demanding a cash payment of 2,700 NOK (around US$345). Failure to comply, the company claimed, could result in a court case and damages of around $12,000.

The move caused outrage locally, with consumer advice groups advising people not to pay and even major anti-piracy groups distancing themselves from the action. However, in May 2017 it appeared that progress had been made in stopping the advance of the trolls when another Njord Law case running since 2015 hit the rocks.

The law firm previously sent a request to the Oslo District Court on behalf of entertainment company Scanbox asking ISP Telenor to hand over subscribers’ details. In May 2016, Scanbox won its case and Telenor was ordered to hand over the information.

On appeal, however, the tables were turned when it was decided that evidence supplied by the law firm failed to show that sharing carried out by subscribers was substantial.

Undeterred, Njord Law took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The company lost when a panel of judges found that the evidence presented against Telenor’s customers wasn’t good enough to prove infringement beyond a certain threshold. But Njord Law still wasn’t done.

More than six months on, the ruling from the Supreme Court only seems to have provided the company with a template. If the law firm could show that the scale of sharing exceeds the threshold set by Norway’s highest court, then disclosure could be obtained. That appears to be the case now.

In a ruling handed down by the Oslo District Court in January, it’s revealed that Njord Law and its partners handed over evidence which shows 23,375 IP addresses engaged in varying amounts of infringing behavior over an extended period. The ISP they have targeted is being kept secret by the court but is believed to be Telenor.

Using information supplied by German anti-piracy outfit MaverickEye (which is involved in numerous copyright troll cases globally), Njord Law set out to show that the conduct of the alleged pirates had been exceptional for a variety of reasons, categorizing them variously (but non-exclusively) as follows:

– IP addresses involved in BitTorrent swarm sizes greater than 10,000 peers/pirates
– IP addresses that have shared at least two of the plaintiffs’ movies
– IP addresses making available the plaintiffs’ movies on at least two individual days
– IP addresses that made available at least ten movies in total
– IP addresses that made available different movies on at least ten individual days
– IP addresses that made available movies from businesses and public institutions

While rejecting some categories, the court was satisfied that 21,804 IP addresses of the 23,375 IP addresses presented by Njord Law met or exceeded the criteria for disclosure. It’s still not clear how many of these IP addresses identify unique subscribers but many thousands are expected.

“For these users, it has been established that the gravity, extent, and harm of the infringement are so great that consideration for the rights holder’s interests in accessing information identifying the [allegedly infringing] subscribers is greater than the consideration of the subscribers’,” the court writes in its ruling.

“Users’ confidence that their private use of the Internet is protected from public access is a generally important factor, but not in this case where illegal file sharing has been proven. Nor has there been any information stating that the offenders in the case are children or anything else which implies that disclosure of information about the holder of the subscriber should be problematic.”

While the ISP (Telenor) will now have to spend time and resources disclosing its subscribers’ personal details to the law firm, it will be compensated for its efforts. The Oslo District Court has ordered Njord Law to pay costs of NOK 907,414 (US$115,822) plus NOK 125 (US$16.00) for every IP address and associated details it receives.

The decision can be appealed but when contacted by Norwegian publication Nettavisen, Telenor declined to comment on the case.

There is now the question of what Njord Law will do with the identities it obtains. It seems very likely that it will ask for a sum of money to make a potential lawsuit go away but it will still need to take an individual subscriber to court in order to extract payment, if they refuse to pay.

This raises the challenge of proving that the subscriber is the actual infringer when it could be anyone in a household. But that battle will have to wait until another day.

The full decision of the Oslo District Court can be found here (Norwegian)

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

Movie Industry Hides Anti-Piracy Messages in ‘Pirate’ Subtitles

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-industry-hides-anti-piracy-messages-in-pirate-subtitles-180125/

Anti-piracy campaigns come in all shapes and sizes, from oppressive and scary to the optimistically educational. It is rare for any to be labeled ‘brilliant’ but a campaign just revealed in Belgium hits really close to the mark.

According to an announcement by the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA), Belgian Federation of Cinemas, together with film producers and distributors, cinemas and directors, a brand new campaign has been targeting those who download content from illegal sources. It is particularly innovative and manages to hit pirates in a way they can’t easily avoid.

Working on the premise that many locals download English language movies and then augment them with local language subtitles, a fiendish plot was hatched. Instead of a generic preaching video on YouTube or elsewhere, the movie companies decided to ‘infect’ pirate subtitles with messages of their own.

“Suddenly the story gets a surprising turn. With a playful wink it suddenly seems as if Samuel L. Jackson in The Hitman’s Bodyguard directly appeals to the illegal viewer and says that you should not download,” the group explains.

Samuel is watching…..

>

“I do not need any research to see that these are bad subtitles,” Jackson informs the viewer.

In another scene with Ryan Reynolds, Jackson notes that illegal downloading can have a negative effect on a person.

Don’t download…..

Don’t download…..

“And you wanted to become a policeman, until you started downloading,” he says.

The movie groups say that they also planted edited subtitles in The Bridge, with police officers in the show noting they’re on the trail of illegal downloaders. The movies Logan Lucky and The Foreigner got similar treatment.

It’s not clear on which sites these modified subtitles were distributed but according to the companies involved, they’ve been downloaded 10,000 times already.

“The viewer not only feels caught but immediately realizes that you do not necessarily get a real quality product through illegal sources,” the companies say.

The campaign is the work of advertising agency TBWA, which appropriately bills itself as the Disruption Company.

“We are not a traditional ad agency network — we are a radically open creative collective. We look at what everyone else is doing and strive to do something completely new,” the company says.

Coincidentally, the company refers to its staff as pirates who rewrite rules and have ideas to take on “conventionally-steered ships.”

“As creative director of communication agency TBWA, protecting creative work is very important to us,” says TBWA Creative Director Gert Pauwels. “That is precisely why we came up with the subtle prank to work together with the sector to tackle illegal downloading.”

Although framed as a joke, one which may even raise a wry smile and a nod of respect from some pirates, there’s an underlying serious message from the companies involved.

“Maybe many think that everything is possible on the internet and that downloading will remain without consequences,” says Pieter Swaelens, Managing Director of BEA. “That is not the case. Here too, many jobs are being challenged in Belgium and we have to tackle this behavior.”

It’s also worth noting that while this campaign is both innovative and light-hearted, at least one of the companies involved is also a supporter of much tougher action.

Dutch Filmworks recently obtained permission from the Dutch Data Authority to begin monitoring pirates. Once it has their IP addresses it will attempt to make contact, offering a cash settlement agreement to make a potential lawsuit disappear.

“We are pleased with the extra attention to the problem of downloading from illegal sources,” says René van Turnhout, COO Dutch FilmWorks. “Too many jobs in our sector have been lost. Moreover, piracy endangers the creativity and quality of the legal offer.”

“I’d better watch legally … that’s true”

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

Judge Tells Movie Company That it Can’t Sue Alleged BitTorrent Pirate

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/judge-tells-movie-company-that-it-cant-sue-alleged-bittorrent-pirate-180118/

Despite a considerable migration towards streaming piracy in recent years, copyright trolls are still finding plenty of potential targets around the world. Alleged BitTorrent pirates are target number one since their activities are most easily tracked. However, it isn’t all plain sailing for the pirate hunters.

Last December we reported on the case of Lingfu Zhang, an Oregan resident accused by the makers of the 2015 drama film Fathers & Daughters (F&D) of downloading and sharing their content without permission. While these kinds of cases often disappear, with targets making confidential settlements to make a legal battle go away, Zhang chose to fight back.

Represented by attorney David Madden, Zhang not only denied downloading the movie in question but argued that the filmmakers had signed away their online distribution rights. He noted that (F&D), via an agent, had sold the online distribution rights to a third party not involved in the case.

So, if F&D no longer held the right to distribute the movie online, suing for an infringement of those rights would be impossible. With this in mind, Zhang’s attorney moved for a summary judgment in his client’s favor.

“ZHANG denies downloading the movie but Defendant’s current motion for summary judgment challenges a different portion of F&D’s case,” Madden wrote.

“Defendant argues that F&D has alienated all of the relevant rights necessary to sue for infringement under the Copyright Act.”

In response, F&D argued that they still held some rights, including the right to exploit the movie on “airlines and oceangoing vessels” but since Zhang wasn’t accused of being on either form of transport when the alleged offense occurred, the defense argued that point was moot.

Judge Michael H. Simon handed down his decision yesterday and it heralds bad news for F&D and celebration time for Zhang and his attorney. In a 17-page ruling first spotted by Fight Copyright Trolls, the Judge agrees that F&D has no standing to sue.

Citing the Righthaven LLC v. Hoehn case from 2013, the Judge notes that under the Copyright Act, only the “legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under a copyright” has standing to sue for infringement of that right.

Judge Simon notes that while F&D claims it is the ‘legal owner’ of the copyright to the Fathers & Daughters movie, the company “misstates the law”, adding that F&D also failed to present evidence that it is the ‘beneficial owner’ of the relevant exclusive right. On this basis, both claims are rejected.

The Judge noted that the exclusive rights to the movie were granted to a company called Vertical Entertainment which received the exclusive right to “manufacture, reproduce, sell, rent, exhibit, broadcast, transmit, stream, download, license, sub-license, distribute, sub-distribute, advertise, market, promote, publicize and exploit” the movie in the United States.

An exclusive license means that ownership of a copyright is transferred for the term of the license, meaning that Vertical – not F&D – is the legal owner under the Copyright Act. It matters not, the Judge says, that F&D retained the rights to display the movie “on airlines and ships” since only the transferee (Vertical) has standing to sue and those locations are irrelevant to the lawsuit.

“Under the Copyright Act, F&D is not the ‘legal owner’ with standing to sue for infringement relating to the rights that were transferred to Vertical through its exclusive license granted in the distribution agreement,” the Judge writes.

Also at issue was an undated document presented by F&D titled Anti-Piracy and Rights Enforcement Reservation of Rights Addendum. The document, relied upon by F&D, claimed that F&D is authorized to “enforce copyrights against Internet infringers” including those that use peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent.

However, the Judge found that the peer-to-peer rights apparently reserved to F&D were infringing rights, not the display and distribution (exclusive rights) required to sue under the Copyright Act. Furthermore, the Judge determined that there was no evidence that this document existed before the lawsuit was filed. Zhang and his attorney previously asserted the addendum had been created afterwards and the Judge agrees.

“F&D did not dispute that the undated anti-piracy addendum was created after this lawsuit was filed, or otherwise respond to Defendant’s standing argument relating to the untimeliness of this document,” the Judge notes.

“Accordingly, because the only reasonable inference supported by the evidence is that this document was created after the filing of this lawsuit, it is not appropriate to consider for purposes of standing.”

So, with Vertical Entertainment the only company with the right to sue, could they be added to the lawsuit, F&D asked? Citing an earlier case, the Judge said ‘no’, noting that “summary judgment is not a procedural second chance to flesh out inadequate pleadings.”

With that, Judge Simon granted Lingfu Zhang’s request for summary judgment and dismissed F&D’s claims for lack of standing.

As noted by Fight Copyright Trolls, the movie licensing scheme employed by F&D is complex and, given the fact that notorious copyright troll outfit Guardaley is involved (Guardaley filed 24 cases in eight districts on behalf of F&D), it would be interesting if legal professionals could dig deeper, to see how far the rabbit hole goes.

The summary judgment can be found here (pdf)

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

Fate of The Furious Cammers Found Guilty, Hollywood Fails to Celebrate?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fate-of-the-furious-cammers-found-guilty-hollywood-fails-to-celebrate-171105/

Earlier this year Hollywood’s MPAA helped local police catch two camcording pirates at a movie theater in Linthicum, Maryland.

Troy Cornish and Floyd Buchanan were spotted with recording equipment, preparing to target the US premiere of The Fate of the Furious.

According to Anne Arundel County Police, both were caught inside the theater while they were recording. The men reportedly wore camming harnesses under their clothing, which strapped mobile phones against their chests.

The MPAA’s involvement in the case is no surprise. The anti-piracy organization is the go-to outfit when it comes to content security at movie theaters and often keeps a close eye on known suspects.

In fact, at the time, an MPAA investigator told police that Buchanan was already known to the industry group as a movie piracy suspect.

Soon after the first reports of the arrests were released, dozens of news outlets jumped on the story. Rightly so, as ‘camming’ movie pirates are rarely caught. However, when the two were convicted this summer it was awfully quiet. There was no mention in the news at all.

While a few months late, this means we can break the news today. Despite claiming their innocence during trial, both Cornish and Buchanan were found guilty at the Glen Burnie District Court.

The court sentenced the two men to a suspended jail sentence of a year, as well as 18 months probation.

The sentence

While this is a serious sentence, it’s likely not the result the MPAA and the major Hollywood studios were hoping for. Despite the cammers’ attempt to illegally record one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, they effectively escaped prison.

If both were jailed for a substantial period there would undoubtedly be a press release to celebrate, but nothing of the like happened during the summer.

The above may sound a bit odd, but it’s totally understandable. The sentences in these cases are likely seen as too mild by Hollywood’s standards, so what’s the purpose of highlighting them? Anti-piracy messaging is mostly about scaring people and deterrence, and this case doesn’t fit that picture.

Still, the MPAA’s investigators are not going to stop. If either of the two men are caught again, it will be hard to avoid prison. Perhaps we’ll hear more then.

The MPAA didn’t respond to our request for comment.

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

MPAA: Almost 70% of 38 Million Kodi Users Are Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-almost-70-of-38-million-kodi-users-are-pirates-171104/

As torrents and other forms of file-sharing resolutely simmer away in the background, it is the streaming phenomenon that’s taking the Internet by storm.

This Tuesday, in a report by Canadian broadband management company Sandvine, it was revealed that IPTV traffic has grown to massive proportions.

Sandvine found that 6.5% of households in North American are now communicating with known TV piracy services. This translates to seven million subscribers and many more potential viewers. There’s little doubt that IPTV and all its variants, Kodi streaming included, are definitely here to stay.

The topic was raised again Wednesday during a panel discussion hosted by the Copyright Alliance in conjunction with the Creative Rights Caucus. Titled “Copyright Pirates’ New Strategies”, the discussion’s promotional graphic indicates some of the industry heavyweights in attendance.

The Copyright Alliance tweeted points from the discussion throughout the day and soon the conversation turned to the streaming phenomenon that has transformed piracy in recent times.

Previously dubbed Piracy 3.0 by the MPAA, Senior Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs Neil Fried was present to describe streaming devices and apps as the latest development in TV and movie piracy.

Like many before him, Fried explained that the Kodi platform in its basic form is legal. However, he noted that many of the add-ons for the media player provide access to pirated content, a point proven in a big screen demo.

Kodi demo by the MPAA via Copyright Alliance

According to the Copyright Alliance, Fried then delivered some interesting stats. The MPAA believes that there are around 38 million users of Kodi in the world, which sounds like a reasonable figure given that the system has been around for 15 years in various guises, including during its XBMC branding.

However, he also claimed that of those 38 million, a substantial 26 million users have piracy addons installed. That suggests around 68.5% or seven out of ten of all Kodi users are pirates of movies, TV shows, and other media. Taking the MPAA statement to its conclusion, only 12 million Kodi users are operating the software legitimately.

TorrentFreak contacted XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen for his stance on the figures but he couldn’t shine much light on usage.

“Unfortunately I do not have an up to date number on users, and because we don’t watch what our users are doing, we have no way of knowing how many do what with regards to streaming. [The MPAA’s] numbers could be completely correct or totally made up. We have no real way to know,” Betzen said.

That being said, the team does have the capability to monitor overall Kodi usage, even if they don’t publish the stats. This was revealed back in June 2011 when Kodi was still called XBMC.

“The addon system gives us the opportunity to measure the popularity of addons, measure user base, estimate the frequency that people update their systems, and even, ultimately, help users find the more popular addons,” the team wrote.

“Most interestingly, for the purposes of this post, is that we can get a pretty good picture of how many active XBMC installs there are without having to track what each individual user does.”

Using this system, the team concluded there were roughly 435,000 active XBMC instances around the globe in April 2011, but that figure was to swell dramatically. Just three months later, 789,000 XBMC installations had been active in the previous six weeks.

What’s staggering is that in 2017, the MPAA claims that there are now 38 million users of Kodi, of which 26 million are pirates. In the absence of any figures from the Kodi team, TF asked Kodi addon repository TVAddons what they thought of the MPAA’s stats.

“We’ve always banned the use of analytics within Kodi addons, so it’s really impossible to make such an estimate. It seems like the MPAA is throwing around numbers without much statistical evidence while mislabelling Kodi users as ‘pirate’ in the same way that they have mislabelled legitimate services like CloudFlare,” a spokesperson said.

“As far as general addon use goes, before our repository server (which contained hundreds of legitimate addons) was unlawfully seized, it had about 39 million active users per month, but even we don’t know how many users downloaded which addons. We never allowed for addon statistics for users because they are invasive to privacy and breed unhealthy competition.”

So, it seems that while there is some dispute over the number of potential pirates, there does at least appear to be some consensus on the number of users overall. The big question, however, is how groups like the MPAA will deal with this kind of unauthorized infringement in future.

At the moment the big push is to paint pirate platforms as dangerous places to be. Indeed, during the discussion this week, Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid claimed that users of pirate services are “28 times more likely” to be infected with malware.

Whether that strategy will pay off remains unclear but it’s obvious that at least for now, Piracy 3.0 is a massive deal, one that few people saw coming half a decade ago but is destined to keep growing.

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

Iran Arrests Six Movie Pirates After Rival ‘Licensed’ Pirates Complain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/iran-arrests-six-movie-pirates-after-rival-licensed-pirates-complain-171003/

Article 23 of Iran’s Copyright law is quite clear. Anyone who publishes, distributes or broadcasts another person’s work without permission “shall be condemned to corrective imprisonment for a period of time not less than six months and not more than three years.”

That being said, not all content receives protection. Since there are no copyright agreements between Iran and the United States, for example, US content is pirated almost at will in the country. Even the government itself has run ‘warez’ servers in the past.

That makes the arrest late last month of six men tied to movie piracy site TinyMoviez all the more unusual. At first view (translated image below), the site looks just like any other streaming portal offering Hollywood movies.

TinyMoviez

Indeed, much of the content comes from abroad, augmented with local Farsi-language subtitles or audio voiceovers.

However, according to a source cited by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), the site was targeted because rival pirate sites (which had been licensed to ‘pirate’ by the Iranian government) complained about its unlicensed status.

“In July and August [2017], there was a meeting between a number of Iranian start-up companies and [current Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari] Jahromi, who was asked by film and TV series distributors as well as video game developers to help shut down and monitor unlicensed rivals,” a film distributor in Tehran told CHRI.

“The start-ups made the request because they could not compete with a site like TinyMovies,” the source added. “After that meeting, Jahromi was nicknamed the ‘Start-Up Tsar’ because of his supportive comments. They were happy that he became the minister.”

That being said, the announcement from the authorities suggested broader issues, including that the site offered movies (none are singled out) that may be unacceptable by Iranian standards.

“Tehran’s prosecutor, after referral of the case to the Cyberspace corruption and prostitution department, said that the defendants in the case, of whom six were currently detained, produced vagabond and pornographic films and sold them in cyberspace,” Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said in an announcement.

“This gang illegally operated the largest source for downloading Hollywood movies and over the past three years, has distributed 18,000 foreign films and series after dubbing, many of which were indecent and immoral, and thus facilitated by illegitimate funds.”

While the authorities say that TinyMoviez has been taken down, various URLs (including Tinyz.us, ironically) now divert to a new domain, Timoviez2.net. However, at least for the moment, download links seem to be disabled.

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

No, Google Drive is Definitely Not The New Pirate Bay

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/no-google-drive-is-definitely-not-the-new-pirate-bay-170910/

Running close to two decades old, the world of true mainstream file-sharing is less of a mystery to the general public than it’s ever been.

Most people now understand the concept of shifting files from one place to another, and a significant majority will be aware of the opportunities to do so with infringing content.

Unsurprisingly, this is a major thorn in the side of rightsholders all over the world, who have been scrambling since the turn of the century in a considerable effort to stem the tide. The results of their work have varied, with some sectors hit harder than others.

One area that has taken a bit of a battering recently involves the dominant peer-to-peer platforms reliant on underlying BitTorrent transfers. Several large-scale sites have shut down recently, not least KickassTorrents, Torrentz, and ExtraTorrent, raising questions of what bad news may arrive next for inhabitants of Torrent Land.

Of course, like any other Internet-related activity, sharing has continued to evolve over the years, with streaming and cloud-hosting now a major hit with consumers. In the main, sites which skirt the borders of legality have been the major hosting and streaming players over the years, but more recently it’s become clear that even the most legitimate companies can become unwittingly involved in the piracy scene.

As reported here on TF back in 2014 and again several times this year (1,2,3), cloud-hosting services operated by Google, including Google Drive, are being used to store and distribute pirate content.

That news was echoed again this week, with a report on Gadgets360 reiterating that Google Drive is still being used for movie piracy. What followed were a string of follow up reports, some of which declared Google’s service to be ‘The New Pirate Bay.’

No. Just no.

While it’s always tempting for publications to squeeze a reference to The Pirate Bay into a piracy article due to the site’s popularity, it’s particularly out of place in this comparison. In no way, shape, or form can a centralized store of data like Google Drive ever replace the underlying technology of sites like The Pirate Bay.

While the casual pirate might love the idea of streaming a movie with a couple of clicks to a browser of his or her choice, the weakness of the cloud system cannot be understated. To begin with, anything hosted by Google is vulnerable to immediate takedown on demand, usually within a matter of hours.

“Google Drive has a variety of piracy counter-measures in place,” a spokesperson told Mashable this week, “and we are continuously working to improve our protections to prevent piracy across all of our products.”

When will we ever hear anything like that from The Pirate Bay? Answer: When hell freezes over. But it’s not just compliance with takedown requests that make Google Drive-hosted files vulnerable.

At the point Google Drive responds to a takedown request, it takes down the actual file. On the other hand, even if Pirate Bay responded to notices (which it doesn’t), it would be unable to do anything about the sharing going on underneath. Removing a torrent file or magnet link from TPB does nothing to negatively affect the decentralized swarm of people sharing files among themselves. Those files stay intact and sharing continues, no matter what happens to the links above.

Importantly, people sharing using BitTorrent do so without any need for central servers – the whole process is decentralized as long as a user can lay his or her hands on a torrent file or magnet link. Those using Google Drive, however, rely on a totally centralized system, where not only is Google king, but it can and will stop the entire party after receiving a few lines of text from a rightsholder.

There is a very good reason why sites like The Pirate Bay have been around for close to 15 years while platforms such as Megaupload, Hotfile, Rapidshare, and similar platforms have all met their makers. File-hosting platforms are expensive-to-run warehouses full of files, each of which brings direct liability for their hosts, once they’re made aware that those files are infringing. These days the choice is clear – take the files down or get brought down, it’s as simple as that.

The Pirate Bay, on the other hand, is nothing more than a treasure map (albeit a valuable one) that points the way to content spread all around the globe in the most decentralized way possible. There are no files to delete, no content to disappear. Comparing a vulnerable Google Drive to this kind of robust system couldn’t be further from the mark.

That being said, this is the way things are going. The cloud, it seems, is here to stay in all its forms. Everyone has access to it and uploading content is easier – much easier – than uploading it to a BitTorrent network. A Google Drive upload is simplicity itself for anyone with a mouse and a file; the same cannot be said about The Pirate Bay.

For this reason alone, platforms like Google Drive and the many dozens of others offering a similar service will continue to become havens for pirated content, until the next big round of legislative change. At the moment, each piece of content has to be removed individually but in the future, it’s possible that pre-emptive filters will kill uploads of pirated content before they see the light of day.

When this comes to pass, millions of people will understand why Google Drive, with its bots checking every file upload for alleged infringement, is not The Pirate Bay. At this point, if people have left it too long, it might be too late to reinvigorate BitTorrent networks to their former glory.

People will try to rebuild them, of course, but realizing why they shouldn’t have been left behind at all is probably the best protection.

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

MPAA Wins Movie Piracy Case in China After Failed Anti-Piracy Deal

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-wins-movie-piracy-case-in-china-after-failed-anti-piracy-deal-170822/

As one of China’s top 10 Internet companies, Xunlei is a massive operation with hundreds of millions of monthly users.

Among other file-sharing ventures, Xunlei operates ‘Thunder’, the world’s most popular torrent client. This and other almost inevitable copyright-related issues put the company on the radar of the MPAA.

With Xunlei pursuing an IPO in the United States in 2014, relationships with the MPAA began to thaw, resulting in the breakthrough signing of a Content Protection Agreement (CPA) requiring Xunlei to protect MPAA studio content including movies and TV shows.

But in October 2014, with things clearly not going to plan, the MPAA reported Xunlei to the U.S. government, complaining of rampant piracy on the service. In January 2015, the MPAA stepped up a gear and sued Xunlei for copyright infringement.

“For too long we have witnessed valuable creative content being taken and monetized without the permission of the copyright owner. That has to stop and stop now,” said MPAA Asia-Pacific chief Mike Ellis.

Now, more than two-and-a-half years later, the case has come to a close. Yesterday, the Shenzhen Nanshan District People’s Court found Xunlei Networking Technologies Co. guilty of copyright infringement.

The Court found that Xunlei made 28 movie titles (belonging to companies including Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, Disney and Warner Bros.) available to the public via its platforms without proper authorization, “in serious violation” of the movie group’s rights.

Xunlei was ordered to cease-and-desist and told to pay compensation of 1.4 million yuan ($210,368) plus the MPA’s litigation costs of $24,400. In its original complaint, the MPA demanded a public apology from Xunlei but it’s unclear whether that forms part of the ruling. The outcome was welcomed by the MPA.

“We are heartened that the court in Shenzhen has found in favor of strong copyright,” said MPAA Asia-Pacific chief Mike Ellis.

“The legitimate Chinese film and television industry has worked hard to provide audiences with a wide range of legal options for their audio-visual entertainment — a marketplace that has flourished because of the rights afforded to copyright owners under the law.”

How the MPAA and Xunlei move ahead from here is unclear. This case has taken more than two-and-a-half years to come to a conclusion so further litigation seems somewhat unlikely, if not unwieldy. Then there’s the question of the anti-piracy agreement signed in 2014 and whether that is still on the table.

As previously revealed, the agreement not only compelled Xunlei to use pre-emptive content filtering technology but also required the platform to terminate the accounts of people who attempt to infringe copyright in any way.

“[The] filter will identify each and every instance of a user attempting to infringe a studio work, by uploading or downloading,” an internal MPAA document revealed.

All that being said, the document also contained advice for the MPAA not to sue Xunlei, so at this point anything could happen.

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

MPAA Chief Praises Site-Blocking But Italians Love Piracy – and the Quality

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-chief-praises-site-blocking-but-italians-love-pirate-quality-170606/

After holding a reputation for being soft on piracy for many years, in more recent times Italy has taken a much tougher stance. The country now takes regular action against pirate sites and has a fairly aggressive site-blocking mechanism.

On Monday, the industry gathered in Rome and was presented with new data from local anti-piracy outfit FAPAV. The research revealed that while there has been some improvement over the past six years, 39% of Italians are still consuming illicit movies, TV shows, sporting events and other entertainment, at the rate of 669m acts of piracy every year.

While movie piracy is down 4% from 2010, the content most often consumed by pirates is still films, with 33% of the adult population engaging in illicit consumption during the past year.

The downward trend was not shared by TV shows, however. In the past seven years, piracy has risen to 22% of the population, up 13% on figures from 2010.

In keeping with the MPAA’s recent coding of piracy in 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 variants (P2P as 1.0, streaming websites as 2.0, streaming devices/Kodi as 3.0), FAPAV said that Piracy 2.0 had become even more established recently, with site operators making considerable technological progress.

“The research tells us we can not lower our guard, we always have to work harder and with greater determination in communication and awareness, especially with regard to digital natives,” said FAPAV Secretary General, Bagnoli Rossi.

The FAPAV chief said that there needs to be emphasis in two areas. One, changing perceptions among the public over the seriousness of piracy via education and two, placing pressure on websites using the police, judiciary, and other law enforcement agencies.

“The pillars of anti-piracy protection are: the judicial authority, self-regulatory agreements, communication and educational activities,” said Rossi, adding that cooperation with Italy’s AGCOM had resulted in 94 sites being blocked over three years.

FAPAV research has traditionally focused on people aged 15 and up but the anti-piracy group believes that placing more emphasis on younger people (aged 10-14) is important since they also consume a lot of pirated content online. MPAA chief Chris Dodd, who was at the event, agreed with the sentiment.

“Today’s youth are the future of the audiovisual industry. Young people must learn to respect the people who work in film and television that in 96% of cases never appear [in front of camera] but still work behind the scenes,” Dodd said.

“It is important to educate and direct them towards legal consumption, which creates jobs and encourages investment. Technology has expanded options to consume content legally and at any time and place, but at the same time has given attackers the opportunity to develop illegal businesses.”

Despite large-scale site-blocking not being a reality in the United States, Dodd was also keen to praise Italy for its efforts while acknowledging the wider blocking regimes in place across the EU.

“We must not only act by blocking pirate sites (we have closed a little less than a thousand in Europe) but also focus on legal offers. Today there are 480 legal online distribution services worldwide. We must have more,” Dodd said.

The outgoing MPAA chief reiterated that movies, music, games and a wide range of entertainment products are all available online legally now. Nevertheless, piracy remains a “growing phenomenon” that has criminals at its core.

“Piracy is composed of criminal organizations, ready to steal sensitive data and to make illegal profits any way they can. It’s a business that harms the entire audiovisual market, which in Europe alone has a million working professionals. To promote the culture of legality means protecting this market and its collective heritage,” Dodd said.

In Italy, convincing pirates to go legal might be more easily said than done. Not only do millions download video every year, but the majority of pirates are happy with the quality too. 89% said they were pleased with the quality of downloaded movies while the satisfaction with TV shows was even greater with 91% indicating approval.

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

MPAA Tracks ‘The Fate of the Furious’ Pirates, Two Men Arrested

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-tracks-the-fate-of-the-furious-pirates-two-men-arrested-170418/

According to the world’s major movie studios, piracy during a movie’s opening release window is the most damaging to the industry. That’s almost completely down to the way movies are marketed.

In the weeks and early months following a major title’s debut, the only place to see it is in a theater. When people make brand new movies available illegally in the home, it’s argued that fewer people go to the cinema and the subsequent retail window suffers with fewer sales.

This disruption in the market is the work of so-called movie ‘cammers’, people who enter movie theaters around the world, record the latest titles with a video device, and then make them available online and/or to physical bootleggers. They’re a prime target for movie studios who invest considerable resources in tracking them down, especially when it comes to the biggest titles.

Last Friday the MPAA was doing just that when one of their investigators shadowed two men into a Linthicum, Maryland theater from the parking lot at around 7:30 pm.

Troy Cornish, 38, of Baltimore, and Floyd Buchanan, 35, of Dundalk, were allegedly seen with recording equipment outside while preparing to target the US premiere of The Fate of the Furious (F8) starring Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson.

Like its predecessors, F8 is destined to be a guaranteed hit with the pirating masses so getting an early copy as quickly as possible is high on the list for capable cammers.

According to Anne Arundel County Police, when Cornish and Buchanan were approached inside the theater they were actively recording the $250m blockbuster. The pair were later found to be wearing some kind of recording harnesses under their clothing which held cell phones against their chests.

Both men were arrested and subsequently charged with the unauthorized recording of a movie in a theater. According to a local report, they face one year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine.

It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act (which usually covers such offenses) can see a first time offender imprisoned for up to three years and a repeat offender for up to six. Potentially complicating matters is that the MPAA investigator told police that Buchanan was already known to the industry group as a movie piracy suspect.

While the fate of the pair will remain to be seen, the fate of The Fate of the Furious is already sealed in piracy circles. After being pirated (presumably by another group) within 24 hours of its release, the movie entered TF’s weekly “Top Ten Most Pirated” chart yesterday at number six, a position that’s guaranteed to improve next week.

There are several versions available online, but without a doubt the most popular is a cammed version uploaded by notorious release group Hive-CM8. It was reportedly obtained from a ‘latino’ source and appears online with hard-coded subtitles cropped off.

Hive-CM8 is perhaps best known for their DVD screener leaks over the past couple of years (1,2) but are known to work with movie cammers too.

The MPAA is yet to make a statement on the arrests of Cornish and Buchanan but recently noted that The Fate of the Furious had contributed over $65 million to Georgia’s local economy while employing over 1,600 local workers.

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

BitTorrent Expert Report Slams Movie Piracy Evidence

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bittorrent-expert-report-slams-movie-piracy-evidence-170210/

In recent years many people have accused so-called ‘copyright trolls’ of using dubious tactics and shoddy evidence, to extract cash settlements from alleged movie pirates.

As the most active copyright litigant in the United States, adult entertainment outfit Malibu Media has been subjected to these allegations as well.

The company, widely known for its popular “X-Art” brand, has gone after thousands of alleged offenders in recent years earning millions of dollars in the process. While many of its targets eventually pay up, now and then the company faces fierce resistance.

This is also true in the case Malibu launched against the Californian Internet subscriber behind the IP-address 76.126.99.126. This defendant has put up quite a fight in recent months and invested some healthy resources into it.

A few days ago, the defendant’s lawyer submitted a motion (pdf) for summary judgment, pointing out several flaws in the rightsholder’s complaint. While this kind of pushback is not new, the John Doe backed them up with a very detailed expert report.

The 74-page report provides an overview of the weaknesses in Malibu’s claims and the company’s evidence. It was put together by Bradley Witteman, an outside expert who previously worked as Senior Director Product Management at BitTorrent Inc.

In common with other aspects, Malibu’s file-sharing evidence was also carefully inspected. Like many other rightsholders, the adult company teamed up with the German outfit Excipio which collects data through its custom monitoring technology.

According to Witteman’s expert analysis, the output of this torrent tracking system is unreliable.

One of the major complaints is that the tracking system only takes 16k blocks from the target IP addresses, not the entire file. This means that they can’t prove that the defendant actually downloaded a full copy of the infringing work. In addition, they can’t do a proper hash comparison to verify the contents of the file.

From the expert report

That’s only part of the problem, as Mr. Witteman lists a range of possible issues in his conclusions, arguing that the reliability of the system can’t be guaranteed.

  • Human error when IPP enters information from Malibu Media into the Excipio system.
  • Mr. Patzer stated that the Excipio system does not know if the user has a complete copy of the material.
  • The Excipio system only take 16k blocks from the target IP addresses.
  • There has not been any description of the chain of custody of the IPP verification affidavits nor that the process is valid and secure.
  • IP address false positives can occur in the system.
  • The user’s access point could have been incorrectly secured.
  • The user’s computer or network interface may have been compromised and is being used as a conduit for another user’s traffic.
  • VPN software could produce an inaccurate IP address of a swarm member.
  • The fuzzy name search of file names as described by Mr. Patzer could not have identified the file kh4k52qr.125.mp4 as the content “Romp at the Ranch.”
  • Proprietary BitTorrent Client may or may not be properly implemented.
  • Claim of “zero bugs” is suspect when one of the stated components has had 5 over 431 bugs, 65 currently unresolved.
  • Zero duration data transfer times on two different files.
  • The lack of any available academic paper on, or security audit of, the software system in question.

In addition to the technical evidence, the expert report also sums up a wide range of other flaws.

Many files differ from the one’s deposited at the Copyright Office, for example, and the X-Art videos themselves don’t display a proper copyright notice. On top of that, Malibu also made no effort to protect its content with DRM.

Based on the expert review the John Doe asks the court to rule in his favor. Malibu is not a regular rightsholder, the lawyer argues, but an outfit that’s trying to generate profits through unreliable copyright infringement accusations.

“The only conclusion one can draw is that Malibu does not operate like a normal studio – make films and charge for them. Instead Malibu makes a large chunk of its money using unreliable bittorrent monitoring software which only collects a deminimus amount of data,” the Doe’s lawyer writes.

Stepping it up a notch, the lawyer likens Malibu’s operation to Prenda Law, whose principals were recently indicted and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, and perjury by the US Government.

“Malibu is no different than ‘Prenda Law’ in form and function. They cleverly exploit the fact that most people will settle for 5-10K when sued despite the fact that the system used to ‘capture’ their IP address is neither robust nor valid,” the motion reads.

Whether the court will agree has yet to be seen, but it’s clear that the expert report can be used as a new weapon to combat these and other copyright infringement claims.

Of course, one has to keep in mind that there are always two sides to a story.

At the same time the John Doe submitted his motion, Malibu moved ahead with a motion (pdf) for sanctions and a default judgment. The adult entertainment outfit argues that the defendant destroyed evidence on hard drives, concealed information, and committed perjury on several occasions.

To be continued…

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

Movie Cammer & Prolific Uploader Receives Community Sentence

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-cammer-prolific-uploader-receives-community-sentence-170207/

When movies quickly become available online following their theatrical release, it’s likely that a copy has been recorded in a cinema. A wide range of cloaking techniques are used but in basic terms, someone points a camera at the screen and hits record.

The copies subsequently made available vary in quality, from passable to absolutely terrible. Nevertheless, so-called ‘cam’ copies of movies maintain their popularity online, and their existence is often referenced as the most damaging form of movie piracy.

As a result, copyright holders work hard to crack down on so-called ‘cammers,’ with two of the riskiest places being the United States and the United Kingdom. Cases rarely end well for defendants, with custodial sentences often the outcome. However, it doesn’t always go that way.

Back in September 2015, copies of American Ultra and Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials were recorded in Cineworld Cinema in Nottingham on their day of release and subsequently uploaded to the Internet.

Following a joint operation between EMSOU (the East Midlands Special Operations Unit), FACT (the Federation Against Copyright Theft) and the FCPA (Film Content Protection Agency), investigators found their way to then 33-year-old Shaun Patrick Forry.

Officers from the Government Agency Intelligence Network Disruption Team and EMSOU executed search warrants in the Hinkley area, with laptops and other equipment taken away for examination. FACT operatives were also in attendance.

Forry was arrested on suspicion of recording both movies and uploading them to the Internet. He was questioned and bailed pending further inquiries. The investigation later revealed that Forry had distributed more than 670 films online since August 2013, some of them while on police bail.

He subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of articles for use in fraud and one count of distributing copyrighted films. Previously, an individual who uploaded Fast & Furious 6 to the Internet received a 33-month jail sentence, but in this case the defendant got off relatively lightly.

According to a report from local police, Forry was sentenced yesterday at Nottingham Crown Court. He received an 18-month community order and was told to complete 150 hours unpaid work. But despite the relative slap on the wrist, the Film Content Protection Agency insist this was a serious case.

“This is a highly significant case concerning the illegal recording of films belonging to two UK film distributors, followed by the release of those films online,” says Simon Brown, Director of the FCPA.

“Over 90% of pirated films originate from a copy recorded during a public performance in cinemas worldwide, so it’s vital that offenders like Mr. Forry are identified and arrested promptly to prevent further damage to our film industry.

“Piracy not only costs the film industry millions of pounds but can also affect thousands of jobs, so we welcome this conviction. We thank the East Midlands GAIN for their diligent assistance in this case.”

It’s likely that moving forward we’ll hear quite a bit more about the Film Content Protection Agency. While historical camming cases were usually handled by the Federation Against Copyright Theft, a new FCPA unit formed in October 2016 will now spearhead anti-camming activity in the UK.

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

BREIN Shuts Down ‘Pirate Cinema’ on Facebook

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-shuts-down-pirate-cinema-on-facebook-170130/

biosIn the present day and age, online piracy is perhaps more scattered than it’s ever been.

Torrent sites, streaming services, cyberlockers, mobile apps, linking sites and many more are all labeled as infringing sources.

But, the piracy problem is not restricted to ‘shady’ sites and services alone. On many ‘legal’ platforms there’s a wide availability of copyright infringing material as well, Facebook included.

While anyone can casually post an infringing video or song on Facebook, there are some who dedicate entire pages to it. This was also the case for the Dutch page “LiveBioscoop” (LiveCinema) which was started by a 23-year-old man from Rotterdam.

As the name suggests, the page regularly streamed movies online with help from Facebook’s own live streaming service. In a relatively short period, it amassed over 25,000 followers who could regularly vote on which movies the ‘cinema’ should stream next.

The site’s popularity spilled over to the Dutch press last week, with the AD reporting on the unusual activity of LiveBioscoop and a similar page, Livebios. Commenting on the issue, anti-piracy group BREIN said they would investigate the issue, and not without result.

The operator of the Facebook page was quickly confronted by the anti-piracy group. Facing an ex-parte court order from a local court, the man agreed to stop the infringing activities and sign a settlement of €7,500. While the Facebook page itself is still online, infringements have stopped.

Commenting on the issue, BREIN director Tim Kuik says that they decided to go to court straight away, due to the gravity of the issue.

“This is just stealing revenue from cinemas and rightsholders. It has to end as soon as possible. That is why we have opted for an ex parte injunction with a penalty, instead of first issuing a summons,” Kuik says.

The other ‘pirate cinema’ on Facebook wasn’t mentioned by BREIN, but is no longer available at the time of writing. It seems likely that the operator of this page decided to stop voluntarily to avoid further problems.

Instead of simply cracking down on all these pages, copyright holders could also learn from them. As it turns out, many LiveBioscoop users sincerely enjoyed and appreciated the social cinema visit, which may prove to be an interesting opportunity.

“LiveBioscoop has to stay. It feels better and is more fun that way. People can talk. Netflix is just like, I watch a movie and that was it. Since I found LiveBioscoop I no longer watched Netflix movies,” one follower commented.

While this is the first time that we have seen a settlement with a Facebook live streamer, movie piracy is relatively common on the social network. There still are dozens, if not hundreds of popular pages dedicated to pirated movies and TV-shows.

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

Viacom 18 Obtains Court Order to Block 1,250 ‘Pirate’ Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/viacom-obtains-court-order-to-block-1250-pirate-sites-161123/

force2Blocking websites is becoming one of the most popular anti-piracy tools among rightsholders. The theory is that if Internet users can’t access pirate sites, they’ll head off to legitimate outlets and part with their cash.

Thus far, whole site blockades have been ordered against sites which courts determine are the worst infringers. Sites like The Pirate Bay, for example, which carries a significant percentage of links to infringing content and refuses to respond to DMCA notices.

Over in India, the approach is somewhat more aggressive, especially given the goals in mind. Rather than looking at the problem as a whole, rightsholders tend to head off to court to obtain a so-called John Doe order on a case-by-case basis, often with extreme results.

Viacom18, a joint venture between Viacom and the Network 18 Group, released the action movie Force 2 November 18. Unfortunately for them, a DVD screener copy of the title leaked online four days ago.

Wanting to protect its investment, the company headed off to court to try and do something about the rampant online piracy already underway. It’s unlikely it will succeed in stemming the flow, but the court has certainly taken the company seriously.

The Madras High Court has just granted Viacom18 an injunction which orders 40 major Internet service providers to block 1,250 websites which might be offering the movie, or links to the movie, to the public.

While that’s an extremely broad instruction, the order goes further. In addition to the 40, all other non-specified ISPs must also comply with the order. Furthermore, the order also covers any other site beyond the 1,250 already named.

Aside from its sheer scale, the order is particularly aggressive in that it orders whole websites to be blocked, not just the allegedly infringing URLs. That means that if someone uploads a copy to YouTube or Vimeo, for example, those platforms could face blocking in a nation where 462m people have Internet access.

Viacom18 is pleased with the court’s response to its calls for help.

“I welcome this order from the Hon’ble Madras High Court,” says Viacom18 group general counsel Sujeet Jain.

“It is estimated that India loses $2.5 billion to online movie piracy every year. With increased penetration of technology and internet in India, piracy through online distribution is expected to continue to be a major source of revenue leakage for the movie industry. This order is a significant development for the film industry in its fight against online piracy.”

Jain also announced that the company has launched an investigation into the source of the leak but how successful that will prove remains to be seen. DVD screener copies of Bollywood movies are extremely common, and it appears that the industry won’t be able to do much to stop the next inevitable leak.

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

Anti-Piracy Group FACT Expands Reach Beyond Hollywood

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-group-fact-expands-reach-beyond-hollywood-161110/

Outside of law enforcement, it’s fair to say that the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) is the most feared anti-piracy outfit operating in the UK today.

Over the years, FACT has been central to many high-profile operations targeting torrent and streaming site operators, theater camming incidents, and other Hollywood protection efforts. The group has been responsible for cases which have put several individuals behind bars for a number of years.

However, in just a couple of months’ time, FACT’s work in this area will come to an end. In May, Hollywood decided not to renew their 30-year-old membership with the anti-piracy group.

With an estimated 50% of its budget disappearing as a result, FACT has a big shortfall to make up. However, in an announcement yesterday the anti-piracy outfit said it will do so by branching out into new areas of IP enforcement, outside the audio-visual sector.

“Established for over 33 years, FACT is recognized as the leader in film, TV and sports intellectual property protection,” FACT said.

“However, recent changes have created new opportunities for the organization and now FACT’s expertise and technical knowledge are being extended to brands and businesses requiring support in protecting their content, brand and intellectual property.”

TorrentFreak contacted FACT for more information on where new partnerships were being forged. Details are scarce, but FACT did confirm that the loss of Hollywood’s membership earlier in the year was the catalyst for change.

“The withdrawal of funding earlier this year has given us the opportunity to expand our services to the wider industry,” FACT said.

“Unfortunately it is early days into our working relationship and so we are unable to provide you with any more detail into our new customers.”

While FACT’s skills have often been deployed to protect Hollywood’s film interests, there’s little doubt that the same expertise will transfer to almost any other content transferred digitally online.

Tracking Ebook or gaming pirates, for example, could easily be achieved with the same systems. Equally, FACT’s work with The Premier League, Sky, and BT Sport could provide a good base for further expansion in the same niche – IPTV providers and modded Kodi box sellers be warned.

However, the tone seems to suggest that FACT is looking further afield for enforcement opportunities, possibly in the offline counterfeiting sector.

“Over the years FACT has built a reputation as experts in intellectual property protection who you can value and trust, but until now our services have been available only to film, TV and sport,” says Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General.

“Now we are able to offer our expertise to brands and businesses looking for that extra support when it comes to protecting their products and content.”

While pirates of all sizes will welcome FACT’s departure from movie piracy enforcement, a similar role is already being played by the Police Intellectual Property Unit. Equally, for those who get their kicks from recording first-run movies in cinemas, the job of stopping that from happening now falls to the newly-formed Film Content Protection Agency.

Only time will tell which direction FACT will take, but it’s likely the group will seek to quickly stamp its authority on its chosen sectors, if its revised budget allows.

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

Police Confiscate Hundreds of Computers Over Movie Piracy Allegations

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-confiscate-hundreds-of-computers-over-piracy-allegations-161024/

During the summer, Poland became entangled in what is likely to be one of the world’s most important copyright battles. Alleged KickassTorrents founder Artem Vaulin was arrested in the country, where he continues to fight extradition to the United States.

Now Poland finds itself at the center of separate but related file-sharing controversy, this time related to the activities of copyright trolls and the authorities apparently working on their behalf.

Like most areas of Europe, Poland is being targeted by aggressive content owners. These companies trawl torrent networks for IP addresses in the hope they will lead to people prepared to pay a settlement amount to make legal issues go away. But while in the rest of the continent these matters are generally a civil legal matter, in Poland police are deeply involved.

According to several reports in local media, police have visited hundreds of homes across the country, seizing hundreds of computers alleged to have been involved in the sharing of a comedy movie titled “Screwed“.

“We have established 2,600 downloads of the film. This applies to about 900 computers,” the District Prosecutor’s Office in Szczecin told local news outlet TVN24.

The prosecutor’s office say that the seizures were made to protect evidence and stop infringement but the actions of the authorities are causing real concern. TVN24 reports that on a national scale as many as 40,000 people may have downloaded the movie and therefore risk being visited by the police.

Also raising eyebrows is the evidence authorities are acting upon. It is unclear who obtained the IP address-based evidence or whether it has been subjected to any independent scrutiny. Also controversial is the basis upon which computers are being seized.

The action is said to be primarily aimed at people who not only download but also redistribute content online. Of course, this describes most BitTorrent users perfectly, since downloading and simultaneous uploading is all part of the process.

However, the authorities say that their main targets are people cashing in on mass distribution, and that does not accurately describe the general public nor the hundreds, perhaps thousands of people getting caught up in this sweep.

Nevertheless, legal experts cited by local media insist that while downloading is a civil offense, uploading can be viewed as a criminal matter which could lead to fines or even imprisonment of up to two years. However, the wronged party – in this case a movie studio – can offer the alleged wrongdoer a way out if he or she pays compensation.

The action is just one of many similar operations to hit Poland in recent months. A year ago, police seized around 1,000 computers alleged to have downloaded and shared the same movie.

Somewhat worryingly, prosecutors later admitted that they did not verify the technical processes used by the distributors to identify the alleged infringers.

It was also claimed that in some cases police advised suspects to settle with their accusers rather than face legal action. While it’s not unusual for police to act as mediators in all kinds of disputes, critics felt that the advice was inappropriate in an unproven copyright case.

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

Pirate Site Operators Are Like Heroin Dealers, Movie Boss Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-operators-like-heroin-dealers-movie-boss-says-161010/

shadowGraham Burke can be accused of many things but moderating his words is certainly not one of them.

The outspoken co-chief of media company Village Roadshow has been front and center of many of Australia’s movie piracy battles and has authored some of their most controversial comments.

Speaking at the 71st Australian International Movie Convention today, Burke continued the trend. He launched a fresh attack on Internet piracy, accusing pirate site operators of terrible crimes and site users of undermining the livelihoods of creators.

“Nothing is more important or urgent, as every day that passes tens of thousands of our movies are stolen and it is a devastating contagious plague,” a copy of Burke’s speech obtained by The Australian (subscription) reads.

According to the Village Roadshow chief, the main problem is the sites that facilitate this “theft”, which are not only extremely dangerous places to visit but are run by equally dangerous people.

“We are sending our kids to very dangerous online neighborhoods — the pirates are not good guys,” Burke said.

“These aren’t roguish, basement-dwelling computer geeks — these are the same type of people that sell heroin.”

Describing pirate site operators as often having connections to “organised, international crime syndicates”, Burke warned that they only care about revenue, making “tens of millions blitzing our kids with [high-risk] advertising.”

Interestingly, Burke said that nearly three-quarters of people acknowledge that piracy is theft but noted that many downloaders are unaware that what they are doing is “wrong” because government inaction means that “dangerous” pirate sites are still open for business.

“In our research we repeatedly come across people who have not been told [piracy is wrong and is theft], and assume from continued practice, that it is socially and legally acceptable, and that it does no harm or that their individual activity won’t make any difference,” he said.

“People wouldn’t go into a 7-Eleven and swipe a Mars bar. People are fundamentally honest and fundamentally decent.”

But with site-blocking and making more content legally available only part of the solution, the Village Roadshow chief says his company has decided that taking action against the public is now required. Repeat infringers, Burke says, will now be subjected to legal action.

“We are planning to pursue our legal rights to protect our copyright by suing repeat infringers — not for a king’s ransom but akin to the penalty for parking a car in a loading zone,” ABC reports.

“If the price of an act of thievery is set at say AUS$300 (US$228), we believe most people will think twice.”

While it’s too early to estimate exactly how many Aussie pirates might be caught up in the dragnet, it’s fair to say the numbers could be considerable. Mad Max: Fury Road, a Village Roadshow produced movie, is said to have been illegally downloaded 3.5 million times. Australia has a population of around 23.5 million.

However, the age group of people said to be carrying out much of the pirating presents a problem. Burke says that piracy among adults has dropped in the past year due to the availability of services such as Netflix. However, the growing threat appears to come from a much younger age group.

“There has been some decline in piracy amongst Australian adults in the last year and part of this is due to new streaming services … which demonstrates that when product is legally available, this is a critical factor,” Burke said.

“However, before we get too comfortable by this decline in total piracy, the emphasis on movies is worse and illegal online activity of 12 to 17-year-old Australians has almost doubled since last year — with a whopping 31 per cent pirating movies.”

And there lies the dilemma. While Burke thinks that fines might be the answer to further reducing piracy among the adult population, he’s going to have a crisis on his hands if he starts targeting his big problem group – children. Kids can be sued in Australia but that sounds like a horrible proposition that will only undermine the campaign’s goals.

Whoever his company ‘fines’ or goes on to sue, Burke says the money accrued will go back into education campaigns to further reduce piracy. It’s a model previously employed by the RIAA, who eventually abandoned the strategy.

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