Tag Archives: mpaa

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.

awards-screeners

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.

awards-passwords

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.

awards-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.”

vison-media

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.



torrentz2

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

interpolzoi

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.

clickhide

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.

btjunkie

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

torrentz-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

katmirrormail

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.

KAT?

katmirror

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.

googlenotices500m

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.

Fake Pirate Movies Annoy Pirates & Anti-Pirates Alike

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fake-pirate-movies-annoy-pirates-anti-pirates-alike-160710/

fakeIn case readers missed it, copyright holders are very unhappy with YouTube. In recent months the site has developed into a battleground over the DMCA and the entertainment industries’ war with Google, with the record labels making most of the noise.

This week it was the MPAA’s turn to put more pressure on the site, this time by linking to an article published by filmmaker and anti-piracy advocate Ellen Seidler. As can be seen below, it implores YouTube to clean up its act.

The piece by Seidler is an interesting one, in that it criticizes YouTube for allowing people to upload fake movies that lead people to scammy sites.

In the unlikely event readers haven’t seen them, these fake movies are easily found by typing the name of almost any mainstream film into YouTube’s search box and adding the words “full movie”.

Once accessed, the videos nearly always instruct users to ‘click the link’ below the video to access the full movie. These links rarely, if ever, lead to anything good, and especially not the movie people expect.

dead1

While Seidler’s post expresses concern over the dubious sites that YouTube users are sent to, it seems likely that her post is more broadly aimed at chipping away at YouTube’s credibility and reputation. Little doubt that the MPAA’s retweet had that in mind too.

However, taking a step back reveals a much more complex picture.

Seidler correctly notes that these fakes pollute YouTube’s results but she also reports a secondary problem – it makes her anti-piracy work much harder.

“When I search for copies of my film using my Content ID account, I have to wade through dozens of these fake uploads,” Seidler complains.

“Removing them is an incredibly time-consuming task as it seems YouTube has purposely chosen to make the Content ID dashboard as inconvenient as possible for users.”

fakes-11

Of course, this situation is bad for people like Seidler who are trying to protect their content but consider for a moment the tremendous negative effect on pirates.

For many years people were able to type a movie title into YouTube, filter out all clips less than 20 minutes long, and more often than not come up with a decent copy of the movie in question.

Well, no more.

Today, YouTube’s search results are a horrible place to attempt ‘full movie’ piracy and that’s mostly down to the ‘full movie’ scammers.

If anything, one might think that Hollywood would be at least marginally grateful for third-parties infecting would-be pirates with malware or getting them stuck in horrible subscription traps. That’s quality piracy deterrence right there.

Instead, Seidler suggests ways that YouTube could clean up its site, perhaps by detecting and removing these fakes with ContentID. Pirates would certainly appreciate that, but YouTube isn’t likely to oblige.

Proactively removing content in that manner would only invite calls for YouTube do the same for copyrighted content. Before long, the same calls would go out to Google in general, with big implications for its search business.

So for now, both Seidler and would-be pirates are going to have to put up with these fake movie operations. Anti-piracy people will have to figure it out for themselves, but the best advice for regular users is to never click on the links in ‘fake movie’ YouTube descriptions.

Finally, Seidler raises the question of who is behind these scams. One of the outfits she names is TzarMedia.com, a site that has hundreds of negative online reviews.

The rabbit hole seems very, very deep on this one but there seems to be a recurring theme for those with an urge to investigate further. It looks messy, really messy.

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

Fair Use Threatens Innovation, Copyright Holders Warn

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fair-use-threatens-innovation-copyright-holders-warn-160708/

ausEarlier this year the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission released a Draft Report on Intellectual Property Arrangements, recommending various improvements to the country’s copyright policies.

The commission suggested allowing the use of VPNs to bypass geo-blocking efforts. In addition, the proposals include drastically lowering the copyright term, while also introducing fair use exceptions.

Various interested parties have since responded to the proposals. As expected, copyright holders are not happy with the plans and some are outright offended by the recommendations.

For example, a coalition of Aussie TV and movie groups point out that the language being used reflects a “slanted, superficial and under-informed approach.” Similarly, two writers’ guilds describe the draft report as an “attack on the livelihoods” of Australian creators.

From the “offending” report

aussie-fair-use

Several rightsholder groups argue that strong copyright protections are essential for the survival of their businesses. This includes a long copyright term of 70 years, as well as the ability to block access to content based on the location of a consumer.

In addition, many believe that fair use exceptions will do more harm than good. For example, music group IFPI warns that fair use will threaten innovation and create legal uncertainty.

“Licensing, not exceptions to copyright, drives innovation. Innovation is best achieved through licensing agreements between content owners and users, including technological innovators,” IFPI writes.

Copyright is the cornerstone of the music industry, according to IFPI, while fair use will mostly benefit outsiders who want to profit from the work of others.

“The music industry exists because of copyright. Copyright drives innovation and creativity, enables record companies to invest in artists and repertoire, and gives creators an income.

“It is no coincidence that those who champion the ‘flexibility’ of fair use exceptions/defenses typically are those whose business models depend on unfettered access to copyright works.”

TV company Foxtel issues a similar warning about fair use. According to the Australian pay television company, it will directly damage the country’s creative industries.

“Fair use will introduce significant and unnecessary uncertainty into Australian law,” Foxtel writes.

“A fair use exception would be wide, vague and uncertain, while at the same time it would significantly erode the scope of copyright protection which is so critical in protecting investment in Australia‘s cultural industries.”

Foxtel also warns that third parties will exploit fair use exceptions at the expense of rightsholders. This will eventually hurt revenues and threaten the creation of new content.

“Fair use will have negative economic consequences and have a significant impact on creative output due to the associated uncertainties. Foxtel strongly believes that this type of reform will have a significant impact on creative outputs due to the uncertainties it will create,” the TV company adds.

But it’s not just major companies protesting against the proposed changes. The Australian Writers’ Guild also warns against fair use.

They believe that it will disadvantage their members, who don’t have the means to protect themselves against large corporations that could invoke fair use as a defense.

“We are particularly concerned about the uncertainty created by the introduction of fair use,” they write.

“It will contingent on scriptwriters, for example, to mount legal cases that their work has been infringed and is not subject to legitimate fair use by the respondent, who is likely to be a large corporation such as a news organization or search engine.”

While the copyright holders fiercely oppose fair use exceptions, others such as Google welcome it with open arms. According to Google, fears surrounding the uncertainty it would create are overblown.

Interestingly, Google cites none other than Hollywood’s anti-piracy group MPAA to make its case.

“Our members rely on the fair use doctrine every day when producing their movies and television shows – especially those that involve parody and news and documentary programs,” the MPAA stated previously.

The Government’s Productivity Commission will take the comments from various stakeholders into account before moving forward. The final report will be handed to the Government in August and published shortly after.

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

ICANN: We Won’t Pass Judgment on Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/icann-we-wont-pass-judgment-on-pirate-sites-160702/

There are plenty of options for copyright holders seeking to hinder the progress of pirate sites but one of the most effective is attacking domains.

The strategy has been employed most famously against The Pirate Bay and over the past couple of years the site has lost most of the domains it deployed to stay online.

At the very top of the domain name ‘tree’ is the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This non-profit body is responsible for the smooth-running of the Internet’s Doman Name System. However, if copyright holders had their way, ICANN would also act as the Internet’s piracy police by forcing registrars to prevent illegal use of domain names.

Last year, ICANN told TorrentFreak that it had no role to play in “policing content” but of course, copyright holders continue to pile on the pressure.

The latest efforts come from the Intellectual Property Constituency (IPC) and the Coalition for Online Accountability (COA), which count the major studios and record labels among their members.

Both have concerns over the “Public Interest Commitments” (PICs) present in new gTLD registry agreements. Specification 11 states that registry operators must include a clause in their registry/registrar agreements which prohibits domain name holders from engaging in various kinds of abuse, from malware and phishing through to copyright and trademark abuse.

This contractual wording allows registries to lay down acceptable use rules with registrars, who in turn do the same with domain owners. However, IPC believes that it is the job of the registries, registrars and ultimately ICANN to enforce these terms and conditions and suspend pirate domains.

In April, IPC chief Greg Shatan wrote to ICANN chair Dr. Stephen Crocker (pdf). He expressed concern at earlier ICANN comments which indicated that the group considers copyright infringement, counterfeiting, and other fraudulent practices to be “outside its mandate”.

That was followed by a June 17, 2016 follow-up letter to ICANN from COA (pdf) expressing similar concerns.

This week, ICANN’s Dr. Crocker responded (pdf) to the April letter from IPC, confirming that his group will “bring enforcement actions” against registries and registrars that fail to include abuse warnings in their end-user agreements.

However, ICANN also made it crystal clear that it won’t be getting directly involved in disputes involving allegedly infringing domains.

“This does not mean, however, that ICANN is required or qualified to make factual and legal determinations as to whether a Registered Name Holder or a website operator is violating applicable laws and governmental regulations, and to assess what would constitute an appropriate remedy for such activities in any particular situation,” Dr. Croker told IPC.

Noting that both registries and registrars have expressed difficulty in assessing alleged violations of the law, ICANN invites those with a grievance against allegedly infringing sites to deal with matters themselves. One possibility might be through voluntary agreements such as those the MPAA struck with Donuts and Radix.

“While these initiatives are outside of ICANN’s limited remit, we are hopeful that these voluntary efforts will produce usable tools and mechanisms for use by Registries and Registrars,” Dr. Croker said.

Finally, ICANN notes that there is nothing stopping “harmed parties” from taking action against registries, registrars or domain owners “through administrative, regulatory or judicial bodies to seek fines, damages, injunctive relief or other remedies available at law.”

In other words, if copyright holders want something done about their disputes, there are several options available already. Just don’t expect ICANN to become judge, jury, and executioner.

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

Google Senior Counsel Defends Company’s Anti-Piracy Measures

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-senior-counsel-defends-companys-anti-piracy-measures-160701/

google-waterWhile threats against The Pirate Bay were once in vogue, entertainment industry outfits have already decided that attacking ancillary legitimate companies might be the way forward.

As a result (and despite going way beyond its obligations under current copyright law) Google is increasingly being made the scapegoat for the world’s piracy problems.

Someone uploads illegal content to YouTube? That must be Google’s fault. Google indexes an allegedly infringing site among the millions of others it indexes? Google’s fault too, even though it’s prepared to deindex any number of pages on request.

In short, whatever the company does, it’s never enough, and the pressure is being ramped up from all angles from those who expect Google to become the Internet police.

Last evening TF published an article detailing how the MPAA’s deal with the Donuts registry had resulted in the disabling of the Primewire.guru domain.

The piece was retweeted by Google Senior Counsel Fred von Lohmann but soon others were weighing in. Lawyer Devlin Hartline from the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property immediately accused Google of being part of the problem.

Von Lohmann quickly fired back, noting that all Google had done was index the site like any other among the billion online today. It also received less than 500 URL complaints against the site and had removed them all.

But by now Hartline had the bit between his teeth

“It was an obvious pirate site, which @DonutsInc thankfully did something about rather than index it for the world. #FixTheNet,” he wrote.

But Hartline wasn’t done yet. Since Primewire.guru is clearly a very small player, the lawyer upped the ante by changing the argument to encompass a much bigger site.

4Shared.com is a world leader when it comes to copyright complaints so Hartline asked von Lohmann why that site still appears in search results, throwing in a #lame for good measure.

Noting that Hartline had switched the argument, von Lohmann turned his attention to the Google search parameters his sparring partner had included in his Tweet. Rather than searching for specific and perhaps pirate content, Hartline’s search was formulated to show all of 4shared’s pages. As a result, that’s what he got.

“Can you get 4shared to appear [in Google’s search results] with a query that doesn’t include their name?” von Lohmann responded. Hartline quickly fired back.

“If you think that 4shared is so obviously pirate that you demote it in the search results, why not just remove it altogether?” he said. Old ground, von Lohmann said.

In response, Hartline said he was “well aware” of the debate but still he persisted. If Donuts is prepared to pull the trigger, why doesn’t Google simply do “more”?

Of course, no matter what anti-piracy measures Google puts in place, rightsholders always want “more”. For its part, Google feels that it’s doing enough but in the meantime von Lohmann had some pretty sound advice for Hartline. If you don’t want infringing results, stop searching for them.

This is a pretty important statement from von Lohmann. What he’s reiterating is that unless people go specifically hunting for content on sites that have received the most DMCA notices, those sites won’t appear in search results.

This means that users who are casually searching for music, movies or TV shows (legal or illegal) won’t be handed results from 4shared or other popular ‘pirate’ sites unless they form their searches to do so.

Of course, ‘pirate’ results still appear but these days the quality of those results is much lower than it used to be. Rightsholders won’t be happy until they’ve gone completely though, so arguments like these will continue, ad infinitum.

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

MPAA’s Domain Name ‘Policing’ Results in First Suspensions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaas-domain-name-policing-results-in-first-suspensions-160630/

mpaaIn recent years various entertainment industry groups have switched their efforts away from legislation, towards voluntary cooperation with various stakeholders.

This has resulted in several agreements with Internet providers, advertising agencies and payment processors, which are all designed to help prevent piracy.

A few months ago this strategy was expanded to cover key players in the domain name industry. In February, the MPAA and the Donuts registry signed a landmark agreement under which the movie industry group acts as “trusted notifier” of “pirate” domains.

Traditionally, it has been very hard for rightsholders to get domain names suspended without a court order, but through voluntary agreements this process is simplified.

A few months have passed since the initial announcement and according to the domain registry the first results are positive.

The MPAA referred the first three domain names to Donuts in March. After a careful inspection, the registry agreed that the associated sites were indeed linked to illegal downloading or streaming.

“We concluded that the first two were identical to well-known pirated content websites, which were subjects of prior court orders and were illegally streaming and providing downloads of movies, including those still in theaters. The third was dedicated to illegally downloading and live streaming television series,” Donuts notes.

In response, Donuts alerted the responsible domain name registrars about the infringing conduct, paired with a request to inform the persons who registered the domains.

This eventually resulted in two domain name suspensions on the registrar level. In the third case the site’s hosting provider took the site offline.

Neither Donuts nor the MPAA have published the targeted domain names. However, additional research reveals that the Donuts domain Primewire.guru was suspended recently, which fits the profile.

Primewire.guru, now suspended

primewireguru

A few weeks after the first reports, MPAA submitted another set of three “allegedly infringing” domain names. In two of these cases Donuts agreed that the sites were violating their abuse policies, and after the registrants failed to reply, the domains were suspended.

The third domain name, which remains unnamed, is dedicated to streaming TV series. However, after discussions with the registrar and the owner of the domain, no direct action was taken. The domain owner apparently argued that the site complies with takedown requests, so Donuts says that further investigation is needed to make a final decision.

While the MPAA’s efforts have resulted in some suspensions, there are still several “pirate” sites online with Donuts managed domains. This includes domains with the prominent .movie TLD, so there’s still plenty of policing to do.

From the registry point of view Donuts is satisfied with the progress so far. They are happy to contribute in the “continuing battle against pervasive illegal online piracy” but stress that they aren’t suspending domains names on a whim.

“Donuts has been extremely careful in balancing the rights of its end-user customers along with those of copyright holders. We continue to believe this is a useful and efficient manner for addressing blatant online piracy, and we encourage others in the domain name community to follow suit with similar programs,” the registry concludes.

The MPAA’s Chief of Global Content Protection, Dean Marks, agrees and hopes that more domain name registries will come onboard in the near future.

In addition to the deal with Donuts, the MPAA also signed a similar agreement with Radix, Asia’s largest new gTLD applicant. Whether more registries will follow in the future has yet to be seen.

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

MPAA Boss: Europe’s Geo Unblocking Plans Threaten Movie Industry

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-boss-europes-geo-unblocking-plans-threaten-movie-industry-160623/

doddConsumers who want to watch movies or TV-shows online are limited to the content that they are permitted to see in their home country.

This means that the Netflix library in one country can be entirely different from that of a neighboring nation.

This is a direct result of the territorial licensing deals the movie industry is built on. However, now that people are more connected online these restrictions are also an increasing source of frustration.

To counter these consumer-unfriendly limitations, the European Commission has suggested a ban on certain types of geo-blocking as part of the Digital Single Market reforms.

Some of these changes for other industries were detailed earlier this year, but the exact plans for the audio-visual sector will have to wait until this fall. This will give various movie industry insiders time to change the commission’s course.

In a keynote address at the CineEurope convention this week, MPAA Chairman and CEO Chris Dodd described the unblocking goals as a threat to the movie industry. Encouraging participants to reach out to their representatives, Dodd described the concerns as “real, very real.”

“While the stated goals of these proposals are laudable – offering greater choice to European consumers and strengthening cultural diversity – in reality, these ideas could actually cause great harm to Europe’s film industries and its consumers,” Dodd said.

“What particularly concern me are proposals that would threaten the practices of territorial licensing and contractual freedom. These practices have long served as the financial bedrock of Europe’s film industries,” he added.

Dodds fears that without territorial licensing and other exclusivity agreements, investors will pull out. This could then lead to lower budgets and fewer films.

In addition, it would take away the freedom of filmmakers to launch their products where and when they want, which is often done to maximize their chance of success in a specific region.

“The European Union is made up of 28 different nations with different cultures, different languages, and different tastes. Forcing every film to be marketed and released the same way everywhere, at the same time, is a recipe for failure,” Dodd said.

“The ability of filmmakers and distributors to market and release their films where, how, and when they think best gives them the greatest chance to succeed,” he added.

According to Dodd, geo-blocking is ultimately in the best interests of consumers as well. Citing a recent study released by Oxera, geo-unblocking would bring less diversity, less content and higher prices for consumers, he argued.

With this message, the MPAA’s boss encourages film industry insiders to reach out to their elected representatives, to make sure their position is heard.

“With summer upon us, we are reaching a critical period, and we need to keep the pressure on,” Dodd adds. “Your representatives need to hear from you.”

In a few months time, we will know whether the movie industry pressure will be able to keep the status quo intact, or if the geo-blocking notifications will become less prevalent in the future.

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

Google and GoDaddy Sign Anti-Piracy Pledge

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-and-godaddy-sign-anti-piracy-pledge-160616/

TAGIn recent years various copyright holder groups have adopted a “follow-the-money” approach in the hope of cutting off funding to so-called pirate sites.

Part of this strategy are voluntary agreements between rightsholders, advertisers, and advertising agencies, with the goal of preventing ads from showing up on torrent sites and other pirate portals.

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) is a relatively new player which helps to facilitate these efforts. TAG coordinates an advertising-oriented Anti-Piracy Program and has already signed up several large companies across various industries.

A few days ago two large tech companies, Google and GoDaddy, joined up to TAG, with both taking the “Anti-Piracy Pledge.”

Speaking with TorrentFreak, TAG explained that Google has taken the pledge as an advertiser. This means that their own advertising services are not “validated” and approved just yet. However, this is something they are working on.

“Google has signed on as an advertiser by taking the Pledge. They are also actively working to become a self-attested DAAP for their ad delivery services,” TAG informs us.

By signing the pledge both companies agree to “take commercially reasonable steps to minimize the inadvertent placement of digital advertising on websites or other media properties that have an undesired risk of being associated with the unauthorized dissemination of materials protected by the copyright laws…”

TAG Pledge
tagpledge

The above means that future Google and GoDaddy advertisements may work more closely with TAG certified partners, which carry the “Certified Against Piracy” seal featured at the top of this article.

Once Google is approved as a self-attested Digital Advertising Assurance Provider, it can carry the same seal for its own services.

Becoming certified is not cheap. There is a registration fee of $10,000 and another $10,000 is required to carry the seal. However, TAG informs us that these costs can be waived for smaller businesses.

The MPAA applauds the steps taken by Google and GoDaddy and the Hollywood group hopes that more companies will follow in their footsteps.

“We also hope that more ad networks and intermediaries involved in the ad chain, like those run by Google, will come to the same conclusion – associating good brands with bad sites is bad business and harmful to creators and consumers,” MPAA’s Farnaz Alemi said.

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