Tag Archives: mpaa

Fake MPAA Asks Google to Remove Thousands of URLs, Including MPAA.org

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fake-mpaa-asks-google-to-remove-thousands-of-urls-including-mpaa-org-190714/

In 2012, Google first published a Transparency Report for search-related copyright takedown notices.

This rather enlightening database allows outsiders to check what URLs copyright holders want removed from the search engine.

In recent years Google has processed more than four billion URLs. While most of these requests are legitimate, there have also been plenty of errors, mistakes, and in some instances; clear abuse.

Most of the cases we covered in the past dealt with rightsholders targeting perfectly legal content, ranging from news articles, through open-source software, to Facebook’s homepage. Over the past year, however, we’ve noticed a different but equally disturbing trend.

Among the millions of notices Google receives on a weekly basis, there are now quite a few ‘fake’ submissions. Fake, in this case, means that the submitter pretends to be or represent someone else. Someone who it clearly isn’t.

We first spotted this late last year when imposters targeted many pirate sites with suspicious takedown requests. These were presumably sent by competing pirate sites, trying to remove the competition from Google’s search results. More recently, imposters even tried to remove a Netflix listing.

Today we have another example that’s perhaps even more blatant. It involves the name of Hollywood’s very own anti-piracy group, the MPAA.

In recent weeks Google received a flood of notices claiming to be from the Hollywood group. While the MPAA is based in the U.S., the notices in question are sent on behalf of “MPAA UK” and “MPAA Member Studios DE”. 

However, none of the listings below, including “MPAA Member Studios US,” are legitimate. It appears that someone is pretending to be the MPAA, sending takedown requests for tens of thousands of URLs. 

Fake MPAA’s

Looking more closely at the takedown requests, we see a familar pattern emerge. The notices mainly target a small group of ‘pirate’ sites. For example, over 10,000 URLs of the Turkish movie streaming site Filmifullizle.tv were targeted in just one week, with most notices coming from fake MPAA’s.

Filmmodu.com, and other Turkish streaming portals such as Yabancidizi.org, Fullhdfilmizleten.org, and Filmionlineizle.tv, get the same treatment, either by a fake MPAA or another scammer.

Interestingly, these imposters are rather sloppy at times. On several occasions they put the infringing URLs in the “original works” box, labeling the MPAA’s homepage as the infringing content. Luckily for the real MPAA, Google didn’t remove it.  

Pirate MPAA?

As we have highlighted in the past, these imposters are likely to be competing pirate sites, who want to take out the competition by making their opponents’ sites unfindable in Google’s search results. A clear case of abuse. 

At the time of writing, Google has complied with several of the fake takedown requests, removing the allegedly-infringing URLs. However, the search engine does appear to be aware of the problem, and has labeled some submissions as being fake. 

The imposter situation definitely doesn’t help the credibility of the takedown process. Google has its hands full and we imagine that the MPAA isn’t happy with the misuse of its name either. 

That said, the Hollywood group certainly isn’t alone in this. Several other rightsholders and anti-piracy organizations have imposters as well, including Marvel, Warner Bros., MarkMonitor, DigiGuardians, Marketly, and many others.

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

MPAA Wants U.S. Govt. to Prosecute Streaming Piracy Operations

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-wants-u-s-govt-to-prosecute-streaming-piracy-operations-190706/

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been battling online piracy for years, but the problem remains.

Roughly a decade ago torrent sites were the main threat. In recent years that switched, first to cyberlockers, and then to online streaming.

While the MPAA has pursued civil lawsuits against pirate sites and services throughout the world, it believes that more progress can be made through criminal prosecutions.

In a recent testimony before the  U.S. House of Representatives, MPAA’s Senior Counsel Neil Fried explains that these criminal cases have a much broader impact, using the Megaupload case as an example.

“Although the U.S. government does not take many such actions, those they do can have a greater deterrent effect than civil suits because criminal cases bring more attention, along with the possibility of jail time for convicted culprits,” Fried notes.

“Indeed, a 2012 U.S. action against Megaupload—then the largest piracy ‘cyberlocker,’ accounting for 4 percent of all internet traffic—increased lawful digital sales by 6.5 to 8.5 percent for three major studios in 12 countries,” he adds, citing an academic study from an MPAA funded research group.

Hollywood’s anti-piracy outfit hopes that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) will continue to investigate piracy cases. In order to facilitate this, the MPAA says it has already reported several unnamed piracy streaming operations, hoping for a similar effect.

“The MPAA has pending a number of criminal referrals to DOJ regarding streaming piracy operations, with the goal of replicating a comparable uptick in legitimate consumption,” Fried notes.

These referrals have not been made public, but it’s clear that the MPAA would like to see some streaming-related criminal prosecutions. This could be streaming sites, but also illegal IPTV services, or companies that sell pirate streaming boxes.

The MPAA has fed law enforcement with information leading to piracy-related indictments on several previous occasions. The anti-piracy group triggered the criminal prosecution of members of the BitTorrent release group IMAGiNE, as well as the Megaupload and KickassTorrents cases.

The latter two cases are still on hold, pending the outcome of extradition requests in New Zealand and Poland respectively. Considering the slow progress in these cases, it could be that the DoJ is not too eager to take on another online piracy case just yet.

The MPAA’s criminal referrals are part of its three-pronged approach to combating online piracy. This further involves voluntary anti-piracy initiatives with third-party services, as well as civil lawsuits against copyright-infringing sites and services. 

The voluntary initiatives include agreements with domain name registrars, advertisers, payment processors, which are encouraged to cut their ties with known pirate sites.

On the civil action side, the MPAA’s activity has recently been coordinated through the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE). This group has filed civil cases against streaming box vendors and IPTV services, and also conducts “knock and talks,” targeting pirate add-on developers

In recent years there haven’t been any criminal cases against streaming piracy outfits. The MPAA, however, urges lawmakers to ensure that the feds expand their horizons and pursue cases against these streaming piracy operations.

“Our hope is that Congress will encourage DOJ to move forward with those cases,” Fried notes in the testimony.

The full testimony from the MPAA’s Neil Fried, was submitted for hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce (pdf) and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation (pdf).

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

MPAA / ACE Shut Down ‘Pirate’ IPTV Service, Seize Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-ace-shut-down-pirate-iptv-service-seize-domain-190517/

In 2015, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a new initiative designed to target existing and developing piracy operations on a global scale, announced its launch.

Headed up by the studios of the MPAA plus Netflix and Amazon, more than 30 international media now complete its ranks, including the likes of BBC Worldwide, Bell Canada, MGM, and Village Roadshow, to name just a few.

In addition to targeting Kodi add-ons and their developers, ACE has made unlicensed IPTV services one of its priorities. This morning we can report that the anti-piracy giant has claimed another scalp.

In the grand scheme, OneStepTV.com appears to have been a relative newcomer. Archives suggest that the service launched in 2018 and grew to offer around 600 TV channels and 20,000 pieces of VOD content (such as movies), for $25 per month or less.

No credit checks…

While many of One Step TV’s customers appeared to have enjoyed the service, a few weeks ago problems appear to have become evident to subscribers looking to renew their package.

A post on Facebook dated April 25, 2019, signaled payment processing issues, one of the most common signs that a platform might be in trouble.

“We have been subscribers for awhile now and like your service very much. We are a little confused and concerned as recently we were told that customers cannot renew their subscriptions anymore,” the post reads.

“Is your business going away, or do you anticipate fixing the payment issue in the near future? We really would like to continue doing business with you.”

A few days later, more serious issues hit the streaming service. With its payment processing suspended, the platform itself disappeared.

One Step TV — gone

One Step TV’s public social media posts don’t give any explanation for the outage but yesterday an ominous change to the service’s homepage gave the clearest indication yet of what may have transpired.

Instead of One Step TV’s sales pitch, visitors to OneStepTV.com are now presented with a message from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment. Five seconds later the page redirects to the Alliance’s homepage.

Five seconds before redirect

While a page and redirect like this are very easy to fake (pirate sites frequently display similar pages as April Fool pranks), this one is very different. Not only does the domain redirect to the Alliance’s website as promised, changes to One Step TV’s domain records confirm that the domain has been taken over.

Seized by the MPAA

As the image above shows, the domain is now in the hands of the MPAA and has probably been that way since yesterday morning. The site itself is hosted by Amazon, a founding member of ACE.

All the pieces of the puzzle together strongly suggest that in this format at least, One Step TV is done. It’s not clear if a lawsuit is involved but as far as we can see, none have been filed recently by ACE’s lead members.

While it’s difficult to say for sure, this closure bears the hallmarks of a cease-and-desist and subsequent settlement agreement. Given ACE’s reluctance to talk about such agreements, it seems unlikely there will be a detailed public statement.

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

US Govt. Seizes Millions in Cash & Crypto in Movie Piracy Case

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/us-govt-seizes-millions-in-cash-crypto-in-movie-piracy-case-190514/

Significant legal action against alleged operators of pirate sites have traditionally been carried out with great fanfare.

However, a case underway in federal court in Oregon is a very different beast, particularly given its scale and form.

The case filed in the district court May 6, 2019, reveals the United States government seeking forfeiture of around $4 million dollars worth of cash and cryptocurrency seized on the basis that the owner of the property was involved in a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering.

The investigation reportedly began in October 2013 when Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents received information from PayPal concerning two websites, Noobroom.com and Noobroom7.com, that allowed subscribers to stream movies and TV shows.

HSI reported these sites to the MPAA which conducted an investigation, concluding that the sites and associated domains Noobroom and Noobroom9 distributed works in breach of its members’ copyrights. Revenue was reportedly generated by subscriptions processed through Stripe and via adverts placed by a company called Lanista Concepts.

In July 2014, the MPAA sent a cease-and-desist notice to Noobroom. Five days later a covert Noobroom user account operated by the Hollywood group received a message advising users that their accounts had been moved to a new website at SuperChillin.com.

After downloading movies from SuperChillin, the MPAA was able to link an IP address to an individual identified as Talon White. The suspect was subsequently linked to two additional sites – movietv.co and Sit2Play.com – which were deemed to be near identical copies of each other. The registrant of Sit2Play was listed as Talon White and an associated email address was determined as belonging to him.

HSI’s investigation continued from 2016 to November 2018 when search and seizure warrants were executed. A declaration by Keith Druffel, a Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, reads as follows;

“Based on financial records obtained during the investigation, I determined that White received substantial revenue from the above-listed websites,” Druffel writes.

“In 2018, he was averaging revenue over $500,000 per month. In 2017, White received over $2.2 million. In 2016, White received over $1 million in revenue, and in 2014 and 2015, White received on average about $400,000 a year in revenue.”

According to Druffel, subscribers of the sites paid via PayPal or Stripe, payments that were deposited into bank accounts controlled by White. Information provided by Stripe matched White’s personal information and the account was labeled as “Selling stock tip subscriptions via email.” The IRS claims there is no evidence of any such sales.

78,985 payments of $9.99 were received into the Stripe account between October 2015 and December 2016, amounting to $789,060. A further 7,611 payments of $25.49 ($194,004.39) and 5,348 payments of $44.99 ($240,606.52) made a grand total of $1,223,671.24.

“The above-listed amounts correspond to the listed subscription costs on Sit2Play and Movietv. Therefore, I believe the payments received by Stripe are the subscription fees for the websites,” Druffel adds.

Further analysis of transactions on White’s Stripe account dated between October 2017 and September 2018 revealed a further 396,843 payments of between $9.99 and $44.99 to a value of $6,373,816.57.

“The above listed amounts correspond to the cost of subscriptions to the websites and represent proceeds from the violation of 18 USC § 2319, Criminal Copyright Infringement,” the statement reads.

The investigation found that through August 2018, more than $3m was transferred from the Stripe account to a Wells Fargo account in White’s name and a JP Morgan Chase account held in the name of Viral Sensations, Inc. (VSI), a Nevada entity.

White is alleged to have opened three checking accounts in the name of VSI, over which he had sole signature authority. Through August 31, 2018, one VSI account received payments of more than $5.9 million. The accounts were linked to White and subscriptions from the pirate sites. Funds from one of the Chase accounts were used to buy $1m in cryptocurrency through virtual currency exchange Coinbase.

On November 13, 2018, Mustafa Kasubhai, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Oregon, approved a search and seizure warrant authorizing a search of White’s residence and seizure of various assets. The warrant was executed two days later, yielding the following;

  • $2,457,790.72 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #1
  • $1,266,650.00 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #2
  • $1,383.68 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #3
  • $200,653.71 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #4
  • $32,921.00 seized in US currency (cash)
  • $1,940.77 seized in US currency (Stripe account)
  • 31.53810677 in BTC (Coinbase account)
  • 1,022.39066800 in ETH (Coinbase account)
  • 5.74017141 in BCH (Coinbase account)

“[I] have probable cause to believe, and I do believe, that White and others known and unknown were involved in a conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1957 and 2319 from at least 2013 through November 2018,” Druffel’s statement adds.

On May 7, 2019, District Judge Anna J. Brown issued an order to the IRS to hold the assets until further notice.

“You are hereby commanded to arrest and take into your possession until further order of the Court, defendants, in rem, Assorted Funds,” the Judge wrote.

From a copyright infringement perspective, this case is pretty unusual.

Most civil and criminal cases against pirate sites and their operators involve detailed descriptions of their workings along with finely-tuned claims of various types of infringement. But the focus here appears to be a financial one, for now at least.

A report from Koin.com suggests that the man hasn’t been charged with a crime yet. In an effort to find ou more, TF approached White’s lawyer Rain Minns. At the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

Related court documents obtained by TF can be found here (1,2,3)

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

Vader & the Truth About Pirate IPTV Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People want all this with no drawbacks? Think again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MPAA “Dramatically Expanding” ACE Global Anti-Piracy Coalition

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-dramatically-expanding-ace-global-anti-piracy-coalition-190507/

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, the anti-piracy coalition which already counts 33 of the world's most powerful media companies among its members, is about to get even bigger. MPAA chief Charles Rivkin confirms that his group is in the process of "dramatically" expanding the global initiative.

For more than 15 years and mainly since the rise of BitTorrent-based sharing, sites and platforms offering Hollywood movies or TV shows have been wary of the MPAA.

At any moment, BitTorrent trackers and indexers could find themselves in the group’s crosshairs, targeted by full-blown lawsuits or threats that the same would follow, if infringing activity continued.

But while the threat was real, litigation has always been expensive, sometimes prohibitively so. Furthermore, video content being shared by pirates wasn’t always owned by the studios of the MPAA, allowing many sites to slip through the net.

In June 2017, the MPAA began plugging both of these loopholes with the launch of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a huge anti-piracy coalition featuring not only MPAA members, but companies like Amazon, Netflix, CBS, HBO, and the BBC.

After adding Discovery Inc. and two Viacom-owned companies back in March, ACE now has 33 members. This not only means that it’s becoming more and more difficult to run a ‘pirate’ video platform or service without treading on at least one member’s toes, but there are almost three dozen large to huge companies now sharing the financial burden of chasing down pirates.

Now, according to MPAA chief Charles Rivkin, ACE is about to become even more powerful.

In an interview with WorldScreen, Rivkin detailed some of ACE’s achievements so far, such as shutting down 123Movies and taking on TickBox and Dragon Box, companies operating in the so-called ISD (illicit streaming device) market. A case against Omniverse is still ongoing.

“We were able to win in court against pirate operators called TickBox and Dragon Box, and they represent a new threat: the internet streaming devices, the ISDs, that are basically devices that can be purchased completely legally but when loaded with illegal software, can do enormous damage to content. It’s a never-ending fight, but we’re starting to make a big difference,” he said.

“And it’s an existential threat for some of the small and medium businesses that make up the industry. I was speaking to some broadcasters in Paris who said that piracy can be as big as their entire bottom line. And the impact on entertainment companies is huge, so this is a top priority for us.”

That Rivkin mentions 123Movies (Vietnam), then Tickbox and Dragon Box (United States), followed by France (Canal+ is an ACE member), shows that the fight against piracy is going global. ACE has already targeted several Kodi-related platforms and add-ons in the UK since its inception, yet another sign that no important region is off-limits.

If there is business worth doing there, ACE either has it covered already or will have it in hand fairly soon.

“Every major market has a participating member. We’re in the process of dramatically expanding [ACE] even more. It is already the premier global effort to reduce piracy,” Rivkin added.

How this expansion will manifest itself is not yet clear, but it seems likely that ACE will continue with its strategy of ‘loud’ public litigation (such as that taken against TickBox and Dragon Box) and selective ‘quiet’ action against certain players.

Last month, ACE told TorrentFreak that it had “sought and obtained voluntary cooperation from a significant number of owners, operators, and developers of sites, add-ons, and services” that facilitate piracy.

“We will execute more planned global actions along these lines and look to continue our success protecting creators around the world,” ACE spokesperson Richard VanOrnum added.

These ‘quiet’ actions are of course intriguing.

From the limited information available to us, it seems clear that they vastly outnumber the volume of ‘loud’ actions seen thus far and mainly target products with a large audience (Kodi add-ons and builds, for example) but without the obvious commercial element of many ‘pirate’ sites and services.

However, we have received information which suggests that large platforms may not be immune from being presented with settlement agreements, which form part of the process to cease-and-desist.

This complicates reporting because documentation previously seen by TF requires those targeted not to tell anyone apart from their lawyers about the approach to shut down. In return, ACE promises not to make their identities known, meaning that details shared are kept to a minimum.

For example, last week huge IPTV service Vader shut down, stating that it had been approached by companies seeking its closure. The platform didn’t mention ACE directly but if anyone would like them to close down, ACE would be the prime candidate.

We asked ACE if the coalition was behind the closure and a spokesperson promised to send over a statement. Thus far, however, we haven’t received anything back. While a comment may yet be forthcoming, an additional document sent to TF (the veracity of which we haven’t been able to independently confirm), suggests that Vader has been given the opportunity to settle.

If that’s indeed the case, the matter could potentially disappear into the ether, as so many other services and tools have also done in recent times. Either way, we can probably expect much more of this type of action in the future, as ACE’s “drastic” expansion brings in more funds and tentacles in every corner of the world.

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

MPAA and RIAA’s Megaupload Lawsuits Remain ‘Frozen’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-and-riaas-megaupload-lawsuits-remain-frozen/

Well over seven years have passed since Megaupload was shut down.

Aside from Andrus Nomm’s plea deal, progress in the criminal proceedings against Megaupload’s founder and former associates is slow.

The United States wants New Zealand to extradite Kim Dotcom. However, the German-born entrepreneur and his former colleagues are fighting this request vigorously. 

Late last year, David Boldt, a lawyer for the United States, suggested that the extradition battle “might almost be at half-time”, opening up the potential for more years of legal battling.

This means that the criminal case in the United States remains pending as well. The same goes for the lawsuits the MPAA and RIAA filed against Megaupload in 2014.

Since the civil cases may influence the criminal proceedings, Megaupload’s legal team previously managed to put these cases on hold. Since there’s no progress on the extradition front, this hold continues to be extended.

Previously there were concerns that the long delays could result in the destruction of evidence, as some of Megaupload’s hard drives were starting to fail. However, after the parties agreed on a solution to back-up and restore the files two years ago, this is no longer an issue.

“With the preservation order in place and there being no other objection,
Defendant Megaupload hereby moves the Court to enter the attached proposed order, continuing the stay in this case for an additional six months,” Megaupload’s legal team wrote in its most recent request.

Following a renewed request from Megaupload’s legal team, US District Court Judge Liam O’Grady recently agreed to stay the case until October 1st, pending any new developments.

If recent history is any indication, we can expect another extension, six months from now.

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

Despite US Criticism, Ukraine Cybercrime Chief Receives Few Piracy Complaints

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/despite-us-criticism-ukraine-cybercrime-chief-receives-few-piracy-complaints-180522/

On a large number of occasions over the past decade, Ukraine has played host to some of the world’s largest pirate sites.

At various points over the years, The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, ExtraTorrent, Demonoid and raft of streaming portals could be found housed in the country’s data centers, reportedly taking advantage of laws more favorable than those in the US and EU.

As a result, Ukraine has been regularly criticized for not doing enough to combat piracy but when placed under pressure, it does take action. In 2010, for example, the local government expressed concerns about the hosting of KickassTorrents in the country and in August the same year, the site was kicked out by its host.

“Kickasstorrents.com main web server was shut down by the hosting provider after it was contacted by local authorities. One way or another I’m afraid we must say goodbye to Ukraine and move the servers to other countries,” the site’s founder told TF at the time.

In the years since, Ukraine has launched sporadic action against pirate sites and has taken steps to tighten up copyright law. The Law on State Support of Cinematography came into force during April 2017 and gave copyright owners new tools to combat infringement by forcing (in theory, at least) site operators and web hosts to respond to takedown requests.

But according to the United States and Europe, not enough is being done. After the EU Commission warned that Ukraine risked damaging relations with the EU, last September US companies followed up with another scathing attack.

In a recommendation to the U.S. Government, the IIPA, which counts the MPAA, RIAA, and ESA among its members, asked U.S. authorities to suspend or withdraw Ukraine’s trade benefits until the online piracy situation improves.

“Legislation is needed to institute proper notice and takedown provisions, including a requirement that service providers terminate access to individuals (or entities) that have repeatedly engaged in infringement, and the retention of information for law enforcement, as well as to provide clear third party liability regarding ISPs,” the IIPA wrote.

But amid all the criticism, Ukraine cyber police chief Sergey Demedyuk says that while his department is committed to tackling piracy, it can only do so when complaints are filed with him.

“Yes, we are engaged in piracy very closely. The problem is that piracy is a crime of private accusation. So here we deal with them only in cases where we are contacted,” Demedyuk said in an Interfax interview published yesterday.

Surprisingly, given the number of dissenting voices, it appears that complaints about these matters aren’t exactly prevalent. So are there many at all?

“Unfortunately, no. In the media, many companies claim that their rights are being violated by pirates. But if you count the applications that come to us, they are one,” Demedyuk reveals.

“In general, we are handling Ukrainian media companies, who produce their own product and are worried about its fate. Also on foreign films, the ‘Anti-Piracy Agency’ refers to us, but not as intensively as before.”

Why complaints are going down, Demedyuk does not know, but when his unit is asked to take action it does so, he claims. Indeed, Demedyuk cites two particularly significant historical operations against a pair of large ‘pirate’ sites.

In 2012, Ukraine shut down EX.ua, a massive cyberlocker site following a six-month investigation initiated by international tech companies including Microsoft, Graphisoft and Adobe. Around 200 servers were seized, together hosting around 6,000 terabytes of data.

Then in November 2016, following a complaint from the MPAA, police raided FS.to, one of Ukraine’s most popular pirate sites. Initial reports indicated that 60 servers were seized and 19 people were arrested.

“To see the effect of combating piracy, this should not be done at the level of cyberpolicy, but at the state level,” Demedyuk advises.

“This requires constant close interaction between law enforcement agencies and rights holders. Only by using all these tools will we be able to effectively counteract copyright infringements.”

Meanwhile, the Office of the United States Trade Representative has maintained Ukraine’s position on the Priority Watchlist of its latest Special 301 Report and there a no signs it will be leaving anytime soon.

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

Singapore ISPs Block 53 Pirate Sites Following MPAA Legal Action

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/singapore-isps-block-53-pirate-sites-following-mpaa-legal-action-180521/

Under increasing pressure from copyright holders, in 2014 Singapore passed amendments to copyright law that allow ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites.

“The prevalence of online piracy in Singapore turns customers away from legitimate content and adversely affects Singapore’s creative sector,” said then Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah.

“It can also undermine our reputation as a society that respects the protection of intellectual property.”

After the amendments took effect in December 2014, there was a considerable pause before any websites were targeted. However, in September 2016, at the request of the MPA(A), Solarmovie.ph became the first website ordered to be blocked under Singapore’s amended Copyright Act. The High Court subsequently ordering several major ISPs to disable access to the site.

A new wave of blocks announced this morning are the country’s most significant so far, with dozens of ‘pirate’ sites targeted following a successful application by the MPAA earlier this year.

In total, 53 sites across 154 domains – including those operated by The Pirate Bay plus KickassTorrents and Solarmovie variants – have been rendered inaccessible by ISPs including Singtel, StarHub, M1, MyRepublic and ViewQwest.

“In Singapore, these sites are responsible for a major portion of copyright infringement of films and television shows,” an MPAA spokesman told The Straits Times (paywall).

“This action by rights owners is necessary to protect the creative industry, enabling creators to create and keep their jobs, protect their works, and ensure the continued provision of high-quality content to audiences.”

Before granting a blocking injunction, the High Court must satisfy itself that the proposed online locations meet the threshold of being “flagrantly infringing”. This means that a site like YouTube, which carries a lot of infringing content but is not dedicated to infringement, would not ordinarily get caught up in the dragnet.

Sites considered for blocking must have a primary purpose to infringe, a threshold that is tipped in copyright holders’ favor when the sites’ operators display a lack of respect for copyright law and have already had their domains blocked in other jurisdictions.

The Court also weighs a number of additional factors including whether blocking would place an unacceptable burden on the shoulders of ISPs, whether the blocking demand is technically possible, and whether it will be effective.

In common with other regions such as the UK and Australia, for example, sites targeted for blocking must be informed of the applications made against them, to ensure they’re given a chance to defend themselves in court. No fully-fledged ‘pirate’ site has ever defended a blocking application in Singapore or indeed any jurisdiction in the world.

Finally, should any measures be taken by ‘pirate’ sites to evade an ISP blockade, copyright holders can apply to the Singapore High Court to amend the blocking order. This is similar to the Australian model where each application must be heard on its merits, rather than the UK model where a more streamlined approach is taken.

According to a recent report by Motion Picture Association Canada, at least 42 countries are now obligated to block infringing sites. In Europe alone, 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way.

In Canada, where copyright holders are lobbying hard for a site-blocking regime of their own, there’s pressure to avoid the “uncertain, slow and expensive” route of going through the courts.

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

MPAA Chief Says Fighting Piracy Remains “Top Priority”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Registrars Suspend 11 Pirate Site Domains, 89 More in the Crosshairs

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/registrars-suspend-11-pirate-site-domains-89-more-in-the-crosshairs-180423/

In addition to website blocking which is running rampant across dozens of countries right now, targeting the domains of pirate sites is considered to be a somewhat effective anti-piracy tool.

The vast majority of websites are found using a recognizable name so when they become inaccessible, site operators have to work quickly to get the message out to fans. That can mean losing visitors, at least in the short term, and also contributes to the rise of copy-cat sites that may not have users’ best interests at heart.

Nevertheless, crime-fighting has always been about disrupting the ability of the enemy to do business so with this in mind, authorities in India began taking advice from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) a couple of years ago.

After studying the model developed by PIPCU, India formed its Digital Crime Unit (DCU), which follows a multi-stage plan.

Initially, pirate sites and their partners are told to cease-and-desist. Next, complaints are filed with advertisers, who are asked to stop funding site activities. Service providers and domain registrars also receive a written complaint from the DCU, asking them to suspend services to the sites in question.

Last July, the DCU earmarked around 9,000 sites where pirated content was being made available. From there, 1,300 were placed on a shortlist for targeted action. Precisely how many have been contacted thus far is unclear but authorities are now reporting success.

According to local reports, the Maharashtra government’s Digital Crime Unit has managed to have 11 pirate site domains suspended following complaints from players in the entertainment industry.

As is often the case (and to avoid them receiving even more attention) the sites in question aren’t being named but according to Brijesh Singh, special Inspector General of Police in Maharashtra, the sites had a significant number of visitors.

Their domain registrars were sent a notice under Section 149 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure, which grants police the power to take preventative action when a crime is suspected. It’s yet to be confirmed officially but it seems likely that pirate sites utilizing local registrars were targeted by the authorities.

“Responding to our notice, the domain names of all these websites, that had a collective viewership of over 80 million, were suspended,” Singh said.

Laxman Kamble, a police inspector attached to the state government’s Cyber Cell, said the pilot project was launched after the government received complaints from Viacom and Star but back in January there were reports that the MPAA had also become involved.

Using the model pioneered by London’s PIPCU, 19 parameters were applied to list of pirate sites in order to place them on the shortlist. They are reported to include the type of content being uploaded, downloaded, and the number of downloads overall.

Kamble reports that a further 89 websites, that have domains registered abroad but are very popular in India, are now being targeted. Whether overseas registrars will prove as compliant will remain to be seen. After booking initial success, even PIPCU itself experienced problems keeping up the momentum with registrars.

In 2014, information obtained by TorrentFreak following a Freedom of Information request revealed that only five out of 70 domain registrars had complied with police requests to suspend domains.

A year later, PIPCU confirmed that suspending pirate domain names was no longer a priority for them after ICANN ruled that registrars don’t have to suspend domain names without a valid court order.

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Compliance in the AWS Cloud

Post Syndicated from Chad Woolf original https://blogs.aws.amazon.com/security/post/Tx2M9XYV2FNQ483/Frequently-Asked-Questions-About-Compliance-in-the-AWS-Cloud

Every month, AWS Compliance fields thousands of questions about how to achieve and maintain compliance in the cloud. Among other things, customers are eager to take advantage of the cost savings and security at scale that AWS offers while still maintaining robust security and regulatory compliance. Because regulations across industries and geographies can be complex, we thought it might be helpful to share answers to some of the frequently asked questions we hear about compliance in the AWS cloud, as well as to clear up potential misconceptions about how operating in the cloud might affect compliance.

Is AWS compliant with [Program X]?

Context is required to answer this question. In all cases, customers operating in the cloud remain responsible for complying with applicable laws and regulations, and it is up to you to determine whether AWS services meet applicable requirements for your business. To help you make this determination, we have enacted assurance programs across multiple industries and jurisdictions to inform and support AWS customers. We think about these assurance programs across the following three broad categories.

1. Certifications and attestations

Compliance certifications and attestations (evidence showing that something is true) are assessed by a third-party, independent auditor and result in a certification, audit report, or attestation of compliance.

Assurance programs in this category include:

2. Laws and regulations

AWS customers remain responsible for complying with applicable compliance laws and regulations. In some cases, AWS offers functionality (such as security features), enablers, and legal agreements (such as the AWS Data Processing Agreement and Business Associate Agreement) to support customer compliance. Requirements under applicable laws and regulations may not be subject to certification or attestation.

Assurance programs in this category include:

3. Alignments and frameworks

Compliance alignments and frameworks include published security or compliance requirements for a specific purpose, such as a specific industry or function. AWS provides functionality (such as security features) and enablers (including compliance playbooks, mapping documents, and whitepapers) for these types of programs.

Requirements under specific alignments and frameworks may not be subject to certification or attestation; however, some alignments and frameworks are covered by other compliance programs. (for instance, NIST guidelines can be mapped to applicable FedRAMP security baselines).

Assurance programs in this category include:

How does AWS separate the responsibilities that they cover from the ones I still need to maintain around my compliance program?

AWS operates on the AWS Shared Responsibility Model. While AWS manages security of the cloud, customers remain responsible for compliance and security in the cloud. You retain control of the security you choose to implement to protect your content, platform, applications, systems, and networks, and you are responsible for meeting specific compliance and regulatory requirements.

Learn more about the AWS Shared Responsibility Model by watching the following video.

What’s an example of an AWS community focused on compliance?

AWS recently released a publicly available GitHub repository for AWS Config Rules. All members of the AWS community can contribute to this repository to help make effective and useful Config Rules. You can tap into the collective ingenuity and expertise of the entire AWS community to automate your compliance checks. For more information, see Announcing the AWS Config Rules Repository: A New Community-Based Source of Custom Rules for AWS Config.

What is AWS’s formal security incident response plan?

AWS’s formally documented incident response plan addresses purpose, scope, roles, responsibilities, and management commitment. It has been developed in alignment with ISO 27001 and NIST 800-53 standards. AWS has implemented the following three-phased approach to incident management:

  1. AWS detects an incident.  
  2. Specialized teams address the incident.
  3. AWS conducts a postmortem and deep root-cause analysis of the incident.

Mechanisms are in place to allow the customer support team to be notified of operational issues that impact the customer experience. A Service Health Dashboard is available and maintained by the customer support team to alert customers to any issues that may be of broad impact. The AWS incident management program is reviewed by independent external auditors during audits of AWS’s SOC, PCI DSS, ISO 27001, and FedRAMP compliance.

How often does AWS issue SOC reports and when does the next one become available?

AWS issues two SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports covering 6-month periods each year (the first report covers October 1 through March 31, and the other covers April 1 through September 30). There are many factors that play into the release date of the report, but we target early May and early November each year to release new reports. Our downloadable AWS SOC 3 Report is issued annually and is released along with the May SOC 1 and SOC 2 reports.

Please contact us with questions about using AWS products in a compliant manner, or if you’d like to learn more about compliance in the cloud, see the AWS Cloud Compliance website.

– Chad

To Serve Users

Post Syndicated from Bradley M. Kuhn original http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2014/05/14/to-serve-users.html

(Spoiler alert: spoilers regarding a 1950s science fiction short story that you may
not have read appear in this blog post.)

Mitchell
Baker announced
today that Mozilla Corporation (or maybe Mozilla Foundation? She doesn’t
really say…) will begin implementing proprietary software by default
in Firefox at the behest of wealthy and powerful media companies
.
Baker argues this serves users: that Orwellian phrasing caught
my attention most.

image from Twilight Zone Episode, To Serve Man, showing the book with the alien title on the front and its translation.

In the old science
fiction story, To Serve Man
(which later was adapted for the
The Twilight Zone
), aliens come to earth and freely share
various technological advances, and offer free visits to the alien world.
Eventually, the narrator, who remains skeptical, begins translating one of
their books. The title is innocuous, and even well-meaning: To Serve Man. Only
too late does the narrator realize that the book isn’t about service to
mankind, but rather — a cookbook.

It’s in the same spirit that Baker seeks to serve Firefox’s users
up on a platter to the MPAA, the RIAA, and like-minded wealthy for-profit
corporations. Baker’s only defense appears to be that other browser
vendors have done the same, and cites specifically for-profit companies such as
Apple, Google, and Microsoft.

Theoretically speaking, though, the Mozilla Foundation is supposed to be a
501(c)(3)
non-profit charity which told the IRS
its charitable purpose was:
to keep the Internet a universal platform that is accessible by anyone
from anywhere, using any computer, and … develop open-source
Internet applications. Baker fails to explain how switching Firefox to
include proprietary software fits that mission. In fact, with a bit of
revisionist history, she says that open source was merely an
“approach” that Mozilla Foundation was using, not their
mission.

Of course, Mozilla Foundation is actually a thin non-profit shell wrapped
around a much larger entity called the Mozilla Corporation, which is a for-profit
company. I have always been dubious about this structure,
and actions like this that make it obvious that “Mozilla”
is focused on being a for-profit company, competing with other for-profit
companies, rather than a charity serving the public (at least, in the way
that I mean “serving”).

Meanwhile, I greatly appreciate that various Free Software communities
maintain forks and/or alternative wrappers around many web browser
technologies, which, like Firefox, succumb easily to for-profit corporate
control. This process (such as Debian’s iceweasel fork and GNOME’s
ephiphany interface to Webkit) provide an nice “canary in the
coalmine” to confirm there is enough software-freedom-respecting code
still released to make these browsers usable by those who care about
software freedom and reject the digital restrictions management that
Mozilla now embraces. OTOH, the one item that Baker is right about: given
that so few people oppose proprietary software, there soon may not be much
of a web left for those of us who stand firmly for software freedom.
Sadly, Mozilla announced today their plans to depart from curtailing that
distopia and will instead help accelerate its onset.

Related Links:

My
comment on Gerv’s blog post
, which criticizes this one.
FSF’s
condemnation of Mozilla’s support of DRM