Tag Archives: pressure

T411, France’s Most-Visited Torrent Site, Has Been Shut Down

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/t411-frances-most-visited-torrent-site-has-disappeared-170627/

As the number one torrent site among French speakers and one of the most popular sites in France, T411’s rise to stardom is the product of more than a decade of twists and turns.

After a prolonged battle against 31 Canadian media organizations including the CRIA, the administrator of a torrent site known as QuebecTorrent closed its doors in 2008 after the handing down of a permanent injunction.

“I just wanna say thanks to all the people who supported the cause and me all along,” admin Sebastian Doditz told TorrentFreak at the time.

Initially, it was believed that the 109,000 members of the site would be left homeless but shortly after another torrent site appeared. Called Torrent411 with the slogan The Torrent Yellow Pages (411 is Canada’s version), it launched with around 109,000 members – the number that QuebecTorrent closed with.

No surprise then that all QuebecTorrent user accounts had been transferred to T411, including ratios and even some content categories that were previously excluded due to copyright holder disputes.

“Welcome to one and all!” a notice on the site read. “It is with great pleasure that we launch the Torrent411.com site today. All the team of Torrent411.com wishes you the most cordial of welcomes! Here you will find all the torrents imaginable which will be for you for thousands of hours to come! Filled with surprises that await you!”

Even following its resurrection, pressure on the site continued to build. In 2011, it was forced to move to T411.me, to avoid problems with its .com domain, but against the odds, it continued to grow.

As shown in the image to the right (courtesy OpenTrackers), in 2013 the site had more than 5.3 million members, 336,000 torrents, and 4.7m seeders. That made it a significant site indeed.

In early 2015, the site decided to move again, from .me to .io, following action to have the site blocked in France.

But later in the year, there was yet more trouble when the site found itself reported to the United States Trade Representative, identified as a “rogue site” by the RIAA.

With a number of copyright holders on its back, it’s clear that T411’s troubles weren’t going away anytime soon, but now there’s a crisis from which the site is unlikely to recover.

On Sunday, T411 simply stopped responding on its latest T411.al domain. No warning and no useful messages have been forthcoming from its operators. For a site of this scale and resilience, that’s not something one expects.

Message greeting site visitors

Even though the site itself has been down, there have been some very basic signs of life. For example, the site’s Wiki remained operational which indicates the T411.al domain is at least partially intact, at least for now. But for those hoping for good news, none will be forthcoming.

Moments ago, French journalist Tristan Brossat‏ confirmed that T411 has been shut down in a joint operation between French and Swedish police.

He reports that “the brains” behind the site (reportedly two Ukrainians) have been arrested. Servers hosted at a Swedish company have been seized.

Anti-piracy activity against France-connected torrent sites has been high during recent months. Last November, torrent icon What.cd shutdown following action by French authorities.

Soon after, the cybercrime unit of the French military police targeted the country’s largest pirate site, Zone-Telechargement (1,2).

Update: A source familiar with developments informs TF that a one of those arrested in Sweden was a developer. In France, he reports that moderators have been arrested.

Update2: The arrests in Sweden took place in the Huddinge Municipality in Stockholm County, east central Sweden. The men are said to be around 30-years-old and are suspected of copyright infringement and money laundering offenses.

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

Kim Dotcom Opposes US’s “Fugitive” Claims at Supreme Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-opposes-uss-fugitive-claims-supreme-court-170622/

megaupload-logoWhen Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were raided five years ago, the authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property.

The US government claimed the assets were obtained through copyright crimes so went after the bank accounts, cars, and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were branded as “fugitives” and the Government won its case. Dotcom’s legal team quickly appealed this verdict, but lost once more at the Fourth Circuit appeals court.

A few weeks ago Dotcom and his former colleagues petitioned the Supreme Court to take on the case.

They don’t see themselves as “fugitives” and want the assets returned. The US Government opposed the request, but according to a new reply filed by Megaupload’s legal team, the US Government ignores critical questions.

The Government has a “vested financial stake” in maintaining the current situation, they write, which allows the authorities to use their “fugitive” claims as an offensive weapon.

“Far from being directed towards persons who have fled or avoided our country while claiming assets in it, fugitive disentitlement is being used offensively to strip foreigners of their assets abroad,” the reply brief (pdf) reads.

According to Dotcom’s lawyers there are several conflicting opinions from lower courts, which should be clarified by the Supreme Court. That Dotcom and his colleagues have decided to fight their extradition in New Zealand, doesn’t warrant the seizure of their assets.

“Absent review, forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars will be a fait accompli without the merits being reached,” they write, adding that this is all the more concerning because the US Government’s criminal case may not be as strong as claimed.

“This is especially disconcerting because the Government’s criminal case is so dubious. When the Government characterizes Petitioners as ‘designing and profiting from a system that facilitated wide-scale copyright infringement,’ it continues to paint a portrait of secondary copyright infringement, which is not a crime.”

The defense team cites several issues that warrant review and urges the Supreme Court to hear the case. If not, the Government will effectively be able to use assets seizures as a pressure tool to urge foreign defendants to come to the US.

“If this stands, the Government can weaponize fugitive disentitlement in order to claim assets abroad,” the reply brief reads.

“It is time for the Court to speak to the Questions Presented. Over the past two decades it has never had a better vehicle to do so, nor is any such vehicle elsewhere in sight,” Dotcom’s lawyers add.

Whether the Supreme Court accepts or denies the case will likely be decided in the weeks to come.

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

US Embassy Threatens to Close Domain Registry Over ‘Pirate Bay’ Domain

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/us-embassy-threatens-to-close-domain-registry-over-pirate-bay-domain-170620/

Domains have become an integral part of the piracy wars and no one knows this better than The Pirate Bay.

The site has burned through numerous domains over the years, with copyright holders and authorities successfully pressurizing registries to destabilize the site.

The latest news on this front comes from the Central American country of Costa Rica, where the local domain registry is having problems with the United States government.

The drama is detailed in a letter to ICANN penned by Dr. Pedro León Azofeifa, President of the Costa Rican Academy of Science, which operates NIC Costa Rica, the registry in charge of local .CR domain names.

Azofeifa’s letter is addressed to ICANN board member Thomas Schneider and pulls no punches. It claims that for the past two years the United States Embassy in Costa Rica has been pressuring NIC Costa Rica to take action against a particular domain.

“Since 2015, the United Estates Embassy in Costa Rica, who represents the interests of the United States Department of Commerce, has frequently contacted our organization regarding the domain name thepiratebay.cr,” the letter to ICANN reads.

“These interactions with the United States Embassy have escalated with time and include great pressure since 2016 that is exemplified by several phone calls, emails, and meetings urging our ccTLD to take down the domain, even though this would go against our domain name policies.”

The letter states that following pressure from the US, the Costa Rican Ministry of Commerce carried out an investigation which concluded that not taking down the domain was in line with best practices that only require suspensions following a local court order. That didn’t satisfy the United States though, far from it.

“The representative of the United States Embassy, Mr. Kevin Ludeke, Economic Specialist, who claims to represent the interests of the US Department of
Commerce, has mentioned threats to close our registry, with repeated harassment
regarding our practices and operation policies,” the letter to ICANN reads.

Ludeke is indeed listed on the US Embassy site for Costa Rica. He’s also referenced in a 2008 diplomatic cable leaked previously by Wikileaks. Contacted via email, Ludeke did not immediately respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

Extract from the letter to ICANN

Surprisingly, Azofeifa says the US representative then got personal, making negative comments towards his Executive Director, “based on no clear evidence or statistical data to support his claims, as a way to pressure our organization to take down the domain name without following our current policies.”

Citing the Tunis Agenda for the Information Society of 2005, Azofeifa asserts that “policy authority for Internet-related public policy issues is the sovereign right of the States,” which in Costa Rica’s case means that there must be “a final judgment from the Courts of Justice of the Republic of Costa Rica” before the registry will suspend a domain.

But it seems legal action was not the preferred route of the US Embassy. Demanding that NIC Costa Rica take unilateral action, Mr. Ludeke continued with “pressure and harassment to take down the domain name without its proper process and local court order.”

Azofeifa’s letter to ICANN, which is cc’d to Stafford Fitzgerald Haney, United States Ambassador to Costa Rica and various people in the Costa Rican Ministry of Commerce, concludes with a request for suggestions on how to deal with the matter.

While the response should prove very interesting, none of the parties involved appear to have noticed that ThePirateBay.cr isn’t officially connected to The Pirate Bay

The domain and associated site appeared in the wake of the December 2014 shut down of The Pirate Bay, claiming to be the real deal and even going as far as making fake accounts in the names of famous ‘pirate’ groups including ettv and YIFY.

Today it acts as an unofficial and unaffiliated reverse proxy to The Pirate Bay while presenting the site’s content as its own. It’s also affiliated with a fake KickassTorrents site, Kickass.cd, which to this day claims that it’s a reincarnation of the defunct torrent giant.

But perhaps the most glaring issue in this worrying case is the apparent willingness of the United States to call out Costa Rica for not doing anything about a .CR domain run by third parties, when the real Pirate Bay’s .org domain is under United States’ jurisdiction.

Registered by the Public Interest Registry in Reston, Virginia, ThePirateBay.org is the famous site’s main domain. TorrentFreak asked PIR if anyone from the US government had ever requested action against the domain but at the time of publication, we had received no response.

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

BPI Breaks Record After Sending 310 Million Google Takedowns

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bpi-breaks-record-after-sending-310-million-google-takedowns-170619/

A little over a year ago during March 2016, music industry group BPI reached an important milestone. After years of sending takedown notices to Google, the group burst through the 200 million URL barrier.

The fact that it took BPI several years to reach its 200 million milestone made the surpassing of the quarter billion milestone a few months later even more remarkable. In October 2016, the group sent its 250 millionth takedown to Google, a figure that nearly doubled when accounting for notices sent to Microsoft’s Bing.

But despite the volumes, the battle hadn’t been won, let alone the war. The BPI’s takedown machine continued to run at a remarkable rate, churning out millions more notices per week.

As a result, yet another new milestone was reached this month when the BPI smashed through the 300 million URL barrier. Then, days later, a further 10 million were added, with the latter couple of million added during the time it took to put this piece together.

BPI takedown notices, as reported by Google

While demanding that Google places greater emphasis on its de-ranking of ‘pirate’ sites, the BPI has called again and again for a “notice and stay down” regime, to ensure that content taken down by the search engine doesn’t simply reappear under a new URL. It’s a position BPI maintains today.

“The battle would be a whole lot easier if intermediaries played fair,” a BPI spokesperson informs TF.

“They need to take more proactive responsibility to reduce infringing content that appears on their platform, and, where we expressly notify infringing content to them, to ensure that they do not only take it down, but also keep it down.”

The long-standing suggestion is that the volume of takedown notices sent would reduce if a “take down, stay down” regime was implemented. The BPI says it’s difficult to present a precise figure but infringing content has a tendency to reappear, both in search engines and on hosting sites.

“Google rejects repeat notices for the same URL. But illegal content reappears as it is re-indexed by Google. As to the sites that actually host the content, the vast majority of notices sent to them could be avoided if they implemented take-down & stay-down,” BPI says.

The fact that the BPI has added 60 million more takedowns since the quarter billion milestone a few months ago is quite remarkable, particularly since there appears to be little slowdown from month to month. However, the numbers have grown so huge that 310 billion now feels a lot like 250 million, with just a few added on top for good measure.

That an extra 60 million takedowns can almost be dismissed as a handful is an indication of just how massive the issue is online. While pirates always welcome an abundance of links to juicy content, it’s no surprise that groups like the BPI are seeking more comprehensive and sustainable solutions.

Previously, it was hoped that the Digital Economy Bill would provide some relief, hopefully via government intervention and the imposition of a search engine Code of Practice. In the event, however, all pressure on search engines was removed from the legislation after a separate voluntary agreement was reached.

All parties agreed that the voluntary code should come into effect two weeks ago on June 1 so it seems likely that some effects should be noticeable in the near future. But the BPI says it’s still early days and there’s more work to be done.

“BPI has been working productively with search engines since the voluntary code was agreed to understand how search engines approach the problem, but also what changes can and have been made and how results can be improved,” the group explains.

“The first stage is to benchmark where we are and to assess the impact of the changes search engines have made so far. This will hopefully be completed soon, then we will have better information of the current picture and from that we hope to work together to continue to improve search for rights owners and consumers.”

With more takedown notices in the pipeline not yet publicly reported by Google, the BPI informs TF that it has now notified the search giant of 315 million links to illegal content.

“That’s an astonishing number. More than 1 in 10 of the entire world’s notices to Google come from BPI. This year alone, one in every three notices sent to Google from BPI is for independent record label repertoire,” BPI concludes.

While it’s clear that groups like BPI have developed systems to cope with the huge numbers of takedown notices required in today’s environment, it’s clear that few rightsholders are happy with the status quo. With that in mind, the fight will continue, until search engines are forced into compromise. Considering the implications, that could only appear on a very distant horizon.

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

Digital painter rundown

Post Syndicated from Eevee original https://eev.ee/blog/2017/06/17/digital-painter-rundown/

Another patron post! IndustrialRobot asks:

You should totally write about drawing/image manipulation programs! (Inspired by https://eev.ee/blog/2015/05/31/text-editor-rundown/)

This is a little trickier than a text editor comparison — while most text editors are cross-platform, quite a few digital art programs are not. So I’m effectively unable to even try a decent chunk of the offerings. I’m also still a relatively new artist, and image editors are much harder to briefly compare than text editors…

Right, now that your expectations have been suitably lowered:

Krita

I do all of my digital art in Krita. It’s pretty alright.

Okay so Krita grew out of Calligra, which used to be KOffice, which was an office suite designed for KDE (a Linux desktop environment). I bring this up because KDE has a certain… reputation. With KDE, there are at least three completely different ways to do anything, each of those ways has ludicrous amounts of customization and settings, and somehow it still can’t do what you want.

Krita inherits this aesthetic by attempting to do literally everything. It has 17 different brush engines, more than 70 layer blending modes, seven color picker dockers, and an ungodly number of colorspaces. It’s clearly intended primarily for drawing, but it also supports animation and vector layers and a pretty decent spread of raster editing tools. I just right now discovered that it has Photoshop-like “layer styles” (e.g. drop shadow), after a year and a half of using it.

In fairness, Krita manages all of this stuff well enough, and (apparently!) it manages to stay out of your way if you’re not using it. In less fairness, they managed to break erasing with a Wacom tablet pen for three months?

I don’t want to rag on it too hard; it’s an impressive piece of work, and I enjoy using it! The emotion it evokes isn’t so much frustration as… mystified bewilderment.

I once filed a ticket suggesting the addition of a brush size palette — a panel showing a grid of fixed brush sizes that makes it easy to switch between known sizes with a tablet pen (and increases the chances that you’ll be able to get a brush back to the right size again). It’s a prominent feature of Paint Tool SAI and Clip Studio Paint, and while I’ve never used either of those myself, I’ve seen a good few artists swear by it.

The developer response was that I could emulate the behavior by creating brush presets. But that’s flat-out wrong: getting the same effect would require creating a ton of brush presets for every brush I have, plus giving them all distinct icons so the size is obvious at a glance. Even then, it would be much more tedious to use and fill my presets with junk.

And that sort of response is what’s so mysterious to me. I’ve never even been able to use this feature myself, but a year of amateur painting with Krita has convinced me that it would be pretty useful. But a developer didn’t see the use and suggested an incredibly tedious alternative that only half-solves the problem and creates new ones. Meanwhile, of the 28 existing dockable panels, a quarter of them are different ways to choose colors.

What is Krita trying to be, then? What does Krita think it is? Who precisely is the target audience? I have no idea.


Anyway, I enjoy drawing in Krita well enough. It ships with a respectable set of brushes, and there are plenty more floating around. It has canvas rotation, canvas mirroring, perspective guide tools, and other art goodies. It doesn’t colordrop on right click by default, which is arguably a grave sin (it shows a customizable radial menu instead), but that’s easy to rebind. It understands having a background color beneath a bottom transparent layer, which is very nice. You can also toggle any brush between painting and erasing with the press of a button, and that turns out to be very useful.

It doesn’t support infinite canvases, though it does offer a one-click button to extend the canvas in a given direction. I’ve never used it (and didn’t even know what it did until just now), but would totally use an infinite canvas.

I haven’t used the animation support too much, but it’s pretty nice to have. Granted, the only other animation software I’ve used is Aseprite, so I don’t have many points of reference here. It’s a relatively new addition, too, so I assume it’ll improve over time.

The one annoyance I remember with animation was really an interaction with a larger annoyance, which is: working with selections kind of sucks. You can’t drag a selection around with the selection tool; you have to switch to the move tool. That would be fine if you could at least drag the selection ring around with the selection tool, but you can’t do that either; dragging just creates a new selection.

If you want to copy a selection, you have to explicitly copy it to the clipboard and paste it, which creates a new layer. Ctrl-drag with the move tool doesn’t work. So then you have to merge that layer down, which I think is where the problem with animation comes in: a new layer is non-animated by default, meaning it effectively appears in any frame, so simply merging it down with merge it onto every single frame of the layer below. And you won’t even notice until you switch frames or play back the animation. Not ideal.

This is another thing that makes me wonder about Krita’s sense of identity. It has a lot of fancy general-purpose raster editing features that even GIMP is still struggling to implement, like high color depth support and non-destructive filters, yet something as basic as working with selections is clumsy. (In fairness, GIMP is a bit clumsy here too, but it has a consistent notion of “floating selection” that’s easy enough to work with.)

I don’t know how well Krita would work as a general-purpose raster editor; I’ve never tried to use it that way. I can’t think of anything obvious that’s missing. The only real gotcha is that some things you might expect to be tools, like smudge or clone, are just types of brush in Krita.

GIMP

Ah, GIMP — open source’s answer to Photoshop.

It’s very obviously intended for raster editing, and I’m pretty familiar with it after half a lifetime of only using Linux. I even wrote a little Scheme script for it ages ago to automate some simple edits to a couple hundred files, back before I was aware of ImageMagick. I don’t know what to say about it, specifically; it’s fairly powerful and does a wide variety of things.

In fact I’d say it’s almost frustratingly intended for raster editing. I used GIMP in my first attempts at digital painting, before I’d heard of Krita. It was okay, but so much of it felt clunky and awkward. Painting is split between a pencil tool, a paintbrush tool, and an airbrush tool; I don’t really know why. The default brushes are largely uninteresting. Instead of brush presets, there are tool presets that can be saved for any tool; it’s a neat idea, but doesn’t feel like a real substitute for brush presets.

Much of the same functionality as Krita is there, but it’s all somehow more clunky. I’m sure it’s possible to fiddle with the interface to get something friendlier for painting, but I never really figured out how.

And then there’s the surprising stuff that’s missing. There’s no canvas rotation, for example. There’s only one type of brush, and it just stamps the same pattern along a path. I don’t think it’s possible to smear or blend or pick up color while painting. The only way to change the brush size is via the very sensitive slider on the tool options panel, which I remember being a little annoying with a tablet pen. Also, you have to specifically enable tablet support? It’s not difficult or anything, but I have no idea why the default is to ignore tablet pressure and treat it like a regular mouse cursor.

As I mentioned above, there’s also no support for high color depth or non-destructive editing, which is honestly a little embarrassing. Those are the major things Serious Professionals™ have been asking for for ages, and GIMP has been trying to provide them, but it’s taking a very long time. The first signs of GEGL, a new library intended to provide these features, appeared in GIMP 2.6… in 2008. The last major release was in 2012. GIMP has been working on this new plumbing for almost as long as Krita’s entire development history. (To be fair, Krita has also raised almost €90,000 from three Kickstarters to fund its development; I don’t know that GIMP is funded at all.)

I don’t know what’s up with GIMP nowadays. It’s still under active development, but the exact status and roadmap are a little unclear. I still use it for some general-purpose editing, but I don’t see any reason to use it to draw.

I do know that canvas rotation will be in the next release, and there was some experimentation with embedding MyPaint’s brush engine (though when I tried it it was basically unusable), so maybe GIMP is interested in wooing artists? I guess we’ll see.

MyPaint

Ah, MyPaint. I gave it a try once. Once.

It’s a shame, really. It sounds pretty great: specifically built for drawing, has very powerful brushes, supports an infinite canvas, supports canvas rotation, has a simple UI that gets out of your way. Perfect.

Or so it seems. But in MyPaint’s eagerness to shed unnecessary raster editing tools, it forgot a few of the more useful ones. Like selections.

MyPaint has no notion of a selection, nor of copy/paste. If you want to move a head to align better to a body, for example, the sanctioned approach is to duplicate the layer, erase the head from the old layer, erase everything but the head from the new layer, then move the new layer.

I can’t find anything that resembles HSL adjustment, either. I guess the workaround for that is to create H/S/L layers and floodfill them with different colors until you get what you want.

I can’t work seriously without these basic editing tools. I could see myself doodling in MyPaint, but Krita works just as well for doodling as for serious painting, so I’ve never gone back to it.

Drawpile

Drawpile is the modern equivalent to OpenCanvas, I suppose? It lets multiple people draw on the same canvas simultaneously. (I would not recommend it as a general-purpose raster editor.)

It’s a little clunky in places — I sometimes have bugs where keyboard focus gets stuck in the chat, or my tablet cursor becomes invisible — but the collaborative part works surprisingly well. It’s not a brush powerhouse or anything, and I don’t think it allows textured brushes, but it supports tablet pressure and canvas rotation and locked alpha and selections and whatnot.

I’ve used it a couple times, and it’s worked well enough that… well, other people made pretty decent drawings with it? I’m not sure I’ve managed yet. And I wouldn’t use it single-player. Still, it’s fun.

Aseprite

Aseprite is for pixel art so it doesn’t really belong here at all. But it’s very good at that and I like it a lot.

That’s all

I can’t name any other serious contender that exists for Linux.

I’m dimly aware of a thing called “Photo Shop” that’s more intended for photos but functions as a passable painter. More artists seem to swear by Paint Tool SAI and Clip Studio Paint. Also there’s Paint.NET, but I have no idea how well it’s actually suited for painting.

And that’s it! That’s all I’ve got. Krita for drawing, GIMP for editing, Drawpile for collaborative doodling.

“Top ISPs” Are Discussing Fines & Browsing Hijacking For Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/top-isps-are-discussing-fines-browsing-hijacking-for-pirates-170614/

For the past several years, anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has been moderately successful in forcing smaller fringe ISPs in the United States to collaborate in a low-tier copyright trolling operation.

The way it works is relatively simple. Rightscorp monitors BitTorrent networks, captures the IP addresses of alleged infringers, and sends DMCA notices to their ISPs. Rightscorp expects ISPs to forward these to their customers along with an attached cash settlement demand.

These demands are usually for small amounts ($20 or $30) but most of the larger ISPs don’t forward them to their customers. This deprives Rightscorp (and clients such as BMG) of the opportunity to generate revenue, a situation that the anti-piracy outfit is desperate to remedy.

One of the problems is that when people who receive Rightscorp ‘fines’ refuse to pay them, the company does nothing, leading to a lack of respect for the company. With this in mind, Rightscorp has been trying to get ISPs involved in forcing people to pay up.

In 2014, Rightscorp said that its goal was to have ISPs place a redirect page in front of ‘pirate’ subscribers until they pay a cash fine.

“[What] we really want to do is move away from termination and move to what’s called a hard redirect, like, when you go into a hotel and you have to put your room number in order to get past the browser and get on to browsing the web,” the company said.

In the three years since that statement, the company has raised the issue again but nothing concrete has come to fruition. However, there are now signs of fresh movement which could be significant, if Rightscorp is to be believed.

“An ISP Good Corporate Citizenship Program is what we feel will drive revenue associated with our primary revenue model. This program is an attempt to garner the attention and ultimately inspire a behavior shift in any ISP that elects to embrace our suggestions to be DMCA-compliant,” the company told shareholders yesterday.

“In this program, we ask for the ISPs to forward our notices referencing the infringement and the settlement offer. We ask that ISPs take action against repeat infringers through suspensions or a redirect screen. A redirect screen will guide the infringer to our payment screen while limiting all but essential internet access.”

At first view, this sounds like a straightforward replay of Rightscorp’s wishlist of three years ago, but it’s worth noting that the legal landscape has shifted fairly significantly since then.

Perhaps the most important development is the BMG v Cox Communications case, in which the ISP was sued for not doing enough to tackle repeat infringers. In that case (for which Rightscorp provided the evidence), Cox was held liable for third-party infringement and ordered to pay damages of $25 million alongside $8 million in legal fees.

All along, the suggestion has been that if Cox had taken action against infringing subscribers (primarily by passing on Rightscorp ‘fines’ and/or disconnecting repeat infringers) the ISP wouldn’t have ended up in court. Instead, it chose to sweat it out to a highly unfavorable decision.

The BMG decision is a potentially powerful ruling for Rightscorp, particularly when it comes to seeking ‘cooperation’ from other ISPs who might not want a similar legal battle on their hands. But are other ISPs interested in getting involved?

According to the Rightscorp, preliminary negotiations are already underway with some big players.

“We are now beginning to have some initial and very thorough discussions with a handful of the top ISPs to create and implement such a program that others can follow. We have every reason to believe that the litigations referred to above are directly responsible for the beginning of a change in thinking of ISPs,” the company says.

Rightscorp didn’t identify these “top ISPs” but by implication, these could include companies such as Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink, Charter, Verizon, and/or even Cox Communications.

With cooperation from these companies, Rightscorp predicts that a “cultural shift” could be brought about which would significantly increase the numbers of subscribers paying cash demands. It’s also clear that while it may be seeking cooperation from ISPs, a gun is being held under the table too, in case any feel hesitant about putting up a redirect screen.

“This is the preferred approach that we advocate for any willing ISP as an alternative to becoming a defendant in a litigation and facing potential liability and significantly larger statutory damages,” Rightscorp says.

A recent development suggests the company may not be bluffing. Back in April the RIAA sued ISP Grande Communcations for failing to disconnect persistent pirates. Yet again, Rightscorp is deeply involved in the case, having provided the infringement data to the labels for a considerable sum.

Whether the “top ISPs” in the United States will cave into the pressure and implied threats remains to be seen but there’s no doubting the rising confidence at Rightscorp.

“We have demonstrated the tenacity to support two major litigation efforts initiated by two of our clients, which we feel will set a precedent for the entire anti-piracy industry led by Rightscorp. If you can predict the law, you can set the competition,” the company concludes.

Meanwhile, Rightscorp appears to continue its use of disingenuous tactics to extract money from alleged file-sharers.

In the wake of several similar reports, this week a Reddit user reported that Rightscorp asked him to pay a single $20 fine for pirating a song. After paying up, the next day the company allegedly called the user back and demanded payment for a further 200 notices.

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

Popular Release Group ShAaNiG Permanently Shuts Down

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-release-group-shaanig-permanently-shuts-down-170612/

While there are dozens of torrent release groups in operation today, some providing extremely high quality work, every few years a notable ‘brand’ group appears.

Two of the most famous from recent memory were aXXo and YIFY. Neither were known for historic individual releases or world-beating quality, but both were particularly consistent. An aXXo or YIFY label on an official torrent assured the potential downloader they would be getting a ‘McDonalds-quality’ product; never haute cuisine but just enough taste and in enough volume to fill people up.

As a result, these groups gained millions of followers, something that put anti-piracy targets on their backs. No surprise then that neither are around today, with YIFY subjected to legal action in New Zealand and aXXo….well, no one seems to know.

With those groups gone, there was a gap in the market for a similar product. Popular releases delivered to the masses in small file sizes is clearly a recipe for success and an existing group called ShAaNiG decided to step in to take up some of the slack.

What followed was thousands of ShAaNiG movie and TV show releases, which were uploaded to The Pirate Bay and direct download sites. They also took pride of place on the group’s forum at Shaanig.org, where they were neatly organized into relevant categories.

ShAaNiG’s release forum

But like aXXO and YIFY before it, something went wrong at ShAaNiG. After publishing a couple of releases on Saturday, including a Blu-ray rip of the movie Jawbone and an episode of TV show Outcast, ShAaNiG unexpectedly threw in the towel. A notice on the group’s homepage gives no reason for the sudden shutdown but makes it clear that ShAaNiG won’t be coming back.

“ShAaNiG has shut down permanently,” it reads. “Every journey must come to an end, This is the end of our journey. Thank you for all your support.”

While there are only so many ways to say that a site has been shut down for good, the first sentence is identical to the one used by ExtraTorrent when it closed down last month.

Another potentially interesting similarity is that both ExtraTorrent and ShAaNiG had huge followings in India, with both sites indexing a lot of local content, especially movies.

More than 30% of ShAaNiG’s traffic came from India, with much of it driven from The Pirate Bay where more than a thousand releases live on today. When ExtraTorrent shut down, around 40% of the new traffic arriving at another popular platform came from India.

Whether the Indian connection is pure coincidence remains to be seen, but it seems possible if not likely that some kind of legal pressure played a part in the demise of both. However, if the situation plays out in the same manner, we’ll hear no more and like ExtraTorrent, ShAaNiG will simply fade away.

While that will come as a huge disappointment to ShAaNiG fans, other file-sharers are likely to have less sympathy. Like aXXo and YIFY before it, ShAaNiG was rarely (if ever) the source of the material it released, instead preferring to re-encode existing releases. For some pirates, that’s a red line that should never be crossed.

Whether a new group will rise phoenix-like from the ashes will remain to be seen but as these ‘brand’ groups have established time and again, there’s always a market for passable quality movie releases, if they come in a compact file-size.

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

Online Platforms Should Collaborate to Ban Piracy and Terrorism, Report Suggests

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/online-platforms-collaborate-ban-piracy-terrorism-report-suggests-170608/

With deep ties to the content industries, the Digital Citizens Alliance periodically produces reports on Internet piracy. It has published reports on cyberlockers and tried to blame Cloudflare for the spread of malware, for example.

One of the key themes pursued by DCA is that Internet piracy is inextricably linked to a whole bunch of other online evils and that tackling the former could deliver a much-needed body blow to the latter.

Its new report, titled ‘Trouble in Our Digital Midst’, takes this notion and runs with it, bundling piracy with everything from fake news to hacking, to malware and brand protection, to the sextortion of “young girls and boys” via their computer cameras.

The premise of the report is that cybercrime as a whole is undermining America’s trust in the Internet, noting that 64% of US citizens say that their trust in digital platforms has dropped in the last year. Given the topics under the spotlight, it doesn’t take long to see where this is going – Internet platforms like Google, Facebook and YouTube must tackle the problem.

“When asked, ‘In your opinion, are digital platforms doing enough to keep the Internet safe and trustworthy, or are do they need to do more?’ a staggering 75 percent responded that they need to do more to keep the Internet safe,” the report notes.

It’s abundantly clear that the report is mostly about piracy but a lot of effort has been expended to ensure that people support its general call for the Internet to be cleaned up. By drawing attention to things that even most pirates might find offensive, it’s easy to find more people in agreement.

“Nearly three-quarters of respondents see the pairing of brand name advertising with offensive online content – like ISIS/terrorism recruiting videos – as a threat to the continued trust and integrity of the Internet,” the report notes.

Of course, this is an incredibly sensitive topic. When big brand ads turned up next to terrorist recruiting videos on YouTube, there was an almighty stink, and rightly so. However, at every turn, the DCA report manages to weave the issue of piracy into the equation, noting that the problem includes the “$200 million in advertising that shows up on illegal content theft websites often unbeknownst to the brands.”

The overriding theme is that platforms like Google, Facebook, and YouTube should be able to tackle all of these problems in the same way. Filtering out a terrorist video is the same as removing a pirate movie. And making sure that ads for big brands don’t appear alongside terrorist videos will be just as easy as starving pirates of revenue, the suggestion goes.

But if terrorism doesn’t grind your gears, what about fake news?

“64 percent of Americans say that the Fake News issue has made them less likely to trust the Internet as a source of information,” the report notes.

At this juncture, Facebook gets a gentle pat on the back for dealing with fake news and employing 3,000 people to monitor for violent videos being posted to the network. This shows that the company “takes seriously” the potential harm bad actors pose to Internet safety. But in keeping with the theme running throughout the report, it’s clear DCA are carefully easing in the thin end of the wedge.

“We are at only the beginning of thinking through other kinds of illicit and illegal activity happening on digital platforms right now that we must gain or re-gain control over,” DCA writes.

Quite. In the very next sentence, the group goes on to warn about the sale of drugs and stolen credit cards, adding that the sale of illicit streaming devices (modified Kodi boxes etc) is actually an “insidious yet effective delivery mechanism to infect computers with malware such as Remote Access Trojans.”

Both Amazon and Facebook receive praise in the report for their recent banning (1,2) of augmented Kodi devices but their actions are actually framed as the companies protecting their own reputations, rather than the interests of the media groups that have been putting them under pressure.

“And though this issue underscores the challenges faced by digital platforms – not all of which act with the same level of responsibility – it also highlights the fact digital platforms can and will step up when their own brands are at stake,” the report reads.

But pirate content and Remote Access Trojans through Kodi boxes are only the beginning. Pirate sites are playing a huge part as well, DCA claims, with one in three “content theft websites” exposing people to identify theft, ransomware, and sextortion via “the computer cameras of young girls and boys.”

Worst still, if that was possible, the lack of policing by online platforms means that people are able to “showcase live sexual assaults, murders, and other illegal conduct.”

DCA says that with all this in mind, Americans are looking for online digital platforms to help them. The group claims that citizens need proactive protection from these ills and want companies like Facebook to take similar steps to those taken when warning consumers about fake news and violent content.

So what can be done to stop this tsunami of illegality? According to DCA, platforms like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter need to up their game and tackle the problem together.

“While digital platforms collaborate on policy and technical issues, there is no evidence that they are sharing information about the bad actors themselves. That enables criminals and bad actors to move seamlessly from platform to platform,” DCA writes.

“There are numerous examples of industry working together to identify and share information about exploitive behavior. For example, casinos share information about card sharks and cheats, and for decades the retail industry has shared information about fraudulent credit cards. A similar model would enable digital platforms and law enforcement to more quickly identify and combat those seeking to leverage the platforms to harm consumers.”

How this kind of collaboration could take place in the real world is open to interpretation but the DCA has a few suggestions of its own. Again, it doesn’t shy away from pulling people on side with something extremely offensive (in this case child pornography) in order to push what is clearly an underlying anti-piracy agenda.

“With a little help from engineers, digital platforms could create fingerprints of unlawful conduct that is shared across platforms to proactively block such conduct, as is done in a limited capacity with child pornography,” DCA explains.

“If these and other newly developed measures were adopted, digital platforms would have the information to enable them to make decisions whether to de-list or demote websites offering illicit goods and services, and the ability to stop the spread of illegal behavior that victimizes its users.”

The careful framing of the DCA report means that there’s something for everyone. If you don’t agree with them on tackling piracy, then their malware, fake news, or child exploitation angles might do the trick. It’s quite a clever strategy but one that the likes of Google, Facebook, and YouTube will recognize immediately.

And they need to – because apparently, it’s their job to sort all of this out. Good luck with that.

The full report can be found here (pdf)

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

Popular Kodi Add-ons Quit Following Prominent Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-kodi-add-ons-quit-following-prominent-piracy-lawsuit-170607/

On Monday we broke the news that third-party Kodi add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were being sued in a federal court in Texas.

In a complaint filed by American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network, both stand accused of copyright infringement, facing up to $150,000 for each offense.

The news came as a shock to many add-on developers, most of whom release their software as a hobby, with no financial motive. A potential lawsuit that can run to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages clearly takes away most of the fun.

This could very well explain why several add-ons have shut down over the past 48 hours. While the lawsuit isn’t specifically named in most cases, there appears to be a direct connection.

One of the main add-ons that has thrown in the towel is Phoenix, which offered access to a wide range of channels, broadcasts, movies and TV shows.

“In light of current events we have decided to close down Phoenix. This is not something that was easy for us to do; we have all formed a bond that cannot be broken as a team and have a HUGE support base that we are thankful of,” Phoenix developer Cosmix writes.

“I can speak for myself when I say thank you to everybody that has ever been involved in Phoenix and it will always be one of my fondest memories,” he adds.

Cosmix’s announcement

Developer One242415, known for his work on Navi-X, Phoenix and later his own add-on, took a similar decision. He announced the news directly from his add-on which will be closed in a few days.

“I am removing my addon for good. It was a hell of a ride for me. First starting off with Navi-X, then with Mashup, then with Phoenix, and for two months with my own add-on.”

In a similar vein, developer Echo Coder also announced that all his addons will be shut down. Again, without naming a specific reason. On Twitter, he did say, however, that the recent spike in popularity of third-party add-ons was not beneficial to the community.

“The reality is we did say the growth of third party popularity would hinder us. Unfortunately, now it looks like an implosion,” he tweeted yesterday.

A few hours later this message was followed up with a note that he had pulled his own add-ons offline.

“Thank you for the last year. My addons are now off-line. Its been emotional. Take care,” Echo Coder wrote.

Echo Coder’s announcement

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. Several other third-party projects and add-ons have also shut down, announced a temporary hiatus, or other changes.

Various Kodi community websites, including Kodi Geeks, are trying to keep up with all the add-ons that are toppling, and uncertainty remains. The community is in a state of turmoil, and it will take several more days to see what the exact fallout will be.

Assuming that the Dish lawsuit is indeed the main trigger for the recent uproar, it is clear that many developers prefer to stay out of trouble. And with Kodi related piracy in the spotlights of copyright holders, legal pressure is likely to increase.

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

MPAA Chief Praises Site-Blocking But Italians Love Piracy – and the Quality

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-chief-praises-site-blocking-but-italians-love-pirate-quality-170606/

After holding a reputation for being soft on piracy for many years, in more recent times Italy has taken a much tougher stance. The country now takes regular action against pirate sites and has a fairly aggressive site-blocking mechanism.

On Monday, the industry gathered in Rome and was presented with new data from local anti-piracy outfit FAPAV. The research revealed that while there has been some improvement over the past six years, 39% of Italians are still consuming illicit movies, TV shows, sporting events and other entertainment, at the rate of 669m acts of piracy every year.

While movie piracy is down 4% from 2010, the content most often consumed by pirates is still films, with 33% of the adult population engaging in illicit consumption during the past year.

The downward trend was not shared by TV shows, however. In the past seven years, piracy has risen to 22% of the population, up 13% on figures from 2010.

In keeping with the MPAA’s recent coding of piracy in 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 variants (P2P as 1.0, streaming websites as 2.0, streaming devices/Kodi as 3.0), FAPAV said that Piracy 2.0 had become even more established recently, with site operators making considerable technological progress.

“The research tells us we can not lower our guard, we always have to work harder and with greater determination in communication and awareness, especially with regard to digital natives,” said FAPAV Secretary General, Bagnoli Rossi.

The FAPAV chief said that there needs to be emphasis in two areas. One, changing perceptions among the public over the seriousness of piracy via education and two, placing pressure on websites using the police, judiciary, and other law enforcement agencies.

“The pillars of anti-piracy protection are: the judicial authority, self-regulatory agreements, communication and educational activities,” said Rossi, adding that cooperation with Italy’s AGCOM had resulted in 94 sites being blocked over three years.

FAPAV research has traditionally focused on people aged 15 and up but the anti-piracy group believes that placing more emphasis on younger people (aged 10-14) is important since they also consume a lot of pirated content online. MPAA chief Chris Dodd, who was at the event, agreed with the sentiment.

“Today’s youth are the future of the audiovisual industry. Young people must learn to respect the people who work in film and television that in 96% of cases never appear [in front of camera] but still work behind the scenes,” Dodd said.

“It is important to educate and direct them towards legal consumption, which creates jobs and encourages investment. Technology has expanded options to consume content legally and at any time and place, but at the same time has given attackers the opportunity to develop illegal businesses.”

Despite large-scale site-blocking not being a reality in the United States, Dodd was also keen to praise Italy for its efforts while acknowledging the wider blocking regimes in place across the EU.

“We must not only act by blocking pirate sites (we have closed a little less than a thousand in Europe) but also focus on legal offers. Today there are 480 legal online distribution services worldwide. We must have more,” Dodd said.

The outgoing MPAA chief reiterated that movies, music, games and a wide range of entertainment products are all available online legally now. Nevertheless, piracy remains a “growing phenomenon” that has criminals at its core.

“Piracy is composed of criminal organizations, ready to steal sensitive data and to make illegal profits any way they can. It’s a business that harms the entire audiovisual market, which in Europe alone has a million working professionals. To promote the culture of legality means protecting this market and its collective heritage,” Dodd said.

In Italy, convincing pirates to go legal might be more easily said than done. Not only do millions download video every year, but the majority of pirates are happy with the quality too. 89% said they were pleased with the quality of downloaded movies while the satisfaction with TV shows was even greater with 91% indicating approval.

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

The Pirate Bay Remains Resilient, 11 Years After The Raid

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-remains-on-top-11-years-after-the-raid-170531/

There are a handful of traditions we have at TorrentFreak, and remembering the first raid on The Pirate Bay is one of them.

Not only was it the first major story we covered, it also had a significant impact on how the piracy ecosystem evolved over the years, and the role TPB has taken on since then.

This is just as relevant today as it was a decade ago. Following a year in which KickassTorrents, Torrentz.eu and ExtraTorrent were all shut down, The Pirate Bay remains online.

While the site has had plenty of downtime issues in recent years, many people may not realize that without a few essential keystrokes in the site’s early years, The Pirate Bay may not have been here today.

This is what happened.

The Raid

May 31, 2006, less than three years after The Pirate Bay was founded, 65 Swedish police officers entered a datacenter in Stockholm. The policemen had instructions to shut down the Pirate Bay’s servers, which were already seen as a major threat to the entertainment industry.

At the time The Pirate Bay wasn’t the giant it is today though. And ironically, the raid only made the site bigger, stronger, and more resilient.

As the police were about to enter the datacenter, Pirate Bay founders Gottfrid and Fredrik got wind that something was up.

In the months before the raid they were already being watched by private investigators day and night, but this time something was about to happen to their trackers.

At around 10 am in the morning Gottfrid told Fredrik that there were police officers at their office, and asked him to get down to the co-location facility and get rid of the ‘incriminating evidence,’ although none of it, whatever it was, was related to The Pirate Bay.

As Fredrik was leaving, he suddenly realized that the problems might be linked to their tracker. He therefore decided to make a full backup of the site, just in case.

When he later arrived at the co-location facility, the concerns turned out to be justified. There were dozens of policemen floating around taking away dozens of servers, most of which belonged to clients unrelated to The Pirate Bay.

Footage from The Pirate Bay raid

In the days that followed, it became clear that Fredrik’s decision to create a backup of the site was probably the most pivotal moment in the site’s history. Because of this backup, Fredrik and the rest of the Pirate Bay team managed to resurrect the site within three days.

Of course, the entire situation was handled with the mockery TPB had become known for.

Unimpressed, the site’s operators renamed the site “The Police Bay”, complete with a new logo shooting cannon balls at Hollywood. A few days later this logo was replaced by a Phoenix, a reference to the site rising from its digital ashes.

Logos after the raid

tpb classic

Instead of shutting it down, the raid propelled The Pirate Bay into the mainstream press, not least due to its swift resurrection. All the publicity also triggered a huge traffic spike for TPB, exactly the opposite effect Hollywood had hoped for.

Despite a criminal investigation leading to convictions for the site’s founders, The Pirate Bay kept growing and growing in the years that followed.

The site’s assets, meanwhile, were reportedly transferred to the Seychelles-based company Reservella.

Under new ownership, several major technical changes occurred. In the fall of 2009 the infamous BitTorrent tracker was taken offline, turning The Pirate Bay into a torrent indexing site.

Early 2012 The Pirate Bay went even further when it decided to cease offering torrent files for well-seeded content. The site’s operators moved to magnet links instead, allowing them to save resources while making it easier for third-party sites to run proxies.

These proxies turned out to be much-needed, as The Pirate Bay is now the most broadly censored website on the Internet. In recent years, ISPs all around the world have been ordered by courts to block subscriber access to the torrent site.

While TPB swiftly recovered from the “original” raid, it did suffer nearly two months of downtime late 2014 when another raid took place.

Initially it was believed that some of the site’s crucial servers were taken by the police, but the TPB team later said that it was barely hit and that they took the site offline as a precaution.

While the first raid made The Pirate Bay stronger, the two-month stint of downtime was a big hit. The site initially lost a lot of traffic, but after other key torrent sites were shutdown, it is now the most dominant player once again.

Although domain problems, technical issues, and outages are a regular occurance nowadays, TPB is still here. But remember, if there hadn’t been a recent backup back in 2006, things might have turned out quite differently.

The question that remains now is how long The Pirate Bay can keep going. The site has weathered several storms, but now that most other large sites are gone the pressure is growing.

To some, TPB lost its shine in recent years and several “co-founders” would rather see it gone. For now, however, that doesn’t seem to bother the current TPB-team. They do all they can to keep the site online, just like the site’s operator did on May 31, 2006.

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

Pornhub Piracy Stopped Me Producing Porn, Jenna Haze Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pornhub-piracy-stopped-me-producing-porn-jenna-haze-says-170531/

Last week, adult ‘tube’ site Pornhub celebrated its 10th anniversary, and what a decade it was.

Six months after its May 2007 launch, the site was getting a million visitors every day. Six months after that, traffic had exploded five-fold. Such was the site’s success, by November 2008 Pornhub entered the ranks of the top 100 most-visited sites on the Internet.

As a YouTube-like platform, Pornhub traditionally relied on users to upload content to the site. Uploaders have to declare that they have the rights to do so but it’s clear that amid large quantities of fully licensed material, content exists on Pornhub that is infringing copyright.

Like YouTube, however, the site says it takes its legal responsibilities seriously by removing content whenever a valid DMCA notice is received. Furthermore, it also has a Content Partner Program which allows content owners to monetize their material on the platform.

But despite these overtures, Pornhub has remained a divisive operation. While some partners happily generate revenue from the platform and use it to drive valuable traffic to their own sites, others view it as a parasite living off their hard work. Today those critics were joined by one of the biggest stars the adult industry has ever known.

After ten years as an adult performer, starring in more than 600 movies (including one that marked her as the first adult performer to appear on Blu-ray format), in 2012 Jenna Haze decided on a change of pace. No longer interested in performing, she headed to the other side of the camera as a producer and director.

“Directing is where my heart is now. It’s allowed me to explore a creative side that is different from what performing has offered me,” she said in a statement.

“I am very satisfied with what I was able to accomplish in 10 years of performing, and now I’m enjoying the challenges of being on the other side of the camera and running my studio.”

But while Haze enjoyed success with 15 movies, it wasn’t to last. The former performer eventually backed away from both directing and producing adult content. This morning she laid the blame for that on Pornhub and similar sites.

It all began with a tweet from Conan O’Brien, who belatedly wished Pornhub a happy 10th anniversary.

In response to O’Brien apparently coming to the party late, a Twitter user informed him how he’d been missing out on Jenna Haze. That drew a response from Haze herself, who accused Pornhub of pirating her content.

“Please don’t support sites like porn hub,” she wrote. “They are a tube site that pirates content that other adult companies produce. It’s like Napster!”

In a follow-up, Haze went on to accuse Pornhub of theft and blamed the site for her exit from the business.

“Well they steal my content from my company, as do many other tube sites. It’s why I don’t produce or direct anymore,” Haze wrote.

“Maybe not all of their content is stolen, but I have definitely seen my content up there, as well as other people’s content.”

Of course, just like record companies can do with YouTube, there’s always the option for Haze to file a DMCA notice with Pornhub to have offending content taken down. However, it’s a route she claims to have taken already, but without much success.

“They take the videos down and put [them] back up. I’m not saying they don’t do legitimate business as well,” she said.

While Pornhub has its critics, the site does indeed do masses of legitimate business. The platform is owned by Mindgeek, whose websites receive a combined 115 million visitors per day, fueled in part by content supplied by Brazzers and Digital Playground, which Mindgeek owns. That being said, Mindgeek’s position in the market has always been controversial.

Three years ago, it became evident that Mindgeek had become so powerful in the adult industry that performers (some of whom felt their content was being exploited by the company) indicated they were scared to criticize it.

Adult actress and outspoken piracy critic Tasha Reign, who also had her videos uploaded to Pornhub without her permission, revealed she was in a particularly tight spot.

“It’s like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place in a way, because if I want to shoot content then I kinda have to shoot for [Mindgeek] because that’s the company that books me because they own…almost…everything,” Reign said.

In 2017, Mindgeek’s dominance is clearly less of a problem for Haze, who is now concentrating on other things. But for those who remain in the industry, Mindgeek is a force to be reckoned with, so criticism will probably remain somewhat muted.

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

Even Fake Leaks Can Help in Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy Wars

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/even-fake-leaks-can-help-in-hollywoods-anti-piracy-wars-170527/

On Monday 15 May, during a town hall meeting in New York, Disney CEO Bob Iger informed a group of ABC employees that hackers had stolen one of the company’s movies.

The hackers allegedly informed the company that if a ransom was paid, then the copy would never see the light of day. Predictably, Disney refused to pay, the most sensible decision under the circumstances.

Although Disney didn’t name the ‘hacked’ film, it was named by Deadline as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’. A week later, a video was published by the LA Times claiming that the movie was indeed the latest movie in the successful ‘Pirates’ franchise.

From the beginning, however, something seemed off. Having made an announcement about the ‘hack’ to ABC employees, Disney suddenly didn’t want to talk anymore, declining all requests for comment. That didn’t make much sense – why make something this huge public if you don’t want to talk about it?

With this and other anomalies nagging, TF conducted its own investigation and this Wednesday – a week and a half after Disney’s announcement and a full three weeks after the company was contacted with a demand for cash – we published our findings.

Our conclusion was that the ‘hack’ almost certainly never happened and, from the beginning, no one had ever spoken about the new Pirates film being the ‘hostage’. Everything pointed to a ransom being demanded for a non-existent copy of The Last Jedi and that the whole thing was a grand hoax.

Multiple publications tried to get a comment from Disney before Wednesday, yet none managed to do so. Without compromising our sources, TF also sent an outline of our investigation to the company to get to the bottom of this saga. We were ignored.

Then, out of the blue, one day after we published our findings, Disney chief Bob Iger suddenly got all talkative again. Speaking with Yahoo Finance, Iger confirmed what we suspected all along – it was a hoax.

“To our knowledge we were not hacked,” Iger said. “We had a threat of a hack of a movie being stolen. We decided to take it seriously but not react in the manner in which the person who was threatening us had required.”

Let’s be clear here, if there were to be a victim in all of this, that would quite clearly be Disney. The company didn’t ask to be hacked, extorted, or lied to. But why would a company quietly sit on a dubious threat for two weeks, then confidently make it public as fact but refuse to talk, only to later declare it a hoax under pressure?

That may never be known, but Disney and its colleagues sure managed to get some publicity and sympathy in the meantime.

Publications such as the LA Times placed the threat alongside the ‘North Korea’ Sony hack, the more recent Orange is the New Black leak, and the WannaCry ransomware attacks that plagued the web earlier this month.

“Hackers are seizing the content and instead of just uploading it, they’re contacting the studios and asking for a ransom. That is a pretty recent phenomenon,” said MPAA content protection chief Dean Marks in the same piece.

“It’s scary,” an anonymous studio executive added. “It could happen to any one of us.”

While that is indeed the case and there is a definite need to take things seriously, this particular case was never credible. Not a single person interviewed by TF believed that a movie was available. Furthermore, there were many signs that the person claiming to have the movie was definitely not another TheDarkOverlord.

In fact, when TF was investigating the leak we had a young member of a release group more or less laugh at us for wasting our time trying to find out of it was real or not. Considering its massive power (and the claim that the FBI had been involved) it’s difficult to conclude that Disney hadn’t determined the same at a much earlier stage.

All that being said, trying to hoax Disney over a fake leak of The Last Jedi is an extremely dangerous game in its own right. Not only is extortion a serious crime, but dancing around pre-release leaks of Star Wars movies is just about as risky as it gets.

In June 2005, after releasing a workprint copy of Star Wars: Episode 3, the FBI took down private tracker EliteTorrents in a blaze of publicity. People connected to the leak received lengthy jail sentences. The same would happen again today, no doubt.

It might seem like fun and games now, but people screwing with Disney – for real, for money, or both – rarely come out on top. If a workprint of The Last Jedi does eventually become available (and of course that’s always a possibility), potential leakers should consider their options very carefully.

A genuine workprint leak could prompt the company to go to war, but in the meantime, fake-based extortion attempts only add fuel to the anti-piracy fire – in Hollywood’s favor.

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

Facebook Bans Sale of Piracy-Enabling Products & Devices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/facebook-bans-sale-of-piracy-enabling-products-devices-170525/

Riding the crest of a wave made possible by the rise of Internet streaming, piracy-enabled set-top boxes and similar devices have been hitting the homes of millions around the globe.

Often given the broad title of ‘Kodi Boxes’ after the legal open source software that commonly comes pre-installed, these devices are regularly configured for piracy with the aid of third-party addons.

Easy to use, set-top devices have opened up piracy to a whole new audience, normalizing it during the process. It’s a problem now being grappled with by anti-piracy outfits in a number of ways, including putting pressure on services where the boxes are being sold.

Now there are signs that Facebook has decided – or more likely been persuaded – to ban the sale of these devices from its platform. The latest addition to its Commerce Policy carries a new rule (13) which targets infringing set-top boxes almost perfectly.

“Items, products or services sold on Facebook must comply with our Community Standards, as well as the Commerce Policies,” the page reads.

“Sale of the following is prohibited on Facebook: Products or items that facilitate or encourage unauthorized access to digital media.”

The move by Facebook follows similar overtures from Amazon back in March. In a change to its policies, the company said that devices that promote or facilitate infringement would not be tolerated.

“Products offered for sale on Amazon should not promote, suggest the facilitation of, or actively enable the infringement of or unauthorized access to digital media or other protected content,” Amazon said.

“Any streaming media player or other device that violates this policy is prohibited from sale on Amazon,” the company added.

The recent move by Facebook was welcomed by Federation Against Copyright Theft chief, Kieron Sharp.

“It is great to see Facebook follow the likes of Amazon and eBay in making changes to their policies to prohibit the sale of illicit streaming devices on their platforms,” Sharpe said.

“These days social media sites are more than just a place to share photos and comments with friends and family. Unfortunately, the fast-paced development of these sites are being exploited by opportunists for criminal activity which needs to be disrupted.”

The sale of infringing devices on social media does indeed pose a challenge to the likes of FACT.

While most piracy devices have traditionally needed an expert touch to configure and then sell, in 2017 almost anyone can buy a standard Android device and set it up for piracy in a matter of minutes. This means that every interested citizen is a potential seller and Facebook provides a perfect platform that people are already familiar with.

Nevertheless, recent rulings from the EU Court of Justice have clarified two key issues, both of which will help in the fight to reduce the availability of ‘pirate’ boxes, wherever they appear.

In April, the ECJ declared such devices illegal to sell while clarifying that users who stream pirate content to their homes are also breaking the law.

It’s unlikely that any end users will be punished (particularly to the ridiculous extent erroneously reported by some media), but it certainly helps to demonstrate illegality across the board when outfits like FACT are considering prosecutions.

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

No, ExtraTorrent Has Not Been Resurrected

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/no-extratorrent-has-not-been-resurected-170524/

Last week the torrent community entered a state of shock when another major torrent site closed its doors.

Having served torrents to the masses for over a decade, ExtraTorrent decided to throw in the towel, without providing any detail or an apparent motive.

The only strong message sent out by ExtraTorrent’s operator was to “stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones.”

Fast forward a few days and the first copycats have indeed appeared online. While this was expected, it’s always disappointing to see “news” sites including the likes of Forbes and The Inquirer are giving them exposure without doing thorough research.

“We are a group of uploaders and admins from ExtraTorrent. As you know, SAM from ExtraTorrent pulled the plug yesterday and took all data offline under pressure from authorities. We were in deep shock and have been working hard to get it back online with all previous data,” the email, sent out to several news outlets read.

What followed was a flurry of ‘ExtraTorrent is back’ articles and thanks to those, a lot of people now think that Extratorrent.cd is a true resurrection operated by the site’s former staffers and fans.

However, aside from its appearance, the site has absolutely nothing to do with ET.

The site is an imposter operated by the same people who also launched Kickass.cd when KAT went offline last summer. In fact, the content on both sites doesn’t come from the defunct sites they try to replace, but from The Pirate Bay.

Yes indeed, ExtraTorrent.cd is nothing more than a Pirate Bay mirror with an ExtraTorrent skin.

There are several signs clearly showing that the torrents come from The Pirate Bay. Most easy to spot, perhaps, is a comparison of search results which are identical on both sites.

Chaparall seach on Extratorrent.cd

The ExtraTorrent “resurrection” even lists TPB’s oldest active torrent from March 2004, which was apparently uploaded long before the original ExtraTorrent was launched.

Chaparall search on TPB

TorrentFreak is in touch with proper ex-staffers of ExtraTorrent who agree that the site is indeed a copycat. Some ex-staffers are considering the launch of a new ET version, just like the KAT admins did in the past, but if that happens, it will take a lot more time.

“At the moment we are all figuring out how to go about getting it back up and running in a proper fashion, but as you can imagine there a lot of obstacles and arguments, lol,” ex-ET admin Soup informed us.

So, for now, there is no real resurrection. ExtraTorrent.cd sells itself as much more than it is, as it did with Kickass.cd. While the site doesn’t have any malicious intent, aside from luring old ET members under false pretenses, people have the right to know what it really is.

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

Elsevier Wants $15 Million Piracy Damages From Sci-Hub and Libgen

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/elsevier-wants-15-million-piracy-damages-from-sci-hub-and-libgen-170518/

Two years ago, academic publisher Elsevier filed a complaint against Sci-Hub, Libgen and several related “pirate” sites.

The publisher accused the websites of making academic papers widely available to the public, without permission.

While Sci-Hub and Libgen are nothing like the average pirate site, they are just as illegal according to Elsevier’s legal team, which swiftly obtained a preliminary injunction from a New York District Court.

The injunction ordered Sci-Hub’s founder Alexandra Elbakyan, who is the only named defendant, to quit offering access to any Elsevier content. This didn’t happen, however.

Sci-Hub and the other websites lost control over several domain names, but were quick to bounce back. They remain operational today and have no intention of shutting down, despite pressure from the Court.

This prompted Elsevier to request a default judgment and a permanent injunction against the Sci-Hub and Libgen defendants. In a motion filed this week, Elsevier’s legal team describes the sites as pirate havens.

“Defendants’ websites exist for the sole purpose of providing unauthorized and unlawful access to the copyrighted works of Elsevier and other scientific publishers. Collectively, Defendants are responsible for the piracy of millions of Elseviers’ copyrighted works as well as millions of works published by others.”

As compensation for the losses it has suffered, Elsevier is now demanding $15 million in damages. The publisher lists 100 works as evidence and argues that the maximum amount of $150,000 in statutory damages is warranted in this case.

“Here, Defendants’ willful conduct rises to the level of truly egregious conduct, justifying the maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringed work,” Elsevier’s team writes (pdf).

“The Preliminary Injunction constituted such notice by a court, and Defendants have flagrantly disregarded the Preliminary Injunction by continuing to operate their piracy enterprises.”

Not only did the defendants ignore the preliminary injunction by continuing to operate their websites, Sci-Hub’s operator stated that she chose to willingly disregard the court order.

“Moreover, Elbakyan has publicly stated that she is aware that Sci-Hub’s actions are unlawful and that this Court has enjoined her infringing activities, but that she intends to continue to defy the Court’s Order.”

The amount is also justified based on the scale of infringement, Elsevier stresses. The sites in question offer dozens of millions of copyrighted works which are downloaded hundreds of thousands of times per day.

A good chunk of these papers are copyrighted, many by Elsevier. In fact, when the original complaint was filed, Elsevier had trouble locating ScienceDirect-hosted articles that were not available through Libgen.

“Here, the scale of Defendants’ infringement is so staggering that a reasonable estimate of appropriate damages, even if based on a lower, license- fee-based metric, would be difficult, if not impossible, to calculate,” Elsevier’s legal team writes.

Since the court’s clerk has already entered a default against the defendants, it’s likely that Elsevier will win the case. As a result, Sci-Hub and Libgen will likely have to relocate again. Whether Elsevier will see any damages from the defendants has yet to be seen.

Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan wasn’t really sure how to comment on the million dollar claims. She described Elsevier’s requests as “funny” and “ridiculous,” while confirming that the site is not going anywhere.

“The Sci-Hub will continue as usual. In case of problems with the domain names, users can rely on TOR scihub22266oqcxt.onion,” Elbakyan tells us.

In hindsight, Elsevier may regret its decision to take legal action.

Instead of taking Sci-Hub and Libgen down, the lawsuit and the associated media attention only helped them grow. Last year we reported that its users were downloading hundreds of thousands of papers per day from Sci-Hub, a number that has likely increased since.

Also, Elbakyan is now seen as a hero by several prominent academics, illustrated by the fact that the prestigious publication Nature listed her as one of the top ten people that mattered in science last year.

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

The US Senate Is Using Signal

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/05/the_us_senate_i.html

The US Senate just approved Signal for staff use. Signal is a secure messaging app with no backdoor, and no large corporate owner who can be pressured to install a backdoor.

Susan Landau comments.

Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I think we just won the Crypto War. A very important part of the US government is prioritizing security over surveillance.

Law Professor Shows How to Fight Copyright Trolls

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/law-professor-shows-how-to-fight-copyright-trolls-170514/

In recent years, file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions.

These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have been a common occurrence in the United States for more than half a decade, and still are.

While rightsholders should be able to take legitimate piracy claims to court, there are some who resort to dodgy and extortion-like tactics extract money from alleged pirates, including people who are innocent.

This practice has been a thorn in the side of Matthew Sag, a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, and the Associate Director for Intellectual Property at the Institute for Consumer Antitrust Studies.

“Over the past few years, I have seen one example after another of innocent defendants being victimized by these lawsuits,” Sag explains to TorrentFreak.

This motivated the professor to take action. One of the problems he signals is that not all defense lawyers are familiar with these cases. They sometimes need dozens of hours to research them, which costs the defendant more than the cash settlement deal offered by the copyright holder.

As a result, paying off the trolls may seem like the most logical and safe option to the accused, even when they are innocent.

“Put simply, by the time your average lawyer has figured out what’s wrong with these cases and how to respond she has sunk 50 to 100 hours into a case that probably could’ve been settled for $2000 or $3000,” Sag notes.

“That makes no sense, so people settle cases with no merit. That, in turn, encourages meritless cases. We wanted to level the playing field and reduce the plaintiffs’ informational advantage,” he adds.

To balance the scales of justice, the professor wrote an article together with Jake Haskell, a recent Loyola University Law School graduate. Titled “Defense Against the Dark Arts of Copyright Trolling,” the paper provides a detailed overview of the various tactics the defense can use.

Not all cases filed by copyright holders can be characterized as “trolling.” According to Sag, copyright trolls can be best defined as “systematic opportunist, want” and he hopes that defense lawyers can use his article to prevent clear abuses.

Of course, judges play an important role as well, and some could certainly benefit from reading the paper.

“The federal courts should not be used as vending machines to issue indiscriminate hunting licenses. Judges need to keep a close eye on discovery and tactics used by the plaintiff to prolong proceedings or run up attorney’s fees,” Sag tells us.

“Hopefully, we have given defense lawyers a significant head start on figuring out how to defend these claims. If innocent defendants refused to settle, the plaintiffs would be forced to clean up their act,” he adds.

The article is a recommended read for everyone with an interest in copyright trolling in general, and is well worth a read for anyone wants to learn more about how these companies operate.

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

Kodi Addon Navi-X Bites The Dust After 10 Years

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-addon-navi-x-bites-the-dust-after-10-years-170513/

One of the main questions asked by new users of the Kodi media player is what addons should be installed to get the best experience right from the start.

Over the years, hit add-ons such as Exodus, Phoenix, SALTS and SportsDevil have all been top of the list but due to its wide range of content, one in particular has enjoyed broad appeal.

Navi-X began life ten years ago in 2007. Developed by Netherlands-based coder ‘Rodejo’, it debuted on XBMC (Kodi’s previous name) on the original XBoX.

“Navi-X originally only played back media items of video and audio content and was eventually expanded to included many other media types like text, RSS, live streams and podcasts,” the team at TV Addons explain.

Over the years, however, things changed dramatically. Due to the way Navi-X works, the addon can import playlists from any number of sources, and they have invariably been dominated by copyrighted content, from movies and TV shows through to live sports.

This earned the addon a massive following, estimated by TV Addons – the site that maintained the software – as numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Soon, however, Navi-X will be no more.

“Every good thing must come to an end. After ten years of successful operation, Navi-X is sadly being discontinued. Navi-X was first released in April 2007, and is the oldest Kodi addon of its kind,” TV Addons explain.

“There are a few reasons why we made the decision to close Navi-X, and hope that the hundreds of thousands of people who still used Navi-X daily will understand why it was best to discontinue Navi-X while it was still on top.”

The team says that the main reason for discontinuing the addon and its underlying service is the current legal climate. Hosting Navi-X playlists is something that TV Addons no longer feels comfortable with “due to the potential liability that comes with it.”

Also, the team says that Navi-X was slowly being overrun by people trying to make a profit from the service. Playlists were being filled with spam, often advertising premium illegal IPTV services, which TV Addons strongly opposes.

Mislabeling of adult content was also causing issues, and despite TV Addons’ best efforts to get rid of the offending content, they were fighting a losing battle.

“We tried to moderate the database, but there was just too much content, no one had the time to watch thousands of videos to remove ads and distasteful content,” the team explains.

Unlike other addons that have come under legal pressure, the shutdown of Navi-X is entirely voluntary. TV Addons extends thanks to developers rodejo16 and turner3d, plus Blazetamer and crzen from more recent times.

The repository also thanks those who took the time to create the playlists upon which Navi-X relied. It is this that shines a light at the end of the tunnel for those wondering how to fill the void left by the addon.

“We’d also like to recognize all the dedicated playlisters, who we invite to get in touch with us if they are interested in releasing their own addons sometime in the near future,” TV Addons concludes.

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

BREIN ‘Hunts Down’ Pirate Media Player Vendors

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-hunts-down-pirate-media-player-vendors-170512/

A surge of cheap media players, which often use the open source Kodi software, has made it easy for people to stream video from the Internet directly to their TVs.

In some cases vendors add pirate add-ons to these devices, selling these “fully-loaded” boxes through their own stores or marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.

Over the past several years, there has been little enforcement effort on this front. However, this changed a few weeks ago, when the European Court of Justice ruled that selling devices pre-configured to obtain copyright-infringing content is illegal.

The media players themselves can still be sold, and the Kodi software is legal too, but vendors who ship boxes with pirate add-ons could get a letter from rightsholders. The Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN, is particularly active on this front.

The group states that 84 vendors have already halted their sales in response to the European court ruling. Roughly half of these stopped before the ruling was announced, and 44 followed afterwards.

BREIN says that it contacted 51 sellers after the court order and 37 of these did indeed stop. The group also filed complaints against 11 vendors of which one has halted its sales, with six others stopping voluntarily.

Those who continue to offer “fully-loaded” boxes now risk hefty fines, BREIN Director Tim Kuik warns.

“The use of this type of player is causing major damage to the makers and providers of films, series, and sports broadcasts. The progress and settlements are therefore solid and run to tens of thousands of euros and more,” Kuik notes.

“The longer the vendors persist in their offering of illegal media players, the more expensive it becomes for them.”

In addition to online sellers, BREIN says it’s also keeping an eye on offline sales via markets and brick and mortar stores.

“It’s not just about webshops and ordinary stores, market traders will also get their turn. Sellers must realize that this is punishable as a crime. BREIN will ensure that this kind of crime does not pay.”

While there’s little doubt that BREIN’s efforts and threats have an effect, it appears that there are still plenty of vendors who continue to offer “fully loaded” boxes. So the ‘hunt’ is likely to continue for a while.

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