Tag Archives: Opinion

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.

2010

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.

2011

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.

2012

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.

2013

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.

2014

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.

2015

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.

2016

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.

2017

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.

2018

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.

2019

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
torrentfreak.com
1(…)Game of Thrones
2(…)Chernobyl
3(…)The Mandalorian
4(3)The Big Bang Theory
5(4)Vikings
6(1)The Walking Dead
7(2)The Flash
8(…)Rick and Morty
9(…)Supergirl
10(6)Arrow

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

Funding a Pirate Business’s Lawsuit is Mostly Unpopular With Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/funding-a-pirate-businesss-lawsuit-is-mostly-unpopular-with-pirates-191226/

For as long as there have been torrent sites, streaming platforms, ‘pirate’ apps, download sites, services, and any variation thereof, there have been lawsuits attempting to hinder, paralyze, or shut them down.

It’s hardly breaking news to state that defending such legal action can be a punishing affair, not just emotionally but financially too. Usually brought by powerful entertainment companies and broadcasters, anyone tackling the above needs not only a steely disposition but also the deepest of deep pockets.

As a result, people facing lawsuits for operating such platforms have regularly run fundraisers, invariably claiming that they need huge sums of money to battle what are frequently depicted as marauding copyright bullies intent on destroying the free Internet.

While in some cases that might be at least partially true, many rely on the same language as their aggressors in an effort to rally the masses to part with their cash. In some cases people have a reasonable argument. In others they do not.

Nevertheless, these situations are always interesting, particularly when one factors in the response from the public.

Platforms that have always provided a free service, for example, are often considered more worthy of a donation when it comes to fighting ‘Goliath’. The same can be said of those who operated in a perceived gray area, such as unblocking platforms that have never offered any copyright works, or dual-use open-source projects.

Indeed, one rarely needs to be in receipt of a law degree to assess a platform and decide whether the litigation at hand is warranted or a true case of bullying that warrants a bit of moral and financial support. Equally, spotting the most ridiculous of ’causes’ shouldn’t be hard for anyone.

For example, take the matter of iStreamItAll that is currently trying to raise $10,000 via a GoFundMe campaign to battle Hollywood and the US Government.

“We need all the help we can to fight Hollywood, and the federal charges brought upon one of the owners Darryl Polo. Any help would be appreciated and will go towards our legal defense,” it reads.

Ignoring the not insignificant fact that the defendants have already pleaded guilty, $10,000 won’t go anywhere in a case like this. It would take perhaps several hundred thousand dollars to fight in any meaningful way but it would be money down the drain – people do not easily win cases like this in the US. That’s why there are others that are aiming higher – a lot higher.

A couple of months ago we reported on the case of Boom Media, a full-blown pirate IPTV reselling business that is now being sued by DISH Networks in the United States. Boom Media is asking for $250,000 in donations to get things started in what is being portrayed as a battle to prevent DISH getting its hands on subscriber data.

If the broadcaster does get what it wants (and to be fair this seems likely) that could mean subscribers to the service receiving demands for cash settlements. This, of course, is somewhat akin to copyright-trolling, with low-level users being pursued for thousands of dollars to make supposed lawsuits go away.

That’s why the response to this plea for donations was of particular interest. Even when scouring the usual ‘pirate’ haunts, discussions, forums and chats, finding a supporting voice for the fundraiser is particularly hard.

The general consensus seems to be that this was a business that has never shared a single penny of its profits with its users yet is now asking for donations to fight off a lawsuit on the basis that doing so will prevent subscribers’ details ending up on the desks of DISH lawyers. The irony, particularly when viewed in the light of copyright trolls’ actions in general, is not difficult to spot.

Companies like Boom Media knew very well what they were doing. They knew the consequences of running a pirate IPTV service or selling access to one. Lawsuits like this one should’ve been expected, prepared for, with litigation costs factored in as a cost of doing business. You know, like regular properly-run businesses do every day.

That the costs of keeping user data safe should now fall to the users of those services, some of whom will have had no idea that Boom wasn’t legitimate, is as offensive to users as the copyright holders complaining about their activities. But for other users, who knew they were buying into a cheap “black market” service (Boom’s own words), there should be zero surprises that this was a potential outcome.

Paying the company’s legal fees, which will then get swallowed up by lawyers in a case that cannot be reasonably won, is the choice of the donor. But the fact is that these fundraisers rarely raise any notable funds and in every case – every case – donors get absolutely nothing back, not even a free subscription in the million to once chance the service reappears offering the same thing.

This isn’t really about fighting for freedom, for the Internet, or helping David beat an evil Goliath, it’s about supporting people who knew from the start that what they were doing was illegal and now want yet more money to bail them out of a hole. And from the dozens of posts we’ve read on the topic, pirates everywhere know that and do not appreciate it.

All pirates have their causes, from the lowly “media is too expensive” to the militant “sticking it to the man”. But funding a for-profit ‘pirate’ LLC’s fight against a for-profit broadcaster which is also an LLC is clearly not on most pirates’ agendas.

Funny that….

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

BitTorrent Tokens: The Last Minute Christmas Gift, Now Extortionate on eBay

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bittorrent-tokens-the-last-minute-christmas-gift-now-extortionate-on-ebay-191225/

It’s December 25, 2019, so Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best to everyone from us here at TorrentFreak, wherever you may be and whatever you may be celebrating.

Sadly, for some of you today it won’t all be fun and games. Some will experience an awful sinking feeling, one prompted by the arrival of an unexpected guest bearing an equally unexpected Christmas card or, worse still, one accompanied by a Christmas gift, all beautifully wrapped with a little bow on top.

You won’t have prepared for this so panic will quickly set in. You’ll probably have a spare card you can quickly scribble on but no appropriate gift. This will cause acute embarrassment and raised blood pressure. Will a hastily prepared turkey sandwich or glass of wine suffice, or will something more substantial be required?

First of all, calm down. After assessing the value of the incoming gift, you can head off to Amazon to send an emailed gift card of roughly equivalent value. However, if your gift-bearer is a file-sharer, there is a more novel option.

As readers will be aware, earlier this year BitTorrent Inc. launched its BTT token. Reportedly, these could be earned in the new uTorrent client by seeding lots of content and then spent to obtain faster torrent downloads elsewhere. We couldn’t find much evidence of anyone earning much or getting faster transfers but since when did an emergency gift have to be useful?

The problem here, however, is that you need some BTT now – right now – so how can that be achieved without panic-seeding terabytes of content and hoping for the best?

Easy. Quickly log into eBay and buy some.

As the image above shows, it is possible to buy 45,000 BTT tokens in one go. Think about it – your guest brought only one gift, so they can’t fail to be impressed by the scale of your offering. Unless they get out a calculator and realize what a scam this is.

While the deodorant gift set, socks, wine, or chocolates you’re trying to balance out are probably worth much less than €89.99 (US$100.44), the BTT haul on offer here represents such poor value it’s an absolute joke, and not a very funny one either.

As the image below shows, at the time of writing BTT tokens are worth less than $0.0003 each.

…..which means that 45,000 of them are worth around $12.78 (€11.45). Clearly, this is a massive profit for the numerous people on eBay offering to sell them, even when factoring in your gift vulnerability situation on Christmas Day.

But there are other problems too. While it may look like the BTT are up for sale, what you’re actually buying is a “contract to mine” BTT. The issue here is that unlike bitcoin or similar cryptocurrencies, there is no mining involved with the BTT utility token. They cannot be mined.

The bottom line here is that while 45,000 BTT may sound like a lot – even at $12.78 for this huge amount – they currently aren’t a particularly useful commodity. According to even the most experienced users who seed massive amounts of content constantly, it’s hard if not impossible to earn BTT and downloads don’t run noticeably faster when people spend them either.

This is a mystery that even torrent experts have puzzled over for months but this week a tweet from BitTorrent Inc. inadvertently revealed the root of the problem. When the BTT-powered BitTorrent Speed project was announced, CEO of BitTorrent Inc. Justin Sun said that “more than 100 million users” would soon reap the benefits.

However, it seems that interest in BTT is so minimal that meeting up with other BTT-powered users in a swarm is extremely unlikely.

This almost complete lack of interest in BTT may yet turn around but as Christmas presents go, this token won’t set hearts racing in 2019. So to avoid embarrassment today, you should’ve kept a few blank Christmas cards back, pre-wrapped several bottles of half-decent wine, while continually reminding yourself never to panic-buy gifts off eBay.

Especially ones you can’t return when you sober up.

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

Karl Pilkington Shares a Pirated Copy of His Own TV-Show

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/karl-pilkington-shares-a-pirated-copy-of-his-own-tv-show-191119/

UK entertainment giant Sky is widely known for taking a hard line on everything piracy related.

In recent years the company has chased vendors of pirate subscriptions and hardware, both in and outside of court.

These efforts are meant to signal to the public that piracy, streaming piracy in particular, will not be tolerated. However, this message has apparently not hit home with one of the company’s own stars, Karl Pilkington.

Pilkington is an actor, comedian, and presenter who is widely known for “An Idiot Abroad,” the Sky 1 travel series with a comedic twist. He also worked with Sky on the documentary “The Moaning of Life” and more recently he ventured into the sitcom arena with the series “Sick of It”, again at Sky.

Sick of It is about to premiere its second season and to give his 1.5+ million fans on Facebook something to get in the mood, Pilkington recently decided to share an episode of the show from last year.

That usually isn’t a problem. However, Sky doesn’t share the show for free and only offers it on-demand but that didn’t prove to be too much of a hurdle for the show’s co-writer, who found a freely accessible streaming copy on Vimeo.

“For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Here’s an episode. Series 2 soon,” Pilkington wrote.

This clearly isn’t an official release. The tags on the video reveal that this copy was sourced from a ‘scene’ group, PLUTONiUM in this case, and reuploaded to Vimeo by someone named Gary. The same person also shared a copy of the first episode through the same account.

This means that Pilkington is effectively sharing a pirated copy of his own show with over a million people. And since Sky holds at least some of the rights, that’s not supposed to happen.

The ‘mistake’ didn’t go unnoticed. Commenters on Facebook highlighted that it was a pirate release and the same was pointed out on Reddit, where many appreciated the unusual move.

The question is, of course, whether this is indeed a mistake or some kind of PR stunt. Giving over a million people a free teaser may draw in some extra eyeballs and if that’s picked up by the news, it means even more exposure.

However, when we look closer at Pilkington’s previous engagement on Facebook we started to notice a trend. Apparently, he’s keeping a close eye on the comments. When someone said that she wasn’t familiar with Sick of It, but would like to watch it, Pilkington kindly shared a link.

And that wasn’t the first time either. The show’s co-writer has been doing this for weeks, sharing the same link to everyone who shows interest. In particular, those who don’t have access to it.

To us, it appears that Pilkington means no harm and simply wants to get people to see his show. That makes sense. As a creator, you want people to enjoy what you’ve made. The fact that he’s sharing a pirated copy may not have even entered his mind.

Whether Sky will like this is another question of course. At the time of writing all links are still online, but it wouldn’t be a massive surprise if they are soon taken down. Technically, Pilkington is now a repeat infringer so he could even lose his Facebook account.

Unless he takes action before Sky does, of course.

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

KodiUKTV Considers its Future Following FACT Cease & Desist

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kodiuktv-considers-its-future-following-fact-cease-desist-191117/

This week, news began to filter through that the shutdown of a pair of Kodi add-on related resources had taken place under serious legal pressure.

KodiUKTV and OneNation weren’t specific in their announcements but TorrentFreak was able to confirm that the Federation Against Copyright Theft was behind both actions. Indeed, the anti-piracy group told us that other groups were targeted too but at this stage, we haven’t been able to identify them.

What we do know is at the end of October, FACT sent out cease and desist notices titled ‘Unauthorized Distribution of Film, Television and Sport Subject to Copyright’.

The letters stated that FACT investigators had established that the platforms were “providing or facilitating access without authorization, to broadcasts or premium pay channels” containing content belonging to Sky, BT Sport, and The Premier League.

Demanding an immediate end to “unlawful activity”, the notices added that “all infringing links, listings and information from webpages, social media and any other medium” should be permanently removed. If not, a criminal investigation might get underway.

A recipient of one of the cease-and-desist letters, Matt – founder of KodiUKTV – told us that if he’d have received a simple takedown notice at any point in the past, he would’ve been happy to investigate and take action if any add-on breached copyright. Instead, it appears that FACT went for straight for the jugular.

Part of the problem for Matt, at least from our discussions, is that he doesn’t believe he was doing anything wrong. His platform didn’t develop or host any add-ons but offered a tool so that Kodi users could download and install them from elsewhere.

“Ultimately it was at the risk of the add-on designers and end-users, should such add-ons contain possibly infringing content that we had absolutely no control over,” he explains.

Matt says that he contacted FACT within an hour of receiving their cease-and-desist notice with a request for more information. He also gave FACT a commitment that the site will not deal with add-ons or builds in the future. At the time of writing, he is yet to receive a response.

As a result and at least for now, his entire site remains down, which Matt feels is both disproportionate and frustrating since much of the content the site offered (guides etc) had nothing to do with any of the companies mentioned by FACT.

“We didn’t actually host anything for the add-on guys and we don’t make any add-ons ourselves. We just offered a place for people to put their add-ons to be installed by the end-user, which is very common for many repos,” Matt explains.

“This means we were just a hub for the community for help and guides. This was always my key focus for KODIUKTV – creating guides & voicing our opinion on issues within the community to help others.

“We do not want to kiss goodbye to the website and the community we have been so involved in over the past five years. We are hoping we can continue the website on a publication standpoint and move forward.”

The site was founded by Matt in 2014 after he found himself “tinkering” with XBMC (as Kodi was formerly known) on a Raspberry Pi, installing add-ons, and eventually coming up with a ‘build’

“I’ve always been interested in publications & running a media site. So once the community started to rise we needed a home for our guides and tutorials, our news, and even the odd giveaway over the years,” he explains.

“We grew at a rapid rate which gave me and the team a huge learning curve of what it took to manage and maintain a website/project of this size. We became the go-to for people looking for help.”

At KodiUKTV’s peak last year, Matt says it was receiving around eight million users per month, a figure that’s dropped a little this year to a still-impressive six million.

But with this growth has come problems, not only in respect of FACT and its clients, but with various claims against the site’s social media accounts, and even strikes against Matt’s personal pages that had nothing to do with the project. Now, however, he is hopeful that things can move forward.

Matt says he’s just a hobbyist doing what he loves, one that also cares about freedom on the Internet. He has no desire to get into a fight with big media companies and hopes this dispute with FACT can be dealt with quickly while keeping the community intact.

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

Disney Wants to Reinforce Its ‘Piracy Intelligence’ Team

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/disneys-seeking-to-reinforce-its-piracy-intelligence-team-191117/

This week Disney launched its new streaming platform which immediately gained millions of subscribers.

At the same time, there was plenty of interest in ‘unauthorized’ Disney+ releases on pirate sites, particularly in the exclusive Mandalorian series.

As one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, Disney is not new to piracy. It has dealt with this issue for decades. However, now that it operates its own exclusive platform there are other factors to take into account.

How do exclusive releases impact piracy rates, for example? And what is the effect on subscriber rates? How the interplay between legal and illegal supply affects revenues can be a complex and dynamic puzzle to solve.

What is clear is that Disney has the goal to minimize piracy. While it’s not publicized much, the company has a dedicated “piracy intelligence” team that continually keeps an eye on the piracy landscape.

Just recently, a new vacancy opened up, perhaps tied to the launch of Disney+. While there are few details available, Disney describes the team as follows:

“The Piracy Intelligence team at The Walt Disney Studios is based in Burbank and provides meaningful piracy insights to inform strategies that maximize revenue for the film and TV business and minimize the piracy impact.”

Disney is currently looking for a market research and data analyst, who will be responsible for supporting a variety of “piracy intelligence initiatives” and to “measure movie and TV viewing trends across digital media platforms.”

Unfortunately, there is not much information online about the goals and accomplishments of Disney’s anti-piracy team. TorrentFreak reached out to multiple contacts at the company, but thus far we have yet to receive a response.

It’s no secret, however, that major entertainment companies keep a close eye on the pirate landscape.

The enforcement side of this is often quite visible. This is also true for Disney. The company is a member of the global anti-piracy coalition ACE, which has filed several lawsuits and chases site owners and developers as well.

However, piracy “intelligence” can also be used as a valuable market signal. That aspect would be more in line with the “market research” and “data analyst” Disney is currently looking for.

This type of piracy use wouldn’t be unique. Previously we reported how Netflix uses piracy to figure out how much they can charge in a country, as well as what content they license. Similarly, Hulu uses piracy data to see what is popular among potential viewers.

Disney may use similar signals to determine how to best position Disney+ and what content it should offer to minimize piracy, and perhaps more importantly, maximize revenue.

While I have no intention of applying for the job, one free bit of advice is to make sure that Disney+ is available everywhere in the world. Right now, many people feel left out which makes pirated Disney+ exclusives quite tempting.

But I guess the intelligence team will notice that soon enough.

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

Disney+ Launched and Pirates Love It, Especially Mandalorian

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/disney-launched-and-pirates-love-it-especially-mandalorian-191113/

Two years ago, when Disney announced that it would launch its own streaming service, we mused that this would keep piracy relevant.

Yes, another paid streaming service would further fragment the legitimate market. This could motivate some to keep pirating, at least part-time.

More recently research has confirmed that this is indeed a warranted concern as people have limited budgets, but money isn’t the only problem.

When Disney confirmed that the initial rollout would be limited to the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, the piracy lure only became stronger. Star Wars fans in most parts of the world currently can’t watch the highly anticipated Mandalorian series, unless they pirate.

With this in mind, we kept a close eye on the official Disney+ launch this week. There was an enormous amount of media coverage which, undoubtedly, led to a lot of legitimate subscriptions. But, at the same time, pirate sites were buzzing too.

Shortly after Disney+ opened shop the first pirated releases started to spread. First through private communities and then over at public torrent sites, cyberlockers, and not-so-legal streaming platforms. After a few hours, pirated copies of the Mandalorian were everywhere.

This doesn’t really come as a surprise. Disney+ currently uses Widevine encryption, which is similar to what other streaming services use. Downloading or ‘ripping’ these videos doesn’t appear to be too hard.

And indeed, a quick glance at various pirate sites reveals that the first Mandalorian episode, which is exclusive to Disney+, is widely available in various formats.

Over the past two days, Mandalorian has already become the most pirated TV-show, with hundreds of thousands of downloads and streams, if not more. While it is far from becoming the next “Game of Thrones,” the potential is certainly there.

The fact that Disney+ isn’t available in many countries is similar to HBO’s situation when Game of Thrones first came out. This serves as a piracy incentive. After all, people who want to watch Mandalorian in the UK, Australia, and elsewhere, have few other options than to pirate.

The limited release of Disney+ may actually breed some new pirates. Even worse, there is a chance that many of these pirates may not go legal when the streaming service officially launches in their country.

For now, Disney’s anti-piracy efforts appear to be focused elsewhere though. The company has sent takedown requests for thousands of URLs that host or link to unauthorized copies of Mandalorian. This includes notices that were sent to Google, with requests to delist these pages.

As one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, these piracy concerns shouldn’t come as a surprise to Disney. The company probably weighed the pros and cons of its actions, including the limited geographical release, as well as entering an already fragmented streaming landscape.

In today’s online streaming business, piracy is a given. Disney probably believes that running its own streaming platform will ultimately bring in more money. Piracy or not.

They may very well be right, but it will happen at the expense of others. That may include some of Disney’s competitors, but also consumers who are not willing to pirate, and those who can’t afford another subscription.

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

Have Pirate IPTV Sellers on YouTube Lost Their Minds?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/have-pirate-iptv-sellers-on-youtube-lost-their-minds-191103/

Anyone who has followed piracy and copyright infringement issues for years or even decades, few developments fall into the ‘WOW’ category anymore.

That torrent and streaming services are still getting sued or raided is frankly daily fodder and after the military-style raid on Kim Dotcom hit the headlines, pretty much anything is possible.

Over the past couple of years, however, something so bizarre – so ridiculous – has been developing on sites like YouTube to make even the most outspoken of pirates raise an eyebrow or two. We’re talking about the rise of the IPTV seller and reseller ‘celebrities’ who are openly promoting their businesses like a regular company might.

As reported this week, IPTV reseller company Boom Media LLC is getting sued by DISH Networks and NagraStar in the United States. That another one of these outfits is being targeted isn’t a shock. However, when promotional YouTube videos are produced in court evidence, with the alleged owner of the company personally appearing in them stating that “it’s pirated f**cking streams. It’s no different than buying f**king knockoff shoes. It’s black market shit,” one has to wonder what the hell is going on.

So, just one person has allegedly done something reckless or ill-considered, right? Wrong. This type of behavior is neither isolated or rare.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sitting through hours of YouTube videos produced by people selling or reselling ‘pirate’ IPTV packages. In a worrying number, particularly given the popularity of their services, owners, founders, or ’employees’ of these outfits appear in person.

Their names are publicly known and in some cases, even their addresses. These are not small players, not by any stretch. In some cases, we’re talking huge numbers of followers and many hundreds of thousands of views, selling well-recognized services.

While in some cases hyperbole is clearly part of the pitch, it’s child’s play to find operators of these companies bragging about how much money they’ve made or are making, and how many customers they have. They speak to their subscribers, in person via live-streams, conduct detailed Q&A sessions, while ‘confirming’ the supposed legality of what they’re doing.

In a surprising number of cases, negative comments by users concerning legality are passed off as ridiculous, with sellers describing the sale of pirate IPTV subscriptions as residing in a gray area with the law powerless to do anything about it. While we could have a detailed argument here about the intricacies of any number of laws, both criminal and civil, and any potential defenses to them, these people appear to be missing the point.

Just this week, Openload – a true Internet giant with considerable resources – was pummeled into submission by dozens of the world’s largest content companies after agreeing to pay substantial damages. This was a file-hosting goliath being beaten up dozens of bigger goliaths. No face on YouTube required.

Another example can be found in Kim Dotcom, who says he has spent upwards of $40m in legal fees, even though, on the surface, many argue he has a solid legal basis for mounting a successful defense in the United States. But that’s $40,000,0000 already, before trial, an amount that will no doubt skyrocket in the event he ever gets sent there.

But here’s the thing. The majority of these IPTV ‘celebrities’, for want of a better term, are actually living in the United States already. It’s not necessary to name any of them, they do enough of that themselves. But in addition to their self-declared IPTV empires, some have significant and legitimate additional business interests too, which could all be put in jeopardy, one way or another, should the proverbial hit the fan.

In a piracy world where many are discussing anonymity, encryption, proxies, cryptocurrency payments, to name just a few, these people are deliberately making their identities known. They are not hiding away and as a result, they are known by anti-piracy groups who probably can’t believe their luck.

They not only have their real names and their own faces splashed across their own IPTV-based YouTube channels, but also channels that cover other aspects of their sometimes flamboyant lives. Anti-piracy groups don’t need investigators to find out who they are anymore, it’s common knowledge. An alias? Not parading yourself on the modern equivalent of TV? That’s soooo 1999, apparently.

The big question is whether these people really have lost their minds, or do they actually know something that most other people don’t? When did putting your own face in multiple videos, selling access to an admittedly pirated product via a company in your own name, become part of a solid business plan? It’s truly bizarre and cannot end well.

Welcome to 2019, it’s a truly strange place to be.

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

‘Sharing is Caring’ Once Described Piracy But Things Have Probably Changed

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sharing-is-caring-once-described-piracy-but-things-have-probably-changed-191020/

For those old enough to remember, the early days of what would become mainstream Internet piracy were an enlightening time to be around.

With few, if any, legal alternatives available, sharing music and later movies online offered an early and exciting glimpse into the future of media consumption.

The entertainment industries hated all kinds of piracy back then and they still hate it now, that’s not up for debate. But today, almost 20 years after peer-to-peer burst onto the scene, there’s mixed opinion even among pirates as to whether things have changed for the better.

TorrentFreak recently caught up with the former operator of a BitTorrent tracker that launched to the public in 2005. The site itself shut down before 2010, ostensibly after its operators decided family life was more important. Its founder tells us that was only part of the story – money was the real issue.

“When we got into this we started a quiet private club where people could share (and I do mean SHARE) stuff with each other,” he explains.

“The staff and members were squirrels gathering up nuts and whatnot and sharing them on the tracker. All of us could snatch what we wanted and didn’t even feel obliged to return the favor but we all did because we knew each other already and it just worked. Guess giving felt good as getting.”

With a few thousand members at its peak, the site was intentionally never big. Hosted on a free shared server with two other sites thanks to a friendly website designer, the limitations were in place right from the start. Unfortunately, the site’s users became restless. Other trackers were bigger, faster, easier to seed on, but more crucially had a wider range of content.

“Can’t tell you when precisely (a few years later) but we started to tear ourselves apart. Some of the best uploaders found other sites and drifted off which had a big effect on the rest of the site. We managed to find a couple of people who were willing to upload but they wanted new stuff in return and we didn’t have it.

“Someone with access to a pay dump offered to help but they wanted paying as well and I noped right out of paying for warez. Most of our rivals did and it hurt us.”

Even when the site got fresh content, that didn’t really help things either, the former admin says. Users with access to other sites uploaded the content on those immediately and some members didn’t like it and wanted it stopped. That didn’t sit right with the admin because behind the scenes his people were doing exactly the same. What they really needed was money to improve the site to get more people in, who would hopefully bring content with them.

“We stuck out for years not asking for donations but at the end of the day we were in limbo. You build this thing and you’re watching it die. There’s still no question in my mind that we should’ve let it die gracefully in its sleep but hindsight and all that.”

The donations helped for a while but the former admin says that things were never the same. He says that most of the time the amount coming in exceeded the running costs of the site which then made it “morally hard” to keep asking for money. However, he said donations were still requested regularly because when people got out of the habit of giving, they were hard to get back, especially when other sites were offering bang for their buck.

“Pay to leech. That was the beginning of the end for me and I still get emotional about it now. To keep up with [site names redacted] we had to boost [sharing] ratios. It was wrong. We’d gone from a family affair to barely more than a pay site. The older members felt they didn’t know us anymore but the newer ones seemed to want it and cultures clashed and I got the blame.”

So-called ‘pay-to-leech’ is a term most often used to explain how a torrent site can raise revenue by manipulating sharing ratios. If a site has enough seeders and excess upload bandwidth, users can pay to be exempted from strict sharing rules. While rules on various sites differ, in general terms it means that members can download content with relative impunity without giving back, i.e not sharing.

The former admin didn’t want to go into detail about what happened in the wake of the decision to start accepting donations but things didn’t go well. What he did reveal is that it changed the mood on the site. In exchange for their money, people flat-out demanded better service and became more and more vocal when they didn’t get it. They felt they’d paid for a service.

“We had angry posts in the forums with people pasting details of their donations and even private conversations about them with the moderators. I had my wee baby crying downstairs, a pissed-off girlfriend who I never saw and man babies crying on the site over a pittance. I took it and took it and took it and then one day a five minute chat on IRC later with another admin and i’d gone. ‘Here’s the keys to the frontdoor.’ Best thing i’d ever done.”

The striking thing about our discussion with the former admin is that he says that while arguments are commonplace on the Internet these days, they were the exception when his site was first launched. He says there was a sense of belonging to something special and people didn’t want to spoil it because they were not only part of it, they’d helped to create and maintain it too. These days, he complains, things are different because ‘sharing and caring’ have been forgotten.

“Is there a file-sharing family anymore because if there is I don’t know where to find them. People still share alright but it’s pictures of them or their food on Facebook and Instagram. You can’t find people sharing files for fun as we did back in the day because the cat’s out of the bag and it’s an earner and you can’t turn back the clock. Why do you think all the kids dumped torrents for upload sites unless it was about the payback?

“I don’t know if it’s me that’s stuck in the past and this had to happen for piracy to exist as it does now but it’s a shame because all I see now is greed. You tell me, but is sharing out of kindness almost dead?” he asked.

With an entirely different experience, millions of users and uploaders to The Pirate Bay and similar sites would probably beg to differ.

After more than 15 years online, people are still uploading content as they did in the early days, each with their own reason for doing so. The site is still widely accessible and people can take whatever they like for free. The site obviously makes money though, using ads and a crypto-miner, so money remains part of the loop.

More elitist and/or discerning users will always point to professionally organized private trackers as being more community-based, more reliable, much better organized, and with greater emphasis placed on quality control. Old-style sharing can still be found on many but they are certainly not immune to change and the pressures of commerce.

Invites, when they become available, are sometimes handed out for free but in an increasing number of cases, sites charge for the privilege. One can’t make sweeping statements about all of them because there are many and they’re secretive. However, there can be no doubt that a significant number have developed into money-making machines, both for their operators and in some cases their uploaders too.

That raises the question: is there any way to turn back the clock? Is there a way to remove money or other financial incentives out of the equation? With streaming, the most popular form of piracy currently, apparently not.

“You are not realistic,” the operator of a streaming site told TF.

“You write it every day that someone is arrested or blocked or PayPal closed. I can do this for nothing then. Nobody is doing this for nothing. Servers are free so show me where I can buy?”

The owner of a smaller public torrent site (who has operated several other piracy-focused sites in the past) was more talkative.

“My motivation is purely money related. I would not run any piracy related sites if they didn’t earn anything. Just too much risk involved,” he explained.

“Personal issues left me to rely on income from the sites to support my family. I would simply not run the sites if they didn’t make anything. Making money from piracy is so easy so that’s why I think people do it. Rarely you’ll see a site not using any ads. When I was younger things felt a lot different to what they do now. They don’t do it for the love now. But for the money.”

We posed similar questions to a long-standing major site operator – what motivates people to run torrent, hosting and streaming sites these days? He told us that the latter pair make “lots of money” but in respect of torrent sites, he believes there’s no point in running one anymore. The only exception would be for small sites that might still operate for ‘fun’ or on a break-even basis.

“[Some people might run] some small ones [for no profit] – sure – but the user base will be small because the time spent on development will be low,” he said.

For anyone running a bigger site, making nothing or even breaking even isn’t a realistic option, he added. Costs increase every month and if you don’t keep balancing the books, “it won’t work out.”

Ultimately, the operator insisted that going completely back to old-style “sharing is caring” won’t be possible. There’s a new type of demanding consumer out there that is very difficult and increasingly expensive to keep happy.

“That’s never going to happen. The Netflix generation is used to content ready to use, they don’t think about what’s involved in the process of reaching them.”

Tim Kuik of Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN says that he hasn’t seen platforms that aren’t in it for the money for a long time.

“Even if there are uploaders or subtitlers who do it for the kudos, the platforms they post on are making money out of it. We see illegal link aggregators that are supported by platforms that make money off downloaders or streamers by selling them higher download speed,” he says.

But for anti-piracy groups like BREIN, motivation probably doesn’t make much difference to the end result. Piracy is piracy and whatever drives it, it still means illegal content ends up online for free.

“Even if it were for a hobby, would that make it alright to cause damage with it?” Kuik asks.

But ultimately, in the final reckoning, do today’s consumers of pirated content even care what goes on behind the scenes financially, as long as they get it free or at least on the cheap?

One can’t put words into the mouths of millions of individuals but given the popularity of online piracy, especially the astronomic growth of premium IPTV, the suggestion is that largely, people don’t. In fact, for newer entrants to the piracy scene, the fact that people make money is probably the accepted standard.

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

International Day Against DRM 2019 Focuses on Education

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/international-day-against-drm-2019-focuses-on-education-191012/

The Free Software Foundation’s Defective by Design campaign International Day Against Digital Restrictions Management is here again.

It’s been 12 months since the campaign celebrated the 12th anniversary of its quest to prompt, pressure and prevent companies from restricting what we can do with legitimately bought content and products.

This year the main focus is perhaps the noblest to date – the right to an education.

“Defective by Design is calling on you to stand up against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) on the International Day Against DRM (IDAD) on October 12th, 2019,” the campaign site reads.

“This year we will be focusing specifically on everyone’s right to read, particularly by urging publishers to free students and educators from the unnecessary and cumbersome restrictions that make their access to necessary course materials far more difficult.”

The campaign homes-in on publishers including Pearson, which individually stands accused of placing “digital handcuffs” on students with a “Netflix-like” textbook model that requires constant Internet connections to validate purchases, limits how many pages of a title that can be read at a time, and monitors reading habits.

Defective By Design wants publishers to remove every piece of DRM from their educational materials, a lofty but particularly noble aim. There can be few students or educators out there who still believe that locking up papers, studies and similar material is the best way to impart knowledge and as a result, improve society.

Only time will tell whether that particular quest will bear fruit but reading the campaign’s notes one can’t help but feel there’s a mountain to climb in respect of the broader picture. While those with plenty of energy are invited to join in the chorus or even stage their own events, the section detailing how people can offer basic support is unintentionally depressing.

“The easiest way to participate is to join us in going a Day Without DRM, and resolve to spend an entire day (or longer!) without Netflix, Hulu, and other restricted services to show your support of the movement,” it reads.

“Document your experiences on social media using the tags ‘#idad’ or ‘#dbd,’ and let us know at [email protected] if you have a special story you’d like us to share.”

While a day without Netflix should be achievable, the site lists plenty of other companies that should be avoided, if one wants to seriously protest the spread of DRM. Doing without all of them will be a herculean task for any digital native.

For example, the black hole left by Netflix abstinence cannot be filled by listening to Spotify or Amazon Music, which are labeled by the campaign as “worst offenders” when it comes to DRM. Even with the benefit of music-free silence, people are encouraged not to use Amazon’s Kindle either.

It’s at this point you begin to realize how deeply entrenched DRM is and how difficult it will be to extract ourselves from it. The situation is further compounded when the list reveals that we should avoid using an iPad or indeed any Apple or Microsoft products.

Considering most desktop users are running Windows and millions of mobile users are Apple-based, spreading the hashtags ‘#idad’ or ‘#dbd’ on social media while strictly following the “boycott if possible” rules could rule out millions of participants. That is not what is needed today but so compromises will have to be made.

The moderately good news is that Android isn’t on the list as a “worst offender” but unfortunately it still incorporates DRM. And its developer, Google, has a page all of its own on the Defective By Design site, called out for being a promoter of DRM and for lobbying in favor of restrictive web standards.

We wish the International Day Against Digital Restrictions Management every success because very few people are still fighting this battle and the education element, in particular, is hard to understate. But in a world where profit trumps moral ideals at every turn, this war becomes more difficult to win with every passing year.

And in many cases, it’s arguably our own fault.

Support the 2019 campaign by visiting Defective By Design here

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

The Day Shall Come…When Content Companies Address the Streaming Farce

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-day-shall-come-when-content-companies-address-the-streaming-farce-191006/

Image result for chris morris
Credit: Petr Novák

British writer, director, and satirical genius Chris Morris has been body-slamming the media and establishment with biting dark, satirical comedy for decades in the UK.

With his groundbreaking The Day Today series and the polarizing but brilliant Brass Eye, Morris has established himself as a force to be reckoned with.

For those out of the loop, this is a man who managed to convince Conservative MP David Amess — who was later appointed chair of the Psychoactive Substances Bill Committee — to bring up the horrors of a new street drug in a Parliamentary debate. The drug was a giant dinner plate-sized yellow pill called ‘Cake’ and it didn’t even exist.

Adding to his notoriety, Morris also flashed a message containing one of the world’s most offensive words during the eventual TV airing of a show canceled by the UK’s Channel 4, declaring the channel’s then-chief executive to be that four-letter uttering. Morris is scared of no one, and that’s why people love him.

So, after waiting nine long years for Morris to follow up on his daring and unflinching 2010 terrorism-farce movie masterpiece Four Lions, you might understand why the build-up to his new movie The Day Shall Come has been excruciating for his fans, especially those who want to financially support him.

“Based on 100 true stories, the explosive new film from Chris Morris (Four Lions, Brass Eye) is an emotionally gripping, laugh out loud thriller that exposes the dark farce at the heart of the homeland security project: It is harder to catch a real terrorist than it is to manufacture your own,” the movie’s homepage reads.

Sadly, I — one of Morris’s most enduring and fervent fans — will have to take his word for it. I shall indeed be in the UK when the movie goes on general theatrical release on October 11 but as I write this on Tuesday, Oct 1, frustration has set in like never before. And that really shouldn’t have happened.

On my regular news-tour of torrent sites I could see that the movie had already appeared online. It’s a so-called WEBRip release, meaning that it was ripped from a legitimate streaming service. Considering that Morris has built his celluloid history and fanbase, not to mention infamy in the UK, that means it must have been ripped from a UK source and available to buy, right?

Industry anti-piracy initiatives such as the UK’s GetitRight (from a Genuine Site) are 100% targeted at people who have the ability to pirate but might be persuaded to part with their money instead, so this was a great opportunity to test the system with something I actually care about.

So, with cash in hand, seeking out a source for a legitimate purchase, I headed off to the portal. It couldn’t help me directly and I was subsequently directed to FindAnyFilm.com, where the movie is indeed listed.

With options to ‘Buy to Own’ turning up nothing for Blu-ray, DVD, or Digital, the ‘Watch Now’ option (streaming) seemed the final but perfect option. Unfortunately, both ‘buy’ and ‘rent’ turned up absolutely nothing. No options whatsoever, with no idea provided when they might become available.

It’s not FindAnyFilm’s fault, it’s not GetitRight’s fault, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. I was already two websites into this mission and it was not going well.

A direct search on Amazon.co.uk did reveal a DVD listing for £10.00 but that was accompanied by a message stating that “This title has not yet been released. You may pre-order it now and we will deliver it to you when it arrives.” Even if I wanted a DVD, which I do not, no release date was provided. Which is absolutely useless. Three websites in.

After various inquiries it soon became clear that Amazon.com was the only straightforwardly obvious place where Morris’s new film might be streamed in the UK. So I tried to log in and surprise — Amazon.com didn’t like it one bit.

The company sent me a one-time validation code, to prove I am indeed me, which I used after receiving it via email. Once logged-in I tried to ‘rent’ the movie but of course, it was unavailable for purchase because I wasn’t in the United States and my payment method was apparently “invalid”. It wasn’t, I’d used it minutes earlier. Four websites in, and an email. No movie.

In my opinion, the steps taken above go way beyond reasonable. Exactly how many hoops do these companies, that combine to present these content distribution machines to the public, expect people to jump through to willingly part themselves from their money in order to support the industry?

For those who know Morris and appreciate his work, this is the kind of ridiculous situation he himself might dismantle with glee, particularly considering The Day Shall Come was in part funded by the UK National Lottery/BFI Film Fund. The citizens of that country, who helped to fund it, cannot see it online at the same time as their US counterparts.

There will be pirates out there laughing to themselves wondering why I didn’t click on the magnet link I saw earlier and simply download the movie, there and then, and save all the headaches. After all, that would’ve been one site visited, one movie watched. For free.

But for someone who actually wants to support Chris Morris and in industry-speak, “make sure he can make more movies in the future”, why shouldn’t I be able to pay if I want to?

The answer is simple: ‘they’ — whoever they are — won’t let me. The Day Shall Come when this nonsense gets sorted out but people’s patience may have run out by then, if they can be bothered to expend any at all. The content is available legally so for the sake of sanity, let us — the fans — buy it.

Our Shatner’s Bassoons — even without Cake — can’t take any more.

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Facebook Takes Down TorrentFreak Post Over ‘Infringing’ Meme

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/facebook-takes-down-torrentfreak-post-over-infringing-meme-190929/

When the EU Copyright Directive protests were in full swing earlier this year, many people warned that upload filters would “kill memes.”

We weren’t particularly fond of this oversimplification, but the problems with upload filters are obvious, with or without the new EU directive.

In fact, even without automated filters copyright enforcement efforts can be quite problematic. Today we present a rather unusual example, where one of the “memes” we published in the past, was effectively taken down by Facebook.

To put things in a proper context, we take you back to 2014. At the time we reported that photographer Christoffer Boffoli had filed a lawsuit against the popular image sharing site Imgur, which allegedly ignored his takedown requests.

Boffoli hoped to protect his copyrights, but this effort soon backfired. A few weeks after he filed the complaint someone uploaded an archive of 20,754 of his photos to The Pirate Bay, specifically mentioning the lawsuit against Imgur. The torrent in question remains online today.

In recent years we haven’t heard much from the photographer, until this week, when someone alerted us to a rather unusual issue. The person in question, who prefers not to be named, had one of his Facebook posts removed over alleged copyright infringement.

The post in question was a link to our news article covering the Pirate Bay ‘issue.’ At the time, this was by default shared with a portrait of Boffoli that someone turned into a meme, as can be seen below (meme text cropped).

The Facebook notice mentions that the content in question was “disabled” due to a third-party copyright complaint. While it didn’t specify what the infringing content was, our article was listed as the “source,” and the link and the associated image were indeed removed.

Since Boffoli doesn’t own any copyrights to our work, and since we didn’t link to the Pirate Bay archive, we assume that the takedown notice is targeted at the meme image, which includes the photographer’s portrait. Whether it’s justified is another question though.

Memes are generally seen as fair use. As such, people can share them without repercussions. A photographer may contend this, and fight it out in court, but in this case that could prove difficult.

When looking into the matter, we noticed that the original portrait has been hosted by Wikipedia for more than 15 years. This shows that the photo is credited to Boffoli himself, and shared with a public domain ‘license’, allowing anyone to use it freely.

This means that creating a meme out of it is certainly not a problem. But perhaps there was another reason for the takedown?

Since Facebook doesn’t share any further details, and our own original Facebook posting is still up, we can’t be 100% sure what the alleged infringement is. However, looking through Facebook’s archive we see that another user had the meme image removed as well (TF link remains online here), suggesting that this is indeed the problem.

So there we have it. Facebook effectively ‘killed’ removed a meme. In at least once instance, it removed a link to a perfectly legitimate news article, based on a takedown request that doesn’t seem to hold water. The meme isn’t quite dead yet though, it’s on the Internet after all.

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