Tag Archives: rightsholders

MPAA & RIAA Demand Tough Copyright Standards in NAFTA Negotiations

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-riaa-demand-tough-copyright-standards-in-nafta-negotiations-170621/

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Canada, and Mexico was negotiated more than 25 years ago. With a quarter of a decade of developments to contend with, the United States wants to modernize.

“While our economy and U.S. businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not,” the government says.

With this in mind, the US requested comments from interested parties seeking direction for negotiation points. With those comments now in, groups like the MPAA and RIAA have been making their positions known. It’s no surprise that intellectual property enforcement is high on the agenda.

“Copyright is the lifeblood of the U.S. motion picture and television industry. As such, MPAA places high priority on securing strong protection and enforcement disciplines in the intellectual property chapters of trade agreements,” the MPAA writes in its submission.

“Strong IPR protection and enforcement are critical trade priorities for the music industry. With IPR, we can create good jobs, make significant contributions to U.S. economic growth and security, invest in artists and their creativity, and drive technological innovation,” the RIAA notes.

While both groups have numerous demands, it’s clear that each seeks an environment where not only infringers can be held liable, but also Internet platforms and services.

For the RIAA, there is a big focus on the so-called ‘Value Gap’, a phenomenon found on user-uploaded content sites like YouTube that are able to offer infringing content while avoiding liability due to Section 512 of the DMCA.

“Today, user-uploaded content services, which have developed sophisticated on-demand music platforms, use this as a shield to avoid licensing music on fair terms like other digital services, claiming they are not legally responsible for the music they distribute on their site,” the RIAA writes.

“Services such as Apple Music, TIDAL, Amazon, and Spotify are forced to compete with services that claim they are not liable for the music they distribute.”

But if sites like YouTube are exercising their rights while acting legally under current US law, how can partners Canada and Mexico do any better? For the RIAA, that can be achieved by holding them to standards envisioned by the group when the DMCA was passed, not how things have panned out since.

Demanding that negotiators “protect the original intent” of safe harbor, the RIAA asks that a “high-level and high-standard service provider liability provision” is pursued. This, the music group says, should only be available to “passive intermediaries without requisite knowledge of the infringement on their platforms, and inapplicable to services actively engaged in communicating to the public.”

In other words, make sure that YouTube and similar sites won’t enjoy the same level of safe harbor protection as they do today.

The RIAA also requires any negotiated safe harbor provisions in NAFTA to be flexible in the event that the DMCA is tightened up in response to the ongoing safe harbor rules study.

In any event, NAFTA should not “support interpretations that no longer reflect today’s digital economy and threaten the future of legitimate and sustainable digital trade,” the RIAA states.

For the MPAA, Section 512 is also perceived as a problem. While noting that the original intent was to foster a system of shared responsibility between copyright owners and service providers, the MPAA says courts have subsequently let copyright holders down. Like the RIAA, the MPAA also suggests that Canada and Mexico can be held to higher standards.

“We recommend a new approach to this important trade policy provision by moving to high-level language that establishes intermediary liability and appropriate limitations on liability. This would be fully consistent with U.S. law and avoid the same misinterpretations by policymakers and courts overseas,” the MPAA writes.

“In so doing, a modernized NAFTA would be consistent with Trade Promotion Authority’s negotiating objective of ‘ensuring that standards of protection and enforcement keep pace with technological developments’.”

The MPAA also has some specific problems with Mexico, including unauthorized camcording. The Hollywood group says that 85 illicit audio and video recordings of films were linked to Mexican theaters in 2016. However, recording is not currently a criminal offense in Mexico.

Another issue for the MPAA is that criminal sanctions for commercial scale infringement are only available if the infringement is for profit.

“This has hampered enforcement against the above-discussed camcording problem but also against online infringement, such as peer-to-peer piracy, that may be on a scale that is immensely harmful to U.S. rightsholders but nonetheless occur without profit by the infringer,” the MPAA writes.

“The modernized NAFTA like other U.S. bilateral free trade agreements must provide for criminal sanctions against commercial scale infringements without proof of profit motive.”

Also of interest are the MPAA’s complaints against Mexico’s telecoms laws. Unlike in the US and many countries in Europe, Mexico’s ISPs are forbidden to hand out their customers’ personal details to rights holders looking to sue. This, the MPAA says, needs to change.

The submissions from the RIAA and MPAA can be found here and here (pdf)

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.

ISP Doesn’t Have to Expose Alleged BitTorrent Pirates, Finnish Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-doesnt-have-to-expose-alleged-bittorrent-pirates-finnish-court-rules-170615/

finlandStarting three years ago, copyright holders began sending out thousands of settlement letters to alleged pirates in Finland, a practice often described as copyright trolling.

This week, however, the local Market Court has put the brakes on these efforts, with a rather significant ruling.

In the case in question, filmmakers requested the personal information of hundreds of alleged BitTorrent users from Internet provider DNA. However, after a careful review by a panel of seven judges, the Court decided not to grant the request.

The rightsholders provided a detailed log from a BitTorrent monitoring tool as evidence. While the Court didn’t doubt that the pirated material had been shared, it questioned how significant the infringements were.

The provided list of IP-addresses and timestamps don’t show how much data was shared, or for how long.

The evidence included an overview of the total number of users sharing the same file in a single BitTorrent swarm. However, the fact that thousands of people were sharing the same file says nothing about the significance of individual infringements.

“[T]he applicant has not claimed or provided any explanation that would indicate that the distribution of its work, by an IP address in the application, would have repeatedly occurred or for a longer period of time,” the Market Court writes.

The verdict, first reported by Iltalethi, refers to a recent case in the European Court of Justice, and stressed that the significance of an infringement must be weighed against the defendants’ privacy rights. In this case, the court decided that the evidence doesn’t warrant the exposure of the alleged pirates.

“Since the applicant has not provided sufficient proof of compliance with the conditions set out in Article 60a of the Copyright Act to adoption of an application, the application must be dismissed,” the Market Court writes.

The outcome is a clear victory for the accused BitTorrent users. Time will tell whether rightsholders will adapt their evidence to the ruling, or whether they will test their luck elsewhere. The current ruling can still be appealed.

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

Copyright Holders Keep Targeting Dead Torrent Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-holders-keep-targeting-dead-torrent-sites-170611/

Over the past year several major torrent sites have shut down, causing quite an uproar among file-sharers.

Interestingly, however, several copyright holders still appear to think that these sites are alive and kicking. That is, judging from the takedown notices they send to Google.

Publisher Penguin Random House is particularly forgetful. Through its anti-piracy partner Digimarc, the company has reported hundreds of ‘infringing’ KickassTorrents URLs. Not only was KAT shut down last summer, the reported URLs are no longer listed in Google’s search results either.

Penguin is not alone though. Other rightsholders such as Sony Music, Dreamroom Productions, Taylor & Francis Group, The University of Chicago Press and many others have made the same mistakes recently.

Over the past month alone Google has received 1,340 takedown notices for Kat.cr URLs and an additional 775 for the Kat.ph domain name.

The problem is not limited to KAT either. Torrentz.eu, another major torrent site that went offline last summer, is still being targeted at well.

For example, earlier this week Sony Pictures asked Google to remove a Torrentz.eu URL that linked to the series Community, even though it is no longer indexed. In just one month copyright holders sent Google 4,960 takedown requests for “dead” Torrentz URLs.

Recent takedown requests for Torrentz.eu

Apparently, the reporting outfits have failed to adjust their piracy monitoring bots for the changing torrent landscape.

The mistakes are likely due to automated keyword filters that scour sites and forums for links to hosting services. These bots don’t bother to check whether Google actually indexes the content, nor do they remove dead sites from their system.

While targeting dead KAT and Torrentz links is bad enough, things can get worse.

The iconic torrent search isoHunt.com shut down following a MPAA lawsuit in 2013, well over three years ago. Nonetheless, rightsholders still sent Google takedown notices for the site, more than a dozen a month actually.

Or what about BTJunkie. This torrent indexer closed its doors voluntarily more than half a decade ago. Dead or not, some copyright holders still manage to find infringing links in some of the darkest corners of the Internet.

Apparently, torrent users are far quicker to adapt to the changing landscape than the monitoring outfits of some copyright holders…

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

Cloudflare Fails to Limit Scope of Piracy Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-fails-to-limit-scope-of-piracy-lawsuit-170610/

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

This includes thousands of “pirate” sites, including the likes of The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, which rely on the U.S.-based company to keep server loads down.

Many rightsholders have complained about CloudFlare’s involvement with these sites and last year adult entertainment publisher ALS Scan took things up a notch by dragging the company to court.

ALS Scan accused the CDN service of various counts of copyright and trademark infringement and listed 15 customers that used the Cloudflare’s servers to distribute infringing material.

Through an early motion, Cloudflare managed to have several counts dismissed, but the accusation of contributory copyright infringement remained.

Hoping to further limit the scope of the lawsuit, Cloudflare asked the California federal court to grant a summary motion that would exclude 14 of the 15 listed ‘pirate’ sites from the lawsuit, as the original sites are not hosted on U.S. servers.

The image hosting sites in question include imgchili.com, slimpics.com, bestofsexpics.com, greenpics.com, imgspot.org and imgsen.se, among others.

Cloudflare argued that in order to be contributing to copyright infringement, the ‘pirate’ sites have to be direct infringers, which isn’t the case if are they are hosted abroad as that would fall outside the scope of U.S. courts.

However, according to the Court, which ordered on the motion for partial summary judgment a few days ago, this argument doesn’t hold.

“Here, it is undisputed that cache copies of Cloudflare clients’ files are stored on Cloudflare’s data servers; it is also undisputed that some of those data servers are located in the United States,” the order (pdf) reads.

These cached files are the result of the pirate sites’ decisions to sign up and pay for Cloudflare’s services. This ties direct infringements to U.S. servers.

“Thus, to the extent cache copies of Plaintiff’s images have been stored on Cloudflare’s U.S. servers, the creation of those copies would be an act of direct infringement by a given host website within the United States,” the court adds.

The Court further clarified that unlike Cloudflare claimed, under U.S. law the company can be held liable for caching content of copyright infringing websites.

In addition, Cloudflare’s argument that “infrastructure-level caching” is a type of fair use was denied as well.

Based on a detailed analysis of all the arguments provided, the Court concludes that the motion for summary judgment is denied for 13 of the 14 contended sites. This means than Cloudflare has to defend itself against the associated copyright infringement claims in an eventual trial.

The lawsuit is a crucial matter for Cloudflare, and not only because of the potential damages it faces in this case. If Cloudflare loses, other rightsholders are likely to make similar demands, forcing the company to actively police potential pirate sites.

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

Usenet Provider is Obliged to Identify Pirates, Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/usenet-provider-has-to-identify-pirates-court-rules-170609/

Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted pirates of all shapes and sizes over the past several years.

It’s also one of the few groups that actively tracks down copyright infringers on Usenet, which still has millions of frequent users.

BREIN sets its aim on prolific uploaders and other large-scale copyright infringers. After identifying its targets, it asks providers to reveal the personal details connected to the account.

Last December, BREIN asked Usenet provider Eweka to hand over the personal details of one of its former customers but the provider refused to cooperate voluntarily.

In its defense, the Usenet provider argued that it’s a neutral intermediary that would rather not perform the role of piracy police. Instead, it preferred to rely on the court to make a decision.

The provider had already taken a similar position earlier last year, but the Court of Haarlem ruled that it must hand over the information.

In a new ruling this week, the Court issued a similar order.

The Court stressed that in these type of situations the Usenet provider is required to hand over the requested details, without intervention from the court. This is in line with case law.

Under Dutch law, ISPs can be obliged to hand over the personal details of their customers if the infringing activity is plausible and the aggrieved party has a legitimate interest.

The former Eweka customer was known under the alias ‘Badfan69’ and previously uploaded 9,538 allegedly infringing works to Usenet, Tweakers reports. He was tracked down through information from the headers of the binaries he posted.

BREIN is pleased with the verdict, which once again strengthens its position in cases where third-party providers hold information on infringing customers.

“Most of the intermediaries adhere to the law and voluntarily provide the relevant data when BREIN makes a motivated request,” BREIN director Tim Kuik responds.

“They have to decide quickly because rightsholders have an interest in stopping uploaders and holding them liable as soon as possible. This sentence emphasizes this once again.”

The court ordered Eweka to pay legal fees of roughly 1,500 euros. In addition, the provider faces a penalty of 1,000 euros per day, to a maximum of 100,000 euros, if it fails to hand over the requested information in its possession.

Eweka hasn’t commented publicly on the verdict yet. But, with two rulings in favor of BREIN, it is unlikely that the provider will continue to fight similar cases in the future.

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

Dish Network Sues ‘ZemTV’ and ‘TV Addons’ For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-network-sues-zemtv-and-tv-addons-for-copyright-infringement-170605/

More and more people are starting to use Kodi-powered set-top boxes to stream video content to their TVs.

While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, third-party add-ons can turn it into the ultimate pirate machine, providing access to movies, TV-shows and IPTV channels.

These add-ons are direct competition for traditional broadcast providers, such as Dish Network in the United States, which filed a lawsuit in a Texas federal court late last week.

The complaint lists the add-on ZemTV as the prime target. The service in question allows users to watch a variety of Dish channels, without permission.

“The ZemTV service is retransmitting these channels over the Internet to end-users that download the ZemTV add-on for the Kodi media player, which is available for download at the websites www.tvaddons.ag and www.tvaddons.org,” Dish’s lawyers write.

The TVAddons platform, which hosts hundreds of unofficial Kodi add-ons including ZemTV, is also listed as a defendant. According to Dish, TVAddons plays an important role in the distribution of the infringing add-on.

The ZemTV operator, who is only known as “Shani” and “Shani_08,” used the TVAddons platform to share and promote its service while asking for donations, the complaint alleges.

“Website Operators have actual or constructive knowledge of this infringing activity and materially contribute to that activity by providing the forum where the ZemTV add-on can be downloaded and soliciting and accepting donations from ZemTV users,” Dish writes.

“But for the availability of the ZemTV add-on at www.tvaddons.ag or www.tvaddons.org, most if not all of Developer’s distribution and/or public performance would not occur,” the complaint adds.

Dish claims that it sent numerous takedown requests to Internet service providers associated with the ZemTV service, but the developer has continued to offer the add-on, circumventing any countermeasures.

With the lawsuit, the broadcast provider holds ZemTV accountable for direct copyright infringement, demanding $150,000 per infringement in damages. TVAddons is accused of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement and also faces statutory damages.

TorrentFreak spoke to a representative from TVAddons, who wasn’t aware of the lawsuit. Dish has not contacted them directly with any takedown requests, he says.

“This is the first we’ve heard of this lawsuit. No one ever sent us any type of takedown or DMCA notice or even tried to contact us prior, they could have easily done so through our contact page or site emails,” TVAddons informs us.

TVAddons says that the ZemTV add-on was already removed prior to the lawsuit due to a technical issue, and it won’t return.

“The Zem addon was actually removed from our addon library and community tools weeks ago due to a completely unrelated technical issue. I have already spoken to the developer, and he has since deleted the Zem addon entirely,” the TVAddons representative says.

Also, shortly after we started to inquire about the lawsuit, the ZemTV add-on appears to have shut down completely. According to Kodi Tips, developer “Shani” said it became too popular to maintain, but the legal threat likely played a role as well.

The lawsuit against ZemTV and TVAddons is the first of its kind in the United States. As such, it will be closely watched by other rightsholders, add-on developers, and platforms similar to TVAddons that distribute software.

The full complaint Dish Network filed is available here (pdf).

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

Hollywood Sees Illegal Streaming Devices as ‘Piracy 3.0’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-sees-illegal-streaming-devices-as-piracy-3-0-170502/

Piracy remains a major threat for the movie industry, MPA Stan McCoy said yesterday during a panel session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

After McCoy praised the collaboration between the MPA(A) and Russian authorities in their fight against online piracy, the ‎President and Managing Director of the MPA’s EMEA region noted that pirates are not standing still.

Much like Hollywood, copyright infringers are innovators who constantly change their “business models” and means of obtaining content. Where torrents were dominant a few years ago, illegal streaming devices are now the main threat, with McCoy describing their rise as Piracy 3.0.

“Piracy is not a static challenge. The pirates are great innovators in their own right. So even as we innovate in trying to pursue these issues, and pursue novel ways of fighting piracy, the pirates are out there coming up with new business models of their own,” McCoy said.

“If you think of old-fashioned peer-to-peer piracy as 1.0, and then online illegal streaming websites as 2.0, in the audio-visual sector, in particular, we now face challenge number 3.0, which is what I’ll call the challenge of illegal streaming devices.”

The panel

The MPA boss went on to explain how the new piracy ecosystem works. The new breed of pirates relies on streaming devices such as set-top boxes, which often run Kodi and are filled with pirate add-ons.

This opens the door to a virtually unlimited library of pirated content. For one movie there may be hundreds of pirate links available, which are impossible to take down in an effective manner by rightsholders, he added, while showcasing the Exodus add-on to the public.

McCoy stressed that the devices themselves, and software such as Kodi, are ‘probably’ not illegal. However, the addition of copyright-infringing pirate add-ons turns them into an unprecedented piracy threat.

“The device itself is probably not illegal, the software itself is probably not illegal, the confluence of all three of these is a major category killer for online piracy,” McCoy said.

McCoy showing Exodus

McCoy went on to say that the new “Piracy 3.0” is not that popular in Russia yet. However, in the UK, America, and several other countries, it’s already huge, matching the popularity of legal services such as Spotify.

“The result is a pirate service operating on a truly massive scale. The scale of this kind of piracy, while it’s not huge yet in the Russian Federation, has reached epidemic levels similar to major services like Spotify, in markets like the UK, and other markets in Western Europe and North America.”

“This is a new sort of global Netflix but no rightsholder gets paid,” McCoy added.

The MPA chief stresses that this new form of piracy should be dealt with through a variety of measures including legislation, regulation, consumer education, and voluntary agreements with third-party stakeholders.

He notes that in Europe, rightsholders are backed by a recent decision of the Court of Justice, which outlawed the sales of devices with pre-loaded pirate add-ons. However, there is still a lot more work to be done to crack down on this emerging piracy threat.

“This is an area where […] innovative responses are required. We have to be just as good as the pirates in thinking of new ways to tackle these challenges,” McCoy said.

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

Anti-Piracy Group Shuts Down ‘Pirate’ Kodi Repos and Add-Ons

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-group-shuts-down-pirate-kodi-repos-and-add-ons-170531/

The Kodi media player software, previously known as XBMC, has seen a massive surge in popularity in recent years.

More and more people have started to use Kodi as their primary source of entertainment, often with help from unofficial add-ons that allow them to access pirated movies and TV-shows.

While the Kodi software itself is perfectly legal, a lot of third-party software are not. In Israel, this prompted the local anti-piracy group ZIRA to take action against several popular Kodi add-ons and repositories.

Last week the group filed for an injunction to stop the site owners from offering their ‘pirate’ Kodi tools, but before the cases went to court, the industry group already announced a settlement with three of them.

A few days ago abeksis.com, kodiwizardil.net, and kodi-senyor.co.il ceased operating, without prior warning. The Abeksis repository was one main targets, as it offered an easy way to turn the Kodi media player into a piracy hub.

Abeksis

The targeted Kodi repos and add-ons were not monetizing their services and some also offered access to legal content. However, facing the threat of a lawsuit by the anti-piracy group, they chose to cease their services indefinitely.

ZIRA is happy with the outcome and notes that the shutdowns are “another victory in the struggle against the pirated content on the Internet and the preservation of Israeli creators and content.”

The operators of the sites reportedly paid a settlement of a few thousand shekels. In addition, they will have to pay 100,000 more ($28,000) if the repositories or add-ons reappear in the future.

As a warning to the public, the three sites in question replaced their regular content with a message from ZIRA. The message informs visitors about the shutdown, and the threat piracy poses to the local content industry.

“The site you’ve entered was taken down since it was violating intellectual property rights. The site’s operators were fined by the court and therefore the site ceased to operate!” the message reads.

“The cost of copyright infringement is paid by the Israeli population, Israeli culture and the income of the producers,” it adds.

ZIRA’s message

The enforcement actions have caused quite a bit of uncertainty among developers of Kodi add-ons and repositories. Several members of the community feel that the services in question did nothing wrong. Some other developers, however, also prefer to play it safe from now on.

The IsraeLive add-on, for example, which offered access to streams that are available through public websites, decided to remove all Israeli content and rename itself GlobeTV. This was presumably done to prevent legal issues with the respective rightsholders.

“Israeli broadcast streams are available on official websites and not using our add-on, and that’s due to legal reasoning and the Laws of the State of Israel,” the developer posted recently.

Whether ZIRA’s enforcement actions will have a lasting effect on the use of streaming piracy in Israel has yet to be seen. However, as the first broad enforcement action against developers of ‘pirate’ Kodi repos and add-ons, it’s a landmark case that could very well be copied elsewhere in the future.

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

Danish ISPs Stand Up Against ‘Mafia-Like’ Copyright Trolls

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/danish-isps-stand-up-against-mafia-like-copyright-trolls-170530/

In recent years, file-sharers all across Europe have been threatened with lawsuits, if they don’t pay a significant settlement fee.

The process was pioneered in Germany where it turned into an industry by itself, and copyright holders later went after alleged pirates in the UK, Finland and elsewhere.

These so-called “copyright trolls” have also landed in Denmark, where the number of targeted Internet subscribers is growing at a rapid rate.

In 2015, rightsholders received permission from courts to obtain the personal details of 6,187 alleged BitTorrent pirates, based on their IP-addresses. A year later the number of accused subscribers increased by nearly 250 percent, to 21,163.

Local ISPs are not happy with this development and plan to fight it in court, Berlingske Business reports.

“We think there is a fundamental legal problem because the courts do not really decide what is most important: the legal security of the public or the law firms’ commercial interests,” Telenor’s Legal Director Mette Eistrøm Krüger says.

As is often the case in these type anti-piracy campaigns, the rightsholders prefer to settle out of court. Thus far, no named defendant has mounted a defense before a Danish judge.

“There was a verdict in one case, and this was a default judgment because the defendant didn’t show up,” Mette Eistrøm Krüger adds.

To stop the trolling efforts from getting out of hand, Telenor is now preparing to build a new case at the Frederiksberg Court, hoping to protect the identities of its subscribers.

This is not the first time Telenor has taken action against these anti-piracy efforts. The ISP did the same in Norway, with success. Last month the Norwegian Supreme Court threw out several troll cases due to a lack of evidence.

In Denmark, Telenor is supported by fellow Internet provider Telia, which says it will be more critical toward trolling efforts going forward.

The branch organization Telecommunications Industry in Denmark notes that other ISPs are backing Telenor’s efforts as well. The group’s director, Jakob Willer, describes the copyright trolling scheme as a “mafia-like” practice, which should be stopped.

“There is full support from the industry to Telenor to take this fight and protect customers against mafia-like practices,” Willer says.

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

Huge Coalition Protests EU Mandatory Piracy Filter Proposals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/huge-coalition-protests-eu-mandatory-piracy-filter-proposals-170530/

Last September, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans to modernize copyright law in Europe.

The proposals (pdf) are part of the Digital Single Market reforms, which have been under development for the past several years.

The proposals cover a broad range of copyright-related issues, but one stands out as being particularly controversial. Article 13 requires certain online service providers to become deeply involved in the detection and policing of allegedly infringing copyright works, uploaded to their platforms by users.

Although its effects will likely be more broad, the proposal is targeted at the so-called “value gap” (1,2,3), i.e the notion that platforms like YouTube are able to avoid paying expensive licensing fees (for music in particular) by exploiting the safe harbor protections of the DMCA and similar legislation.

To close this loophole using Article 13, services that provide access to “large amounts” of user-uploaded content would be required to cooperate with rightsholders to prevent infringing works being communicated to the public.

This means that platforms like YouTube would be forced to take measures to ensure that their deals with content providers to distribute official content are protected by aggressive anti-piracy mechanisms.

The legislation would see platforms forced to deploy content-recognition, filtering and blocking mechanisms, to ensure that only non-infringing content is uploaded in the first place, thus limiting the chances that unauthorized copyrighted content will be made available to end users.

Supporters argue that the resulting decrease in availability of infringing content will effectively close the “value gap” but critics see the measures as disproportionate, likely to result in censorship (no provision for fair use), and a restriction of fundamental freedoms. Indeed, there are already warnings that such a system would severely “restrict the way Europeans create, share, and communicate online.”

The proposals have predictably received widespread support from entertainment industry companies across the EU and the United States, but there are now clear signs that the battle lines are being drawn.

On one side are the major recording labels, movie studios, and other producers. On the other, companies and platforms that will suddenly become more liable for infringing content, accompanied by citizens and scholars who feel that freedoms will be restricted.

The latest sign of the scale of opposition to Article 13 manifests itself in an open letter to the European Parliament. Under the Copyright for Creativity (C4C) banner and signed by the EFF, Creative Commons, Wikimedia, Mozilla, EDRi, Open Rights Group plus sixty other organizations, the letter warns that the proposals will cause more problems than they solve.

“The European Commission’s proposal on copyright in the Digital Single Market failed to meet the expectations of European citizens and businesses. Instead of supporting Europeans in the digital economy, it is backward looking,” the groups say.

“We need European lawmakers to oppose the most damaging aspects of the proposal, but also to embrace a more ambitious agenda for positive reform.”

In addition to opposing Article 11 (the proposed Press Publishers’ Right), the groups ask the EU Parliament not to impose private censorship on EU citizens via Article 13.

“The provision on the so-called ‘value gap’ is designed to provoke such legal uncertainty that online services will have no other option than to monitor, filter and block EU citizens’ communications if they want to have any chance of staying in business,” the groups write.

“The Commission’s proposal misrepresents some European Court rulings and seeks to impose contradictory obligations on Member States. This is simply bad regulation.”

Calling for the wholesale removal of Article 13 from the copyright negotiations, the groups argue that the reforms should be handled in the appropriate contexts.

“We strenuously oppose such ill thought through experimentation with intermediary liability, which will hinder innovation and competition and will reduce the opportunities available to all European businesses and citizens,” they add.

C4C concludes by calling on lawmakers to oppose Article 13 while seeking avenues for positive reform.

The full letter can be found here (pdf)

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

Hardware Provider is Liable For Live Streaming Piracy, Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hardware-provider-is-liable-for-live-streaming-piracy-court-rules-170529/

While ‘pirate’ sports streaming sites have been around for over a decade, in recent years rightsholders have taken a more aggressive stance.

The UK Premier League has triggered several police investigations, for example, which have led to the shutdown of several streaming platforms.

In Germany, the local football league (DFL) and Sky Deutschland are involved in a similar battle. The rightsholder and broadcaster feel that unauthorized streaming sites threaten their livelihoods so they’ve initiated legal action in response.

One of the prime targets of these efforts was the streaming portal Stream4u.tv, which was broadcasting sports events without permission. In addition to the site’s operator, a civil lawsuit filed by Sky also targeted the hardware provider that offered the equipment used to decrypt and distribute the streaming signal.

Last week Sky declared a major victory after The District Court of Hamburg ruled that both the site operator and hardware provider are liable for copyright infringement.

Together, both defendants must now pay €18,000 in damages. A clear win for Sky, especially since the streaming portal has been shut down as well.

Stream4u.tv (via)

Aside from the damages, Sky highlights that this is the first time that a third-party intermediary has been held liable for copyright infringement in a case like this. They hope the result will send a strong deterrent message to others.

According to Sky, the ruling effectively means that every technical service provider faces a significant liability risk if they are aware of the illegal use of its services and do not immediately address legitimate complaints.

“The ruling is a warning for all those involved in the illegal distribution of Sky content,” says Thomas Stahn, Director Anti-Piracy & Technology at Sky Deutschland, commenting on the case.

“In contrast to criminal law, every helper is also liable for the full damages suffered by the injured parties – regardless of whether or not it profited from the illegal business,” he adds.

Sky informs TorrentFreak that the Stream4u.tv operator was not present at the court hearings, only the hardware provider. The company could not provide any additional details on the provider but noted that the hardware itself is not illegal.

“The hardware in question was used to receive the Sky broadcast signal and encode it for transmission via the internet. The hardware itself is not illegal in general,” a Sky spokesperson told us.

This isn’t the first victory of its kind for the German division of Sky. As Tarnkappe points out, late last year two people were convicted for their involvement with a sports streaming platform, resulting in a prison sentence for one of them.

Sky Deutschland has several criminal and civil copyright cases pending in Germany, so this isn’t likely to be the last verdict we’ll see against sports streaming sites and services.

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

Google Has a Hard Time Keeping Streaming Pirates at Bay

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-has-a-hard-time-keeping-streaming-pirates-at-bay-170527/

Pirate streaming sites and services are booming.

Whether through traditional websites, apps or dedicated pirate boxes, streaming TV-shows and movies in high quality has never been so easy.

Unwittingly, Google plays a significant role in the shady part of online media distribution. As we highlighted earlier this year and long before, many pirate sites and servers exploit Google’s servers.

By using simple tricks, pirate site operators have found a way to stream videos directly from Google Drive and various other sources, often complete with subtitles and Chromecast support.

The Boss Baby streaming from Googlevideo.com

The videos in question are streamed from the Googlevideo.com domain, as pictured above, which is increasingly being noticed by rightsholders as well.

If we look at Google’s Transparency Report, which only applies to search, we see that roughly 13,000 of these URLs were reported until the end of last year. In 2017 this number exploded, with over a quarter million reported URLs so far, 265,000 at the time of writing.

Reported Googlevideo.com URLs

Why these URLs are being reported to Google search isn’t clear, because they don’t appear in the search engine. Also, many of the URLs have special parameters and only work if they are played from the pirate streaming sites.

That said, the massive surge in reports shows that the issue is a serious problem for rightsholders. For their part, pirate sites are happy to keep things the way they are as Google offers a reliable hosting platform that’s superior to many alternatives.

The question remains why Google has a hard time addressing the situation. It is no secret that the company uses hash matching to detect and block pirated content on Google Drive, but apparently, this doesn’t prevent a constant stream of pirated videos from entering its servers.

TorrentFreak reached out to Google for a comment on the situation. A company spokesperson informed us that they would look into the matter, but a few days have passed and we have yet to hear back.

Interestingly, while we were writing this article, reports started coming in that Google had begun to terminate hundreds, if not thousands of “unlimited” Drive accounts, which were sold through business plan resellers.

These accounts are actively traded on eBay, even though reselling business Drive accounts is strictly forbidden. Many of these accounts are also linked to streaming hosts, so it could be that this is Google’s first step to getting a tighter grip on the situation.

To be continued…

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

Girl Busted For Pirating ‘Chicken Run’ Provides Food For Thought

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/girl-busted-for-pirating-chicken-run-provides-food-for-thought-170521/

This past Thursday the BBC published an article about Gianna Mulville-Zanetta, a first year Social Policy student at Bristol University in the UK.

After getting caught downloading the stop-motion comedy-drama film Chicken Run using BitTorrent, the 18-year-old reportedly felt the wrath of the university’s IT department.

“I completely forgot I had downloaded it,” Gianna told the BBC.

“I got an email the day after I watched it on Netflix with my friend saying I had been removed from Eduroam – which is our wifi. It took about a day or more to download and that’s why I forgot I had it, it took forever.”

For her sins, Gianna was blocked from using the university’s wifi for 20 days, a period that coincided with her exams. With access to a 4G connection she says the ban didn’t affect her studies but of course, the potential for chaos was certainly there.

There appears to be no doubt that Gianna committed an infringement. However, that someone who prefers to watch something legally on Netflix gets caught up in something like this is pretty disappointing. But not a complete surprise.

Chicken Run was released in 2000 but only 12 years later did it appear on UK Netflix. According to New on Netflix, it was withdrawn from Netflix during November 2013, put back on two years later in 2015, removed a year later in 2016, and was only re-added on May 1 this year.

Considering the BBC states that the Chicken Run affair “has ruined much of May for Gianna”, the ban must’ve kicked in early this month. That means that Chicken Run was either not on UK Netflix when Gianna decided on her download, or had only been there for a day or two. Either way, if there had been less yo-yo’ing of its availability on Netflix, it’s possible this whole affair could’ve been completely avoided.

Moving on, the BBC article states that Gianna was “caught out by the university’s IT department.” Student newspaper The Tab makes a similar assumption, claiming that Gianna was “busted by an elite team of University IT technicians.”

However, those familiar with these issues will know that the ‘blame’ should be placed elsewhere, i.e., on rightsholders who are filing complaints directly with the university. The tactic is certainly an interesting one.

Despite there being dozens of residential ISPs the copyright holders could focus on, they choose not to do so outside the limited scope of the Get it Right campaign instead. Knowing that universities come down hard on students seems like a motivating factor here, one that students should be aware of.

The Tab went on to publish a screenshot of the complaint received by Gianna. It’s incomplete, but it contains information that allows us to investigate further.

The note that Gianna’s connection had been suspended to prevent the IT department from “receiving further complaints” is a dead giveaway of rightsholder involvement. But, further down is an even clearer clue that the complaint was made by someone outside the university.

The format used in the complaint is identical to that used by US and Australia-based anti-piracy outfit IP-Echelon. The company is known to work with Paramount Pictures who own the rights to Chicken Run.

In fact, if one searches the filesize referenced in the infringement notice (572,221,548), it’s possible to find an identical complaint processed by VPN service Proxy.sh.

Another Chicken Run complaint

Given the file size, we can further deduce that Gianna downloaded a 720p BrRip of Chicken Run that was placed online by now defunct release team/torrent site YIFY, which has also been referenced in a number of complaints sent to Google.

So what can we conclude from these series of events?

First of all, with less messing around by Paramount and/or Netflix, Gianna might have gone to Netflix first, having seen it previously in the listings on the platform. As it goes, it had been absent for months, having been pulled from the service at least twice before.

Second, we know that at least one person who chose to pirate Chicken Run avoided Gianna’s predicament by using a VPN service. While Gianna found herself disconnected, the VPN user walked away completely unscathed, with Paramount and IP-Echelon complaining to the VPN service and that being the end of the matter.

Third, allowing your real name and a copy of a copyright infringement complaint to be published alongside a confession is a risky business. While IP-Echelon isn’t known for pressuring people to pay settlements in the UK, the situation could have been very different if a copyright troll was involved.

Fourth, we can also conclude that while it’s believed that older content is safer to download, this story suggests otherwise. Chicken Run was released 17 years ago and is still being monitored by rightsholders.

Finally, stories of students getting banned from university Internet access are relatively commonplace in the United States, but the same out of the UK is extremely rare.

In fact, we’re not aware of such exclusions happening on a regular basis anywhere in the region, although Gianna told the BBC that she knows another person who is still being denied access to the Internet for downloading Shrek, another relatively ancient film.

That raises the possibility that some copyright holders have seriously begun targeting universities in the UK. If that’s the case, one has to question what has more value – uninterrupted Internet access while on campus or a movie download.

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

Sony Files Lawsuits to Block Video Game Piracy Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sony-files-lawsuits-block-video-game-piracy-sites-170519/

Once the preserve of countries like China whose government likes to routinely censor and control information, website blocking is now a regularly occurence elsewhere.

With commercial interests at their core, most website blocking efforts now take place under copyright law, to protect the business models of the world’s leading entertainment companies. While that usually involves those in the movie and music industries, occasionally others get involved too.

That’s now the case in Russia, where the UK division of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) is currently taking steps to prevent the illegal distribution of its videogame products via online platforms.

According to local news outlet Izvestia, SIE has filed seven lawsuits at the Moscow City Court targeting sites that offer Sony titles without obtaining permission.

While they have no yet been named, the lawsuits indicate that copyright action has been taken against the sites before. This means that under Russia’s strict anti-piracy laws, these repeat offenders can be subjected to the so-called “eternal lock.” Under that regime, once ISP blockades are put in place, they stay in place forever.

Sergey Klisho, General Manager of Playstation in Russia, says that the lawsuits and subsequent court orders will enable the company to deal with the worst offenders.

“Positive changes in legislation aimed at protecting rightsholders, plus greater attention by state bodies to intellectual property rights violations, allows us today to begin to fight against piracy on the Internet,” Klisho says.

According to Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesman for telecoms watchdog Roskomnadzor, protection of gaming titles is becoming more commonplace, with companies such as Sony and Ubisoft resorting to legal action against sites offering pirated titles.

For Sony, it appears this action might only be the beginning, with a company representative indicating that more lawsuits are likely to follow in the future. But just how effective are these blockades?

Russian torrent giant RuTracker, which is permanently blocked by all local ISPs, believes that the effect on its operations is limited. Just recently the site’s tracker ‘announce’ URLs were added to Russia’s blocklist, on top of the site’s main URLs which have been banned for some time.

That resulted in the site offering its own special app on Github this month, which allows users to automatically find proxy workarounds that render the current blocking efforts ineffective.

The tool is already proving a bit of a headache for Russian authorities. Internet Ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev says that Roskomnadzor won’t be able to ban the software since it can spread by many means.

“I do not believe that Roskomnadzor can block any application,” Marinichev says.

“You can prevent Google Play or Apple’s iTunes from distributing them. But there is still one hundred and one ways left for these applications to spread. Stopping the application itself from working on the device of a particular user is a daunting task.”

Interestingly, Marinichev also believes that targeting RuTracker is the wrong strategy, since the site itself isn’t distributing infringing content, its users are.

“Rightsholders can not punish RuTracker. They are not engaged in piracy. Piracy is carried out by the ones who distribute and duplicate. It is impossible for the law to solve technological problems,” he concludes.

It’s an opinion shared by many in the pirate community, who continue to find technical solutions to many legal roadblocks.

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

EU Votes Today On Content Portability to Reduce Piracy (Updated)

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eu-votes-today-on-content-portability-to-reduce-piracy-170518/

Being a fully-paid up customer of a streaming service such as Spotify or Netflix should be a painless experience, but for citizens of the EU, complexities exist.

Subscribers of Netflix, for example, have access to different libraries, depending on where they’re located. This means that a viewer in the Netherlands could begin watching a movie at home, travel to France for a weekend break, and find on arrival that the content he paid for is not available there.

A similar situation can arise with a UK citizen’s access to BBC’s iPlayer. While he has free access to the service he previously paid for while at home, travel to Spain for a week and access is denied, since the service believes he’s not entitled to view.

While the EU is fiercely protective of its aim to grant free movement to both people and goods, this clearly hasn’t always translated well to the digital domain. There are currently no explicit provisions under EU law which mandate cross-border portability of online content services.

Following a vote today, however, all that may change.

In a few hours time, Members of the European Parliament will vote on whether to introduce new ‘Cross-border portability’ rules (pdf), that will give citizens the freedom to enjoy their media wherever they are in the EU, without having to resort to piracy.

“If you live for instance in Germany but you go on holiday or visit your family or work in Spain, you will be able to access the services that you had in Germany in any other country in the Union, because the text covers the EU,” says Jean-Marie Cavada, the French ALDE member responsible for steering the new rules through Parliament.

But while freedom to receive content is the aim, there will be a number of restrictions in practice. While travelers to other EU countries will get access to the same content they would back home on the same range of devices, it will only be available on a temporary basis.

People traveling on a holiday, business, or study trip will enjoy the freedom to consume “for a limited period.” Extended stays will not be catered for under the new rules so as not to upset licensing arrangements already in place between rightsholders and service providers.

So how will the system work in practice?

At the moment, services like Netflix use the current IP address of the subscriber to determine where they are and therefore which regional library they’ll have access to when they sign in.

It appears that a future system would have to consider in which country the user signed up, before checking to ensure that the user trying to access the service in another EU country is the same person. That being said, if copyright holders agree, service providers can omit the verification process.

“The draft text to be voted on calls for safeguarding measures to be included in the regulation to ensure that the data and privacy of users are respected throughout the verification process,” European Parliament news said this week.

If adopted, the new rules would come into play during the first six months of 2018 and would apply to subscriptions already in place.

Separately, MEPs are also considering new rules on geo-blocking “to ensure that online sellers do not discriminate against consumers” because of where they live in the EU.

Update: The vote has passed. Here is the full statement by Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip.

I welcome today’s positive vote of the European Parliament on the portability of online content across borders, following the agreement reached between the European Parliament, Council and Commission at the beginning of the year.

I warmly thank the European Parliament rapporteur Jean-Marie Cavada for his work in achieving this and look forward to final approval by Member States in the coming weeks.

The rules voted today mean that, as of the beginning of next year, people who have subscribed to their favourite series, music and sports events at home will be able to enjoy them when they travel in the European Union.

Combined with the end of roaming charges, it means that watching films or listening to music while on holiday abroad will not bring any additional costs to people who use mobile networks.

This is an important step in breaking down barriers in the Digital Single Market.

We now need agreements on our other proposals to modernise EU copyright rules and ensure wider access to creative content across borders and fairer rules for creators. I rely on the European Parliament and Member States to make swift progress to make this happen.

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

Law Professor Shows How to Fight Copyright Trolls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ISP Bombarded With 82,000+ Demands to Reveal Alleged Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-bombarded-with-82000-demands-to-reveal-alleged-pirates-170513/

It was once a region where people could share files without fear of reprisal, but over the years Scandinavia has become a hotbed of ‘pirate’ prosecutions.

Sweden, in particular, has seen many sites shut down and their operators sentenced, notably those behind The Pirate Bay but also more recent cases such as those against DreamFilm and Swefilmer.

To this backdrop, members of the public have continued to share files, albeit in decreasing numbers. However, at the same time copyright trolls have hit countries like Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, hoping to scare alleged file-sharers into cash settlements.

This week regional ISP Telia revealed that the activity has already reached epidemic proportions.

Under the EU IPR Enforcement Directive (IPRED), Internet service providers are required to hand over the personal details of suspected pirates to copyright holders, if local courts deem that appropriate. Telia says it is now being bombarded with such demands.

“Telia must adhere to court decisions. At the same time we have a commitment to respect the privacy of our customers and therefore to be transparent,” the company says.

“While in previous years Telia has normally received less than ten such [disclosure] requests per market, per year, lately the number of requests has increased significantly.”

The scale is huge. The company reports that in Sweden during the past year alone, it has been ordered to hand over the identities of subscribers behind more than 45,000 IP addresses.

In Finland during the same period, court orders covered almost 37,000 IP addresses. Four court orders in Denmark currently require the surrendering of data on “hundreds” of customers.

Telia says that a Danish law firm known as Njord Law is behind many of the demands. The company is connected to international copyright trolls operating out of the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere.

“A Danish law firm (NJORD Law firm), representing the London-based copyright holder Copyright Management Services Ltd, was recently (2017-01-31) granted a court order forcing Telia Sweden to disclose to the law firm the subscriber identities behind 25,000 IP-addresses,” the company notes.

Copyright Management Services Ltd was incorporated in the UK during October 2014. Its sole director is Patrick Achache, who also operates German-based BitTorrent tracking company MaverickEye. Both are part of the notorious international trolling operation Guardaley.

Copyright Management Services, which is based at the same London address as fellow UK copyright-trolling partner Hatton and Berkeley, filed accounts in June 2016 claiming to be a dormant company. Other than that, it has never filed any financial information.

Copyright Management Services will be legally required to publish more detailed accounts next time around, since the company is now clearly trading, but its role in this operation is far from clear. For its part, Telia hopes the court has done the necessary checking when handing information over to partner firm, Njord Law.

“Telia assumes that the courts perform adequate assessments of the evidence provided by the above law firm, and also that the courts conduct a sufficient assessment of proportionality between copyright and privacy,” the company says.

“Telia does not know what the above law firm intends to do with the large amount of customer data which they are now collecting.”

While that statement from Telia is arguably correct, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where this is going. Every time that these companies can match an IP address to an account holder, they will receive a letter in the mail demanding a cash settlement. Anything that substantially deviates from this outcome would be a very surprising development indeed.

In the meantime, Jon Karlung, the outspoken boss of ISP Bahnhof, has pointed out that if Telia didn’t store customer IP addresses in the first place, it wouldn’t have anything to hand out to copyright trolls.

“Bahnhof does not store this data – and we can’t give out something we do not have. The same logic should apply to Telia,” he said.

Bahnhof says it stores customer data including IP addresses for 24 hours, just long enough to troubleshoot technical issues but nowhere near long enough to be useful to trolls.

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

BREIN ‘Hunts Down’ Pirate Media Player Vendors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Landmark Usenet Piracy Verdict Stands, Despite RIAA and MPAA Protests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/landmark-usenet-piracy-verdict-stands-despite-riaa-and-mpaa-protests-170510/

Adult magazine publisher Perfect 10 has made a business out of suing online services for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement.

Over the past several years the company has targeted a dozen high-profile companies including Google, Amazon, Yandex, MasterCard, Visa, Leaseweb, RapidShare, Depositfiles and Giganews.

Private settlements aside the legal campaigns haven’t been particularly successful for the publisher. Last year Perfect 10 lost another battle against Giganews, with the court ordering the company to pay $5.6 million in legal fees, a decision which was upheld by the court of appeals.

While the parties involved are not the biggest names, the case itself has drawn the interest of key players in the movie and music industries, as well as several tech giants.

This became apparent once again when Perfect 10 asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing a few weeks ago. Soon after this request was submitted, both the MPAA and RIAA chimed in with their support.

The copyright industry groups were particularly concerned with the panel’s decision that Giganews is not liable for vicarious infringement, because there was no evidence indicating that anyone subscribed to Giganews to download pirated Perfect 10 material.

“Indeed, Perfect 10 provides evidence that suggests only that some subscribers joined Giganews to access infringing material generally; Perfect 10 does not proffer evidence showing that Giganews attracted subscriptions because of the infringing Perfect 10 material,” it read.

According to the MPAA and RIAA, this finding goes against existing case law, so they asked for a rehearing. According to the groups, it should be enough to simply show that the general availability of copyright-infringing material draws ‘pirate’ users.

“Courts have long held that a plaintiff can satisfy the direct financial benefit prong by showing that the general availability of a particular type of infringing material on the defendant’s premises—or, in the internet context, through the defendant’s site or service—draws third-parties hoping to obtain infringing material,” the MPAA wrote (pdf).

giganews

The RIAA agreed and said that rightsholders should not be required to show a direct causal link between infringements of their work as a “draw” for using Giganews.

“By imposing this novel standard, the panel departed from established and longstanding precedent in the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere, and its ruling will likely result in harmful unintended consequences,” the music group wrote (pdf).

“It could effectively eliminate the ‘only practical alternative’ for many copyright owners to protect their copyrights […] and insulate the largest and most egregious copyright-infringement businesses from vicarious infringement claims.”

Not everyone agrees with this doom and gloom scenario though. In fact, many prominent tech industry groups including the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, Internet Association, Computer & Communications Industry Association, and the Consumer Technology Association sided with the Usenet provider.

Representing high profile members such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, they urged the Court of Appeals in a joint brief (pdf) to keep the decision intact.

“Amici MPAA and RIAA now join ‘serial litigant’ Perfect 10 in asking this Court to rehear the case in order to discard this requirement. Doing so would have little effect on cases brought against pirates, but would severely and unnecessarily threaten innovation and investment in lawful online services and connected devices,” the groups warned.

The above is just a brief glimpse of the dozens of pages of paperwork the various parties submitted, showing that this case could have a major impact.

After carefully reviewing the various positions, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided (pdf) not to grant a rehearing. This means that the verdict will stand as it is, which is bad news for Perfect 10, the RIAA and the MPAA.

Dr. Norman Zada, president of Perfect 10, is indeed disappointed with the outcome, noting that it destroyed his company and threatens other rightsholders.

“Unfortunately, the Ninth Circuit effectively immunized those who illegally copy, distribute, and sell access to pirated movies, songs, images, software, magazines, and other copyrighted works, as long as they use a computer to automate that process,” Zada said.

“The ruling is very bad news for this nation’s creative industries, who need to be paid for the use of their works. Prior to this case, no court had ever allowed a defendant to make untold millions by selling access to content they did not own.”

The only move left for Perfect 10 is the Supreme Court, but there are no guarantees that it will hear this case.

Giganews, meanwhile, will continue to offer its Usenet services with the outlook of having a few extra millions in the bank soon. That is, if Perfect 10 can pay the full amount before it goes bankrupt.

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