Tag Archives: mpaa

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.

RIAA-Approved File-Sharing Service Hacked, 51m User Details Leaked

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-approved-file-sharing-service-hacked-51m-user-details-leaked-160613/

imesh-logoBack in 2003, when file-sharing technology was still in its relative infancy, several platforms had aspirations of becoming the next Napster. One of those was Israel-based iMesh, which at four years old was practically a veteran already.

But in September that year an increasingly irritable RIAA said enough is enough and sued iMesh in the United States. At the time, both parties were defiant. The RIAA insisted that iMesh should be shut down, while iMesh’s owners claimed they’d done nothing wrong.

However, in the summer of 2014 an unusual peace was reached, with iMesh paying the RIAA more than $4m in compensation and continuing business as normal. As strange as it may seem, the RIAA appeared to have licensed people they’d already branded as pirates.

There were changes though. iMesh was forced to release a new client that carried filtering technology provided by Audible Magic, with the aim of stopping infringement on the network. From the release of iMesh v6 in October 2005, it’s almost certain that the RIAA had access to vast amounts of iMesh user data.

Now, however, some of that data has landed in the public arena. Following the sudden disappearance of iMesh in recent weeks, LeakedSource is reporting that it has obtained an iMesh database containing 51,310,759 user records.

“Each record contains an email address, a username, one password, an IP address, a Country location and a join date,” the site says.

The breach, which appears to have taken place in September 2013, lists users from 55 countries participating on iMesh. With 13.7m users, the United States was by far the most popular country.

imesh-1

Sadly, as is often the case when such breaches are made public, the password situation on iMesh was pretty bleak.

“Passwords were stored in multiple MD5 rounds with salting. ‘Salting’ makes decrypting passwords exponentially harder when dealing with large numbers such as these, and is better than what LinkedIn and MySpace did but MD5 itself is not nearly hard enough for modern computing. The methods iMesh used, albeit 3 years ago were still insufficient for the times,” LeakedSource notes.

Only making matters worse are the passwords deployed by users. Close to a million of iMesh’s users went for ‘123456’, with more than 330,000 going for the slightly longer variant ‘123456789’.

imesh-pass

For what would turn into a largely crippled file-sharing network, iMesh was still attracting plenty of new users. The leak shows that in 2006, just after the release of the RIAA-approved client, iMesh had 4.8 million people sign up. During 2011, 9.4 million jumped on board. The last data available shows 2.5 million new members in 2013.

Now, however, iMesh is suddenly no more. After more than a decade of working with the RIAA (and even the MPAA who had a deal to limit movie sharing on the service), several weeks ago iMesh suddenly shut down. May 5 is the last date an active page is available on Wayback Machine, boasting access to 15 million licensed songs and videos.

Unsurprisingly, the iMesh shutdown is just one of many. At the same time several other platforms closed down including Bearshare, Shareaza and Lphant. Each show an almost identical shutdown message on their homepages since underneath they were all one and the same software operated by the same company.

But while it is customary for file-sharing fans to mourn the loss of file-sharing services, few with knowledge of how this network operated will be disappointed that these have gone, and not just because of the RIAA deal either.

The original Shareaza and Lphant projects were both subjected to hostile action by Discordia, the owners of iMesh, in circumstances that remain murky to this day. The original and safe version of Shareaza continues on Sourceforge, somewhat against the odds.

Users concerned that their data may have been compromised can check here.

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

Judge: Failing Megaupload Servers Should Be Repaired, Not Copied

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/judge-failing-megaupload-servers-should-be-repaired-not-copied-160611/

megaupload-logoMegaupload was shutdown nearly half a decade ago, but data from hundreds of the site’s servers are still in storage.

This is also true for the files that were placed at Cogent.

While the original machines are no longer intact, the hosting company has backed up all data which it will keep in storage pending the various lawsuits against the company and its operators.

However, as time has gone by the condition of the harddrives has deteriorated. A few weeks ago Cogent warned that sixteen of them have actually become unreadable, which is a serious concern since they contain important evidence.

To resolve the issue the RIAA and MPAA, representing various major copyright holders, asked if they could preserve a copy of the data themselves. Alternatively, they were also open to bringing in an independent computer forensics vendor, to copy and preserve the data.

Megaupload disagreed, arguing that rightsholders or other outsiders shouldn’t get their hands on possibly privacy sensitive user data, and opted to simply repair the failing disks.

This week District Court Judge Liam O’Grady ruled on the matter at hand. He rejected the copying proposal by the rightsholders, and went with Megaupload’s suggestion instead.

Judge O’Grady’s order

megaserv

“The Court finds Defendants’ proposal is the more appropriate remedy for the issue at hand,” Judge O’Grady writes in his order.

The Judge instructs all stakeholders in the civil and criminal cases, including the U.S. Government and Cogent, to come together and agree on a repair process.

“[All parties] shall meet and confer with United States Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson to discuss and devise an appropriate solution to repair the Cogent drives and preserve the evidence on the Cogent servers, as well as to secure and preserve other digital evidence.”

While none of the parties are likely to disagree to a repair, they do have to determine who should pick up the tab.

Megaupload previously said that it doesn’t have the financial resources to do so, and suggested that either the copyright holders or the Government must take care of this. The Government is unlikely to pay though, and previously said that it no longer has an interest in the data.

The fact that the recent filings in the Megaupload proceedings are about data loss is exemplary of the slow progress in the cases, which are still a long way from trial.

Last December a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Kim Dotcom and his colleagues can be extradited to the United States to face criminal charges. This decision was appealed and will be heard later this summer, so until then not much is expected to happen.

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

Copyright Group: Hypocrite .ORG Registry Should Ban The Pirate Bay

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-group-hypocrite-org-registry-should-ban-the-pirate-bay-160606/

thepirateFearing a domain seizure, The Pirate Bay moved away from its original .ORG domain name four years ago.

At the time, domain names were being seized left and right and the site’s operators feared that the U.S. based domain registry might do their same with theirs.

Finding a suitable alternative was easier said than done, however. After losing more than a dozen subsequent domain names, TPB decided to switch back to the .ORG domain a few weeks ago.

The domain shuffle has been watched closely by various copyright holder groups, who previously pressured registries to suspend new Pirate Bay domains, often with success. However, thus far the .ORG’s Public Interest Registry (PIR) has not been very receptive to these calls.

This has angered several rightsholders, not least because the responsible registry is operating from the United States. Thus far their frustration has been voiced behind the scenes. However, the Copyright Alliance, which lists MPAA, RIAA and many prominent rightsholders as members, has now taken it public.

Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid calls out the registry for allowing The Pirate Bay to use one of its domain names, and urges the organization to suspend the site’s .ORG domain.

“It is shocking that a domain name registry in the United States – one that is dedicated to ‘the public interest’ – is allowing a blatantly illegal site to have a home on the .org domain,” Kupferschmid says.

“This is especially disturbing given that the operators of The Pirate Bay have been found guilty of criminal copyright infringement, The Pirate Bay domain names have been seized or suspended around the globe, and even its co-founder, Peter Sunde, has walked away from it,” he adds.

The Copyright Alliance calls out the registry as hypocritical, noting that it clearly states on its website that they’re committed to “always do[ing] the right thing” and that abuse of .org domains will not be tolerated.

While suspending TPB’s domain name is the right thing in the eyes of many rightsholders, players in the domain name industry don’t necessarily agree. Voluntarily disconnecting domains without due process is a far-reaching measure, and a line not all are willing to cross.

Also, the registry is less hypocritical than the Copyright Alliance claims. For example, on its website PIR clearly writes that their abuse policy doesn’t apply to copyright infringement issues, pointing to ICANN’s domain dispute resolution policy instead.

pirabuse

The .ORG registry hasn’t commented publicly on the matter, but it is very likely that they don’t want to take any action without a valid court order. This is the most objective procedure and one that copyright holders are clearly aware of.

Why Hollywood or the major music labels haven’t tried this yet is unknown. Just last year the RIAA managed to take several domains offline with proper court orders, which were processed relatively quickly.

The TPB-crew can’t really be bothered by the pressure on the registry. Even if the .ORG domain name is suspended, the site will continue operating on another one.

“TPB is more than just a domain, it’s a movement, and taking down one domain will have zero effect on our inalienable right to share culture with our peers,” TPB’s Spud17 tells us.

“Their petty targeting of one domain shows how ignorant they are of how the world works,” she adds.

The Copyright Alliance nonetheless hopes that PIR will respond ‘appropriately’ now that they’ve taken the matter public, and urges the registry to voluntarily suspend the Pirate Bay domain.

“The fact that PIR is presently providing a sanctuary for The Pirate Bay to continue its criminal behavior is unacceptable and should stop immediately,” Kupferschmid concludes.

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

Is The “Six Strikes” Anti-Piracy Scheme Doomed?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/is-the-u-s-six-strikes-anti-piracy-system-doomed-160605/

pirate-runningFive years ago the MPAA and RIAA teamed up with several major U.S. Internet providers, announcing their plan to shift the norms and behavior of BitTorrent pirates.

The parties launched the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) and agreed on a system through which Internet account holders are warned if their connections are used to download pirated content.

After five or six warnings ISPs can take a variety of repressive measures, including bandwidth throttling and temporary Internet disconnections.

The system has been in place for several years now and is currently set to expire in October, before which the parties have to agree on its future course.

When the initiative was announced many people feared an active witch hunt and various horror stories about falsely accused grandmothers. But, now that several years have passed it’s the silence that stands out most.

It’s almost as if the much praised Copyright Alert System doesn’t exist at all.

Since its inception, CCI has issued no more than three press releases and any recent data on the scope and effectiveness of the program is lacking. The only figures that were published cover the first ten months, ending December 2013.

Hoping to fill this information void TorrentFreak has been asking for fresh data for years, but CCI repeatedly informed us that they have no new numbers to share.

Similarly, the institution’s official Twitter account has been gathering dust for almost a year, exemplifying the lack of communication.

This week we contacted CCI again, and although no data or concrete plans were unveiled, Executive Director Jim Kohlenberger was willing to shed some more light on the operation.

“The system continues to work smoothly, effectively, and as intended,” he says.

“We’ve seen that consumers are interested in the activity happening on their network, that they respond to educationally focused efforts, and are thirsty for more information on the amazing new ways to ethically access content where, when, and how they want.”

According to Kohlenberger there are growing signs that P2P piracy is on the decline, while use of legal content options is growing. Looking ahead, CCI’s director says the system will be further optimized.

“Going forward, we continue to look for opportunities to refine the system, and to advance our efforts and to elevate our consumer-focused mission in pragmatic ways,” Kohlenberger notes.

While the comments are positive, there are also some signs which suggest that there has been very little progress behind the scenes. The parties have been discussing future options for a long time already and thus far nothing has been set in stone.

After the original agreement expired last June it was extended for four months to give the parties some additional time to agree on possible changes. In October another three-month extension was put in place, followed by yet more extensions in February, March and April of this year.

This strange series of short extensions is odd, to say the least.

And while the future for the Copyright Alert System has yet to be decided, critique is swelling. Not just from pirates and activists, but also from copyright holders themselves as they can only send a limited number of complaints.

Last year a group of several independent movie studios called for the end of the system, describing it as a sham. Instead, the movie studios see more mileage in a Canadian notice-and-notice system, where they can send out as many warnings as they like.

Add to this that Australia just abandoned their proposed “strikes” scheme and the fact that Hollywood said it will no longer push for similar measures elsewhere, and the picture gets more and more grim.

Considering the above it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the scheme terminated itself in the future, but CCI is obviously not hinting in that direction. However, we seriously doubt that things are going as smoothly as they are presented.

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

Anti-Piracy Group Wants to Take Down ‘The Internet’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-group-wants-to-take-down-the-internet-160604/

bomb-explosion-atomicIn an effort to combat piracy, copyright holders report millions of infringing links to Google on a daily basis.

Due to the high number of often automated notices and the fact that copyright holders don’t always check the validity of all requests, mistakes are a common occurrence.

An occasional mishap is understandable, of course, but this week we stumbled upon one of the worst series of takedown notices we have ever seen.

Over the course of a few days reporting organization Copyright UNIVERSAL asked Google to remove thousands of links from its search engine. In their listing we do indeed see some infringing URLs, but it’s the legal content that really stands out.

In fact, it is safe to say that no website is safe for the overzealous anti-piracy group.

Over the past week Copyright UNIVERSAL has asked Google to remove 4,224 URLs including various high profile sites. While we don’t have room to highlight all ‘mistakes,’ we’ve made a selection of some of the most outrageous errors.

Let’s start off with the MPAA, a fellow anti-piracy group which has called on Google to make sure that reported URLs remain offline. According to a recent notice from Copyright UNIVERSAL, their ratings page is clearly infringing.

mpaa

The same is true for legal offerings from movie stores and streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon and Apple’s iTunes.

netflix

amaz

apple

According to the notices, Google’s very own Play store is also copyright infringing.

googplay

In fact, even Hulu’s original series are not safe from the overactive anti-piracy group’s recent takedown spree.

huluorg

But that’s just the beginning. Various Internet providers including Comcast, Verizon and Cox also offer entertainment online. This is not permitted according to Copyright UNIVERSAL which is targeting the respective sites in various takedown notices.

xfinity

verizon

cox

Then there are offline film broadcasting outlets, commonly known as movie theaters. These generally have a good relationship with copyright holders, but that doesn’t mean they can stay online.

The Copyright UNIVERSAL notices target several cinemas including the homepages of AMC Theaters and Vox Cinemas, as shown below.

amc

voxcinemas

The same is true for film rating sites such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, which are both targeted in several requests.

rotten

metacritic

Turning it up a notch, the anti-piracy group is also cracking down on sports leagues, as both the NBA and NFL sites are targeted.

nba

nfl

And what about the official movie homepage for The Huntsman: Winter’s War, tucked in between several news articles and other legitimate sites such as the Verge, The Age, The Australian and The Sun.

The list goes on and on and on….

huntsandmore

After keeping a close eye on DMCA takedown mistakes over the past several years, these are by far the worst. Keep in mind that the above is just a small selection of all the inaccuracies, which can be found in full here.

Unfortunately it is not clear on whose authority Universal COPYRIGHT is acting. The sloppy anti-piracy outfit reportedly operates from India but that’s pretty much all we know at this point.

TorrentFreak reached out to Google, who said they would look into the matter, but we haven’t heard back since.

The good news is that thanks to Google’s sharp eye none of the inaccurately reported links have been removed. So even if Copyright UNIVERSAL continues its crusade against pretty much the entire Internet, it’s unlikely that it will succeed.

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

DVD Release Delays Boost Piracy and Hurt Sales, Study Shows

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dvd-release-delays-boost-piracy-hurt-sales-study-shows-160602/

piratkeybAfter a film premiers in theaters, movie fans usually have to wait a few months before they can get their hands on a DVD or Blu-Ray copy, depending on the local release strategy.

This delay tactic helps movie theaters to maximize their revenues. However, it might not be the best option for aftermarket sales, which typically account for the largest chunk of a movie’s revenues.

One factor that comes into play here is piracy. Due to artificial delays which vary across different parts of the world, pirates can often get their hands on a high quality rip of a movie before the DVD is officially released in their country.

A new study published by Carnegie Mellon University researchers has looked into this piracy “window of opportunity,” and found that release delays are actually hurting DVD and Blu-Ray sales.

Using real-world data the researchers investigated to what degree the availability of pirated movies during international release delays impact subsequent sales and found a clear positive relation.

“Our results suggest that an additional 10-day delay between the availability of digital piracy and the legitimate DVD release date in a particular country is correlated with a 2-3% reduction in DVD sales in that country,” the researchers write.

The results are robust and the researchers controlled for a variety of alternative explanations.

For example, a longer delay itself doesn’t have a significant effect on sales. Revenue is only impacted if this also results in a longer “piracy window.”

More proof that the effect is driven by piracy is that the sales drops are proportional to piracy levels in a country.

Data shared by various movie studios reveals that movie piracy in Spain is about six times larger than in other countries, an effect that’s also visible in the researchers’ analysis.

“When we run our regressions on Spain and Italy alone, we observe a 10% drop in sales for every 10-day delay in legal availability, as compared to a 2% drop in sales for every 10-day delay in the entire sample,” the paper reads.

Faced with these results, the paper suggests that besides going after pirates, Hollywood can also tweak its own business strategies to target the problem.

The researchers note that thanks to the interconnected nature of the Internet, a pirated film is shared all over the world within seconds of its release. This means that, as opposed to 15 years ago, delayed international movie releases may do more harm than good.

“Our results suggest that studios and exhibitors should reconsider delayed international movie releases in the presence of global piracy,” the paper reads, adding that shorter delays “may have positive spillover effects in the form of reduced piracy in the DVD window.”

The research was carried out as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics, which receives significant funding from the MPAA. However, the researchers state that their work is carried out independently.

Whether the MPAA will take up the advice has yet to be seen, but it’s good to see that the study confirms that movie studios themselves can also do more to address the piracy issue.

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

MPAA Lobbyist / SOPA Sponsor to Draft Democratic Party Platform

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-lobbyist-sopa-sponsor-to-draft-democratic-party-platform-160531/

berman-smallLast week Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz chose a panel of individuals to draft the party’s platform.

As previously reported, 15 were selected, with six chosen by Clinton, five chosen by Bernie Sanders and four chosen by Wasserman Schultz. While other publications will certainly pick over the bones of the rest of the committee, one in particular stands out as interesting to TF readers.

Howard L Berman is an attorney and former U.S. Representative. He’s employed at Covington & Burling as a lobbyist and represents the MPAA on matters including “Intellectual property issues in trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties, copyright, and related legislation.”

It will come as no surprise then that the major studios have been donors throughout Berman’s political career. As shown in the image below, the top five contributors are all major movie companies.

hberman1

Born in 1941, Berman’s work with the film industry earned him the nickname “the congressman from Hollywood” and over the years he’s been at the root of some of the most heated debates over the protection of intellectual property.

In 2007 and as later confirmed by Wikileaks, Berman was one of the main proponents of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

Just five short years later Berman was at the heart of perhaps the biggest copyright controversy the world has ever seen when he became a co-sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

“The theft of American Intellectual Property not only robs those in the creative chain of adequate compensation, but it also stunts potential for economic growth, cheats our communities out of good paying jobs, and threatens future American innovation,” Berman said in the run-up to SOPA.

While these kinds of soundbites are somewhat common, it’s interesting to note that Berman showed particular aggression towards Google during hearings focusing on SOPA. On November 16, 2011, Berman challenged the search giant over its indexing of The Pirate Bay.

google-bayInsisting that there “is no contradiction between intellectual property rights protection and enforcement ensuring freedom of expression on the Internet,” Berman said that Google’s refusal to delist the entire site was unacceptable.

“All right. Well, explain to me this one,” Berman demanded of Google policy counsel Katherine Oyama.

“The Pirate Bay is a notorious pirate site, a fact that its founders proudly proclaim in the name of the site itself. In fact, the site’s operators have been criminally convicted in Europe. And yet…..U.S.-Google continues to send U.S. consumers to the site by linking to the site in your search results. Why does Google refuse to de-index the site in your search results?” he said.

Oyama tried to answer, noting that Google invests tens of millions of dollars into the problem. “We have hundreds of people around the world that work on it,” she said. “When it comes to copyright….”

Berman didn’t allow her to finish, repeating his question about delisting the whole site, again and again. Before Berman’s time ran out, Oyama was interrupted several more times while trying to explain that the DMCA requires takedowns of specific links, not entire domains. Instead, Berman suggested that Oyama should “infuse herself” with the notion that Google wanted to stop “digital theft.”

“[T]he DMCA is not doing the job. That is so obvious,” he said. “[Y]ou cannot look at what is going on since the passage of the DMCA and say Congress got it just right. Maintain the status quo.”

These arguments continue today in the “takedown, staydown” debate surrounding the ongoing review of the DMCA, with Hollywood lining up on one side and Google being held responsible for the actions of others on the other. But simply complaining about the DMCA is a little moderate for Berman.

Almost one and a half decades ago in the wake of Napster and before the rise of BitTorrent, Berman had a dream of dealing with peer-to-peer file-sharing by force. In 2002 he proposed the Peer To Peer Piracy Prevention Act, which would have allowed copyright holders to take extraordinary technical measures against file-sharers in order to stop the unauthorized distribution of their content.

H.R.5211 sought to amend Federal copyright law to protect a copyright owner from liability in any criminal or civil action “for impairing, with appropriate technology, the unauthorized distribution, display, performance, or reproduction of his or her copyrighted work on a publicly accessible peer-to-peer file trading network.”

The bill didn’t deal in specifics, but “impairing” was widely believed to be a euphemism for DDoS and poisoning attacks on individual file-sharers in order to make sharing impossible from their computers.

At the time “shared-folder” type sharing apps were still popular so bombarding networks with fake and badly named files would also have been fair game, although distributing viruses and malware were not on the table. Eventually, however, the bill died.

Berman, on the other hand, appears to be very much alive and will be soon helping to draft the Democratic Party platform. On past experience his input might not be too difficult to spot.

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

Hollywood Writers: Set-top Box Piracy Fears Are Overblown

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-writers-set-top-box-piracy-fears-are-overblown-160524/

writers-guildEarlier this year the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a proposal that will allow consumers to swap expensive cable boxes for third-party devices and apps.

The rules are meant to promote competition and get rid of the inflated rates cable TV viewers have to pay for using the devices that their providers typically supply.

The proposal was welcomed by President Obama, but is meeting fierce resistance from copyright holders and cable providers, who fear a piracy surge and brand devaluation.

“Devices and applications to facilitate piracy exist today, but the proposal would make them more attractive and more harmful,” the MPAA writes this week, noting that pirate sites will use changes to their advantage.

“It would endanger the entire video distribution ecosystem by disregarding licensing requirements, jeopardizing content security, and promoting piracy and theft of service,” NBC Universal and Comcast adds in their reply comment.

While the positions above are typical of the copyright industry, there is a notable exception. Comments submitted by the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) this week suggest that piracy fears are being overblown.

This is an unexpected stance from a labor union represents thousands of screen writers in Hollywood and Southern California, many of whom work for the major movie and TV studios.

Instead of repeating the piracy concerns, the writers believe that it’s crucial to offer the public more choice and they expect that the proposal will benefit both consumers and content creators.

“While fears of piracy have been raised in this proceeding, the WGAW’s careful analysis is that the Commission’s rules can promote competition and protect content,” WGAW writes.

Soon?

example of a pirate box

The proposed rules strike a balance between promoting competition and protecting content, the union argues. By promoting competition, increased availability and cheaper alternatives, piracy may actually diminish.

“While new technology can create some business uncertainty, there is strong evidence that pro-consumer developments that make legal content more accessible to viewers benefits both consumers and content creators,” the writers note.

“The current pay-TV set-top box market is controlled by incumbent distributors who charge consumers high fees and exercise their gatekeeping power to limit content competition.”

WGAW suggests that the piracy fears of many rightsholders are overblown. They point out that on the “open Internet” piracy is also possible, but that hasn’t stopped innovative legal services from flourishing.

“A competitive navigation device market poses no greater risk of piracy than the open Internet, where the legal video streaming market has become lucrative and dominates Internet traffic.”

The new FCC rules would encourage innovation, much as the open Internet has done. As a result WGAW believes that consumers will be able to have broader access to entertainment at a reasonable price, which should benefit the industry as a whole.

“With the open Internet we are beginning to see what is possible in a more competitive landscape. The proposed rules for a competitive navigation device market are a logical and necessary next step in giving consumers more choice and further opening the content market to competition,” the writers union concludes.

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