Tag Archives: Opinion

The Pirate Bay’s Oldest Active Torrent Turns 16 Years Old Today

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bays-oldest-active-torrent-turns-16-years-old-today-200325/

The Pirate Bay has weathered quite a few storms since its inception.

The notorious torrent site, which is a piracy icon today, was originally founded by Swedish anti-copyright think tank Piratbyrån during the summer of 2003.

In the years that followed, a lot has happened. The site was raided twice, had various changes in ownership, and the original co-founders were sentenced to prison. And in recent years, prolonged downtime issues, as the site currently faces, are the rule rather than the exception.

Despite all these setbacks and challenges, TPB is still here. It remains accessible on the Tor network, where the latest blockbusters, as well as some rare old torrents, remain readily available.

While torrents rely on at least one active seed to keep them alive, some files have proven to be quite resilient. In fact, quite a few torrents are older than some of the site’s younger users.

Today, The Pirate Bay’s oldest active torrent celebrates its sixteenth anniversary. The honor goes to an episode of the Swedish comedy show “High Chaparral,” which was uploaded by ‘kbdcb’ on March 25, 2004. At the time of writing, the file has one seeder according to TPB’s statistics, but various public trackers list more.

The oldest active torrent on TPB

The High Chaparral episode has been marked as the oldest active Pirate Bay torrent for a while. In the video category, it is currently followed by a copy of the 2001 documentary Revolution OS, which still has over a dozen seeders.

Looking at other categories, we see that the oldest active music torrent is an album from the Swedish pop group Gyllene Tider, titled “Samtliga hits!” The oldest game torrent is a copy of the Lord of the Rings strategy game War of the Ring, while a torrent for a really old version of ArcSoft’s photo editing software Funhouse leads the applications category.

If anything, this shows that no matter how much downtime a site like The Pirate Bay suffers, these torrents still survive.

That the High Chaparral episode is the longest surviving torrent on the site is remarkable for another reason as well. A few weeks after the torrent was uploaded, several people complained that they were stuck at 99%, which means that there was no seeder around at the time.

Years later, people started to notice that it had become the oldest torrent on The Pirate Bay, including MasterWAV, who dedicated an entry in his or her diary to this discovery.

“Dear diary, my heart burst of excitement to discover the oldest torrent in The Pirate Bay. I am happy to comment on this book and be part of the history of TPB. It’s like climbing Everest. Sincerely, thanks.”

Other commenters promised to keep seeding the file “forever,” which may be the prime reason why it’s still around today.

While sixteen years is impressive, there are even older torrents available on the Internet. “The Fanimatrix” torrent file holds the all-time record. It was created in September 2013 and, after being previously resurrected, continues to be available today with more than 100 people seeding.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

There’s Something Fishy Going on with Australia’s Piracy Numbers

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/theres-something-fishy-going-on-with-australias-piracy-numbers-120315/

Australia’s latest online copyright infringement report, released by the Department of Communications in December, suggested that piracy is falling.

The data pointed out that there’s been a steady decrease in the number of people who consume music, movies, and TV shows illegally. This follows a trend that was revealed in earlier reports.

According to the Government, a mere 16% of the population can be classified as pirates. This is a drastic drop compared to last year when a similar study found that 32% obtained content illegally. In 2015, when the first survey was taken, the number was even higher at 43%.

Like many other news outlets, we reported the numbers as they were presented. However, something didn’t feel right. This prompted us to step back and take a closer look at the reported data to see how this unprecedented drop took place.

Specifically, we want to see where this drop comes from and how it can be so massive.

The bar chart below provides a good starting point. It shows what percentage of a particular category of digital content is consumed 100% legally, 100% illegally, or a mix of both. The chart also shows the same data for “any of the four” content categories.

As reported, the bar on the far right shows that, across all categories, only 16% of the respondents consumed content unlawfully in any of the four categories. That is exactly as reported, so that’s good news.

The problem is, however, that this percentage doesn’t make much sense when we look at the individual categories.

Based on the reported sample numbers, the 16% across all categories translates to 314 respondents. In other words, 314 people pirated something from any of the four categories which includes music, games, movies and TV.

However, when we look at the movies category on its own we see that 25% of the respondents consumed movies illegally. Based on the sample size for that category, that translates to 316 respondents.

How can it be that more people consume movies illegally than in the four categories combined, which also includes movies, and thus the same respondents?

Technically this can be chalked up as rounding variance. But even when that’s the case, it seems implausible that every person who pirated something also pirated movies.

That explanation is even more implausible when we look at the exact same data from the year before. That year 32% of the people consumed content from any of the four categories unlawfully (555 respondents). However, less than half of these were also movie pirates (240 respondents).

It seems very unlikely that when in 2018 less than 50% of the self-proclaimed pirates consumed illegal movies, this suddenly went up to 100% in 2019.

We shared our findings with the Australian Government’s Department of Communications and the Arts. Despite several back and forths, they were not able to explain these findings.

In previous years the report also included the raw numbers for all the categories, which could provide more insight. However, the most recent report no longer includes these and the Government informed us that it does not have permission to share the data.

And it doesn’t stop there. The further we delve into the numbers the weirder things get.

For example, there is a similar chart to the one shown earlier but in this instance detailing the consumption of “free” content (e.g. downloading from torrent sites).

As shown above, this indicates that 46% of all respondents who consumed free content in any of the four categories did so unlawfully.

This translates to roughly 678 respondents, which is much more than the number cited for all content consumers (paid and free), which presumably includes the same people.

There are many other examples to give but the above clearly illustrates that there’s something fishy with these numbers. According to the Government, the entire pirate population was slashed in half last year, but we doubt that this is really the case.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

New Anti-Piracy Campaign Piles On The Scare Tactics But Who’s Scared?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/new-anti-piracy-campaign-piles-on-the-scare-tactics-but-whos-scared-200307/

Anyone who creates creative content has the right to protect that work from unauthorized wholesale reproduction. It is their work, their investment, and they should be able to benefit from the toils of their labors, copyright law dictates.

The reality, of course, is that while people can claim their rights all day long, there are plenty of avenues to obtain that content online without paying for it. As a result, entertainment industry groups are relentless in their efforts to disrupt and discourage such behavior.

One of the tried-and-tested methods is the anti-piracy campaign. Often in the form of short videos, trailers and clips presented online, within physical media, and on TV, these presentations get around 30 seconds to make an impact on the public. That is not a long time and as a result, the creatives behind these projects have to get well….creative….for want of a better word.

In recent years, the many ‘creative’ approaches are now diverging into what appears to be a coordinated global effort to physically scare people away from piracy. All is fair and love and war, they say, but these campaigns take the truth and bend into another dimension. Take the headline message from the new anti-piracy campaign launched online and on TV by Creative Content Australia, for example.

“Accessing pirate sites to download movies and TV exposes your financial and medical details, passwords, photos and more to criminals. So not only is pirating illegal, you become a victim of your own crime. Is it really worth it, just for some free content?” the campaign material reads.

Here’s the accompanying TV advert for additional context;

The video appears to portray a member of the public seeking help from the ‘police’ after he got hacked and had his passwords and photos stolen. However, when the authorities find out he’d visited a pirate site they basically said: “Screw you, it’s your own fault, you’re on your own.”

Thirty seconds isn’t a long time to get your message over but claiming that “pirate sites expose you to hackers” simply can’t be the experience of the majority of people who use them. If this was indeed the case, people wouldn’t be flocking to them every day in their millions.

The fact that a succession of campaigns are declaring pirate sites as unsafe havens filled with hackers is a clear indicator that someone feels the message just isn’t getting through to pirates. Which, when you think about it, is pretty strange.

No campaign on planet earth will ever be able to drive the message home more effectively than actually being hacked and having your personal details stolen. Victims of such crimes rarely need to be told twice which is a fairly obvious indicator that this campaign is aimed at the vast majority who have no such problems. And if the vast majority have no issues, why all the panic?

Let’s be clear here, this isn’t a pro-piracy rant at the expense of people simply trying to make some money off the back of their hard work. This is a reaction to scare tactics that are not only insulting to people’s intelligence but are also unlikely to reach their goals. Fact: if visiting pirate sites leads to all of the things being claimed, people wouldn’t use them. If people didn’t use them, the campaign wouldn’t be needed.

These claims of ‘people’ falling victim to criminals are problematic too. Last week we reported on a huge survey carried out in the UK, which also covered public attitudes towards various types of anti-piracy campaigns. One of the suggestions was that instead of making vague claims, it might help to present real-life examples of people who became victims of hacking as a result of visiting pirate sites.

Of course, this latest campaign – just like all the others – makes no effort to do that. Instead it uses actors and well-known activists to drive home the message that people who visit such platforms get what they deserve.

“If you visit pirate websites, even the law can’t protect you,” warns Graham Burke AO, Chairman of Creative Content Australia.

“You are going to a criminally dangerous neighborhood. Pirate sites are big businesses and exist solely to make money by robbing you, or worse. This is an area where your cyber security is in danger and malware, blackmail and identity theft are commonplace.”

It’s true that pirate sites can indeed have terrible ads and of course, malware can be present in downloads, most commonly software releases where such things are easily hidden. But blackmail and identity theft are such serious crimes that one would think that if a pirate site had been involved in such things, the police would’ve got involved and we would’ve heard about it. We haven’t.

On the other hand, it is extremely easy to find reports of people getting scammed via methods that have nothing to do with pirate sites, such as by telephone or phishing attacks. This is where things start to break down and make nightmarish anti-piracy campaigns lose credibility.

The awful experiences being described in most of these campaigns aren’t the experiences of the majority of people who use these sites. If truth be known, most people reading this article have probably had more attempts to have their identities stolen via email in the past three months than anywhere else on the Internet, pirate sites included.

Indeed, when we spoke to security company MalwareBytes on this topic in 2018, the company told us that pirate sites aren’t the biggest risk at all – email is.

“These days, most common infections come from malicious spam campaigns and drive-by exploit attacks,” said Adam Kujawa, Director of Malware Intelligence.

In response to claims in another dubious anti-piracy campaign in the same year, security expert Mikko Hypponen from F-Secure told us that it was false to claim that pirate sites are the number one source for malware online. He again pointed to email as the number one risk.

“Pirate sites are not the most common source for infections, and it hasn’t been since the early 1990s,” he informed TorrentFreak. “Today, the most common ways of getting infected are via malicious email attachments, browser plugins and extensions and web exploit kits.”

The bottom line here is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with anti-piracy campaigns per se but they must be believable and based in fact, not a twisted version of the truth. Also, the companies behind them might also consider being a little less cynical.

While one can’t expect a guide on how to pirate safely, campaigns that only warn of the dangers without offering some advice beyond “don’t use pirate sites” suggest that there’s no genuine concern about the safety of Internet users. In fact, the message in this campaign is actually “you’re on your own and nobody will help you.”

If only on a subconscious level, that won’t go unnoticed. Somehow, these messages need to move forward more positively. It’s become a cliche but all of the content in one place at a fair price from a legitimate source is the best way to stop people visiting pirate sites. Or at least powerful enough to stop a significant number from preferring them, especially when considering all of the horrors that lie within….

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Plex Slammed By Huge Copyright Coalition For Not Policing Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/plex-slammed-by-huge-copyright-coalition-for-not-policing-pirates-200306/

In days gone by, living rooms around the world could be found stacked with video cassette tapes full of films and TV shows. Some bought, others recorded at home, these copies would need to be waded through, to find whatever content the owner fancied watching that day.

With the rise of digital technology, however, such physical collections have largely disappeared, replaced by copies that occupy virtually zero space, with thousands of movies, TV shows, music tracks, and photographs effortlessly stored on relatively cheap hard drives.

Paper-based indexing systems, for those who cared to maintain them in the analog age, have now been replaced by software that not only does all the hard work but also makes collections a thing of beauty. While there are alternatives, Emby for example, the clear market leader is Plex. However, the company behind the software is now facing a backlash for failing to control how people interact with its creation.

According to CreativeFuture, a pro-copyright coalition of more than 560 companies and organizations, Plex – which is basically a pretty media player – is helping to fan the flames of piracy. While there are some exceptions which we’ll come to shortly, people generally need to be in physical possession of movies or TV shows to watch them using Plex, with torrents providing the necessary material.

“[T]he problem now finds itself on a dangerous precipice where it could easily slip right back into becoming a crisis again, as it was in the mid-2000s – before streaming was all the rage,” Creative Future writes.

“Thanks to a rapidly growing media application called Plex, torrent-based piracy is back in vogue, and better than ever (for criminals who have no problem with profiting from content that doesn’t belong to them, that is).”

To set the scene, that Plex is some kind of ‘rogue’ application, CreativeFuture (CF) aligns the media player with another piece of software, one that has also suffered reputational damage as a result of its users’ activities. The choice of adjective to describe both is particularly interesting.

“To understand what Plex is and how it functions, it is helpful to look at Kodi – another dangerous digital media player that we have written about repeatedly here at CreativeFuture,” CF notes.

The claim that Plex is dangerous is supported by an article published in The Verge, which reported on so-called ‘Plex shares’. Without going into the minutiae, ‘shares’ effectively allow Plex users to access content on other users’ Plex servers which, in some cases, could have been obtained illegally.

That some Plex users allow others to access huge libraries of pirated content is a fact, with some being targeted by anti-piracy groups such as BREIN. But, in common with so many piracy controversies in recent years, CF feels that if Plex users are doing something illegal, then the company behind the Plex software should be held responsible for their actions.

In this respect, CF claims that like “most” tech platforms, Plex is doing what it can to avoid accountability.

“In turning a blind eye to its piracy problem, Plex has joined the ranks of internet heavyweights who refuse to take responsibility for the criminal behavior on their platforms,” the copyright coalition notes.

“With heightened scrutiny on the biggest platforms, lawmakers across the country, and abroad, have increasingly demonstrated less tolerance for tech companies that sidestep law and order in their relentless quest for user growth.”

Quite what CF believes Plex should do isn’t covered. If we take current industry strategies as a benchmark, we might guess that the organization would encourage the use of some kind of pro-active filtering mechanism, which would prevent Plex users from adding potentially infringing material to their own computers.

Of course, that would mean massive implications for end-user privacy, almost impossible calculations to determine who is allowed to add content to a library within the law in multiple jurisdictions, plus an inevitable backlash and migration to other platforms that reject such intrusions. It would also require the company behind Plex to get deeply involved and therefore acquire ‘knowledge’ of infringing user behavior, something that raises all kinds of red flags.

The piece, which deserves to be read in its own right, also accuses or Reddit of being a “notorious piracy-enabling outlet”. What it fails to mention, and probably should’ve done, however, is that Plex is already making progress with various entertainment industry groups to tackle piracy in the best way possible – providing users with easy access to licensed content.

In 2019, Plex announced it would begin streaming thousands of free movies, TV shows and music documentaries from within the app, after striking deals with relevant rightsholders. The content is ad-supported and the hope is to expand the offering in the future.

“Over time, we’ll be adding more stuff from different studios and creators — from Oscar-winning Hollywood movies to the latest from India, Russia, China, Japan, Africa, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe to really cool independent movies fresh off the festival circuit,” the company said.

That Plex now finds itself in the firing line isn’t really a surprise – if Reddit is a “notorious” enabler of piracy, then any company with end users could find itself tarred with the same brush. TorrentFreak contacted the software developer for its opinion on the latest set of claims but at the time of publication, Plex chose to remain silent.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

What Type of Anti-Piracy Campaign Is More Likely to Work on Infringers?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/what-type-of-anti-piracy-campaign-is-more-likely-to-work-on-infringers-200301/

Over the past couple of decades, campaigns aimed at discouraging people from accessing infringing content online have come in all shapes and sizes. Whether they are effective is still up for debate.

It could be argued that since copyright infringement is now easier than ever, with even novices able to access almost any content they like without paying, none of these campaigns have really worked. On the other hand, however, who knows where infringement would be today without a certain level of overt discouragement.

This week the UK’s Intellectual Property Office published its latest Online Copyright Infringement Tracker report, aspects of which we covered in an earlier article. Interestingly and in addition to a truckload of statistics, the report also covers consumer opinions on what type of anti-piracy campaigns might be effective with the general public.

Framed as “behavior change” mechanisms, the report looked at two broad types of anti-piracy campaigns – those that make it clear that downloading or streaming infringing content is illegal and others that set out to highlight the consequences or repercussions of the illegal behavior.

“Responses to campaigns depended somewhat on the level of experience and frequency of infringing, as well as moral standpoint. Two broad segments emerged,” the report reads.

“Cautious Infringers: Those who worry about infringing the law and the risks of illegal activity [and] Savvy Infringers: Those who are more tech savvy and knowingly access content illegally without much concern over related dangers or consequences.”

It makes perfect sense that different types of campaigns would work on these two groups. Those who are less well-informed and worry more about the chances of getting caught are probably easier to convince. The more tech-savvy bunch often have a tendency to see past scare-tactics, for example, and may even have the means to mitigate most threats.

According to the research, campaign imagery was effective in several areas, such as when the campaign was made more personal by centering it around an everyday scenario, such as watching a football match.

Relevancy is also listed as a matter of importance. For example, it was considered more effective to elicit an emotional response from the viewer (becoming a victim of identity theft) than to err more towards facts, such as being infected by malware.

Furthermore, campaigns must be clear.

“Campaigns with straightforward and uncomplicated messages are preferred. Any form of confusing rhetoric or double meaning runs the risk of taking attention from the core message (e.g. ‘You wouldn’t buy a digital virus…’),” the report notes.

Perhaps most importantly, the tone of campaigns must be carefully considered. The report states that while most believe that detailing the consequences of accessing content illegally needs to be spelled out, “a few take issue with the use of ‘scare tactics’
and feel the ads are too accusatory.”

Perhaps the most obvious example of scare tactics and overly-dramatic tone to date is the ‘You Wouldn’t Steal/Piracy is a Crime” campaign. It has been the subject of various parodies, such as the most well-known one featured in the IT Crowd.

Interestingly, another even more outrageous example surfaced just recently on Reddit and while intentionally offensive in parts, it really drives home the message that going over the top is more likely to elicit mockery rather than change.

So how best to deal with the different types of infringers?

For ‘Cautious Infringers’ it’s suggested that simple messages are best, particularly ones that identify which behavior is illegal and then sign-posting further information and detail. “This is especially important for those who are sent content by others and/or use services where there is some ambiguity around legality (e.g. Kodi boxes),” the report notes.

When it comes to ‘Savvy Infringers’, it’s suggested that giving real-life examples of people who were caught and fined (or were victims of hacking) may help to address the perception that “it will never happen to me.” It’s also noted that simply stating that the behavior is illegal or that people could become a victim of fraud may not be enough.

Instead, there may be some mileage in talking about “potential impact on credit score, losing money, or accessing personal photos etc.”

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

Don’t Use the Word ‘Did’ or a Dumb Anti-Piracy Company Will Delete You From Google

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dont-use-the-word-did-or-a-dumb-anti-piracy-company-will-delete-you-from-google-200216/

Every hour of every day of every week of every year, anti-piracy companies send out DMCA notices to remove supposedly infringing content from the Internet.

Many of these are legitimate takedown requests, targeting everything from movies and TV shows, to music, games, software and anything else that can be digitally reproduced. For copyright holders it’s a herculean task and as a result, mistakes can happen. The scale is such that it’s almost inevitable.

Unfortunately, however, some ‘mistakes’ are so ridiculous as to be unforgivable, especially when they target completely innocent individuals hoping to make a difference with the positive spread of knowledge and information. Case in point: Sinclair Target, the owner of computing history blog, Two-Bit History.

In 2018, Target wrote an article about Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron who some credit as being the world’s first computer programmer, despite being born in 1815. Unfortunately, however, those who search for that article today using Google won’t find it.

As the image below shows, the original Tweet announcing the article is still present in Google’s indexes but the article itself has been removed, thanks to a copyright infringement complaint that also claimed several other victims.

While there could be dozens of reasons the article infringed someone’s copyrights, the facts are so absurd as to be almost unbelievable. Sinclair’s article was deleted because an anti-piracy company working on behalf of a TV company decided that since its title (What Did Ada Lovelace’s Program Actually Do?) contained the word ‘DID’, it must be illegal.

This monumental screw-up was announced on Twitter by Sinclair himself, who complained that “Computers are stupid folks. Too bad Google has decided they are in charge.”

At risk of running counter to Sinclair’s claim, in this case – as Lovelace herself would’ve hopefully agreed – it is people who are stupid, not computers. The proof for that can be found in the DMCA complaint sent to Google by RightsHero, an anti-piracy company working on behalf of Zee TV, an Indian pay-TV channel that airs Dance India Dance.

Now in its seventh season, Dance India Dance is a dance competition reality show that is often referred to as DID. And now, of course, you can see where this is going. Because Target and at least 11 other sites dared to use the word in its original context, RightsHero flagged the pages as infringing and asked Google to deindex them.

But things only get worse from here.

Look up the word ‘did’ in any dictionary and you will never find the definition listed as an acronym for Dance India Dance. Instead, you’ll find the explanation as “past of do” or something broadly along those lines. However, if the complaint sent to Google had achieved its intended effect, finding out that would’ve been more difficult too.

Lo, here it is in its full glory.

As we can see, the notice not only claims Target’s article is infringing the copyrights of Dance India Dance (sorry, DID), but also no less than four online dictionaries explaining what the word ‘did’ actually means. (Spoiler: None say ‘Dance India Dance’).

Perhaps worse still, some of the other allegedly-infringing articles were published by some pretty serious information resources including:

-USGS Earthquake Hazards Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (Did You Feel It? (DYFI) collects information from people who felt an earthquake and creates maps that show what people experienced and the extent of damage)

– The US Department of Education (Did (or will) you file a Schedule 1 with your 2018 tax return?)

– Nature.com (Did pangolins spread the China coronavirus to people?)

Considering the scale of the problem here, we tried to contact RightsHero for comment. However, the only anti-piracy company bearing that name has a next-to-useless website that provides no information on where the company is, who owns it, who runs it, or how those people can be contacted.

In the absence of any action by RightsHero, Sinclair Target was left with a single option – issue a counterclaim to Google in the hope of having his page restored.

“I’ve submitted a counter-claim, which seemed to be the only thing I could do,” Target told TorrentFreak.

“Got a cheery confirmation email from Google saying, ‘Thanks for contacting us!’ and that it might be a while until the issue is resolved. I assume that’s because this is the point where finally a decision has to be made by a human being. It is annoying indeed.”

Finally, it’s interesting to take a line from Target’s analysis of Lovelace’s program. “She thought carefully about how operations could be organized into groups that could be repeated, thereby inventing the loop,” he writes.

30 GOTO 10

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

Record Labels Question TorrentFreak’s Reliability in Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/record-labels-question-torrentfreaks-reliability-in-court-200209/

Last weekend, we reported on a rather peculiar legal request from a group of major record labels.

The companies, which will go to trial against Internet provider Grande later this month, want to know whether potential jury members read TorrentFreak.

In theory, it could be an attempt to get well-informed jurors on the bench. However, it’s also possible that the labels see our reporting as biased. That second scenario seems more likely based on some new information we have received.

This week the same record labels, including Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music, and Warner Bros Records, mentioned TorrentFreak again. This mention is part of a motion in another lawsuit, the one against ISP Bright House. This case also revolves around liability for pirating subscribers.

Before we highlight the TorrentFreak mention, some background information on the lawsuit is required.

In short, the labels argue that the ISP is liable for pirating subscribers because it failed to disconnect repeat infringers. Bright House disagrees. Among other things, it pointed out that under the Copyright Alert System, which the labels took part in, ISPs were not required to disconnect repeat infringers.

Last month. the ISP asked the court to take “judicial notice” of several documents related to the Copyright Alert System. This included the memorandum of understanding, as well as several news reports – including one of our articles – that reference statements from participating ISPs such as AT&T and Verizon.

These “judicial notices” basically ask the court to accept certain facts into the record that can’t be reasonably doubted. With regard to the news articles, Bright House doesn’t ask the court to accept that all information in them is factual, but simply that the ISPs did indeed make these statements.

This request wasn’t well-received by the record labels, for a variety of reasons.

In their response, the labels point out that three of the five documents are not “press releases” that were “issued by the Internet service providers.” Instead, they point to news articles or blog posts of which the “reliability” is “suspect.”

As an example of these suspect articles, the record labels highlight one of our articles but also reports from Ars Technica and Business Insider.

“Exhibit 5 is another article, this one written by ‘Ernesto’ (no last name provided), for a website called ‘TorrentFreak.’ Far from being a press release issued by AT&T, the article purports to describe leaked AT&T documents that TorrentFreak obtained,” the response reads.

We fully stand behind the accuracy of the reported information, which was never disputed and is certainly reliable. That said, the record labels do have a point. Our report is not a direct press release from an ISP and that applies to the other news reports too.

We simply reported on information that we received from an employee. The two other news articles are not press releases either, although they do include statements that were attributed to ISPs that participated in the Copyright Alert System.

That said, the labels don’t even want to accept the ISPs’ official press releases (e.g.), as these apparently aren’t “self authenticating.” Even the publicly published memorandum of understanding (MOU) doesn’t pass muster, the companies write.

“Taking judicial notice of this document is inappropriate, as there is no indication from the document itself that it in fact is the final MOU or that the MOU was not amended, terminated, or qualified at some later point in time,” the labels write.

What we have here is an ISP that is trying to show that other ISPs who participated in the music industry sanctioned Copyright Alert System did not terminate any subscribers. The record labels are trying to block this, as they do not agree with or indeed like this argument.

As said before, the labels do have a point about the news articles not being press releases. That said, Bright House may not have to jump through hoops if they simply want to argue that copyright alerts didn’t automatically lead to terminations.

If we pull up an archived version of the official Copyright Alert System website, which was backed by the music industry, we read the following:

“While the ISPs can modify the Mitigation Measures in a manner consistent with their own policies, ISPs will not use account termination as a Mitigation Measure.”

Even better, perhaps, the same site also archived all of the ‘final’ MOU, including all the amendments that were later made.

We’re not legal experts, but this appears to be fairly solid, coming directly from the source. That said, the record labels will likely disagree. In any case, it’s not up to us to present any arguments.

Finally, we want to briefly come back to the record label’s comment that our reliability is suspect. That’s an interesting argument, as our reporting has repeatedly been cited by copyright holders in the past.

For example, the RIAA used our coverage as evidence in comments it made to the U.S. Copyright Office. Similarly, the International Intellectual Property Alliance mentioned our reporting repeatedly in public submissions to the US Government.

In fact, even Sony Music Entertainment, which today questions our reliability, cited our reporting in an earlier submission to the US Trade Representative. Apparently, our coverage about Google’s takedown efforts was pretty solid according to the company.

While we realize that the stakes and circumstances are different in this case, we just want to set the record straight.

A copy of Bright House’s request for judicial notice is available here (pdf). The response from the record labels can be found here (pdf).

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

Author Fears That Former Pirate Site Owner is Trying to Bankrupt Him

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/author-fears-that-former-pirate-site-owner-is-trying-to-bankrupt-him-200202/

Since the lawsuit was filed in March 2019, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the battle between author John Van Stry and Travis McCrea, the former operator of eBook download platform, eBook.bike.

Right from the beginning, it has been an unconventional copyright dispute. Instead of maintaining a low profile, McCrea actually invited litigation, goading Van Stry and other authors to take him on. McCrea insisted he would prove that what he was doing was entirely legal and eventually Van Stry and his legal team took the bait.

Ten months on and it seems increasingly unlikely that McCrea or Van Stry will come out of this matter in materially better shape than they went in.

If this was being scored as a professional boxing match entering the final rounds, thus far every judge would have Van Stry massively up on points. His legal team has put on a dominating performance and at no juncture has McCrea looked like taking a single round. As a result, Van Stry is now the prohibitive favorite to take the win, at least on paper.

But in this matter, winning rounds is only part of the story. If court documents are to be believed, Van Stry’s team has put in a massive effort to get this fight won but McCrea hasn’t put up much of a fight at all, despite calling for the conflict to begin with. In fact, he’s accused of obstructing every effort to get the matter settled.

Whether this is the inevitable result of McCrea choosing to defend himself in a complex case isn’t entirely clear but according to comments made by Van Stry this week, tactics designed to reduce his ability to fight may be at play.

“If you’ve followed any of the legal followings, you’ll know that I was presented with a long list of things for discovery, which really made it seem like Travis was just trying to make my life hard. But I delivered it,” the author wrote on his GoFundMe page, which is raising money towards his litigation.

“However, Travis has refused to deliver anything. The judge has told him time and time again to produce, but Travis has continually refused. Pretty much he’s just ignoring everything and everybody. This of course has driven my legal costs way up, but that’s obviously Travis’ game, to try and bankrupt me or something I guess.”

While Van Stry is clearly ahead, the costs of coming out on top are mounting. The case to date has cost him $60,000 with less than half of that being covered by donations. That puts the author $30,000 in the red but with the finishing line currently marked with a $90,000 price tag, he could still be $60,000 in the hole at the end.

This personal financial exposure is the result of the case being one of the few on record to feature an individual copyright holder suing a site owner, rather than litigation being carried out by a deep-pocketed corporation. It’s a point not lost on the author.

“[P]irates can do what they want of course, because our legal system makes it horrendously expensive for private individuals to go to court and most judges seem to be unaware of these things, possibly because they’re used to dealing with corporate lawyers who are on a salary. So money isn’t an issue for anyone in most of their experience,” he says.

This entire case has been difficult to watch but as the months go by, one has to wonder what any final victory will look like for Van Stry. Importantly, eBook.bike is down and has been for months, so if that was the aim of the litigation the mission has already been accomplished. Obviously an injunction to prevent it from returning would be a useful addition but then what?

If one is obtained in the United States, any judgment would need to be enforced against McCrea in Canada. That’s not beyond the realms of possibility but given that the former Pirate Party leader has declared he has no assets to speak of, blood and stones come to mind, neither of which can conjure up $60,000. And that’s ignoring any damages award, which may be considerably less and still might go unpaid.

However, presuming that he had an idea of how much this action would cost going in, it’s certainly possible that Van Stry considers this a personal mission to do his part to hinder piracy, not just for him, but on behalf of all the other authors that are currently supporting him. And, having come this far, the pressure is probably on to carry this through to the bitter end.

Nevertheless, in piracy mitigation terms, ‘hinder’ is the operative word here.

The closure of eBook.bike and/or legal destruction of Travis McCrea won’t do much to prevent the piracy of Van Stry’s or his fellow authors’ books on other platforms. And, from a strictly financial perspective, one has to sell an awful lot of books to recover $90,000.

So, to an outsider, this now looks like a battle of ideals, with McCrea’s ‘pirate’ mantra on one hand and Van Stry doggedly pushing back in the opposite direction. Unfortunately and in purely practical terms, it seems increasingly unlikely that either side will benefit financially from this litigation, unless one counts Van Stry’s legal team in that equation, of course.

Then again, perhaps money isn’t everything.

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

Record Labels Will Ask Potential Piracy Trial Jurors if They Read TorrentFreak

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/record-labels-will-ask-potential-piracy-trial-jurors-if-they-read-torrentfreak-200202/

Some of the world’s largest music companies have taken several ISPs to court, accusing them of not doing enough to curb piracy.

This legal campaign, which is supported by the RIAA, resulted in a massive windfall for the copyright holders last month.

Following a two week trial, Cox was found guilty by a jury that awarded a billion dollars in damages. Soon after this win, the music companies shifted their focus to the next battle, the upcoming trial against ISP Grande Communications.

Similar to the Cox case, the music companies, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music, argue that the Internet provider willingly turned a blind eye to pirating customers. As such, it should be held accountable for copyright infringements allegedly committed by its users.

Grande will start the trial at a severe disadvantage. The court previously granted summary judgment in favor of the record labels, ruling that the ISP will go to trial without a safe harbor defense. This means that it can be held secondarily liable for the pirating activity of its users.

This week both parties submitted their ‘voir dire’ questions for potential trial jurors. The jury consists of members of the public, but the legal teams from both sides are allowed to ask questions during the selection process, to ensure that jurors are unbiased.

The music companies, for example, will ask whether potential jurors or people close to them, ever worked for Grande Communications. That makes sense. The same is true for the question that asks whether they have any negative opinions of record labels.

While browsing through the 40 questions for the jurors, we also noticed that the labels are interested in anyone reading this article right now. Apparently, being a reader of TorrentFreak or Ars Technica is something prospective jurors must disclose.

“Have you ever read or visited Ars Technica or TorrentFreak?” question 33 reads.

What the labels plan to do with the answers remains a guess. We have covered these and other piracy liability lawsuits in great detail over the years. So, perhaps the labels want to pick our readers, many of whom are legal experts. On the other hand, our news selection and the associated knowledge may also be seen as bias.

Whatever the reason, we’ll take it as a compliment.

Reading through the rest of the questions we see more interesting mentions. The labels want to know whether the jurors have ever downloaded anything from torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and RARBG, for example. In addition, they are asked whether they support the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or if they ever worked for a technology company.

What also stands out is the question that asks prospective jurors if they believe there are “too many frivolous lawsuits nowadays,” while asking the candidates to give examples.

The record labels are not the only ones asking questions of course. Grande Communications has also prepared a list, hoping to signal bias or other disqualifying factors.

The ISP asks, for example, if the candidates have ever worked at a record label or in the music industry. The company also asks whether they believe it’s an ISP’s responsibility to monitor and police online piracy.

Grande doesn’t ask about TorrentFreak, but it does want to know whether the prospective jurors have ever heard of BitTorrent.

The jury selection for the upcoming trial is scheduled to take place on February 24th and the trial will start a day later. In the coming weeks, both parties will work on their final preparations.

The record label’s questions are available here (pdf) and Grande Communication’s questions can be found here (pdf).

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

YTS Lawsuits Offer Clearest Sign Yet That Pirates Shouldn’t Trust Anyone

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/yts-lawsuits-offer-clearest-sign-yet-that-pirates-shouldnt-trust-anyone-200201/

When mainstream piracy was in its infancy two decades ago, the majority of file-sharers had no idea that they were even at risk from snoopers. Thanks to a massive wave of lawsuits from the RIAA in 2003, that perception soon changed.

Somewhere around 2004, the MPAA embarked on a parallel campaign to drive the message home to pirates that the Internet is not anonymous.

“If you can think you can get away with illegally swapping movies, you’re wrong,” the ‘You Can Click But You Can’t Hide’ posters read. “Illegally trafficking in movies is not just a dirty little secret between you and your computer. You leave a trail.”

The MPAA also gave unquestionably good advice: the only way to guarantee that users weren’t caught for sharing pirated movies was not to share them at all. Of course, millions didn’t listen and by the time that VPNs really started to take off around 2006/2007, file-sharers were laughing into their keyboards.

The biggest threat back then (as it is now) was sharing torrents without protection. Torrents are public and any rightsholder can monitor them before filing a lawsuit for damages. But by 2009 or so, when streaming sites had already embedded themselves as the next big thing, a whole new click-and-play generation had become complacent again, lulled to sleep by the perceived security offered by third-party hosting sources.

Today, millions of people are streaming content via apps and so-called Kodi boxes, mostly with zero protection. The idea, if people even consider it, is that ‘pirate’ sites can’t or won’t give up their information. That is a dangerous assumption.

As recently documented here on TF, there is a worrying situation playing out on YTS, one of the Internet’s most popular torrent indexes. Taking all the facts at hand and adding in some educated guesses, it seems that after being subjected to massive legal pressure, the owner of that torrent resource may be handing information on some of its users to movie companies.

To many file-sharers, that might seem an outrageous proposition but when faced with multiple six-digit claims for damages, no one should expect anything different. Once the identity of the site’s operator became known to the movie company plaintiffs, the pressure seems to have increased to the point that skin-saving might now be the order of the day. That seems to have been the case at Cotomovies as well.

The thing is, if a torrent site or app developer can be pressured in this way, so can any other site holding potentially incriminating user data. There can be little doubt that many file-hosting and streaming platforms carry detailed logs and if the proverbial hits the fan, they could be handed over. Even some so-called debrid download sites, that appear to offer enhanced security, state that they carry download logs for up to a year.

The bottom line is that if users are expecting pirate sites (or even gray area sites like the now-defunct Openload) not to store their personal information or carry download and upload logs, they are effectively banking on a third-party’s security and their determination not to buckle under the most severe pressure imaginable.

In 2020 and after almost two decades of aggressive litigation, it’s perhaps surprising that anyone is taking such things for granted. But people do. They use their regular email addresses to sign up for questionable services, access all kinds of pirate sites without using a VPN, use their personal PayPal accounts for payments and donations, and generally fail to take seriously what could be a very expensive exercise in complacency.

As an example, just last week a user on Reddit reported that a copyright troll in the US had tracked him down with evidence that he’d shared 20 movies. To put that into settlement terms (to make a lawsuit go away) that could mean paying out $20,000, $40,000 or even $60,000 – a potentially life-changing or indeed life-ruining sum.

A decade-and-a-half ago the MPAA’s “Click But Can’t Hide” campaign declared that the Internet is not anonymous. It was accurate (at least by default) but many people continue to believe that security isn’t important. The truth is, the Internet is getting less anonymous every single year and rightsholders know how to exploit that.

Like the apparent YTS fiasco, expect more preventable ‘surprises’ in the months and years to come.

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

‘The US Shouldn’t Sanction South Africa for Copying US-Style Fair Use’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-us-shouldnt-sanction-south-africa-for-copying-us-style-fair-use-200201/

A few months ago, the office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) started an in-depth inquiry into South Africa’s copyright policies and plans.

The US Government launched this official review following complaints from the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA).

The coalition of prominent rightsholder groups, including the MPA and RIAA, informed the USTR that they’re not happy with how South Africa addresses copyright issues. Lacking enforcement of online piracy was prominently mentioned, as well as the country’s approach towards fair use.

The fair use angle has triggered a wide range of responses from stakeholders who sent their thoughts to the USTR a few days ago.

South Africa plans to introduce a fair use provision into law that is largely based on the US model. According to the IIPA, this is dangerous, as the country can’t rely on 150 years of existing case law. In addition, the new provisions are even broader than the US variant while they arrive on top of the existing ‘fair dealing’ system, the group warns.

The public submissions show that several rightsholders are siding with IIPA, but there’s also overwhelming pushback from public interest groups, organizations, and legal experts.

Pretty much all critics of the IIPA’s stance explain that South Africa’s fair use proposal is largely the same as the US model. The problems signaled by the IIPA are overblown, they argue, adding that South Africans should enjoy the same freedoms as Americans.

There’s not enough space to highlight all protests, but we will provide a short overview of some of the opposition’s responses.

The Internet Association, which represents many large technology companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Spotify, strongly urges the USTR to reject the IIPA’s fair use complaints.

“South Africa’s fair use measure is modeled on U.S. law and includes a standard four-factor test that strikes an appropriate balance between the interests of authors, creators, and users,” the Internet Association writes. ​

“If the U.S. does not stand up for the U.S. copyright framework abroad, then U.S. innovators and exporters will suffer, and other countries will increasingly misuse copyright to limit market entry.”

Wikipedia’s parent company Wikimedia also chimes in. The organization stresses that fair use has allowed US creators and consumers broader access to knowledge. The South African fair use proposal is very similar and by no means a threat, they add.

“While we respect the need to ensure that copyrighted works are properly protected abroad, the reasonable exceptions and limitations included in the draft amendments to South African copyright law are not going to erode that protection any more than the century-long tradition of fair use has in the United States.

“[]It makes little sense to prevent South African citizens from the freedoms that have long been held by citizens in our own country,” Wikimedia notes.

The African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) stresses than many countries have been able to enjoy fair use for decades. Not allowing South Africans the same right is a breach of constitutional rights.

“A developing country like South Africa, that wants to improve its copyright law by modeling it on the US copyright law and other progressive copyright regimes, should be encouraged and affirmed, not punished for doing so,” AfLIA writes, urging the USTR to stop its review.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) agrees with the other opponents. The group compared the US and South African fair use texts and found “no substantive differences.”

Any additional exceptions in the South African proposal follow the model that already exists in US copyright law and can draw on existing jurisprudence, the IFLA adds.

Peter Jaszi, Emeritus Professor of Law at the American University’s Washington College of Law, sees no roadblocks for the fair use proposal either.

“It seems anomalous that the creative industries in a country where fair use is a venerable part of the law would object to another nation’s decision to adopt it as part of an effort to promote domestic innovation,” Jaszi says.

Finally, the South African government is not being swayed by the IIPA’s concerns either. In its submission, it cites other US businesses, including Google, that support its plans. In addition, South Africa stresses that it has a widely-respected tradition of judicial competence and independence when it comes to intellectual property law.

A complete overview of all the responses, including those in favor of the IIPA, is available here. The USTR will take these into account when it makes it final decision on any possible trade sanctions or other recommendations.

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

Most Canadian ISPs Are Staying Quiet on Pirate Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/most-canadian-isps-are-staying-quiet-on-pirate-site-blocking-200119/

Last November, Canada’s Federal Court approved the first pirate site blockade in the country.

Following a complaint from major media companies Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court ordered several major ISPs to block access to domains and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service GoldTV.

These types of blocking efforts are common in quite a few countries. However, in Canada they are new, which means that developments are closely watched by both supporters and opponents.

One of these newer developments is the expansion of the blocklist with new domain names. After the initial injunction was ordered GoldTV became accessible through new addresses, effectively circumventing the court’s measures. This was dealt with by blocking the new domains as well.

This extension of the court’s order was permitted under the injunction and signed off by the court. This order is also public to those who pay to access it, which allows us to report on it.

However, as more and more blocks are issued this process may become harder to follow. It would be more transparent if ISPs published a list of blocked domains and IP-addresses. This would make it possible for the public to see what’s going on and report errors. If there are any.

This transparency idea isn’t too far-fetched. Canada’s current net neutrality regulations require ISPs to disclose what traffic management practices they use. Disclosing a list of blocked domain names and IP-addresses could fall into the same category.

As we were unable to find any ISP publicly listing this information on a page that’s available outside its network, we decided to ask them whether they had any plans to provide one.

In addition, we also asked what technical means the ISPs use to block domain names. Is it a simple DNS redirect, or are there more invasive techniques in use?

After waiting for several days, we still only have a response from one Internet provider. The ten remaining companies simply stayed quiet and didn’t even acknowledge receipt of our questions.

The company that did respond is TekSavvy, which also happens to be the only ISP that appealed the blocking injunction.

TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory affairs, Andy Kaplan-Myrth, informs us that they already provide detailed information to blocked users. This includes links to all the blocked domains and the court order itself.

In the future, TekSavvy plans to make this available to outsiders as well. The ISP shared a copy of the info page (pdf) with us but it’s not linked from the ISP’s website yet.

The information shows that TekSavvy is using DNS blocking. It effectively changes the DNS entry so the domains point to the blocking notice instead of the regular page.

Kaplan-Myrth notes that this works but adds that the blockade can be circumvented when subscribers switch to alternative DNS providers such as Google, Cloudflare, or OpenDNS.

While we are pleased with TekSavvy’s openness, the lack of response from the other ISPs isn’t very encouraging when it comes to transparency. We contacted Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Cogeco, Eastlink, Distribitel, Fido, Shaw, Telus, and Videotron, without hearing back.

Although more transparency is welcome, the Canadian system is quite open compared to some other countries. In the UK for example, none of the blocklist changes are publicized beyond the initial court orders. This means that it’s more or less a guess how many are blocked.

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

‘Local’ Pirate Sites Are Thriving Around the World

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/local-pirate-sites-are-thriving-around-the-world-200118/

When the hugely pirate site IndoXII announced that it would shut down a few weeks ago, drama ensued in Indonesia where most of its multi-million-user audience was based.

This fuss was hardly noticeable in other countries, where even some of the most die-hard piracy ‘experts’ had never heard of it.

Apparently, piracy habits are not as global as the Internet itself. Many countries have their local favorites. Sometimes because these are in the native tongue, but different piracy habits also play a role.

Today we’re going to illustrate this phenomenon by pointing out the most popular pirate sites in a wide variety of regions. Helped by data from piracy tracking firm MUSO and public tracking websites, highlight some local favorites.

Our quest starts in Europe, Bulgaria to be precise, where torrent site Zamunda.net takes the lead. This is a typical example of a local pirate site, with most visitors coming from Bulgaria, where it’s listed among the country’s 10 most-visited websites.

If we cross the border into Romania, a different picture emerges. Local streaming site Filmeserialeonline.org comes out on top there. More than two-thirds of the site’s visitors come from Albania, making it the most popular pirate site in the country.

Staying in the region, we find that Albania favors Filma24.cc, which appears to be a linking site. More than half of the site’s visitors come from Albania.

Local favorites emerge in other European countries as well. In France, Zone-telechargement.net is very popular, Spain goes for Elitetorrent.li, and Portugal favors Mrpiracy.site. All these sites are not commonly known outside these borders.

Moving to another continent, Africa, we see a similar trend in several countries. In Nigeria, for example, 9jaflaver.com, is extremely popular. The site also offers news but is listed as a pirate site by industry experts.

In Nigeria’s neighbor Chad, sports streaming site Yalla-shoot.com comes out on top. This is also the most-visited site in Egypt. Libya, which sits between Chad and Egypt, prefers the streaming site Cimaclub.com, which is also loved in Saudi Arabia.

Over in the Middle East, we see that Iranians prefer the local site Nex1music.ir. On the other side of the border, in Iraq, Kurdcinama.com is doing very well as the country’s 33rd most visited website.

Going further east, we see more of the same. Many countries have clear local favorites, which are often in native languages. This includes torrent portal torrentwal2.com in South Korea, as well as b9good.com in Japan.

When we move over to the Americas things get less interesting. While there are local pirate sites there as well, it is mostly familiar names that come out on top.

In the US the most popular ‘pirate’ site is Kissanime.ru, for example. Mexico also favors an anime site with animeflv.net coming out on top there. In fact, if we go further south, anime sites are on top in pretty much every country, all the way to Argentina.

Haiti is one of the few exceptions, as torrent9.pl is most popular there. While it’s not a local site, Haiti is the site’s second-largest traffic source, close behind Cameroon.

The above clearly shows that even though the Pirate Bays of the world make most news headlines, smaller sites can still be massively popular locally, perhaps more than most people realize. It also reveals that preferences for different types of piracy vary from country to country.

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

Manga Scanlation Teams Don’t Want War, They Want Accessible Content

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/manga-scanlation-teams-dont-want-war-they-want-accessible-content-200117/

In recent months there has been a notable increase in publicised anti-piracy actions against services offering manga content. Publishers have pressured a range of sites, hoping to shut down or at least make life more difficult for these hugely popular platforms.

Among the targets was MandaDex, a so-called ‘scanlation’ platform that offers scanned and translated manga publications to an audience underserved by publishers offering restricted foreign language output. The site first reported domain issues and then revealed that its donation processing mechanism had also come under fire, a popular strategy among certain anti-piracy groups.

In the wake of our report, TorrentFreak spoke with an individual in charge of server administration for several scanlation groups including Mangazuki.co, MangaSushi.net, and LHTranslation.net. At least two of these sites process around three million requests per day, according to traffic reports shared with TF.

The source shared information that shows aggressive correspondence received from anti-piracy company RemoveYourMedia, including threats to target a PayPal account and instructions to either remove content or face being “disappeared” from search engines.

“We initially dismissed these emails as being spam, or most likely just some extortion scheme. However, the PayPal account that was listed publicly for donations has been taken down by a DMCA claim from VIZ,” our source revealed.

Documents sent by PayPal and reviewed by TF reveal the payment processor warning the LHT scanlation platform that it had received complaints from VIZ Media LLC and that certain actions needed to be taken, including the deletion of many URLs, in order to comply with PayPal’s acceptable use policy. The necessary action was taken and the PayPal account was restored. The groups also took the decision to remove all VIZ Media content from their sites.

Publisher VIZ Media has been at war with manga sites for many years and it was this publisher that recently targeted MangaDex, among others. However, the takedown demands against scanlation sites aren’t always cut and dried and in many cases don’t meet the accepted standards in respect of the DMCA.

“The stuff [LHTranslation] was hosting wasn’t a direct copy of VIZ’s work. In fact, it was a fan translation, and we had never received a proper DMCA takedown request. We’re quite certain extortion doesn’t count as a valid DMCA complaint,” our source added.

In broad terms, these scanlation platforms say they have to deal with three types of people filing complaints. The first group is labeled “DMCA trolls” and described as people who don’t hold any rights or licenses but file DMCA takedowns regardless.

“We’ve had those emails fly past every once in a while, with poorly worded ‘demands’ as well. Because we receive them every once in a while, we kind of assumed the email [threat sent on behalf of VIZ Media] was among them,” the server admin said.

Interestingly, the second category – genuine copyright holders who send proper DMCA notices – apparently aren’t an issue. There are no objections to these claims, content is taken down and users are directed to where the original material can be purchased instead.

However, those in the final category appear to be the greatest irritant, both in volume terms and the nature of the claims.

“The third kind, and sadly the one we see the most, are those that take our translations and file a claim on our content. Essentially if torrent leeches were to file complaints after leeching the content,” our source complained.

Faced with such issues, the server admin says that the groups he deals with have all moved to so-called ‘bulletproof’ hosting, not because they want to ignore the DMCA but to avoid the DMCA being abused as a weapon. In fact, the groups don’t appear averse to working with license holders to reach the goal of delivering manga to the public in English so it can be enjoyed by currently underserved fans.

All in all, however, it’s a time-consuming process.

After the raw manga images are obtained by the scanlation groups, members are tasked with translating the comics into English while others tidy up the Japanese, Korean, and Chinese text. Further fine-tuning then takes place including re-drawing some pages, applying proper fonts, and putting pages through a final editing process. After a quality control procedure, content is then released on the scanlation sites.

“After we’ve released a chapter on our own site, other people take our releases and re-upload them to aggregator sites, like MangaDex, spreading them to the wider masses,” our source revealed.

“Both our goal, and that of MangaDex in this process isn’t to make money, however. Most of this work is done free of charge. We’re all doing this because we simply love reading mangas and want to bring these series to the West. So other people can enjoy them and in the hope that English publishers see the demand for a certain series and pick them up for official translation.

“This is also why we always tell our readers to support the official releases and creators. And the reason why MangaDex points to the buy pages of both the official English prints and in some cases the Japanese prints. Because of all this, we often don’t see ourselves as pirates, but just as fans, as our goal is to simply make series accessible to others,” the source concluded.

If we take these claims on face value, there appears to be a fairly straightforward way to make progress and counter the perceived scanlation ‘threat’. By making translated content available officially, these groups would not only be out of a ‘job’ but manga could also reach a wider audience, presumably alongside increased revenue.

That sounds a little more progressive than shouty emails and having PayPal accounts shut down.

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

‘Academic’ Torrent Client Hopes to Shake up the Entertainment Industry

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/academic-torrent-client-hopes-to-shake-up-the-entertainment-industry-200110/

The Tribler client has been around for nearly 15 years. During that time it has developed into the only truly decentralized BitTorrent client out there.

Even if all torrent sites were shut down today, Tribler users would still be able to find and add new content.

The project is managed by dozens of academic researchers, which is a guarantee for continued development. In recent years alone, the Tribler team added a built-in Tor network to the client, as well as a blockchain that can function as an internal currency.

This week Delft University of Technology announced that its research group has secured an additional €3.3 million to continue building an ‘Internet-of-Trust.’ A large part of this new cash flow will be used to improve the Tribler client.

With financial backing secured for the years to come, project leader Professor Johan Pouwelse has set some big goals. With Tribler, he hopes to lay the groundwork for a new ecosystem that can replace the powerful multi-billion dollar companies that currently dominate the entertainment industries.

Pouwelse wants to put the artists back in control. They, and only they, should be in charge of monetizing and distributing content.

This idea isn’t new. Artists increasingly want to take back their rights. Taylor Swift, for example, spoke up when she learned that her former record label wanted to prevent her from performing her own songs. Meanwhile, Imogen Heap is trying to create a fairer music ecosystem powered by a blockchain.

Professor Pouwelse has followed these developments closely and believes that artists should ultimately be in control of their own work. This means cutting out the middlemen.

“Every artist should be self-published and self-promoted. Without profiteers, more artists will earn their living from their passion. Without profiteers, fans will get more content creation from their idols,” Pouwelse says.

“The music industry is driven by intermediaries that keep the biggest slice of the pie to themselves. Pioneers such as Imogen Heap are creating new business models where artists receive fair compensation for their creativity.”

The ideal to overthrow powerful entertainment industry companies sounds very much like The Pirate Bay’s message during the mid-2000s. However, while Tribler’s torrent client does list a lot of Pirate Bay content, its goal isn’t to advocate piracy.

On the contrary, decentralization may be a step towards limiting piracy, as content can become much cheaper when artists distribute it directly. Right now labels, but also YouTube, Apple, Twitch and many other platforms, take a big cut. According to Pouwelse, that’s a waste of money.

The professor sees a future where content storage and distribution are put back into the hands of individuals. It’s a world where people set their own rules instead of being dictated to by major companies, which also includes Google and Facebook, which often restrict what people can publish.

While this all sounds very ambitious and promising, there is a major problem. In theory, it’s not hard for creators, or people in general, to store and publish everything themselves. The real problem is the exposure and adoption of decentralized alternatives.

Tribler does indeed have all the crucial elements for an artist to release an album and keep 100% of the profits. But when there are only a few thousand users on the platform, these profits are minimal. In fact, they would likely make more if they only made 5% through the regular “middlemen” channels.

This is a real dilemma. In order for decentralized alternatives to work, they need a substantial user base, one that can rival the existing options. Getting there at once will require a miracle of sorts.

Pouwelse understands the challenges but firmly believes that change is possible, especially when BitTorrent and the blockchain work in tandem.

“BitTorrent has not eliminated the golden profits that sit between the artist and your ears. BitTorrent and blockchain are perhaps the perfect mixture for change in the entertainment industry.

“Blockchain might be powerful enough to break the corporate stranglehold on the business and set artists free,” Pouwelse adds.

Whether this vision will eventually become a reality is uncertain. However, the Triber project does provide an excellent use case for what’s possible when it comes to decentralized publishing. In addition, it will also aid the development of other decentralized digital infrastructures.

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

The Art of War: Lessons for Pirates and Anti-Pirates Alike

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-art-of-war-lessons-for-pirates-and-anti-pirates-alike-200105/

People who run pirate sites and services tend to be pretty interesting individuals. Some are extraordinarily talented and smart, with technical skills that can leave one in awe. Some are funny and insightful too, while others are irritable and almost impossible to deal with.

Surprise. People who work at anti-piracy companies can be pretty interesting individuals too. They also tend to be talented and smart, with technical skills in abundance. In some cases they are some of the nicest people you will ever deal with while some are the nastiest characters around. Like their counterparts, they cover the usual spread of human traits.

In many ways, however, these warring groups of people are very similar, they just approach the same thing from different angles. The aim of pirates is to spread media and the aim of anti-pirates is to stop them from doing so. Put this scenario into a video game and its no different from a team deathmatch. It’s not personal either, it’s just business.

The point is that both ‘teams’ are on the same battlefield and as a result, can benefit from the same strategies. And it can be argued that there has been no greater strategist than Chinese general Sun Tzu, the credited author of The Art of War.

Despite being written 2,500 years ago, the wisdom of this work shines through today. So which of his teachings are most relevant to both sides of the piracy ‘wars’?

Perhaps the most obvious, which underlines the similarities between the factions, is that “to know your enemy, you must become your enemy“. On a basic level, by understanding your adversary deeply, you are able to think how he thinks. Stepping deeper, some ‘pirates’ on pirate sites are not pirates at all, even though they act like them.

It is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for the purposes of spying, and thereby they achieve great results.”

Perhaps one of the great ironies of starting a pirate platform is that if it fails quickly, the disappointment comes with a gilded edge – the enemy will never come. Great success, on the other hand, almost certainly means the opposite. Not considering this at the very beginning can be a recipe for disaster.

As Sun Tzu said: “The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.”

In 2019 this quote became relevant every time we wrote about small Kodi-addon developers in the UK being targeted by FACT and even the police. The majority of these people seemed to have miscalculated how important their software would ultimately become and, as a result, left a trail of digital breadcrumbs to their front doors.

When the authorities arrive with overwhelming force, a cascade of quotes inevitably follows, all centered around the imbalance of power and the pointlessness of self-sacrifice in an unwinnable battle. Importantly, they know that “supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

That’s what the strongly-worded cease-and-desist letters backed up with a credible threat of civil or criminal prosecution aim to achieve. They don’t want a war, you don’t want to lose, so be sensible and back away now, they say. Or as Sun Tzu put it “build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across” in the hope that the “the wise warrior avoids the battle.“

Of course, there is a valid theory that anti-piracy groups cannot take on the world so if everyone resisted they would be unable to cope with the workload. They know that better than anyone so they pick their fights wisely, in order to project an image of power and present a credible deterrent.

To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill,” Sun Tzu said. “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

But for some pirates, giving in has never been an option and one needs to look no further than The Pirate Bay to see how Sun Tzu’s teachings have applied again and again. Every single time that site or the people behind it have been targeted, the response has been the same – this will not work and we will never stop.

Host targeted, we have another – and another. Domain targeted, we have a dozen more. Blocked by ISPs, here are a thousand proxies. Or as Sun Tzu wrote, “Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you. This will diminish his enthusiasm.

Tying up disproportionate resources in one battle is not prudent, particularly against a resilient enemy such as The Pirate Bay. “If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak,” Sun Tzu taught. “By reinforcing every part, he weakens every part.

The Pirate Bay, however, is a unique case. Having lost so many battles, they now operate from a position of strength. The site isn’t invincible but there are many softer targets that produce more bang for content providers’ buck – and less embarrassment when it all comes to nothing – again.

When everything is said and done, setting out to achieve anything significant in piracy is a gamble. Sun Tzu probably has something to say about that too, but a Chinese proverb explains things perfectly. It’s a plan that should never be deviated from, if survival needs to be ensured.

If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.

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

FACT Partner Up With UK Copyright Troll Outfit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fact-partner-up-with-uk-copyright-troll-outfit-200101/

The Federation Against Copyright Theft, or FACT as it’s more commonly known, has developed a reputation for cracking down on mostly video-based piracy in the UK.

During its recent history, FACT has worked on behalf of the Premier League, Sky, and BT Sport, among others. FACT’s activities in this respect have been fairly broad, from tackling IPTV providers and sellers, creators and distributors of Kodi add-ons, to bringing prosecutions against pub landlords who show live football without an appropriate license.

Recently, however, it appears that FACT has struck up a partnership with H&B Administration LLP, a company closely connected to controversial copyright-trolling activities in the UK.

Given FACT’s traditional modus operandi, of not targeting end-users but going after suppliers and facilitators, the pairing comes as a surprise, to say the least. We recently contacted FACT with a request for comment on the partnership but we received no response.

News of the partnership was made public in a filing to the UK’s Companies House, which reveals that FACT Worldwide Ltd became a member of H&B Administration LLP on September 11, 2019.


The addition of FACT means that the LLP now has four officers – the (in)famous Robert Croucher, FACT Worldwide Ltd, Hatton & Berkeley Management Ltd, and TCYK LLC – the company behind the Robert Redford movie, The Company You Keep.

H&B previously targeted UK Internet subscribers demanding cash settlements on behalf of TCYK while making various grand anti-piracy announcements that never lived up to their billing. On November 5, 2019, Companies House described H&B Administration LLP as a “dormant company”.

While FACT didn’t respond to our request for comment, Hatton and Berkeley founder Robert Croucher previously told us that the purpose of H&B Administration LLP is to provide an “insured and administrative wrapper” to mitigate risk when suing pirates.

“I can say that these type of proceedings [cases against alleged infringers] are to be wrapped with an insurance policy hereon providing a level of risk mitigation to rights holders seeking reparation for damages sought at trial,” Croucher said.

Quite why FACT has decided to get into bed with H&B remains open to question but if Croucher’s explanation still stands, limiting risk during litigation is a potential plus for the company.

FACT CEO Kieron Sharp is now listed on H&B’s website as part of the team there conducting “civil and criminal enforcement.” Given FACT’s client base of well-known companies such as the Premier League, Sky and BT Sport – all of which have plenty of funds available for their own litigation, even if a case or two went wrong – the news of the partnership with H&B is indeed curious.

That being said, FACT Worldwide’s latest set of accounts may indicate a need for financial caution.

To the year ended December 31, 2018, FACT Worldwide’s revenues were £1,343,310, resulting in a gross profit of £201,907. However, after administrative expenses were deducted, the company made an operating loss of £393,115.

The accounts also reveal that on May 1, 2019, the company underwent a financial restructuring. A company called Global Due Diligence Limited, which gave FACT Worldwide a loan of £1,428,500, repayable in 4.5 years’ time, also acquired 70% of FACT Worldwide’s share capital.

The big remaining question is whether the image of FACT as a strictly professional targeter of piracy facilitators will be blended or indeed confused with H&B’s less palatable penchant for targeting the man in the street, and whether public perceptions of the parties will be adjusted to suit.

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

TorrentFreak’s 19 Most Read Articles of 2019

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrentfreaks-19-most-read-articles-of-2019-191231/

Every year we write over 800 articles here at TorrentFreak, and some are more popular than others.

On the brink of the new year, we look back at 2019 by going over the 19 most read news items of the year.

All in all, it was quite a controversial year once again. There were some very prominent enforcement actions and shutdowns, with Xtream Codes, Openload, Gears Reloaded, CotoMovies, Vaders and many others being targeted.

In addition, there was a lot of interest in leaks as well, especially those of Avengers: Endgame and screeners of the TV-shows American Gods, The 100, Bless This Mess, and Knightfall.

But what will 2020 bring?

1. Xtream Codes IPTV System Targeted in Massive Police Operation

Police in Italy announced a huge anti-piracy operation against the company operating popular IPTV service management system Xtream Codes. Searches were conducted in several countries including Italy, the Netherlands, France and Bulgaria, in a claimed effort to dismantle the company’s entire infrastructure.

2. Avengers: Endgame Leaks Online in China, Begins to Spread

Just hours after Avengers: Endgame premiered in China, a cammed copy appeared online. Data reviewed by TorrentFreak revealed that the movie was initially shared by exclusively China-based torrent users, but it soon spread all over the world.

3. Gears Reloaded: FBI Just Took Everything, Says Pirate IPTV Boss OMI IN A HELLCAT

YouTube sensation and founder of ‘pirate’ IPTV Gears Reloaded ‘OMI IN A HELLCAT’ said he was raided by the FBI who “took everything”, including his huge car collection. According to him, the FBI are investigating a variety of issues including the IPTV service, tax filings, and money laundering.

4. Openload and Streamango Shut Down by Anti-Piracy Alliance ACE

Openload, one of the largest file-hosting sites on the Internet, agreed to shut down its service. Openload.co and several related domains, including Streamango, were taken over by global anti-piracy coalition ACE.

5. The Xtream Codes IPTV Takedown is Complex and Confused

The international law enforcement action against Xtream Codes and what appear to be several entities using its services, turned out to be a complex affair.

6. Which VPN Services Keep You Anonymous in 2019?

Our yearly overview of the logging policies and other privacy and security features of dozens of VPN providers.

7. Reddit KOs Piracy-Focused MMA Community, Ex-UFC Fighter Gets The Blame

Reddit banned its popular /r/mmastreams sub-Reddit. Following numerous copyright infringement complaints, the 165,000 member community must now find a new home. After a controversial Twitter outburst, some believed that an ex-UFC fighter should shoulder part of the blame.

8. Piracy App ‘CotoMovies’ Shuts Down, Apologizes, and Exposes Users

Popular movie piracy app CotoMovies shut down following legal pressure. The app’s developer issued an apology to filmmakers while urging former users to switch to legal services instead. CotoMovies further stated that it would transfer user data to the copyright holders.

9. Pirated Promo Screeners of ‘American Gods’ and Other TV-Shows Leak Online

Unreleased episodes of several high-profile TV-shows including American Gods, The 100, Bless This Mess, and Knightfall leaked online. The leaks came from promotional screeners, some of which carried revealing watermarks.

10. RARBG Adds .EXE Files to Torrents, But No Need to Panic

RARBG began adding what first appear to be .exe files to their torrents. Considering that these executables are often linked to malware, some people started to panic.

11. The Pirate Bay is Trialing High-Quality Video Streaming Links

In addition to traditional magnet links, many Pirate Bay titles started to feature a streaming button, which allows users to stream movies and TV shows directly in the browser on a new site called BayStream.

12. Disney+ Launched and Pirates Love It, Especially Mandalorian

When Disney’s exclusive streaming service launched millions of users signed up. However, others went to pirate sites instead. For some, this is the only way to watch the highly anticipated Mandalorian series.

13. Top Torrent Site 1337x Blocked By MalwareBytes For Alleged ‘Fraud’

1337x.to, one of the world’s most popular torrent sites, was blocked by anti-malware company MalwareBytes. The tool claimed that 1337x is engaged in “fraud” and that it tries to steal people’s information or credit card details.”

14. Torrent Paradise Creates Decentralized ‘Pirate Bay’ With IPFS

A developer going by the handle ‘Urban Guacamole’ launched Torrent-Paradise, a torrent index that is powered with IPFS. Short for InterPlanetary File System, IPFS is a decentralized network where users make files available among each other.

15. The Pirate Bay’s Stuck in Time, No New Uploads

The Pirate Bay’s upload functionality broke down for several days. This meant that users were unable to upload any new torrents to the site.

16. Vader: Large ‘Pirate’ IPTV Provider Shuts Down, Promises to Protect Customers

Vader, one of the leading providers of pirate IPTV services, shut down. The service insisted that no customer information would fall into the wrong hands. It was later revealed that the platform was targeted by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.

17. ‘Pirate’ Site Manga Rock Starts Shutdown, Will Go Legal

The massively popular manga comic scanlation platform Manga Rock announced its pending shutdown. The site’s operators say that they now realize how much damage piracy does. They are committed to relaunching as an authorized service, MR Comics, in the near future.

18. The Pirate Bay Moves to a Brand New Onion Domain

The Pirate Bay ditched its old and mostly unreadable Onion domain for something more recognizable and potentially more permanent. The switch was reported to TorrentFreak after Pirate Bay proxy sites noticed extended downtime on the old domain.

19. Bandersnatch is a Pirate Hit Without Interactivity, But They’re Missing Out

Netflix released Bandersnatch. The latest installment of the Black Mirror series was interactive, allowing viewers to make choices. One of the big questions is whether the format poses a big challenge for pirates to replicate.

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

Piracy Highlights of The Decade: From Limewire to IPTV

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-highlights-of-the-decade-from-limewire-to-iptv-191230/

Early 2010, the online piracy ecosystem looked entirely different from what it does today.

IPTV and pirate streaming boxes had yet to reach the masses. Limewire was still the preferred piracy app for millions, while torrent sites such as BTJunkie, isoHunt and Mininova were dominating in terms of traffic.

Today, Limewire is a distant memory and the aforementioned torrent sites have all gone. Many other things have changed too. In this article, we will highlight some of the most pivotal events of the past ten years.

Bear in mind that this is by no means an exhaustive overview. It does, however, show that much has changed over the past ten years.


The decade started with positive news for Alan Ellis, the operator of the defunct private music tracker OiNK. The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict and Ellis walked free.

Not much later the final verdict in The Pirate Bay case was revealed. The Swedish Court of Appeal sentenced Peter Sunde to eight months in prison, Fredrik Neij received a 10-month sentence, and Carl Lundström four months. Pirate Bay co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm did not appear but was later sentenced to a year in prison.

Later that year there was bad news for Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four, who lost her case against the RIAA. Following a re-trial, Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay $1.5 million for 24 songs she shared via Kazaa. This verdict was appealed and eventually reduced to $222,000 by the Appeals Court.

In October a US federal court also sided with the RIAA in its battle against the Gnutella-based download client LimeWire. The world’s most popular file-sharing application shut down soon after.

In November 2010, the US Government launched “Operation in Our Sites,” through which it seized several domain names of alleged pirate sites including torrent search engine Torrent-Finder. Years later, the DoJ also dropped its case against the torrent search engine and returned the domain name.

Another domain that was targeted by the feds was from Ninjavideo. This eventually resulted in several criminal indictments. Operation In Our Sites continued throughout the rest of the decade, taking down millions of domain names, mostly related to counterfeiting.

2010 also marked the start of the so-called ‘copyright-trolling’ lawsuits against alleged BitTorrent users in the US, which are still ongoing today. The first lawsuits, including one from the makers of The Hurt locker, targeted tens of thousands of people at once.


After pressure from the entertainment industries, Google started to censor piracy-related keywords from its instant and autocomplete services. Keywords such as “The Pirate Bay” and “RapidShare” were excluded. This marked the start of a series of anti-piracy initiatives, including downranking of pirate domains in search results.

In March, President Obama’s “IP Czar” Victoria Espinel laid the foundations for PIPA and SOPA, calling on Congress to make changes in order to make it easier to clamp down on copyright infringement. Both bills were heavily protested in the months that followed.

Europe witnessed one of the largest piracy-related busts in history. The popular movie streaming portal Kino.to was shut down and a dozen people connected to the site were arrested.

Richard O’Dwyer, the then 23-year-old UK-based administrator of TVShack was arrested by police. In the year that followed, the admin successfully fought off an extradition request from the U.S.

Megaupload released the Megaupload song, where superstar artists including P Diddy, Will.i.am, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, and Kanye West promoted the site.


The new year started, with the historic SOPA and PIPA protests that carried over from 2011. Eventually, both bills were defeated.

News headlines were also dominated by the Megaupload raid and the indictment against the “Mega Conspiracy.” The criminal investigation disrupted the file-hosting business and today, Kim Dotcom and several former colleagues still await the final decision regarding possible extradition to the US.

BTjunkie, one of the largest BitTorrent indexes at the time, decided to shut down voluntarily. A combination of legal actions against fellow file-sharing sites and time-consuming projects was cited as reasons for the drastic decision.

The founder of NinjaVideo, one of the first domains to be targeted in the ongoing Operation in Our Sites campaign, was sentenced for conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. Hana Beshara, was sentenced to 22 months in prison. Several other accomplices received lesser sentences.

The Pirate Bay made dozens of headlines as well. The infamous BitTorrent site removed torrents for popular releases and moved to the .SE domain name to avoid a possible US domain name seizure, which never came.

The Pirate Bay was also blocked by UK ISPs following a High Court order. Nonetheless, the site saw a huge increase in traffic.


The Motion Picture Association won its piracy lawsuit against file-hosting site Hotfile, which agreed to pay a $80 million settlement. However, this figure mostly served to impress and scare the public, as both parties settled the matter for ‘only’ $4 million behind closed doors.

Kim Dotcom launched Mega as the successor to the defunct Megaupload. Mega billed itself as “The Privacy Company” and remains popular today despite the fact that its founder cut ties with the file-hosting service.

The MPAA and RIAA, helped by five major Internet providers in the United States, launched their “six-strikes” Copyright Alert System. After five or six warnings ISPs could take a variety of repressive measures to deter pirates. The system eventually shut down four years later.

Netflix revealed that piracy is more than a competitor. The company’s then Vice President of Content Acquisition revealed that they keep an eye on what’s popular on file-sharing platforms to determine what TV-series to buy. This apparently worked well, as Netflix also mentioned that it was killing BitTorrent traffic.

Torrent search engine isoHunt settled its legal battle with the MPAA for $110 million. The site’s owner, Gary Fung, decided to throw in the towel after fighting Hollywood for several years. Soon after the shutdown a copycat site appeared, which took over many of the site’s regular visitors.

Law firm Prenda was caught uploading their own torrents to The Pirate Bay, creating a honeypot for the people they later sued over pirated downloads. The accusation was first published here on TorrentFreak, based on input from the Pirate Bay. This would later turn into a criminal case.


A new app named Popcorn Time became an instant hit by offering BitTorrent-powered streaming inside an easy-to-use Netflix-style interface. After being chased by lawyers, developers shut it down after a few weeks, saying that they wanted to move on with their lives. By then the app had been forked by others, which took over distribution and continued to develop the project.

The Pirate Bay was pulled offline after Swedish police raided a data center near Stockholm. The police confiscated dozens of servers which many believed to belong to the notorious torrent site. Cryptic teasers aside, The Pirate Bay remained offline for nearly two months but later denied that police took anything useful.

The music and movie industries and several of the UK’s leading ISPs agreed on a deal to tackle Internet piracy. The arrangement would see the BPI and MPA monitoring people sharing files illegally and the ISPs sending them “escalating” warning letters. It would take until 2017 before the first warnings were sent out.

Sony was hacked, revealing all sorts of inside scoops from the company. Among other things, leaked documents revealed in detail how Hollywood planned to take on piracy in the years to come. Several unreleased Sony movies also ended up on pirate sites.


Popular TV-torrent distribution group EZTV shut down. After losing key domain names and data in a hostile takeover, EZTV founder NovaKing called it quits. The group’s retirement marked the end of an era in which the EZTV brand became synonymous with TV-torrents. Today, the brand still persists, but it’s a copycat that is not affiliated with the original group.

The first four episodes of the new Game of Thrones season leaked online a day before the official premiere. The leak triggered a download spree but the real piracy boom came a few weeks later when Game of Thrones set the all-time swarm record with 258,131 people simultaneously sharing a single torrent of the season finale. That record still stands today.

The Stockholm District Court ordered the seizure of both thepiratebay.se and piratebay.se domains, arguing that they were linked to copyright crimes. Responding to the decision, the torrent site started rotating to a bunch of new domains, including thepiratebay.GS, LA, VG, AM, MN and GD.

After being one of Hollywood’s biggest arch-rivals, YTS/YIFY signed an unprecedented agreement with the movie industry. Instead of going to trial, the MPAA signed a deal with YIFY’s operator, ending a multi-million dollar lawsuit before it really got started. The YTS/YIFY name is still out there today, but any sites carrying it have nothing to do with the original.

A 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. This was the start of several similar piracy liability lawsuits.

On and before Christmas, high-quality screener copies of some of the hottest Hollywood productions appeared online. Some titles, including The Hateful Eight, even appeared before their official theatrical release. Hive-CM8, the group that was responsible for these leaks, later apologized.


A criminal investigation by the U.S. Government brought down KickassTorrents, the largest torrent site at the time. As a result, millions of people were left without their favorite torrent site. A group of former site staffers later launched their own version of KickassTorrents.

Torrentz.eu, one of the world’s largest torrent sites, announced “farewell” to its millions of users. The meta-search engine, which hosted no torrents of its own but linked to other sites including The Pirate Bay, decided to cease its operations. Soon after, the unaffiliated Torrentz2.eu jumped in to fill the gap.

After months of domain hopping, The Pirate Bay moved back to its original .org domain. The torrent site moved away from it years earlier to avoid a possible seizure, but instead, all alternative domains were either seized or suspended.

The private music tracker What.cd, arguably the world’s most comprehensive library of digital music, shut down. The site went offline after several of its servers were raided by French military police. The local music industry group SACEM later confirmed that the law enforcement efforts were part of a criminal investigation.

Two principals of the copyright-trolling Prenda law firm were arrested by the feds. The duo were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, and perjury. As mentioned earlier, The Pirate Bay played a key role in the case.

A new report from piracy tracking firm MUSO revealed that the piracy landscape continued to evolve. There was a clear shift from torrents to direct download and streaming sites. Interestingly, traffic to private trackers remained relatively stable.

Pirate streaming boxes and the Kodi media player software began making headlines. In the UK, police carried out raids targetting several resellers. Concerned about piracy, the Kodi team announced legal action against those who use its name to promote infringing activity. Soon after, Kodi itself was banned by Amazon over piracy concerns.


Torrent site ExtraTorrent shut down ‘voluntarily.’ The abrupt decision was announced in a brief message posted on the site’s homepage and came as a complete surprise to many friends and foes. ExtraTorrent’s distribution groups ettv and EtHD remained active and launched their own website.

Several prominent entertainment industry organizations launched the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), a huge anti-piracy coalition featuring not only MPAA members, but companies like Amazon, Netflix, CBS, HBO, and the BBC. In the years that followed, the group filed several lawsuits against pirate streaming box vendors including TickBox and Set-TV.

Popular anime torrent site NYAA lost control over several of its domain names. Several people later pointed out that NYAA’s owner had decided to close the site voluntarily.

YouTube-MP3, the world’s leading YouTube-ripping site at the time, agreed to shut down and hand over its domain to the RIAA. A private settlement agreement, including an undisclosed payment, put an end to the copyright infringement lawsuit filed by several major record labels a year earlier.

Mininova, once the biggest torrent site on the Internet, decided to shut down. The site had lost nearly all of its traffic after a Dutch court ordered it to remove all copyright infringing torrents in 2009.

The Pirate Bay started using the computer resources of its visitors to mine Monero coins. This resulted in a heated debate. Supporters saw it as a novel way to generate revenue and an opportunity to replace ads, while opponents went out of their way to block the mining script.

Sci-Hub, often referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” lost two court battles. Following a $15 million defeat against Elsevier, the American Chemical Society won a default judgment of $4.8 million in copyright damages. Despite the verdicts, the site remains widely accessible today.

The streaming piracy threat really became apparent when the Motion Picture Association described illegal streaming devices as “Piracy 3.0.” These devices offer a Netflix-like experience to consumers, but without rightsholders getting paid.

Kodi add-on repository TVAddons disappeared. It later became clear that the site’s founder was being sued in the US and Canada. The US lawsuit filed by Dish Networks was settled but the Canadian action remains ongoing.

After the initial disappearance, TVAddons returned with a more curated site.


Demonoid went offline. During the summer the site started to suffer downtime and later on it vanished completely. The site’s owner, Deimos also went missing around the same time. A few months later we heard that Deimos had passed away.

Nintendo filed a complaint at a federal court in Arizona, accusing LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co of massive copyright and trademark infringement. The operators, a married couple, eventually agreed to a $12 million settlement in favor of the game developer.

The ad-free and privacy-focused torrent site “SkyTorrents” became a victim of its own success. With millions of pageviews per day, the site was too expensive to manage, leaving the operator with no other option than to shut it down.

Terrarium TV – one of the most-loved ‘pirate’ applications for Android – ceased operating for good. Developer NitroXenon later informed TorrentFreak that, if required, he’d give up user data to the authorities.

The copyright trolling epidemic remained ongoing, but there is pushback as well. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reached a verdict in Cobbler Nevada v. Gonzales. The Court ruled that identifying the registered subscriber of an IP-address by itself is not enough to argue that this person is also the infringer. The order also affected several other cases.


A group of former Demonoid staffers launched a new torrent site to keep the legacy of founder Deimos alive. While the original Demonoid is not coming back, the new site aims to offer a new home to those who miss the defunct torrent tracker.

As detailed just a few days ago, 2019 also saw numerous enforcement actions and shutdowns against pirate sites and services. The most prominent, including those targeted at Xtream Codes, Openload, Gears Reloaded, Cotomovies, and Vader are detailed here. These actions also show an increased focus on streaming sites and apps, including IPTV.

Two attorneys behind the controversial ‘copyright trolling’ law firm Prenda were found guilty. They were the masterminds behind the fraudulent scheme that extracted settlements from alleged pirates. They repeatedly lied to the court and operated a pirate honeypot.

John Steele was sentenced to a five-year prison term and Paul Hansmeier received a 14-year sentence, which is under appeal.

Disney launched its new streaming platform which immediately gained millions of subscribers. While more legal platforms may sound positive, there are also concerns that more fragmentation will do little to curb piracy. Instead, people may be tempted to return to unauthorized sites and tools, as they can’t or don’t want to sign up for a handful of subscription services.

At the and of a decade where the piracy masses moved from direct downloading and torrents to streaming-based tools, none other than The Pirate Bay appears to have jumped on the streaming bandwagon as well. The notorious torrent site now links to the new streaming service Baystream, which allows people to stream videos directly in the browser.

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

Game of Thrones is the Most Torrented TV-Show of 2019

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/game-of-thrones-is-the-most-torrented-tv-show-of-2019-191228/

Since the release of the first episode back in 2011, Game of Thrones has conquered the hearts of many people. Unfortunately for HBO, not all of those fans enjoyed it through legal channels.

For several years Game of Thrones has been the most pirated TV-show. This year, when the final season aired, the interest was once again overwhelming.

As highlighted in the past, Game of Thrones is good for many millions of downloads per week. The show is so popular on pirate sites that it visibly boosted traffic this year.

This will be the last year that the HBO show tops the chart though. The series has ended which means that the most-torrented title will be up for grabs in 2020. There are a few strong contenders for this spot, including Disney’s The Mandalorian.

The Disney-exclusive show is listed in third place this year but whether it will maintain its momentum remains to be seen. This year’s numbers may in part be boosted by the fact that Disney+ is not available globally yet.

The Walking Dead saw a dip in official TV ratings and has been passed in the ‘pirate’ list by a few shows including The Big Bang Theory and newcomer Chernobyl. The latter did very well as a mini-series, but won’t return in the coming years.

It’s worth noting that BitTorrent traffic only makes up a small portion of the piracy landscape. A lot of people use streaming sites and services nowadays, which generally do not report viewing stats.

Below we have compiled a list of the most torrented TV-shows worldwide (single episode). The ranking is based on several sources, including statistics reported by public BitTorrent trackers. Full season downloads are not included.

Most downloaded TV-shows on BitTorrent, 2019

ranklast yearshow
1(…)Game of Thrones
3(…)The Mandalorian
4(3)The Big Bang Theory
6(1)The Walking Dead
7(2)The Flash
8(…)Rick and Morty

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