Tag Archives: rightsholders

GoDaddy to Suspend ‘Pirate’ Domain Following Music Industry Complaints

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/godaddy-to-suspend-pirate-domain-following-music-industry-complaints-180601/

Most piracy-focused sites online conduct their business with minimal interference from outside parties. In many cases, a heap of DMCA notices filed with Google represents the most visible irritant.

Others, particularly those with large audiences, can find themselves on the end of a web blockade. Mostly court-ordered, blocking measures restrict the ability of Internet users to visit a site due to ISPs restricting traffic.

In some regions, where copyright holders have the means to do so, they choose to tackle a site’s infrastructure instead, which could mean complaints to webhosts or other service providers. At times, this has included domain registries, who are asked to disable domains on copyright grounds.

This is exactly what has happened to Fox-MusicaGratis.com, a Spanish-language music piracy site that incurred the wrath of IFPI member UNIMPRO – the Peruvian Union of Phonographic Producers.

Pirate music, suspended domain

In a process that’s becoming more common in the region, UNIMPRO initially filed a complaint with the Copyright Commission (Comisión de Derecho de Autor (CDA)) which conducted an investigation into the platform’s activities.

“The CDA considered, among other things, the irreparable damage that would have been caused to the legitimate rights owners, taking into account the large number of users who could potentially have visited said website, which was making available endless musical recordings for commercial purposes, without authorization of the holders of rights,” a statement from CDA reads.

The administrative process was carried out locally with the involvement of the National Institute for the Defense of Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property (Indecopi), an autonomous public body tasked with handling anti-competitive behavior, unfair competition, and intellectual property matters.

Indecopi HQ

The matter was decided in favor of the rightsholders and a subsequent ruling included an instruction for US-based domain name registry GoDaddy to suspend Fox-MusicaGratis.com. According to the copyright protection entity, GoDaddy agreed to comply, to prevent further infringement.

This latest action involving a music piracy site registered with GoDaddy follows on the heels of a similar enforcement process back in March.

Mp3Juices-Download-Free.com, Melodiavip.net, Foxmusica.site and Fulltono.me were all music sites offering MP3 content without copyright holders’ permission. They too were the subject of an UNIMPRO complaint which resulted in orders for GoDaddy to suspend their domains.

In the cases of all five websites, GoDaddy was given the chance to appeal but there is no indication that the company has done so. GoDaddy did not respond to a request for comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League v Ace Hosting

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

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

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

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

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

Premier League 1, Ace Hosting 0

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

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

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

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

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

Creditors – the good, the bad, and the ugly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bad news for former subscribers continues…potentially

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

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

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

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

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

Court Orders Pirate IPTV Linker to Shut Down or Face Penalties Up to €1.25m

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-pirate-iptv-linker-to-shut-down-or-face-penalties-up-to-e1-25m-180911/

There are few things guaranteed in life. Death, taxes, and lawsuits filed regularly by Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN.

One of its most recent targets was Netherlands-based company Leaper Beheer BV, which also traded under the names Flickstore, Dump Die Deal and Live TV Store. BREIN filed a complaint at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht, claiming that Leaper provides access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies.

The anti-piracy outfit claimed that around 4,000 live channels were on offer, including Fox Sports, movie channels, commercial and public channels. These could be accessed after the customer made a payment which granted access to a unique activation code which could be entered into a set-top box.

BREIN told the court that the code returned an .M3U playlist, which was effectively a hyperlink to IPTV channels and more than 1,000 movies being made available without permission from their respective copyright holders. As such, this amounted to a communication to the public in contravention of the EU Copyright Directive, BREIN argued.

In its defense, Leaper said that it effectively provided a convenient link-shortening service for content that could already be found online in other ways. The company argued that it is not a distributor of content itself and did not make available anything that wasn’t already public. The company added that it was completely down to the consumer whether illegal content was viewed or not.

The key question for the Court was whether Leaper did indeed make a new “communication to the public” under the EU Copyright Directive, a standard the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) says should be interpreted in a manner that provides a high level of protection for rightsholders.

The Court took a three-point approach in arriving at its decision.

  • Did Leaper act in a deliberate manner when providing access to copyright content, especially when its intervention provided access to consumers who would not ordinarily have access to that content?
  • Did Leaper communicate the works via a new method to a new audience?
  • Did Leaper have a profit motive when it communicated works to the public?
  • The Court found that Leaper did communicate works to the public and intervened “with full knowledge of the consequences of its conduct” when it gave its customers access to protected works.

    “Access to [the content] in a different way would be difficult for those customers, if Leaper were not to provide its services in question,” the Court’s decision reads.

    “Leaper reaches an indeterminate number of potential recipients who can take cognizance of the protected works and form a new audience. The purchasers who register with Leaper are to be regarded as recipients who were not taken into account by the rightful claimants when they gave permission for the original communication of their work to the public.”

    With that, the Court ordered Leaper to cease-and-desist facilitating access to unlicensed streams within 48 hours of the judgment, with non-compliance penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros.

    But the Court didn’t stop there.

    “Leaper must submit a statement audited by an accountant, supported by (clear, readable copies of) all relevant documents, within 12 days of notification of this judgment of all the relevant (contact) details of the (person or legal persons) with whom the company has had contact regarding the provision of IPTV subscriptions and/or the provision of hyperlinks to sources where films and (live) broadcasts are evidently offered without the permission of the entitled parties,” the Court ruled.

    Failure to comply with this aspect of the ruling will lead to more penalties of 5,000 euros per day up to a maximum of 250,000 euros. Leaper was also ordered to pay BREIN’s costs of 20,700 euros.

    Describing the people behind Leaper as “crooks” who previously sold media boxes with infringing addons (as previously determined to be illegal in the Filmspeler case), BREIN chief Tim Kuik says that a switch of strategy didn’t help them evade the law.

    “[Leaper] sold a link to consumers that gave access to unauthorized content, i.e. pay-TV channels as well as video-on-demand films and series,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak.

    “They did it for profit and should have checked whether the content was authorized. They did not and in fact were aware the content was unauthorized. Which means they are clearly infringing copyright.

    “This is evident from the CJEU case law in GS Media as well as Filmspeler and The Pirate Bay, aka the Dutch trilogy because the three cases came from the Netherlands, but these rulings are applicable throughout the EU.

    “They just keep at it knowing they’re cheating and we’ll take them to the cleaners,” Kuik concludes.

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

    ISPs Win Landmark Case to Protect Privacy of Alleged Pirates

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-win-landmark-case-protect-privacy-alleged-pirates-180508/

    With waves of piracy settlement letters being sent out across the world, the last line of defense for many accused Internet users has been their ISPs.

    In a number of regions, notably the United States, Europe, and the UK, most ISPs have given up the fight, handing subscriber details over to copyright trolls with a minimum of resistance. However, there are companies out there prepared to stand up for their customers’ rights, if eventually.

    Over in Denmark, Telenor grew tired of tens of thousands of requests for subscriber details filed by a local law firm on behalf of international copyright troll groups. It previously complied with demands to hand over the details of individuals behind 22,000 IP addresses, around 11% of the 200,000 total handled by ISPs in Denmark. But with no end in sight, the ISP dug in its heels.

    “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 said last year.

    Assisted by rival ISP Telia, Telenor subsequently began preparing a case to protect the interests of their customers, refusing in the meantime to comply with disclosure requests in copyright cases. But last October, the District Court ruled against the telecoms companies, ordering them to provide identities to the copyright trolls.

    Undeterred, the companies took their case to the Østre Landsret, one of Denmark’s two High Courts. Yesterday their determination paid off with a resounding victory for the ISPs and security for the individuals behind approximately 4,000 IP addresses targeted by Copyright Collection Ltd via law firm Njord Law.

    “In its order based on telecommunications legislation, the Court has weighed subscribers’ rights to confidentiality of information regarding their use of the Internet against the interests of rightsholders to obtain information for the purpose of prosecuting claims against the subscribers,” the Court said in a statement.

    Noting that the case raised important questions of European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights, the High Court said that after due consideration it would overrule the decision of the District Court. The rights of the copyright holders do not trump the individuals right to privacy, it said.

    “The telecommunications companies are therefore not required to disclose the names and addresses of their subscribers,” the Court ruled.

    Telenor welcomed the decision, noting that it had received countless requests from law firms to disclose the identities of thousands of subscribers but had declined to hand them over, a decision that has now been endorsed by the High Court.

    “This is an important victory for our right to protect our customers’ data,” said Telenor Denmark’s Legal Director, Mette Eistrøm Krüger.

    “At Telenor we protect our customers’ data and trust – therefore it has been our conviction that we cannot be forced into almost automatically submitting personal data on our customers simply to support some private actors who are driven by commercial interests.”

    Noting that it’s been putting up a fight since 2016 against handing over customers’ data for purposes other than investigating serious crime, Telenor said that the clarity provided by the decision is most welcome.

    “We and other Danish telecom companies are required to log customer data for the police to fight serious crime and terrorism – but the legislation has just been insufficient in relation to the use of logged data,” Krüger said.

    “Therefore I am pleased that with this judgment the High Court has stated that customers’ legal certainty is most important in these cases.”

    The decision was also welcomed by Telia Denmark, with Legal Director Lasse Andersen describing the company as being “really really happy” with “a big win.”

    “It is a victory for our customers and for all telecom companies’ customers,” Andersen said.

    “They can now feel confident that the data that we collect about them cannot be disclosed for purposes other than the terms under which they are collected as determined by the jurisdiction.

    “Therefore, anyone and everybody cannot claim our data. We are pleased that throughout the process we have determined that we will not hand over our data to anyone other than the police with a court order,” Andersen added.

    But as the ISPs celebrate, the opposite is true for Njord Law and its copyright troll partners.

    “It is a sad message to the Danish film and television industry that the possibilities for self-investigating illegal file sharing are complicated and that the work must be left to the police’s scarce resources,” said Jeppe Brogaard Clausen of Njord Law.

    While the ISPs finally stood up for users in these cases, Telenor in particular wishes to emphasize that supporting the activities of pirates is not its aim. The company says it does not support illegal file-sharing “in any way” and is actively working with anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance to prevent unauthorized downloading of movies and other content.

    The full decision of the Østre Landsret can be found here (Danish, pdf)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The full report is available here (Danish, pdf)

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

    Aussie Federal Court Orders ISPs to Block Pirate IPTV Service

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/aussie-federal-court-orders-isps-to-block-pirate-iptv-service-180427/

    After successful applying for ISP blocks against dozens of traditional torrent and streaming portals, Village Roadshow and a coalition of movie studios switched tack last year.

    With the threat of pirate subscription IPTV services looming large, Roadshow, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount targeted HDSubs+ (also known as PressPlayPlus), a fairly well-known service that provides hundreds of otherwise premium live channels, movies, and sports for a relatively small monthly fee.

    The injunction, which was filed last October, targets Australia’s largest ISPs including Telstra, Optus, TPG, and Vocus, plus subsidiaries.

    Unlike blocking injunctions targeting regular sites, the studios sought to have several elements of HD Subs+ infrastructure rendered inaccessible, so that its sales platform, EPG (electronic program guide), software (such as an Android and set-top box app), updates, and sundry other services would fail to operate in Australia.

    After a six month wait, the Federal Court granted the application earlier today, compelling Australia’s ISPs to block “16 online locations” associated with the HD Subs+ service, rendering its TV services inaccessible Down Under.

    “Each respondent must, within 15 business days of service of these orders, take reasonable steps to disable access to the target online locations,” said Justice Nicholas, as quoted by ZDNet.

    A small selection of channels in the HDSubs+ package

    The ISPs were given flexibility in how to implement the ban, with the Judge noting that DNS blocking, IP address blocking or rerouting, URL blocking, or “any alternative technical means for disabling access”, would be acceptable.

    The rightsholders are required to pay a fee of AU$50 fee for each domain they want to block but Village Roadshow says it doesn’t mind doing so, since blocking is in “public interest”. Continuing a pattern established last year, none of the ISPs showed up to the judgment.

    A similar IPTV blocking application was filed by Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) last year.

    TVB wants ISPs including Telstra, Optus, Vocus, and TPG plus their subsidiaries to block access to seven Android-based services named as A1, BlueTV, EVPAD, FunTV, MoonBox, Unblock, and hTV5.

    The application was previously heard alongside the HD Subs+ case but will now be handled separately following complications. In April it was revealed that TVB not only wants to block Internet locations related to the technical operation of the service, but also hosting sites that fulfill a role similar to that of Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

    TVB wants to have these app marketplaces blocked by Australian ISPs, which would not only render the illicit apps inaccessible to the public but all of the non-infringing ones too.

    Justice Nicholas will now have to decide whether the “primary purpose” of these marketplaces is to infringe or facilitate the infringement of TVB’s copyrights. However, there is also a question of whether China-focused live programming has copyright status in Australia. An additional hearing is scheduled for May 2 for these matters to be addressed.

    Also on Friday, Foxtel filed yet another blocking application targeting “15 online locations” involving 27 domain names connected to traditional BitTorrent and streaming services.

    According to ComputerWorld the injunction targets the same set of ISPs but this time around, Foxtel is trying to save on costs.

    The company doesn’t want to have expert witnesses present in court, doesn’t want to stage live demos of websites, and would like to rely on videos and screenshots instead. Foxtel also says that if the ISPs agree, it won’t serve its evidence on them as it has done previously.

    The company asked Justice Nicholas to deal with the injunction application “on paper” but he declined, setting a hearing for June 18 but accepting screenshots and videos as evidence.

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

    How Many Piracy Warnings Would Get You to Stop?

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/how-many-piracy-warnings-would-get-you-to-stop-180422/

    For the past several years, copyright holders in the US and Europe have been trying to reach out to file-sharers in an effort to change their habits.

    Whether via high-profile publicity lawsuits or a simple email, it’s hoped that by letting people know they aren’t anonymous, they’ll stop pirating and buy more content instead.

    Traditionally, most ISPs haven’t been that keen on passing infringement notices on. However, the BMG v Cox lawsuit seems to have made a big difference, with a growing number of ISPs now visibly warning their users that they operate a repeat infringer policy.

    But perhaps the big question is how seriously users take these warnings because – let’s face it – that’s the entire point of their existence.

    There can be little doubt that a few recipients will be scurrying away at the slightest hint of trouble, intimidated by the mere suggestion that they’re being watched.

    Indeed, a father in the UK – who received a warning last year as part of the Get it Right From a Genuine Site campaign – confidently and forcefully assured TF that there would be no more illegal file-sharing taking place on his ten-year-old son’s computer again – ever.

    In France, where the HADOPI anti-piracy scheme received much publicity, people receiving an initial notice are most unlikely to receive additional ones in future. A December 2017 report indicated that of nine million first warning notices sent to alleged pirates since 2012, ‘just’ 800,000 received a follow-up warning on top.

    The suggestion is that people either stop their piracy after getting a notice or two, or choose to “go dark” instead, using streaming sites for example or perhaps torrenting behind a decent VPN.

    But for some people, the message simply doesn’t sink in early on.

    A post on Reddit this week by a TWC Spectrum customer revealed that despite a wealth of readily available information (including masses in the specialist subreddit where the post was made), even several warnings fail to have an effect.

    “Was just hit with my 5th copyright violation. They halted my internet and all,” the self-confessed pirate wrote.

    There are at least three important things to note from this opening sentence.

    Firstly, the first four warnings did nothing to change the user’s piracy habits. Secondly, Spectrum presumably had enough at five warnings and kicked in a repeat-infringer suspension, presumably to avoid the same fate as Cox in the BMG case. Third, the account suspension seems to have changed the game.

    Notably, rather than some huge blockbuster movie, that fifth warning came due to something rather less prominent.

    “Thought I could sneak in a random episode of Rosanne. The new one that aired LOL. That fast. Under 24 hours I got shut off. Which makes me feel like [ISPs] do monitor your traffic and its not just the people sending them notices,” the post read.

    Again, some interesting points here.

    Any content can be monitored by rightsholders but if it’s popular in the US then a warning delivered via an ISP seems to be more likely than elsewhere. However, the misconception that the monitoring is done by ISPs persists, despite that not being the case.

    ISPs do not monitor users’ file-sharing activity, anti-piracy companies do. They can grab an IP address the second someone enters a torrent swarm, or even connects to a tracker. It happens in an instant, at a time of their choosing. Quickly jumping in and out of a torrent is no guarantee and the fallacy of not getting caught due to a failure to seed is just that – a fallacy.

    But perhaps the most important thing is that after five warnings and a disconnection, the Reddit user decided to take action. Sadly for the people behind Rosanne, it’s not exactly the reaction they’d have hoped for.

    “I do not want to push it but I am curious to what happens 6th time, and if I would even be safe behind a VPN,” he wrote.

    “Just want to learn how to use a VPN and Sonarr and have a guilt free stress free torrent watching.”

    Of course, there was no shortage of advice.

    “If you have gotten 5 notices, you really should of learnt [sic] how to use a VPN before now,” one poster noted, perhaps inevitably.

    But curiously, or perhaps obviously given the number of previous warnings, the fifth warning didn’t come as a surprise to the user.

    “I knew they were going to hit me for it. I just didn’t think a 195mb file would do it. They were getting me for Disney movies in the past,” he added.

    So how do you grab the attention of a persistent infringer like this? Five warnings and a suspension apparently. But clearly, not even that is a guarantee of success. Perhaps this is why most ‘strike’ schemes tend to give up on people who can’t be rehabilitated.

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

    Roku Bans Popular Social IPTV Linking Service cCloud TV

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/roku-bans-popular-social-iptv-linking-service-ccloud-tv-180409/

    Despite being one of the more popular set-top box platforms, until last year Roku managed to stay completely out of the piracy conversation.

    However, due to abuse of its system by third-parties, last June the Superior Court of Justice of the City of Mexico banned the importation and distribution of Roku devices in the country.

    The decision followed a complaint filed by cable TV provider Cablevision, which said that some Roku channels and their users were infringing its distribution rights.

    Since then, Roku has been fighting to have the ban lifted, previously informing TF that it expressly prohibits copyright infringement of any kind. That led to several more legal processes yet last month and after considerable effort, the ban was upheld, much to Roku’s disappointment.

    “It is necessary for Roku to make adjustments to its software, as other online content distribution platforms do, so that violations of copyrighted content do not take place,” Cablevision said.

    Then, at the end of March, Roku suddenly banned the USTVnow channel from its platform, citing a third-party copyright complaint.

    In a series of emails with TF, the company declined to offer further details but there is plenty of online speculation that the decision was a move towards the “adjustments” demanded by Cablevision. Today yet more fuel is being poured onto that same fire with Roku’s decision to ban the popular cCloud TV service from its platform.

    For those unfamiliar with cCloud TV, it’s a video streaming platform that relies on users to contribute media links found on the web, whether they’re movie and TV shows or live sporting events.

    “Project cCloud TV is known as the ‘Popcorn Time for Live TV’. The project started with 50 channels and has grown over time and now has over 4000 channels from all around the world,” its founder ‘Bane’ told TF back in 2016.

    “The project was inspired by Popcorn Time and its simplicity for streaming torrents. The service works based on media links that can be found anywhere on the web and the cCloud project makes it easier for users to stream.”

    Aside from the vast array of content cCloud offers, its versatility is almost unrivaled. In an addition to working via most modern web browsers, it’s also accessible using smartphones, tablets, Plex media server, Kodi, VLC, and (until recently at least) Roku.

    But cCloud and USTVnow aren’t the only services suffering bans at Roku.

    As highlighted by CordCuttersNews, other channels are also suffering similar fates, such as XTV that was previously replaced with an FBI warning.

    cCloud has had problems on Kodi too. Back in September 2017, TVAddons announced that it had been forced to remove the cCloud addon from its site.

    “cCloud TV has been removed from our web site due to a complaint made by Bell, Rogers, Videotron and TVA on June 12th, 2017 as part of their lawsuit against our web site,” the site announced.

    “Prior to hearing of the lawsuit, we had never received a single complaint relating to the cCloud TV addon for Kodi. cCloud TV for Kodi was developed by podgod, and was basically an interface for the community-based web service that goes by the same name.”

    Last week, TVAddons went on to publish an “blacklist” that lists addons that have the potential to deliver content not authorized by rightsholders. Among many others, the list contains cCloud, meaning that potential users will now have to obtain it directly from the Kodi Bae Repository on Github instead.

    At the time of publication, Roku had not responded to TorrentFreak’s request for comment.

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

    Russia Blocked 8,000 Pirate Sites in 2017, “Visits to Cinemas Up 11%”

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-blocked-8000-pirate-sites-in-2017-visits-to-cinemas-up-11-180325/

    Blocking sites is one of the most popular anti-piracy mechanisms of recent times. The practice is now commonplace in the UK, Europe, and Australia and, if entertainment industry groups get their way, it’ll soon be installed in Canada too.

    While most regions with blocking legislation carry out their work with enthusiasm, perhaps surprisingly it’s Russia setting the standards. With almost constant amendments to copyright law, the country is able to block pirate sites, mirrors, and proxies in a very short timeframe indeed. And it has been doing so, in huge numbers.

    According to data shared with Izvestia by local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor, in 2017 Russia blocked a staggering 8,000 pirate sites, more than any other country on the planet. In a clear sign of the way things are going, that figure represents a four-fold increase over the 2,000 sites that were blocked on copyright grounds in 2016.

    While blocks can be authorized for infringement of copyright on everything from music to software and from books to TV shows, it is the movie industry leading the way in volume terms. In 65% of cases of site-blocking in 2017, the requests came from companies involved in the production and distribution of films.

    Sheer volume aside, there’s nothing really surprising about the site-blocking movement in Russia. However, it differs from most other regions when it comes to assessing its usefulness.

    Groups in many other countries have claimed that site-blocking is effective in reducing visits to pirate sites and even reducing piracy itself, but the majority steer clear of claiming that it actually does anything to increase sales. Not so Russia.

    According to data from Russia’s Cinema Foundation cited by Rozcomnadzor alongside site-blocking statistics, last year “the aggregate box office of the national film distribution” grew by 10.9% amounting to 53.6 billion rubles [US$927.3m], up from 48.4 billion rubles [US$837.3m] in 2016.

    In addition, the telecoms regulator said that cinema attendance across the country had increased by 11.4% over the previous year.

    A court process is required to block infringing sites that fail to cooperate when rightsholders ask for content to be taken down. Those that push the boundaries by refusing to remove content on multiple occasions can find themselves blocked on a permanent basis.

    In 2017, a total of 530 sites were added to Russia’s permanent blacklist, up from ‘just’ 107 sites in 2017. In addition, 459 pirate site “mirrors” were blocked by ISPs with no hope of reprieve. Following changes to the law last October, permanently blocked sites are also removed from search engine results.

    But while the current system presents no significant obstacles to having many thousands of sites blocked during the course of a year, Russian authorities want more anti-piracy tools in their arsenal. New proposals would see pirate sites blocked without the need for any court process at all.

    It’s already possible to have mirror sites blocked without a separate process but if the Ministry of Culture has its way, copyright complaints issued to hosting services and sites that go completely unanswered without deletion of content could suffer the same fate.

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

    Google Should Begin Delisting Pirate Sites, Aussie Rightsholders Say

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-should-begin-delisting-pirate-sites-aussie-rightsholders-say-180322/

    After being passed almost three years ago, in February the Australian government announced a review of its pirate site-blocking laws.

    The Department of Communications asked for feedback on the effectiveness of the mechanism, from initial injunction application through to website blocking and, crucially, whether further amendments are required.

    “The Department welcomes single, consolidated submissions from organizations or parties, capturing all views on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 (Online Infringement Amendment) [pdf],” the consultation paper began.

    Several responses from interested groups have been filed with the government and unsurprisingly, most come from entertainment industry groups seeking to expand on what has been achieved so far.

    The most aggressive submissions come from the two companies that have made the most use of the blocking scheme so far – movie group Village Roadshow and TV provider Foxtel. Together the companies have had dozens of sites blocked in Australia by local ISPs but now they want the blocking regime expanded to online service platforms too.

    Indeed, in the Roadshow and Foxtel submissions combined, Google is mentioned no less than 29 times as being part of the piracy problem Down Under.

    “Village Roadshow strongly supported the original site blocking legislation and now we strongly support strengthening it,” Village Roadshow co-chief Graham Burke writes.

    “With all major pirate sites blocked in Australia, the front door of the department store is shut. However, pirates, facilitated by Google and other search engines, are circumventing Australian Laws and Courts and opening a huge back door. Australia needs the power to require Google and other search engines to take reasonable steps to stop facilitating searches which lead to pirate sites.”

    Burke goes on to criticize Google’s business model, which pushes tens of millions of people “searching for stolen goods” to pirate sites that hit them with “rogue advertising including illegal gambling, drugs, sex aids and prostitution.”

    In a nutshell, the Village Roadshow co-chief suggests that Google’s business model involves profiting from knowingly leading consumers to illegal locations where they are ultimately ripped off.

    “The analogy for Google is a Westfield Shopping Centre knowing they are getting big traffic to the center from a store that is using stolen goods to lure people and then robbing them!” he writes.

    This anti-Google rant heads in a predictable direction. At the moment, Australia’s site-blocking regime only applies to ‘carriage service providers’, the home ISPs we all use. Village Roadshow wants that provision expanded to include ‘intermediary service providers’, which covers search engines, social media, and other types of internet intermediaries.

    “Apart from ISP’s, many intermediaries are able to meaningfully impact traffic to infringing sites, and in fact, can and are currently used by pirates to find new locations and proxies to circumvent the ISP blocks,” Burke adds.

    In other words, when served with an injunction, companies like Google and Facebook should delist results that lead people to pirate sites. This position is also championed by Foxtel, which points to a voluntary arrangement in the UK between search engines and the entertainment industries.

    Under this anti-piracy code introduced last year, search engines agreed to further optimize their algorithms and processes to demote pirated content in search results. The aim is to make infringing content less visible and at a faster rate. At the same time, legal alternatives should be easier to find.

    But like Village Roadshow, Foxtel doesn’t appear to be content with demotion – blocking and delisting is the aim.

    “Foxtel strongly believes that extending the site blocking powers to search engines so that they must remove copyright infringing sites from search results would have a substantial impact on reducing piracy in Australia,” the company says.

    “Search engines already remove URLs from site indexes to comply with local laws and product community standards and therefore, technologically Foxtel understands it would be a relatively simple exercise for search engines to comply with Australian blocking orders.”

    Both Foxtel and Roadshow agree in other areas too. Currently, Australia’s site-blocking provisions apply to “online locations” situated outside Australia’s borders but both companies see a need for that restriction to be removed.

    Neither company can understand why local pirate sites can’t be handled in the same way as those based overseas, with Foxtel arguing that proving an overseas element can be a costly process.

    “Applicants must review individual domain locations and IP addresses and put on evidence relating to these matters to ensure that the location of the sites is established. This evidence, which we consider to be unnecessary, is produced at significant time and cost, all of which is borne by the rights holders,” Foxtel says.

    While none of the above is particularly new in the global scheme of things, it’s interesting to note that even when agreements are reached and new legislation is formed, rightsholders always keep pushing for more.

    That’s clearly highlighted in the Foxtel submission when the company says that the threshold for determining a pirate site should be lowered. Currently, a site must have a “primary purpose” to “infringe, or to facilitate the infringement” of copyright. Foxtel sees this as being too high.

    In order to encompass general hosting sites that may also carry large quantities of infringing content, it would like to remove the term “primary purpose” and replace it with “substantial purpose or effect.” Given the recent criticisms leveled at Google and particularly YouTube for the infringing content it hosts, that request could prove difficult to push through.

    Foxtel also sees a need to better tackle live streaming. In the UK, injunctions obtained by the Premier League and UEFA last year allow pirated live sports streams to be blocked in real-time. Although the injunctions are overseen by the courts, on a practical level the process is carried out between rightsholders and compliant ISPs.

    Foxtel believes that Australia needs something similar.

    “For site blocking to be effective in Australia in respect of live sport streaming sites which frequently change location, Foxtel anticipates that a similar process will ultimately be required to be implemented,” the company notes.

    With the consultation process now over, dissenting submissions are in the minority. The most notable come from the Pirate Party (pdf) and Digital Rights Watch (pdf) although both are likely to be drowned out by the voices of rightsholders.

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

    Vodafone Appeals Decision Forcing it to Block Pirate Streaming Site Kinox

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vodafone-appeals-decision-forcing-it-to-block-pirate-streaming-site-kinox-180317/

    Streaming site Kinox has proven hugely problematic for German authorities and international rightsholders for many years.

    Last year, following a three-year manhunt, one of the site’s alleged operators was detained in Kosovo. Despite this and other actions, the site remains online.

    Given the profile of the platform and its popularity in Germany, it came as no surprise when Kinox became the guinea pig for site-blocking in the country. Last month following a complaint from local film production and distribution company Constantin Film, a district court in Munich handed down a provisional injunction against Internet provider Vodafone.

    In common with many similar cases across the EU, the Court cited a 2017 ruling from the European Court of Justice which found that local authorities can indeed order blockades of copyright-infringing sites. The Court ordered Vodafone to prevent its subscribers from accessing the site and shortly after the provider complied, but not willingly it seems.

    According to local news outlet Golem, last week Vodafone filed an appeal arguing that there is no legal basis in Germany for ordering the blockade.

    “As an access provider, Vodafone provides only neutral access to the Internet, and we believe that under current law, Vodafone cannot be required to curb copyright infringement on the Internet,” a Vodafone spokesperson told the publication.

    The ISP says that not only does the blocking injunction impact its business operations and network infrastructure, it also violates the rights of its customers. Vodafone believes that blocking measures can only be put in place with an explicit legal basis and argues that no such basis exists under German law.

    Noting that blockades are easily bypassed by determined users, the ISP says that such measures can also block lots of legal content, making the whole process ineffective.

    “[I]nternet blocking generally runs the risk of blocking non-infringing content, so we do not see it as an effective way to make accessing illegal offers more difficult,” Vodafone’s spokesperson said.

    Indeed, it appears that the Kinox blockade is a simple DNS-only effort, which means that people can bypass it by simply changing to an alternative DNS provider such as Google DNS or OpenDNS.

    Given all of the above, Vodafone is demanding clarification of the earlier decision from a higher court. Whether or not the final decision will go in the ISP’s favor isn’t clear but there is plenty of case law at the European level that suggests the balance of probabilities lies with Constantin Film.

    When asked to balance consumer rights versus copyrights, courts have tended to side with the latter in recent years.

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

    Pirate Site Admins Receive Suspended Sentences, Still Face €60m Damages Claim

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-admins-receive-suspended-sentences-still-face-e60m-damages-claim-180313/

    After being founded in 2009, French site Liberty Land (LL) made its home in Canada. At the time listed among France’s top 200 sites, Liberty Land carried an estimated 30,000 links to a broad range of unlicensed content.

    Like many other indexes of its type, LL carried no content itself but hosted links to content hosted elsewhere, on sites like Megaupload and Rapidshare, for example. This didn’t save the operation from an investigation carried out by rightsholder groups SACEM and ALPA, which filed a complaint against Liberty Land with the French authorities in 2010.

    Liberty Land

    In May 2011 and alongside complaints from police that the people behind Liberty Land had taken extreme measures to hide themselves away, authorities arrested several men linked to the site in Marseille, near Le Havre, and in the Paris suburb of Montreuil.

    Despite the men facing a possible five years in jail and fines of up to $700,000, the inquiry dragged on for nearly seven years. The trial of its alleged operators, now aged between 29 and 36-years-old, finally went ahead January 30 in Rennes.

    The men faced charges that they unlawfully helped to distribute movies, TV series, games, software, music albums and e-books without permission from rightsholders. In court, one defended the site as being just like Google.

    “For me, we had the same role as Google,” he said. “We were an SEO site. There is a difference between what we were doing and the distribution of pirated copies on the street.”

    According to the prosecution, the site made considerable revenues from advertising, estimated at more than 300,000 euros between January 2009 and May 2011. The site’s two main administrators reportedly established an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands and a bank account in Latvia where they deposited between 100,000 and 150,000 euros each.

    The prosecutor demanded fines for the former site admins and sentences of between six and 12 months in prison. Last week the Rennes Criminal Court rendered its decision, sentencing the four men to suspended sentences of between two and three months. More than 176,000 euros generated by the site was also confiscated by the Court.

    While the men will no doubt be relieved that this extremely long case has reached a conclusion of sorts, it’s not over yet. 20minutes reports that the claims for damages filed by copyright groups including SACEM won’t be decided until September and they are significant, totaling 60 million euros.

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

    UK Govt. Met With Copyright Holders Dozens of Times in Just Three Months

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-govt-met-with-copyright-holders-dozens-of-times-in-just-three-months-180310/

    While doing business with clients and suppliers is the usual day-to-day routine for most businesses, companies in the entertainment sector seem keener than most to spend time with those in power.

    Whether there’s pressure to be applied in respect of upcoming changes in policy or long-term plans for modifying legislation, at least a few times a year news breaks of rightsholders having private meetings with officials. Most of the time, however, the head-to-heads fly under the radar.

    This week, however, the UK government published a response to a Freedom of Information Request which asked for details of meetings between the government and copyright owner organizations, enforcement organizations, and collection societies (think BPI, MPA, FACT, Publishers Association, PRS, etc) including times, dates and topics discussed.

    The request asked for details of meetings held between May 2016 and April 2017 but the government declined to provide all of this information since the effort required to extract the information “would exceed the cost limit.”

    Given the amount of data published, this isn’t a surprise. Even though the government chose to limit the response to events held between January 16, 2017 and April 17, 2017, the meetings between the government and the above groups number in their dozens.

    January 2017 got off to a pretty slow start but week three and beyond saw a flurry of meetings with groups and companies such as ITV, BBC, PRS for Music, Copyright Licensing Agency and several other organizations to discuss the EU’s Digital Single Market proposals.

    On January 18, 2017 Time Warner had a meeting to discuss content protection and analytics, followed a day later by the Premier League who were booked in to discuss “illicit streaming devices” (a topic mirrored in March during a meeting with the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance).

    Just a few days later the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit held a “Partnership Working Group Meeting involving industry” and two days after that the police, Trading Standards, and the EU Police Agency convened to discuss enforcement activity.

    January 26, 2017 saw an IP Outreach Workshop involving members of the IP Crime Group. This was potentially a big meeting. The IPCG consists of several regional police forces, PIPCU, National Crime Agency, Crown Prosecution Service, Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Trading Standards, HMRC, IFPI, BPI, FACT, Sky TV, PRS, FAST and the Publishers Association, to name just a few.

    As the first month of the year was drawing to a close, Amazon met with the government to discuss “current procedures for removing copyright, design and trademark infringing material from their platform.” A similar meeting was held with eBay on February 1 and on February 20, Facebook had its turn on the same topic.

    All three companies had come in for criticism from copyright holders for not doing enough to stem the tide of infringing content available on their platforms, particularly so-called Kodi boxes that provide access to movies, shows, and live TV.

    However, in the months that followed they each responded positively, with eBay, Amazon and Facebook announcing restrictions on devices sold. While all three platforms still have a problem with infringing device sales, the situation appears to have improved since last year.

    On the final day of January 2017, the MPAA attended a meeting to discuss the looming Digital Economy Bill and digital TV piracy. A couple of days later they were back again for a “business awareness seminar” with other big shots including the Alliance for IP, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, Trading Standards and the Premier League.

    However, given the dozens that took place, perhaps one of the more interesting meetings in terms of the mix of those in attendance took place February 7.

    Titled “Organized Crime Task Force Meeting – Belfast” it was attended by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the National Crime Agency, Trading Standards, HM Revenue and Customs, the Border Force, and (spot the odd one out) the Federation Against Copyright Theft.

    This seems to suggest that FACT (a private company) is effectively embedded at the highest level of law enforcement, something that has made people very uncomfortable in the past.

    Later in February, there was a roundtable meeting with the Alliance for IP, MPAA, Publishers’ Association, BPI, Premier League and Federation Against Copyright Theft (again) to discuss Brexit, the Digital Single Market, IP enforcement and industrial strategy. A similar meeting was held in March which was attended by UK Music, BPI, PRS, Featured Artists Coalition, and many more.

    The full list of meetings, which number in their dozens for just a three-month period, can be found here pdf. Whether the volume is representative of other three-month periods isn’t clear but it seems reasonable to conclude that copyright organizations have the ears of government officials in the UK on an almost continual basis.

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

    Rightsholders & Belgian ISPs Cooperate to Block 450 ‘Pirate’ Domains

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/rightsholders-belgian-isps-cooperate-to-block-450-pirate-domains-180303/

    While site-blocking on copyright infringement grounds is now widespread, in most countries it requires intervention from the courts.

    The process nearly always involves rightsholders grouping together with claims that customers of ISPs are infringing their rights by using ‘pirate’ sites to obtain movies, TV shows and music. As such, it isn’t pirate sites that are targeted by rightsholder legal action, but the ISPs themselves.

    Of course, none of the ISPs targeted are breaking the law by providing access to the sites. However, the demands for a blocking injunction frame the ISPs as the wrong-doers, even if there is an underlying understanding that the pirate sites themselves are the issue. For this reason, ISPs around the world have regularly found themselves in an adversarial process.

    In the Netherlands, for example, ISPs took their fight to the highest court in Europe to avoid blocking but will almost certainly fail after spending large sums of money. In others, such as the UK where the blocking process has matured, ISPs rarely object to anything, smoothing the process for both them and the rightsholders.

    With the knowledge that site-blocking injunctions are likely to be granted by national courts in Europe, rightsholders and ISPs in Belgium now appear to be taking a collaborative approach. Sites have been blocked in the country before but future blocking efforts will be much easier to implement if a case before the Commercial Court of Brussels runs to plan.

    It involves the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA) on one side and ISPs Proximus, Telenet and VOO on the other. Rather than squabbling over the details, it appears that the parties will jointly present a list of 33 websites and 450 domain names to a judge, alongside claims that they facilitate the illegal downloading of copyrighted material.

    According to a report from L’Echo (paywall), the companies hope to avoid complex and costly legal proceedings by working together and accepting the inevitability of a blocking injunction.

    The case has been running for a year already but during a hearing before the Commercial Court of Brussels this week, Benoît Michaux, lawyer for the Belgian Entertainment Association, explained the new approach.

    “The European legislator has put in place a mechanism that allows a national judge to request injunctions to order the providers to block access to the websites in question”, Michaux said.

    After being presented to the Court, the list of sites and domains will be assessed to determine whether they’re acting illegally. Michaux said that the parties have settled on a common approach and have been able to identify “reasonable measures” that can be ordered by the Court that are consistent with case law of the European Court of Justice.

    “This joint request is a little unusual, things are changing, there is a certain maturation of minds, we realize, from all sides, that we must tackle the problem of piracy by blocking measures. There is a common vision on what to do and how to handle piracy,” he said.

    While the ISPs are clearly on a path of cooperation, L’Echo reports that concerns over possible breaches of the E-Commerce Directive mean that the ISPs don’t want to take action against the sites themselves without being ordered to do so by the Court.

    “The responsible actors want to demonstrate that it is possible to stop piracy through procedural law,” says Benoît Van Asbroeck, lawyer for Proximus and Telenet.

    The Court is expected to hand down its judgment within a month. Given the cooperation on all sides, it’s likely to be in favor of mass site-blocking.

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

    Hollywood Commissioned Tough Jail Sentences for Online Piracy, ISP Says

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-commissioned-tough-jail-sentences-for-online-piracy-isp-says-180227/

    According to local prosecutors who have handled many copyright infringement cases over the past decade, Sweden is nowhere near tough enough on those who commit online infringement.

    With this in mind, the government sought advice on how such crimes should be punished, not only more severely, but also in proportion to the damages alleged to have been caused by defendants’ activities.

    The corresponding report was returned to Minister for Justice Heléne Fritzon earlier this month by Council of Justice member Dag Mattsson. The paper proposed a new tier of offenses that should receive special punishment when there are convictions for large-scale copyright infringement and “serious” trademark infringement.

    Partitioning the offenses into two broad categories, the report envisions those found guilty of copyright infringement or trademark infringement “of a normal grade” may be sentenced to fines or imprisonment up to a maximum of two years. For those at the other end of the scale, engaged in “cases of gross crimes”, the penalty sought is a minimum of six months in prison and not more than six years.

    The proposals have been criticized by those who feel that copyright infringement shouldn’t be put on a par with more serious and even potentially violent crimes. On the other hand, tools to deter larger instances of infringement have been welcomed by entertainment industry groups, who have long sought more robust sentencing options in order to protect their interests.

    In the middle, however, are Internet service providers such as Bahnhof, who are often dragged into the online piracy debate due to the allegedly infringing actions of some of their customers. In a statement on the new proposals, the company is clear on why Sweden is preparing to take such a tough stance against infringement.

    “It’s not a daring guess that media companies are asking for Sweden to tighten the penalty for illegal file sharing and streaming,” says Bahnhof lawyer Wilhelm Dahlborn.

    “It would have been better if the need for legislative change had taken place at EU level and co-ordinated with other similar intellectual property legislation.”

    Bahnhof chief Jon Karlung, who is never afraid to speak his mind on such matters, goes a step further. He believes the initiative amounts to a gift to the United States.

    “It’s nothing but a commission from the American film industry,” Karlung says.

    “I do not mind them going for their goals in court and trying to protect their interests, but it does not mean that the state, the police, and ultimately taxpayers should put mass resources on it.”

    Bahnhof notes that the proposals for the toughest extended jail sentences aren’t directly aimed at petty file-sharers. However, the introduction of a new offense of “gross crime” means that the limitation period shifts from the current five years to ten.

    It also means that due to the expansion of prison terms beyond two years, secret monitoring of communications (known as HÖK) could come into play.

    “If the police have access to HÖK, it can be used to get information about which individuals are file sharing,” warns Bahnhof lawyer Wilhelm Dahlborn.

    “One can also imagine a scenario where media companies increasingly report crime as gross in order to get the police to do the investigative work they have previously done. Harder punishments to tackle file-sharing also appear very old-fashioned and equally ineffective.”

    As noted in our earlier report, the new proposals also include measures that would enable the state to confiscate all kinds of property, both physical items and more intangible assets such as domain names. Bahnhof also takes issue with this, noting that domains are not the problem here.

    “In our opinion, it is not the domain name which is the problem, it is the content of the website that the domain name points to,” the company says.

    “Moreover, confiscation of a domain name may conflict with constitutional rules on freedom of expression in a way that is very unfortunate. The issues of freedom of expression and why copyright infringement is to be treated differently haven’t been addressed much in the investigation.”

    Under the new proposals, damage to rightsholders and monetary gain by the defendant would also be taken into account when assessing whether a crime is “gross” or not. This raises questions as to what extent someone could be held liable for piracy when a rightsholder maintains damage was caused yet no profit was generated.

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

    Dutch Continue to Curb Illegal Downloading But What About Streaming?

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-continue-to-curb-illegal-downloading-but-what-about-streaming-180222/

    After many years of downloading content with impunity, 2014 brought a culture shock to the Dutch.

    Citizens were previously allowed to obtain content for their own use due to a levy on blank media that compensated rightsholders. However, the European Court of Justice found that system to be illegal and the government quickly moved to ban downloading from unauthorized sources.

    In the four years that have passed since the ban, the downloading landscape has undergone change. That’s according to a study published by the Consumer Insights panel at Telecompaper which found that while 41% of respondents downloaded movies, TV shows, music and games from unauthorized sources in 2013, the figure had plunged to 27% at the end of 2016. There was a further drop to 24% by the end of 2017.

    Of the people who continue to download illegally, men are overrepresented, the study found. While 27% of men obtained media for free during the last year to October 2017, only 21% of women did likewise.

    While as many as 150 million people still use P2P technologies such as BitTorrent worldwide, there is a general decline in usage and this is reflected in the report.

    In 2013, 18% of Dutch respondents used torrent-like systems to download, a figure that had fallen to 8% in 2016 and 6% last year. Again, male participants were overrepresented, outnumbering women by two to one. However, people appear to be visiting P2P networks less.

    “The study showed that people who reported using P2P to download content, have done so on average 37 times a year [to October 2017]. In January of 2017 it was significantly higher, 61 times,” the study notes. P2P usage in November 2015 was rated at 98 instances per year.

    Perhaps surprisingly, one of the oldest methods of downloading content has maintained its userbase in more recent years. Usenet, otherwise known as the newsgroups, accounted for 9% of downloaders in 2013 but after falling to around 6% of downloaders in 2016, that figure remained unchanged in 2017. Almost five times more men used newsgroups than women.

    At the same time as showing a steady trend in terms of users, instances of newsgroup downloading are reportedly up in the latest count. In November 2015, people used the system an average of 98 times per year but in January 2017 that had fallen to 66 times. The latest figures find an average use of 68 times per year.

    Drilling down into more obscure systems, 2% of respondents told Telecompaper that they’d used an FTP server during the past year, a method that was entirely dominated by men.

    While the Dutch downloading ban in 2013 may have played some part in changing perceptions, the increased availability of legal offers cannot be ignored. Films and TV shows are now widely available on services such as Netflix and Amazon, while music is strongly represented via Spotify, Apple, Deezer and similar platforms.

    Indeed, 12% of respondents said they are now downloading less illegally because it’s easier to obtain paid content, that’s versus 11% at the start of 2017 and just 3% in 2013. Interestingly, 14% of respondents this time around said their illegal downloads are down because they have more restrictions on their time.

    Another interesting reason given for downloading less is that pirate content is becoming harder to find. In 2013, just 4% cited this as a cause for reduction yet in 2017, this had jumped to 8% of respondents, with blocked sites proving a stumbling block for some users.

    On the other hand, 3% of respondents said that since content had become easier to find, they are now downloading more. However, that figure is down from 13% in November 2013 and 6% in January 2017.

    But with legal streaming certainly making its mark in the Netherlands, the illegal streaming phenomenon isn’t directly addressed in the report. It is likely that a considerable number of citizens are now using this method to obtain their content fix in a way that’s not as easily trackable as torrent-like systems.

    Furthermore, given the plans of local film distribution Dutch FilmWorks to chase and demand cash settlements from BitTorrent users, it’s likely that traffic to streaming sites will only increase in the months to come, at least for those looking to consume TV shows and movies.

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

    TVAddons Suffers Big Setback as Court Completely Overturns Earlier Ruling

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tvaddons-suffers-big-setback-as-court-completely-overturns-earlier-ruling-180221/

    On June 2, 2017 a group of Canadian telecoms giants including Bell Canada, Bell ExpressVu, Bell Media, Videotron, Groupe TVA, Rogers Communications and Rogers Media, filed a complaint in Federal Court against Montreal resident, Adam Lackman.

    Better known as the man behind Kodi addon repository TVAddons, Lackman was painted as a serial infringer in the complaint. The telecoms companies said that, without gaining permission from rightsholders, Lackman communicated copyrighted TV shows including Game of Thrones, Prison Break, The Big Bang Theory, America’s Got Talent, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and dozens more, by developing, hosting, distributing and promoting infringing Kodi add-ons.

    To limit the harm allegedly caused by TVAddons, the complaint demanded interim, interlocutory, and permanent injunctions restraining Lackman from developing, promoting or distributing any of the allegedly infringing add-ons or software. On top, the plaintiffs requested punitive and exemplary damages, plus costs.

    On June 9, 2017 the Federal Court handed down a time-limited interim injunction against Lackman ex parte, without Lackman being able to mount a defense. Bailiffs took control of TVAddons’ domains but the most controversial move was the granting of an Anton Piller order, a civil search warrant which granted the plaintiffs no-notice permission to enter Lackman’s premises to secure evidence before it could be tampered with.

    The order was executed June 12, 2017, with Lackman’s home subjected to a lengthy search during which the Canadian was reportedly refused his right to remain silent. Non-cooperation with an Anton Piller order can amount to a contempt of court, he was told.

    With the situation seemingly spinning out of Lackman’s control, unexpected support came from the Honourable B. Richard Bell during a subsequent June 29, 2017 Federal Court hearing to consider the execution of the Anton Piller order.

    The Judge said that Lackman had been subjected to a search “without any of the protections normally afforded to litigants in such circumstances” and took exception to the fact that the plaintiffs had ordered Lackman to spill the beans on other individuals in the Kodi addon community. He described this as a hunt for further evidence, not the task of preserving evidence it should’ve been.

    Justice Bell concluded by ruling that while the prima facie case against Lackman may have appeared strong before the judge who heard the matter ex parte, the subsequent adversarial hearing undermined it, to the point that it no longer met the threshold.

    As a result of these failings, Judge Bell vacated the Anton Piller order and dismissed the application for interlocutory injunction.

    While this was an early victory for Lackman and TVAddons, the plaintiffs took the decision to an appeal which was heard November 29, 2017. Determined by a three-judge panel and signed by Justice Yves de Montigny, the decision was handed down Tuesday and it effectively turns the earlier ruling upside down.

    The appeal had two matters to consider: whether Justice Bell made errors when he vacated the Anton Piller order, and whether he made errors when he dismissed the application for an interlocutory injunction. In short, the panel found that he did.

    In a 27-page ruling, the first key issue concerns Justice Bell’s understanding of the nature of both Lackman and TVAddons.

    The telecoms companies complained that the Judge got it wrong when he characterized Lackman as a software developer who came up with add-ons that permit users to access material “that is for the most part not infringing on the rights” of the telecoms companies.

    The companies also challenged the Judge’s finding that the infringing add-ons offered by the site represented “just over 1%” of all the add-ons developed by Lackman.

    “I agree with the [telecoms companies] that the Judge misapprehended the evidence and made palpable and overriding errors in his assessment of the strength of the appellants’ case,” Justice Yves de Montigny writes in the ruling.

    “Nowhere did the appellants actually state that only a tiny proportion of the add-ons found on the respondent’s website are infringing add-ons.”

    The confusion appears to have arisen from the fact that while TVAddons offered 1,500 add-ons in total, the heavily discussed ‘featured’ addon category on the site contained just 22 add-ons, 16 of which were considered to be infringing according to the original complaint. So, it was 16 add-ons out of 22 being discussed, not 16 add-ons out of a possible 1,500.

    “[Justice Bell] therefore clearly misapprehended the evidence in this regard by concluding that just over 1% of the add-ons were purportedly infringing,” the appeals Judge adds.

    After gaining traction with Justice Bell in the previous hearing, Lackman’s assertion that his add-ons were akin to a “mini Google” was fiercely contested by the telecoms companies. They also fell flat before the appeal hearing.

    Justice de Montigny says that Justice Bell “had been swayed” when Lackman’s expert replicated the discovery of infringing content using Google but had failed to grasp the important differences between a general search engine and a dedicated Kodi add-on.

    “While Google is an indiscriminate search engine that returns results based on relevance, as determined by an algorithm, infringing add-ons target predetermined infringing content in a manner that is user-friendly and reliable,” the Judge writes.

    “The fact that a search result using an add-on can be replicated with Google is of little consequence. The content will always be found using Google or any other Internet search engine because they search the entire universe of all publicly available information. Using addons, however, takes one to the infringing content much more directly, effortlessly and safely.”

    With this in mind, Justice de Montigny says there is a “strong prima facie case” that Lackman, by hosting and distributing infringing add-ons, made the telecoms companies’ content available to the public “at a time of their choosing”, thereby infringing paragraph 2.4(1.1) and section 27 of the Copyright Act.

    On TVAddons itself, the Judge said that the platform is “clearly designed” to facilitate access to infringing material since it targets “those who want to circumvent the legal means of watching television programs and the related costs.”

    Turning to Lackman, the Judge said he could not claim to have no knowledge of the infringing content delivered by the add-ons distributed on this site, since they were purposefully curated prior to distribution.

    “The respondent cannot credibly assert that his participation is content neutral and that he was not negligent in failing to investigate, since at a minimum he selects and organizes the add-ons that find their way onto his website,” the Judge notes.

    In a further setback, the Judge draws clear parallels with another case before the Canadian courts involving pre-loaded ‘pirate’ set-top boxes. Justice de Montigny says that TVAddons itself bears “many similarities” with those devices that are already subjected to an interlocutory injunction in Canada.

    “The service offered by the respondent through the TVAddons website is no different from the service offered through the set-top boxes. The means through which access is provided to infringing content is different (one relied on hardware while the other relied on a website), but they both provided unauthorized access to copyrighted material without authorization of the copyright owners,” the Judge finds.

    Continuing, the Judge makes some pointed remarks concerning the execution of the Anton Piller order. In short, he found little wrong with the way things went ahead and also contradicted some of the claims and beliefs circulated in the earlier hearing.

    Citing the affidavit of an independent solicitor who monitored the order’s execution, the Judge said that the order was explained to Lackman in plain language and he was informed of his right to remain silent. He was also told that he could refuse to answer questions other than those specified in the order.

    The Judge said that Lackman was allowed to have counsel present, “with whom he consulted throughout the execution of the order.” There was nothing, the Judge said, that amounted to the “interrogation” alluded to in the earlier hearing.

    Justice de Montigny also criticized Justice Bell for failing to take into account that Lackman “attempted to conceal crucial evidence and lied to the independent supervising solicitor regarding the whereabouts of that evidence.”

    Much was previously made of Lackman apparently being forced to hand over personal details of third-parties associated directly or indirectly with TVAddons. The Judge clarifies what happened in his ruling.

    “A list of names was put to the respondent by the plaintiffs’ solicitors, but it was apparently done to expedite the questioning process. In any event, the respondent did not provide material information on the majority of the aliases put to him,” the Judge reveals.

    But while not handing over evidence on third-parties will paint Lackman in a better light with concerned elements of the add-on community, the Judge was quick to bring up the Canadian’s history and criticized Justice Bell for not taking it into account when he vacated the Anton Piller order.

    “[T]he respondent admitted that he was involved in piracy of satellite television signals when he was younger, and there is evidence that he was involved in the configuration and sale of ‘jailbroken’ Apple TV set-top boxes,” Justice de Montigny writes.

    “When juxtaposed to the respondent’s attempt to conceal relevant evidence during the execution of the Anton Piller order, that contextual evidence adds credence to the appellants’ concern that the evidence could disappear without a comprehensive order.”

    Dismissing Justice Bell’s findings as “fatally flawed”, Justice de Montigny allowed the appeal of the telecoms companies, set aside the order of June 29, 2017, declared the Anton Piller order and interim injunctions legal, and granted an interlocutory injunction to remain valid until the conclusion of the case in Federal Court. The telecoms companies were also awarded costs of CAD$50,000.

    It’s worth noting that despite all the detail provided up to now, the case hasn’t yet got to the stage where the Court has tested any of the claims put forward by the telecoms companies. Everything reported to date is pre-trial and has been taken at face value.

    TorrentFreak spoke with Adam Lackman but since he hadn’t yet had the opportunity to discuss the matter with his lawyers, he declined to comment further on the record. There is a statement on the TVAddons website which gives his position on the story so far.

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

    Google on Collision Course With Movie Biz Over Piracy & Safe Harbor

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-on-collision-course-with-movie-biz-over-piracy-safe-harbor-180219/

    Wherever Google has a presence, rightsholders are around to accuse the search giant of not doing enough to deal with piracy.

    Over the past several years, the company has been attacked by both the music and movie industries but despite overtures from Google, criticism still floods in.

    In Australia, things are definitely heating up. Village Roadshow, one of the nation’s foremost movie companies, has been an extremely vocal Google critic since 2015 but now its co-chief, the outspoken Graham Burke, seems to want to take things to the next level.

    As part of yet another broadside against Google, Burke has for the second time in a month accused Google of playing a large part in online digital crime.

    “My view is they are complicit and they are facilitating crime,” Burke said, adding that if Google wants to sue him over his comments, they’re very welcome to do so.

    It’s highly unlikely that Google will take the bait. Burke’s attempt at pushing the issue further into the spotlight will have been spotted a mile off but in any event, legal battles with Google aren’t really something that Burke wants to get involved in.

    Australia is currently in the midst of a consultation process for the Copyright Amendment (Service Providers) Bill 2017 which would extend the country’s safe harbor provisions to a broader range of service providers including educational institutions, libraries, archives, key cultural institutions and organizations assisting people with disabilities.

    For its part, Village Roadshow is extremely concerned that these provisions may be extended to other providers – specifically Google – who might then use expanded safe harbor to deflect more liability in respect of piracy.

    “Village Roadshow….urges that there be no further amendments to safe harbor and in particular there is no advantage to Australia in extending safe harbor to Google,” Burke wrote in his company’s recent submission to the government.

    “It is very unlikely given their size and power that as content owners we would ever sue them but if we don’t have that right then we stand naked. Most importantly if Google do the right thing by Australia on the question of piracy then there will be no issues. However, they are very far from this position and demonstrably are facilitating crime.”

    Accusations of crime facilitation are nothing new for Google, with rightsholders in the US and Europe having accused the company of the same a number of times over the years. In response, Google always insists that it abides by relevant laws and actually goes much further in tackling piracy than legislation currently requires.

    On the safe harbor front, Google begins by saying that not expanding provisions to service providers will have a seriously detrimental effect on business development in the region.

    “[Excluding] online service providers falls far short of a balanced, pro-innovation environment for Australia. Further, it takes Australia out of step with other digital economies by creating regulatory uncertainty for [venture capital] investment and startup/entrepreneurial success,” Google’s submission reads.

    “[T]he Draft Bill’s narrow safe harbor scheme places Australian-based startups and online service providers — including individual bloggers, websites, small startups, video-hosting services, enterprise cloud companies, auction sites, online marketplaces, hosting providers for real-estate listings, photo hosting services, search engines, review sites, and online platforms —in a disadvantaged position compared with global startups in countries that have strong safe harbor frameworks, such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and other EU countries.

    “Under the new scheme, Australian-based startups and service providers, unlike their international counterparts, will not receive clear and consistent legal protection when they respond to complaints from rightsholders about alleged instances of online infringement by third-party users on their services,” Google notes.

    Interestingly, Google then delivers what appears to be a loosely veiled threat.

    One of the key anti-piracy strategies touted by the mainstream entertainment companies is collaboration between rightsholders and service providers, including the latter providing voluntary tools to police infringement online. Google says that if service providers are given a raw deal on safe harbor, the extent of future cooperation may be at risk.

    “If Australian-based service providers are carved out of the new safe harbor regime post-reform, they will operate from a lower incentive to build and test new voluntary tools to combat online piracy, potentially reducing their contributions to innovation in best practices in both Australia and international markets,” the company warns.

    But while Village Roadshow argue against safe harbors and warn that piracy could kill the movie industry, it is quietly optimistic that the tide is turning.

    In a presentation to investors last week, the company said that reducing piracy would have “only an upside” for its business but also added that new research indicates that “piracy growth [is] getting arrested.” As a result, the company says that it will build on the notion that “74% of people see piracy as ‘wrong/theft’” and will call on Australians to do the right thing.

    In the meantime, the pressure on Google will continue but lawsuits – in either direction – won’t provide an answer.

    Village Roadshow’s submission can be found here, Google’s here (pdf).

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

    Sweden Considers Six Years in Jail For Online Pirates

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sweden-considers-six-years-in-jail-for-online-pirates-180218/

    Ever since the infamous Pirate Bay trial more than a decade ago, prosecutors in Sweden have called for a tougher approach to breaches of copyright law. In general terms, the country has been painted as soft on infringement but that could all be about to change.

    After reaching the conclusion that penalties in Sweden “appear to be low” when compared to those on the international stage, the government sought advice on how such crimes can be punished, not only more severely, but also in proportion to the alleged damage caused.

    In response, Minister for Justice Heléne Fritzon received a report this week. It proposes a new tier of offenses with “special” punishments to tackle large-scale copyright infringement and “serious” trademark infringement.

    Presented by Council of Justice member Dag Mattsson, the report envisions new criminal designations and crime being divided into two levels of seriousness.

    “A person who has been found guilty of copyright infringement or trademark infringement of a normal grade may be sentenced to fines or imprisonment up to a maximum of two years,” the government notes.

    “In cases of gross crimes, a person may be convicted of gross copyright infringement or gross trademark infringement and sent to prison for at least six months and not more than six years.”

    Last year the Supreme Court found that although prison sentences can be handed down in such cases, there were no legislative indications that copyright infringement should be penalized via a term of imprisonment.

    For an idea of the level of change, one only need refer to The Pirate Bay case, which would undoubtedly be considered as “gross infringement” under the new proposals.

    Under the new rules, defendants Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij and Carl Lundström would be sentenced to a minimum of six months and a maximum of six years. As things stood, with infringement being dealt with via fines or up to two years’ imprisonment, they were sentenced to prison terms of eight, ten and four months respectively.

    Under the new proposals, damage to rightsholders and monetary gain by the defendant would be taken into account when assessing whether a crime is “gross” or not. This raises the question of whether someone sharing a single pre-release movie could be deemed a gross infringer even if no money was made.

    Also of interest are proposals that would enable the state to confiscate all kinds of property, both physical items and more intangible assets such as domain names. This proposal is a clear nod towards the Pirate Bay case which dragged on for several years before the state was able to take over its thepiratebay.se domain.

    “Today there is organized online piracy that has major consequences for the whole community,” Minister Fritzon said in a statement.

    “Therefore, it is good that the punishments for these crimes have been reviewed, as the sentence will then be proportional to the seriousness of the crime.”

    The legislative amendments are proposed to enter into force on July 1, 2019.

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