Tag Archives: pirate sites

Russia Blacklists 250 Pirate Sites For Displaying Gambling Ads

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blacklists-250-pirate-sites-for-displaying-gambling-ads-180421/

Blocking alleged pirate sites is usually a question of proving that they’re involved in infringement and then applying to the courts for an injunction.

In Europe, the process is becoming easier, largely thanks to an EU ruling that permits blocking on copyright grounds.

As reported over the past several years, Russia is taking its blocking processes very seriously. Copyright holders can now have sites blocked in just a few days, if they can show their operators as being unresponsive to takedown demands.

This week, however, Russian authorities have again shown that copyright infringement doesn’t have to be the only Achilles’ heel of pirate sites.

Back in 2006, online gambling was completely banned in Russia. Three years later in 2009, land-based gambling was also made illegal in all but four specified regions. Then, in 2012, the Russian Supreme Court ruled that ISPs must block access to gambling sites, something they had previously refused to do.

That same year, telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor began publishing a list of banned domains and within those appeared some of the biggest names in gambling. Many shut down access to customers located in Russia but others did not. In response, Rozcomnadzor also began targeting sites that simply offered information on gambling.

Fast forward more than six years and Russia is still taking a hard line against gambling operators. However, it now finds itself in a position where the existence of gambling material can also assist the state in its quest to take down pirate sites.

Following a complaint from the Federal Tax Service of Russia, Rozcomnadzor has again added a large number of ‘pirate’ sites to the country’s official blocklist after they advertised gambling-related products and services.

“Rozkomnadzor, at the request of the Federal Tax Service of Russia, added more than 250 pirate online cinemas and torrent trackers to the unified register of banned information, which hosted illegal advertising of online casinos and bookmakers,” the telecoms watchdog reported.

Almost immediately, 200 of the sites were blocked by local ISPs since they failed to remove the advertising when told to do so. For the remaining 50 sites, breathing space is still available. Their bans can be suspended if the offending ads are removed within a timeframe specified by the authorities, which has not yet run out.

“Information on a significant number of pirate resources with illegal advertising was received by Rozcomnadzor from citizens and organizations through a hotline that operates on the site of the Unified Register of Prohibited Information, all of which were sent to the Federal Tax Service for making decisions on restricting access,” the watchdog revealed.

Links between pirate sites and gambling companies have traditionally been close over the years, with advertising for many top-tier brands appearing on portals large and small. However, in recent times the prevalence of gambling ads has diminished, in part due to campaigns conducted in the United States, Europe, and the UK.

For pirate site operators in Russia, the decision to carry gambling ads now comes with the added risk of being blocked. Only time will tell whether any reduction in traffic is considered serious enough to warrant a gambling boycott of their own.

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

Cloudflare Kicks Out Torrent Site For Abuse Reporting Interference

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-kicks-out-torrent-site-for-abuse-reporting-interference-180420/

As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe.

The company’s clients include billion dollar companies and national governments, but also personal blogs, and even pirate sites.

Copyright holders are not happy with the latter category and are pressuring Cloudflare to cut their ties with sites like The Pirate Bay, both in and out of court.

Cloudflare, however, maintains that it’s a neutral service provider. They forward copyright infringement notices to their customers, for example, but deny any liability for these sites.

Generally speaking, the company only disconnects a customer in response to a court order, as it did with Sci-Hub earlier this year. That’s why it came as a surprise when the anime torrent site NYAA.si was disconnected this week.

The site, which is a replacement for the original NYAA, has millions of users and is particularly popular in Japan. Without prior warning, it became unavailable for several hours this week, after Cloudflare removed it from its services. So what happened?

TorrentFreak spoke to the operator who said that the exact reason for the termination remains a mystery to him. He reached out to Cloudflare looking for answers, but the comany simply stated that it’s about “avoiding measures taken to avoid abuse complaints,” as can be seen below.

One of Cloudflare’s messages

The operator says he hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary and showed his willingness to resolve any possible issues. However, that hasn’t changed Cloudflare’s stance.

“We asked multiple times for clarification. We also expressed that we were willing to attempt to work with them on whatever the problem actually was, if they would explain what they even mean.

“Naturally, I have been stonewalled by them at every stage. I’ve contacted numerous persons at Cloudflare and nobody will talk about this,” NYAA’s operator adds.

TorrentFreak asked Cloudflare for more details and the company confirmed that the matter was related to interference with its abuse reporting systems, without providing further detail.

“We determined that the customer had taken steps specifically intended to interfere with and thwart the operation of our abuse reporting systems,” Cloudflare’s General Counsel Doug Kramer informed us.

Cloudflare’s statement suggests that the site took active steps to interfere with the abuse process. The company added that it can’t go into detail, but says that the reason for the termination was shared with the website owner.

The website owner, on the other hand, informs us that he has no clue what the exact problem is. NYAA.si occasionally swaps IP addresses and have recently set up some mirror domains, but these were all under the same account. So, he has no idea why that would interfere with any abuse reports.

“I’m honestly unsure of what we could have done that ‘circumvents” their abuse system,” NYAA’s operator says, adding that the only abuse reports received were copyright related.

It’s unlikely, however, that copyright takedown notices alone would warrant account termination, as most of the largest torrent sites use Cloudflare.

NYAA’s operator says he can do little more than speculate at the point. Some have hinted at a secret court order while Japan’s recent crackdown on manga and anime piracy also came to mind, all without a grain of evidence of course.

Whatever the reason, NYAA.si now has to move on without Cloudflare, while the mystery remains.

“Frankly, this whole thing is a joke. I don’t understand why they would willingly host much bigger sites like ThePirateBay without any issue, or even ISIS, or the various hacking groups that have used them over time,” the operator says.

If more information about the abuse process interfere becomes available, we’ll definitely follow it up.

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

Married Torrent Tracker Couple Settle With BREIN

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/married-torrent-tracker-couple-settles-with-brein-180420/

Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted operators and uploaders of pirate sites for more than a decade.

The group’s main goal is to shut the sites down. Instead of getting embroiled in dozens of lengthy court battles, it prefers to settle the matter with those responsible.

This week, BREIN announced another victory against a small torrent site, Snuffelland. The private tracker was targeted at a Dutch audience and the anti-piracy group managed to track down its operators.

According to BREIN, the site was run by a married couple from the town of Montfort, a 65-year-old man and a 51-year-old woman. In addition, the group also identified one of the uploaders, a 60-year-old man from Heukelum.

All three are unemployed and their financial position was taken into account in determining the scale of the settlement. The couple agreed to pay 2,500 euros and the uploader settled for 650 euros, with a threat of further penalties if they are caught again.

The private tracker itself was shut down and replaced by a message that was provided by BREIN.

“Making copyright-protected works available infringes the copyrights of the entitled rightsholder. Downloading from unauthorized sources is also prohibited in the Netherlands,” the message reads.

“For providers of legal content, snuffelland.org refers you to thecontentmap.nl and film.nl,” it adds.

These type of shutdowns are nothing new. BREIN has taken down hundreds of smaller sites in the past. However, only in recent years has the group has started to publish these settlement details.

That serves as a deterrent but also provides some more insight into how the group prefers to solve these cases, which appears to be relatively softly. In this case, it also disproves the notion that torrent sites are run by youngsters.

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

Pirate Site-Blocking? Music Biz Wants App Blocking Too

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-music-biz-wants-app-blocking-too-180415/

In some way, shape or form, Internet piracy has always been carried out through some kind of application. Whether that’s a peer-to-peer client utilizing BitTorrent or eD2K, or a Usenet or FTP tool taking things back to their roots, software has always played a crucial role.

Of course, the nature of the Internet beast means that software usage is unavoidable but in recent years piracy has swung more towards the regular web browser, meaning that sites and services offering pirated content are largely easy to locate, identify and block, if authorities so choose.

As revealed this week by the MPA, thousands of platforms around the world are now targeted for blocking, with 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains blocked in Europe alone.

However, as the Kodi phenomenon has shown, web-based content doesn’t always have to be accessed via a standard web browser. Clever but potentially illegal addons and third-party apps are able to scrape web-based resources and present links to content on a wide range of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to set-top boxes.

While it’s still possible to block the resources upon which these addons rely, the scattered nature of the content makes the process much more difficult. One can’t simply block a whole platform because a few movies are illegally hosted there and even Google has found itself hosting thousands of infringing titles, a situation that’s ruthlessly exploited by addon and app developers alike.

Needless to say, the situation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has spent the last year (1,2,3) targeting many people involved in the addon and app scene, hoping they’ll take their tools and run, rather than further develop a rapidly evolving piracy ecosystem.

Over in Russia, a country that will happily block hundreds or millions of IP addresses if it suits them, the topic of infringing apps was raised this week. It happened during the International Strategic Forum on Intellectual Property, a gathering of 500 experts from more than 30 countries. There were strong calls for yet more tools and measures to deal with films and music being made available via ‘pirate’ apps.

The forum heard that in response to widespread website blocking, people behind pirate sites have begun creating applications for mobile devices to achieve the same ends – the provision of illegal content. This, key players in the music industry say, means that the law needs to be further tightened to tackle the rising threat.

“Consumption of content is now going into the mobile sector and due to this we plan to prevent mass migration of ‘pirates’ to the mobile sector,” said Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry.

The same concerns were echoed by Alexander Blinov, CEO of Warner Music Russia. According to TASS, the powerful industry player said that while recent revenues had been positively affected by site-blocking, it’s now time to start taking more action against apps.

“I agree with all speakers that we can not stop at what has been achieved so far. The music industry has a fight against illegal content in mobile applications on the agenda,” Blinov said.

And if Blinov is to be believed, music in Russia is doing particularly well at the moment. Attributing successes to efforts by parliament, the Ministry of Communications, and copyright holders, Blinov said the local music market has doubled in the past two years.

“We are now in the top three fastest growing markets in the world, behind only China and South Korea,” Blinov said.

While some apps can work in the same manner as a basic web interface, others rely on more complex mechanisms, ‘scraping’ content from diverse sources that can be easily and readily changed if mitigation measures kick in. It will be very interesting to see how Russia deals with this threat and whether it will opt for highly technical solutions or the nuclear options demonstrated recently.

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

Google Search Receives Fewer Takedown Notices Than Before

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-search-receives-fewer-takedown-notices-than-before-180414/

In recent years Google has had to cope with a continuous increase in takedown requests from copyright holders, which target pirate sites in search results.

Just a few years ago the search engine removed ‘only’ a few thousand URLs per day. This has since grown to millions and has kept growing, until recently.

Around a year ago Google received a billion takedown requests a year, and for a while, it stabilized at roughly 20 million requests per week. By October last year, Google search had processed over three billion DMCA requests since it started counting.

After that, it appears that things calmed down a little. Where Google’s weekly takedown chart went up year after year, it’s now trending in a downward direction.

During the past half year, Google received ‘only’ 375 million takedown requests. That translates to roughly 15 million per week or 750 million per year. This is a 25% decrease compared the average in 2016.

Does this mean that copyright holders can no longer find enough pirated content via the search engine? We doubt it. But it’s clear that some of the big reporting agencies are sending in less complaints.

Degban, for example, which was at one point good for more than 10% of the weekly number of DMCA requests, has disappeared completely. Other big players, such as the Mexican anti-piracy outfit APDIF and Remove Your Media, have clearly lowered their volumes.

APDIF’s weekly DMCA volume

Of all the big players, UK Music Group BPI has been most consistent. Their average hasn’t dropped much in recent years, but is certainly not rising either.

It’s too early to tell whether this trend will hold, but according to the numbers we see now, Google will for the first time have a significant decrease in the number of takedown requests this year.

Despite the decrease, Google is under quite a bit of pressure from copyright holders to improve its takedown efforts. Most would like Google to delist pirate site domains entirely.

While the search engine isn’t willing to go that far, it does give a lower ranking to sites for which it receives a large volume of takedown requests. In addition, the company recently started accepting ‘prophylactic’ DMCA requests, for content that is not indexed yet.

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

MPAA Quietly Shut Down Its ‘Legal’ Movie Search Engine

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-quietly-shut-down-its-legal-movie-search-engine-180411/

During the fall of 2014, Hollywood launched WhereToWatch, its very own search engine for movies and TV-shows.

The site enabled people to check if and where the latest entertainment was available, hoping to steer U.S. visitors away from pirate sites.

Aside from the usual critics, the launch received a ton of favorable press. This was soon followed up by another release highlighting some of the positive responses and praise from the press.

“The initiative marks a further attempt by the MPAA to combat rampant online piracy by reminding consumers of legal means to watch movies and TV shows,” the LA Times wrote, for example.

Over the past several years, the site hasn’t appeared in the news much, but it did help thousands of people find legal sources for the latest entertainment. However, those who try to access it today will notice that WhereToWatch has been abandoned, quietly.

The MPAA pulled the plug on the service a few months ago. And where the mainstream media covered its launch in detail, the shutdown received zero mentions. So why did the site fold?

According to MPAA Vice President of Corporate Communications, Chris Ortman, it was no longer needed as there are many similar search engines out there.

“Given the many search options commercially available today, which can be found on the MPAA website, WheretoWatch.com was discontinued at the conclusion of 2017,” Ortman informs TF.

“There are more than 140 lawful online platforms in the United States for accessing film and television content, and more than 460 around the world,” he adds.

The MPAA lists several of these alternative search engines on its new website. The old WhereToWatch domain now forwards to the MPAA’s online magazine ‘The Credits,’ which features behind-the-scenes stories and industry profiles.

While the MPAA is right that there are alternative search engines, many of these were already available when WhereToWatch launched. In fact, the site used the services of the competing service GoWatchIt for its search results.

Perhaps the lack of interest from the U.S. public played a role as well. The site never really took off and according to traffic estimates from SimilarWeb and Alexa, most of the visitors came from Iran, where the site was unusable due to a geo-block.

After searching long and hard we were able to track down a former WhereToWatch user on Reddit. This person just started to get into the service and was disappointed to see it go.

“So, does anyone know of better places or simply other places where this information lives in an easily accessible place?” he or she asked.

One person responded by recommending Icefilms.info, a pirate site. This is a response the MPAA would cringe at, but luckily, most people mentioned justwatch.com as the best alternative.

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

MPA Reveals Scale of Worldwide Pirate Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpa-reveals-scale-of-worldwide-pirate-site-blocking-180410/

Few people following the controversial topic of Internet piracy will be unaware of the site-blocking phenomenon. It’s now one of the main weapons in the entertainment industries’ arsenal and it’s affecting dozens of countries.

While general figures can be culled from the hundreds of news reports covering the issue, the manner in which blocking is handled in several regions means that updates aren’t always provided. New sites are regularly added to blocklists without fanfare, meaning that the public is kept largely in the dark.

Now, however, a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by Motion Picture Association Canada provides a more detailed overview. It was presented in support of the proposed blocking regime in Canada, so while the key figures are no doubt accurate, some of the supporting rhetoric should be viewed in context.

“Over the last decade, at least 42 countries have either adopted and implemented, or are legally obligated to adopt and implement, measures to ensure that ISPs take steps to disable access to copyright infringing websites, including throughout the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Korea,” the submission reads.

The 42 blocking-capable countries referenced by the Hollywood group include the members of the European Union plus the following: Argentina, Australia, Iceland, India, Israel, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.

While all countries have their own unique sets of legislation, countries within the EU are covered by the requirements of Article 8.3 of the INFOSEC Directive which provides that; “Member States shall ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.”

That doesn’t mean that all countries are actively blocking, however. While Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have the legal basis to block infringing sites, none have yet done so.

In a significant number of other EU countries, however, blocking activity is prolific.

“To date, in at least 17 European countries, over 1,800 infringing sites and over 5,300 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked, including in the following four countries where the positive impact of site-blocking over time has been demonstrated,” MPA Canada notes.

Major blocking nations in the EU

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that authority to block sites is currently being obtained in two key ways, either through the courts or via an administrative process.

In the examples above, the UK and Denmark are dealt with via the former, with Italy and Portugal handled via the latter. At least as far as the volume of sites is concerned, court processes – which can be expensive – tend to yield lower site blocking levels than those carried out through an administrative process. Indeed, the MPAA has praised Portugal’s super-streamlined efforts as something to aspire to.

Outside Europe, the same two processes are also in use. For example, Australia, Argentina, and Singapore utilize the judicial route while South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia have opted for administrative remedies.

“Across 10 of these countries, over 1,100 infringing sites and over 1,500 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked,” MPA Canada reveals.

To date, South Korea has blocked 460 sites and 547 domains, while Australia has blocked 91 sites and 355 domains. In the case of the latter, “research has confirmed the increasingly positive impact that site-blocking has, as a greater number of sites are blocked over time,” the Hollywood group notes.

Although by no means comprehensive, MPA Canada lists the following “Notorious Sites” as subject to blocking in multiple countries via both judicial and administrative means. Most will be familiar, with the truly notorious The Pirate Bay heading the pile. Several no longer exist in their original form but in many cases, clones are blocked as if they still represent the original target.


The methods used to block the sites vary from country to country, dependent on what courts deem fit and in consideration of ISPs’ technical capabilities. Three main tools are in use including DNS blocking, IP address blocking, and URL blocking, which can also include Deep Packet Inspection.

The MPA submission (pdf) is strongly in favor of adding Canada to the list of site-blocking countries detailed above. The Hollywood group believes that the measures are both effective and proportionate, citing reduced usage of blocked sites, reduced traffic to pirate sites in general, and increased visits to legitimate platforms.

“There is every reason to believe that the website blocking measures [presented to the CRTC] will lead to the same beneficial results in Canada,” MPA Canada states.

While plenty of content creators and distributors are in favor of proposals, all signs suggest they will have a battle on their hands, with even some ISPs coming out in opposition.

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

Piracy Falls 6%, in Spain, But It’s Still a Multi-Billion Euro Problem

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-falls-6-in-spain-but-its-still-a-multi-billion-euro-problem-180409/

The Coalition of Creators and Content Industries, which represents Spain’s leading entertainment industry companies, is keeping a close eye on the local piracy landscape.

The outfit has just published its latest Piracy Observatory and Digital Content Consumption Habits report, carried out by the independent consultant GFK, and there is good news to report on headline piracy figures.

During 2017, the report estimates that people accessed unlicensed digital content just over four billion times, which equates to almost 21.9 billion euros in lost revenues. While this is a significant number, it’s a decrease of 6% compared to 2016 and an accumulated decrease of 9% compared to 2015, the coalition reports.

Overall, movies are most popular with pirates, with 34% helping themselves to content without paying.

“The volume of films accessed illegally during 2017 was 726 million, with a market value of 5.7 billion euros, compared to 6.9 billion in 2016. 35% of accesses happened while the film was still on screens in cinema theaters, while this percentage was 33% in 2016,” the report notes.

TV shows are in a close second position with 30% of users gobbling up 945 million episodes illegally during 2017. A surprisingly high 24% of users went for eBooks, with music relegated to fourth place with ‘just’ 22%, followed by videogames (11%) and football (10%).

The reasons given by pirates for their habits are both varied and familiar. 51% said that original content is too expensive while 43% said that taking the illegal route “is fast and easy”. Half of the pirates said that simply paying for an internet connection was justification for getting content for free.

A quarter of all pirates believe that they aren’t doing anyone any harm, with the same number saying they get content without paying because there are no consequences for doing so. But it isn’t just pirates themselves in the firing line.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the current climate, the report heavily criticizes search engines for facilitating access to infringing content.

“With 75%, search engines are the main method of accessing illegal content and Google is used for nine out of ten accesses to pirate content,” the report reads.

“Regarding social networks, Facebook is the most used method of access (83%), followed by Twitter (42%) and Instagram (34%). Therefore it is most valuable that Facebook has reached agreements with different industries to become a legal source and to regulate access to content.”

Once on pirate sites, some consumers reported difficulties in determining whether they’re legal or not. Around 15% said that they had “big difficulties” telling whether a site is authorized with 44% saying they had problems “sometimes”.

That being said, given the amount of advertising on pirate sites, it’s no surprise that most knew a pirate site when they visited one and, according to the report, advertising placement is only on the up.

Just over a quarter of advertising appearing on pirate sites features well-known brands, although this is a reduction from more than 37% in 2016. This needs to be further improved, the coalition says, via collaboration between all parties involved in the industry.

A curious claim from the report is that 81% of pirate site users said they were required to register in order to use a platform. This resulted in “transferring personal data” to pirate site operators who gather it in databases that are used for profitable “e-marketing campaigns”.

“Pirate sites also get much more valuable data than one could imagine which allow them to get important economic benefits, as for example, Internet surfing habits, other websites visited by consumers, preferences, likes, and purchase habits,” the report states.

So what can be done to reduce consumer reliance on pirate sites? The report finds that consumers are largely in line with how the entertainment industries believe piracy should or could be tackled.

“The most efficient measures against piracy would be, according to the internet users’ own view, blocking access to the website offering content (78%) and penalizing internet providers (73%),” the report reads.

“Following these two, the best measure to reduce infringements would be, according to consumers, to promote social awareness campaigns against piracy (61%). This suggests that increased collaboration between the content sector and the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) could count on consumers’ support and positive assessment.”

Finally, consumers in Spain are familiar with the legal options, should they wish to take that route in future. Netflix awareness in the country is at 91%, Spotify at 81%, with Movistar+ and HBO at 80% and 68% respectively.

“This invalidates the reasons given by pirate users who said they did so because of the lack of an accessible legal offer at affordable prices,” the report adds.

However, those who take the plunge into the legal world don’t always kick the pirate habit, with the paper stating that users of pirates sites tend to carry on pirating, although they do pirate less in some sectors, notably music. The study also departs from findings in other regions that pirates can also be avid consumers of legitimate content.

Several reports, from the UK, Sweden, Australia, and even from Hollywood, have clearly indicated that pirates are the entertainment industries’ best customers.

In Spain, however, the situation appears to be much more pessimistic, with only 8% of people who access illegal digital content paying for legal content too. That seems low given that Netflix alone had more than a million Spanish subscribers at the end of 2017 and six million Spanish households currently subscribe to other pay TV services.

The report is available here (Spanish, pdf)

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

Piracy & Money Are Virtually Inseparable & People Probably Don’t Care Anymore

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-money-are-virtually-inseparable-people-probably-dont-care-anymore-180408/

Long before peer-to-peer file-sharing networks were a twinkle in developers’ eyes, piracy of software and games flourished under the radar. Cassettes, floppy discs and CDs were the physical media of choice, while the BBS became the haunt of the need-it-now generation.

Sharing was the name of the game. When someone had game ‘X’ on tape, it was freely shared with friends and associates because when they got game ‘Y’, the favor had to be returned. The content itself became the currency and for most, the thought of asking for money didn’t figure into the equation.

Even when P2P networks first took off, money wasn’t really a major part of the equation. Sure, the people running Kazaa and the like were generating money from advertising but for millions of users, sharing content between friends and associates was still the name of the game.

Even when the torrent site scene began to gain traction, money wasn’t the driving force. Everything was so new that developers were much more concerned with getting half written/half broken tracker scripts to work than anything else. Having people care enough to simply visit the sites and share something with others was the real payoff. Ironically, it was a reward that money couldn’t buy.

But as the scene began to develop, so did the influx of minor and even major businessmen. The ratio economy of the private tracker scene meant that bandwidth could essentially be converted to cash, something which gave site operators revenue streams that had never previously existed. That was both good and bad for the scene.

The fact is that running a torrent site costs money and if time is factored in too, that becomes lots of money. If site admins have to fund everything themselves, a tipping point is eventually reached. If the site becomes unaffordable, it closes, meaning that everyone loses. So, by taking in some donations or offering users other perks in exchange for financial assistance, the whole thing remains viable.

Counter-intuitively, the success of such a venture then becomes the problem, at least as far as maintaining the old “sharing is caring” philosophy goes. A well-run private site, with enthusiastic donors, has the potential to bring in quite a bit of cash. Initially, the excess can be saved away for that rainy day when things aren’t so good. Having a few thousand in the bank when chaos rains down is rarely a bad thing.

But what happens when a site does really well and is making money hand over fist? What happens when advertisers on public sites begin to queue up, offering lots of cash to get involved? Is a site operator really expected to turn down the donations and tell the advertisers to go away? Amazingly, some do. Less amazingly, most don’t.

Although there are some notable exceptions, particularly in the niche private tracker scene, these days most ‘pirate’ sites are in it for the money.

In the current legal climate, some probably consider this their well-earned ‘danger money’ yet others are so far away from the sharing ethos it hurts. Quite often, these sites are incapable of taking in a new member due to alleged capacity issues yet a sizeable ‘donation’ miraculously solves the problem and gets the user in. It’s like magic.

As it happens, two threads on Reddit this week sparked this little rant. Both discuss whether someone should consider paying $20 and 37 euros respectively to get invitations to a pair of torrent sites.

Ask a purist and the answer is always ‘NO’, whether that’s buying an invitation from the operator of a torrent site or from someone selling invites for profit.

Aside from the fact that no one on these sites has paid content owners a dime, sites that demand cash for entry are doing so for one reason and one reason only – profit. Ridiculous when it’s the users of those sites that are paying to distribute the content.

On the other hand, others see no wrong in it.

They argue that paying a relatively small amount to access huge libraries of content is preferable to spending hundreds of dollars on a legitimate service that doesn’t carry all the content they need. Others don’t bother making any excuses at all, spending sizable sums with pirate IPTV/VOD services that dispose of sharing morals by engaging in a different business model altogether.

But the bottom line, whether we like it or not, is that money and Internet piracy have become so intertwined, so enmeshed in each other’s existence, that it’s become virtually impossible to separate them.

Even those running the handful of non-profit sites still around today would be forced to reconsider if they had to start all over again in today’s climate. The risk model is entirely different and quite often, only money tips those scales.

The same holds true for the people putting together the next big streaming portals. These days it’s about getting as many eyeballs on content as possible, making the money, and getting out the other end unscathed.

This is not what most early pirates envisioned. This is certainly not what the early sharing masses wanted. Yet arguably, through the influx of business people and the desire to generate profit among the general population, the pirating masses have never had it so good.

As revealed in a recent study, volumes of piracy are on the up and it is now possible – still possible – to access almost any item of content on pirate sites, despite the so-called “follow the money” approach championed by the authorities.

While ‘Sharing is Caring’ still lives today, it’s slowly being drowned out and at this point, there’s probably no way back. The big question is whether anyone cares anymore and the answer to that is “probably not”.

So, if the driving force isn’t sharing or love, it’ll probably have to be money. And that works everywhere else, doesn’t it?

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

China’s Website and VPN Blocking Hurts Business, US Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/chinas-website-and-vpn-blocking-hurts-business-us-says-180407/

The Chinese government is known to keep a tight grip on the websites its citizens are allowed to see on the Internet.

The so-called ‘Great Firewall’ blocks pirate sites, but also a wide variety of other websites which the government believes could have a negative influence on society.

While the exact scope of the blocking effort is unknown, it’s certain that thousands of websites are affected.

The US Government, however, is not happy with this type of censorship. In its latest Trade Barriers report, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) notes that it has a detrimental impact on businesses around the world.

“China continues to engage in extensive blocking of legitimate websites, imposing significant costs on both suppliers and users of web-based services and products,” the report reads.

The Chinese blocking efforts are affecting billions of dollars in business according to the US. The services that are affected include app stores, news sites, as well as communication services.

While many of these are targeted intentionally, some are hit by over-blocking. This happens when a blocked site shares an IP-address with other sites, which are then censored as collateral damage.

“While becoming more sophisticated over time, the technical means of blocking, dubbed the Great Firewall, still often appears to affect sites that may not be the intended target, but that may share the same Internet Protocol address,” USTR writes.

According to industry figures, twelve of the top thirty most popular sites on the Internet are currently censored in China. And while it used to be relatively easy to bypass these measures with a VPN, that is changing too.

Starting this month, all unauthorized VPN services are banned. Companies can only operate a VPN if they lease state-approved services via the Government. This is hurting even more businesses, according to the US. Not just in their pockets, but also in terms of privacy.

“In the past, consumers and business have been able to avoid government-run filtering through the use of VPN services, but a crackdown in 2017 has all but eliminated that option, with popular VPN applications now banned,” USTR writes.

“This development has had a particularly dire effect on foreign businesses, which routinely use VPN services to connect to locations and services outside of China, and which depend on VPN technology to ensure confidentiality of communications.”

Ironically, US companies are assisting the Chinese Government to keep their Great Firewall up. For example, last year VPN applications started to disappear from Apple’s iOS store following pressure from Chinese authorities.

It’s clear that the United States is not happy with China’s censorship regime. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a reversal anytime soon. As long as China is willing to jail its citizens for operating VPN services, there’s still a long way to go.

A copy of USTR’s 2018 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers is available here (pdf).

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

Japan Seeks to Outmaneuver Constitution With Piracy Blocking Proposals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japan-seeks-to-outmaneuver-constitution-with-piracy-blocking-proposals-180406/

Speaking at a news conference last month, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the Japanese government is considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites, initially to protect the country’s manga and anime industries.

“The damage is getting worse. We are considering the possibilities of all measures including site blocking,” he said.

But Japan has a problem.

The country has no specific legislation that allows for site-blocking of any kind, let alone on copyright infringement grounds. In fact, the constitution expressly supports freedom of speech and expressly forbids censorship.

“Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed,” Article 21 reads.

“No censorship shall be maintained, nor shall the secrecy of any means of communication be violated,” the constitution adds.

Nevertheless, the government appears determined to do something about the piracy threat. As detailed last month, that looks like manifesting itself in a site-blocking regime. But how will this be achieved?

Mainichi reports that the government will argue there are grounds for “averting present danger”, a phrase that’s detailed in Article 37 of Japan’s Penal Code.

“An act unavoidably performed to avert a present danger to the life, body, liberty
or property of oneself or any other person is not punishable only when the harm
produced by such act does not exceed the harm to be averted,” the Article (pdf) begins.

It’s fairly clear that this branch of Japanese law was never designed for use against pirate sites. Furthermore, there is also a clause noting that where an act (in this case blocking) causes excessive harm it may lead “to the punishment being reduced or may exculpate the offender in light of the circumstances.”

How, when, or if that ever comes into play will remain to be seen but in common with most legal processes against pirate site operators elsewhere, few turn up to argue in their defense. A contested process is therefore unlikely.

It appears that rather than forcing Internet providers into compliance, the government will ask for their “understanding” on the basis that damage is being done to the anime and manga industries. ISPs reportedly already cooperate to censor child abuse sites so it’s hoped a similar agreement can be reached on piracy.

Initially, the blocking requests will relate to just three as-yet-unnamed platforms, one local and two based outside the country. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and if ISPs agree to block this trio, more demands are sure to follow.

Meanwhile, the government is also working towards tightening up the law to deal with an estimated 200 local sites that link, but do not host pirated content. Under current legislation, linking isn’t considered illegal, which is a major problem given the manner in which most file-sharing and streaming is carried out these days.

However, there are also concerns that any amendments to tackle linking could fall foul of the constitutional right to freedom of expression. It’s a problem that has been tackled elsewhere, notably in Europe, but in most cases the latter has been trumped by the former. In any event, the government will need to tread carefully.

The proposals are expected to be formally approved at a Cabinet meeting on crime prevention policy later this month, Mainichi reports.

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

Hosting Provider Steadfast is Not Liable for ‘Pirate’ Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hosting-provider-steadfast-is-not-liable-for-pirate-site-180403/

In 2016, adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan dragged several third-party Internet services to court.

The company targeted companies including CDN provider CloudFlare and the Chicago-based hosting company Steadfast, accusing them of copyright infringement because they offered services to pirate sites.

ALS argued that Steadfast refused to shut down the servers of the image sharing platform Imagebam.com, which was operated by its client Flixya. The hosting provider had been targeted with dozens of DMCA notices, and ALS accused Steadfast of turning a blind eye to the situation.

Steadfast denied these allegations. The hosting provider did indeed lease servers to Flixya for ten years but said that it forwarded all notices to its client. The hosting company could not address individual infringements, other than shutting down the entire site, which would have been disproportionate in their view.

With a trial getting closer, the hosting company submitted a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it can’t be held liable for copyright infringement. A few days ago California District Court Judge George Wu ordered on the matter, bringing good news for Steadfast.

Judge Wu dismissed all claims against Steadfast, including contributory copyright infringement, vicarious copyright infringement, and contributory trademark infringement, which is a clear win.

Dismissed

The order clarifies that hosting providers such as Steadfast can be held liable for pirate sites. This is also the case when these sites are hosted on servers that are leased by a company which itself has a takedown policy, something Steadfast contended.

In this case, it is clear that Steadfast knew of the infringements. It could have shut down imagebam.com but failed to do so, and continued to provide server space to known copyright infringers on the site. All these arguments could, in theory, weigh against the hosting provider.

However, in order to be liable for contributory copyright infringement, ALS Scan needed to show that Steadfast failed to take simple steps to prevent the copyright infringements at issue. This is where the adult entertainment publisher’s arguments failed.

Steadfast forwarded all notices to its customer Flixya which resulted in the removal of the infringing images. In other words, the hosting provider took simple steps that prevented further copyright infringements.

“Given these undisputed facts, the Court would find that Steadfast did not ‘[fail] to take simple measures’ to prevent the specific acts of infringement of which it was aware. Steadfast took simple steps that resulted in all of the at-issue images being removed,” Judge Wu writes.

ALS argued that Steadfast should have shut down the entire server of its customer to prevent future infringements, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Service providers only have to take measures if they know that infringements occurred or will occur in the future. The latter was not obvious here.

“As such, the Court is not convinced that Steadfast had any reason, legal or practical, to terminate Flixya’s account and power down its servers,” the order reads.

Steadfast founder and CEO Karl Zimmerman is happy with the outcome of the case. He agrees that hosting providers have a responsibility to respond to copyright infringement complaints, but stresses that his company already has the right procedures in play.

“We already check and assure the content is removed, and yes, if the content simply stays up, that is concerning and shows that more could be done,” Zimmerman informs TF.

“We took action in forwarding the complaints, tracking those complaints, and validating the content had been removed. We did what was required of us, which is why I thought it was odd we were in this case in the first place.”

Hosting providers should take measures to help curb copyright infringement, according to Steadfast. However, shutting down entire services of customers who take down infringing links when they’re asked too, goes too far. Zimmerman is glad that Judge Wu agreed with this.

“To me, it simply does not seem reasonable to have to shut down a customer just because future infringement of their users is possible, when every indication is that the customer is completely law-abiding and I’m glad the judge agreed with that,” he says.

A copy of United States District Court Judge George Wu’s order is available here (pdf).

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

GoDaddy Ordered to Suspend Four Music Piracy Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/godaddy-ordered-to-suspend-four-music-piracy-domains-180327/

There are many methods used by copyright holders and the authorities in their quest to disable access to pirate sites.

Site blocking is one of the most popular but pressure can also be placed on web hosts to prevent them from doing business with questionable resources. A skip from one host to another usually solves the problem, however.

Another option is to target sites’ domains directly, by putting pressure on their registrars. It’s a practice that has famously seen The Pirate Bay burn through numerous domains in recent years, only for it to end up back on its original domain, apparently unscathed. Other sites, it appears, aren’t always so lucky.

As a full member of IFPI, the Peruvian Union of Phonographic Producers (UNIMPRO) protects the rights of record labels and musicians. Like its counterparts all over the world, UNIMPRO has a piracy problem and a complaint filed against four ‘pirate’ sites will now force the world’s largest domain registrar into action.

Mp3Juices-Download-Free.com, Melodiavip.net, Foxmusica.site and Fulltono.me were all music sites offering MP3 content without the copyright holders’ permission. None are currently available but the screenshot below shows how the first platform appeared before it was taken offline.

MP3 Juices Downnload Free

Following a complaint against the sites by UNIMPRO, the Copyright Commission (Comisión de Derecho de Autor) conducted an investigation into the platforms’ activities. The Commission found that the works they facilitated access to infringed copyright. It was also determined that each site generated revenue from advertising.

Given the illegal nature of the sites and the high volume of visitors they attract, the Commission determined that they were causing “irreparable damage” to legitimate copyright holders. Something, therefore, needed to be done.

The action against the sites involved the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi), an autonomous public body of the Peruvian state tasked with handling anti-competitive behavior, unfair competition, and intellectual property matters.

Indecopi HQ

After assessing the evidence, Indecopi, through the Copyright Commission, issued precautionary (interim) measures compelling US-based GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain registrar which handles the domains for all four sites, to suspend them with immediate effect.

“The Copyright Commission of INDECOPI issued four precautionary measures in order that the US company Godaddy.com, LLC (in its capacity as registrar of domain names) suspend the domains of four websites, through which it would have infringed the legislation on Copyright and Related Rights, by making available a large number of musical phonograms without the corresponding authorization, to the detriment of its legitimate owners,” Indecopi said in a statement.

“The suspension was based on the great evidence that was provided by the Commission, on the four websites that infringe copyright, and in the framework of the policy of support for the protection of intellectual property.”

Indecopi says that GoDaddy can file an appeal against the decision. At the time of writing, none of the four domains currently returns a working website.

TorrentFreak has requested a comment from GoDaddy but at the time of publication, we were yet to receive a response.

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

Cloudflare Doesn’t Want Daily Stormer Evidence at Piracy Trial

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-doesnt-want-daily-stormer-evidence-at-piracy-trial-180327/

Last summer Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince decided to terminate the account of controversial neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer.

“I woke up this morning in a bad mood and decided to kick them off the Internet,” he announced.

It was later explained that the move was meant as an ‘intellectual exercise’ to start a conversation regarding censorship and free speech on the internet. In this respect, it was a success, but the discussion went much further than Prince had intended.

Cloudflare always had a policy not to remove any accounts without a court order, so when this was exceeded, eyebrows were raised. In particular, copyright holders wondered why the company could terminate this account but not those of the most notorious pirate sites.

The Daily Stormer removal also became an issue in the piracy liability case adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan had filed previously. After Cloudflare’s CEO was questioned on the matter, it could now be brought up before a jury during the trial as well.

This is something Cloudflare would like to avoid, it appears. A few days ago the company asked the court to exclude any hate group related evidence or arguments from the trial.

“Cloudflare respectfully asks this Court to exclude any evidence or arguments that ALS intends to offer relating to Cloudflare’s services, including termination or non-termination of services, to hate groups,” the company writes.

“This includes but is not limited to services that Cloudflare historically provided to the Daily Stormer website, and Cloudflare’s decision to terminate services to that website following the tragic events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017.”

No hate groups

ALS previously harped on the fact that the CEO arbitrarily decided to remove one site from the service, while requiring court orders in other instances.

The adult publisher could use the information to argue that Cloudflare can take action against certain websites and that this has a significant impact on their operation.

Cloudflare disagrees. It doesn’t deny that it can terminate accounts but maintains that it can’t “remove” them from the Internet as they are merely hosting a cached version. According to the company, ALS wants to use the issue to cloud the jury’s opinion.

“The apparent reason that ALS seeks to offer is not for its probative value but rather for its distracting emotional impact,” Cloudflare argues.

“Given the strong feelings such evidence would almost certainly arouse among members of the jury, this evidence creates an unwarranted and impermissible risk of unfair prejudice to Cloudflare.”

The CDN provider adds that the Daily Stormer removal had nothing to do with copyright and is therefore irrelevant. The main reason the company decided to terminate the Daily Stormer account was that the site suggested that Cloudflare supported its views.

To prevent any guilt by association or distracting emotional impact, the CDN provider urges the court to prohibit the issue from being raised at trial.

“Cloudflare respectfully requests that the Court grant this motion and enter an order barring ALS from presenting to the jury any evidence regarding Cloudflare’s provision or non-provision of Internet services to “hate” websites such as the Daily Stormer,” the company writes.

Cloudflare’s motion to exclude evidence relating to provision or termination of services to hate groups can be found here (pdf).

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

Russia Blocked 8,000 Pirate Sites in 2017, “Visits to Cinemas Up 11%”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocked-8000-pirate-sites-in-2017-visits-to-cinemas-up-11-180325/

Blocking sites is one of the most popular anti-piracy mechanisms of recent times. The practice is now commonplace in the UK, Europe, and Australia and, if entertainment industry groups get their way, it’ll soon be installed in Canada too.

While most regions with blocking legislation carry out their work with enthusiasm, perhaps surprisingly it’s Russia setting the standards. With almost constant amendments to copyright law, the country is able to block pirate sites, mirrors, and proxies in a very short timeframe indeed. And it has been doing so, in huge numbers.

According to data shared with Izvestia by local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor, in 2017 Russia blocked a staggering 8,000 pirate sites, more than any other country on the planet. In a clear sign of the way things are going, that figure represents a four-fold increase over the 2,000 sites that were blocked on copyright grounds in 2016.

While blocks can be authorized for infringement of copyright on everything from music to software and from books to TV shows, it is the movie industry leading the way in volume terms. In 65% of cases of site-blocking in 2017, the requests came from companies involved in the production and distribution of films.

Sheer volume aside, there’s nothing really surprising about the site-blocking movement in Russia. However, it differs from most other regions when it comes to assessing its usefulness.

Groups in many other countries have claimed that site-blocking is effective in reducing visits to pirate sites and even reducing piracy itself, but the majority steer clear of claiming that it actually does anything to increase sales. Not so Russia.

According to data from Russia’s Cinema Foundation cited by Rozcomnadzor alongside site-blocking statistics, last year “the aggregate box office of the national film distribution” grew by 10.9% amounting to 53.6 billion rubles [US$927.3m], up from 48.4 billion rubles [US$837.3m] in 2016.

In addition, the telecoms regulator said that cinema attendance across the country had increased by 11.4% over the previous year.

A court process is required to block infringing sites that fail to cooperate when rightsholders ask for content to be taken down. Those that push the boundaries by refusing to remove content on multiple occasions can find themselves blocked on a permanent basis.

In 2017, a total of 530 sites were added to Russia’s permanent blacklist, up from ‘just’ 107 sites in 2017. In addition, 459 pirate site “mirrors” were blocked by ISPs with no hope of reprieve. Following changes to the law last October, permanently blocked sites are also removed from search engine results.

But while the current system presents no significant obstacles to having many thousands of sites blocked during the course of a year, Russian authorities want more anti-piracy tools in their arsenal. New proposals would see pirate sites blocked without the need for any court process at all.

It’s already possible to have mirror sites blocked without a separate process but if the Ministry of Culture has its way, copyright complaints issued to hosting services and sites that go completely unanswered without deletion of content could suffer the same fate.

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

Japan Becomes Latest Country to Consider Pirate Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japan-becomes-latest-country-to-consider-pirate-site-blocking-180324/

When attempting to deal with the flood of pirate content on the Internet, companies have many options at their disposal.

One of the most controversial is site-blocking, but despite its unpopularity with consumers, dozens of countries around the world are now involved in the practice. Quite regularly new countries consider getting involved, Canada for example. The latest new addition is Japan.

Speaking at a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the Japanese government is considering taking measures to prohibit access to pirate sites, largely to protect the country’s manga and anime industries.

“The damage is getting worse. We are considering the possibilities of all measures including site blocking,” he said.

“Manga and anime are important types of content that represent the ‘Cool Japan’ initiative. I would like to take countermeasures as soon as possible under the cooperation of the relevant ministries and agencies.”

Cool Japan is a campaign to promote Japan, its culture, products and businesses both at home and overseas, in order to generate interest in the country while boosting investment and tourism.

Outline of the Cool Japan initiative

According to a lawyer cited by the Sankei news outlet, piracy in Japan is largely facilitated by roughly two kinds of sites – hosting and linking.

While the former can be anywhere but can be dealt with locally, Japan has an estimated 200 sites that link to pirated content. Their legal status doesn’t appear to be as clear as many would like.

“In the conventional theory the link itself is not illegal,” the lawyer notes. “There is no legal basis to declare the act of facilitating piracy of other sites as ‘illegal’. Without a [linking] site, many users can not reach pirated versions, [so the government] needs to define malicious [linking] sites properly and regulate them.”

It appears that like many nations, Japan doesn’t view piracy as a predominantly domestic issue, at least on the supply front. In common with the UK, Australia and many other ‘blocking’ nations, it sees the problem as being fueled by overseas actors over which it has limited control. Site-blocking locally, therefore, could stop the problem at the borders.

Whether any plan will be any more effective than the programs elsewhere will remain to be seen but since the Japanese hold both anime and manga close to their hearts, the debate is bound to get emotional.

“As long as the normal business model of content is undermined, the number of people trying to become new professional creators will decrease, and if you are an animator, know-how such as drawing, editing and reviewing may be lost. There is a danger that you will be unable to read interesting cartoons in future, as the biggest victim of piracy is actually the reader himself,” the lawyer concludes.

This past week saw perhaps the single wildest display of copyright infringement ever directed at Japanese culture by those in authority. Local governments across South America defied the Japanese government by airing the latest episode of Dragon Ball Super in public places to tens of thousands of people, all without obtaining the necessary licensing.

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

Google Should Begin Delisting Pirate Sites, Aussie Rightsholders Say

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-should-begin-delisting-pirate-sites-aussie-rightsholders-say-180322/

After being passed almost three years ago, in February the Australian government announced a review of its pirate site-blocking laws.

The Department of Communications asked for feedback on the effectiveness of the mechanism, from initial injunction application through to website blocking and, crucially, whether further amendments are required.

“The Department welcomes single, consolidated submissions from organizations or parties, capturing all views on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 (Online Infringement Amendment) [pdf],” the consultation paper began.

Several responses from interested groups have been filed with the government and unsurprisingly, most come from entertainment industry groups seeking to expand on what has been achieved so far.

The most aggressive submissions come from the two companies that have made the most use of the blocking scheme so far – movie group Village Roadshow and TV provider Foxtel. Together the companies have had dozens of sites blocked in Australia by local ISPs but now they want the blocking regime expanded to online service platforms too.

Indeed, in the Roadshow and Foxtel submissions combined, Google is mentioned no less than 29 times as being part of the piracy problem Down Under.

“Village Roadshow strongly supported the original site blocking legislation and now we strongly support strengthening it,” Village Roadshow co-chief Graham Burke writes.

“With all major pirate sites blocked in Australia, the front door of the department store is shut. However, pirates, facilitated by Google and other search engines, are circumventing Australian Laws and Courts and opening a huge back door. Australia needs the power to require Google and other search engines to take reasonable steps to stop facilitating searches which lead to pirate sites.”

Burke goes on to criticize Google’s business model, which pushes tens of millions of people “searching for stolen goods” to pirate sites that hit them with “rogue advertising including illegal gambling, drugs, sex aids and prostitution.”

In a nutshell, the Village Roadshow co-chief suggests that Google’s business model involves profiting from knowingly leading consumers to illegal locations where they are ultimately ripped off.

“The analogy for Google is a Westfield Shopping Centre knowing they are getting big traffic to the center from a store that is using stolen goods to lure people and then robbing them!” he writes.

This anti-Google rant heads in a predictable direction. At the moment, Australia’s site-blocking regime only applies to ‘carriage service providers’, the home ISPs we all use. Village Roadshow wants that provision expanded to include ‘intermediary service providers’, which covers search engines, social media, and other types of internet intermediaries.

“Apart from ISP’s, many intermediaries are able to meaningfully impact traffic to infringing sites, and in fact, can and are currently used by pirates to find new locations and proxies to circumvent the ISP blocks,” Burke adds.

In other words, when served with an injunction, companies like Google and Facebook should delist results that lead people to pirate sites. This position is also championed by Foxtel, which points to a voluntary arrangement in the UK between search engines and the entertainment industries.

Under this anti-piracy code introduced last year, search engines agreed to further optimize their algorithms and processes to demote pirated content in search results. The aim is to make infringing content less visible and at a faster rate. At the same time, legal alternatives should be easier to find.

But like Village Roadshow, Foxtel doesn’t appear to be content with demotion – blocking and delisting is the aim.

“Foxtel strongly believes that extending the site blocking powers to search engines so that they must remove copyright infringing sites from search results would have a substantial impact on reducing piracy in Australia,” the company says.

“Search engines already remove URLs from site indexes to comply with local laws and product community standards and therefore, technologically Foxtel understands it would be a relatively simple exercise for search engines to comply with Australian blocking orders.”

Both Foxtel and Roadshow agree in other areas too. Currently, Australia’s site-blocking provisions apply to “online locations” situated outside Australia’s borders but both companies see a need for that restriction to be removed.

Neither company can understand why local pirate sites can’t be handled in the same way as those based overseas, with Foxtel arguing that proving an overseas element can be a costly process.

“Applicants must review individual domain locations and IP addresses and put on evidence relating to these matters to ensure that the location of the sites is established. This evidence, which we consider to be unnecessary, is produced at significant time and cost, all of which is borne by the rights holders,” Foxtel says.

While none of the above is particularly new in the global scheme of things, it’s interesting to note that even when agreements are reached and new legislation is formed, rightsholders always keep pushing for more.

That’s clearly highlighted in the Foxtel submission when the company says that the threshold for determining a pirate site should be lowered. Currently, a site must have a “primary purpose” to “infringe, or to facilitate the infringement” of copyright. Foxtel sees this as being too high.

In order to encompass general hosting sites that may also carry large quantities of infringing content, it would like to remove the term “primary purpose” and replace it with “substantial purpose or effect.” Given the recent criticisms leveled at Google and particularly YouTube for the infringing content it hosts, that request could prove difficult to push through.

Foxtel also sees a need to better tackle live streaming. In the UK, injunctions obtained by the Premier League and UEFA last year allow pirated live sports streams to be blocked in real-time. Although the injunctions are overseen by the courts, on a practical level the process is carried out between rightsholders and compliant ISPs.

Foxtel believes that Australia needs something similar.

“For site blocking to be effective in Australia in respect of live sport streaming sites which frequently change location, Foxtel anticipates that a similar process will ultimately be required to be implemented,” the company notes.

With the consultation process now over, dissenting submissions are in the minority. The most notable come from the Pirate Party (pdf) and Digital Rights Watch (pdf) although both are likely to be drowned out by the voices of rightsholders.

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

Online Piracy Is More Popular Than Ever, Research Suggests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/online-piracy-is-more-popular-than-ever-research-suggests-180321/

Despite the growing availability of legal options, online piracy remains rampant. Every day pirate sites are visited hundreds of millions of times.

Piracy tracking outfit MUSO has documented the piracy landscape with data from tens of thousands of the largest global piracy sites.

In its latest report, the company recorded more than 300 billion visits to pirate sites last year alone. This is an increase of 1.6 percent compared to 2016.

More than half of all these visits (53%) are going to streaming sites, making that the most popular piracy tool. Torrent sites and direct download portals still have a significant user base, but follow at a respectable distance.

Most of the pirate visits came from the United States, followed by India and Brazil. Despite the various pirate site blockades, the UK also secured a spot in the top ten, ranked at the bottom with nine billion visits.

The top ten list favors large countries and with this in mind, there is a large player missing. China, which is often portrayed as a country where piracy is rampant, ended up in 18th place with ‘only’ 4.6 billion visits.

Visits per country

# Country Billion visits
Data from Muso
1 United States 27.9
2 Russia 20.6
3 India 17.0
4 Brazil 12.7
5 Turkey 11.1
6 Japan 10.6
7 France 10.5
8 Indonesia 10.4
9 Germany 10.2
10 United kingdom 9.0

Muso tracks piracy trends across various media categories and has spotted some interesting trends. TV-shows remain the most popular among pirates with 106.9 billion visits last year, followed by music (73.9 billion) and film (53.2 billion).

Mobile piracy is on the rise as well. For the first time, more people were accessing pirated TV content via mobile devices (52%) where desktops used to be the favorite device. In the music category, this difference is even more pronounced, with 87% using mobile devices.

Last year desktops were still preferred among movie pirates, but MUSO expects this will change in 2018.

According to MUSO co-founder and CEO Andy Chatterley, these data show that piracy remains a sizable threat, something we also hinted at in the recent past.

“There is a belief that the rise in popularity of on-demand services – such as Netflix and Spotify – have solved piracy, but that theory simply doesn’t stack up. Our data suggest that piracy is more popular than ever,” Chatterley says.

While it’s hard to make historical comparisons without good data, it’s clear that piracy is still rampant. And with more people coming online year after year, the potential audience keeps growing.

Also, it is worth noting that the total piracy landscape is even larger than MUSO shows. In recent years many people have switched to pirate streaming boxes. These are not included in MUSO’s dataset, which relies on data provided by SimilarWeb, among other sources.

That said, the overall conclusion that the piracy audience is massive, and not to be ignored, remains the same.

“The piracy audience is huge and yet for the most part, it’s an opportunity that’s completely ignored,” Chatterley says.

“It’s important that the content industries embrace the trends emerging from this data, not only in strategic content protection, but also in understanding the profile of the piracy ‘consumer’ for better business insight and monetizing these audiences,“ MUSO’s CEO adds.

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

Pirate Site Visits Lead to More Malware, Research Finds

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-visits-lead-to-more-malware-research-finds-180318/

In recent years copyright holders have been rather concerned with the health of pirates’ computers.

They regularly highlight reports which show that pirate sites are rife with malware and even alert potential pirates-to-be about the dangers of these sites.

The recent “Meet The Malwares” campaign, targeted at small children, went as far as claiming that pirate sites are the number one way through which this malicious software is spread. We debunked this claim, but it’s hard to deny that pirate sites have their downsides.

While the operators of pirate sites are usually unaware, advertisers and malicious uploaders sometimes use their sites to distribute adware or malware. But does that put people at significant risk? Research from Carnegie Mellon University Professor Rahul Telang provides some further insight.

For a year, Telang observed the browsing and other computer habits of 253 people who took part in the Security Behavior Observatory. The results, published in a paper titled “Does Online Piracy make Computers Insecure?” show that there is a link between pirate site visits and malware.

“We find that more visits to infringing sites does lead to more number of malware files being downloaded on user machines. In particular doubling the amount of time spent on infringing sites cause a 20 percent increase in malware count,” Telang writes.

This effect was only visible for pirate sites, and not for other categories such as banking, gambling, gaming, shopping, social networking, and even adult websites.

Through the Security Behavior Observatory, all files on the respondents’ computers were scanned and checked against reports from Virustotal.com. This also includes adware, but even without this category, the results remain intact.

“Even after we classify malware files into adware and remove them from analysis, our results still suggest that there is a 20 percent increase in malware count due to visits to infringing sites. These results are robust to various controls and specifications.”

Interestingly, one would expect that people who frequently visit pirate sites are more likely to have anti-virus software installed. However, this was not the case.

“We also find that users who visit infringing sites do not take any more precautions than other users. In particular, we find no evidence that such users are more likely to install anti-virus software. If anything, we find that infringing users are more risk taking,” the paper reads.

A 20 percent increase in malware sounds dramatic, and while we don’t want to downplay these results or the risks involved, it’s worth highlighting the absolute numbers.

The research estimates that, when someone doubles the amount of traffic spent on a pirate site, this person adds an extra 0.05 of a piece of malware per month, with the average being 0.24. So, most people encounter no malware in a typical month. This means that pirate sites are an increased a risk, but it’s not as extreme as sometimes portrayed.

There is also no evidence that malware is predominantly spread through pirate sites. Looking at the total sample, the average number of malware files found on a pirate’s machine is 1.5, compared to 1.4 for those who never visit any pirate sites at all.

While there’s certainly some risk involved, it’s doubtful that the results will deter many people. Previous research revealed that the majority of all pirates are fully aware of the malware risks, but that they continue nonetheless.

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

MPAA Brands 123Movies as the World’s Most Popular Illegal Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-brands-123movies-as-the-worlds-most-popular-illegal-site-180316/

With millions of visitors per day, pirate streaming site 123movies, also known as GoMovies, is a force to be reckoned with.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is fully aware of this and previously alerted the US Trade Representative about this “notorious market.”

However, since the site is not operating from the US, Hollywood’s industry group is also reaching out to 123movies’ alleged home turf, Vietnam. Following in the footsteps of the US ambassador, the MPAA seeks assistance from local authorities.

The MPAA is currently in Vietnam where it’s working with the Office of the Police Investigation Agency to combat pirate sites. According to the MPAA’s Executive Vice President & Chief of Global Content Protection, Jan van Voorn, 123movies is one of the prime targets.

“Right now, the most popular illegal site in the world, 123movies.to (at this point), is operated from Vietnam, and has 98 million visitors a month,” Van Voorn said, quoted by VNExpress.

“There are more services like this – sites that are not helpful for local legitimate businesses,” he adds.

The MPAA hopes that the Vietnamese authorities will step in to take these pirate sites offline, so that legal alternatives can grow. In addition, it stresses that the public should be properly educated, to change their views on movie piracy.

While it’s clear that 123movies is a threat to Hollywood, there are bigger fish out there.

The 98 million number MPAA mentions appears to come from SimilarWeb’s January estimate. While this is a lot of traffic indeed, it’s not the largest pirate site. The Pirate Bay, for example, had an estimated 282 million visitors during the same period.

TorrentFreak asked the MPAA to confirm the claim but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back. Perhaps Van Voorn was referring to streaming sites specifically, which would make more sense.

In any case, it’s clear that Hollywood is concerned about 123movies and similar sites and will do everything in its power to get them offline.

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