Tag Archives: SACEM

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

Pirate Site Admin Sentenced to Two Years Prison & €83.6 Million Damages

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-admin-sentenced-to-two-years-prison-e83-6-million-damages-180221/

Way back in 2011, Streamiz was reported to be the second most popular pirate streaming site in France with around 250,000 visitors per day. The site didn’t host its own content but linked to movies elsewhere.

This prominent status soon attracted the attention of various entertainment companies including the National Federation of Film Distributors (FNDF) which filed a complaint against the site back in 2009.

Investigators eventually traced the presumed operator of the site to a location in the Hauts-de-Seine region of France. In October 2011 he was arrested leaving his Montrouge home in the southern Parisian suburbs. His backpack reportedly contained socks stuffed with almost 30,000 euros in cash.

The man was ordered to appear before the investigating judge but did not attend. He also failed to appear during his sentencing this Monday, which may or may not have been a good thing, depending on one’s perspective.

In his absence, the now 41-year-old was found guilty of copyright infringement offenses and handed one of the toughest sentences ever in a case of its type.

According to an AFP report, when the authorities can catch up with him the man must not only serve two years in prison but also pay a staggering 83.6 million euros in damages to Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and SACEM, the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers.

Streamiz is now closed but at its peak offered around 40,000 movies to millions of users per month. In total, the site stood accused of around 500,000,000 infringements, earning its operator an estimated 150,000 euros in advertising revenue over a two year period.

“This is a clear case of commercial counterfeiting” based on a “very structured” system, David El Sayegh, Secretary General of SACEM, told AFP. His sentence “sends a very clear message: there will be no impunity for pirates,” he added.

With an arrest warrant still outstanding, the former Streamiz admin is now on the run with very few options available to him. Certainly, the 83.6 million euro fine won’t ever be paid but the prison sentence is something he might need to get behind him.

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

TV Giant Canal Plus Decides to Stop Paying Artists & Creators, Gets Sued

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tv-giant-canal-plus-decides-to-stop-paying-artists-creators-gets-sued-170705/

It’s common for anti-piracy groups to accuse torrent, streaming, and other download sites of not paying licensing fees. As a result, dozens have been sued over the years, often with catastrophic results for the platforms involved.

It is extremely rare, however, for a bone fide broadcasting company to simply declare that it won’t be paying artists, authors, and creators, for the content they provide. Amazingly, that’s the situation playing out in France with pay TV company Canal Plus.

Owned by giant Vivendi, Canal Plus has decided that its current deals with content providers are unfavorable to the company and wants to renegotiate them. In the meantime, tens of millions of euros in royalties owed to SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music), SACD (Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers), SCAM (The Civil Society of Multimedia Authors) and ADAGP (Society of Authors in the Graphic and Plastic Arts) are going unpaid.

The decision has caused outrage among the collecting societies, with SACEM (the group that caused the closure of What.CD and French torrent giant T411) deriding Canal Plus for denying artists what is rightfully theirs.

“We are receiving many calls from panic-stricken authors who are finding themselves without the wages due to them,” a spokesman from SACEM said. “Some of them will find themselves facing serious difficulties and how will they continue to create if they have not been paid?”

Hervé Rony, general manager of The Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM) directly attacked the TV provider.

“I’ve never seen such brutality. Never has another player in the audiovisual industry deployed such methods,” Rony said.

Even filmmakers are affected by the decision to withhold royalties, with the Association of Authors, Directors, Producers (L’ARP) noting that it was “deeply shocked” at what it describes as an act of “violence.”

Although a broad range of creators is affected, local media reports say that Canal Plus’ decision not to pay copyright fees will hit the music sector first, with today being the day that payments should have been made. As a result, SCAM is warning that it may not be able to meet its obligations for the fiscal year.

Telerama reports that Canal Plus is trying to negotiate an 80% discount worth tens of millions of euros to support its cost-cutting agenda, but those demands are meeting a wall of defiance among the collecting societies.

“We only discuss between people in good faith, when they have already settled what they owe and do not renege on contracts already signed,” Rony said. “Nobody wants the death of Canal Plus. But the prerequisite for any discussion is the resumption of payments.”

In comments made by SACEM yesterday, the copyright group indicated that beyond paying what it owes now, Canal Plus only has two options available, both involving the inside of a courtroom. The first would involve a lawsuit over breach of contract and the second would see it being sued for using copyright works without a license – piracy, effectively.

“In this case, we will seek penalties for infringement. They do not have much latitude,” SACEM said.

Several of the groups owed money by Canal Plus have published statements, with SACD, SACEM, SCAM, and ADAGP indicating they will be joining forces to tackle the broadcaster, who they accuse of undermining the right of creators to get paid.

“SACEM, along with the other authors’ societies, would have liked the constructive dialogue it had conducted over the last few weeks to have resulted in Canal Plus fulfilling its contractual obligations, but failing that, was obliged to take appropriate measures, including Judicial rights, so that the rights of its members are preserved,” SACEM wrote.

With a meeting between those affected scheduled for Friday, the suggestion that legal action is already underway has now been confirmed by Variety. Citing an industry source, the publication says that Canal Plus is being sued in the Paris High Court for around 50 million euros.

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

2016 Was The Year Torrent Giants Fell

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/2016-was-the-year-torrent-giants-fell-161228/

2016overAt TorrentFreak we have been keeping a close eye on the torrent ecosystem for more than a decade.

During this time, many sites have closed their doors, either voluntarily or after being forced by a court order.

However, 2016 has been a particularly ‘bad’ year for torrents, after two icons were pushed offline in a matter of weeks last summer. In total, three sites that were among the top ten most popular sites at the start of the year are now gone.

Perhaps just as importantly, with the demise of What.cd one of the largest private torrent trackers vanished as well.


The trouble started in July when Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged founder of KickassTorrents (KAT). The arrest was part of a U.S. criminal case which also listed two other men as key players.

At the time, KAT was the most-used torrent site around, so the authorities couldn’t have hit a more prominent target.

The arrests meant the end of the torrent site and up until this day Artem remains in custody at a local hospital. While several KAT copies and mirrors appeared over the past several months, including one operated by original staffers, the original site is still dearly missed by many.


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

The site’s operator confirmed the shutdown to TorrentFreak and left its users with the following message: “Torrentz will always love you. Farewell.”

Torrentz.eu says farewell


An official explanation for the drastic action was never given, but it’s likely that the trouble at KAT weighed into the decision.

Now, several months later, several copies and proxies have taken over the Torrentz brand. While these have nothing to do with the original site they are serving millions of pageviews a day, with Torrentz2.eu as the clear leader.


TorrentHound is the third site out of last year’s top ten that shut its doors unexpectedly. The site was significantly smaller than the other two, but a home to many regular torrenters.

Initially, the site’s operator gave no official explanation. After a while, however, he confirmed to TorrentFreak that the closure was due to a combination of less revenue and constant pressure from anti-piracy groups.

“It’s a combination of less traffic, less revenue and our bills piling up. Then add on constantly getting bugged by anti-piracy agents, just wasn’t worth the headache anymore,” he said.


The torrent troubles weren’t limited to public sites only. In fact, one of the biggest stories of the year is the shutdown of the world’s most comprehensive library of digital music, the private music tracker What.cd.

The site went offline after several of its servers were raided by the French military police. The local music industry group SACEM confirmed that the law enforcement efforts were part of a criminal investigation which is ongoing.

What.cd’s initial farewell message


Soon after the first reports came out, What.cd’s operators shut down the site and deleted crucial data to keep its users safe. In addition, they released a detailed farewell message on Twitter.

“What.CD has completed its shutdown. We are confident that our staff and users are safe. It is with enormous sorrow in our hearts that we must now move on with our lives,” the site’s operators said.

However, music aficionados aren’t easily defeated. Within a matter of days several new trackers appeared online, growing harder than What.cd or its predecessor OiNK ever did.


The above are just a few examples of major sites that have fallen, but it shows that 2016 was a year to remember. At the end of the week we’ll be heading into 2017 and the big question is; where will things go from here?

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

SACEM Provides Details on Recent Torrent Site Raids in France

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sacem-provides-details-on-recent-torrent-site-raids-in-france-161203/

Two weeks ago and seemingly out of the blue, popular private music tracker What.cd went offline. French military police targeted some of the site’s infrastructure at hosting provider OVH and the site responded by deleting itself.

The news came as a huge disappointment to the site’s users and the wider torrent community as a whole, but French police weren’t done yet.

In a follow-up action, French Gendarmerie targeted Zone-Telechargement (Download Zone), the country’s largest pirate site and 11th most-visited website in the region overall. That site went down too, closely followed by affiliated DDL site, DL-Protect.

Behind all of these actions is SACEM, the Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music. This industry group has a mandate to collect and distribute royalties while protecting the copyrights of its members. And according to its general secretary, they’re only just getting started.

In an interview with French news site Le Monde, David El Sayegh said that SACEM and the police hadn’t “just woken up” to pirate sites operating in France. The actions against both What.cd and Zone-Telechargement were the result of a “long process and meticulous work.”

The SACEM chief said the investigation into the two million direct download link Zone-Telechargement began two years ago in partnership with another local anti-piracy outfit. It turned up a lot of useful information.

“We filed a complaint in 2014, joined by ALPA (French Association for the Fight against Piracy). This process was to identify accounts, assets, servers and advertising agencies. It’s always quite a complex and sophisticated system, they are large investigations,” he said.

“There were many advertisements on the site, often pornographic. [Zone-Telechargement] generated at least 1.5 million euros in sales per year, with offshore accounts located in Malta, Cyprus and Belize.”

David El Sayegh said that rightsholders were looking at damages of more than
75 million euros but the operators of the site were no longer resident in France. That didn’t stop their arrests, however. Seven people were arrested on Monday in France and Andorra, with police there calling the action ‘Operation Gervais‘.

“The two administrators, arrested by international mandates, had left France to settle in Andorra. Large seizures of assets were carried out: luxury cars, real estate, and savings accounts,” he said.

The Gendarmerie confirmed the seizure of 450,000 euros and two cars and said that the men, both aged 24, were “repeat offenders.” Authorities in Andorra confirmed that 250,000 euros across several accounts had been frozen.

“We are looking at a case of counterfeiting for profit, on a large scale,” El Sayegh continued. “These people do not pay taxes, they do not pay the rightful rightsholders, they do not respect anything. They have developed a very organized and sophisticated mechanism to voluntarily operate outside the law.”

With the site targeted in France and its operators arrested in Andorra, the operation spread further afield. SACEM says that servers were also seized in Germany and as far away as Iceland, a country often associated with high levels of privacy.

Of course, the recent shutdowns were very unpopular with users, but El Sayegh said that the law is on SACEM’s side.

“These are counterfeit business activities, these are people who have grown rich on the backs of creators. They make millions without paying one euro to creators. They are thugs who should not have the compassion of one person, and who will answer for their acts before justice.”

But while harshly criticizing site operators, El Sayegh tone was a little more moderate when speaking of their users. He asked them to consider how creators are to earn a living in the face of piracy but suggested that they’re only chasing the bigger fish.

“The challenge is mainly to stop those who trade works. But the objective above all is to attack the evil at its source, and the administrators of the pirate sites,” he said.

Other unnamed targets are also in SACEM’s sights. However, it seems unlikely that many sites will continue their stay in France following the events of the past couple of weeks.

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