Tag Archives: RIAA

Cloudflare Refutes MPA and RIAA’s Piracy Concerns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-refutes-mpa-and-riaas-piracy-concerns-191018/

Earlier this month several copyright holder groups sent their annual “Notorious Markets” complaints to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The recommendations are meant to call out well-known piracy sites, apps, and services, but Cloudflare is frequently mentioned as well.

The American CDN provider can’t be officially listed since it’s not a foreign company. However, rightsholders have seizes the opportunity to point out that the CDN service helps pirate sites with their infringing activities.

The MPA and RIAA, for example, wrote that Cloudflare frustrates enforcement efforts by helping pirate sites to “hide” their hosting locations. In addition, the Hollywood-affiliated Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) pointed out that the company helps pirate sites to deliver malware.

This week Cloudflare responded to these allegations. In a rebuttal, sent to the USTR’s Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property, General Counsel Doug Kramer writes that these reports are not an accurate representation of how the company operates.

“My colleagues and I were frustrated to find continued misrepresentations of our business and efforts to malign our services,” Kramer writes.

“We again feel called on to clarify that Cloudflare does not host the referenced websites, cannot block websites, and is not in the business of hiding companies that host illegal content–all facts well known to the industry groups based on our ongoing work with them.”

Kramer points out that the copyright holder groups “rehash” previous complaints, which Cloudflare previously rebutted. In fact, some parts of the CDN provider’s own reply are rehashed too, but there are several new highlights as well.

For example, the USTR’s latest review specifically focuses on malware issues. According to Cloudflare, its services are specifically aimed at mitigating such threats.

“Our system uses the collective intelligence from all the properties on our network to support and immediately update our web application firewall, which can block malware at the edge and prevent it from reaching a site’s origin server. This protects the many content creators who use our services for their websites as well as the users of their websites, from malware,” Kramer writes.

The DCA’s submission, which included a 2016 report from the group, is out of date and inaccurate, Cloudflare says. Several of the mentioned domains are no longer Cloudflare customers, for example. In addition, the DCA never sent any malware complaints to the CDN service.

Cloudflare did previously reach out to the DCA following its malware report, but this effort proved fruitless, the company writes.

“Despite our repeated attempts to get additional information by either
phone or email, DCA cancelled at least three scheduled calls and declined to provide any specific information that would have allowed us to verify the existence of the malware and protect users from malicious activity online,” Kramer notes.

Malware aside, the allegations that Cloudflare helps pirate sites to ‘hide’ their hosting locations are not entirely true either.

Kramer points out that the company has a “Trusted Reporter” program which complainants, including the RIAA, use frequently. This program helps rightsholders to easily obtain the actual hosting locations of Cloudflare customers that engage in widespread copyright infringement.

Although Cloudflare admits that it can’t stop all bad actors online, it will continue to work with the RIAA, MPA, and others to provide them with all the information they need for their enforcement efforts.

None of this is new though. Year after year the same complaints come in and Cloudflare suggests that copyright holders are actually looking for something else. They would like the company to terminate accounts of suspected pirate sites. However, the CDN provider has no intention to do so.

“Their submissions to the Notorious Markets process seem intended to pressure Cloudflare to take over efforts to identify and close down infringing websites for them, but that is something that we are not obligated to do,” Kramer says.

While it would be technically possible, it would require the company to allocate considerable resources to the task. These resources are currently needed to pursue its primary goal, which is to keep the Internet secure and protect users from malware and other risks.

It’s clear that Cloudflare doesn’t want to take any action against customers without a court order. While it has occasionally deviated from this stance by kicking out Daily Stormer and 8Chan, pirate sites are on a different level.

A copy of the letter Cloudflare’s General Counsel Doug Kramer sent to the USTR’s Director for Innovation and Intellectual Property, Jacob Ewerdt, is available here (pdf).

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RIAA Believes The Pirate Bay Blocks US Visitors, But it Doesn’t

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-believes-the-pirate-bay-blocks-us-visitors-but-it-doesnt/

The Pirate Bay is without a doubt one of the most blocked websites around the world.

The first court-ordered blockade against the site was issued in Denmark, more than a decade ago, and dozens of other countries have followed since.

We have come to a point where ‘yet another’ Pirate Bay blockade is hardly newsworthy, but this week something quite unusual appeared on our radar. Apparently, The Pirate Bay itself jumped on the bandwagon by starting to block US visitors, its largest userbase, out of the blue.

This revelation comes from the widely respected music industry group RIAA, which keeps a close eye on the popular torrent site.

A few days ago the group sent its latest overview of “notorious markets” to the US Trade Representative. As usual, The Pirate Bay was prominently featured. It is the single most popular BitTorrent index site in the world, the RIAA says, then adding that for some reason the site no longer accepts American visitors.

“Earlier this year, thepiratebay began blocking U.S. IP addresses. However, the site remains easily accessible using a free proxy service that makes it appear the user is accessing the site from another jurisdiction,” the RIAA writes in its submission to the USTR.

That’s odd, to say the least. While the site has had some (localized) connectivity issues, perhaps due to routing problems, we had never heard of such a blockade. Interestingly, The Pirate Bay team itself has no clue what the RIAA is referring to either.

TorrentFreak reached out to a TPB moderator, who wasn’t aware of any US visitor ban and through a trusted source we learned that the people running the site are not blocking anything.

This makes sense, as we spoke to several people who can still access the site just fine from the US. Also, the United States remains the top traffic source for the site by far, as SimilarWeb data shows. That certainly wouldn’t be the case if US visitors were not allowed.

We have no idea why the RIAA believes otherwise. Perhaps the group was confused by an earlier outage that mainly affected US visitors, but it can be ‘assured’ that this is definitely not intended by the Pirate Bay team.

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As RIAA Targets Yet More YouTube-Ripping Sites, Here’s the State of Play

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/as-riaa-targets-yet-more-youtube-ripping-sites-heres-the-state-of-play-191005/

Over the past few years, users ripping music from sites like YouTube has been portrayed by the industry as a bigger problem than torrent sites.

According to stats published by industry group IFPI last year, 32% of all Internet users were stream rippers, up from 30% in 2016. This, according to the group, made it the leading form of music piracy.

Last week, however, a new report revealed that the practice is actually on a downward trend, with 23% of those surveyed admitting to using stream-ripping services. Despite the big decrease, the RIAA isn’t likely to step away from its enforcement efforts anytime soon, as evidenced by a new application filed at a US court.

The application for a DMCA subpoena filed in the District of Columbia targets three sites that are either directly or indirectly linked to YouTube-ripping.

In common with several previous applications, this one also requires domain registry Namecheap to hand over the personal details of their operators, providing names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, payment information and more.

The first, YouTubeMP4.biz, recently suffered a drop in traffic according to SimilarWeb stats but that blip aside, has been pulling in up to 1.2 million visits per month throughout 2019. It is most popular in the United States, followed by the UK, Thailand, India and Turkey.

Next up is Keepvid.ws, which at around three million visits per month is the most popular in the application. Perhaps unusually given the close interest of the RIAA, the YouTube-ripping platform is most popular in South Africa, with around 16% of its traffic coming from the region. India and the United States follow with around 10% each.

The last of the RIAA’s latest targets is HDMP4.net, which on the surface seems different from the rest. When accessing the site’s URL directly, visitors are greeted with a blank page, which is unusual for a stream-ripping platform.

Furthermore, Google reveals that HDMP4.net has had just a handful of DMCA notices filed against it over the past several years, the last in 2015, with none coming from the music industry. However, checking in Google’s indexes reveals that the site isn’t indexed, so that makes sense.

The RIAA does mention some specific URLs carrying its content, including tracks by Cyndi Lauper and ZZ Top, which raises the question of whether other sites are using it in some way. Indeed, checks using various resources indicate that the site, which only gained significant traffic in June this year, seems connected to a number of other ripping services.

The big question remains whether the raft of DMCA subpoenas obtained by the RIAA against companies such as Namecheap and Cloudflare are having any direct effect on the operations of these platforms. While things are probably going on behind the scenes that we don’t know about, in the main most previously-targeted sites seem unaffected.

In May, the RIAA tried to extract the personal details of huge ripping site Y2Mate.com from Cloudflare and Namecheap. At the time the site had around 60 million monthly visits and despite the efforts, remains stubbornly online today.

The only real difference now is that SimilarWeb reports the site enjoying in excess of 130 million monthly visits, more than double the traffic reported back in May. The company recently changed the way it calculates traffic but it seems unlikely to have had this much of an effect, particularly since other online measurement sites also show a big upward trend.

On the flip side, a separate effort in May to unmask the operator of YouTubNow.com, a site with 15 million monthly visits, may have paid off. The site currently carries a “maintenance” message and its traffic has tanked to almost zero. That can probably go in the success column for the RIAA.

Back in June, the RIAA homed-in on 10Convert.com, Amoyshare.com, AnythingtoMP3.cc, IMP3Juices.com, BigConverter.com, YouTubeMP4.to, QDownloader.net, GenYouTube.net, Break.TV, DL-YouTube-MP3.net, ConvertBox.net, and Downloaders.io.

At the time of writing, only ConvertBox.net seems completely down while BigConverter.com might have resorted to blocking UK traffic for reasons unknown. The rest are operational, which doesn’t sound like a notable success rate. That being said, the RIAA may have other goals in mind so the bigger picture may play out in time.

By the industry’s own accounting, stream-ripping is on a downward trend but whether that’s attributable to the RIAA’s takedown efforts remains open to speculation. That being said, the RIAA will argue it has to do something, so the pressure is likely to continue.

The latest DMCA subpoena granted by the court can be found here (pdf)

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RIAA Reports Telegram to US Govt. Over Piracy Concerns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-reports-telegram-to-us-govt-over-piracy-concerns-191002/

Responding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the RIAA has submitted its annual list of “notorious markets.”

The submission identifies online and offline piracy hubs to help guide the U.S. Government’s position towards foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement.

“The online and physical markets identified in our comments are harming American creators, businesses, and the American economy,” writes George York, the RIAA’s Senior Vice President of International Policy.

Traditionally the online focus lies on classic pirate sites, such as torrent indexers, linking sites, cyberlockers, download portals, and stream-rippers. These are also listed in the latest RIAA submission. It includes many of the usual suspects, such as The Pirate Bay, Flvto, Newalbumreleases, and Uploaded.

While these mentions were expected, there’s also a new ‘issue’ highlighted by the music group – the encrypted messaging app Telegram. The software, which was launched by VKontakte founders Nikolai and Pavel Durov a few years ago, is frequently used by pirates, the RIAA notes.

The RIAA points out that messaging apps by themselves are of no special concern. However, Telegram also allows its users to share files of up to 1.5GB, a process that can be automated with scripts. This is a feature that many pirates have embraced.

“Telegram offers many user-created channels which are dedicated to the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted recordings, with some channels focused on particular genres or artists,” the RIAA notes.

Many of these files are hosted on Telegram’s servers and the RIAA says that it sent 18,000 DMCA notices to Telegram, identifying over 18,000 instances of copyright infringement.

The messaging app says that it forwards these requests to channel owners. However, according to the music group, this doesn’t have the desired effect, as many channel operators ignore the takedown requests. In addition, repeat infringers don’t appear to be punished in any way.

One of the many channels

“We have found, however, that most channel operators appear to take no action in response to our notices, with nearly all of infringements listed in our notices remaining available,” the RIAA writes.

“Likewise, Telegram makes no apparent attempt to verify that channel operators have complied with our notices and does not seem to have any kind of repeat infringement policy.”

By putting Telegram on the USTR’s agenda the RIAA hopes to, directly or indirectly, motivate the messaging app to do more to prevent piracy. Interestingly, Telegram is registered as both a UK LLP and an American LLC, so it’s not clear to us whether it’s indeed a “foreign” market from a US point of view.

Telegram is by no means new to piracy complaints. Two years ago the application also made the news when it, for the first time, removed an entire channel where a pirated copy of Taylor Swift’s album Reputation was shared. The service took this action following pressure from Google and Apple.

In addition to the issues discussed above, the RIAA’s submission mostly includes familiar topics. In this year’s ‘issue focus,’ the RIAA points out that malware remains a problem on pirate sites for example. This puts the public at risk and should be mitigated where possible, it says.

The music group also highlights problems with bulletproof hosting providers that ignore DMCA notices, and CDN services such as Cloudflare. In addition, it once again stresses that WHOIS data should become public and verified.

The USTR will use the input above to make up its own list of notorious markets. This will help to identify current threats while calling on foreign governments to take appropriate action.

A copy of the RIAA’s latest submission to the Office of the US Trade Representative is available here (pdf).

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Cox Attacks ‘Proof’ in Piracy Liability Case, Requests Summary Judgment

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-attacks-proof-in-piracy-liability-case-requests-summary-judgment-190910/

Last year Cox settled its piracy liability lawsuit with music rights company BMG.

The ink on this agreement was barely dry when the ISP faced a similar and additional complaint. This time, it was up against 53 music companies, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music.

The rightsholders complained that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

A year later, thousands of pages of legal paperwork have been processed and the case is gearing up to a trial. However, if it’s up to Cox, there is little left to discuss there because the music companies’ evidence is fatally flawed.

A few days ago, the ISP submitted a motion for summary judgment, requesting summary judgment on several key elements. Among other things, Cox argues that it’s not vicariously liable or directly liable for any copyright-infringing activity carried out by its users.

Cox’s arguments are in large part directed at the proof the music companies have. Or to be more specific, the lack thereof. The company points out that the infringement notices, which were sent on behalf of the RIAA, are far from solid. In addition, the ISP says it never received any proper notices for more of the allegedly-infringed works.

“Plaintiffs’ claims suffer from a fundamental and fatal flaw: a distinct paucity of proof. They simply cannot prove their case,” Cox writes.

“In short, Plaintiffs seek damages for works they cannot prove were infringed, based on notices that did not identify fully 80% of those works. Moreover, they have no evidence that Cox knew about the infringement, obtained any direct financial benefit from it, or had the practical ability to prevent it, such that it could be secondarily liable.”

Cox’s arguments can be quite technical at times, and some pages are completely redacted, but there are some interesting observations.

For example, the company argues that the file-sharing evidence from BitTorrent users can’t prove that any subscriber actually distributed the infringing files. The evidence, provided by BitTorrent tracking outfit MarkMonitor, only ‘shows’ the metadata of a file in possession of a subscriber, matches that of a copyrighted track.

“Here, Plaintiffs cannot prove ‘actual dissemination’ of any work to anyone—including their agent, MarkMonitor,” Cox notes.

Another issue Cox raises is that for many of the claimed infringements in the suit, Cox never received a single notice.

“Although Plaintiffs seek damages for alleged direct infringements of 7,057 sound recordings and 3,421 compositions, the RIAA Notices for recordings sent during the Claims Period contain only 1,998 unique Title and Artist combinations.”

Based on these and a variety of other arguments, the ISP requests summary judgment. This means that, if granted, these will no longer be contested at trial.

However, the pendulum, in this case, can swing the other way as well. The 53 music companies also filed a request for summary judgment. They ask the court to rule that Cox is contributory and vicariously liable for its pirating subscribers.

The companies wave away any concerns and say that Cox willingly kept pirates on board to increase its profits.

“[T]he record is clear that Cox had knowledge of its subscribers’ blatant infringement of Plaintiffs’ works and nonetheless assisted them with it. By consciously continuing to provide Internet service to known infringers, while ignoring its own copyright policies as written, Cox materially contributed to that infringing activity, and reaped substantial financial benefits as a result,” their request reads.

“Accordingly, summary judgment should be granted holding Cox liable for contributory infringement and vicarious infringement, and the Court should reject its frivolous defenses.”

Both sides’ arguments directly oppose each other and it will be up to the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to determine if it grants any of the motions. If the Court grants neither motion, it will be up to a jury to decide during trial.

A copy of Cox’s motion for summary judgment is available here (pdf) and the music companies’ motion can be found here (pdf).

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RIAA Refuses to Share Results of ‘Six Strikes’ Anti-Piracy Scheme

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-refuses-to-share-results-of-six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-190827/

The so-called ‘Six-Strikes’ Copyright Alert System was once praised as an excellent tool to address online piracy.

Under the agreement, which involved the MPAA and RIAA, several large Internet providers in the US sent copyright infringement warnings to pirating customers.

After repeated alerts, these subscribers would face a variety of ‘mitigation’ measures but their accounts would not be terminated. Although rightsholders and ISPs appeared happy with the deal, it was shut down two years ago.

Instead of cooperating with ISPs, several RIAA labels then took another approach. They filed lawsuits against Internet providers for not doing enough to curb piracy. Specifically, companies such as Charter and Cox were sued for failing to disconnect repeat infringers.

The lawsuit between several music companies and Cox is ongoing and currently scheduled to go to trial later this year. Both parties are conducting discovery and the ISP has shown a keen interest in the aforementioned Copyright Alert System (CAS).

Cox itself didn’t take part in the voluntary anti-piracy scheme, but it believes that its existence can help the company’s defense. As such, it obtained a subpoena and repeatedly requested the RIAA to hand over relevant documents that show how effective it was.

However, the RIAA is not eager to cooperate. Thus far it has denied all of the requests, which prompted Cox to take the matter to court this week. The ISP asks the District of Columbia federal court to order the music industry group to comply with the subpoena and hand over the requested data.

“This motion to compel concerns the production of the reports and data generated by ISPs and sent to the RIAA regarding the number of copyright infringement notices forwarded to unique subscribers on a monthly basis that were intended to allow the RIAA to assess the effectiveness of CAS over time,” Cox writes.

Thus far the RIAA has refused to produce any documents concerning the Copyright Alert System, stating that these are irrelevant. However, Cox clearly disagrees and, in its motion, the company suggests that the data are crucial.

The ISP believes that its own measures could have been more effective than the CAS. Cox had, at least on paper, a twelve-strike policy which it said could lead to actual account terminations.

“Cox has taken the position that its graduated response was a more effective method for combating alleged copyright infringement than the CAS because, among other things, it provided for the termination of certain
‘repeat infringers’,” the ISP writes.

This would be at odds with the music labels claims in the lawsuit which state that Cox’s policy was insufficient, especially since the RIAA and other music industry insiders praised the CAS as ‘a model for success.’

With the requested documents, Cox likely wants to compare the effectiveness of the CAS with its own measures. If the company can show that its own policy was more effective than the music industry-backed scheme, it has an interesting point to make.

“The effectiveness of the measures detailed in the CAS and that the ISPs implemented for responding to the copyright infringement notices endorsed by the RIAA and the Sony plaintiffs—is therefore highly relevant to the Sony litigation,” Cox writes.

The ISP stresses that it’s crucial to get all the relevant information, not least because there’s $1.5 billion in possible copyright infringement damages hanging over its head. As such, it urges the Court to grant the motion.

Cox Communications’s motion to compel the RIAA to comply with the subpoena is available here (pdf).

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Cox Asks Court to Sanction Labels Over Destroyed Tracking Evidence

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-asks-court-to-sanction-labels-over-destroyed-tracking-evidence-190820/

Last year, Cox ended its piracy liability lawsuit with music company BMG, agreeing to a “substantial settlement.”

The ISP is now in the clear, however, Cox is still caught up in another lawsuit filed by a group of major music companies, all members of the RIAA.

The music outfits, including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music, argue that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that the ISP substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

Over the past several months, both parties have conducted discovery and the case is currently scheduled to go to trial in December. While there were talks of a potential settlement a few weeks ago, things look rather different now.

Last week we reported that the ISP canceled a scheduled settlement discussion. As a result, the music outfits called for sanctions, accusing the ISP of gamesmanship. Now, it’s Cox’s turn to ask for sanctions, this time with a formal request.

Cox submitted a motion for discovery sanctions at the Virginia federal court, where it accuses the plaintiffs of relying on unsubstantiated evidence.

The concerns relate to the piracy evidence which the music companies are relying on. This is the data that was used to send copyright infringement notices to Cox, pointing out how its subscribers allegedly shared infringing material. As such, it is the basis of the “repeat infringer” claims that are central to the lawsuit.

The data in question was collected by the anti-piracy firm MarkMonitor, which keeps a close eye on global BitTorrent activity. For the lawsuit, these infringement allegations were summarized in two spreadsheets. However, Cox notes that underlying evidence has since been deleted.

“MarkMonitor failed to retain critical portions of this evidence, and the document that Plaintiffs intend to rely on is, at best, a partial and inaccurate summary of these analyses,” Cox informs the Court.

As such, Cox requests sanctions. Specifically, it asks the court for a ruling that the piracy evidence in question can’t be used to back up any claims.

“Because Plaintiffs’ agent destroyed the underlying data, leaving no way to assess the accuracy of this summary, Cox respectfully requests that the Court enter discovery sanctions against Plaintiffs in the form of a preclusion order prohibiting Plaintiffs from relying on the incomplete and unreliable MarkMonitor evidence.”

According to Cox, MarkMonitor deleted data which showed that claimed copyright infringements were indeed linked to copyrighted files. These data concern the “matching” logs it received from the fingerprinting service Audible Magic.

During discovery, Cox learned that MarkMonitor used data from Audible Magic to reach its infringement conclusions. A subsequent subpoena explained how this worked, and a deposition of Audible Magic later revealed that MarkMonitor deleted the transaction logs.

“Ultimately, Cox learned in a deposition on the last day of discovery that MarkMonitor did not produce the transaction logs at issue or the relevant database because it had destroyed them,” Cox informs the Court.

The deleted data was crucial according to the ISP, as it’s the only way to prove that the alleged infringements detailed in the spreadsheet are correct. In addition, the routinely deleted data “strongly suggests” that MarkMonitor’s spreadsheet is inaccurate.

“The destroyed Audible Magic data was undeniably material and foundational to the MarkMonitor Spreadsheet,” Cox notes.

The ISP backs up its ‘inaccuracy’ claims in redacted parts of its memorandum, mentioning that it was a “coin flip” whether or not a claimed infringement actually took place.

Coin flip

Cox argues that the record labels withheld unfavorable information so sees no other option than to scrap the spreadsheets as evidence. In their current form, they can’t be backed up.

“Because Plaintiffs failed to preserve and produce the best and most complete—indeed, the only—evidence of the alleged direct infringements, the Court should preclude Plaintiffs from relying on the ‘236 and ‘431 Spreadsheets, and any derivative documents, which are merely incomplete and inaccurate summaries of what the data would have shown,” Cox concludes.

It the Court agrees with Cox and excludes the piracy data as evidence, the case could be severely impacted.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that Cox has complained about spoilt evidence. The company did the same a few years ago in the BMG case, after it found out that anti-piracy company Rightscorp destroyed older versions of its piracy tracking code.

At the time the Court ruled that sanctions were indeed appropriate. However, the copyright infringement claims were not disregarded and Cox’s request to dismiss the case in its entirety was denied.

A copy of Cox’s memorandum in support of the motion for discovery sanctions and to preclude the MarkMonitor evidence is available here (pdf).

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Music Companies Accuse Cox of Gamesmanship, Asks Court for Sanctions

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/music-companies-accuse-cox-of-gamesmanship-asks-court-for-sanctions-190813/

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Music rights company BMG got the ball rolling a few years ago when it won its piracy liability lawsuit against Cox
Communications.

Following this defeat, several major record labels including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music followed suit by filing a similar lawsuit in a Virginia District Court. With help from the RIAA, they also sued Cox for allegedly turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers.

According to the rightsholders, the Internet provider knew that some of its subscribers were frequently distributing copyrighted material, accusing the company of failing to take any meaningful action in response.

Over the past months, both parties have conducted discovery and the case is currently scheduled to go to trial in December. For a moment it appeared that things wouldn’t get that far. In June, both parties indicated that there were open to a settlement discussion which was scheduled to take place in Court last week.

While the music companies and the ISP both agreed to the hearing, Cox canceled it two days in advance, with its attorney stating that his client does not believe the settlement discussions would be productive.

This cancellation didn’t go down well with the music companies. In a status report, they now complain about Cox’s behavior. According to the filing, several of the music company representatives incurred traveling costs and one person was already in the air at the time the hearing was canceled.

The music companies don’t buy the ISP’s explanation either. They say nothing has changed since Cox agreed to the settlement discussions several weeks ago.

“Between the final pretrial conference and Cox’s unilateral cancelation yesterday, absolutely nothing had happened between the parties to justify Cox’s about-face,” the plaintiffs inform the court.

“Had Cox taken this process seriously, it would have known long before yesterday that it thought settlement discussions would not be productive. Instead, Cox misled the Court and Plaintiffs for more than six weeks, forcing both to expend resources and distract from other important matters,” they add.

According to the music companies, Cox is deliberately delaying and obstructing the case. In the status report, they accuse the Internet provider of gamesmanship.

“Throughout the case, Cox has demonstrated a consistent pattern of obstruction, delay and gamesmanship. Plaintiffs thus have concern that Cox’s approach to the settlement conference was just a ruse to distract Plaintiffs at a critical time. In discovery, Cox took absurd positions, objecting to basic discovery,” they write.

Taken together, Cox’s actions deserve a sanction from the court, the music companies argue. While they haven’t submitted a formal motion for sanctions, they point out that this situation warrants one.

“The Court has broad discretion to enter sanctions pursuant to its inherent authority, including without the formality of a motion. This situation clearly calls for it,” the music companies conclude.

If the court doesn’t wish to take any actions of its own accord, the music companies are willing to submit a formal request for sanctions. However, they note that this would only be an added distraction to them.

Whether Cox is sanctioned or not, it is clear that both parties are not on speaking terms at the moment. That will only raise the tension leading up to the forthcoming trial.

A copy of the status report, filed by the music companies, is available here (pdf).

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RIAA: Ebay and Amazon Sell a Lot of Copyright Infringing Music

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-ebay-and-amazon-sell-a-lot-of-copyright-infringing-music-190809/

Responding to a request from the US Department of Commerce, the RIAA submitted its views on several copyright infringement matters.

Specifically, it informed the Government about counterfeit and pirated goods that pass through online third-party marketplaces, and what can be done about that.

The music group sent a letter that encourages the Government to take action where possible. For example, by encouraging online platforms to share names and contact information of possible infringers.

In addition, the Government can also clarify when online intermediaries should be held liable for acts carried out by sellers of counterfeit and pirated goods.

When it comes to piracy and e-commerce platforms, the RIAA believes that any such changes should apply to mobile, Kodi or browser apps, and to the storefronts that distribute them. This refers to pirate apps on mobile stores, but also devices that are sold through Amazon and eBay.

“As online commerce goes increasingly mobile and distributed, there shouldn’t be different rules that apply to apps that can access the Internet via any connected device, as opposed to just the traditional website,” the RIAA writes.

When it comes to counterfeit goods, the RIAA is particularly concerned with large platforms that sell unauthorized music recordings. These counterfeit products are sold very frequently by large retailers, the music group explains.

This year, the RIAA conducted two studies into the sale of counterfeit music. For the first, it made various tests buys on Amazon and eBay, focusing on current and evergreen album titles released by major U.S. record labels.

This revealed that a significant portion of the CDs on these platforms are unauthorized. This is also true for the CDs that were marked as “fulfilled by Amazon.”

“The study showed that 16% of the CDs purchased via eBay were counterfeit, and 11% of the CDs purchased via Amazon were counterfeit. Alarmingly, 25% of the purchased CDs that were ‘Fulfilled by Amazon’ were counterfeit,” the RIAA writes.

In another study, the RIAA searched for “brand new” box sets of selected titles on eBay and AliExpress, and then bought the four lowest-priced box sets on each platform. The result, again, revealed that copyright infringement is rampant.

“On both eBay and AliExpress, 100% of the test buys of the box sets were counterfeit. This is of particular concern as box sets are premium physical music products designed for the superfan that often contain the most significant sound recordings in an artist’s repertoire,” the RIAA notes.

Where appropriate, platforms that willingly distribute copyright-infringing content should be held liable. At a minimum, these platforms should deter repeat infringers, the RIAA argues.

The music group hopes that the US Department of Commerce will take its findings and comments into account and come up with possible solutions to curb piracy and counterfeiting on online platforms.

A copy of the RIAA’s letter, providing input for the upcoming report on the state of counterfeit and pirated goods trafficking and recommendations, is available here (pdf).

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RIAA Asks Cloudflare to Unmask Owner of Turbobit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-asks-cloudflare-to-unmask-owner-of-turbobit-190804/

When Megaupload was shut down in 2012, chaos ensued in the international file-hosting scene.

While Megaupload undoubtedly stored a lot of copyright-infringing content, it also cooperated with rightsholders and executed takedown demands, not unlike YouTube, for example.

Fearing the same fate, some sites shut down. Others, like fellow file-hosting sites Uploaded and Turbobit, reacted by preventing visitors from the United States from accessing their sites, at least temporarily. While both sites are still around today more than seven years later, the latter is now getting some attention from the RIAA, one of the plaintiffs in the currently-frozen Megaupload civil case.

On July 26, the RIAA filed for and obtained a DMCA subpoena which compels US CDN company Cloudflare to hand over the personal details of Turbobits’ operator, including names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, payment information, and account histories.

Turbobit stands accused of offering for distribution the album ‘Hurts 2B Human’ by American singer Pink. Another site listed in the subpoena, Hotsahiphop.org, is similarly accused of offering Mike Posner’s ‘Look What I’ve Become ft. Ty Dolla $ign’ without authorization.

However, it’s two fairly anonymous URLs listed in the same subpoena that offer a coincidental loop-around to the earlier Megaupload case of 2012.

321hiphop.is and gotth.is (Got This) are two pretty low-traffic sites that appear to be used as hosting platforms for various tracks and mixtapes. Since there are much bigger targets around today, it isn’t clear why they’re on the RIAA’s radar.

Nevertheless, the RIAA wants Cloudflare to hand over the personal details of their operators for the offense of hosting two copies of the 2010 Jay-Z track ‘Ultra’ which features none other than Swizz Beatz, the man Megaupload claimed was their CEO at the time of the raid in 2012.

Source: Megaupload (January 2012)

It’s unclear why Swizz Beatz was listed as the company’s CEO all of those years ago since the artist was never mentioned by name in any of the legal documentation connected to the raids or subsequent lawsuits. It was later confirmed by Ira Rothken, counsel for Megaupload, that Beatz was in negotiations to become the CEO, but it never came to pass.

However, Beatz did admit to working with Megaupload, possibly in connection with Megabox, the service that planned to give fans free music in return for their advertising clicks while giving most of the money back to the artists.

Megabox never came to light and here we are, seven years later, with the RIAA trying to tackle sites, not unlike Megaupload, with similar strategies, in order to protect his music.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems.

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RIAA Targets Picosong Over Leaked Kanye West Track

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-picosong-over-leaked-kanye-west-track-190730/

In theory at least, running a content upload site should be relatively straightforward. Put the necessary infrastructure in place, wait for users to upload files, then make those files available for download or streaming.

This works extremely well for sites like YouTube, for example, because they have teams of lawyers in place that ensure that the company operates to the letter of the law while standing by to swat away any irritating lawsuits over allegedly-infringing content.

Smaller sites tend not to have these luxuries, so there’s always the chance that groups like the RIAA will come knocking, threatening legal action for copyright infringement failings. This appears to be part of the puzzle facing popular upload site Picosong.

Picosong has been around for more than ten years. Its Twitter account dates back to May 2009, a lifetime for many similar sites operating in the same niche. For much of that time, the platform has provided a simple solution for users to host music files. Soon, however, that will come to an end.

A notice currently displayed on the site’s homepage says that Picosong has reached the end of the road. There are better alternatives for hosting musicians’ content, the announcement reads, so as a result, Picosong will close in October.

While the stated aim was to assist musicians to host (presumably) their own content, it’s clear that many uploaders to the site have been sharing content that doesn’t belong to them. A cursory skim around the web reveals plenty of links to content that is almost certainly copyrighted, a situation that affects Picosong and YouTube alike.

Whether Picosong’s impending shutdown was prompted by anything other than a lack of desire to compete with Soundcloud and Bandcamp is unclear. However, a filing at a federal court in Columbia reveals that the site is firmly on the radar of the RIAA after a leaked Kanye West track was uploaded to the site.

In common with similar efforts in 2019, the RIAA applied for and obtained a DMCA subpoena compelling domain registrar Namecheap to hand over the personal details of the site’s operator. Dated July 23, the application lists three infringing tracks;

  • Ed Sheeran & Travis Scott – Antisocial
  • Tyler, the Creator – 435
  • Kanye West feat. XXXTentacion, Ty Dolla Sign – The Storm

While the first two songs are already widely available, the latter appears to be an unreleased Kanye West track that hit the web earlier this month as part of a batch of similarly-leaked titles.

Pre-release content appearing online is a particularly sensitive matter for the labels. According to a contributor on Genius.com, the leak may even put the track’s album release at risk.

“‘The Storm’ is a leaked collaboration between Kanye West, Ty Dolla $ign and the late XXXTENTACION. On the track, Ty and Kanye encourage a female listener to take control of their life. X’s rowdy verse, which was picked from his unreleased ‘Yes Indeed Remix,’ features him boasting about fighting, his sex life, and his expensive taste,” the review reads.

“‘The Storm’ is believed to be a cut from West’s upcoming album, Yandhi. However, since the track leaked online on July 12, 2019, its standing on the album is unsure.”

The Storm was previously uploaded to many hosting sites, including YouTube (where it remains at the time of writing) and Soundcloud, which appears to have responded to a takedown notice.

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

The RIAA’s demand for a DMCA subpoena can be found here (pdf)

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Charter Profited From Ignoring Piracy, Music Companies Tell Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/charter-profited-from-ignoring-piracy-music-companies-tell-court-190703/

In March several major music companies sued Charter Communications, one of the largest Internet providers in the US with 22 million subscribers.

Helped by the RIAA, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, and others accused Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers.

Among other things, they argued that the ISP failed to terminate or otherwise take meaningful action against the accounts of repeat infringers, even though it was well aware of them.

Last month Charter responded to these allegations. The company denied that it plays an active role in any infringing activities and believes the music companies’ arguments are flawed.

The labels sued the ISP for two types of secondary liability for copyright infringement; contributory infringement and vicarious liability. While Charter is confident that both claims will ultimately fail, it has only asked the court to dismiss the latter.

In its motion, Charter stressed that there is no evidence that it directly profits from copyright infringement. In addition, the ISP said that it doesn’t have a right and ability to control any infringements either, which negates another element of vicarious liability.

The music companies clearly disagree with Charter’s arguments. In a new reply submitted this week, they reiterate that the ISP failed to terminate repeat infringers, suggesting that it was motivated by profit.

“Since 2012, hundreds of thousands of defendant Charter Communications, Inc.’s subscribers have illegally distributed Plaintiffs’ music through online file-sharing programs like BitTorrent, with some users pirating hundreds of Plaintiffs’ songs,” the music outfits start, setting the tone right away.

Charter previously argued that it couldn’t control or stop piracy. Even if it terminated the accounts of subscribers, this would do little to stop infringement. After all, those people could simply sign up elsewhere and continue their infringing activities there.

The music companies reply that this argument misses the mark. They note that they’re not holding Charter liable for all hypothetical piracy on the Internet. Instead, their claim applies to a specific subset of pirate activities that previously took place on the ISP’s network.

At the very least, Charter had the “contractual right” and “practical ability” to limit piracy by its subscribers by terminating persistent infringers, the music companies argue.

“Pursuant to its terms of service, Charter reserves the right to terminate users’ accounts if they engage in copyright infringement. As courts have repeatedly held, it does not matter that Charter cannot prevent users from accessing infringing material online through other means.”

In addition to the control part, the music companies also state that the Internet provider profited from the alleged infringements, which is another crucial element of vicarious liability.

The music companies and other rightsholders sent the ISP many infringement notices, identifying the accounts of specific subscribers. Even though Charter had the ability to terminate the accounts of frequent offenders, it took no action, allegedly for a profit motive.

“The reason for Charter’s refusal to act is simple: by tolerating users’ infringement, Charter reaps millions of dollars in subscription fees that it would have to forgo if it terminated infringing users’ accounts,” the music companies argue.

This failure to terminate pirates then acted as a ‘draw’ for other potential pirates, the music companies add.

“From Charter’s failure to act, users came to understand that they could infringe Plaintiffs’ works with impunity, which constituted a further draw to the service,” they write.

Based on the above, the music companies argue that Charter’s motion to dismiss the vicarious liability claims should be denied. This would also allow the rightsholders to obtain further evidence for their arguments during discovery. 

The Colorado federal court will now review the arguments from both sides and make a decision whether the case should continue based on the allegations of both vicarious liability and contributory infringement, or just the latter.

In tandem with this case, the music companies have also filed a complaint against Charter subsidiary Bright House in a Florida court. Bright House previously responded to this lawsuit with a near identical motion to dismiss, which was followed with a similar reply from the music companies this week.

A copy of the music companies’ opposition to Charter Communications’ motion to dismiss the claim for vicarious liability is available here (pdf).

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RIAA Targets Large Polish File-Hosting Site Chomikuj

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-large-polish-file-hosting-site-chomikuj-190622/

Image result for Chomikuj

In English-speaking countries, file-hosting sites such as the defunct Megaupload and its successor MEGA need little introduction.

These platforms allow(ed) users to upload files into a digital storage locker, to be shared with others as they so choose.

In Poland, Chomikuj is a similar household name. Translated roughly as “hamster”, the platform has been around since 2006 and is very popular. It’s currently receiving around 17 million visits per month, placing it just outside the top 50 most-popular sites in the country.

Like many platforms operating in the same niche, Chomikuj has to deal with users uploading content to which they don’t own the rights. It’s unclear how much infringing content is present on the platform but according to Google’s Transparency Report, with close to 27 million URLs targeted only four domains in the world are listed with more complaints against them.

After issuing takedowns for more than 7.7 million URLs, the BPI is the most active sender. In second place is the RIAA, having sent in excess of 4.2 million, which may be why the music industry group has gone to court in the United States to find out more about the platform.

In common with several other actions in recent weeks, the RIAA filed for a subpoena at a Columbia federal court ordering Cloudflare to hand over whatever personal information it holds on the operators of Chomikuj.

Citing the DMCA (17 U.S.C § 512(h)), the RIAA stated its case by declaring that it needs the information to protect its members’ copyrights.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to these websites who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization.

“This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owner, under Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the RIAA told the Court.

The music group then listed three musical works – Karma Kameleon by Culture Club, Chains of Love by Erasure, and Edge of Heaven by Wham! – stating that these titles had not been authorized for use on Chomikuj.

As was the case in several previous applications, the Court clerk was happy to sign off on the request and a letter was sent to Cloudflare demanding IP and email addresses and all other identifying information. What happens next remains unclear.

The letter to Cloudflare can be found here (pdf)

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After RIAA Targets DJ & Producer Site Mixstep, Site Shuts Down

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/after-riaa-targets-dj-producer-site-mixstep-site-shuts-down-190616/

In recent weeks the RIAA has really stepped on the gas in an effort to tackle sites offering allegedly-infringing content.

The music industry group’s current weapon-of-choice is the DMCA subpoena. These orders, which are easy to obtain and do not need to be scrutinized by a judge, give the RIAA significant discovery powers that help to identify the operators of online platforms.

The latest site to be targeted by the RIAA is Mixstep.co, an upload platform designed for audio works. Last week the powerful industry group told a Columbia federal court that the site was hosting content at a single URL which infringes one or more of its members’ copyrights.

The RIAA says the URL linked to the Ed Sheeran/Justin Bieber track “I Don’t Care” but the location was already inaccessible the morning after the subpoena was obtained. Nevertheless, the RIAA now wants to identify the operator of the site.

The message where the file used to be

The subpoena orders domain registry Namecheap to hand over the personal details of the platform’s domain owner, including name, physical address, IP address, telephone, email address, payment, account history, and other information.

TorrentFreak spoke with the operator of Mixstep who told us he wasn’t previously aware why the RIAA is targeting him. The site was never intended to host infringing content and was actually set up for the use of creators.

“We made this project for DJs and producers,” he told TF.

In common with many upload platforms – YouTube included – Mixstep has users who uploaded infringing content. However, the site has been working hard to take content down and has dealt severely with those who have abused the service.

“We already banned a lot of users who uploaded illegal files,” the operator added.

It’s not completely clear why the RIAA wants to identify the operator of the site but if its aim was to neutralize the platform, the music group has achieved that goal. With the service operated on a zero profit basis, its owner says it has run its course.

“I think it’s enough to fight with all these [users uploading infringing files] so we’re going to shut down our project very soon. Anyway, Mixstep was a no-profit project,” he said.

Visitors to the site now see the following message, so it may be ‘mission accomplished’ for the RIAA.

The end of the show

The RIAA’s letter to Cloudflare can be downloaded here (pdf)

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

RIAA Targets 14 New Sites in Campaign Against YouTube-Rippers & Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-14-new-sites-in-campaign-against-youtube-rippers-piracy-190606/

For some time, the world’s leading record labels have complained that YouTube doesn’t pay the going rate for musical content streamed to its users.

However, when consumers use so-called YouTube-ripping sites to obtain content, it’s claimed that the position worsens. By obtaining music in this fashion, users are able to keep local libraries which further deplete YouTube hits and by extension, revenue generated by the labels.

To plug this hole, the RIAA is working to identify the operators of leading YouTube-ripping platforms. Via DMCA subpoenas, the industry group has been forcing CDN service Cloudflare and domain registries such as NameCheap to hand over the personal details of the people behind these tools.

Two new DMCA subpoenas, obtained by the RIAA in recent days, reveal an apparent escalation in this activity. Mainly targeting Cloudflare but in one instance also NameCheap, the RIAA demands private information relating to several sites.

10Convert.com

With around two million visitors per month (SimilarWeb stats), this platform has a prime focus on YouTube-ripping. The majority of its traffic comes from Brazil (69%), with the United States accounting for a little over 2% of its users.

Amoyshare.com

Enjoying around 4.6m visits per month with most of its visitors coming from the United States (15%), this platform’s focus is offering downloadable tools that enable users to grab videos and music from a wide range of platforms.

However, Amoyshare also offers “AnyUTube”, an online converter which is the element the RIAA is complaining about.

Anything2MP3.cc

This site, which enjoys a relatively low 300,000 visits per month, appears to be dual-use. While it is possible to download content from YouTube, Anything2MP3 also offers users the ability to convert their own audio files in the browser.

IMP3Juices.com

With around six million visits per month, this platform is one of the more popular ones targeted by the RIAA. Around 12.5% of the site’s traffic comes from Italy, with the US following behind with just under 10%.

The site functions like a ‘pirate’ download portal, with users able to search for artists and download tracks. However, the RIAA provides a URL which reveals that the site also has a YouTube to MP4 conversion feature. Indeed, it seems possible that much of the site’s content is obtained from YouTube.

BigConverter.com

Down at the time of writing, possibly as a result of the subpoena, this site offered downloading functionality for a range of sites, from YouTube and Facebook through to Twitter, Vimeo, Vevo, Instagram, Dailymotion, Metacafe, VK, AOL, GoogleDrive and Soundcloud.

YouTubeMP4.to

Enjoying around 7.7 million visits per month, YouTubeMP4.to is a straightforward YouTube video downloader. Almost 23% of its traffic comes from the United States with the UK just behind at close to 11%.

QDownloader.net

This platform has perhaps the most comprehensive offering of those targeted. It claims to be able to download content from 800 sites, of which YouTube is just one. With more than 12 million visits per month, it’s not difficult to see why QDownloader has made it onto the RIAA’s hit list.

GenYouTube.net

Another big one, this multi-site downloader platform attracts around seven million visits per month. The majority of its traffic comes from India (14%), with the United States following behind with around 12%.

Break.TV

For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, YouTube and SoundCloud downloader Break.TV has lost a lot of its monthly traffic since late 2018. From a high edging towards three million visits per month, it now enjoys just over 1.6 million. Interestingly the site says it must only be used to obtain Creative Commons licensed material.

MP3XD.com

In common with IMP3Juices.com, MP3XD.com appears to be focused on offering pirate MP3 downloads rather than straightforward ripping services. However, its content does appear to have been culled from YouTube.

Given that it defaults to Spanish, it seems to target Latin America. Indeed, with close to 10 million visits per month, almost a third hail from Mexico, with Venezuela and Argentina following behind.

DL-YouTube-MP3.net

This platform is a straightforward YouTube-ripping site, offering downloads of both video and audio content. It is one of the lower-trafficked sites on the list, with around 870,000 visits per month with most of its traffic (38%) coming from France.

ConvertBox.net

With around 150,000 visits, ConvertBox is the smallest platform targeted by the RIAA in this batch. It offers conversion features for YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and SoundCloud via its website and mobile apps. Around a fifth of its traffic comes from France.

Downloaders.io

Another multi-downloader, Downloaders.io offers tools to rip content from a number of platforms, YouTube included. It’s traffic has been up and down since the start of the year but has averaged around 200K visits per month. Close to 30% of traffic hails from the United States.

Hexupload.net

A relative newcomer, this site doesn’t appear to fit into the ripping or general pirate site niche. Down at the time of writing, this 270,000 visit per month platform appears to have acted as a file upload site, from which users could generate revenue per download.

Cloudflare and NameCheap will now be required to hand over the personal details they have on the users behind all of these sites. As usual, that will include names, addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and more.

It isn’t clear what the RIAA has planned for these platforms but since the request was made by the group’s Vice-President Online Piracy, it doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a few ideas.

This latest move by the RIAA follows similar action against several other sites detailed in our earlier reports (1,2,3).

The RIAA’s letters to Cloudflare and NameCheap can be found here and here.

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

Terminating Subscribers Doesn’t Stop Pirates, Charter Argues

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/terminating-subscribers-doesnt-stop-pirates-charter-argues-190605/

Regular Internet providers are being put under increasing pressure for not doing enough to curb copyright infringement.

Music rights company BMG got the ball rolling a few years ago when it won its piracy liability lawsuit against Cox.

Following on the heels of this case, several major record labels including Capitol Records, Warner Bros, and Sony Music, hopped onto the bandwagon. Helped by the RIAA, they went after ISP Grande Communications and, more recently, Charter Communications.

The labels accuse Charter of deliberately turning a blind eye to its pirating subscribers. They argue that the ISP failed to terminate or otherwise take meaningful action against the accounts of repeat infringers, even though it was well aware of them.

A few days ago Charter responded to these allegations. The company denies that it plays an active role in any infringing activities and believes the labels’ arguments are flawed.

“This suit is the latest effort in the music industry’s campaign to hold Internet Service Providers (‘ISPs’) liable for copyright infringement, allegedly carried out by internet subscribers, for merely providing internet access,” Charter states. 

The labels sued the ISP for two types of secondary liability for copyright infringement; contributory infringement and vicarious liability. While Charter believes that both claims will fail, it has submitted a motion to dismiss only the latter.

In its motion Charter notes that, in order for a vicarious liability claim to succeed, the labels must show that the ISP profited directly from copyright infringements that it had both a right and ability to control. This is not the case, the ISP notes. 

“Plaintiffs fail to allege a plausible causal connection between any alleged
direct infringement and the subscription fees received by Charter,” the motion reads

“For example, Plaintiffs do not allege that infringers specifically chose Charter over other providers so they could infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights, or that other ISPs were terminating subscribers, leading them to seek out Charter as a safe haven.”

In addition, the ISP points out that it doesn’t operate a file-sharing service, nor does it promote BitTorrent, or receive compensation for any file-sharing services. Instead, it merely charges a flat fee from its subscribers for which it provides Internet access.

The labels argued that the ISP offers a tiered pricing structure, charging higher fees for higher downloading speeds. However, Charter notes that this isn’t in any way catered to pirates. People who consume legal media also benefit from higher speeds, after all.

“Plaintiffs do not, and cannot, allege that those who illegally download music want faster speeds than those who do so legally, much less than those who download considerably larger movie or other files,” Charter writes.

“Such allegations would be implausible, as subscribers paying for higher tiers of service for lawful uses want to download content just as fast as those doing so illegally.”

Charter stresses that there is no evidence that it directly profits from copyright infringement. In addition, it doesn’t have a right and ability to control any infringements either, which negates another element of vicarious liability.

The labels argued that the ISP has control over the infringements, as it can terminate the Internet accounts of repeat infringers. However, Charter counters that this doesn’t prevent subscribers from continuing to pirate elsewhere.

“Charter cannot monitor and control its subscribers’ use of the internet, and its ability to terminate subscribers altogether does not prevent them from committing acts of infringement from other connections,” Charter notes.

Charter adds that it can’t monitor and control its subscribers’ use of the Internet, while adding that peer-to-peer file sharing protocols can be used for both infringing and non-infringing purposes.

All in all the ISP sees terminations as an overbroad and imprecise measure.

“Plaintiffs’ termination remedy suffers from ‘imprecision and overbreadth’ based on the inability to confirm allegations in a notice, the extremity of the measure, and the failure to halt infringing activity from another source,” Charter adds.

Based on these and other arguments Charter asks the court to dismiss the vicarious liability claim. That would still leave the contributory infringement claim intact, but the ISP is confident that it can deal with this at a later stage.

In addition to the suit against Charter, the record labels also sued its subsidiary Bright House for the same alleged offenses in a Florida court. Bright House responded to this lawsuit with a near identical motion to dismiss.

Both motions are now with the respective courts, which will at a later stage decide whether to dismiss the claims or not.

A copy of Charter Communications’ motion to dismiss the claim for vicarious liability is available here (pdf).

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

RIAA Subpoenas Target Yet Another Huge YouTube-Ripping Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-subpoenas-target-yet-another-huge-youtube-ripping-site-190527/

According to the major labels, so-called YouTube-ripping sites are a major threat to their business models.

Visitors to these platforms are able to enter a YouTube URL and then download whatever content they want to their own machines. That may be video and audio, or audio alone.

Either way, users then have less of a reason to revisit YouTube for the same content, depriving both the labels and YouTube of revenue, the companies argue. It’s now becoming clear that the music industry, led by the RIAA, wants to do something about this issue.

The latest target for the RIAA is YouTube-ripping giant Y2Mate.com, which offers conversion and downloads of content hosted on Google’s platform. As seen in the screenshot below, it offers a familiar and convenient interface for users to carry out those tasks.

Screenshot of Y2Mate.com

It’s no surprise that Y2Mate now finds itself under the spotlight. According to SimilarWeb stats, the site is attracting huge and increasing volumes of users, making it a major player on the Internet, period.

Y2Mate currently attracts just short of 64 million visits every month, something which places it well within the top 900 most-visited sites in the United States.

However, around 89% of its traffic actually comes from other regions, so its rank on the global stage is even more impressive. SimilarWeb data indicates that it’s the 570th most-trafficked site in the world.

Y2Mate traffic stats: (SimilarWeb data)

To unmask the operator of this site, the RIAA has just applied for and obtained DMCA subpoenas at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

The first targets US-based CDN company Cloudflare and explains that the RIAA is concerned that Y2Mate is “offering recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use..”

The RIAA’s letter to Cloudflare lists three URLs where allegedly-infringing tracks can be downloaded. The tracks are ‘Never’ by Heart and ‘Let Me Be The One’ by Exposé (both 1985), plus the 1989 release ‘Don’t Wanna Fall In Love’ by Jane Child.

It’s not clear whether the RIAA has already sent Cloudflare a separate takedown notice but the letter to company notes that if it has, that was “merely meant to facilitate removal of the infringing material” and does not “suggest or imply” that the company can rely on its safe harbor protections under the DMCA.

In any event, the RIAA is clear about why it obtained the subpoena.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to [Y2Mate] who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization,” the music group notes.

The letter sent to NameCheap has the same substance and also specifically demands the “name, physical address, IP address, IP address, telephone number, e-mail address, payment information, account updates and account history” of Y2Mate’s operator.

Both Cloudflare and NameCheap are further asked to consider the “widespread and repeated infringing nature” of Y2Mate and whether that constitutes a violation of the companies’ repeat-infringer policies.

According to the Y2Mate site, however, the platform believes it is operating within the law.

Referring to itself as ‘Muvi’, a statement notes that its only purpose is to “create a copy of downloadable online-content for the private use of the user (‘fair use’)” and the user bears full responsibility for all actions related to the data.

“Muvi does not grant any rights to the contents, as it only acts as a technical service provider,” the Y2Mate copyright page reads.

Just last week, the RIAA targeted another YouTube-ripping site, YouTubNow, with a similar subpoena. Within hours of our report, the site went down, ostensibly for maintenance.

TF previously reported that the RIAA is targeting several other ‘pirate’ sites that use Cloudflare. Similar action is also being aimed at file-hosting platform NoFile.

The RIAA’s letters to Cloudflare and NameCheap can be found here and here (pdf)

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

Cox Business Subscriber Doesn’t Want Identity Revealed in Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-business-subscriber-doesnt-want-identity-revealed-in-piracy-lawsuit/

Last year a group of prominent record labels, all members of the RIAA, filed a lawsuit against ISP Cox Communications. 

The labels argue that Cox categorically failed to terminate repeat copyright infringers and that it substantially profited from this ongoing ‘piracy’ activity. All at the expense of the record labels and other rightsholders.

As part of the discovery phase, both parties requested relevant information from each other. The labels, for example, were interested in finding out the names and addresses of Cox business subscribers that received copyright infringement warnings. 

In addition to regular households, Cox also offers Internet connections to business clients and many of these – 2,793 to be precise – were flagged as pirates.

After some back and forth Cox and the record labels agreed on a stipulated court order, requiring the ISP to disclose this information. While the court signed off on this, not all affected subscribers are happy with this decision. One of them objected in court this week. 

The company in question appeared as “John Doe” and explained that it’s a  non-profit corporation that provides hospital and medical care facilities outside of Virginia. 

As is quite common today, the non-profit operates a secured network that’s only accessible to its employees. In addition, it offers public WiFi access to patients and visitors. The latter was provided by Cox in the relevant time period.

“Like other medical care providers, John Doe provides an unsecured, public
wireless network that can be accessed by patients and other visitors who agree to abide by John Doe’s terms of use for the Public WiFi network. Cox is the internet service provider for this Public WiFi network,” the company notes

It was this unsecured network that triggered the referenced copyright infringement notifications. This, despite the fact that all users had to agree to the terms of service, which specifically prohibited illegal downloading.

From the ToS

The health care provider doesn’t refute that visitors or patients may have used the network to share copyright-infringing content. However, it notes that there’s not much it can do to identify these infringers. Not then and not now.

The health care provider doesn’t track MAC addresses of people who connected to the network, and even if it did, that would only identify a device, not a person. 

Given this background, the “John Doe” company doesn’t see any reason why its details should be shared with the record labels. That won’t help to identify any copyright infringers. However, it does breach the health care provider’s privacy rights. 

“Thus, disclosure of John Doe’s subscriber information will not lead to the discovery of the individual(s) who are alleged by Plaintiffs to have engaged in copyright infringement through the misuse of John Doe’s network in violation of the access agreement,” the company informs the court.

“All disclosure will accomplish is a breach of John Doe’s privacy rights under the Cable Communications Privacy Act, 47 USC § 551, and the imposition of time and expense burdens on John Doe, all without furthering any claim or defense in this case.”

It is now up to the court to decide whether the details of the company can be handed over by Cox. Meanwhile, it remains unclear why the record labels are interested in this information at all, and how this will help their case.

A copy of John Doe’s objection to the disclosure is available here (pdf).

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

RIAA Obtains Subpoena to Unmask YouTube-Ripping Site Operator

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-obtains-subpoena-to-unmask-youtube-ripping-site-operator-190515/

Stream-ripping tools have become a big deal for the music industry over the past several years.

Instead of having to revisit platforms like YouTube, Spotify or Deezer, users of ripping tools or sites are able to download content to their own machines. The labels argue this deprives artists and indeed platforms of revenue while breaching music licensing conditions.

Perhaps the biggest problem is presented by sites that allow people to rip content from YouTube, whether that’s video or audio, or audio alone. While this can be for legitimate purposes, millions use stream-ripping platforms to obtain copyrighted content for free.

One such site is YouTube-ripping service YouTubNow.com. According to SimilarWeb stats, the site currently receives around 15 million visits per month, with the highest share of its visitors hailing from the U.S.

“YouTubNow is a powerful service that allows you to find and download your favorite YouTube videos as well as music tracks quickly, easily and absolutely for free,” the site’s promo material reads.

“It’s an excellent YouTube to MP3 downloader as it makes any soundtrack a separate audio file tailored especially for you!”

This clearly isn’t something the RIAA appreciates. The music industry group targeted YouTubNow last week via a DMCA subpoena directed at the site’s domain name registrar, NameCheap.

In common with a similar process aimed at file-hosting platform NoFile and first reported here on TF, the RIAA filed its request at a federal court in Columbia, demanding that NameCheap hands over the personal details of its client. The Court was happy to oblige.

“We believe your service is hosting [YouTubNow.com] on its network,” a subsequent RIAA letter to NameCheap reads.

“The website associated with this domain name offers files containing sound recordings which are owned by one or more of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use, including without limitation those referenced at the URL below.”

The allegedly-infringing URLS

It isn’t clear whether the RIAA has already filed any DMCA takedown notices with YouTubNow via the email address published on the site. Nevertheless, from the ‘copyright notice’ published on the site itself, YouTubNow claims no responsibility for what users do with the service.

At users’ own risk….

From the wording of the letter sent to NameCheap and the subpoena itself, the RIAA appears more concerned about the entire YouTubNow service, rather than just a few seemingly random URLs.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity of the individual assigned to this website who has induced the infringement of, and has directly engaged in the infringement of, our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization,” the RIAA writes.

In addition to demanding the operator’s name, physical address, IP address, telephone number, email address, payment information, account updates and account history, the RIAA suggests a termination of the service’s domain might also be in order.

“We also ask that you consider the widespread and repeated infringing nature of the site operator(s)’ conduct, and whether the site(s)’ activities violate your terms of service and/or your company’s repeat infringer policy,” the RIAA writes.

This is at least the third DMCA subpoena the RIAA has obtained against allegedly-infringing sites in recent weeks. TF previously reported that the group is targeting several ‘pirate’ sites that use Cloudflare and file-hosting platform NoFile.

A copy of the RIAA’s letter, obtained by TF, is available here (pdf)

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

RIAA Obtains Subpoena to Expose ‘Infringing’ Cloudflare Users

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-obtains-subpoena-to-expose-infringing-cloudflare-users-180506/

Despite the increased availability of legal options, millions of people still stream, rip, or download MP3s from unofficial sources.

These sites are a thorn in the side of the RIAA, one of the music industry’s leading anti-piracy outfits. 

The RIAA has a long history of going after, what it sees as, pirate sites. The problem, however, is that many owners of such sites operate anonymously. The group, therefore, often has to turn to third-party intermediaries to find out more. 

While some services may be willing to voluntarily share information with the music industry group, many don’t. Cloudflare falls into the latter category. While the CDN service does voluntarily reveal the true hosting locations of some of its users, it doesn’t share any personal info. At least, not without a subpoena. 

Luckily for rightsholders, getting a subpoena isn’t very hard in the US. Under the DMCA, copyright holders only have to ask a court clerk for a signature to be able to demand the personal information of alleged copyright infringers. That’s exactly what the RIAA did last week. 

In a letter sent by Mark McDevitt, the RIAA’s vice president of online anti-piracy, the music group informs Cloudflare that it requests personal details including names, addresses and payment information relating to the operators of six domains, which are all Cloudflare users. 

The domains/URLs

The domains in question include those connected to the file-hosting site DBREE,  music release site RapGodFathers, file-host AyeFiles, and music download portal Plus Premieres. The sites are accused of sharing copyrighted tracks from artists such as Pink, Drake, and Taylor Swift.

“We have determined that users of your system or network have infringed our member record companies’ copyrighted sound recordings. Enclosed is a subpoena compliant with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the RIAA’s McDevitt writes.

“As is stated in the attached subpoena, you are required to disclose to the RIAA information sufficient to identify the infringers. This would include the individuals’ names, physical addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, payment information, account updates and account history.”

The RIAA stresses that the mentioned files are offered without permission and it asks Cloudflare to consider the widespread and repeated infringing nature of the sites and whether these warrant a termination under its repeat infringer policy. 

From the letter RIAA sent to Cloudflare

At the time of writing the sites are still using Cloudflare’s services. However, the allegedly infringing files are no longer available. These were presumably removed by the site owners.

There is no obvious connection between all the targeted sites. However, RapGodFathers is a familiar name when it comes to anti-piracy enforcement. Nearly ten years ago, the site was targeted by the U.S. Government, but the name is still around today.  

It is unclear what RIAA plans to do with the requested information. It could form the basis of a legal complaint, but the music group may also use it to contact the site operators more directly. The letter only mentions that the information will be used to protect the rights of RIAA member companies.

“The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identities of the individuals assigned to these websites who have reproduced and have offered for distribution our members’ copyrighted sound recordings without their authorization.

“This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owner, under Title II of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” the letter adds.

What this “protection” entails remains a mystery for now. 

While the court clerk signed the DMCA subpoena, Cloudflare still has the option to object, by asking the court to quash it. However, thus far there are no signs that the company plans to do so.

A copy of the letter RIAA sent to Cloudflare, obtained by TorrentFreak, is available here (pdf).

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