Tag Archives: Premier League

Premier League & UEFA Obtain Court Orders to Block Piracy in 2019/20

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-uefa-obtain-court-orders-to-block-piracy-in-2019-20-190729/

While rightsholders and anti-piracy groups often deploy multiple strategies for dealing with online copyright infringement, blocking websites, streams, and servers is now one of the most common.

The Premier League broke new ground on this front in 2017, after it obtained a pioneering injunction which enabled it to track live ‘pirate’ streams and have them blocked by leading ISPs BT, Virgin Media, EE, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk in real-time.

With backing from the High Court, the Premier League deployed its system during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons. We can now confirm that the Court recently granted permission for the efforts to continue during the 2019/20 campaign.

A High Court order signed off July 15, 2019, by Justice Arnold, but as yet unannounced by the Premier League or the Court, will be the basis for the blocking mechanism during the upcoming season. Thus far, one ISP has confirmed the existence of the order.

“A number of unidentified servers associated with infringing Premier League match footage will be blocked until the end of the 2019/20 Premier League season,” Sky notes.

Unlike other blocking orders targeting torrent sites or streaming platforms with a fixed domain, the servers streaming Premier League content are “unidentified” until its anti-piracy partners are able to locate them a few minutes before matches begin. The relevant IP addresses are then forwarded to the ISPs who block them under the authority of the Court.

TorrentFreak has been able to confirm that other ISPs are aware of the new Premier League order but are yet to make a public statement.

Late 2017, UEFA followed in the footsteps of the Premier League by obtaining a similar order covering the period February 13, 2018, to May 26, 2018, in an effort to protect European matches. A month later in July 2018, UEFA was given permission by the High Court to expand and extend its campaign until July 12, 2019.

Earlier this month, UEFA obtained permission from the High Court to continue. As yet, no associated documents have been published by the Court but both Sky and Virgin have confirmed they will be blocking ‘pirate’ servers again, with the Court’s authorization, until 2021.

“A number of unidentified servers associated with infringing UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Nations League, UEFA European Qualifiers and UEFA Friendlies match footage will be blocked until the end of the 2020/21 Champions League or Europa League competitions,” Sky notes.

Virgin states that it will block “Various Target Servers notified to Virgin Media by UEFA or its appointed agent for the duration of the UEFA 2019/2020 & 2020/2021 competition seasons.”

The technical details of the blocking systems deployed by both the Premier League and UEFA (TF understands they’re managed by different anti-piracy companies) are largely secret although some insiders have recently been prepared to talk more about what happens behind the scenes.

As the new season progresses, we expect to report more on how this digital game of cat-and-mouse is playing out.

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

Inside the UK’s ‘Pirate’ IPTV Blocking System

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/inside-the-uks-secret-pirate-iptv-blocking-system-190728/

Millions of people in the UK cite football (soccer for those over the pond) as their favorite sport. Every week, huge numbers head off to grounds far and wide but for the travel averse, watching matches on TV is the only option.

Broadcasters like Sky and BT Sport would like consumers to choose their premium offerings but that can be prohibitively expensive. Even then, the Premier League’s top games played on a Saturday afternoon are banned from TV, thanks to the somewhat archaic “3pm blackout“.

As a result, pirate IPTV services, which all but eliminate high costs while completely ignoring the blackout, are thriving. In response, the Premier League obtained a pioneering injunction from the High Court in 2017 that compelled the largest ISPs to block ‘pirate’ servers for a season. It has obtained permission to continue along the same lines twice since.

Based on information made available in the initial injunction, we previously provided a rough guide on how the system operates. However, the High Court also accepted that other details were secret and agreed to them not being detailed in public.

Since then, TF has received various pieces of information about how the blocking system works in practice but recently a new source came forward offering much more detail, from both the perspective of IPTV providers dealing with the technology and based on information that we’re told was leaked from inside an anti-piracy company.

TF was able to review copies of some of the information. We have been unable to confirm the manner in which the leaks allegedly took place but a secondary source, who has proven reliable in the past, acknowledged that a leak had taken place. It therefore seems likely that the company in question, which we have also chosen not to name, is already familiar with the circumstances.

We’re told that the original source of the leaks, with whom TF has had no contact and whose identity is unknown to us, went AWOL a number of months ago and stopped providing data. Exactly why is unclear but at this point, the details aren’t particularly important.

Inside the Blocking System

In a detailed analysis, our source explained that, unsurprisingly, the anti-piracy company first needs to become a customer of the providers it targets. That means signing up to services in the usual manner and handing over money to what are essentially illegal services.

Documents reviewed by TF also suggest the use of fake online social media accounts which solicit IPTV providers for trials. One particular account, created less than a week before the new season began in August 2017, had nothing but these kinds of requests in its timeline. At least one provider responded in public, apparently unaware of the nature of his potential customer.

Other information supplied suggests that in some instances PayPal accounts with fake details were used to sign up to IPTV providers. This, the source says, probably caused problems because the details on the accounts didn’t match real people’s identities, so they would eventually fail PayPal’s checks and become much less useful.

Once signed up, the anti-piracy company could act like any other subscriber but this didn’t go unnoticed. TF was shown a screenshot from an IPTV service’s customer panel, dated sometime in 2018, which revealed a suspect subscriber who had been a member for many months. The last login was actioned from a particular IP address which, according to current public WHOIS information, remains registered to the anti-piracy company in question.

An invoice for between 10 and 20 euros, dated 2019, which the source says was issued to one of the anti-piracy accounts, gave a name plus an address in London. The supplied postcode relates to an address in another country of the UK. When all put together it is clearly a fake account, although we weren’t able to positively link it to a specific anti-piracy operative.

Nevertheless, it seems clear from the supplied channel surfing logs (which we were told were retained and supplied by a cooperative third-party IPTV provider) that a normal human viewer almost certainly wasn’t behind the subscription.

The logs show that sports channels were systematically selected, presumably to be analyzed back at base, and then skipped to fresh channels over pretty precise set periods. According to our source, these durations were sometimes varied, in his opinion to avoid detection as a computerized system.

Of course, not all attempts at subscribing to channels for anti-piracy purposes are spotted early by the affected IPTV providers. Once in, we’re informed that the preferred method of scanning for infringement is via the humble .m3u playlist file, with channels to be monitored being captured for set periods and then rotated.

The scanning system reportedly allows for a VPN to be assigned to each .m3u line/account, in order to make detection more difficult. VPNs are also sometimes used to sign up and/or used for contact via customer support services offered by the providers.

According to the source, captured frames from ‘pirate’ streams are compared with a direct source from the original content. If there’s an automatic match (sometimes manual intervention is required) then the source server’s IP address is logged and sent to the big six ISPs in the UK for blocking.

We’re told that an email is also sent to the hosting companies of the servers informing them of the block, accompanied by a link to the High Court order. Often these notices aren’t passed on to the operators of IPTV services.

According to one IPTV provider, the process for checking for infringing streams begins around 15 minutes before a match begins and continues for 15 minutes after. Further checks are conducted in the interim to catch any IP address or other network changes carried out by the providers.

However, while infringing streams are apparently blocked in just a “few seconds”, it can take a couple of hours for them to become unblocked by ISPs after the games have finished.

While reports online indicate that some services have been affected by this type of blocking, it has also had some unintended consequences that may have made IPTV providers more resilient and more adept at countering the blocking program. We’ll cover some of those next time.

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

Premier League Wins New ISP Piracy Blocking Order

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-wins-new-isp-piracy-blocking-order-190716/

Blocking websites associated with piracy is one of the most common tools deployed against unauthorized content distribution involving movies, TV shows, and music.

However, the rising consumption of pirate sources of live TV, particularly sports, has presented broadcasters with a new challenge.

The Premier League has been attempting to solve this problem in the UK with so-called ‘dynamic’ blocking injunctions, one which allows servers to be blocked in real-time by ISPs, as matches are underway.

Earlier this month it was reported that the League had filed an application to expand this effort to Ireland. Targeting major ISPs Eircom, Sky, Virgin Media, and Vodafone, the League sought permission to have these companies quickly respond to blocking demands.

On Monday in the Commercial Court, after ISPs either supported or failed to oppose the application, the proposal was converted into Ireland’s first dynamic blocking injunction. It will aim to prevent consumers from accessing ‘pirate’ streams via IPTV services, websites, apps, and third-party Kodi addons.

Counsel for the Premier League told the Court that the bulk of those the company is seeking to block access the company’s matches via set-top boxes.

According to a report from Irish Times, the IP addresses of streaming hosts will be updated at least twice while matches are underway so that ISPs are able to prevent their subscribers from accessing the locations. Once the matches have ended, the blocking measures are supposed to stop.

There is also a nod to due process, with hosting companies being told of the existence of the order enabling them to notify their customers (the alleged infringers) that their streams will be blocked.

Targeted suppliers, almost certainly IPTV providers, are also given permission to apply to the court to have their servers unblocked, if any of their legitimate content is rendered inaccessible as a result of the injunction.

In common with the applications in the UK, the order granted in Ireland was in part based on “confidential information” that only the court and the parties involved have access to in order to prevent technical circumvention of the order.

The precise nature of that information isn’t clear but we’re informed that the blocking process is already well understood by outside parties, with providers able to take countermeasures and, if all else fails, end-users able to deploy VPNs.

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

Sports Streaming Piracy Is Worth Millions to Sponsors

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/sports-streaming-piracy-is-worth-millions-to-sponsors-1907xx/

The Premier League has been battling streaming piracy for a long time.

In recent years, the prestigious football league successfully obtained court orders to block sites and streams, for example. In addition, it’s been involved in several prosecutions.

This anti-piracy activity is no surprise as there’s a lot at stake. The broadcast rights for the Premier League are sold for billions of pounds. And when fewer people watch the games legally, the value of these rights goes down.

Interestingly, however, not all companies that are involved with the Premier League, or sports broadcasts in general, are hurt by piracy. In fact, for sponsors, these unauthorized viewers are free eyeballs as they are generally not factored into their contracts.

The scale of this uncaptured sponsorship value via pirate audiences has never been measured, but new research conducted by GumGum Sports, in partnership with MUSO, aims to fill this gap.

The latter company is known for measuring piracy across the world and paired with GumGum’s sponsorship and marketing analysis, they were able to quantify the value of this rogue audience.

In their study, the companies looked at eight matches of the previous Premier League season. They found that these matches had an average pirate audience of 7.1 million viewers across as many as 149 countries.

Most of these unauthorized viewers came from China, where nearly a million people tuned in per match, followed by Vietnam, Kenya, India and Nigeria. The U.S. and the U.K. took 10th and 11th places among the piracy audience.

These numbers were complemented with GumGum’s marketing and sponsorship insights. After factoring in the exposure of different brands in various regions, they came to the conclusion that there is £1 million in uncaptured sponsorship media value per match.

The majority of value is linked to field-side LED advertising and the sponsorship placements on the front of the players’ jerseys. While pirates may not pay, they definitely see these sponsored messages.

Jeff Katz, VP of Partnerships & Strategy at GumGum Sports, says that this research shows that there is a massive amount of sponsorship revenue which is currently overlooked.

“Clubs and sponsors have never been able to quantify media exposure from unauthorized streaming, which over the years amounts to billions of dollars in unrealized value.

“Now we have a unique data set that gives an advantage to brand sponsors while also enabling clubs to better demonstrate the value they’re driving on behalf of corporate partners,” Katz adds.

The question remains who stands to benefit from these findings. Sponsors now know that they’ve had a lot of free eyeballs over the years, which is positive.

However, they may end up paying more as a result, if the pirate audience is factored into future price negotiations for sponsorships. Although clubs may like the prospect, that’s obviously not what sponsors want.

The real winners, perhaps, are the pirates. While we doubt that the findings will stop the Premier League and other sports rightsholders from cracking down on sports piracy, it shows that pirates do bring some value to the table.

MUSO co-founder and CEO Andy Chatterley hopes that the findings will change the perception of pirates. He emphasizes that this audience should certainly not be disregarded.

“Piracy audiences have too long been disregarded as offering no real value to rights holders and distributors, but the reality is that these huge audiences still see the same shirt sponsors and commercials as people watching the game via a licensed channel,” Chatterley says.

In theory, it’s possible that the added value from sports streaming pirates might even outweigh the losses. But, to answer that question, one has to know how many pirate viewers would pay if unauthorized streams were not available. Perhaps that’s a good avenue to research next.

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

Premier League & Broadcasters Win Judgment in Landmark Pirate TV Box Case

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-broadcasters-win-judgment-in-landmark-pirate-tv-box-case-190427/

Piracy-configured set-top boxes are the latest in a long line of problems facing copyright holders and broadcasters.

When pre-loaded with custom software they become easily accessible yet formidable piracy tools, providing access to the latest movies, TV shows, live TV programming and live sports broadcasts.

While successful prosecutions have been possible in some regions under existing copyright law, there are plenty of countries that still require a test case. One of those was Singapore, a country that has reportedly become swamped with pirate devices.

In January 2018, it was reported that telecoms, broadcasting, and sporting giants SingTel, Starhub, Fox Networks Group and the Premier League, had teamed up to launch a pioneering private prosecution against those involved in the supply chain.

The complainant in the suit is Neil Gane, who works as General Manager at the Coalition Against Piracy. However, CAP is not involved in this case.

The legal action targeted set-top box distributor Synnex Trading and its client and wholesale goods retailer, An-Nahl. The rightsholders also named Synnex Trading director Jia Xiaofen and An-Nahl director Abdul Nagib as defendants in their private prosecution.

This week, more than a year after the case was filed, Abdul Nagib pleaded guilty to willfully infringing the rightsholders’ copyrights for commercial gain, with a second charge taken into consideration. He originally intended to fight the case.

According to CNA, the 58-year-old admitted to selling a single Android TV box and helping the buyer of that device to access unauthorized copies of copyrighted content, which included soccer matches provided by the Premier League.

In mitigation, Abdul Nagib’s lawyer Mr Srijit said that his client believed that the content offered through the devices, which came with an annual subscription, was licensed by pay TV and IPTV provider Astro Malaysia. He had immediately stopped offering the devices after he received a cease-and-desist notice in 2017.

While Abdul Nagib’s fine of just S$1,200 (US$883) is relatively small given the scale of punishments handed down in other jurisdictions, Mr Srijit said his client had already paid a heavy price after selling his home to finance his defense.

Despite the small fine, the case is also important since this is the first and only successful prosecution of a ‘pirate’ TV box seller in Singapore. However, it is not yet over as the case against Synnex Trading and director Jia Xiaofen is yet to be settled.

Jia allegedly offered to pay Abdul Nagib a small commission for every device sold and an additional fee when customers also purchased a copy of the popular Kodi media player. Abdul Nagib is now reportedly assisting in the prosecution of Jia.

Commenting on the plea and judgment, Louis Boswell, CEO Asia Video Industry Association (AVIA), said that progress against piracy needs to be a team effort.

“In order to combat the serious and growing problem of content theft, a holistic solution is required,” Boswell told TorrentFreak.

“If all stakeholders, government, content producers, distributors, industry associations and intermediaries work together, we believe serious progress in reducing video piracy can be achieved.”

While today’s guilty plea will prove useful to AVIA’s members and other rightsholders, the action is just one of the avenues available to combat piracy.

Last September, Singnet, Fox Networks Group, NGC Network Asia, Fox International Channels (US) Inc, and the Premier League obtained an injunction from the Singapore High Court which required several local ISPs to block access to popular ‘pirate’ apps.

In May 2018, ISPs blocked dozens of torrent and streaming platforms (including The Pirate Bay plus KickassTorrents and Solarmovie variants) following a successful application from the MPAA.

The Hollywood group later obtained a so-called ‘dynamic‘ blocking order which granted it the ability to block sites more efficiently should they attempt to circumvent the earlier order.

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

When Joe Public Becomes a Commercial Pirate, a Little Knowledge is Dangerous

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/joe-public-becomes-commercial-pirate-little-knowledge-dangerous-180603/

Back in March and just a few hours before the Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker fight, I got chatting with some fellow fans in the local pub. While some were intending to pay for the fight, others were going down the Kodi route.

Soon after the conversation switched to IPTV. One of the guys had a subscription and he said that his supplier would be along shortly if anyone wanted a package to watch the fight at home. Of course, I was curious to hear what he had to say since it’s not often this kind of thing is offered ‘offline’.

The guy revealed that he sold more or less exclusively on eBay and called up the page on his phone to show me. The listing made interesting reading.

In common with hundreds of similar IPTV subscription offers easily findable on eBay, the listing offered “All the sports and films you need plus VOD and main UK channels” for the sum of just under £60 per year, which is fairly cheap in the current market. With a non-committal “hmmm” I asked a bit more about the guy’s business and surprisingly he was happy to provide some details.

Like many people offering such packages, the guy was a reseller of someone else’s product. He also insisted that selling access to copyrighted content is OK because it sits in a “gray area”. It’s also easy to keep listings up on eBay, he assured me, as long as a few simple rules are adhered to. Right, this should be interesting.

First of all, sellers shouldn’t be “too obvious” he advised, noting that individual channels or channel lists shouldn’t be listed on the site. Fair enough, but then he said the most important thing of all is to have a disclaimer like his in any listing, written as follows:

“PLEASE NOTE EBAY: THIS IS NOT A DE SCRAMBLER SERVICE, I AM NOT SELLING ANY ILLEGAL CHANNELS OR CHANNEL LISTS NOR DO I REPRESENT ANY MEDIA COMPANY NOR HAVE ACCESS TO ANY OF THEIR CONTENTS. NO TRADEMARK HAS BEEN INFRINGED. DO NOT REMOVE LISTING AS IT IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH EBAY POLICIES.”

Apparently, this paragraph is crucial to keeping listings up on eBay and is the equivalent of kryptonite when it comes to deflecting copyright holders, police, and Trading Standards. Sure enough, a few seconds with Google reveals the same wording on dozens of eBay listings and those offering IPTV subscriptions on external platforms.

It is, of course, absolutely worthless but the IPTV seller insisted otherwise, noting he’d sold “thousands” of subscriptions through eBay without any problems. While a similar logic can be applied to garlic and vampires, a second disclaimer found on many other illicit IPTV subscription listings treads an even more bizarre path.

“THE PRODUCTS OFFERED CAN NOT BE USED TO DESCRAMBLE OR OTHERWISE ENABLE ACCESS TO CABLE OR SATELLITE TELEVISION PROGRAMS THAT BYPASSES PAYMENT TO THE SERVICE PROVIDER. RECEIVING SUBSCRIPTION/BASED TV AIRTIME IS ILLEGAL WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT.”

This disclaimer (which apparently no sellers displaying it have ever read) seems to be have been culled from the Zgemma site, which advertises a receiving device which can technically receive pirate IPTV services but wasn’t designed for the purpose. In that context, the disclaimer makes sense but when applied to dedicated pirate IPTV subscriptions, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

It’s unclear why so many sellers on eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist and other platforms think that these disclaimers are useful. It leads one to the likely conclusion that these aren’t hardcore pirates at all but regular people simply out to make a bit of extra cash who have received bad advice.

What is clear, however, is that selling access to thousands of otherwise subscription channels without permission from copyright owners is definitely illegal in the EU. The European Court of Justice says so (1,2) and it’s been backed up by subsequent cases in the Netherlands.

While the odds of getting criminally prosecuted or sued for reselling such a service are relatively slim, it’s worrying that in 2018 people still believe that doing so is made legal by the inclusion of a paragraph of text. It’s even more worrying that these individuals apparently have no idea of the serious consequences should they become singled out for legal action.

Even more surprisingly, TorrentFreak spoke with a handful of IPTV suppliers higher up the chain who also told us that what they are doing is legal. A couple claimed to be protected by communication intermediary laws, others didn’t want to go into details. Most stopped responding to emails on the topic. Perhaps most tellingly, none wanted to go on the record.

The big take-home here is that following some important EU rulings, knowingly linking to copyrighted content for profit is nearly always illegal in Europe and leaves people open for targeting by copyright holders and the authorities. People really should be aware of that, especially the little guy making a little extra pocket money on eBay.

Of course, people are perfectly entitled to carry on regardless and test the limits of the law when things go wrong. At this point, however, it’s probably worth noting that IPTV provider Ace Hosting recently handed over £600,000 rather than fight the Premier League (1,2) when they clearly had the money to put up a defense.

Given their effectiveness, perhaps they should’ve put up a disclaimer instead?

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

Hong Kong Customs Arrest Pirate Streaming Device Vendors

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hong-kong-customs-arrest-pirate-streaming-device-vendors-180529/

As Internet-capable set-top boxes pour into homes across all populated continents, authorities seem almost powerless to come up with a significant response to the growing threat.

In standard form these devices, which are often Android-based, are entirely legal. However, when configured with specialist software they become piracy powerhouses providing access to all content imaginable, often at copyright holders’ expense.

A large proportion of these devices come from Asia, China in particular, but it’s relatively rare to hear of enforcement action in that part of the world. That changed this week with an announcement from Hong Kong customs detailing a series of raids in the areas of Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai.

After conducting an in-depth investigation with the assistance of copyright holders, on May 25 and 26 Customs and Excise officers launched Operation Trojan Horse, carrying out a series of raids on four premises selling suspected piracy-configured set-top boxes.

During the operation, officers arrested seven men and one woman aged between 18 and 45. Four of them were shop owners and the other four were salespeople. Around 354 suspected ‘pirate’ boxes were seized with an estimated market value of HK$320,000 (US$40,700).

“In the past few months, the department has stepped up inspections of hotspots for TV set-top boxes,” a statement from authorities reads.

“We have discovered that some shops have sold suspected illegal set-top boxes that bypass the copyright protection measures imposed by copyright holders of pay television programs allowing people to watch pay television programs for free.”

Some of the devices seized by Hong Kong Customs

During a press conference yesterday, a representative from the Customs Copyright and Trademark Investigations (Action) Division said that in the run up to the World Cup in 2018, measures against copyright infringement will be strengthened both on and online.

The announcement was welcomed by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia’s (CASBAA) Coalition Against Piracy, which is back by industry heavyweights including Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, National Basketball Association, TV5MONDE, Viacom International, and others.

“We commend the great work of Hong Kong Customs in clamping down on syndicates who profit from the sale of Illicit Streaming Devices,” said General Manager Neil Gane.

“The prevalence of ISDs in Hong Kong and across South East Asia is staggering. The criminals who sell ISDs, as well as those who operate the ISD networks and pirate websites, are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware.”

Malware warnings are very prevalent these days but it’s not something the majority of set-top box owners have a problem with. Indeed, a study carried by Sycamore Research found that pirates aren’t easily deterred by such warnings.

Nevertheless, there are definite risks for individuals selling devices when they’re configured for piracy.

Recent cases, particularly in the UK, have shown that hefty jail sentences can hit offenders while over in the United States (1,2,3), lawsuits filed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) have the potential to end in unfavorable rulings for multiple defendants.

Although rarely reported, offenders in Hong Kong also face stiff sentences for this kind of infringement including large fines and custodial sentences of up to four years.

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

Pirate IPTV Service Gave Customer Details to Premier League, But What’s the Risk?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-service-gave-customer-details-to-premier-league-but-whats-the-risk-180515/

In a report last weekend, we documented what appear to be the final days of pirate IPTV provider Ace Hosting.

From information provided by several sources including official liquidation documents, it became clear that a previously successful and profitable Ace had succumbed to pressure from the Premier League, which accused the service of copyright infringement.

The company had considerable funds in the bank – £255,472.00 to be exact – but it also had debts of £717,278.84, including £260,000 owed to HMRC and £100,000 to the Premier League as part of a settlement agreement.

Information received by TF late Sunday suggested that £100K was the tip of the iceberg as far as the Premier League was concerned and in a statement yesterday, the football outfit confirmed that was the case.

“A renowned pirate of Premier League content to consumers has been forced to liquidate after agreeing to pay £600,000 for breaching the League’s copyright,” the Premier League announced.

“Ace IPTV, run by Craig Driscoll and Ian Isaac, was selling subscriptions to illegal Premier League streams directly to consumers which allowed viewing on a range of devices, including notorious Kodi-type boxes, as well as to smaller resellers in the UK and abroad.”

Sources familiar with the case suggest that while Ace Hosting Limited didn’t have the funds to pay the Premier League the full £600K, Ace’s operators agreed to pay (and have already paid, to some extent at least) what were essentially their own funds to cover amounts above the final £100K, which is due to be paid next year.

But that’s not the only thing that’s been handed over to the Premier League.

“Ace voluntarily disclosed the personal details of their customers, which the League will now review in compliance with data protection legislation. Further investigations will be conducted, and action taken where appropriate,” the Premier League added.

So, the big question now is how exposed Ace’s former subscribers are.

The truth is that only the Premier League knows for sure but TF has been able to obtain information from several sources which indicate that former subscribers probably aren’t the Premier League’s key interest and even if they were, information obtained on them would be of limited use.

According to a source with knowledge of how a system like Ace’s works, there is a separation of data which appears to help (at least to some degree) with the subscriber’s privacy.

“The system used to manage accounts and take payment is actually completely separate from the software used to manage streams and the lines themselves. They are never usually even on the same server so are two very different databases,” he told TF.

“So at best the only information that has voluntarily been provided to the [Premier League], is just your email, name and address (assuming you even used real details) and what hosting package or credits you bought.”

While this information is bad enough, the action against Ace is targeted, in that it focuses on the Premier League’s content and how Ace (and therefore its users) infringed on the football outfit’s copyrights. So, proving that subscribers actually watched any Premier League content would be an ideal position but it’s not straightforward, despite the potential for detailed logging.

“The management system contains no history of what you watched, when you watched it, when you signed in and so on. That is all contained in a different database on a different server.

“Because every connection is recorded [on the second server], it can create some two million entries a day and as such most providers either turn off this feature or delete the logs daily as having so many entries slows down the system down used for actual streams,” he explains.

Our source says that this data would likely to have been the first to be deleted and is probably “long gone” by now. However, even if the Premier League had obtained it, it’s unlikely they would be able to do much with it due to data protection laws.

“The information was passed to the [Premier League] voluntarily by ACE which means this information has been given from one entity to another without the end users’ consent, not part of the [creditors’ voluntary liquidation] and without a court order to support it. Data Protection right now is taken very seriously in the EU,” he notes.

At this point, it’s probably worth noting that while the word “voluntarily” has been used several times to explain the manner in which Ace handed over its subscribers’ details to the Premier League, the same word can be used to describe the manner in which the £600K settlement amount will be paid.

No one forces someone to pay or hand something over, that’s what the courts are for, and the aim here was to avoid that eventuality.

Other pieces of information culled from various sources suggest that PayPal payment information, limited to amounts only, was also handed over to the Premier League. And, perhaps most importantly (and perhaps predictably) as far as former subscribers are concerned, the football group was more interested in Ace’s upwards supplier chain (the ‘wholesale’ stream suppliers used, for example) than those buying the service.

Finally, while the Premier League is now seeking to send a message to customers that these services are risky to use, it’s difficult to argue with the assertion that it’s unsafe to hand over personal details to an illegal service.

“Ace IPTV’s collapse also highlighted the risk consumers take with their personal data when they sign up to illegal streaming services,” Premier League notes.

TF spoke with three IPTV providers who all confirmed that they don’t care what names and addresses people use to sign up with and that no checks are carried out to make sure they’re correct. However, one concedes that in order to run as a business, this information has to be requested and once a customer types it in, it’s possible that it could be handed over as part of a settlement.

“I’m not going to tell people to put in dummy details, how can I? It’s up to people to use their common sense. If they’re still worried they should give Sky their money because if our backs are against the wall, what do you think is going to happen?” he concludes.

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

Pirate IPTV Service Goes Bust After Premier League Deal, Exposing Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-service-goes-bust-after-premier-league-deal-exposing-users-180913/

For those out of the loop, unauthorized IPTV services offering many thousands of unlicensed channels have been gaining in popularity in recent years. They’re relatively cheap, fairly reliable, and offer acceptable levels of service.

They are, however, a huge thorn in the side of rightsholders who are desperate to bring them to their knees. One such organization is the UK’s Premier League, which has been disrupting IPTV services over the past year, hoping they’ll shut down.

Most have simply ridden the wave of blocks but one provider, Ace Hosting in the UK, showed signs of stress last year, revealing that it would no longer sell new subscriptions. There was little doubt in most people’s minds that the Premier League had gotten uncomfortably close to the IPTV provider.

Now, many months later, the amazing story can be told. It’s both incredible and shocking and will leave many shaking their heads in disbelief. First up, some background.

Doing things ‘properly’ – incorporation of a pirate service…

Considering how most operators of questionable services like to stay in the shade, it may come as a surprise to learn that Ace Hosting Limited is a proper company. Incorporated and registered at Companies House on January 3, 2017, Ace has two registered directors – family team Ian and Judith Isaac.

In common with several other IPTV operators in the UK who are also officially registered with the authorities, Ace Hosting has never filed any meaningful accounts. There’s a theory that the corporate structure is basically one of convenience, one that allows for the handling of large volumes of cash while limiting liability. The downside, of course, is that people are often more easily identified, in part due to the comprehensive paper trail.

Thanks to what can only be described as a slow-motion train wreck, the Ace Hosting debacle is revealing a bewildering set of circumstances. Last December, when Ace said it would stop signing up new members due to legal pressure, a serious copyright threat had already been filed against it.

Premier League v Ace Hosting

Documents seen by TorrentFreak reveal that the Premier League sent legal threats to Ace Hosting on December 15, 2017, just days before the subscription closure announcement. Somewhat surprisingly, Ace apparently felt it could pay the Premier League a damages amount and keep on trading.

But early March 2018, with the Premier League threatening Ace with all kinds of bad things, the company made a strange announcement.

“The ISPs in the UK and across Europe have recently become much more aggressive in blocking our service while football games are in progress,” Ace said in a statement.

“In order to get ourselves off of the ISP blacklist we are going to black out the EPL games for all users (including VPN users) starting on Monday. We believe that this will enable us to rebuild the bypass process and successfully provide you with all EPL games.”

It seems doubtful that Ace really intended to thumb its nose at the Premier League but it had continued to sell subscriptions since receiving threats in December, so all things seemed possible. But on March 24 that all changed, when Ace effectively announced its closure.

Premier League 1, Ace Hosting 0

“It is with sorrow that we announce that we are no longer accepting renewals, upgrades to existing subscriptions or the purchase of new credits. We plan to support existing subscriptions until they expire,” the team wrote.

“EPL games including highlights continue to be blocked and are not expected to be reinstated before the end of the season.”

Indeed, just days later the Premier League demanded a six-figure settlement sum from Ace Hosting, presumably to make a lawsuit disappear. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“When the proposed damages amount was received it was clear that the Company would not be able to cover the cost and that there was a very high probability that even with a negotiated settlement that the Company was insolvent,” documents relating to Ace’s liquidation read.

At this point, Ace says it immediately ceased trading but while torrent sites usually shut down and disappear into the night, Ace’s demise is now a matter of record.

Creditors – the good, the bad, and the ugly

On April 11, 2018, Ace’s directors contacted business recovery and insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP to obtain advice on the company’s financial position. Begbies Traynor was instructed by Ace on April 23 and on May 8, Ace Hosting director Ian Isaac determined that his company could not pay its debts.

First the good news. According to an official report, Ace Hosting has considerable cash in the bank – £255,472.00 to be exact. Now the bad news – Ace has debts of £717,278.84. – the details of which are intriguing to say the least.

First up, Ace has ‘trade creditors’ to whom it owes £104,356. The vast majority of this sum is a settlement Ace agreed to pay to the Premier League.

“The directors entered into a settlement agreement with the Football Association Premier League Limited prior to placing the Company into liquidation as a result of a purported copyright infringement. However, there is a residual claim from the Football Association Premier League Limited which is included within trade creditors totaling £100,000,” Ace’s statement of affairs reads.

Bizarrely (given the nature of the business, at least) Ace also owes £260,000 to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in unpaid VAT and corporation tax, which is effectively the government’s cut of the pirate IPTV business’s labors.

Former Ace Hosting subscriber? Your cash is as good as gone

Finally – and this is where things get a bit sweaty for Joe Public – there are 15,768 “consumer creditors”, split between ‘retail’ and ‘business’ customers of the service. Together they are owed a staggering £353,000.

Although the documentation isn’t explicit, retail customers appear to be people who have purchased an Ace IPTV subscription that still had time to run when the service closed down. Business customers seem likely to be resellers of the service, who purchased ‘credits’ and didn’t get time to sell them before Ace disappeared.

The poison chalice here is that those who are owed money by Ace can actually apply to get some of it back, but that could be extremely risky.

“Creditor claims have not yet been adjudicated but we estimate that the majority of customers who paid for subscription services will receive less than £3 if there is a distribution to unsecured creditors. Furthermore, customer details will be passed to the relevant authorities if there is any suggestion of unlawful conduct,” documentation reads.

We spoke with a former Ace customer who had this to say about the situation.

“It was generally a good service notwithstanding their half-arsed attempts to evade the EPL block. At its heart there were people who seemed to know how to operate a decent service, although the customer-facing side of things was not the greatest,” he said.

“And no, I won’t be claiming a refund. I went into it with my eyes fully open so I don’t hold anyone responsible, except myself. In any case, anyone who wants a refund has to complete a claim form and provide proof of ID (LOL).”

The bad news for former subscribers continues…potentially

While it’s likely that most people will forgo their £3, the bad news isn’t over for subscribers. Begbies Traynor is warning that the liquidators will decide whether to hand over subscribers’ personal details to the Premier League and/or the authorities.

In any event, sometime in the next couple of weeks the names and addresses of all subscribers will be made “available for inspection” at an address in Wiltshire for two days, meaning that any interested parties could potentially gain access to sensitive information.

The bottom line is that Ace Hosting is in the red to the tune of £461,907 and will eventually disappear into the bowels of history. Whether its operators will have to answer for their conduct will remain to be seen but it seems unimaginable at this stage that things will end well.

Subscribers probably won’t get sucked in but in a story as bizarre as this one, anything could yet happen.

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

Pirate IPTV Blocking Case is No Slam Dunk Says Federal Court Judge

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-blocking-case-is-no-slam-dunk-says-federal-court-judge-180502/

Last year, Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) applied for a blocking injunction against several unauthorized IPTV services.

Under the Copyright Act, the broadcaster asked the Federal Court to order ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG plus their subsidiaries to block access to seven Android-based services named as A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.

Unlike torrent site and streaming portal blocks granted earlier, it soon became clear that this case would present unique difficulties. TVB not only wants Internet locations (URLs, domains, IP addresses) related to the technical operation of the services blocked, but also hosting services akin to Google Play and Apple’s App Store that host the app.

Furthermore, it is far from clear whether China-focused live programming is eligible for copyright protection in Australia. If China had been a party to the 1961 Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations, it would receive protection. As it stands, it does not.

That causes complications in respect of Section 115a of the Copyright Act which allows rightsholders to apply for an injunction to have “overseas online locations” blocked if they facilitate access to copyrighted content. Furthermore, the section requires that the “primary purpose” of the location is to infringe copyrights recognized in Australia. If it does not, then there’s no blocking option available.

“If most of what is occurring here is a reproduction of broadcasts that are not protected by copyright, then the primary purpose is not to facilitate copyright infringement,” Justice Nicholas said in April.

This morning TVB returned to Federal Court for a scheduled hearing. The ISPs were a no-show again, leaving the broadcaster’s legal team to battle it out with Justice Nicholas alone. According to details published by ComputerWorld, he isn’t making it easy for the overseas company.

The Judge put it to TVB that “the purpose of this system [the set-top boxes] is to make available a broadcast that’s not copyright protected in this country, in this country,” he said.

“If 10 per cent of the content was infringing content, how could you say the primary purpose is infringing copyright?” the Judge asked.

But despite the Judge’s reservations, TVB believes that the pirate IPTV services clearly infringe its rights, since alongside live programming, the devices also reproduce TVB movies which do receive protection in Australia. However, the company is also getting creative in an effort to sidestep the ‘live TV’ conundrum.

TVB counsel Julian Cooke told the Court that live TVB broadcasts are first reproduced on foreign servers from where they are communicated to set-top devices in Australia with a delay of between one and four minutes. This is a common feature of all pirate IPTV services which potentially calls into question the nature of the ‘live’ broadcasts. The same servers also carry recorded content too, he argued.

“Because the way the system is set up, it compounds itself … in a number of instances, a particular domain name, which we refer to as the portal target domain name, allows a communication path not just to live TV, but it’s also the communication path to other applications such as replay and video on demand,” Cooke said, as quoted by ZDNet.

Cooke told the Court that he wasn’t sure whether the threshold for “primary purpose” was set at 50% of infringing content but noted that the majority of the content available through the boxes is infringing and the nature of the servers is even more pronounced.

“It compounds the submission that the primary purpose of the online location which is the facilitating server is to facilitate the infringement of copyright using that communication path,” he said.

As TF predicted in our earlier coverage, TVB today got creative by highlighting other content that it does receive copyright protection for in Australia. Previously in the UK, the Premier League successfully stated that it owns copyright in the logos presented in a live broadcast.

This morning, Cooke told the court that TVB “literary works” – scripts used on news shows and subtitling services – receive copyright protection in Australia so urged the Court to consider the full package.

“If one had concerns about live TV, one shouldn’t based on the analysis we’ve done … if one adds that live TV infringements together with video on demand together with replay, there could be no doubt that the primary purpose of the online locations is to infringe copyright,” he said.

Due to the apparent complexity of the case, Justice Nicholas reserved his decision, telling TVB that his ruling could take a couple of months after receiving his “close attention.”

Last week, Village Roadshow and several major Hollywood studios won a blocking injunction against a different pirate IPTV service. HD Subs Plus delivers around 600 live premium channels plus hundreds of movies on demand, but the service will now be blocked by ISPs across Australia.

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

Danish Traffic to Pirate Sites Increases 67% in Just a Year

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/danish-traffic-to-pirate-sites-increases-67-in-just-a-year-180501/

For close to 20 years, rightsholders have tried to stem the tide of mainstream Internet piracy. Yet despite increasingly powerful enforcement tools, infringement continues on a grand scale.

While the problem is global, rightsholder groups often zoom in on their home turf, to see how the fight is progressing locally. Covering Denmark, the Rights Alliance Data Report 2017 paints a fairly pessimistic picture.

Published this week, the industry study – which uses SimilarWeb and MarkMonitor data – finds that Danes visited 2,000 leading pirate sites 596 million times in 2017. That represents a 67% increase over the 356 million visits to unlicensed platforms made by citizens during 2016.

The report notes that, at least in part, this explosive growth can be attributed to mobile-compatible sites and services, which make it easier than ever to consume illicit content on the move, as well as at home.

In a sea of unauthorized streaming sites, Rights Alliance highlights one platform above all the others as a particularly bad influence in 2017 – 123movies (also known as GoMovies and GoStream, among others).

“The popularity of this service rose sharply in 2017 from 40 million visits in 2016 to 175 million visits in 2017 – an increase of 337 percent, of which most of the traffic originates from mobile devices,” the report notes.

123movies recently announced its closure but before that the platform was subjected to web-blocking in several jurisdictions.

Rights Alliance says that Denmark has one of the most effective blocking systems in the world but that still doesn’t stop huge numbers of people from consuming pirate content from sites that aren’t yet blocked.

“Traffic to infringing sites is overwhelming, and therefore blocking a few sites merely takes the top of the illegal activities,” Rights Alliance chief Maria Fredenslund informs TorrentFreak.

“Blocking is effective by stopping 75% of traffic to blocked sites but certainly, an upscaled effort is necessary.”

Rights Alliance also views the promotion of legal services as crucial to its anti-piracy strategy so when people visit a blocked site, they’re also directed towards legitimate platforms.

“That is why we are working at the moment with Denmark’s Ministry of Culture and ISPs on a campaign ‘Share With Care 2′ which promotes legal services e.g. by offering a search function for legal services which will be placed in combination with the signs that are put on blocked websites,” the anti-piracy group notes.

But even with such measures in place, the thirst for unlicensed content is great. In 2017 alone, 500 of the most popular films and TV shows were downloaded from P2P networks like BitTorrent more than 15 million times from Danish IP addresses, that’s up from 11.9 million in 2016.

Given the dramatic rise in visits to pirate sites overall, the suggestion is that plenty of consumers are still getting through. Rights Alliance says that the number of people being restricted is also hampered by people who don’t use their ISP’s DNS service, which is the method used to block sites in Denmark.

Additionally, interest in VPNs and similar anonymization and bypass-capable technologies is on the increase. Between 3.5% and 5% of Danish Internet users currently use a VPN, a number that’s expected to go up. Furthermore, Rights Alliance reports greater interest in “closed” pirate communities.

“The data is based on closed [BitTorrent] networks. We also address the challenges with private communities on Facebook and other [social media] platforms,” Fredenslund explains.

“Due to the closed doors of these platforms it is not possible for us to say anything precisely about the amount of infringing activities there. However, we receive an increasing number of notices from our members who discover that their products are distributed illegally and also we do an increased monitoring of these platforms.”

But while more established technologies such as torrents and regular web-streaming continue in considerable volumes, newer IPTV-style services accessible via apps and dedicated platforms are also gaining traction.

“The volume of visitors to these services’ websites has been sharply rising in 2017 – an increase of 84 percent from January to December,” Rights Alliance notes.

“Even though the number of visitors does not say anything about actual consumption, as users usually only visit pages one time to download the program, the number gives an indication that the interest in IPTV is increasing.”

To combat this growth market, Rights Alliance says it wants to establish web-blockades against sites hosting the software applications.

Also on the up are visits to platforms offering live sports illegally. In 2017, Danish IP addresses made 2.96 million visits to these services, corresponding to almost 250,000 visits per month and representing an annual increase of 28%.

Rights Alliance informs TF that in future a ‘live’ blocking mechanism similar to the one used by the Premier League in the UK could be deployed in Denmark.

“We already have a dynamic blocking system, and we see an increasing demand for illegal TV products, so this could be a natural next step,” Fredenslund explains.

Another small but perhaps significant detail is how users are accessing pirate sites. According to the report, large volumes of people are now visiting platforms directly, with more than 50% doing so in preference to referrals from search engines such as Google.

In terms of deterrence, the Rights Alliance report sticks to the tried-and-tested approaches seen so often in the anti-piracy arena.

Firstly, the group notes that it’s increasingly encountering people who are paying for legal services such as Netflix and Spotify so believe that allows them to grab something extra from a pirate site. However, in common with similar organizations globally, the group counters that pirate sites can serve malware or have other nefarious business interests behind the scenes, so people should stay away.

Whether significant volumes will heed this advice will remain to be seen but if a 67% increase last year is any predictor of the future, piracy is here to stay – and then some. Rights Alliance says it is ready for the challenge but will need some assistance to achieve its goals.

“As it is evident from the traffic data, criminal activities are not something that we, private companies (right holders in cooperation with ISPs), can handle alone,” Fredenslund says.

“Therefore, we are very pleased that DK Government recently announced that the IP taskforce which was set down as a trial period has now been made permanent. In that regard it is important and necessary that the police will also obtain the authority to handle blocking of massively infringing websites. Police do not have the authority to carry out blocking as it is today.”

The full report is available here (Danish, pdf)

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

Права върху снимка

Post Syndicated from nellyo original https://nellyo.wordpress.com/2017/11/18/photo_copyright/

Маймуната Наруто си прави селфи с фотоапарата на британския фотограф Дейвид Слейтър. На кого са правата върху снимката? На този, който натиска бутона? На Наруто? На Брадли Купър, който заснема с апарата на Дедженерис  група  кинозвезди в нощта на Оскарите?

На Наруто, на фотографа – или снимката е в публичния домейн?

За всяка от трите опции  има субект с интерес:  Дружеството за защита на животните,  Дейвид Слейтър и Уикипедия.

Слейтър постига извънсъдебно споразумение с дружеството, сега се очаква и дело с Уикипедия. Именно по този повод вчера е излязла интересна публикация с позоваване на практиката на Съда на ЕС: фотографията е повече от натискане на бутон  – снимката   може да има характера на художествено произведение по смисъла  на закона за авторското право, ако задачата оставя  достатъчно пространство за индивидуално творческо решение – вж делото C‑145/10 Painer:

88      Както следва от съображение 17 от Директива 93/98, дадено интелектуално творение е собствено авторско интелектуално творение, когато то отразява личността на автора.

89      Такъв е обаче случаят, ако авторът е могъл да изрази своите творчески способности при реализирането на произведението, като е направил свободен и творчески избор (вж. a contrario Решение от 4 октомври 2011 г. по дело Football Association Premier League и др., C‑403/08 и C‑429/08, точка 98).

90      Що се отнася до портретна снимка, следва да се посочи, че авторът може да направи своя свободен и творчески избор по няколко начини и в различни моменти при реализирането ѝ.

91      На подготвителния етап авторът може да избере фона на снимката, позата на сниманото лице или осветлението. При заснемането на портретната снимка той може да избере разполагането в кадър, ъгъла на снимане или още създадената атмосфера. Накрая, при проявяването на снимката авторът може да избере между различните съществуващи техники на проявяване тази, която желае да възприеме, или, ако е необходимо, да използва софтуер.

92      Чрез тези различни видове избор авторът на дадена портретна снимка може по този начин да остави своя „индивидуален отпечатък“ върху създаденото произведение.

93      Следователно, когато става въпрос за портретна снимка, свободата, с която разполага авторът, за да упражни своите творчески способности, не би била задължително ограничена или несъществуваща.

94      С оглед на гореизложеното, следва да се приеме, че по силата на член 6 от Директива 93/98 портретна снимка може да бъде закриляна от авторско право, при условие — което националната юрисдикция следва да провери във всеки конкретен случай — че такава фотография е авторско интелектуално творение, което отразява личността на автора и е проява на неговия свободен и творчески избор при реализирането на тази фотография.

 

Filed under: Media Law Tagged: снимка, съд на ес