Tag Archives: pressure

“Public Figure” Threatened With Exposure Over Gay Piracy ‘Fine’

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/public-figure-threatened-with-exposure-over-gay-piracy-fine-170817/

Flava Works is an Illinois-based company specializing in adult material featuring black and Latino men. It operates an aggressive anti-piracy strategy which has resulted in some large damages claims in the past.

Now, however, the company has found itself targeted by a lawsuit filed by one of its alleged victims. Filed in a California district court by an unnamed individual, it accuses Flava Works of shocking behavior relating to a claim of alleged piracy.

According to the lawsuit, ‘John Doe’ received a letter in early June from Flava Works CEO Phillip Bleicher, accusing him of Internet piracy. Titled “Settlement Demand and Cease and Desist”, the letter got straight to the point.

“Flava Works is aware that you have been ‘pirating’ the content from its website(s) for your own personal financial benefit,” the letter read.

[Update: ‘John Doe’ has now been identified as Marc Juris, President & General Manager of AMC-owned WE tv. All references to John Doe below refer to Juris. See note at footer]

As is often the case with such claims, Flava Works offered to settle with John Doe for a cash fee. However, instead of the few hundred or thousand dollars usually seen in such cases, the initial settlement amount was an astronomical $97,000. But that wasn’t all.

According to John Doe, Bleicher warned that unless the money was paid in ten days, Flava Works “would initiate litigation against [John Doe], publically accusing him of being a consumer and pirate of copyrighted gay adult entertainment.”

Amping up the pressure, Bleicher then warned that after the ten-day deadline had passed, the settlement amount of $97,000 would be withdrawn and replaced with a new amount – $525,000.

The lawsuit alleges that Bleicher followed up with more emails in which he indicated that there was still time to settle the matter “one on one” since the case hadn’t been assigned to an attorney. However, he warned John Doe that time was running out and that public exposure via a lawsuit would be the next step.

While these kinds of tactics are nothing new in copyright infringement cases, the amounts of money involved are huge, indicating something special at play. Indeed, it transpires that John Doe is a public figure in the entertainment industry and the suggestion is that Flava Works’ assessment of his “wealth and profile” means he can pay these large sums.

According to the suit, on July 6, 2017, Bleicher sent another email to John Doe which “alluded to [his] high-profile status and to the potential publicity that a lawsuit would bring.” The email went as far as threatening an imminent Flava Works press release, announcing that a public figure, who would be named, was being sued for pirating gay adult content.

Flava Works alleges that John Doe uploaded its videos to various BitTorrent sites and forums, but John Doe vigorously denies the accusations, noting that the ‘evidence’ presented by Flava Works fails to back up its claims.

“The materials do not reveal or expose infringement of any sort. [Flava Works’] real purpose in sending this ‘proof’ was to demonstrate just how humiliating it would be to defend against Flava Works’ scurrilous charges,” John Doe’s lawsuit notes.

“[Flava Works’] materials consist largely of screen shots of extremely graphic images of pornography, which [Flava Works] implies that [John Doe] has viewed — but which are completely irrelevant given that they are not Flava Works content. Nevertheless, Bleicher assured [John Doe] that these materials would all be included in a publicly filed lawsuit if he refused to accede to [Flava Works’] payment demands.”

From his lawsuit (pdf) it’s clear that John Doe is in no mood to pay Flava Works large sums of cash and he’s aggressively on the attack, describing the company’s demands as “criminal extortion.”

He concludes with a request for a declaration that he has not infringed Flava Works’ copyrights, while demanding attorneys’ fees and further relief to be determined by the court.

The big question now is whether Flava Works will follow through with its threats to exposure the entertainer, or whether it will drift back into the shadows to fight another day. Definitely one to watch.

Update: Flava Works has now followed through on its threat to sue Juris. A complaint filed iat an Illinois court accuses the TV executive of uploading Flava Works titles to several gay-focused torrent sites in breach of copyright. It demands $1.2m in damages.

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

72-Year-Old Man Accused of ‘Pirating’ Over a Thousand Torrents

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/72-year-old-man-accused-of-pirating-over-a-thousand-torrents-170810/

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 are a common occurrence in the United States too, where hundreds of thousands of people have been targeted in recent years.

While a significant number of defendants are indeed guilty, there are also many that are wrongfully accused. Third-parties may have connected to their Wi-Fi, for example, which isn’t a rarity.

In Hawaii, a recent target of a copyright trolling expedition claims to be innocent, and he’s taken his case to the local press. The 72-year-old John J. Harding doesn’t fit the typical profile of a prolific pirate, but that’s exactly what a movie company has accused him of being.

In June, Harding received a letter from local attorney Kerry Culpepper, who works for the rightsholders of movies such as ‘Mechanic: Resurrection’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Venice.’

The letter accused the 72-year-old of downloading a movie and also listed over 1,000 other downloads that were tied to his IP-address. Harding was understandably shocked by the threat and says he never downloads anything.

“I’ve never illegally downloaded anything … or even legally! I use my computer for email, games, news and that’s about it,” Harding told HawaiiNewsNow.

“I know definitely that I’m not guilty and my wife is not guilty. So what’s going on? Did somebody hack us? Is somebody out there actively hacking us? How they do that and go about doing that, I have no idea,” Harding added.

As is common in these cases, the copyright holder asked the Hawaii Federal Court for a subpoena, which ordered the associated Internet provider to hand over the personal details of the alleged infringers. The attorney then went on to send out settlement requests to the exposed users.

Harding received a letter offering an easy $3,900 settlement, which would increase to $4,900 if he failed to respond before August 7th. However, the elderly man wasn’t keen on taking the deal, describing the pay-up-or-else demand as “absolutely absurd.”

The attorney reiterated to the local newspaper that these are not idle threats. People risk $150,000 per illegal download, he stressed. That said, mistakes happen and people who feel that they are wrongfully accused should contact his office.

Culpepper explained it further with an analogy while adding a new dimension to the ‘you wouldn’t steal a car’ meme in the process.

“This is similar to a car stolen. If your car was stolen and your car hit someone or did some damage, initially the victim would look to see who was the owner of the car. You would probably tell them, someone stole my car. That time, that person would try to find the person who stole your car,” he said.

The attorney says that they are not trying to bankrupt people. Their goal is to deter piracy. There are cases where they’ve accepted lower settlements or even a mere apology, he notes.

How the 72-year-old will respond in unknown, but judging for his tone he may be looking for an apology himself. Going to the press was probably a smart move, as rightsholders generally don’t like the PR that comes with this kind of story.

These cases are by no means unique though. While browsing through the court dockets of Culpepper’s recent cases we quickly stumbled upon a similar denial. This one comes from a Honolulu woman who’s accused of pirating ‘Mechanic: Resurrection.’

“I have never downloaded the movie they are referencing and when I do download movies I use legal services such as Amazon, and Apple TV,” she wrote to the court, urging it to keep her personal information private.

“I do have frequent guests at our house often using the Internet. In the future I will request that nobody uses any file sharing on our Internet connection,” the letter added.

Unfortunately for her, the letter includes her full name and address, which means that she has effectively exposed herself. This likely means that she will soon receive a settlement request in the mail, just like Harding did, if she hasn’t already.

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

Internet Archive Blocked in 2,650 Site Anti-Piracy Sweep

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/internet-archive-blocked-in-2650-site-anti-piracy-sweep-170810/

Reports of sites becoming mysteriously inaccessible in India have been a regular occurance over the past several years. In many cases, sites simply stop functioning, leaving users wondering whether sites are actually down or whether there’s a technical issue.

Due to their increasing prevalence, fingers are often pointed at so-called ‘John Doe’ orders, which are handed down by the court to prevent Internet piracy. Often sweeping in nature (and in some cases pre-emptive rather than preventative), these injunctions have been known to block access to both file-sharing platforms and innocent bystanders.

Earlier this week (and again for no apparent reason), the world renowned Internet Archive was rendered inaccessible to millions of users in India. The platform, which is considered by many to be one of the Internet’s most valued resources, hosts more than 15 petabytes of data, a figure which grows on a daily basis. Yet despite numerous requests for information, none was forthcoming from authorities.

The ‘blocked’ message seen by users accessing Archive.org

Quoted by local news outlet Medianama, Chris Butler, Office Manager at the Internet Archive, said that their attempts to contact the Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) had proven fruitless.

Noting that site had previously been blocked in India, Butler said they were no clearer on the reasons why the same kind of action had seemingly been taken this week.

“We have no information about why a block would have been implemented,” he said. “Obviously, we are disappointed and concerned by this situation and are very eager to understand why it’s happening and see full access restored to archive.org.”

Now, however, the mystery has been solved. The BBC says a local government agency provided a copy of a court order obtained by two Bollywood production companies who are attempting to slow down piracy of their films in India.

Issued by a local judge, the sweeping order compels local ISPs to block access to 2,650 mainly file-sharing websites, including The Pirate Bay, RARBG, the revived KickassTorrents, and hundreds of other ‘usual suspects’. However, it also includes the URL for the Internet Archive, hence the problems with accessibility this week.

The injunction, which appears to be another John Doe order as previously suspected, was granted by the High Court of the Judicature at Madras on August 2, 2017. Two film productions companies – Prakash Jah Productions and Red Chillies Entertainment – obtained the order to protect their films Lipstick Under My Burkha and Jab Harry Met Sejal.

While India-based visitors to blocked resources are often greeted with a message saying that domains have been blocked at the orders of the Department of Telecommunications, these pages never give a reason why.

This always leads to confusion, with news outlets having to pressure local government agencies to discover the reason behind the blockades. In the interests of transparency, providing a link to a copy of a relevant court order would probably benefit all involved.

A few hours ago, the Internet Archive published a statement questioning the process undertaken before the court order was handed down.

“Is the Court aware of and did it consider the fact that the Internet Archive has a well-established and standard procedure for rights holders to submit take down requests and processes them expeditiously?” the platform said.

“We find several instances of take down requests submitted for one of the plaintiffs, Red Chillies Entertainments, throughout the past year, each of which were processed and responded to promptly.

“After a preliminary review, we find no instance of our having been contacted by anyone at all about these films. Is there a specific claim that someone posted these films to archive.org? If so, we’d be eager to address it directly with the claimant.”

But while the Internet Archive appears to be the highest profile collateral damage following the ISP blocks, it isn’t the only victim. Now that the court orders have become available (1,2), it’s clear that other non-pirate entities have also been affected including news site WN.com, website hosting service Weebly, and French ISP Free.fr.

Also, in a sign that sites aren’t being checked to see if they host the movies in question, one of the orders demands that former torrent index BitSnoop is blocked. The site shut down earlier this year. The same is true for Shaanig.org.

This is not the first time that the Internet Archive has been blocked in India. In 2014/2015, Archive.org was rendered inaccessible after it was accused of hosting extremist material. In common with Google, the site copies and stores huge amounts of data, much of it in automated processes. This can leave it exposed to these kinds of accusations.

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

Lawyer Says He Was Deceived Into BitTorrent Copyright Trolling Scheme

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/lawyer-says-he-was-deceived-into-bittorrent-copyright-trolling-scheme-170807/

For more than a decade, companies around the world have been trying to turn piracy into profit. For many this has meant the development of “copyright trolling” schemes, in which alleged pirates are monitored online and then pressured into cash settlements.

The shadowy nature of this global business means that its true scale will never be known but due to the controversial activities of some of the larger players, it’s occasionally possible to take a peek inside their operations. One such opportunity has just raised its head.

According to a lawsuit filed in California, James Davis is an attorney licensed in Oregon and California. Until two years ago, he was largely focused on immigration law. However, during March 2015, Davis says he was approached by an old classmate with an opportunity to get involved in a new line of business.

That classmate was Oregon lawyer Carl Crowell, who over the past several years has been deeply involved in copyright-trolling cases, including a deluge of Dallas Buyers Club and London Has Fallen litigation. He envisioned a place for Davis in the business.

Davis seemed to find the proposals attractive and became seriously involved in the operation, filing 58 cases on behalf of the companies involved. In common with similar cases, the lawsuits were brought in the name of the entities behind each copyrighted work, such as Dallas Buyers Club, LLC and LHF Productions, Inc.

In time, however, things started to go wrong. Davis claims that he discovered that Crowell, in connection with and on behalf of the other named defendants, “misrepresented the true nature of the Copyright Litigation Campaign, including the ownership of the works at issue and the role of the various third-parties involved in the litigation.”

Davis says that Crowell and the other defendants (which include the infamous Germany-based troll outfit Guardaley) made false representations to secure his participation, while holding back other information that might have made him think twice about becoming involved.

“Crowell and other Defendants withheld numerous material facts that were known to Crowell and the knowledge of which would have cast doubt on the value and ethical propriety of the Copyright Litigation Campaign for Mr. Davis,” the lawsuit reads.

Davis goes on to allege serious misconduct, including that representations regarding ownership of various entities were false and used to deceive him into participating in the scheme.

As time went on, Davis said he had increasing doubts about the operation. Then, in August 2016 as a result of a case underway in California, he began asking questions which resulted in him uncovering additional facts. These undermined both the representations of the people he was working for and his own belief in the “value and ethical propriety of the Copyright Litigation Campaign,” the lawsuit claims.

Davis said this spurred him on to “aggressively seek further information” from Crowell and other people involved in the scheme, including details of its structure and underlying support. He says all he received were “limited responses, excuses, and delays.”

The case was later dismissed by mutual agreement of the parties involved but of course, Davis’ concerns about the underlying case didn’t come to the forefront until the filing of his suit against Crowell and the others.

Davis says that following a meeting in Santa Monica with several of the main players behind the litigation campaign, he decided its legal and factual basis were unsound. He later told Crowell and Guardaley that he was withdrawing from their project.

As the result of the misrepresentations made to him, Davis is now suing the defendants on a number of counts, detailed below.

“Defendants’ business practices are unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent. Davis has suffered monetary damage as a direct result of the unfair, unlawful, and fraudulent business practices set forth herein,” the lawsuit reads.

Requesting a trial by jury, Davis is seeking actual damages, statutory damages, punitive or treble damages “in the amount of no less than $300,000.”

While a payment of that not insignificant amount would clearly satisfy Davis, the prospect of a trial in which the Guardaley operation is laid bare would be preferable when the interests of its thousands of previous targets are considered.

Only time will tell how things will pan out but like the vast majority of troll cases, this one too seems destined to be settled in private, to ensure the settlement machine keeps going.

Note: The case was originally filed in June, only to be voluntarily dismissed. It has now been refiled in state court.

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

Torrentz Shut Down A Year Ago, But The Name Lives On

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/torrentz-shut-down-a-year-ago-but-the-name-lives-on-170805/

Last summer, the torrent ecosystem lost two of its biggest stars. First, KickassTorrents was taken down following a criminal investigation by the FBI, resulting in indictments against the site’s operators.

Not long after KAT went offline, Torrentz.eu decided to close its doors as well, albeit voluntarily. Without prior warning, all torrent listings were removed from the meta-search engine, which was the third largest torrent site at the time.

The site’s operator confirmed the shutdown to TorrentFreak. The website itself was still on air but instead of the usual torrents, its users were left with the following message: “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.”

Torrentz.eu says farewell

torrentz-farewell

A year has passed since and Torrentz.eu is still online, but it remains torrent-less. An official explanation for the drastic action was never given, but it’s likely that legal pressure or the trouble at KAT weighed into the decision.

As we’ve seen with KAT, however, the Torrentz brand is still alive and kicking today. Soon after the original site ceased its regular operation, several ‘copies’ popped up, eager to take its place.

The most successful alternative, in terms of traffic, is the elegantly named Torrentz2.eu. Unlike many others, Torrentz2 has always been upfront with its users and never claimed to be an official resurrection. They just want to do what Torrentz did, or even better.

“We always wanted to operate a site as beautiful as the original torrentz site so recreating it was the only way to do it,” the site’s operator tells TorrentFreak.

Torrentz2 copied the look of Torrentz, but runs its own meta-search engine, indexing even more sites than its famous predecessor. At the time of writing the site covers 61,106,364 torrents from 241,559,021 pages on 80 domains.

“We want to add more sites to our index. There are 80 domains now. There is a really huge list of new torrent sites that we discover and will be added soon.
We are looking for hamsters to power up our servers, we believe that we are very close to finding them,” the operator says.

Torrentz2.eu, alive and kicking

The site hasn’t had any legal pressure yet, the operator says. In the future, they will continue down the same path, which doesn’t deviate much from the original site.

“We are trying to keep the feeling and the features of the original torrentz site. Features that are missing are the user comments and accounts but we are working
on it and will be added very soon.”

The public seems to appreciate the Torrentz alternative as well. The site has millions of active users today, which is pretty close to the original site. So for most people, not that much has changed actually.

In fact, it would not a surprise if many of the current Torrentz2 visitors have no clue that they’re not dealing with the “real” thing.

All in all, we can say that recent history has shown how flexible the torrent ecosystem can be when it comes to sudden site closures. Whether it’s KAT, Torrentz, isoHunt, EZTV, YTS or ExtraTorrents, users are quick to find an alternative and continue torrenting there, or move onto something new entirely.

While that may be a positive note for many torrent fanatics, for the sentimentalists it might be strange that those who worked hard to build certain brands for years are seemingly replaced so easily.

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

Robot Safecracking

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/07/robot_safecrack.html

Robots can crack safes faster than humans — and differently:

So Seidle started looking for shortcuts. First he found that, like many safes, his SentrySafe had some tolerance for error. If the combination includes a 12, for instance, 11 or 13 would work, too. That simple convenience measure meant his bot could try every third number instead of every single number, immediately paring down the total test time to just over four days. Seidle also realized that the bot didn’t actually need to return the dial to its original position before trying every combination. By making attempts in a certain careful order, it could keep two of the three rotors in place, while trying new numbers on just the last, vastly cutting the time to try new combinations to a maximum of four seconds per try. That reduced the maximum bruteforcing time to about one day and 16 hours, or under a day on average.

But Seidle found one more clever trick, this time taking advantage of a design quirk in the safe intended to prevent traditional safecracking. Because the safe has a rod that slips into slots in the three rotors when they’re aligned to the combination’s numbers, a human safecracker can apply light pressure to the safe’s handle, turn its dial, and listen or feel for the moment when that rod slips into those slots. To block that technique, the third rotor of Seidle’s SentrySafe is indented with twelve notches that catch the rod if someone turns the dial while pulling the handle.

Seidle took apart the safe he and his wife had owned for years, and measured those twelve notches. To his surprise, he discovered the one that contained the slot for the correct combination was about a hundredth of an inch narrower than the other eleven. That’s not a difference any human can feel or listen for, but his robot can easily detect it with a few automated measurements that take seconds. That discovery defeated an entire rotor’s worth of combinations, dividing the possible solutions by a factor of 33, and reducing the total cracking time to the robot’s current hour-and-13 minute max.

We’re going to have to start thinking about robot adversaries as we design our security systems.

Police Confirm ‘Extra’ Illegal Spying on Kim Dotcom

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/police-confirms-extra-illegal-spying-on-kim-dotcom-170727/

Kim Dotcom has made headlines in the press again over the past week, but not for his own alleged misconduct.

Instead, there is a renewed focus on the unlawful surveillance practices of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

During the months leading up to the raid, the GCSB carried out surveillance on Dotcom but failed to check his residency status. The outfit was not allowed to spy on its own residents and clearly crossed a line with its unlawful information gathering.

To find out what was collected, Dotcom asked the High Court for access to the surveilled information, but last week this request was denied. While this came as a disappointment, the court did reveal something else of interest.

As it turns out, the illegal spying on Dotcom didn’t stop on January 20, 2012, when Dotcom was arrested. Instead, it carried on for another two months, ending March 22, 2012.

Initially, some people thought that the High Court may have made a mistake in the timeline, but with pressure mounting, New Zealand police have now confirmed that this is not the case. The illegal spying did indeed continue for two more months.

“We’ve checked the file and can confirm that the dates you’ve highlighted were known to the Operation Grey team. They were considered as part of the investigation and decision-making about the outcome,” a police spokesman told NZ Herald.

While this is all news to the public, the police and others were well-aware of the additional spying. This raises a series of questions, which Megaupload’s founder would like to see answered.

“Does this mean that New Zealand Police knew that the GCSB affidavits were false? GCSB told the Courts under oath that the illegal spying ended two months earlier. Not in March but in January,” Dotcom says, commenting on the news.

The issue is more than a matter of oversight, Dotcom says, and he calls for a proper investigation where the people responsible will be held accountable.

“New Zealand Police investigated GCSB because of the illegal spying but nobody was ever charged with any crime. How is that possible if the Police knew that the GCSB lied to the New Zealand Courts? What else would we discover if we had a fair and open hearing instead of secret submissions in closed Court?

“The New Zealand Courts have been fooled by the GCSB and the Police. What’s next? What are the consequences?” Dotcom adds.

In recent years the Megaupload case has been a stumbling block for several politicians and the latest revelations have put Prime Minister Bill English under pressure. It’s clear that several high ranked officials would rather see Dotcom leave, but thus far the fiasco is more likely to help him stay.

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

Kim Dotcom Spying Fiasco Puts Prime Minister Under Pressure

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-spying-fiasco-puts-prime-minister-under-pressure-170725/

In the lead up to the January 2012 raid on cloud storage site Megaupload, authorities in New Zealand used the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) agency to spy on Kim and Mona Dotcom, plus Megaupload co-defendant Bram van der Kolk. That should not have happened.

Intelligence agency GCSB was forbidden by law from conducting surveillance on its own citizens or permanent residents in the country. Former Prime Minister John Key later apologized for the glaring error but for Dotcom, that wasn’t enough. The entrepreneur launched legal action in pursuit of the information illegally obtained by GCSB and appropriate compensation.

Last week the High Court decided that Dotcom wouldn’t get access to the information but it also revealed something of much interest. Instead of confirming that the illegal spying on Dotcom took place December 16, 2011, through to January 20, 2012, the range was extended by two months to March 22, 2012.

The implications of the extension are numerous, not least that GCSB continued to spy on Dotcom even after it knew it was acting illegally. The reveal also undermines an earlier affidavit from a GCSB staff member, problems which are now returning to haunt New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English.

When the spying was taking place, John Key was Prime Minister but when Key traveled overseas, English was left at the helm. As a result, when the possibility that Dotcom had been spied on was raised during court hearings in 2012, it was English who was approached by the GCSB with a request to have its involvement made a state secret.

According to NZHerald, English was briefed by then-GCSB director Ian Fletcher and former acting director Hugh Wolfensohn on GCSB’s assistance to the police in the Dotcom case.

The content of those discussion has not been made public but English appears to have been convinced of the need to keep the information private. He subsequently signed a ministerial certificate, which barred disclosure of GCSB activities, even by people asked to provide them in a court of law.

However, since GCSB had broken the law by illegally spying on the Dotcoms and van Der Kolk, the certificate subsequently collapsed. But, like a dog with a bone, Dotcom isn’t letting this go, claiming that acting Prime Minister English acted unlawfully by signing the certificate in an effort to suppress wrong-doing.

“The ministerial certificate was an attempted cover-up. Bill English must have been briefed that GCSB was facing legal troubles because of unlawful conduct,” he told NZHerald.

“And only after the attempted gag-order failed in the High Court did the Government admit unlawful spying with a fake narrative that it was all a big mistake, a misunderstanding of the law, an error.”

Following the judgment last week that revealed the extended spying period, Dotcom confirms that there will be fresh legal action to obtain information from GCSB.

“The new revelations completely undermine the government narrative and it raises new questions about what really happened,” Dotcom concludes.

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

Taking the first step on the journey

Post Syndicated from Matt Richardson original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/taking-first-step-journey/

This column is from The MagPi issue 58. You can download a PDF of the full issue for free, or subscribe to receive the print edition in your mailbox or the digital edition on your tablet. All proceeds from the print and digital editions help the Raspberry Pi Foundation achieve its charitable goals.

About five years ago was the first time I unboxed a Raspberry Pi. I hooked it up to our living room television and made space on the TV stand for an old USB keyboard and mouse. Watching the $35 computer boot up for the first time impressed me, and I had a feeling it was a big deal, but I’ll admit that I had no idea how much of a phenomenon Raspberry Pi would become. I had no idea how large the community would grow. I had no idea how much my life would be changed from that moment on. And it all started with a simple first step: booting it up.

Matt Richardson on Twitter

Finally a few minutes to experiment with @Raspberry_Pi! So far, I’m rather impressed!

The key to the success of Raspberry Pi as a computer – and, in turn, a community and a charitable foundation – is that there’s a low barrier to the first step you take with it. The low price is a big reason for that. Whether or not to try Raspberry Pi is not a difficult decision. Since it’s so affordable, you can just give it a go, and see how you get along.

The pressure is off

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux operating system kernel, talked about this in a BBC News interview in 2012. He explained that a lot of people might take the first step with Raspberry Pi, but not everyone will carry on with it. But getting more people to take that first step of turning it on means there are more people who potentially will be impacted by the technology. Torvalds said:

I find things like Raspberry Pi to be an important thing: trying to make it possible for a wider group of people to tinker with computers. And making the computers cheap enough that you really can not only afford the hardware at a big scale, but perhaps more important, also afford failure.

In other words, if things don’t work out with you and your Raspberry Pi, it’s not a big deal, since it’s such an affordable computer.

In this together

Of course, we hope that more and more people who boot up a Raspberry Pi for the first time will decide to continue experimenting, creating, and learning with it. Thanks to improvements to the hardware, the Raspbian operating system, and free software packages, it’s constantly becoming easier to do many amazing things with this little computer. And our continually growing community means you’re not alone on this journey. These improvements and growth over the past few years hopefully encourage more people who boot up Raspberry Pis to keep exploring.
raspberry pi first step

The first step

However, the important thing is that people are given the opportunity to take that first step, especially young people. Young learners are at a critical age, and something like the Raspberry Pi can have an enormously positive impact on the rest of their lives. It’s a major reason why our free resources are aimed at young learners. It’s also why we train educators all over the world for free. And encouraging youngsters to take their first step with Raspberry Pi could not only make a positive difference in their lives, but also in society at large.

With the affordable computational power, excellent software, supportive community, and free resources, you’re given everything you need to make a big impact in the world when you boot up a Raspberry Pi for the first time. That moment could be step one of ten, or one of ten thousand, but it’s up to you to take that first step.

Now you!

Learning and making things with the Pi is incredibly easy, and we’ve created numerous resources and tutorials to help you along. First of all, check out our hardware guide to make sure you’re all set up. Next, you can try out Scratch and Python, our favourite programming languages. Feeling creative? Learn to code music with Sonic Pi, or make visual art with Processing. Ready to control the real world with your Pi? Create a reaction game, or an LED adornment for your clothing. Maybe you’d like to do some science with the help of our Sense HAT, or become a film maker with our camera?

You can do all this with the Raspberry Pi, and so much more. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination. So where do you want to start?

The post Taking the first step on the journey appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Copyright Troll Claims Texan Woman Downloaded Over 54,000 Torrents

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-troll-claims-texan-woman-downloaded-over-54000-torrents-170713/

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.

Malibu Media, the Los Angeles-based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is behind many of these cases. The company has filed thousands of lawsuits in recent years, targeting Internet subscribers whose accounts were allegedly used to share Malibu’s films via BitTorrent.

When the accused pirates don’t want to settle, Malibu generally ramps up the pressure. This is also what happened to Jenna Howard, a 29-year-old consultant from Houston, Texas.

When Howard protested her innocence and refused to pay the proposed settlement for downloading 15 pirated videos, the adult company came back with two spreadsheets of additional downloads that were linked to her IP-address.

This tactic isn’t new. Copyright trolls regularly provide lists of other downloads, of content they don’t own, to show that the defendant is a prolific downloader. However, in this case, the list is unusually long.

The spreadsheets provided by Malibu Media suggest that Ms. Howard’s connection was used to download fifty-four thousand torrents in recent years.

The downloads in question are all over the map, literally, with titles ranging from “100MB Woman Ass Pictures,” through “этот неловкий момент,” to “육룡이 나르샤” and “La casa di Topolino.”

A small selection of the alleged downloads

According to a recent filing by Ms. Howard’s attorneys, the spreadsheets are part of Malibu’s intimidation tactics.

“Malibu also produced two spreadsheets that suggest Ms. Howard made over fifty-four thousand downloads consisting of an estimated 27 terabytes of data over a four-year period, which is an average of 31 items every day for the last four years, and literally hundreds of items on certain days, including for example downloads of movies in the hundreds and in languages that Ms. Howard does not even speak.”

“This leads to only two possible conclusions: first, either Ms. Howard’s network was hacked, or second, Malibu’s research is wrong,” Ms. Howard’s attorneys write.

They stress, however, that there is no credible evidence to suggest that their client is responsible for downloading all these files. They point out that their client was even accused of downloading dozens of files from her home connection while she was on her honeymoon.

“The spreadsheets also show that Ms. Howard downloaded 31 items on her wedding day, and somehow managed to download an average of 22 items at her home IP address each day of her international honeymoon when she was overseas in the Bahamas,” the filing reads.

The attorneys believe that the adult company has gone too far and ask the court to deny further discovery requests targeted at her Internet provider AT&T, including information about her download activity.

“Malibu’s shoddy research simply does not support the implication that Ms. Howard illegally downloaded the pornographic movies that are the subject of this suit, as well as an additional 54,000 other, unrelated, downloads,” the attorneys write.

“The supposed overlap between the downloads and Ms. Howard’s interests is also not credible. Malibu peddles smut as a commercial enterprise, and is trying to strong-arm a settlement from Ms. Howard while threatening to link Ms. Howard as a purveyor of its pornographic product.”

Malibu’s efforts are a textbook case of discovery abuse, the defense argues. They hope that the court agrees with this assessment and denies the request.

The full request for a protective order is available here (pdf), with help from FCT.

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

Pirate Bay Re-enters List of 100 Most Popular Sites on the Internet

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-re-enters-list-of-100-most-popular-sites-on-the-internet-170708/

thepirateWhen the The Pirate Bay suffered over a month of downtime late 2014, many of the site’s regular visitors went elsewhere.

This resulted in a significant traffic dip afterwards, but in recent months the notorious torrent site has seen a massive uptick in visitors.

At the beginning of the year TPB was already the largest torrent site. Today, Internet traffic ranking service Alexa lists the site among the 100 most-visited domains in the world once again, in 99th place. That’s the first time in three years.

While external traffic measurements are far from perfect, the graph below shows a steady increase in ranking since last summer. Exactly how many visitors The Pirate Bay has remains unknown, but SimilarWeb estimates it at a quarter billion ‘visits’ per month.

Keep in mind that the estimates above don’t account for the dozens of Pirate Bay proxies that serve users in countries where the site is blocked. That will likely add several millions of monthly visitors, at least.

Whether Pirate Bay’s recent resurgence is something torrent users should be happy about is another question. The recent uptick in traffic is mostly caused by the demise of other torrent sites.

Last summer both KickassTorrents and Torrentz left the scene, and ExtraTorrent followed a few weeks ago. Many of these users have flocked to The Pirate Bay, which is the prime source for user uploaded torrents.

That the Pirate Bay is still around is somewhat of an achievement in itself. Over the years there have been numerous attempts to shut the site down.

It started in 2006, when Swedish authorities raided the site following pressure from the United States, only for the site to come back stronger. The criminal convictions of the site’s founders didn’t kill the site either, nor did any of the subsequent attempts to take it offline.

While many pirates have fallen in love with TPB’s deviant behavior, the recent downfall of other sites means that there’s a lot of pressure and responsibility on the shoulders of the site now. Many other indexers rely on TPB for their content, which is something not everyone realizes.

For now, however, TPB continues its reign.

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

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.