Tag Archives: mpaa

Is Megaupload’s ‘Crime’ a Common Cloud Hosting Practice?

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/is-megauploads-crime-a-common-cloud-hosting-practice-170218/

Last week we reported that Google Drive uses hash filtering to prevent users from sharing alleged copyright infringing content, while leaving the actual files on its servers.

This practice is similar to what its competitor Dropbox does, and probably many other cloud hosting providers as well.

However, it also reminded us of a more controversial hosting service, Megaupload. When the US Department of Justice announced its allegations against the company five years ago, a similar issue was at the center.

One of the main arguments in the indictment is that Megaupload would only disable a URL when it received a takedown notice, not the underlying file. As a result of the deduplication technology it employed, this meant that the file could still be accessed under different URLs.

“…the Conspiracy has, at best, only deleted the particular URL of which the copyright holder complained, and purposefully left the actual infringing copy of the copyrighted work on the Mega Conspiracy-controlled server and any other access links completely intact,” the indictment reads.

The RIAA and MPAA later highlighted the similar takedown related issues in their civil complaints, with the latter stating:

“And although Megaupload had implemented a technology called ‘MDS hash’ filtering to identify and block uploads of various types of illicit content, Megaupload chose not to deploy that technology to identify and block infringing uploads of copyrighted works that had already been subject to takedown notices by plaintiffs and other copyright holders.”

Admittingly, the Megaupload cases are much broader than this single issue, but it does raise questions.

The apparent ‘failure’ to block infringing content from being uploaded by other users isn’t illegal by definition. In fact, neither Google Drive nor Dropbox does this today. So how is the Megaupload situation different?

The main difference appears to be that Megaupload only removed the links that were reported as infringing, while Dropbox and Drive also prevent others from publicly sharing links to the same file. All three services keep or kept the original files on their servers though.

There are good arguments for keeping the files, as others may have the legal right to store them. If someone downloads an MP3, he or she can’t share it in public without permission. However, making a private backup on Dropbox would be acceptable in many countries.

Since Dropbox and Drive don’t face criminal indictments, the question should therefore be whether Megaupload was legally required to delete all public links to the underlying file, even those that were not directly reported.

This is something legal experts have their doubts over, including Professor Lawrence Lessig.

“It is possible for one uploader to have a right to fair use of a copy of a file, e.g., a purchaser uploading a backup or an educational organization offering critical commentary, while other uploaders might have no such fair use right,” he explained earlier in an expert report.

In other words, while one person might not have the legal right to store a file, another person might. The same argument also applies to publishing such links. This is something we also see on YouTube, where rightsholders pull down videos which they themselves have openly published on the same site.

This week, Megaupload counsel Ira Rothken clarified that the service tried to strike a balance between the rights of copyright holders and its users. If one link is infringing, that doesn’t mean that all of the others on the service are as well.

“While Megaupload made efforts to curb abuse of its service, it recognized a competing obligation to its users who legitimately use[d] the service to store their own copies of copyrighted material,” Rothken tells TorrentFreak.

“For example, a music file that was purchased or covered by fair use and uploaded by a user for the purpose of ‘space shifting’ would look the same to Megaupload’s automated processes as a music file to which the user had no legal right.”

This was also brought up in the Dancing Baby” case recently, where it was held that copyright holders should consider fair use before requesting a takedown. This means that removing an underlying file may be too broad, as fair use isn’t considered for all URLs.

Megaupload saw it as an obligation to its users, who had a legal right to the files, to ensure that there’s a proper and legitimate basis to disable links or remove files.

“As a result, where a user was subject to a proper and specific take down notice for their unique link or URL, that user’s link to the file in question was taken down or broken.”

In sum, we can say that Megaupload operated slightly differently from Dropbox and Google Drive today. However, the difference is subtle. Not taking down the actual copyright infringing file from the servers is still common practice, for example.

When it comes to proactively preventing public sharing of links that are not reported yet, the service operated differently. Here Megaupload put the interests of its users first. Of course, the Megaupload case is much broader, but the above should illustrate that when it comes alleged hash filtering and file removal ‘crimes’, there is still an open debate.

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

Kids Shouldn’t Use the Internet, Russia’s Site-Blocking Chief Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russias-site-blocking-chief-kids-shouldnt-use-the-internet-170218/

Whether we like it or not, there are entities out there that like to try and control what we can and cannot see.

From the MPAA ratings system in the United States to the British Board of Film Censors Classification in the UK, various bodies like to remind us that there are filters in place, ostensibly for our own protection.

Of course, if run properly these kinds of systems can sometimes provide us with useful guidance, which is often welcome. At least they’re relatively subtle when compared to the flat-out Internet censorship provided by the Great Firewall of China, we assure ourselves.

But behind all of this censorship are claims that it’s all done for the greater good, to prevent the undermining of the state, to protect children, or to prevent damage to media companies, for example. Russia takes all of these things fairly seriously, and now blocks thousands of platforms on all kinds of grounds, from extremism to online piracy.

In certain quarters there’s an assumption that those behind such blocking know what they’re doing and can be trusted to do the right thing. This week, however, a few sentences from the boss of Russian telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor (which oversees site-blocking) revealed just how far away these people can drift.

In a Q&A session with AIF.ru, Alexander Zharov spoke on a number of issues, including online safety, especially for children. Naturally, kids need to be protected but the Rozcomnadzor chief has some quite radical ideas when it comes to them using the Internet.

“I believe that a child under 10-years-old should not go online. To use [the Internet] actively they need to start even later than that,” Zharov said.

As that begins to sink in, with parents around the globe destroying their kids’ smartphones, tablets, and games consoles in agreement, Zharov hasn’t finished.

“Some parents are proud of the fact that their three-year-old kid can deftly control a tablet and use it to watch cartoons. It is nothing good, in my opinion. A small child will begin to consider the virtual world part of the real world, and it changes their perception of reality.”

To put these ‘banning kids from the Internet’ statements into some kind of perspective, the image below shows figures compiled by UK telecoms regulator OFCOM for its Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report 2016 (pdf).

As we can see, around 80% of kids up to the age of 11 use tablets to consume media, which in many cases is delivered via the Internet. Throw the online capabilities of smartphones and games consoles into the mix and we have a massively connected group of 3 to 10-year-olds, all of them becoming conversant with the vital online world.

That the head of the body overseeing web-blocking in Russia believes that none of them should have access to the Internet is truly mind-boggling, especially when one considers the value children bring to the table.

According to a study just published by eMarketeer, 88.6% of internet users under four-years-old will watch digital video online in 2017, something which in turn will positively affect consumption volumes overall.

“Buoyed by the growth in younger age categories, overall video numbers are up, in 2017 eMarketer estimates that 43.2 million people, equating to 79.4 per cent of Internet users will be watching online videos,” Advanced Television reports.

But credit where it’s due. Zharov does have some good advice for parents, such as limiting the time kids spend online and keeping an eye out for behavior that might indicate cyber-bullying.

“With older children in my family, we have agreed as follows: when on the web, any unusual situation, you need to discuss it with your parents,” he wisely says.

Fortunately for Zharov, the embarrassing “Daddy, what’s a VPN?” question won’t raise its ugly head for at least another half a decade, if he can keep his youngest child (whose coming five) off the Internet for that long.

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

MPAA: Dealing With Kodi is the $64,000 Question

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-dealing-with-kodi-is-the-64000-question-170216/

Since around 2003, torrent sites have plagued the MPAA. Hydra-like in their ability to withstand all kinds of attacks, from legal onslaughts to domain blocking, torrent platforms are still going strong today.

However, what BitTorrent lacks in its standard form is a living-room friendly interface. Regular torrent clients are functional at best, uninviting at worst, and lack the colorful Netflix-style interface demanded by today’s sophisticated media consumer.

At least to some extent, the advent of Popcorn Time solved that particular problem for pirates, but the software still performs better in the desktop environment, despite its ability to run on portable devices. Kodi, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether.

This entirely legal piece of media-playing software is equally at home running on a PC, tablet, mobile phone, or crucially, an Android-powered set-top box or stick. As a result and thanks to its colorful interface, Kodi is now a central entertainment component of millions of homes.

Kodi has always had an enthusiastic following, but its ability to run third-party addons has turned this media player into a piracy goliath. Users are understandably delighted by its ability to bring all kinds of video media directly into their homes, at zero cost. Those that make the media are less enthusiastic.

Legal battles over the misuse of the platform are ongoing, mainly in the UK and the Netherlands, where test cases have the ability to clarify the legal position, at least for sellers of so-called “fully loaded” devices.

Interestingly, up until now, the MPAA has stayed almost completely quiet, despite a dramatic rise in the use of Kodi for illicit streaming. Yesterday, however, the silence was broken.

In an interview with Variety during the Berlin Film Festival, MPAA chief Chris Dodd described the Kodi-with-addons situation as “new-generation piracy”.

“The $64,000 question is what can be done about such illegal use of the Kodi platform,” Dodd said.

While $64,000 is a tempting offer, responding to that particular question with a working solution will take much more than that. Indeed, one might argue that dealing with it in any meaningful way will be almost impossible.

First of all, Kodi is open source and has been since its inception in 2002. As a result, trying to target the software itself would be like stuffing toothpaste back in a tube. It’s out there, it isn’t coming back, and pissing off countless developers is extremely ill-advised.

Secondly, the people behind Kodi have done absolutely nothing wrong. Their software is entirely legal and if their public statements are to be believed, they’re as sick of piracy as the entertainment companies are.

The third problem is how Kodi itself works. While to the uninitiated it looks like one platform, a fully-modded ‘pirate’ Kodi setup can contain many third-party addons, each capable of aggregating content from dozens or even hundreds of sites. Not even the mighty MPAA can shut them all down, and even if it could, more would reappear later. It’s the ultimate game of whac-a-mole.

To give an example, Chris Dodd mentioned that the movie “Bridge of Spies” had 160 sources on a Kodi setup and to anyone familiar with how these things work, that is not an unusual position for the most popular content. For hosts based in the US and Europe, a takedown/staydown regime might help a little, but there is plenty of opposition (1,2,3) and a long time to go before anything like that could be put in place.

That being said, indirectly the problem is already being addressed. Due to the way content is pulled from the web, tackling Kodi piracy is in many ways the same as tackling any infringing web-based content. As a result, many regimes already in place (site-blocking, DMCA notices, etc) are already part of the solution, at least if the studios’ claims on effectiveness are to be believed.

On the consumer front, things are even more complex and indeed bleak. Despite a flood of mainstream UK news sites falsely claiming the opposite in recent weeks, people using Kodi setups to stream content won’t be the subject of warning notices from their ISPs. Only peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent can be tackled this way, so contacting pirating users directly to “educate” them will be almost impossible.

Overall then, the present Kodi situation is more like a $64,000,000 question, and one that won’t be answered quickly, despite the price.

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

Canada Remains a “Safe Haven” for Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canada-remains-a-safe-haven-for-online-piracy-rightsholders-claim-170214/

canada-pirateThe International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) has released its latest 301 ‘watch list’ submission to the U.S. Government.

The IIPA, which includes a wide range of copyright groups including the MPAA, RIAA, and ESA, has listed its complaints against a whole host of countries. As in previous years, Canada is discussed in detail with the recommendation to put it on the 2017 Special 301 ‘watch list.’

One of the main criticisms is that, despite having been called out repeatedly in the past, the country still offers a home to many pirate sites.

“For a number of years, extending well into the current decade, Canada had a well-deserved reputation as a safe haven for some of the most massive and flagrant Internet sites dedicated to the online theft of copyright material,” IIPA writes.

The group notes that some progress has been made. For example, last year the Canadian authorities actively helped to shut down the popular torrent site KickassTorrents, which was partly hosted there. However, the rightsholders say that there’s more work to be done.

“Nonetheless, major online piracy operations still find a home in Canada. These include leading BitTorrent sites such as Sumotorrent.sx and Seedpeer.eu, and hybrid cloud storage services utilizing BitTorrents, such as cloudload.com.”

Another disturbing development, according to IIPA, is the emergence of stand-alone BitTorrent applications that allow users to stream content directly through an attractive and user-friendly interface, hinting at Popcorn Time.

In addition to the traditional pirate sites that remain in Canada, IIPA reports that several websites offering modified game console gear have also moved there in an attempt to escape liability under U.S. law.

“In a growing and problematic trend, sites selling circumvention devices that have been subject to DMCA takedown notices from right holders in the U.S. are moving to Canadian ISPs for hosting, to evade enforcement action under U.S. law. Canadian hosting services such as Hawk Host and Crocweb are particularly popular with such sites.”

The group specifically highlights R4cardmontreal.com, gamersection.ca and r4dscanada.com among the offenders, and notes that “This trend breathes new life into Canada’s problematic ‘safe haven’ reputation.”

The recommendation continues by stressing that Canada’s legal regime fails to deal with online piracy in a proper manner. This is also true for the “notice and notice” legislation that was adopted two years ago, which requires ISPs to forward copyright infringement notices to pirating subscribers.

IIPA notes that there is no evidence that this initiative has resulted in a significant change in consumer behavior, in part because there are no punishments involved for frequent offenders.

“…simply notifying ISP subscribers that their infringing activity has been detected is ineffective in deterring illegal activity, because receiving the notices lacks any meaningful consequences under the Canadian system,” IIPA writes.

This is even worse for hosting providers and other Internet services, who currently have no legal incentive to take infringing material down, IIPA argues.

“The ‘notice-and-takedown’ remedy that most other modern copyright laws provide is far from a panacea for online piracy, but it does, at a minimum, provide some incentives for cooperation, incentives that Canada’s laws simply lack.”

In addition, IIPA notes that a broad range of third-party services such as advertisers, payment processors, and domain name registrars are all too often abused to facilitate piracy. They believe that this is in part because Canadian law doesn’t offer enough “motivation” for these companies to cooperate.

The rightsholders hope that the U.S. Government can help to steer Canada in another direction and encourage more and better anti-piracy regulation. If not, they fear that Canada will remain a safe haven for pirates during the years to come.

IIPA’s full submission, which highlights a variety of countries which deserve a spot on the 301 Watch Lists per IIPA’s standards, is available here (pdf).

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

Police Bust ‘Pirate’ Kodi Box Sellers on Behalf of Sky, Virgin, BT, Premier League

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-bust-pirate-kodi-box-sellers-on-behalf-of-sky-virgin-bt-premier-league-170208/

After a decade of torrent sites ruling the pirate seas, streaming sites are now all the rage. These sites are not always the friendliest places to navigate though, unless users get a little help.

What people are discovering in ever-increasing numbers is that the popular and entirely legal Kodi media player can present content from endless streaming sites in a TV friendly interface. This is achieved via third-party addons, often with questionable legal standing.

While people were previously happy to do their own software installations at home, traders are increasingly doing the work for them, bundling the whole package into set-top boxes and supplying them for a few pounds, dollars or euros. The people behind Kodi don’t like it. The addon makers don’t like it and streaming sites don’t like it.

Most importantly, copyright holders, broadcasters, and the police don’t like it either, and yet again today they showed that in the clearest of terms.

In what is being described as a “multi-agency day of action,” FACT, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) joined forces to target six individuals.

After executing warrants in Tameside, Bolton, Bootle, Manchester, Cheadle and Rhyl, four men aged 33, 36, 46 and 60, and a 36-year-old woman were arrested at their homes by PIPCU and GMP.

According to FACT, so-called “fully loaded” set-top boxes were seized from the homes of all five suspects, who are said to have made £250,000 from sales across “social media, online forums, as well as their own dedicated websites.”

Speaking with TorrentFreak, FACT confirmed that some of the seized devices are believed to have Kodi with third-party addons installed, while some will have “other software and/or infringing apps and add-ons that don’t require media player software.”

Software such as Popcorn Time, Showbox, CinemaBox, and Mobdro all fit that description and are used by huge numbers of people to receive movies, TV shows, and live sports without paying for them.

This is not only a massive thorn in the side of copyright holders, but distributors too. That could not be more evident today. Instead of the usual complaints from groups such as the MPAA, FACT reports that the operation was carried out on behalf of The Premier League, Sky, BT Sport and Virgin Media.

“This operation is aimed at taking out distributors of illegal set top boxes in the north west of England,” said DCI Pete Ratcliffe, Head of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit.

“This industry undermines the legitimate sale of subscription television services which employ tens of thousands of people in the UK and whose contributions are key to the creative and sporting industries.”

Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT, took the opportunity to warn other sellers of the consequences.

“Today’s day of action should send out a clear warning to anyone involved in the sale and distribution of illegal set-top boxes that law enforcement and industry take this matter very seriously,” he said.

As the dozens of listings on eBay and Amazon show, police can’t target everyone with a raid. However, it appears that other sellers have narrowly escaped police action and given a second chance to mend their ways.

“Officers from Greater Manchester Police, Merseyside Police and City of London Police also joined FACT investigators the day before (7 Feb) to issue three Cease and Desist Notices to other offenders on a lower scale. Two further investigations have also been passed on to HMRC for further action,” FACT reports.

With many sellers carrying out their business as a cottage industry sideline, the involvement of Revenue and Customs is an interesting development. There’s only one thing worse than a police visit and that’s a visit from the taxman, and if people receive benefits too, things can get extremely messy.

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

EU Representative: Ukraine Must Tighten Noose on Internet Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eu-representative-ukraine-must-tighten-noose-on-internet-pirates-170203/

download-keyboardDespite its proximity to European countries with strong intellectual property laws, Ukraine tends to fall behind when it comes to online piracy.

As a result, the site has played host to a wide range of prominent sites over the years, not least The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent.

As a result of its lax approach, Ukraine has been criticized on many occasions by the United States, particularly by the USTR who regularly brands the country as a piracy haven. This week it was the European Commission’s time to chime in.

In an interview with Ukrainian news outlet Unian, Nicholas Burge, head of the trade section of the European Commission’s delegation to Ukraine, expressed his opinions on where the country needs to improve.

“There should be a law that would provide a major responsibility for the contents of pirate sites. We will only believe in Ukraine’s serious intentions to fight pirate sites when there are penalties for those involved in supporting them,” he said.

Given moves underway in both the US and EU that could affect safe harbors for Internet service providers and hosting platforms, it’s no surprise that Burge wants Ukraine to take a firmer line with those present in Ukraine, especially those playing host to pirate sites.

“Internet service providers should also bear some legal responsibility for what they do. Otherwise, putting an end to online piracy will be impossible,” he said.

The EU representative said that this would have been possible under recent draft legislation designed to protect the film industry, but the amendments were vetoed by the President and never put into place.

“We urge Parliament to consider and adopt appropriate amendments to the law as soon as possible,” Burge said.

While Ukraine isn’t known for taking a hard line against pirate sites, it would be wrong to suggest it does nothing at all. Only recently, Ukrainian police acted on a complaint from the MPAA to close down FS.to, one of the country’s largest pirate sites. Sixty servers were seized and 19 people arrested. However, Burge believes more needs to be done.

“One site was closed and another appeared. This is a battle that is constantly going on,” he said.

According to comments made to Unian, Burge said that by neglecting intellectual property rights, Ukraine is not fulfilling its obligations under the Association Agreement with the EU and risks damaging relationships with the economic and political union.

“In case of default, the Agreement provides for appropriate mechanisms to deal with such situations within our relationships,” Burge said.

In addition to new criticism from the EU, Ukraine already faces annual complaints from the United States Trade Representative. In its latest Special 301 Report, the USTR kept Ukraine on its Priority List, meaning the country must make significant improvements if it is to meet US standards for IP protection.

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

Film Industry’s Latest Search Engine Draws Traffic With “Pirate” Keywords’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/film-industrys-latest-search-engine-draws-traffic-with-pirate-keywords-170201/

filmnlAn often heard excuse from pirates is that they can’t find the content they’re looking for in their home country, at least not for a decent price.

The movie industry has repeatedly attacked what they see as a myth, pointing out that movies and TV-shows are more widely available than ever before.

In addition, they are putting action behind their words. In the US, Hollywood’s MPAA launched the movie and TV search engine WhereToWatch, to help people finding legal content. An interesting service, but also hard to find in search engines, especially when it first launched.

Yesterday, several major players in the Dutch film industry came out with a similar initiative. They’ve apparently learned from the mistakes others made, as the legal Film.nl search engine was built with pirates in mind.

Like other “legal” search engines, the site returns a number of options where people can watch the movies or TV-shows they search for. However, those who scroll down long enough will notice that each page has a targeted message for pirates as well.

The descriptions come in a few variations but all mention prominent keywords such as “torrents” and reference “illegal downloading” and unauthorized streaming.

The original descriptions (in Dutch)

filmnlstarw

This includes the following (translated) message for torrent users, which appears under the heading “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story torrent”

“Don’t Wrestle With Nasty Torrents. Ignore the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story torrent. Just go for the safe, fast and legal alternative. Film.nl gives you access to all providers of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Very easy. And then you can make your own choice.”

Another description targets unauthorized downloading in general.

“Do you feel like watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Don’t download it illegally then. There really are other ways to watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” it reads.

And finally, those who are interested in streaming the movie, are inaccurately informed that a legal “Rogue One” stream is available.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is also available for streaming, but make sure to use the offerings of real providers. They provide good streams so you Rogue One: A Star Wars Story can enjoy it legally, without any worries,” it reads, adding that nothing in life comes free.

There are of course no legal streams for the movie yet, but that’s the downside of these automated descriptions. The upside is that it will bring in quite a bit of traffic to the site.

While the piracy related messaging is unusual, it’s actually quite clever. Since a lot of people are searching for “torrent,” “streaming” and “download” related terms combined with movie and TV-show titles, it helps to keep search traffic away from pirate sites.

In other words, it’s a smart search engine optimization trick, helping it to directly compete with pirate sites on this front.

The big question is whether people who search for “Movie X torrent” will be satisfied with the results Film.nl offers. That said, from a movie industry perspective, it definitely beats doing nothing at all.

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

Ahashare ‘Disappears’ After Domain Name Suspension

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ahashare-disappears-after-domain-name-suspension-170131/

ahasharelogoWith tens of thousands of visitors per day, torrent site Ahashare has built a decent sized community in recent years.

The site has an active team of uploaders and many regular visitors, or should we say had? For the past few days, the site has been unreachable on its regular Ahashare.com domain.

Roughly a week ago the site vanished without a trace. After some digging, it appears that the site’s domain name has been suspended by Public Domain Registry (PDR), with a “clienthold” status.

We have seen this status on suspended domains before. According to ICANN the clienthold tag is uncommon and “usually enacted during legal disputes, non-payment, or when your domain is subject to deletion.”

Clienthold….

ahashareclinethold

TorrentFreak contacted the site’s team via the publicly listed address hoping to find out more, but we have yet to hear back.

The site’s operators are quiet on social media as well. The Twitter account posted the last site update more than five years ago. Two weeks ago a new tweet was posted linking to what seems to be a counterfeit sunglasses site, suggesting that it’s compromised.

Generally speaking, domain name suspensions are easily countered if sites switch to a new domain. Thus far it looks like the Ahashare team hasn’t done this yet, so it’s possible that more is going on.

Ahashare.com in better times

ahashare

Ahashare registered its domain through the Indian domain registrar PDR, which is no stranger when it comes to suspensions.

The company previously seized the domains of ExtraTorrent and several other popular torrent sites. However, in recent years there might have been less compliance. The MPAA now lists PDR as a non-cooperative registrar in a recent recommendation to the Government, but it’s possible this doesn’t apply universally.

Whether Ahashare will return in the future is unknown, but in the meantime, the site’s users will have to look elsewhere for their daily torrent fix.

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

The US ‘Six Strikes’ Anti-Piracy Scheme is Dead

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-us-six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-is-dead-170128/

pirate-runningIn 2011, 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 and agreed on a system through which Internet account holders are warned if their connections are used to download pirated content.

The program allowed ISPs to take a variety of repressive measures, including bandwidth throttling and temporary Internet disconnections.

The “voluntary” agreement was praised by the US Government and seen as an example for other countries, including the UK, where a similar system is about to start. At the same time, however, the Copyright Alert System members have just ended their efforts.

“After four years of extensive consumer education and engagement, the Copyright Alert System will conclude its work,” the members of the Center for Copyright Information (CCI) just announced.

“The program demonstrated that real progress is possible when content creators, Internet innovators and consumer advocates come together in a collaborative and consensus-driven process.”

It’s unclear what progress the members are referring to, as the system mostly excelled at its failure to share information with the public.

Since its inception, CCI has issued only a few press releases, and any recent data on the scope and effectiveness of the program is lacking. The only figures that were ever published cover the first ten months, ending December 2013.

Last summer we publicly questioned if the Copyright Alert System was doomed, but at the time CCI’s Executive Director Jim Kohlenberger was still hopeful.

“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 said.

However, it now appears that the parties couldn’t reach consensus on how to extend or update the existing agreement, to keep going for the years to come. Why they eventually chose to stop the program entirely is not clear from the announcement.

In their public-facing statement, copyright holders and ISPs remain positive, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the mood behind the scenes is grimmer.

“We want to thank everyone who put in the hard work to develop this program and make it a success, including past and present members of our Advisory Board. While this particular program is ending, the parties remain committed to voluntary and cooperative efforts to address these issues,” CCI concludes.

The decision to end the “six strikes” scheme marks the end of an era. While it means that pirates no longer have to fear temporary Internet disconnections and other mitigation measures that were part of the program, MPAA and RIAA can still send takedown notifications of their own accord.

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

President Trump Told That Strong Copyright Laws Are in His Interest

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/president-trump-told-that-strong-copyright-laws-are-in-his-interests-170124/

trumpdOn Friday January 20, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States after one of the most controversial election campaigns of modern times.

For those who watched the historic inauguration, the message from the new president was clear.

From now on and even at the expense of outsiders, America will come first. Time and time again the president reiterated that the power would be put back into the hands of the people to “Make America Great Again.”

With vows to boost America’s economy by supporting local businesses ringing loud, President Trump has now received a letter from a powerful group hoping that their interests will receive a boost from his incoming policies.

The Copyright Alliance, which claims to represent 1.8 million creators and 13,000 pro-copyright organizations in the United States, begin by reminding the President that they’re already on the very same page.

“Throughout the long history of our country, few, if any, Presidents have had a more sizable and diverse copyright portfolio than you,” CEO Keith Kupferschmid writes.

“Your experiences as a businessman have afforded you insights into the value and importance of copyright and how copyright protections help drive the U.S. economy and create millions of well-paying jobs and small businesses.”

With the RIAA, MPAA and 3,000 music publishers as members, the Copyright Alliance believes that its sheer horsepower should be enough to grab the President’s attention, particularly alongside reminders that in 2015 the copyright industries’ 5.5 million workers added $1.2 trillion to the US GDP.

“The growth within core copyright industries far surpasses the average growth rate for other industries; in fact, between 2012 and 2015, those industries grew at a rate of more than 127% greater than the remainder of the economy,” Kupferschmid notes.

But this huge contribution to the economy doesn’t exist in a vacuum, the Alliance adds. It only works thanks to a strong copyright system that rewards creativity and discourages piracy, which in turn is good for the economy and indeed, President Trump himself.

“You, as an author and holder of numerous copyrighted works, know first-hand that creators rely on copyright law for their livelihood and careers, and they are harmed when the system fails to adequately protect their valuable creations in the United States and abroad,” Kupferschmid adds.

Noting that piracy in the Internet age has an adverse effect on U.S companies and the economy as a whole, the Copyright Alliance says that stronger copyright law boosts culture and as a result supports Trump’s mission to ‘Make America Great Again.’

“We need to enhance the protections afforded to the creative communities, not dilute them. We hope you will support a strong and vibrant copyright system in the United States that protects copyright holders from online theft and ensures that creators share in the massive profits being made by internet platforms from these copyrighted works,” the Alliance concludes.

While the Copyright Alliance certainly expects action against mainly overseas ‘pirate’ sites, the use of the word “share” in the above paragraph suggests companies a little closer to home. Google’s YouTube, for example, that stands accused by the music industry of “gaming” the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA.

When compared to the outgoing Democrats, Hollywood in particular has a less than great relationship with President Trump. Nevertheless, Trump will be acutely aware of the contributions made by the creative industries as a whole and how largely overseas websites have some capacity to undermine that.

Only time will tell how America’s new President will respond, but keeping in mind his promise to always put the United States first, the next report from the USTR has the potential to be quite a read. Will it maintain the status quo? Or will it serve as a shot across the bows of countries who dare to undermine the US economy? Stay tuned.

The full letter is available here (pdf)

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

Powerful Copyright Alliance Mulls its Own Anti-Piracy Service

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/powerful-copyright-alliance-mulls-its-own-anti-piracy-service-170121/

copyrightallianceThis week marked the five year anniversary of the SOPA/PIPA blackouts, an important occasion for free Internet advocates everywhere.

The event was less well-received by those on the ‘losing’ side, with copyright advocate David Newhoff describing the anti-SOPA campaign as “one of the most effective fake news stories of all time.”

Newhoff is one of the many thousands of members that make up the powerful and growing Copyright Alliance. Formed in 2007 in direct opposition to the EFF, Public Knowledge and Consumer Electronics Association, this anti-piracy group claims to represent the interests of more than 1.8 million creators and 13,000 organizations in the United States.

They include 350 record labels (RIAA), six movie studios (MPAA), two sports leagues including the NBA, not to mention 3,000 music publishers. It is an anti-piracy juggernaut that demands attention.

Interestingly, what happened after the SOPA protests is that rather than hearing fierce anti-piracy rhetoric directly from the likes of the MPAA and RIAA, one was more likely to hear it from Copyright Alliance members, Newhoff in particular.

In many respects, people like Newhoff have become a more common conduit for major copyright holder complaints. Meanwhile, the websites of the MPAA and RIAA have remained largely conflict-free, with the battle at least partially transferred to the Copyright Alliance.

This week the Alliance asked supporters to participate in a survey. The group provided little detail but with a title of “512 Study” it was clearly targeted at section 512 of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act which covers copyright takedown notices and service provider liability.

Reform of the DMCA is a hot topic but it appears that the Copyright Alliance expects copyright holders to be taking down content from the Internet for some time to come. Questions included:

– Have you ever monitored the internet for copyright infringement of your work?
– Have you ever found infringing copies of your work online?
– Which websites have you found infringing copies of your work on?
– How do you monitor infringement of your work online?
– How often do you monitor for infringement of your work online?
– On average, how many hours weekly do you spend monitoring for infringement of your work online?

At this point in the survey, it became clear that the Copyright Alliance was guiding respondents towards the notion that the DMCA takedown process can be somewhat laborious, which indeed it may well be. With that in mind, it was no surprise when question 14 asked the following:

alliance-dmca

If the Copyright Alliance does create its own anti-piracy service, it will join dozens, perhaps hundreds of others, operating in the same space. Currently it’s a flourishing business but ironically, if the Copyright Alliance gets its way, takedowns could become less prevalent in the future.

The U.S. Government’s Copyright Office is in the middle of a consultation which seeks guidance on the future of the DMCA’s takedown process and safe harbor for service providers.

Groups like the Copyright Alliance want a “takedown, staydown” regime, to ensure that, once deleted, content doesn’t pop up elsewhere. Opponents believe such a mechanism would be impractical and could stifle free speech.

Whatever the outcome, there will still be significant demand for a takedown service, should the Copyright Alliance choose to form one. And, with potentially close to a couple of million creators to represent, it could be very busy indeed.

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

RIAA and MPAA Back $25 Million Piracy Verdict Against Cox

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-and-mpaa-back-25-million-piracy-verdict-against-cox-170109/

piratkeybDecember 2015 a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and ordered to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

Cox disagreed with the outcome and a few weeks ago the ISP filed its appeal arguing that the district court made several errors that may ultimately restrict the public’s access to Internet services.

The company received support from several industry associations, academic institutions, libraries and digital rights groups, who submitted amicus briefs to the court of appeals voicing their concerns. However, BMG is not fighting alone.

Late last week, several copyright industry groups, including the RIAA, MPAA, and the Copyright Alliance, rallied behind the music rights group.

The submissions, which total roughly 150 pages, all stress that the current verdict should be upheld. ISPs such as Cox should not be able to enjoy safe harbor protection if they fail to disconnect “repeat infringers” from their networks, BMG’s supporters say.

The MPAA stresses that the District Court made the right decision by holding Cox liable. They stress that online piracy is a massive problem which copyright holders can’t handle without the proper legal tools to hold intermediaries such as Cox accountable.

“Online piracy accounts for a full quarter of all internet traffic and costs the entertainment industry tens of billions of dollars per year,” the MPAA writes in its brief (pdf).

“…it is simply not feasible to combat the epidemic of online infringement unless copyright-holders have the legal tools to incentivize the cooperation of intermediaries like Cox and to hold them accountable when they knowingly facilitate widespread online infringement.”

One of the central elements in this case is the “repeat infringer” question. Under the DMCA, ISPs are required to have a policy to disconnect persistent pirates, but both sides differ on their interpretation of the term.

In its defense, Cox said that only courts can decide if someone is an infringer. Otherwise, people will be disconnected based on one-sided allegations from copyright holders, which remain untested in court.

However, the MPAA, RIAA and other rightsholder groups believe that regular takedown notices should count as well, noting that earlier court verdicts made this clear.

“If Congress meant that a subscriber should have been sued in court, had a judgment entered against her, and failed to overturn that judgment on appeal — multiple times — before facing even the threat of losing internet access as a repeat infringer, it would have said so,” the RIAA writes in its brief (pdf).

In a situation where repeat infringers only lose their Internet subscriptions following a court order, copyright holders would have to launch massive legal campaigns in the U.S. targeting individual file-sharers.

That would result in an unworkable situation which runs counter to the purpose of the DMCA, the RIAA argues.

“Under Cox’s interpretation, copyright owners would be forced to launch demanding campaigns of multiple lawsuits against every individual infringer even to hope to obtain the benefit of ISP repeat-infringer policies.

“That would require a stream of individual lawsuits in federal district courts all over the country, imposing an additional burden on the courts and draining the resources of copyright owners and individual subscribers alike,” the RIAA adds.

Siding with BMG, the copyright groups ask the appeals court to keep the district court ruling intact. This runs counter to Cox’s request, which asked the court to reverse the judgment or grant a new trial.

The recent amicus briefs illustrate the gravity of the case, which is shaping up to be crucial in determining the future of anti-piracy enforcement in the United States. As such, it would be no surprise if the case goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

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

Giant Cyberlocker Morphs into New Anonymous Sharing Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/giant-cyberlocker-morphs-into-new-anonymous-sharing-site-170104/

uploadDuring 2016 it became clear that Ukrainian authorities were prepared to get a little more tough on local piracy. After resident sites appeared for several years on the “Notorious Markets” list published by the United States Trade Representative, something had to give.

In November, the first concrete signs became evident when FS.to, one of the country’s most popular pirate sites, was shut down by Ukraine’s cyber-crime police.

The raid, triggered by a complaint from the MPAA, saw 19 people arrested and around 60 servers seized. However, just a few days later an even bigger scalp was claimed.

Founded in 2009, EX.UA was Ukraine’s largest cyberlocker and one of the largest sites in the country, period. The site enjoyed millions of visitors every day, but it was all to come to an end. Citing legal problems on top of DDoS attacks and other sundry issues, the site’s owners said they were shutting down at the end of November 2016. That must have pleased the United States.

After some adjustment, the site extended its closure deadline to the end of the year, ostensibly to allow users to get control of their files before the shutdown. However, with the new year now firmly underway, it appears that the site had a surprise up its sleeve.

“The decision to terminate the activities of [EX.UA] has generated a lot of questions from users, including where they can now store their files,” the operators said in an announcement.

“During the existence of EX.UA, the service became a personal memory drive to many Ukrainian citizens. It stores personal archives, professional documents, and personal collections of files.”

In short, while EX.UA will now be consigned to history, the ability of its users to store files won’t be going away anytime soon. In fact, it appears things will be improved.

“We inform you that the EX.UA service will be restarted on the domain FEX.NET (the File EXchange Network). It has been implemented on a new technology platform that will provide additional ease of use,” the team explain.

Of particular interest is how the site’s operators have hardened the service. The platform (at FEX.NET) now features anonymous sharing of files of any format and file size. Each file will be given a security key which will initially grant access to a file for seven days, after which it will be deleted.

On top, the service will automatically convert uploaded media files for viewing and playback on various devices.

“This feature set is basic and will be expanded. Within two months [of launch], we will implement additional file-sharing features, including the launch of a permanent repository and streaming cloud,” the operators say.

For the paid user, prices appear to be modest. For the first 100,000 local customers, FEX is offering 1TB of storage for $1 per month.

“We live in the information age. Information is the key to the development of modern society,” the site’s operators say.

“The site will be fully protected and completely safe. We are determined to offer the world technology that is better and cheaper than that already in existence. We want to show that innovations are born here.”

While the closure of EX.UA will have been welcomed by rightsholders, the rise of FEX.NET is almost certainly not what they bargained for. Time will tell how things will play out but it certainly looks like mass file-sharing will continue, albeit anonymously and out of sight.

Finally, the owners of EX.UA say they are attempting to sell their old domain for $1m, with all proceeds going to a children’s charity. It’s not clear whether anyone has yet made a suitable offer.

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

Pirates: You Can Click But You Can’t Can Hide

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirates-you-can-click-but-you-cant-can-hide-170101/

mpaa-logoAt the turn of the century and just before Napster began to burn, a whole generation was turned on to the possibilities of Internet file-sharing.

With the music industry bewildered by the sudden and unauthorized transition to digital media via platforms such as KaZaA, another beast appeared on the horizon. BitTorrent had arrived and quickly became a painful thorn in Hollywood’s side.

By 2004, with hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of users frequenting both public and private torrent sites, Hollywood ran out of patience. With plans already being formed to target some of the larger US-based sites, the MPAA decided it was time to educate the consumer.

The ‘Respect Copyrights’ campaign launched with the now-common multi-faceted approach, with the MPAA first explaining what copyright is all about in a tone which by today’s standards seems a little old-fashioned.

“When some people hear the word ‘copyright,’ they think of a complicated legal term that doesn’t apply to them. In fact, copyrights touch us all. Simply put, copyrights protect creativity,” the MPAA said.

Of course, today’s audience is a lot more aware of what copyright is all about, but when it comes to the scare tactics deployed now and then, not much has changed.

“If you use peer-to-peer file-sharing services, you are almost certainly exposing your computer to harmful viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and annoying popups, and you are inviting strangers to access your private information. That makes it pretty easy for law enforcement to track you as well,” the MPAA warned.

Respect Copyrights campaign, 2004respect1

The idea that file-sharing in 2004 and 2005 wasn’t an anonymous activity was one that the MPAA was determined to drive home. As part of the larger campaign, Hollywood launched a sub-project which aimed to convince growing numbers of file-sharers that the Internet offered them no privacy.

The ‘You Can Click But You Can’t Hide’ campaign appeared to take its lead from comments made by boxer Joe Louis in 1946. When asked about upcoming opponent Billy Conn’s touted “hit and run” tactics, Louis said he might be able to run, but he wouldn’t be able to hide. The MPAA hoped the same would be true of file-sharers.

The subsequent campaign was targeted at young people at home, largely sitting in their bedrooms, together with students studying in the United States and further afield. Yes, you can download movies from file-sharing networks, the campaign said, but we can see everything you do.

clickbutcant1

To say that the ‘You Can Click But You Can’t Hide’ campaign wasn’t well received was a bit of an understatement. In addition to using emotive terms such as “trafficking” to describe file-sharing, it also tried to convince ordinary members of the public that sharing a single movie was very likely to result in a $150,000 fine.

Perhaps worse still, the campaign was also run as an advert in cinemas before movies. By default, that meant targeting paying customers in a way that the still current FBI warning does at the start of official DVDs and Blu-rays. That prompted the inevitable parody backlash.

Annoying customers…clickbutcantparody

However, the most remembered use of the campaign’s logo and message was on websites that had been shut down by the MPAA and FBI during 2004 and 2005. Perhaps the best early example was the appearance on popular public torrent site LokiTorrent which was shut down by the MPAA in 2005.

Previously, 28-year-old site admin Ed Webber told almost 700,000 users he was going to fight Hollywood’s lawsuit after accepting around $43,000 in legal battle donations. However, that money quickly disappeared into what was presumed to be the MPAA’s coffers. Were those donors and other site members going to be able to hide after they’d clicked?

The same questions were to be asked later in 2005 when the same campaign message went up on the busted EliteTorrents private tracker, a raid that resulted in several multi-year jail sentences for its operators and uploaders. In the end, no regular site users were ever punished, which certainly took some of the sting out of the campaign.

While its claims were still technically true for most people, as time went by the MPAA’s message began to look more and more dated. The campaign was eventually withdrawn but by then file-sharers were becoming acutely aware that anonymity is something you have to work for online. Then, in 2006, file-sharers were offered a solution, at a price.

Although not the first service of its type, the Relakks VPN service promoted by the Swedish Pirate Party was the first to be targeted mainly at file-sharers. Just a year after the MPAA’s campaign and for a small price, anyone could click whatever they liked and hide, pretty much completely.

Now, ten years later, protecting anonymity online is big business. There are hundreds of VPN suppliers, some better than others, which ensure that there could never be a repeat of the MPAA’s “Click But Can’t Hide Campaign.” Nevertheless, plenty of people are still falling into its trap and failing to heed a decade-old warning.

Every month, millions of file-sharers are tracked online due to them using no kind of protection, with thousands receiving warning notices, fines and even lawsuits for their trouble. It’s surprisingly easy to both click and hide these days, but the majority still haven’t got the message.

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

Five ‘Fantastic’ File-Sharing Forecasts for 2017

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/five-fantastic-file-sharing-forecasts-for-2017-170101/

2017Following the latest trends is one of the main tasks at the TorrentFreak newsroom and this job continues in the New Year.

While we can’t predict the future, we are in a good position to take some wild guesses as to what 2017 has in store.

As always, The Pirate Bay is on top of the list. The site is once again the most-used torrent site on the Internet which brings along responsibilities as well as various threats.

The Pirate Bay Gets Asylum, in The Caribbean

The Pirate Bay has had its fair share of problems over the years. While the past months have been relatively quiet, our crystal ball says that it’s going to change soon.

After nearly 14 years The Pirate Bay will lose its beloved .org domain name. A few months from now copyright holders will launch a court case and obtain a subpoena against the U.S-based Public Interest Registry (PIR). PIR previously resisted a voluntary suspension but will be forced to seize the domain by court order.

With the Swedish .SE domain also at risk, The Pirate Bay is going to send a special envoy to Antigua and Barbuda, requesting virtual asylum in the Caribbean.

pirate bay

This proves to be an excellent match, as Antigua and Barbuda is still engaged in a long-running dispute with the U.S. The Caribbean nation has already threatened to lift the protection of US intellectual property rights in 2017. In addition, it toyed with the idea of starting its own pirate site.

So, it’s a no-brainer that at the and of 2017 The Pirate Bay will be operating ‘carefree’ from a brand new .AG domain name.

Google Bans Torrent Sites and starts a Torrent Search Engine

2017 will also be the year that Google finally runs out of patience with all the ‘copyright bullying’ that it’s endured in recent years. While the search giant initially showed good will, it will soon go rogue.

After realizing that copyright holders always come back for more, no matter what anti-piracy measures they take, Google rolls out an evil plan that has been in the pipeline for a while.

The MPAA and RIAA will have their way as Google will remove all torrent sites from its search results. Not before launching their own torrent meta-search engine, however.

Perhaps the company secretly put the founder of Torrentz.eu at the helm of this project a few months ago, which explains the site’s sudden disappearance last summer.

The torrent search engine launch won’t come as a complete surprise though. Google has had this service in beta for well over a decade, and it’s ready to stand on it own two feet now.

filetypetorrent

Pirate Site Blockades Come to America

For several years, U.S-backed copyright holder groups have obtained site blocking orders in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. However, in 2017 they will realize that they’ve forgotten something.

All these years they have been pointing their fingers at other countries, while pirate sites are still readily available on their home turf.

Admitting this gross oversight, MPAA and RIAA will team up to sue the country’s largest Internet providers. With billions of dollars at stake, they’ll demand immediate action.

After a short but intense legal fight, the U.S. federal court will surprisingly rule that broad website blocking goes too far. Then, copyright holders will suddenly remember why they didn’t start a case earlier.

uTorrent’s Comeback

Remember uTorrent?

With hundreds of millions of installs worldwide the torrent client is still one of the most popular pieces of software in history. However, in recent years its development has ground to a halt.

In a few weeks’ time it will be three years since uTorrent 3.4 was released and today it still hasn’t managed to make another 0.1 leap.

Initially, we wanted to predict the release of uTorrent 3.5 in 2017, but that would be rather wild. So let’s keep it realistic with just a 3.5 beta.

utorrentsocial

The new beta will introduce a revolutionary feature though. Building on several other successful products BitTorrent Inc. has launched over the years, such as their chat client, a browser and live streaming, it will augment the torrent client with a social layer.

The new Beta will allow users to follow or spy on other downloaders to see what their interests are, complete with hashtags, status updates, and a news feed.

Kim Dotcom Announces Megaupload+1 (aka M+1)

In a few weeks from now, Kim Dotcom is going to unveil his plans for Megaupload 2.0 (MU2) and we expect that it will be awesome.

The new Megaupload promises to be better than its predecessor MEGA, which Dotcom launched four years ago as Megaupload’s first reincarnation, but eventually had to abandon.

However, despite the positive reception of Megaupload 2 there are going to be legal and political issues that will force the New Zealand-based entrepreneur to leave the ship once again. For a good reason though.

Our prediction engine shows that the U.S. Department of Justice will drop the Megaupload case after being exposed by Wikileaks. Soon after, Dotcom will switch his focus to politics with the already announced revival of the Internet Party.

Towards the end of 2017, Kim Dotcom will announce the fourth iteration of Megaupload, called Megaupload+1 (M+1). As expected, it will be better, bolder and braver than the earlier versions.

Happy new year everyone!

Don’t believe in any of the above? Look how accurate we were last year! Don’t forget the salt…

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

Google Removed Over 900 Million ‘Pirate’ Links in 2016

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-removed-over-900-million-pirate-links-in-2016-161230/

google-bayDay in and day out copyright holders are bombarding Google with DMCA takedown notices, pointing out links to pirated content.

The majority of these requests are sent by the music and film industries, targeting hundreds of thousands of different websites.

In recent years the volume of takedown notices has increased spectacularly and in 2016 new records were shattered again.

Over the past 12 months, rightsholders asked Google to remove more than a billion links to allegedly infringing content, nearly twice as much as the 558 million it received last year.

Thanks to a new update to Google’s Transparency Report we now know for the first time how many of these were actually deleted. According to Google’s records, 89.8 percent of the requests were, resulting in 914 million removals.

Looking at the number of sites that are highlighted we see that it’s not just a few usual suspects that are causing problems. In total, rightsholders targeted content on 351,000 different websites.

Google takedown requests (past 12 months to December 29)

goog2016dmca

There is a great variety of copyright holders too. The UK music industry group BPI is at the forefront as usual, with more than 80 million requests, but Fox, NBC Universal, HBO and Microsoft are also among the top senders.

While the number of notices has steadily increased over the past several years, there are some early signs that they may level off in 2017. Over the past six months, the overall volume hasn’t increased, with the number of weekly takedowns hovering around 20 million.

Still, it’s clear that the major rightsholder groups and Google have different views on the DMCA takedown procedure and how to move forward.

The MPAA, RIAA, and other industry groups are calling for extensive revisions and don’t want Google and others to “hide” behind their safe harbor protections. Among other things, they want a ‘notice-and-stay-down‘ policy to ensure that, once deleted, content doesn’t pop up elsewhere.

Google, however, sees this an unworkable solution and believes that the current system is capable of dealing with infringing content.

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

Popcorn Time Launches New Torrent Tracker to Fight Copyright Monopolies

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/popcorn-time-launches-new-bittorrent-tracker-fight-copyright-monopolies-161230/

popcorn-trackerAfter bursting onto the file-sharing scene to wave of publicity, Popcorn Time has settled down to become another established way of obtaining and sharing video content.

Often referred to as the Netflix For Pirates, Popcorn Time has seen more than its fair share of controversy, with several forks and developers having been targeted and in some cases shut down by the MPAA. One fork, however, is still going strong.

Popcorn-time.to remains one of, if not the most popular variant of the software. Its tagline from the beginning has been “This Popcorn Time service will never be taken down” and thus far it has lived up to that billing.

With 2016 drawing to a close, TorrentFreak caught up with its developers to listen to their thoughts and plans for 2017. What we didn’t expect was a broadside against what they refer to as the “US Content Monopolies [USCM],” aka the MPAA.

Noting that copyright is a relatively new framework, the team say that fast Internet and digitized media has enabled groups such as the MPAA to “tax end-users” in order to feed their “monstrous appetite.” Content is expensive, they say, and not everyone can afford to buy it.

“It’s obvious that watching one’s favorite TV series chapter as soon as it’s released, or buying a VOD, is cool, extremely convenient and fun. But it costs. US$99 (average) monthly in the US and more in Europe. The average monthly salary in the developed countries is between US$10,000 to US$1,200. In third world countries it’s significantly less,” the team says.

“People who struggle to support their families, cannot afford to pay cable, satellites, and VOD. They do manage to link to the internet. Thus Netflix, where available, P2P, Popcorn Time etc. are their only solution for content consumption. The USCM will never make a nickel from them, because their alternative is not to watch movies, TV shows or listen to music albums.”

The team says that while the MPAA fights people who can’t afford to buy tickets or pay for subscriptions, shutting down services like Popcorn Time or even regular torrents won’t solve that particular problem either. Where there’s no money available, no blood will come from stone, they say.

The team suggests that they’re providing a service to meet this demand, while at the same time providing a counter-balance to what they feel are the unfair business practices of a copyright-protected monopoly with power in high places.

“This brings about the conclusion that it is all about politics and political power and immoral tradeoffs between administrations and huge money interests,” they say.

“There cannot be any other reason for the Polish authorities keeping the Ukrainian citizen Artem Vaulin, the creator of KickAssTorrents, in custody, for almost six months, awaiting a decision to extradite him to the US, as if he was a war criminal.”

In addition to these tough words and the continued running of their own successful Popcorn Time project, the team are also bringing a valuable new addition to the file-sharing landscape in 2017.

Available now, the team has launched Popcorn Tracker, a brand new OpenTracker-powered public tracker, free to the masses.

Popcorn Tracker

potrack

Public trackers are in pretty short supply at the moment so a new one with capacity will be a welcome addition to the landscape. Of course, the platform itself is content-neutral, so anyone wishing to embed a tracker in a torrent of any kind will be able to do so without restrictions.

In closing, the Popcorn Time team see online sharing increasing next year, particularly since the content allowing that to happen is already out there, distributed among the public.

“The files containing content are out there, in huge numbers and throughout disbursed locations of sites, being the sites of sharing, P2P users,” they conclude.

Popcorn Tracker, billed as “A Public and Free BitTorrent Tracker That You Can Trust”, is available here.

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

US Government Targets Pirate Bay and Other ‘Piracy Havens’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-government-targets-pirate-bay-and-other-piracy-havens-161221/

ustrbIn its yearly “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets”, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has listed more than a dozen websites said to be involved in piracy and counterfeiting.

The overview is largely based on input from industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA, who submitted their recommendations a few weeks ago.

While the USTR admits that the list is not meant to reflect legal violations, the goal of the review is to motivate owners and foreign Governments to take appropriate action and reduce piracy.

“The United States encourages all responsible authorities to intensify efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting, and to use the information contained in the Notorious Markets List to pursue legal actions where appropriate,” the USTR announced.

As in previous years, The Pirate Bay remains one of the primary offenders.

According to the USTR, the site continues to facilitate downloading of copyright-infringing material. The Government further highlights the site’s resilience and “symbolic importance” as one of the longest-running pirate sites

“Despite enforcement actions around the world and drawn-out legal battles against its operators, The Pirate Bay is of symbolic importance as one of the longest-running and most vocal torrent sites for admittedly illegal downloads of movies, television, music, and other copyrighted content,” the report reads.

ustrtpb

Other prominent torrent sites mentioned in the review are ExtraTorrent, Rutorrent, RARBG, and 1337x.to.

For the first time, USTR has also included a stream ripping site; YouTube-MP3.org. While this phenomenon has been around for a decade, the report includes a special “issue focus” mentioning it as an emerging threat.

“Stream ripping is an emerging trend in digital copyright infringement that is increasingly causing substantial economic harm to music creators and undermining legitimate services,” the USTR writes.

The mention follows a report from earlier this year, which also highlighted concerns about stream ripping. Soon after, several major music labels filed a lawsuit against YouTube-MP3 in a U.S. federal court.

A few newcomers aside, the review is mostly made up of familiar names, including 4shared, Putlocker, Nowvideo, Rapidgator and Uploaded, as well as several non-English language piracy portals and counterfeiting platforms.

In addition to individual sites and services, the USTR notes that some hosting services have also become piracy havens. The report specifically calls out the Swiss company Private layer for hosting the-watch-series.to, projectfree-tv, using a legal loophole.

The U.S has urged Switzerland to implement new legislation to make it easier to take action against pirate sites, but this hasn’t happened thus far.

The full list of the notorious online pirate sites and services that are highlighted in the report (pdf) are included below. The complete overview also contains various e-commerce and counterfeiting sites, including Alibaba’s Taobao.com.

– 4shared.com
– Beevideo.tv
– Bookfi and Libgen
– ExtraTorrent
– Gongchang.com
– Movshare group (allegedly operating Nowvideo.sx, Watchseriesfree.to, Videoweed.es, Novamov.com and others)
– MP3va.com
– Muaban.net
– Myegy.to
– Nanjing Imperiosus (domainerschoice.com)
– Pobieramy24.pl, Darkwarez.pl, Catshare.net and Fileshark.pl
– Private Layer hosted sites (including the-watch-series.to and projectfree-tv.to)
– Putlocker
– RARBG.to
– Rutracker.org and Rapidgator.org
– Taobao.com
– The Pirate Bay
– Uploaded.net
– Vibbo.com
– VK.com
– Youtube-MP3.org

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

Popcorn Time Goes International With Multi-Language Dubbing

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/popcorn-time-goes-international-with-multi-language-dubbing-161217/

popcornAfter taking the world by storm early 2014, Popcorn Time – the ‘Netflix for Pirates’ – has had a relatively quiet 2016.

After building to a crescendo last year, the original fork of the open source project went down after being targeted by the MPAA, leaving others to continue the mission.

Having previously skipped from time4popcorn.eu and popcorn-time.se, one of the teams still pushing the Popcorn Time project along now operate from Popcorn-time.to. This week they debuted a brand new feature in their latest beta that’s likely to make their software more appealing to an even broader audience.

“Most films are English speaking and most people around the globe do not speak English. Many people who studied English, do not master it well enough to enjoy a movie,” the team announced.

“Until now, we’ve provided a feature which allows the user to watch subtitles which are synced to the show, in the language he reads. But it’s not the same as hearing the texts in the language the user understands. It’s really less pleasing.”

To that end, the team have just added a new feature which adds dubbed audio in several languages to the library of movies available through the platform. French, Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese are all supported.

When we first heard that the team were overdubbing different audio tracks over existing torrents, it raised many questions over how this could be achieved from a technical standpoint. Was the audio being pulled in on-the-fly from other sources? If so, how was it being sync’d up with the video?

However, it turns out the team had an altogether more straightforward solution to the problem that in hindsight makes complete sense.

“Popcorn Time constantly searches the web for torrents of a movie with the required language already dubbed. The choice of movies is being increased by the minute,” the team told TF.

“Under the good old subtitles button, you’ll see a new dubbing selection button. Click it, make your choice and push play. It now proceeds normally. Popcorn Time will stream the movie instantly dubbed with the selected language.”

So, in basic terms, when a user selects a new language in the Popcorn Time interface the software begins to download a brand new torrent, one that already has their selected language as the only option.

“It’s certainly good for children’s shows. The little ones can’t read yet. So work is done to provide dubbed movies in more languages. Dubbed children’s movies in German, Dutch, Greek, Estonian, Hebrew, Hungarian, Czech, Polish, Russian, Arabic are expected in the near future,” the team added.

The new feature is currently only available on desktop but an Android version is said to be coming soon.

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

MPAA Takes Credit for The Shutdown of KickassTorrents

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-takes-credit-for-the-shutdown-of-kickasstorrents-161215/

dodd-laughingThis summer the U.S. Government shut down KickassTorrents, which was then the largest torrent site on the Internet.

The complaint was the result of an elaborate FBI investigation, pointing out the Ukrainian Artem Vaulin as one of the alleged masterminds.

However, it turns out that it wasn’t just the U.S. Government who put the pieces together. There’s another major force behind the shutdown that hasn’t been mentioned thus far.

MPAA boss Chris Dodd suggests that the Hollywood group also played a key role in the case. Their international arm, the MPA, is headquartered in Europe from where it actively helped the U.S. authorities to shut down KickassTorrents.

“We have now established a global hub — an office in Brussels. It has been tremendously successful in closing down Kickass Torrents, the single largest pirate site in the world,” Dodd told Variety in an interview.

The major movie studios have helped in similar criminal cases before, so this doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Generally speaking, however, the MPAA is not particularly open about the role it plays in federal investigations.

Although the takedown of KickassTorrents was a major success for Hollywood, piracy remains a problem. It’s even come to a point where Dodd himself is using the “hydra” terminology, which The Pirate Bay’s crew first brought up a decade ago.

The MPAA says that successes are still being booked every day, but they require more sophisticated methods than were used in the past.

“We make great inroads, but it is a problem that isn’t going away. Some days I do feel it is hydra-headed. But in the past few years, we have developed a more sophisticated and efficient way of dealing with piracy issues.”

At the same time, however, the pirates are getting smarter as well.

Over the years operators of sites and services have found better ways to shield their themselves from law enforcement, while making it easier for their users to consume content. While Dodd has a positive outlook, he recognizes the challenges that lie ahead.

“I am feeling more optimistic, but the pirates are getting more sophisticated. Technology not only is increasing our opportunity for more people to consume our content, but technology is also making it possible for people to steal our content, and it is not insignificant,” he concludes.

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