Tag Archives: mpaa

Man Uses His Own Name For Pirate Streaming Sites, Gets Arrested

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/man-uses-his-own-name-for-pirate-streaming-site-gets-arrested-161018/

pirate-cardFor the past several years, the Hollywood studios of the MPA/MPAA and the major recording labels have regularly attended the UK High Court to force ISPs to block pirate sites.

Following a slow start in 2012, a year later a wide range of sites were blocked, including EZTV, Movie2K, PrimeWire, Vodly, YIFY-Torrents, SolarMovie and TubePlus. Dozens of additional sites were targeted in 2014 and 2015, but with so many sites operational, a sizeable task lay ahead.

In May 2016, the MPA obtained a new injunction, this time against several streaming sites including Putlocker, WatchFree and Couchtuner. Also included in the package were Rainierland and RainierTamayo, two popular domains for a site showing the latest movies and TV shows.


Soon after the ISPs put their blocking measures in place the site’s operator began receiving notifications from users having difficulty reaching the site. In response, he published a Facebook post containing advice on how to circumvent the blockades.


Earlier this month, however, the site experienced much bigger problems. According to media reports in the Philippines, the operator of Rainierland and RainierTamayo was arrested following a complaint from Australia-based anti-piracy outfit Internet Fraud Watchdog.

Members of the Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group swooped on the computer science graduate who was reportedly “caught red-handed” as he uploaded movies to his site. In a sign that the authorities wanted to send a message, the arrest was televised on national TV, including Tamayo being put into a cell with several other prisoners.

Internet Fraud Watchdog (IFW) Executive Chairman Ken Gamble said they had been “investigating a person running a number of websites that were pirating a lot of US movies, big blockbuster movies online.” It’s not clear how complex that investigation became but the suspect certainly didn’t make himself difficult to identify.

Local media identified the operator of RainierTamayo.com as a local man called Rainier Tamayo. IFW say they were able to trace him through his website which had been leaking films online since 2011. Perhaps pointlessly, all domains currently registered to Tamayo are WHOIS-protected, despite featuring his name in various forms in their URLs.

Police say that during the raid they also seized several computers, laptops and routers but that is likely to be the least of the computer graduate’s worries. According to police sources, if found guilty Tamayo could face up to 12 years in jail for violating copyright law.

The sites in question are currently still up but appear to be non-functional when it comes to playing movies. Tamayo didn’t immediately respond to TF’s request for comment which raises the possibility that he’s still being held.

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

AllMyVideos.net to Shut Down, No Longer Profitable

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/allmyvideos-net-to-shut-down-no-longer-profitable-161014/

allmyvideosFounded five years ago, AllMyVideos.net has become a household name in the video-hosting world.

With millions of users per month it is the go-to site for many, but this is about to change as a message on the homepage warns.

“We are sorry to inform everyone that effective October 23, 2016 Allmyvideos.net will stop accepting new uploads and the site will close fully at the end of the month,” the site announced.

The announcement coincides with a submission from the Hollywood industry group MPAA to the U.S. Government, which listed AllMyVideos as one of the top pirates sites.

However, according to the operator of the site, prospective legal issues are not the reason why they’re pulling the plug. The site was forced to take this drastic step due to a lack of revenue.

“Honestly, the main reason why the site is closing is the fact that the video hosting business is not profitable any longer, not by any means. Over the years making the site break even has become a massive issue,” Bill from AllMyVideos tells us.

Like many other sites that are often associated with piracy, it’s hard to get decent paying ads that are not peddling malware. In addition, payment providers often refuse to work with these type of sites, while overall subscriptions revenues are dropping.

“It’s very difficult to get ads that will cover the bandwidth. And AllMyVideos sold maybe five premium subscriptions a week over the last few months, for a total of around $200,” Bill says.

The lack of revenue runs directly counter to a report that was published by the Hollywood-backed Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) two years ago. This report claimed that these hosting services are highly profitable with huge profit margins.

For example, DCA’s report estimated the site to have a yearly profit of $997,587, with a very healthy profit ratio of close to 85%.

Cyberlocker revenues, estimated by DCA


AllmMyVideos says that these figures don’t make any sense, which is evidenced by the fact that they are not shutting down due to a lack of profits.

“Honestly, I don’t know how the MPAA thinks people make money off hosting. The unreal $ values they come up with are insane. A profit margin of -20% is more like it,” Bill tells us.

The site is not the first to cite money issues as a reason to quit. Earlier this year other file-hosting services shut their doors for the same reason, and torrent site TorrentHound also cited financial problems as one of the main factors to throw in the towel.

In recent years, rights holders and industry groups have pushed hard to cut the money stream to pirate sites in any way they can, which appears to have had some effect.

DCA’s profit report, for example, was used to get payment processors to stop serving file-hosting services. Similarly, advertisers are also frequently warned not to do business with these and other “pirate” sites.

For AllMyVideos these reflections are moot. While they’ve enjoyed their ride, the team behind the site is ready to move on to new adventures.

“It’s been five years and it’s sad to see the site close. My team has met a lot of great people and wishes everyone the best of luck,” Bill concludes.

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

Putlocker.is Mysteriously Goes Down

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/putlocker-is-mysteriously-goes-down-161014/

putlockerisWith dozens of millions of monthly views, Putlocker.is is the go-to video streaming site for many people.

The site ranks among the 250 most-visited websites on the Internet and is particularly popular in the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

However, starting three days ago the site suddenly became inaccessible. While a brief downtime stint is nothing unusual for these type of sites, the prolonged downtime is cause for concern among users.

Many are voicing their frustration after being confronted by yet another CloudFlare downtime banner, showing them that the site’s servers are still unresponsive.

“Putlocker is down so I no longer have a reason to live,” one user dramatically announced.

“Putlocker has been down the whole day. I’m going through serious withdrawals,” another added.

Putlocker.is down


Looking for answers, TorrentFreak tried to contact the Putlocker.is team on their known support address. However, this email returned an error message as well.

As far as we can see the current problems are related to the site’s servers. The domain name itself is operating as it should and hasn’t been seized or suspended by the registrar.

Interestingly, the downtime occurs right after Hollywood’s MPAA reported the site to the United States Trade Representative, describing it as one of the largest piracy threats.

“Putlocker.is is the most visited infringing English language video streaming link site in the world,” the MPAA wrote.

According to the MPAA the site is believed to operate from Vietnam, with its servers being hosted at the Swiss company Private Layer. Whether there’s a direct relation between the report and the downtime is unclear though.

Meanwhile, several “other” Putlockers are seizing the opportunity to gain some traction, at least for the time being. Whether the real Putlocker.is will return as well has yet to be seen.

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

Police Arrest Five in Major Streaming Site Crackdown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-arrest-five-in-streaming-site-crackdown-161014/

blackbeardLast November, Federal Police in Brazil launched Operation Blackbeard, a coordinated action to take down MegaFilmesHD.net, Latin America’s most popular pirate site.

Launched in 2010 and mainly serving the Portuguese-speaking market, MegaFilmesHD had been pulling in a reported 60 million visits per month.

Police made several arrests, including the presumed operators of the site. Four cars, quantities of cash, and bank accounts were seized. The MPAA had reported the streaming portal to the United States Trade Representative just a month earlier.

Now, just 11 months on, the authorities are back to complete their unfinished business. Launching the second phase of Operation Blackbird, yesterday police moved against what they describe as a “criminal gang” dedicated to profiting from online infringement.

After executing seven search warrants in four states – São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraíba and Pernambuco – a total of five people were arrested. Three major local streaming sites were the targets

In operation since 2009, Filmesonlinegratis.net is said to be the 57th most-visited site in Brazil with 36 million monthly visits over the past six months. It offers 11,000 titles for streaming and generates revenue from advertising. Despite the raid, it is currently still online.

According to local media, Megafilmeshd20.org was Brazil’s 119th most-visited site with 17 million visits per month during the past six months. It offered 6,000 titles without obtaining consent from rightsholders while generating revenue from advertising. It is currently offline.

Armagedomfilmes.biz is said to have enjoyed 11 million visits per month as Brazil’s 179th most popular site. Founded in 2009, it offered 8,000 titles for streaming while generating money from ads. Its domain appears to have been seized by the authorities and now shows the banner below.


According to police, together the sites received around three-quarters of a billion visits between them each year while making available thousands of titles focusing on the Brazilian, Portuguese and Japanese markets.

If found guilty, authorities say the suspects face jail sentences of up to eight years for membership of a criminal organization, four years for copyright infringement offenses, plus fines.

Local media reports that the operation to shut down the sites received international support from Interpol.

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

RIAA: CloudFlare Shields Pirates and Frustrates Blocking Efforts

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-cloudflare-shields-pirates-and-frustrates-blocking-efforts-161013/

cassetteFollowing in the footsteps of the MPAA, the RIAA has submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

These annual submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement.

This year the RIAA’s report includes 47 alleged pirate sites in various categories. As in previous years, popular torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent are prominently mentioned.

There’s also a strong focus on so-called “stream-ripping” sites. While these have been around for roughly a decade, the music industry sees them as a growing threat, which is also evidenced by the recent lawsuit against YouTube-MP3.

According to the music group, it is getting harder to target these sites, as they are increasingly taking precautions.

“It is exceedingly difficult to track, enforce against, and accurately associate various notorious websites,” RIAA writes, listing domain hopping, reverse proxy services and anonymous domain name registrations as the main factors.

Obstructing factors


The Pirate Bay is one of the prime examples of a site that has switched domain names in the past. Due to various enforcement efforts it burnt through more than a dozen domains with ease.

In addition, TPB and other pirate sites are increasingly using the popular CDN CloudFlare. Besides saving costs, it also acts as a reverse proxy and shields the true hosting location from public view.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the RIAA which repeatedly mentions CloudFlare in its report.

“BitTorrent sites, like many other pirate sites, are increasing (sic) turning to Cloudflare because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site,” the RIAA writes.

Throughout the report the RIAA attempts to point out the hosting location of all pirate sites, but it often has to put down “obfuscated by Cloudflare” instead.

Obstructing factors


Aside from making it harder to identify the hosting location, CloudFlare can also make it harder for ISPs to block websites.

Traditionally, some ISPs have blocked pirate sites by IP-address, but this is no longer an option since CloudFlare customers share IPs with other sites, which can lead to overblocking.

“The use of Cloudflare’s services can also act to frustrate site-blocking orders because multiple non-infringing sites may share a Cloudflare IP address with the infringing site,” the RIAA notes in its report.

While CloudFlare itself isn’t tagged as a notorious site, the fact that both the RIAA and MPAA are highlighting the service in their report is not without reason. The industry groups are likely to demand a more proactive anti-piracy policy from CloudFlare in the future.

Apart from all the doom and gloom, there is also a positive development. After being labeled as a notorious pirate site for years, the RIAA has taken social network VK.com off its list. This is the direct result of licensing agreements between the site and various major labels.

“Russia’s vKontakte has now reached licensing agreements with major record companies and has thus been removed from our list,” the RIAA writes.

Finally, it’s worth noting that MP3Skull is no longer on the list. As we suggested yesterday, the RIAA believes that the people behind the site switched their operation to Emp3world.ch. Curiously, this knowledge didn’t prevent them from seizing the domain name of a seemingly unrelated site.

The full list of RIAA’s “notorious” pirate sites can be found below, and the full report is available here (pdf).

Stream-Ripping Sites

– Youtube-mp3.org
– Mp3juices.cc
– Convert2mp3.net
– Aiomp3.com
– Clipconverter.cc
– Savefrom.net
– Youtube2mp3.cc
– Onlinevideoconverter.com

Search-and-Download Sites

– Emp3world.ch
– Audiocastle.biz
– Viperial2.com
– Im1music.info
– Albumkings.com
– Newalbumreleases.net

BitTorrent Indexing and Tracker Sites

– Thepiratebay.org
– Extratorrent.cc
– Bitsnoop.com
– Isohunt.to
– Torrentdownloads.me
– LimeTorrents.cc
– Rarbg.to
– 1337x.to


– 4shared.com
– Uploaded.net
– Zippyshare.com
– Rapidgator.net
– Dopefile.pk
– Chomikuj.pl
– Turbobit.net
– Hitfile.net
– 1fichier.com
– Bigfile.to
– Share-online.biz
– Ulozto.cz

Unlicensed Pay-for-Download Sites

– Mp3va.com
– Soundsbox.com
– Iomoio.com
– Soundike.com
– Payplay.fm
– Mp3million.com
– Megaboon.com
– Melodishop.com
– Melodysale.com
– Mp3caprice.com
– Ivave.com
– Mediasack.com
– Goldenmp3.ru

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

MPAA Reports Pirate Sites and Hosting Providers to U.S. Government

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-reports-pirate-sites-and-hosting-providers-to-u-s-government-161010/

mpaa-logoResponding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the MPAA has sent in its annual list of notorious markets.

In its latest submission the Hollywood group targets a wide variety of “rogue” sites and services which they claim are promoting the illegal distribution of movies and TV-shows, with declining incomes and lost jobs in the movie industry as a result.

“The criminals who profit from the most notorious markets throughout the world threaten the very heart of our industry and in so doing they threaten the livelihoods of the people who give it life,” the MPAA writes.

What’s new this year is that the MPAA calls out several hosting providers. These companies refuse to take pirate sites offline following complaints, even when the MPAA views them as blatantly violating the law.

“Hosting companies provide the essential infrastructure required to operate a website,” MPAA writes. “Given the central role of hosting providers in the online ecosystem, it is very concerning that many refuse to take action upon being notified.”

The Hollywood group specifically mentions Private Layer, Altushost and Netbrella, which are linked to various countries including the Netherlands, Panama, Sweden and Switzerland.

CDN provider CloudFlare is also named. As a US-based company it can’t be included in the list. However, MPAA explains that it is often used as an anonymization tool by sites and services that are mentioned in the report.

“An example of a CDN frequently exploited by notorious markets to avoid detection and enforcement is Cloudflare. CloudFlare is a CDN that also provides reverse proxy functionality. Reverse proxy functionality hides the real IP address of a web server.”

Stressing the importance of third-party services, the MPAA notes that domain name registrars can also be seen as possible “notorious markets.” As an example, the report mentions the Indian Public Domain Registry (PDR) which has repeatedly refused to take action against pirate sites.

At the heart of the MPAA’s report are as always the pirate sites themselves. This year they list 23 sites in separate categories, each with a suspected location, as defined by the movie industry group.

Torrent Sites

According to the MPAA, BitTorrent remains the most popular source of P2P piracy, despite the shutdowns of large sites such as KAT, Torrentz and YTS.

The Pirate Bay has traditionally been one of the main targets. Based on data from Alexa and SimilarWeb, the MPAA says that TPB has about 47 million unique visitors per month.

The MPAA writes that the site was hit by various enforcement actions in recent years. They also mistakenly suggest that the site is no longer the number one pirate site, but add that it gained traction after KAT and Torrentz were taken down.

“While it has never returned to its number one position, it has had a significant comeback after kat.cr and torrentz.eu went offline in 2016,” the MPAA writes.

ExtraTorrent is another prime target. The site offers millions of torrents and is affiliated with the Trust.Zone VPN, which they advertise on their site.

“Extratorrent.cc claims astonishing piracy statistics: offering almost three million free files with sharing optimized through over 64 million seeders and more than 39 million leechers.

“The homepage currently displays a message warning users to use a VPN when downloading torrents. Extratorrent.cc is affiliated with Trust.Zone,” MPAA adds.

The full list of reported torrent sites is as follows:

-1337x.to (Switzerland)
-Extratorrent.cc (Latvia)
-Rarbg.to (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
-Rutracker.org (Russia)
-ThePirateBay.org (Unknown)

Direct Download and Streaming Cyberlockers

The second category of pirate sites reported by the MPAA are cyberlockers. The movie industry group points out that these sites generate millions of dollars in revenue, citing a report from Netnames.

The “Movshare Group,” which allegedly operates Nowvideo.sx, Movshare.net, Novamov.com, Videoweed.es, Nowdownload.ch, Divxstage.to and several other pirate sites is a particularly large threat, they say.

As in previous submissions VKontakte, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, is also listed as a notorious market.

-Allmyvideos.net (Netherlands)
-Nowvideo.sx and the “Movshare Group” (several locations)
-Openload.co (Netherlands)
-Rapidgator.net (Russia)
-Uploaded.net (Netherlands/Switzerland)
-VK.com (Russia)

Linking Websites

Finally, there are various linking websites, many of which focus on a foreign audience. These sites don’t host the infringing material, but only link to it. The full list of linking sites is as follows.

123movies.to (Unknown)
-Filmesonlinegratis.net (Brazil/Portugal)
-Kinogo.club (Netherlands)
-Movie4k.to (Russia)
-Newmovie-hd.com (Thailand)
-Pelis24.com (Spain/Mexico/Argentina/Venezuela/Peru/Chile)
-Primewire.ag (Switzerland)
-Projectfreetv.at (Romania)
-Putlocker.is (Switzerland/Vietnam)
-Repelis.tv (Mexico/Argentina/Spain/Peru/Venezuela)
-Watchseries.ac (France)

In its closing comments the Hollywood industry group calls on USTR and the U.S. government at large to help combat these threats, either directly or by encouraging foreign nations to take action.

“We strongly support efforts by the U.S. government to work with trading partners to protect and enforce intellectual property rights and, in so doing, protect U.S. jobs,” the MPAA concludes.

MPAA’s full submission is available here.

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

MPAA Says Portugal’s Pirate Site-Blocking System is World Leader

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-says-portugals-pirate-site-blocking-system-is-world-leader-161007/

The concept of whole-site blocking has been on the entertainment industries’ agenda for a decade now, after Russia’s AllofMP3 and then The Pirate Bay were blocked in Denmark. Since then, momentum has been building.

Blocking is now underway in multiple countries around the world, especially in Europe where the practice is widespread. The music and movie industries say blocking is effective but they also know that pushing blockades through the courts can be expensive and controversial.

In Portugal, however, things are much more streamlined. Thanks to an agreement forged between rightsholders, ISPs and the government in 2015, it is now a formality to have sites blocked in the country. If the parties agree that a site is operating illegally it can be blocked, all without stepping into a courtroom.

No surprise then that copyright holders have been taking full advantage of the system. After blocking The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, ExtraTorrent, Isohunt, RARBG, and dozens of others in October 2015, another 40 sites were added the month after. By April 2016 at least 330 sites had been blocked and every month the same process repeats.

The smoothness of the non-adversarial system appears to have impressed the MPAA. According to a SapoTek report, the Hollywood group has been presenting the Portuguese model to the Spanish Senate and is now planning to do the same before the French Senate.

FEVIP, the Portuguese Association of Audiovisual Works Defense, said in a statement that an MPAA-sponsored study between September 2015 and February 2016 found that out of 250 unauthorized sites, 22 had already been voluntarily blocked by the program.

Paulo Santos, executive director of FEVIP, said that Portugal’s program is now receiving international recognition for its streamlined processes. Noting a “special efficiency” in relation to results versus costs of litigation, Santos said that the program has resulted in a decrease in visits to pirate sites of “at least 60%”.

FEVIP say that the reductions are similar to those achieved by blocking in the UK, where the group claims pirate sites typically lose 75% of their local users within three months of a blockade being put in place.

To date, hundreds of sites and thousands of URLs have been blocked in both countries, yet piracy somehow persists. Clearly, a 60% or even 75% reduction in traffic to domains is not translating to a similar drop in piracy rates or indeed, increases in sales.

However, it seems likely that the MPAA and others will continue their blocking efforts regardless. Voluntary solutions are clearly in favor, since they receive less judicial scrutiny after implementation and cost far less to run on an ongoing basis. Spain and France next? Only time will tell.

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

Researcher Finds Critical Vulnerabilities in Hollywood Screener System

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/researcher-finds-critical-vulnerabilities-in-hollywood-screener-system-160909/

oscartorrentsSo-called screener copies of the latest movies are some of Hollywood’s most valuable assets, yet every year and to the delight of pirates, many leak out onto the Internet.

Over the years, Hollywood has done its best to limit the leaks, but every 12 months without fail, many of the top titles appear online in close to perfect quality.

With that in mind, the studios have been testing Netflix-like systems that negate the need for physical discs to be sent out.

One such system has been made available at Awards-Screeners.com. Quietly referenced by companies including 20th Century Fox, the site allows SAG-AFTRA members and other industry insiders to view the latest movies in a secure environment. At least, that’s the idea.


Late August, TorrentFreak was contacted by security researcher Chris Vickery of MacKeeper.com who told us that while conducting tests, he’d discovered an exposed MongoDB database that appeared to be an integral part of Awards-Screeners.com.

“The database was running with no authentication required for access. No username. No password. Just entirely exposed to the open internet,” Vickery told TF.

The researcher’s discovery was significant as the database contained more than 1,200 user logins. Vickery did not share the full database with TF but he did provide details of a handful of the accounts it contained. Embarrassingly, many belong to senior executives including:

– Vice President of International Technology at Universal Pictures
– ‎Director of Content Technology & Security at Disney
– Vice President of Post-Production Technology at Disney
– Executive Director, Feature Mastering at Warner Bros
– Vice President of Global Business & Technology Strategy at Warner Bros
– Director of Content Protection at Paramount Pictures
– VP of corporate communications and publicity for 20th Century Fox

While the hashed passwords for the above would be difficult to crack, the database itself was publicly offering admin-level access, so it was a disaster from a security perspective.

“Any of the values in the database could have been changed to arbitrary values, i.e. create-your-own-password,” Vickery said.


According to the researcher, this vulnerability had the potential to blow a hole in the screener system and could’ve had huge piracy and subsequent law enforcement implications.

“Theoretically, it would have been possible for a malicious person to log into any of the 1,200+ user accounts, screencap an unreleased film, and torrent it to the world,” he explained.

“There’s also supposedly video watermark technology that makes it possible to trace which account it came from. So basically you could have framed any of the users for the distribution as well by using their account to do it.”

The screenshot below shows Vickery’s view of the database, in this case highlighting the availability of a screener copy of the soon-to-be-released Oliver Stone movie, Snowden.


Vision Media Management, which claims to be the largest Awards screener fulfillment operation in the world, is the outfit in charge of the system. It’s described in the company’s promotional material as a “Secure Digital Screener” platform “selected by the MPAA major studios as the preferred secure content delivery method for Awards voters.”

Like all responsible data breach hunters, Vickery did his research and decided to inform Awards-Screeners.com and Vision Media Management of his findings. Initially, they appeared somewhat grateful.

“During my telephone conversation with Vision Media Management, which consisted of me, their lead counsel (Tanya Forsheit), and their CTO (Doug Woodard), they were very surprised and worried. They didn’t understand how this could happen and claimed that the system should have nothing loaded into it currently and was purged months ago,” Vickery said.

“This is not believable due to time stamps of activity in the database. In the ‘Snowden’ screenshot, for example, you can see that the entry was updated on 7/13/2016.”


Vickery also informed the MPAA of his discoveries and was told by the organization’s Office of Technology that it was “currently working diligently” with Vision to “evaluate the situation and take appropriate remedial action.”

Meanwhile, conversations between Vickery and Vision Media Management continued. The researcher says that the company tried to downplay his findings with claims that the database had been secure and contained only test data.

awards-screeners-userHowever, when Vickery asked if he could release the database, he was advised it was too sensitive to be made public. The company then began a drive to convince the researcher that security at Amazon, one of Vision’s vendors, was to blame for the leak. Vision’s lawyer also suggested that Vickery had “improperly downloaded” the database.

In a follow-up mail, Vickery made it clear to Vision that allegations of “improper downloading” were incompatible with the fact that the database had been published openly to the public Internet. And, after all, he had done the responsible thing by informing them of their security issues.

“I have cooperated with and contributed to data breach-related investigations conducted by the FTC, FBI, US Navy, HHS/OCR, US Secret Service, and other similar entities,” he told the company. “Not a single regulatory or government agency I have interacted with has even suggested that what I do, downloading publicly published information, is improper.”

In subsequent discussion with Vickery, Vision Media asked for time to assess the situation but by September 4, the researcher had more bad news for the company.

Emails shared with TF show Vickery informing Vision of yet more security holes in its system, specifically a pair of publicly exposed S3 buckets located on Vision resources at Amazon. Vickery says these contained development and release builds of Vision’s Android app, development and deployment meeting notes, plus some unexplained references to Netflix.

In the run-up to this piece, Vickery advised Vision Media that a public disclosure would be likely so in an effort to provide balanced reporting, TorrentFreak reached out to Vision Media’s CEO for a statement on the researcher’s findings. At the time of publication, nothing had been received.

And after several conversations with Vision via email and on the phone, Vickery was drawing a blank this week too.

“Vision has not gotten back to me today, and we were very clear last week that they would be contacting me again by Thursday,” Vickery told TF. “I even sent them a little reminder earlier and asked if we were still planning to talk. No response all day.”

In the absence of an official statement from Vision Media, it’s impossible to say how many people accessed the Awards-Screener database before Vickery, or what their intentions were. Perhaps only time will tell but one thing is clear – a move to the digital space might not be the perfect solution for screener distribution.

Check out Chris Vickery’s report on MacKeeper

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

Anti-Piracy Groups Petition Clinton & Trump for Tough Copyright Laws

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-groups-petition-clinton-trump-for-tough-copyright-laws-160907/

trump-clintonAs the presidential election moves towards the home straight, millions of individuals and businesses in the United States are considering how the outcome might affect them.

Unsurprisingly, powerful groups in the entertainment industry are also weighing the implications and with billions at stake, who could blame them.

Of course, just like the rest of the population, neither Hollywood nor the major recording labels have a crystal ball, so in recent months their public lobbying efforts have been mindful of the possibility that either Clinton or Trump could get into power.

This week that trend continued, with the publication of a new open letter and the launch of a petition by two influential anti-piracy groups, the Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture.

The Copyright Alliance is a true powerhouse which counts the MPAA, RIAA, Viacom, Oracle, Getty Images and many other corporations among its members. CreativeFuture is a huge coalition of some 450 companies in the film, television, music, and book publishing sectors.

In their letter addressed to “2016 Political Candidates”, the groups describe themselves as members of the creative community, who despite political differences are united in their goal of reducing piracy.

“While our political views are diverse, as creators, there are core principles on which we can all agree. And we appreciate the opportunity to share our views with our country’s current and future leaders,” the groups write.

What immediately becomes apparent in the letter are the glowing references to the Internet. With lessons learned from the SOPA debacle which was perceived by many as an attack on the world’s most important network, Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture begin by cheerfully praising its positives.

“We embrace the internet as a powerful democratizing force for our world and for creative industries. We recognize its ability to inspire positive change and improve lives,” they write.

“In our creative industries, the internet has helped to advance creativity by removing barriers to entry for newcomers, fostering a dialogue with fans, audiences, and consumers, and providing numerous additional ways to reach them. The internet holds great potential to expand creativity and free expression.”

While one might have strongly expected a ‘but’ at this juncture, the groups are careful not to set up a clash of ideals. It’s not difficult to see that their aim is to quietly assure that the successful protection of copyrighted content does not have to come at the expense of the Internet.

“We embrace a strong copyright system that rewards creativity and promotes a healthy creative economy. The incredible cultural and economic value that the internet delivers to billions of users is based in very large part on the efforts of creative content makers whose livelihoods depend on being compensated for their efforts,” they add.

“Copyright should protect creators from those who would use the internet to undermine creativity. The internet can be a great tool for creators just as it can be a tool for science, education, health care, and many other disciplines. However, when misused, it can harm creativity and stifle freedom of expression.”

And if anyone missed the hints that Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture are supporters of both creative content and the interests of the Internet, the groups quickly take the opportunity to underline that again. However, one gets the impression that their definition of online freedom might not be the same as that championed by Internet activists.

“Our current and future leaders recognize that a safe and secure internet benefits us all. And all parties recognize the importance of strong copyright protections in their technology policy platforms because protecting copyright and internet freedom are both critically important and complementary — they are not mutually exclusive,” they write.

“A truly free internet, like any truly free community, is one where people respect the rights of others and can engage in legitimate activities safely — and where those who do not are held accountable under law by their peers.”

Interestingly, the letter also warns 2016’s political candidates against “organizations and advocates” funded by “online platforms” that claim to be “pro-creators and pro-audience to mask their own self-serving agenda.”

These groups are not mentioned by name but the likes of EFF and Fight for the Future have been spoken of in similar terms and have appeared in negative articles published by the Copyright Alliance earlier this year.

“[The nameless groups] denigrate or block effective efforts to preserve and promote creative content, including enforcement of existing laws and voluntary industry initiatives,” Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture warn, adding:

“The creative community is rightfully wary of any company or organization that claims to be ‘against piracy’ when their actions do not match their words.”

And of course, even if not mentioned by name, no appeal would be complete without a subtle reference to Google and/or YouTube. Trump and Clinton are left to fill in the gaps and asked to do the right thing.

“Internet platforms are making massive profits from creative contributions to the internet’s growth. It is not too much to ask that content creators should be able to share in the value they provide,” the groups write.

With the election likely to go to the wire, Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture are keen to ensure that anti-piracy measures are seen as a universal concern, no matter where people reside on the political spectrum.

“There is no ‘left’ or ‘right’ when it comes to respecting copyright. The creative community stands united in support of a copyright system that will continue to make the United States the global leader in the creative arts and the global paradigm for free expression,” they note.

“Our copyright system is not perfect but, like democracy, it is better than the alternatives. It works. We urge our leaders to maintain America’s commitment to the right of creators to determine when and how they share their works in the global marketplace.”

In support of their open letter, Copyright Alliance and CreativeFuture have also launched a Change.org petition in an attempt to get 5,000 signatures supporting their cause.

“Whether you are a Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative or libertarian, strong and effective copyright is not a partisan issue but rather one that benefits our entire country. We ask that you stand with us by adding your name to this letter – to show political candidates that we stand united, we stand creative,” they conclude.

Open Letter to 2016 Political Candidates

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

Torrentz Remains Down, But The Clone Wars Are On

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrentz-remains-down-but-the-clone-wars-are-on-160813/

torrentzMere hours after Torrentz.eu announced its farewell last week, various clones and mirrors juggled into position to take over.

As one of the oldest and largest torrent sites around, Torrentz had an active following of millions of users. This is something a lot of site owners envy, and these people see the demise of Torrentz as an opportunity.

Taking over an established brand is something the torrent community has seen before in recent years.

When isoHunt was shut down by the MPAA, Isohunt.to quickly took its place, and remains one of the most popular torrent sites today. Similarly, YTS.ag and others took over when YIFY was forced to stop, with success.

This week we have seen a flurry of Torrentz clones appear online. These sites hope to pick up where the original site left off, all offering similar meta-search engine functionality while copying the Torrentz look and feel.

As with previous cases, the success of these takeovers relies on getting a healthy number of eyeballs. Promotion on social media helps, as does a viral Reddit thread and news coverage.

Some clone operators are even willing to pay hard cash to get covered, as we’ve experienced first hand. A few days ago TorrentFreak received an offer to do a “paid” news article. This is something we would never do of course, but it shows that this is a serious business.

So who are these clones? Without endorsing any site, or falsely claiming that “Torrentz is back” as other news outlets have done, here are some of the alternatives we’ve encountered.

Torrentz2.eu has been widely reported as a Torrentz alternative and the site itself bills itself as an upgrade. With a massive 63 sites in their index, with a total of 59,658,880 torrents, it certainly has a wide coverage.

For now the site doesn’t have any extra features such as bookmarks, voting or commenting options.


Torrentz.ec is another clone that popped up this week. The site has a more modest index than Torrentz2.eu but still covers 25 sites, good for a total 27,508,811 active torrents.

The voting functionality appears to work too, but users are not able to log in, at least when we checked. Interestingly, the site claims to index more torrents and sites on its help page, but perhaps the frontpage still has some catching up to do.

Torrentzeu.to is another clone but unlike the other sites it doesn’t advertise itself as such. Instead, the number of indexed sites and torrents mentioned on the frontpage are just copied from the original site.

The above are just a few examples. It’s not our goal to give a complete overview, but it’s clear that several sites are in the race to become the next ‘Torrentz.’

In a way, it is sad to see others taking over the ‘goodwill’ that a site like Torrentz took years to establish. However, judging from public responses, many people don’t care about these sentiments as long as they can get their torrents.

The question that remains, however, is how resilient and trustworthy these new sites are.

Some site owners may have good intentions, but there are also plenty of scammers, phishing for credit card details, or serving malicious content. As is often the case with torrent sites, money is a big motivator for those people.

Time will tell if and to what degree this applies to the clones that have emerged over the past days.

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

Ninjavideo Uploader Featured on Interpol’s “Wanted” Criminals List

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ninjavideo-uploader-featured-on-interpols-wanted-criminals-list-160807/

ninjavideoFive years ago, several people connected to the video streaming and download site NinjaVideo were indicted by the U.S. Government on copyright infringement and conspiracy charges.

The landmark case resulted in several convictions, including a 22 month prison sentence for one the site’s founders, the outspoken Hana Beshara.

The convictions date back several years ago. Beshara, who received the longest sentence, served her time and was released last summer. However, that doesn’t mean that the case is closed.

One of the indicted NinjaVideo members, Zoi Mertzanis from Greece, is still at large. Mertzanis, AKA “Tik,” was allegedly one of the most active uploaders on the site.

“Mertzanis supervised most of the European-based uploaders, including directing uploaders to locate specific infringing copyrighted content for the NinjaVideo.net website,” the DoJ wrote in the indictment.

However, despite several successful convictions and plea agreements, the Greek resident still hasn’t been caught.

As a result, the now 40-year-old woman is currently featured on Interpol’s “wanted” list. Interpol issued a so-called “red notice” for the former Ninjavideo uploader, indicating that she’s wanted for extradition.

Mertzanis’ Red Notice listing on Interpol’s wanted site


According to our knowledge, Mertzanis is the only person associated with a streaming or download site listed on Interpol’s website.

TorrentFreak spoke to someone close to the Ninjavideo case who informed us that Mertzanis’ fugitive status has negative consequences for the convicted co-conspirators who already served their time. Because the case remains open, they are still waiting for the return of several personal items that were seized.

The Ninjavideo case has been one of the most prominent successes of the U.S. Government’s “Operation in Our Sites” campaign. If Mertzanis is caught and extradited, she is facing a prison sentence of at least several months, based on the previous convictions.

The harshest sentence was handed to NinjaVideo founder Hana Beshara, 22 months in prison and a payment of $210,000 in damages to the MPAA. Fellow admin Matthew Smith received 14 months in prison and was ordered to pay back just over $172,000.

Ninjavideo uploader Joshua Evans received 6 months in prison and $26,660 in restitution. Justin Dedemko was not listed as part of the NinjaVideo conspiracy, but was sentenced to 3 months in prison and ordered to repay the MPAA $58,004.

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

Torrentz Gone, KAT Down, Are Torrent Giants Doomed to Fall?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrentz-gone-kat-down-are-torrent-giants-doomed-to-fall-160806/

bomb-explosion-atomicAt TorrentFreak we have been keeping a close eye on the torrent ecosystem for more than a decade.

During this time, many sites have shut down, either voluntarily or forced by a court order.

This week meta-search engine Torrentz joined this ever-expanding list. In what appears to be a voluntary action, the site waved its millions of users farewell without prior warning.

The site’s operators have yet to explain their motivations. However, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if the continued legal pressure on torrent sites played a major role, with KAT as the most recent example.

And let’s be honest. Running a site that could make you the target of an FBI investigation, facing over a dozen years in prison, is no joke.

Looking back at the largest torrent sites of the past 15 years, we see a familiar pattern emerge. Many of the sites that make it to the top eventually fall down, often due to legal pressure.

Suprnova (2004)

Suprnova was one of the first ever BitTorrent giants. Founded by the Slovenian-born Andrej Preston, the site dominated the torrent scene during the early days.

It was also one of the first torrent sites to be targeted by the authorities. In November 2004 the site’s servers were raided, and a month later Preston, aka Sloncek, decided to shut it down voluntarily. The police investigation was eventually dropped a few months later.

Lokitorrent (2005)

When Suprnova went down a new site was quick to fill its void. LokiTorrent soon became one of the largest torrent sites around, which also attracted the attention of the MPAA.

LokiTorrent’s owner Ed Webber said he wanted to fight the MPAA and actively collected donations to pay for the legal costs. With success, as he raised over $40,000 in a few weeks.

However, not long after that, LokiTorrent was shut down, and all that was left was the iconic “You can click but you can’t hide” MPAA notice.


TorrentSpy (2008)

In 2006 TorrentSpy was more popular than any other BitTorrent site. This quickly changed when it was sued by the MPAA. In 2007 a federal judge ordered TorrentSpy to log all user data and the site opted to ban all U.S. traffic in response.

March 2008 TorrentSpy owner Justin Bunnell decided to shut down completely and not much later his company was ordered to pay the Hollywood studios $110 million in damages.

Mininova (2009)

After TorrentSpy’s demise, Mininova became the largest torrent site on the net. The name was inspired by Suprnova, but in 2008 the site was many times larger than its predecessor.

Its popularity eventually resulted in a lawsuit from local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, which Mininova lost. As a result, the site had to remove all infringing torrents, a move which effectively ended its reign.

Today the site is still online, limiting uploads to pre-approved publishers, making it a ghost of the giant it was in the past.

BTJunkie (2012)

In 2012, shortly after the Megaupload raid, torrent site BTJunkie shut down voluntarily.

Talking to TorrentFreak, BTjunkie’s founder said that the legal actions against other file-sharing sites played an important role in making the difficult decision. Witnessing all the trouble his colleagues got into was a constant cause of worry and stress.

“We’ve been fighting for years for your right to communicate, but it’s time to move on. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, we wish you all the best,” he wrote in a farewell message.


isoHunt (2013)

The shutdown of isoHunt a year later wasn’t much of a surprise. The site had been fighting a legal battle with the MPAA for over a decade and eventually lost, agreeing to pay the movie studios a $110m settlement.

As one of the oldest and largest sites at the time, the torrent ecosystem lost another icon. However, as is often the case, another site with the same name quickly took over and is still operating today.

EZTV (2015)

The story of EZTV’s demise is quite different from the rest. The popular TV-torrent distribution group shut down last year after a hostile takeover.

Strangely enough, many people don’t even realize that it’s “gone.” The site continued to operate under new ownership and still releases torrents. However, in solidarity with the original founders these torrents are banned on several other sites.

YIFY/YTS (2015)

What started as a simple movie release group in 2010 turned into one of the largest torrent icons. The group amassed a huge following and its website was generating millions of pageviews per day early last year.

In November 2015 this ended abruptly. Facing a million dollar lawsuit from Hollywood, the group’s founder decided to pull the plug and call it quits. Even though various copycats have since emerged, the real YIFY/YTS is no more.

KickassTorrents (2016)

Three weeks ago Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents. The arrest resulted in the shutdown of the site, which came as a shock to millions of KAT users and the torrent community at large.

Out of nowhere, the largest torrent index disappeared and there are no signs that it’s coming back anytime soon. The site’s community, meanwhile, has found a new home at Katcr.to.

Torrentz (2016)

Torrentz is the last torrent site to cease its operations. Although no official explanation was given, some of the stories outlined above were probably weighed into the founders’ decision.

So what will the future bring? Who will be the next giant to fall? It’s obvious that nearly nothing last forever in the torrent ecosystem. Well, apart from the ever-resilient Pirate Bay.

And there are several other alternatives still around as well. ExtraTorrent has been around for a decade now and continues to grow, and the same is true for other popular torrent sites.

At least, for now…

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

Torrentz Shuts Down, Largest Torrent Meta-Search Engine Says Farewell

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrentz-shuts-down-largest-torrent-meta-search-engine-says-farewell-160805/

torrentzFounded in 2003, Torrentz has been a stable factor in the torrent community for over 13 years.

With millions of visitors per day the site grew out to become one of the most visited torrent sites, but today this reign ends, as the popular meta-search engine has announced its shutdown.

A few hours ago and without warning, Torrentz disabled its search functionality. At first sight the main page looks normal but those who try to find links to torrents will notice that they’re no longer there.

Instead, the site is now referring to itself in the past tense, suggesting that after more than a decade the end has arrived.

“Torrentz was a free, fast and powerful meta-search engine combining results from dozens of search engines,” the text reads.

The site’s user are no longer able to login either. Instead, they see the following message: “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.”

Torrentz.eu says farewell


TorrentFreak was contacted by the operator of Torrentz, who prefers not to comment at the moment. It’s clear, however, that another major torrent site is shutting down, leaving a gaping hole.

Torrentz itself never hosted any torrent files but did have a takedown procedure in place, allowing copyright holders to take down infringing links.

Not all rightsholders were happy with the site though. Both RIAA and MPAA have reported the site to the U.S. Government in recent years, which repeatedly placed it its annual “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets.”

With Torrentz.eu and KickassTorrents both shutting down, the torrent comunity lost two of the largest sites in a period of three weeks. This means that millions of users will have to find new homes.

Founded a few weeks before The Pirate Bay, Torrentz was one of the oldest torrent sites still around. When Torrentz first came online the site was hosting torrent sites, but it swiftly reinvented itself as a meta-search engine, the biggest of its kind.

Breaking story, more updates will follow

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

MPAA Anti-Piracy Cutbacks Lead to “Bullying” Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-anti-piracy-cutbacks-lead-to-bullying-lawsuit-160804/

mpaThe Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft was viewed by many as the country’s leading anti-piracy outfit. Financed by the major Hollywood studios, AFACT was front and center of most major copyright battles Down Under since its inception in 2004.

Perhaps most notably, AFACT was the group that spearheaded the prolonged and ultimately unsuccessful legal action that aimed to force local ISP iiNet to disconnect Internet users for alleged piracy.

For several years, AFACT was headed up by Neil Gane, a former Hong Kong Police Inspector who had worked with the MPAA against piracy across Asia. In 2014, when AFACT became known by the more friendly name of the Australian Screen Association (ASA), Gane left the organization to return to Hong Kong.

There Gane headed up the newly created Asia Pacific Internet Centre (APIC), a regional anti-piracy, policy, research and training hub for the Motion Picture Association (MPA) Asia Pacific.

Gane was replaced as head of ASA/AFACT by Mark Day, a former regional legal counsel at the MPA and the group’s main representative in China. Between 2001 and 2009, Day oversaw multiple criminal and civil cases prosecuted by MPA members.

Now, however, Day’s career at the ASA appears to be over. After just a year in his new role, Day was fired from the top job. In response, he’s now suing his former employer and former AFACT chief Neil Gane for allegedly doing so illegally.

According to court papers filed in Federal Court and first reported by SMH, in 2015 the MPAA made a decision to significantly reduce ASA’s budget.

In response, ASA director Mike Ellis, a veteran of the MPA and its Asia Pacific president, decided to dismiss Day in November 2015 to take over the position himself. Day was on sick leave at the time.

Day later fought back, claiming through his lawyer that he’d been working in a hostile workplace and had been the victim of bullying. He’s now suing the ASA, Mike Ellis and Neil Gane, for discrimination and punishing him for exercising his workplace rights.

According to SMH, Day is seeking compensation for economic loss, psychological injury, pain, suffering, humiliation, and damage to his professional reputation.

While Day’s lawsuit could yield some interesting facts about the anti-piracy operations of the MPA, the dismissal of the former ASA boss in the face of MPAA cuts is the broader story.

As revealed in May this year, the MPAA is also set to withdraw funding from the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft before the end of 2016, ending a 30-year relationship with the group.

Local funding for FACT was withdrawn in favor of financing larger regional hubs with a wider remit, in FACT’s case the MPA’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) hub in Brussels.

In ASA’s case, it’s clear that the MPA has decided that its recently-formed Asia Pacific Internet Centre (APIC) will be its regional anti-piracy powerhouse and where its local funding will be concentrated in future.

The MPA’s regional hubs are said to offer the studios “a nimble local presence and a direct relationship with local law enforcement.”

Meanwhile, the MPAA’s head office remains in Los Angeles.

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

Movie Studios ‘Take Down’ Popular KAT Mirror

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-studios-go-popular-kat-mirror-160729/

kickasstorrents_500x500More than a week has passed since KickassTorrents (KAT) was shut down by the U.S. Government, following the arrest of the site’s alleged owner.

Soon after the official site went offline various mirrors and copies were launched to take its place. While none of these sites have anything to do with the original site, they do attract hundreds of thousands of users.

One of the more popular mirrors is KAT.am. The site was featured in several news reports with some suggesting that it’s an official reincarnation of the original KickassTorrents site.

While that is certainly not true, the instant success of this ‘copyKAT’ was enough to get Hollywood worried. Especially because its operator also started to add new torrents to the site.

It therefore came as no surprise that the Motion Picture Association, representing Hollywood’s major studios, sent KAT.am’s owner a stark warning.

“This Notice requires you to immediately (within 24 hours) take effective measures to end and prevent further copyright infringement. All opportunities provided by the Website to download, stream or otherwise obtain access to the Entertainment Content should be disabled permanently,” MPA’s email reads.

Part of MPA’s mail


TorrentFreak spoke to operator of the mirror, who informed us that he has no intention of backing down. However, he noted that the MPA(A) pressure did lead to a suspension of the domain name.

“The MPAA coordinated with the Armenian registry and got the domain deleted,” KAT.am’s operator said. “We are making continuous attempts to bring it back, utilizing all the legal channels available.”

At the time of writing KAT.am remains offline. However, the mirror has already launched two new domains, kickass.cd and kickass.mx, from where it continues to operate.



Operating a KAT mirror is not without risk, given the fact that the original site is the target of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Government. That doesn’t seem to bother the operator in question though.

“We are not worried, because if it’s not us, someone else will keep the game running. If not the alleged owner, it can be us. If we are not there, still there will surely be someone else. This never ends,” he tells us.

For some KAT users the “mirror” situation is rather confusing. They believe that the mirrors are somehow connected to the original site and some may attempt to login, which isn’t possible as these sites don’t have a copy of the user database.

Login attempts are risky, as some rogue mirrors may harvest personal information for nefarious purposes. Previously, the original KAT community team warned against such mirrors, urging former users to avoid these sites.

The operator of the former KAT.am mirror says that his site is completely safe. He’s also considering adding a notice to clarify that it is not related to the original KAT, to clarify the situation.

That said, just like those who operate the mirrors, former KAT users should consider themselves warned too.

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

20th Century Fox Accuses Kim Dotcom of Asset Freeze Breach

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/20th-century-fox-accuses-kim-dotcom-of-asset-freeze-breach-160725/

dotcom-laptopIn the early days of 2012, Kim Dotcom was the operator of arguably the most successful file-hosting site the world had ever seen. With 50 million daily users, Megaupload seemed to be an unstoppable juggernaut. Three weeks later it was all over.

As law enforcement officers raided the company and its operators in multiple locations, authorities were seeking to freeze Kim Dotcom’s considerable assets. Dozens of millions of dollars were seized in multiple jurisdictions, including locally in New Zealand.

Since then, Dotcom and his legal team have engaged in frequent battles to have funds released so that the businessman can go about his life. On the whole, the New Zealand courts have been receptive, and over the past several years have granted Dotcom access to considerable sums of money.

Now, however, one of his main legal adversaries has accused Dotcom of breaching the terms of the asset freeze imposed in 2012. Speaking in the New Zealand High Court, a lawyer for 20th Century Fox said that Dotcom had taken a loan from his lawyers on behalf of a trust for his children.

Speaking for the studio, lawyer Matt Sumpter said the NZ$220,000 (US$154,000) loan amounted to contempt of court, RadioNZ reports.

However, Kim Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield argued that the loan was a new asset that was not covered by the original freezing order and represented an increase in his clients’sassets, not a reduction.

Dotcom has been free to generate new income since the raid on his home but has been required to obtain permission to access seized assets. Last year he said that an allowance of US$15,000 per month was proving a struggle.

That led to a court awarding him $128K per month to live on, including $60K for mansion rent, $25,600 to cover staff and security, plus $11,300 for grocery and other expenses.

However, in recent months he left his famous mansion for a slightly more modest waterfront penthouse at Princes Wharf, a move which should have positively impacted his living expenses.

Since his departure, Dotcom’s rented mansion has since been sold for an undisclosed sum. The asking price was NZ$35m (US$24.4m).

But even with the mansion behind him, Dotcom’s battles continue.

Following an extradition hearing lasting several weeks, last December a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement, conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering.

Dotcom immediately filed an appeal. That hearing is now scheduled to take place in just over a month’s time and is expected to last several weeks.

As always, Dotcom will put up a spirited fight but even a defeat at this stage won’t mark the end of the road.

“The appeal route is High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court,” Dotcom previously told TF.

“If I lose, it goes to a decision by Minister of Justice, then to a High Court judicial review of the Minister’s decision. Then it’s the end of the road.”

The process will span extremely interesting times over in the United States, as the spotlight falls on the presidential election and the Obama administration which Dotcom blames for the demise of Megaupload. As a result, Dotcom is happy to stir things up, most recently in a series of Tweets this morning.

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

isoHunt Founder Settles with Music Industry for $66 Million

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isohunt-founder-settles-cria-66-million/

isohunt-fredomAfter years of legal battles, isoHunt and its founder Gary Fung are free at last.

Today, Fung announced that he has settled the last remaining lawsuit with Music Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA).

“After 10 long years, I’m happy to announce the end of isoHunt’s and my lawsuits,” Fung says, noting that he now owes the Canadian music group $66 million.

The multi-million dollar agreement follows an earlier settlement with the MPAA, for $110 million, on paper. While most site owners would be devastated, Fung has long moved beyond that phase and responds rather sarcastically.

“And I want to congratulate both Hollywood and CRIA on their victories, in letting me off with fines of $110m and $66m, respectively. Thank you!” he notes, adding that he’s “free at last”.

The consent order (pdf) signed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia prohibits isoHunt’s founder from operating any file-sharing site in the future.

It further requires Fung to pay damages of $55 million and another $10 million in aggravated punitive damages. The final million dollars is issued to cover the costs of the lawsuit.

Although isoHunt shut down 2013, it took more than two years for the last case to be finalized. The dispute initially began in the last decennium, when the Canadian music industry went after several prominent torrent sites.

In May 2008, isoHunt received a Cease and Desist letter from the CRIA in which they demanded that isoHunt founder Gary Fung should take the site offline. If Fung didn’t comply, the CRIA said it would pursue legal action, and demand $20,000 for each sound recording the site has infringed.

A similar tactic worked against Demonoid, but the isoHunt founder didn’t back down so easily. Instead, he himself filed a lawsuit against the CRIA asking the court to declare the site legal.

That didn’t work out as isoHunt’s founder had planned, and several years later the tables have been turned entirely, with the defeat now becoming final.

While the outcome won’t change anything about isoHunt’s demise, Fung is proud that he was always able to shield its users from the various copyright groups attacking it. No identifiable user data was shared at any point.

Fung is also happy for the support the site’s users have given him over the years.

“I can proudly conclude that I’ve kept my word regarding users’ privacy above. To isoHunt’s avid users, it’s worth repeating since I shutdown isoHunt in 2013, that you have my sincerest thanks for your continued support,” Fung notes.

“Me and my staff could not have done it for more than 10 years without you, and that’s an eternity in internet time. It was an interesting and challenging journey for me to say the least, and the most profound business learning experience I could not expect.”

The Canadian entrepreneur can now close the isoHunt book for good and move on to new ventures. One of the projects he just announced is a mobile search tool called “App to Automate Googling” AAG for which he invites alpha testers.

The original isoHunt site now redirects to MPAA’s “legal” search engine WhereToWatch. However, the name and design lives on via the clone site IsoHunt.to, which still draws millions of visitors per month – frustrating for the MPAA and Music Canada.

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

Digital Citizens Slam Cloudflare For Enabling Piracy & Malware

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/digital-citizens-slam-cloudflare-for-enabling-piracy-malware-160722/

For the past several years, one of the key educational strategies of entertainment industry companies has been to cast doubt on the credibility of so-called ‘pirate’ sites.

Previously there have been efforts to suggest that site operators make huge profits at the expense of artists who get nothing, but there are other recurring themes, mostly centered around fear.

One of the most prominent is that pirate sites are dangerous places to visit, with users finding themselves infected with viruses and malware while being subjected to phishing attacks.

This increasingly well-worn approach has just been revisited by consumer interest group Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA). In a new report titled ‘Enabling Malware’, the Hollywood-affiliated group calls out United States-based companies for helping pirate site operators “bait consumers and steal their personal information.”

“When you think of Internet crime, you probably imagine shadowy
individuals operating in Eastern Europe, China or Russia who come up with devious plans to steal your identity, trick you into turning over financial information or peddling counterfeits or stolen content. And you would be right,” DCA begin.

“But while many online criminals are based overseas, and often beyond the reach of U.S. prosecutors, they are aided by North American technology companies that ensure that overseas operators’ lifeline to the public – their websites – are available.”

DCA has examined the malware issue on pirate sites on previous occasions but this time around their attention turns to local service providers, including hosting platform Hawk Host and CDN company Cloudflare who (in)directly provide services to pirate sites.

“Are these companies doing anything illegal? No more than the landlord of an apartment isn’t doing anything illegal by renting to a drug dealer who has sellers showing up day and night,” DCA writes.

“But just like that landlord, more often than not these companies either look the other way or just don’t want to know.”

Faced with an investigative dead-end when it comes to tracing the operators of pirate sites, DCA criticizes Cloudflare for providing a service which effectively shields the true location of such platforms.

“In order to utilize CloudFlare’s CDN, DNS, and other protection services customers have to run all of their website traffic through the CloudFlare network. The end result of doing so is masked hosting information,” DCA reports.

“Instead of the actual hosting provider, IP address, domain name server, etc., a Whois search provides the information for CloudFlare’s network.”

To illustrate its point, DCA points to a pirate domain which presents itself as the famous Putlocker site but is actually a third-party clone operating from the dubious URL, Putlockerr.ac.

“From websites such as putlockerr.ac consumers are tricked into downloading malware. For example, when a consumer clicks to watch a movie, they are sent to a new screen in which they are told their video player is out of date and they must update it. The update, Digital Citizens’ researchers found, is the malware delivery mechanism.”

There’s little doubt that some of these low-level sites are in the malware game so DCA’s research is almost certainly sound. However, just like their colleagues at the MPAA and RIAA who regularly shift responsibility to Google, DCA lays the blame on Cloudflare, a more easily pinpointed target than a pirate site operator.

Unsurprisingly, Cloudflare isn’t particularly interested in getting involved in the online content-policing business.

“CloudFlare’s service protects and accelerates websites and applications. Because CloudFlare is not a host, we cannot control or remove customer content from the Internet,” the company said in a response to the report.

In common with Google, Cloudflare also says it makes efforts to stop the spread of malware but due to the nature of its business it is unable to physically remove content from the Internet.

“CloudFlare leaves the removal of online content to law enforcement agencies and complies with any legal requests made by the authorities,” the company notes.

“If we believe that one of our customers’ websites is distributing malware, CloudFlare will post an interstitial page that warns site visitors and asks them if they would like to proceed despite the warning. This practice follows established industry norms.”

Finally, while DCA says it has the safety of Internet users at heart, its malware report misses a great opportunity. Aside from criticizing companies like Cloudflare for not doing enough, it offers zero practical anti-malware advice to consumers.

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

Google Wipes Record Breaking Half Billion Pirate Links in 2016

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-wipes-record-breaking-half-billion-pirate-links-2016-160716/

google-bayCopyright holders continue to overload Google with DMCA takedown requests, targeting “pirate links” in the company’s search results.

In recent years the number of notices has exploded, breaking record after record.

Data analyzed by TorrentFreak reveals that Google recently received its 500 millionth takedown request of 2016.

The counter currently displays more than 523,000,000, which is yet another record. For comparison, last year it took almost the entire year to reach the same milestone.

If the numbers continue to go up at the same rate throughout the year, Google will process a billion allegedly infringing links during the whole of 2016, a staggering number.

According to Google roughly 98% of the reported URLs are indeed removed. This means that half a billion links were stripped from search results this year alone. However, according to copyright holders, this is still not enough.


Entertainment industry groups such as the RIAA, BPI and MPAA have pointed out repeatedly that many files simply reappear under new URLs.

“It’s like ‘Groundhog Day’ for takedowns,” RIAA CEO Cary Sherman said previously.

This week Google addressed the issue in its updated “How Google Fights Piracy” report. In it, the company provides an overview of all the efforts it makes to combat piracy while countering some of the entertainment industry complaints.

According to Google, the increase shows that the system is working and the company notes that it takes less than six hours to remove content.

“The growing number of notices sent to Google by an increasing volume of different copyright owners and enforcement agents demonstrates the effectiveness and success of the notice-and-take-
down system.”

“As the internet continues to grow rapidly, and as new technologies make it cheaper and faster for copyright owners and enforcement agents to detect infringements online, we can expect these numbers to continue to increase,” Google adds.

Still, rightsholders are not impressed and continue to demand a tougher stance from Google when it comes to piracy. Shortly after Google released its report this week, BPI CEO Geoff Taylor already dismissed it.

“This report looks a lot like ‘greenwash’. Although we welcome the measures Google has taken so far, it is still one of the key enablers of piracy on the planet,” Taylor said.

By now it has become clear that the entertainment industry groups and Google are not going to reach an agreement anytime soon. The issue has been going on for years now and both sides continue to make the same arguments.

Various industry are now hoping that the Government will intervene at some point. Whether that will happen has yet to be seen but in the meantime, rightsholders will continue to report millions of pirate links per day.

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

Google Ends Lawsuit Against Mississippi AG Over Piracy Practices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-ends-lawsuit-against-mississippi-ag-over-piracy-practices-160714/

googlepopFor the past several years, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has been pressuring Google to stop copyright infringing content and prescription medicines being made available in search results.

In November 2014, Hood issued an administrative subpoena which aimed to reveal inside information detailing Google’s efforts to curtail the appearance of illegal content in listings.

A month later and on the back of secrets revealed as part of the Sony email leaks, Google sued Hood’s office, claiming that the Attorney General was working with groups including the MPAA to undermine its business.

Indeed, evidence produced in court filings showed Hood’s office being coached by lawyers at the MPAA, who in their “cozy relationship” even went as far as helping with the drafting of letters aimed at pressuring Google over piracy.

In March 2015, a judge in the Southern District of Mississippi granted an injunction to stop Hood’s investigation into Google, finding that “interference with Google’s judgment…would likely produce a chilling effect on Google’s protected speech.” Hood was also ordered not to bring any criminal or civil charges against the company.

However, in a blow to Google, just over a year later the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the ruling, noting that the federal judge’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction was made in error (pdf).

While this meant that Hood was free to pursue the administrative subpoena, shortly after the Court of Appeals decision he sent a letter to the court withdrawing it. However, Hood wasn’t quite done, noting that Google still needed to preserve documents demanded under the subpoena, just in case they were needed in future.

In response, Google demanded a rehearing before the Fifth Circuit panel. That was denied but the panel issued a slightly modified opinion which allowed Google to pursue a court ruling declaring that it can not be held liable for content posted by third parties.

But now, however, it appears that from conflict, some kind of peace has broken out. According to a court filing Wednesday, Google has backed down from its efforts to block Hood from investigating its copyright infringement and illegal content practices.

“It is hereby stipulated and agreed, by and between the parties to the above captioned action, by their undersigned counsel, that…….all of the claims that have been asserted in this action are hereby dismissed without costs to any party,” the filing reads (pdf).

The document, signed by lawyers representing both Google and Hood’s office, is short on detail and offers no clear explanation as to why Google decided to discontinue its complaint. However, it does suggest that some kind of agreement has been reached over the core issues at the heart of the dispute.

“[T]he Attorney General and Google endeavor to collaborate in addressing the harmful consequences of unlawful and/or dangerous online content,” the document reads.

While Google will be pleased with the outcome, the case was seen by some as a golden opportunity to see just how far Hood and the MPAA had collaborated on ‘Project Goliath‘. Now that an agreement of sorts has been reached, future revelations seem much less likely.

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