Tag Archives: seizure

Cloudflare Wants to Eliminate ‘Moot’ Pirate Site Blocking Threat

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-asks-court-to-vacate-moot-pirate-site-blocking-order-170724/

Representing various major record labels, the RIAA filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull in 2015.

With millions of visitors per month the MP3 download site had been one of the prime sources of pirated music for a long time.

Last year a Florida federal court sided with the RIAA, awarding the labels more than $22 million in damages. In addition, it issued a permanent injunction which allowed the RIAA to take over the site’s domain names.

Despite the multi-million dollar verdict, MP3Skull continued to operate using a variety of new domain names, which were subsequently targeted by the RIAA’s legal team. As the site refused to shut down, the RIAA eventually moved up the chain targeting CDN provider Cloudflare with the permanent injunction.

The RIAA argued that Cloudflare was operating “in active concert or participation” with the pirates. Cloudflare objected and argued that the DMCA shielded the company from the broad blocking requirements. However, the court ruled that the DMCA doesn’t apply in this case, opening the door to widespread anti-piracy filtering.

The court stressed that, before issuing an injunction against Cloudflare, it still had to be determined whether the CDN provider is “in active concert or participation” with the pirate site. However, this has yet to happen. Since MP3Skull has ceased its operations the RIAA has shown little interest in pursuing the matter any further.

Cloudflare now wants the dangerous anti-piracy filtering order to be thrown out. The company submitted a motion to vacate the order late last week, arguing that the issue is moot. In fact, it has been for a while for some of the contended domain names.

The CDN provider says it researched the domain names listed in the injunction and found that only three of the twenty domains used Cloudflare’s services at the time the RIAA asked the court to clarify its order. Some had never used CloudFlare’s services at all, they say.

“Indeed, six domains – including five of the so-called ‘Active MP3Skull Domains’ in the amended injunction – had never used Cloudflare services at all. And the remaining eleven had stopped using Cloudflare before Plaintiffs brought their motion, in some cases long before Plaintiffs filed suit,” Cloudflare writes.

“Every domain Plaintiffs identified had stopped using Cloudflare by December 2016, without any independent or affirmative action by Cloudflare. Yet Plaintiffs made no effort to inform the Court of the mootness of their ’emergency’ motion in the three months before the Court issued its Order.”

Cloudflare’s research

Making the matter even worse, several of the domain names listed in the injunction were owned by the record labels, when the RIAA tried to have Cloudflare block them.

“Moreover, Cloudflare’s investigation revealed that that Plaintiff Sony Music Entertainment itself owned seven of the twenty domains months as of the time Plaintiffs brought their motion, and Sony acquired one more domain shortly after.”

The latter is due to the seizure order, which was also granted by the court. However, according to Cloudflare, the RIAA failed to inform the court about these and several other changes.

“Plaintiffs did not inform the Court of the mootness of their motion against Cloudflare,” the company writes.

Since the RIAA was not entirely upfront, and the issue is no longer relevant, Cloudflare is now asking the court to vacate the order. This will push the looming piracy blocking obligations aside, which could otherwise come back to haunt the company in the future.

The RIAA has yet to reply to CloudFlare’s request, but they would likely want to keep the order in place. There’s always a tiny chance that MP3Skull might arise from the ashes, and they would want to be prepared should that be the case.

Cloudflare’s full motion is available here (pdf).

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

Several TVAddons Domains Transferred to Canadian Lawfirm

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/several-tvaddons-domains-transferred-to-canadian-lawfirm-170718/

The last couple of months have been the most chaotic on record for the booming Kodi third-party addon scene. After years of largely interrupted service, a single lawsuit changed the entire landscape.

Last month, TF broke the news that third-party Kodi add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were being sued in a federal court in Texas. The fallout was something to behold.

Within days the ‘pirate’ Kodi community found itself in turmoil. Several high-profile Kodi addons took the decision to shut down and even TVAddons itself went dark without explanation.

At the time, unsubstantiated rumors suggested that TVAddons’ disappearance could be attributed to some coincidental site maintenance. However, with around 40 million regular users built up over a number of years, a disappearing Facebook page, and complete radio silence during alleged “routine maintenance,” something was clearly wrong.

It would’ve taken just a couple of minutes to put a ‘maintenance’ notice on the site but one didn’t appear back in June, and one hasn’t appeared since. Behind the scenes,
however, things have been shifting.

In addition to wiping the DNS entries of TVAddons.ag, on at least another couple of occasions the domain has been quietly updated. The image below shows how it used to look.

TVAddons historical domain WHOIS

PrivacyDotLink refers to a service offered by Cayman Islands-based registry Uniregistry. Instead of displaying the real name and address of the domain owner (in this case the person behind TVAddons.ag), the registry replaces the information with details of its own.

The privacy service is used for many reasons, but it’s not hard to see why it’s of particular use to sites in the ‘pirate’ sector.

While some of the changes to the TVAddons domain during the past five weeks or so haven’t been obvious, this morning we observed the biggest change yet. As seen in the image below, its ownership details are no longer obscured by the privacy service.

TVAddons new domain WHOIS

What stands out here is the name Daniel Drapeau. On closer inspection, this gentleman turns out to be a Canada-based lawyer who was admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1991.

“A passion for IP and a 20 year track record, servicing corporations and individuals alike in a wide variety of industries, including industrial equipment, consumer products, publishing, food & beverage, fashion and arts,” Drapeau’s Linkedin page reads.

“His forte is the strategic use of IP rights and litigation to achieve his clients’ goals, whether they be protective, aggressive or defensive. Specialties: Expeditive remedies, including injunctions and seizure orders.”

The other fresh detail in the WHOIS is an address – 600, de Maisonneuve West, Montreal (Quebec) H3A 3J2. It’s a perfect match for the premises of DrapeauLex, a law firm launched by Drapeau in 2012.

Only adding to the intrigue is the fact that other domains operated by TVAddons both recently and historically have also been transferred to the lawfirm.

XMBCHUB.com, which was the domain used by TVAddons before making the switch several years ago, was transferred yesterday. The same can be said about Offshoregit.com, the domain used by TVAddons to distribute Kodi addons.

While there are a few explanations for a lawyer’s name appearing on the TVAddons domains, none of them are yet supported by legal documentation filed in the United States. As of this morning, the Dish Network case docket had received no additional updates. No notice of action in Canada has been made public.

Nevertheless, as a past president of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada’s anti-counterfeiting committee, Drapeau is certainly an interesting character in the IP space. As noted in a 2009 article by Professor of Law Michael Geist, Drapeau “urged the government to adopt a system of notice-and-takedown.”

Interestingly, Drapeau also worked at law firm Smart & Biggar, where former colleague Jean-Sébastien Dupont recently went on to represent Canadian broadcasters in Wesley (Mtlfreetv.com) v. Bell Canada, the big Kodi-addon piracy case currently underway in Canada.

At this stage, it’s unclear who Drapeau is working for in the TVAddons case. It’s possible that he’s working for Dish and this is a step towards the domains being handed over to the broadcaster as part of a settlement deal with TVAddons. That being said, the XBMChub and Offshoregit domains weren’t mentioned in the Dish lawsuit so something else might be underway.

TorrentFreak reached out to Drapeau for comment and clarification, but at the time of publication, we had received no response.

Dan Drapeau talks Intellectual Property from DrapeauLex on Vimeo.

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

Pirate App Store Operator Jailed for Criminal Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-app-store-operator-jailed-for-criminal-copyright-infringement-170710/

Assisted by police in France and the Netherlands, the FBI took down the “pirate” Android stores Appbucket, Applanet and SnappzMarket during the summer of 2012.

The domain seizures were the first ever against “rogue” mobile app marketplaces and followed similar actions against BitTorrent and streaming sites.

During the years that followed several people connected to the Android app sites were arrested and indicted. This is also true for the now 27-year-old Joshua Taylor, a resident of Kentwood, Michigan.

Taylor, who arranged SnappzMarket’s servers, was previously convicted of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and has now been sentenced (pdf) to 16 months in prison for his role in the operation.

According to the Department of Justice, SnappzMarket distributed more than one million pirated apps with a retail value exceeding $1.7 million.

In a sentencing memorandum, defense attorney John Lovell argued that his client never made any “profits” from his involvement, noting that the co-conspirators played a much more significant role.

“Josh Taylor is 27 years old with no other criminal history. His offense involved procuring storage space for the masterminds of the operation,” Lovell wrote. “SnappzMarket did not pay Josh. Whatever profits were generated by SnappzMarket were split between Sharp and Peterson.”

The court record further reveals that Taylor had a very tough childhood and was plagued by both mental and physical challenges.

According to the testimony from his psychologist Meredith Davis, he didn’t understand that he was committing a felonious act, and lacked the cognitive capacity do so intentionally.

The psychologist stressed that her client deeply regrets what happened and she doesn’t think it’s likely that would run into similar problems in the future.

“He has expressed a great deal of remorse for his involvement in the charged crime. Mr. Taylor possesses a high degree of vigilance to avoid any further contact with the law,” Davis wrote to the court.

Despite these arguments, U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten Sr. found a prison sentence appropriate.

While 16 months is significant, it’s not as much as 46 month prison sentence co-conspirator Scott Walton received earlier. Kody Peterson, another key SnappzMarket operator, only received a one year sentence but he agreed to do undercover work for the FBI.

Gary Edwin Sharp II, the only remaining defendant, previously pleaded guilty and is currently scheduled to be sentenced in November. Like the others, he also faces up to several years in prison.

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

New Lawsuit Demands ISP Blockades Against ‘Pirate’ Site Sci-Hub

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/new-lawsuit-demands-isp-blockades-against-pirate-site-sci-hub-170629/

Founded more than 140 years ago, the American Chemical Society (ACS) is a leading source of academic publications in the field of chemistry.

The non-profit organization has around 157,000 members and researchers publish tens of thousands of articles a year in its peer-reviewed journals.

ACS derives a significant portion of its revenue from its publishing work, which is in large part behind a paywall. As such, it is not happy with websites that offer their copyrighted articles for free, such as Sci-Hub.

The deviant ‘pirate site’ believes that all scientific articles should be open to the public, as that’s in the best interest of science. While some academics are sympathetic to the goal, publishers share a different view.

Just last week Sci-Hub lost its copyright infringement case against Elsevier, and now ACS is following suit with a separate case. In a complaint filed in a Virginia District Court, the scientific society demands damages for Sci-Hub’s copyright and trademark infringements.

According to the filing, Sci-Hub has “stolen Plaintiff’s copyright-protected scientific articles and reproduced and distributed them on the Internet without permission.”

ACS points out that Sci-Hub is operating two websites that are nearly identical to the organization’s official site, located at pubs.acs.org.sci-hub.cc and acs.org.secure.sci-hub.cc. These are confusing to the public, they claim, and also an infringement of its copyrights and trademarks.

“The Pirated/Spoofed Site appears to almost completely replicate the content of Plaintiff’s website. For example, the Pirated/Spoofed Site replicates webpages on ACS’s history, purpose, news, scholarship opportunities, and budget,” the complaint (pdf) reads.

“Each of these pages on the Pirated/Spoofed Site contains ACS’s Copyrighted Works and the ACS Marks, creating the impression that the Pirated/Spoofed Site is associated with ACS.”

From the ACS complaint

By offering its articles for free and mimicking the ACS website, Sci-Hub is in direct competition with the scientific society. As a result, ACS claims to lose revenue.

“Defendants are attempting to divert users and revenues away from ACS by replicating and distributing ACS’s Copyrighted Works without authorization,” the complaint reads.

With the lawsuit, ACS hopes to recoup the money it claims to have lost. It’s likely that the total damages amount will run in the millions. However, if the defendants stay out of reach, this might be hard to collect.

Perhaps this is why the current lawsuit has included a request for a broader injunction against Sci-Hub. Not only does it ask for domain name seizures, but the scientific society also wants search engines, web hosting companies and general Internet providers to block access to the site.

“That those in privity with Defendants and those with notice of the injunction, including any Internet search engines, web hosting and Internet service providers, domain name registrars, and domain name registries cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites through which Defendants engage in unlawful access to, use, reproduction, and distribution of the ACS Marks or ACS’s Copyrighted Works,” it reads.

If granted, it would mean that Internet providers such as Comcast would have to block users from accessing Sci-Hub. That’s a big deal since pirate site blockades are not common in the United States.

It might very well be that ACS is not expecting any compensation for the alleged copyright and trademark infringements, but that the broad injunction is their main goal. If that is the case, this case could turn out to be more crucial than it looks at first sight.

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

Operation ‘Pirate On Demand’ Blocks Pirate IPTV Portals

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/operation-pirate-on-demand-blocks-pirate-iptv-portals-170628/

Via cheap set-top boxes, IPTV services (Internet Protocol TV) allow people to access thousands of live TV channels in their living rooms for a nominal fee.

Some of these services are available for just a few euros, dollars or pounds per month, often in HD quality.

While service levels can vary, some of the best also offer comprehensive Video On Demand (VOD), with hundreds and in some cases thousands of movies and TV shows on tap, supported by catch-up TV. Given their professional nature, the best IPTV products are proving a real thorn in the side for rights holders, who hope to charge ten times the money while delivering a lesser product.

As a result, crackdowns against IPTV providers, resellers and other people in the chain are underway across the world, but Europe in particular. Today’s news comes from Italy, where Operation “Pirate On Demand” is hoping to make a dent in IPTV piracy.

The operation is being headed up by the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), a department under Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance. Part of the Italian Armed Forces, GdF says it has targeted nine sites involved in the unlawful distribution of content offered officially by local media giants Mediaset and Sky.

The authorities received assistance of a specialized team from the local anti-piracy group DCP, which operates on behalf of a broad range of entertainment industry companies.

According to GdF, a total of 89 servers were behind the portals which together delivered an estimated 178 terabytes of pirate content, ranging from TV shows and sports, to movies and children’s entertainment.

The nine portals are in the process of being blocked with some displaying the following message.

Seizure notice on the affected sites

The investigation began in September 2016 and was coordinated by Giangiacomo Pilia, the prosecutor at the Cagliari Court. Thus far, two people have been arrested.

A person arrested in the Varese area, who police believe is the commercial director of an illicit platform, has been charged with breaching copyright law.

A second individual arrested in Macerata is also suspected of copyright offenses, having technically managed the platform. Computer equipment, decoders, smart cards, and other electronic devices were also seized.

In addition to blocking various web portals, measures will now be taken to block the servers being used to supply the IPTV services. The GdF has also delivered a veiled threat to people who subscribed to the illicit services.

“It is also in the hands of investigators the position of those who have actively accessed the platforms by purchasing pirated subscriptions and thus benefiting by taking advantage,” GdF said.

The moves this week are the latest to take place under the Operation “Pirate On Demand” banner. Back in March, authorities moved to shut down and block 15 portals offering illegal IPTV access to Mediaset and Sky channels.

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

Cybercrime Officials Shutdown Large eBook Portal, Three Arrested

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/cybercrime-officials-shutdown-large-ebook-portal-three-arrested-170626/

Back in February 2015, German anti-piracy outfit GVU filed a complaint against the operators of large eBook portal Lul.to.

Targeted mainly at the German audience, the site carried around 160,000 eBooks, 28,000 audiobooks, plus newspapers and periodicals. Its motto was “Read and Listen” and claimed to be both the largest German eBook portal and the largest DRM-free platform in the world.

Unlike most file-sharing sites, Lul.to charged around 30,000 customers a small fee to access content, around $0.23 per download. However, all that came to end last week when authorities moved to shut the platform down.

According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, searches in several locations led to the discovery of around 55,000 euros in bitcoin, 100,000 euros in bank deposits, 10,000 euros in cash, plus a “high-quality” motorcycle.

As is often the case following significant action, the site has been completely taken down and now displays the following seizure notice.

Lul.to seized (translated from German)

Authorities report that three people were arrested and are being detained while investigations continue.

It is not yet clear how many times the site’s books were downloaded by users but investigators believe that the retail value of the content offered on the site was around 392,000 euros. By volume, investigators seized more than 11 terabytes of data.

The German Publishers & Booksellers Association welcomed the shutdown of the platform.

“Intervening against lul.to is an important success in the fight against Internet piracy. By blocking one of the largest illegal providers for e-books and audiobooks, many publishers and retailers can breathe,” said CEO Alexander Skipis.

“Piracy is not an excusable offense, it’s the theft of intellectual property, which is the basis for the work of authors, publishers, and bookshops. Portals like lul.to harm the media market massively. The success of the investigation is another example of the fact that such illegal models ultimately can not hold up.”

Last week in a separate case in Denmark, three men aged between 26 and 71-years-old were handed suspended sentences for offering subscription access to around 198 pirate textbooks.

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

Kim Dotcom Opposes US’s “Fugitive” Claims at Supreme Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-opposes-uss-fugitive-claims-supreme-court-170622/

megaupload-logoWhen Megaupload and Kim Dotcom were raided five years ago, the authorities seized millions of dollars in cash and other property.

The US government claimed the assets were obtained through copyright crimes so went after the bank accounts, cars, and other seized possessions of the Megaupload defendants.

Kim Dotcom and his colleagues were branded as “fugitives” and the Government won its case. Dotcom’s legal team quickly appealed this verdict, but lost once more at the Fourth Circuit appeals court.

A few weeks ago Dotcom and his former colleagues petitioned the Supreme Court to take on the case.

They don’t see themselves as “fugitives” and want the assets returned. The US Government opposed the request, but according to a new reply filed by Megaupload’s legal team, the US Government ignores critical questions.

The Government has a “vested financial stake” in maintaining the current situation, they write, which allows the authorities to use their “fugitive” claims as an offensive weapon.

“Far from being directed towards persons who have fled or avoided our country while claiming assets in it, fugitive disentitlement is being used offensively to strip foreigners of their assets abroad,” the reply brief (pdf) reads.

According to Dotcom’s lawyers there are several conflicting opinions from lower courts, which should be clarified by the Supreme Court. That Dotcom and his colleagues have decided to fight their extradition in New Zealand, doesn’t warrant the seizure of their assets.

“Absent review, forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars will be a fait accompli without the merits being reached,” they write, adding that this is all the more concerning because the US Government’s criminal case may not be as strong as claimed.

“This is especially disconcerting because the Government’s criminal case is so dubious. When the Government characterizes Petitioners as ‘designing and profiting from a system that facilitated wide-scale copyright infringement,’ it continues to paint a portrait of secondary copyright infringement, which is not a crime.”

The defense team cites several issues that warrant review and urges the Supreme Court to hear the case. If not, the Government will effectively be able to use assets seizures as a pressure tool to urge foreign defendants to come to the US.

“If this stands, the Government can weaponize fugitive disentitlement in order to claim assets abroad,” the reply brief reads.

“It is time for the Court to speak to the Questions Presented. Over the past two decades it has never had a better vehicle to do so, nor is any such vehicle elsewhere in sight,” Dotcom’s lawyers add.

Whether the Supreme Court accepts or denies the case will likely be decided in the weeks to come.

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

The Pirate Bay Isn’t Affected By Adverse Court Rulings – Everyone Else Is

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-isnt-affected-by-adverse-court-rulings-everyone-else-is-170618/

For more than a decade The Pirate Bay has been the world’s most controversial site. Delivering huge quantities of copyrighted content to the masses, the platform is revered and reviled across the copyright spectrum.

Its reputation is one of a defiant Internet swashbuckler, but due to changes in how the site has been run in more recent times, its current philosophy is more difficult to gauge. What has never been in doubt, however, is the site’s original intent to be as provocative as possible.

Through endless publicity stunts, some real, some just for the ‘lulz’, The Pirate Bay managed to attract a massive audience, all while incurring the wrath of every major copyright holder in the world.

Make no mistake, they all queued up to strike back, but every subsequent rightsholder action was met by a Pirate Bay middle finger, two fingers, or chin flick, depending on the mood of the day. This only served to further delight the masses, who happily spread the word while keeping their torrents flowing.

This vicious circle of being targeted by the entertainment industries, mocking them, and then reaping the traffic benefits, developed into the cheapest long-term marketing campaign the Internet had ever seen. But nothing is ever truly for free and there have been consequences.

After taunting Hollywood and the music industry with its refusals to capitulate, endless legal action that the site would have ordinarily been forced to participate in largely took place without The Pirate Bay being present. It doesn’t take a law degree to work out what happened in each and every one of those cases, whatever complex route they took through the legal system. No defense, no win.

For example, the web-blocking phenomenon across the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia was driven by the site’s absolute resilience and although there would clearly have been other scapegoats had The Pirate Bay disappeared, the site was the ideal bogeyman the copyright lobby required to move forward.

Filing blocking lawsuits while bringing hosts, advertisers, and ISPs on board for anti-piracy initiatives were also made easier with the ‘evil’ Pirate Bay still online. Immune from every anti-piracy technique under the sun, the existence of the platform in the face of all onslaughts only strengthened the cases of those arguing for even more drastic measures.

Over a decade, this has meant a significant tightening of the sharing and streaming climate. Without any big legislative changes but plenty of case law against The Pirate Bay, web-blocking is now a walk in the park, ad hoc domain seizures are a fairly regular occurrence, and few companies want to host sharing sites. Advertisers and brands are also hesitant over where they place their ads. It’s a very different world to the one of 10 years ago.

While it would be wrong to attribute every tightening of the noose to the actions of The Pirate Bay, there’s little doubt that the site and its chaotic image played a huge role in where copyright enforcement is today. The platform set out to provoke and succeeded in every way possible, gaining supporters in their millions. It could also be argued it kicked a hole in a hornets’ nest, releasing the hell inside.

But perhaps the site’s most amazing achievement is the way it has managed to stay online, despite all the turmoil.

This week yet another ruling, this time from the powerful European Court of Justice, found that by offering links in the manner it does, The Pirate Bay and other sites are liable for communicating copyright works to the public. Of course, this prompted the usual swathe of articles claiming that this could be the final nail in the site’s coffin.

Wrong.

In common with every ruling, legal defeat, and legislative restriction put in place due to the site’s activities, this week’s decision from the ECJ will have zero effect on the Pirate Bay’s availability. For right or wrong, the site was breaking the law long before this ruling and will continue to do so until it decides otherwise.

What we have instead is a further tightened legal landscape that will have a lasting effect on everything BUT the site, including weaker torrent sites, Internet users, and user-uploaded content sites such as YouTube.

With The Pirate Bay carrying on regardless, that is nothing short of remarkable.

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

So You Want To Be An Internet Piracy Investigator?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/so-you-want-to-be-an-internet-piracy-investigator-170528/

While the authorities would like to paint a picture of Internet pirates as thoughtless thieves only interested in the theft of intellectual property, the truth is more nuanced.

Like every other online and indeed offline location, pirate sites are filled with people from all corners of society, from rich to poor, and from the basically educated to the borderline genius.

What is especially interesting is the extremely thin line between poacher and gamekeeper, between those who want to exploit intellectual property and those who want to protect it. Indeed, it is far from uncommon to find former pirates and renegade coders “going straight” by working for their former enemies.

While a repellent thought to some, it makes perfect sense. Anyone who knows the piracy scene back to front could be a valuable asset to the other side, under the right circumstances. But what does it really take to be an anti-piracy investigator?

As it happens, the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft is currently trying to fill exactly such a position. The job of “Internet Investigator” is based in the UK and the successful applicant will report to a manager. While that tends to suggest a lower pay grade, FACT are insistent that applicants meet stringent criteria.

“Working as a proactive member of the investigatory team to support the strategic objectives of FACT. Responsible for the detection, investigation, and protection of clients Intellectual Property whether physical or digital as directed by the Investigations Manager,” the listing reads.

More specifically, FACT is looking for someone with a “strong aptitude for investigation” who is capable of working under minimal supervision. The candidate is also required to have a proven record of liaising with “industry and enforcement organizations”, presumably including entertainment companies and the police.

At this point, things get pretty interesting. FACT says that the job involves assessing and investigating “individuals and entities” responsible for “illegal or infringing activity related to Intellectual Property.” Think torrent, streaming and IPTV site operators and staff, release group members, ‘Kodi Box’ sellers, infringing addon developers, even people flogging dodgy DVDs down the market.

When these investigations are being carried out, FACT expects evidence and intelligence to be gathered “ethically and in accordance with criminal procedure rules”, presumably so that cases don’t collapse when they end up in court. Which they often do.

Also of interest is how closely FACT appears to align its practices with those of the police. While the candidate is expected to liaise with law enforcement, they will also be expected to take part in briefings, seizure of evidence and prosecution support, all while “managing risks” and acting in accordance with UK legislation.

Another aspect of the job is a little cryptic, in that it requires the candidate to “locate offenders” and then undertake action “with an alternative approach to a proportionate solution.” That’s open to interpretation but it sounds very much like the home visits FACT has been known to make to site operators, who are asked to cease and desist while handing over their domains.

Unsurprisingly, FACT are looking for someone with a computer science degree or similar, and good organizational skills. Above that, it’s fairly obvious they’re seeking someone with a legal background, perhaps a law graduate or even a former police officer.

In addition to familiarity with the rules laid down in the Management of Police Information (MOPI) 2010, the candidate will be required to attend court hearings to give evidence. They’ll also need to conduct “intrusive surveillance” in accordance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and have knowledge of:

– European Convention on Human Rights Act 2000
– Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
– Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
– Data Protection Act 1998
– Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
– Fraud Act 2006
– Serious Crime Act 2007
– Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 and Trade Marks Act 1994
– Computer Misuse Act 1990
– Other applicable legislation

The window to apply has almost run out but given the laundry list of qualities above, it seems unlikely that FACT will be swamped with perfectly suitable candidates right off the bat.

Finally, it’s probably worth mentioning that former torrent site operators and release group members keen to branch out are not specifically mentioned as primary candidates, so the poacher-turned-gamekeeper applicant might want to keep that part under their hat, at least until later.

Otherwise, FACT might just slap the cuffs on there and then, in line with UK legislation and procedure, of course.

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

Texas Court Orders Temporary ‘Pre-Piracy’ Shutdown of Sports Streaming Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/texas-court-orders-temporary-pre-piracy-shutdown-of-sports-streaming-sites-170513/

Copyright holders often complain that they have virtually no means to target pirate sites, especially those run from overseas.

Interestingly, however, in recent months it has become apparent that the US Federal Court system can be used as a prime enforcement tool to shut down pirate domain names.

This is also the path Indian media outfit Times Content Limited (TCL) decided to go down. The company operates the cricket channel Willow TV and owns the US broadcasting rights to the Indian Premier League cricket tournament, which is currently ongoing.

Two weeks ago the company sued several sports streaming sites including smartcric.com and crickethdlive.com. These sites allow users to watch cricket games for free over the Internet, without permission.

To stop this from taking place, the Indian company requested a broad injunction, which the court granted last week.

The preliminary injunction (pdf) orders various third party providers to stop working with these sites effective immediately to prevent future copyright infringements. This also applies to any new domain names or websites the operators may launch.

“…all service providers whose services will enable or facilitate Defendants’ anticipated infringement are ordered to suspend all services with respect to smartcric.com, smartcric.eu, crickethdlive.com, and crickethdlive.pw, or any other website or domain that is redirected from the Websites and continues to distribute and publicly perform the 2017 IPL,” it reads.

Domain registries and registrars are not the only parties that are compelled to comply. It also lists a broad range of intermediaries including hosting companies, CDN services, advertising outfits, and streaming providers.

Where this order clearly differs from similar injunctions in the US is that it specifically targets “anticipated infringement.” Or put differently, it aims to prevent piracy before it takes place.

From the injunction

What stands out further is that the injunction is temporary in nature. It only applies while the Cricket tournament is active. This ends on May 22, after which the parties involved are free to lift or reverse the actions they took.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Court’s intent is to ensure that Defendants’ Websites be rendered offline, inaccessible and incapable of receiving or displaying audio or video signals between the date of this order and 6:00 am. CDT on May 22, 2017,” the injunction reads.

Over the past few days several of the seized domain names have been placed in a Godaddy holding account belonging to the law firm that represents TCL. And per court order, they will stay there until said date.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the case is over after the tournament ends. In the complaint, TCL also requests damages and other punitive measures, which is something that has to be decided over at a later date.

TorrentFreak spoke to the operator of the streaming sites in question, who says that the lawsuit took him by surprise. After losing his initial domain names he registered several new ones, but these were swiftly taken down as well.

“I moved Smartcric.com to Smartcric.be and Crickethdlive.com to Crickethdlive.pw. However, both domains were suspended as well within a day. Later, I moved Crickethdlive content to Crickethdlive.to however that was suspended yesterday as well,” the operator says.

“It was shocking to see that non-US registries were following the order issued by a US court. It was unfair and unjust to comply with orders of a non-competent court by these registries.”

Interestingly, one of the domain names was registered through the domain name service Njalla, which Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde recently launched. Sunde stresses that the domain was seized beyond their control and that no personal information was shared.

“We’re looking into the case at the moment, but the court took the domain and sent it to a legal firm. We have no way of going above the court and ICANN on this. However, we have of course not sent any information about the customer to anyone,” Sunde says.

The streaming site operator still doubts that he will get his domain names back after the injunction expires. Instead, he’s decided to focus his effort on finding a domain name that falls outside of the scope of the US courts.

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

Original KickassTorrents Domain Goes Up For Sale

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/original-kickasstorrents-domain-goes-up-for-sale-170507/

Last summer a criminal investigation by the U.S. Government brought down KickassTorrents, the largest torrent site at the time.

Upon request from the United States, law enforcement in Poland arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of KickassTorrents, who’s been held in a local prison ever since.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) also went after six domain names that were tied to the site, including KickassTorrents.com, Kat.cr, Kickass.to and Kat.ph. However, it appears that not everything went as planned.

While seizing U.S. linked domains including the .com was relatively easy, the Philippine .ph domain was never seized.

KAT domains, listed by the DoJ

In the legal paperwork, the DoJ mentions that the foreign registries would be approached through a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, and asked to point the domains to servers controlled by Homeland Security Investigations.

“The seizure warrants for the remaining Subject Domains will be sent through Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty requests to Costa Rica, Tonga, and the Philippines to seize and redirect the name server to an HSI-owned server.”

This did indeed happen for Kickass.to but KAT.ph was never properly seized. On the contrary, the owners let it expire after which the registrar Dynadot auctioned it off. This allowed a third-party company to pick it up without trouble.

TorrentFreak spoke to the new owner of Kat.ph, who bought the domain name for a little over $9,000.

He explains that his company Marshall Domains LTD specializes in buying domains names that are expected to generate a decent amount of traffic. They buy all sorts of domains, which they monetize through Google advertising feeds.

The KAT.ph domain wasn’t a great investment though. In terms of traffic, it’s a winner. The domain had more than 700,000 unique visitors over the past month, mostly people looking for the old KickassTorrent site. However, it is banned from Google’s ad services.

There are other advertising options, but those are pretty scammy and not an option for the new owner.

“I’m not really happy with sending my traffic to these feeds. They get good results, but it’s all spammy, malware installing crap. I don’t want to be associated with this form of monetization,” Mr. Marshall informs TorrentFreak.

Instead, he has decided to put the domain up for sale, and it’s currently availble for at least $7,000. This means taking a loss, but at the moment the domain isn’t generating any income.

Kat.ph for sale

Thus far there hasn’t been many offers from potential buyers. Funnily enough, most inquiries come from former KickassTorrents users who missed the shutdown and are wondering where the site went.

“I’ve had some interest, but mainly from people asking to download things or where KickassTorrents has gone, but I just ignore these,” Mr. Marshall says.

Perhaps the Department of Justice might want to buy it after the failed seizure? If only to prevent it from being used by KAT knockoffs in the future…

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

Megaupload User Asks Appeals Court to Help Get His Files Back

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/megaupload-user-asks-appeals-court-to-help-get-his-files-back-170426/

megauploadSoon after Megaupload’s shutdown more than five years ago, many of the site’s users complained that their personal files had been lost as collateral damage.

One of these users is Kyle Goodwin, who operates a sports video company in Ohio. He used Megaupload as part of his business, to safely store large videos he created himself.

But, after Megaupload’s servers were raided Mr. Goodwin could no longer access the files. Hoping to resolve the issue, he asked the court to assist him and others to retrieve their personal property.

Helped by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Williams Mullen law firm, and Stanford’s Hoover Institution, Mr. Goodwin filed over half a dozen requests since 2012 asking the court to find a workable solution for the return of his data. Thus far, however, this has been without success.

This week, his legal team brought the issue before the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, pointing out that the Government’s seizure of Megaupload and its apparent disregard for the rights of former users of the service continue to affect innocent bystanders.

After more than five years, they hope that the court will help to break the case open, so former users will be able to retrieve their personal files.

“Mr. Goodwin, and many others, used Megaupload to store legal files, and we’ve been asking the court for help since 2012. It’s deeply unfair for him to still be in limbo after all this time,” EFF’s Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz says.

“The legal system must step in and create a pathway for law-abiding users to get their data back.”

Mr. Goodwin’s lawyers asked the court to issue a ‘writ of mandamus‘ to the trial court, requesting it to act on their client’s behalf and create a process for Megaupload users to regain access their data.

The longer it takes the higher the risk is that data will be permanently lost, the legal team stresses. And at this moment it could still take many years before the criminal case reaches its conclusion.

“The seizure and continued denial of access also violates Mr. Goodwin’s constitutional rights. Under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, the government was obligated to execute the searches and seizures in a manner that reasonably protected the rights of third parties to access and retrieval,” the petition reads.

While the sports videographer is the only Megaupload user who’s fighting for his rights in court, there are many others who still hope to be reunited with their lost data. Last year a former Megaupload user contacted TorrentFreak in desperation, hoping to recover a personal photo that is very dear to him.

According to EFF, the Government can’t stand idly by in these cases. More and more users are hosting their personal data in the cloud and it’s important that their rights are taken into account.

“We’re likely to see even more cases like this as cloud computing becomes increasingly popular,” EFF’s Legal Director Corynne McSherry comments.

“If the government takes over your bank, it doesn’t get to keep the family jewels you stored in the vault. There’s a process for you to get your stuff back, and you have a right to the same protection for your data,” she adds.

In a few weeks we will know if the Appeals Court agrees, or if the waiting continues.

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

Kodi Wants to Beat Piracy With Legal Content and DRM

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-wants-to-beat-piracy-with-legal-content-and-drm-170409/

Millions of people use Kodi as their main source of entertainment, often with help from add-ons that allow them to access pirated movies and TV-shows.

As Kodi’s popularity has increased drastically over the past two years, so have complaints from copyright holders.

While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, unauthorized add-ons give it a bad name. This is one of the reasons why the Kodi team is actively going after vendors who sell “fully loaded” pirate boxes and YouTubers who misuse their name to promote copyright infringement.

Interestingly, the Kodi team itself didn’t help its case by putting up an FBI seizure notice last week, as an April Fools gag.

The banner suggested that the site had been taken down by the US Department of Justice for copyright infringement. Downloads of the latest builds of the software were also blocked.

Kodi’s April Fools gag

This week TorrentFreak spoke with several members of the Kodi team, operating under the XBMC Foundation, who made it clear that they want to cooperate with rightsholders instead of being accused of facilitating piracy.

The team told us that copyright holders regularly approach them. Some are well informed and know that Kodi itself isn’t actively involved in anything piracy related. However, according to XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen, there are also those who are fooled by misleading media reports or YouTube videos.

“There are rightsholders that know who we are and realize we are distinct from the 3rd party add-on crowd,” Betzen says.

“And then there are the rights holders who have been successfully taken in by the propaganda, who write us very legal sounding letters because some random YouTuber or ‘news’ website described the author of a piracy add-on as a ‘Kodi developer’.”

The Kodi team doesn’t mind being approached by people who are misinformed, as it gives them an opportunity to set the record straight. It has proven to be more challenging to find a way forward with movie studios and other content creators that are aware of Kodi’s position.

These movie industry representatives sometimes ask Kodi to remove third-party repo installs and block certain pirate add-ons. However, according to XBMC Foundation’s Project lead Martijn Kaijser, this isn’t the direction Kodi wants to go in.

“Our view on this is that [removing code] would not help a bit, because the code is open-source and others can easily revert it. Blocking add-ons won’t help since they would instantly change the addon and the block would be in vain,” Kaijser tells us.

The Kodi team feels that pirates are leeching off their infrastructure and put the entire community at risk. But, instead of taking a repressive approach they would like to see more legal content providers join their platform. With an audience of millions of users, there is a lot of untapped potential on a platform that’s rapidly growing.

To facilitate this process, the media player is currently considering whether to add support for DRM so that content providers can offer their videos in a protected environment. While some users may cringe at the thought, Kodi believes it’ll help to get rightsholders on board.

“Our platform has a lot of potential and we are looking into attracting more legal and official content providers. Additionally, we’re looking into adding low-level DRM that would at least make it more feasible to gain trust from certain providers,” Kaijser tells TorrentFreak.

Kodi addons

Although Kodi does go after sellers of pirate boxes, Betzen personally doesn’t believe that this is the answer. The best way to deal with the piracy issue is to offer more legal content through official add-ons.

“We’d like to actually work with content providers to have official add-ons in our network. That’s much easier to do when we are proactively attempting to help them to fight copyright infringement,” Betzen says.

There are already plenty of legal uses for Kodi, including the DVR system, support for legal sports streaming, and a variety of add-ons such as Crunchyroll, HDHomeRun, Plex and Twitch. However, getting some major content providers on board has proven to be quite a challenge thus far.

Kaijser notes that rightsholders have been very reserved thus far. He tried to convince content providers to offer official add-ons, or even turn some community made ones into official ones, but hasn’t had much success.

In a way, the repeated piracy discussions and news items are both a blessing and a curse for Kodi. They help to grow the platform at a rate most competitors could only dream of, while at the same time keeping rightsholders at bay. Time will tell if Kodi can turn this around.

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

The Pirate Bay’s Swedish Domain is Listed For Sale

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bays-swedish-domain-is-listed-for-sale-170407/

In 2003, when The Pirate Bay was in its infancy, its main domain was ThePirateBay.org. The site still uses that domain today but it has burned through many others over the years.

One that has stood the test of the time is the site’s iconic ThePirateBay.se domain. It’s been in use for many years, often relied upon as a fall-back measure when other domains have been seized or suspended.

Notably, in 2012 the site switched from its .org domain to .se, a move which triggered a domain-hopping exercise which lasted until 2015 when the site moved back again.

While several other Pirate Bay domains have been consigned to Davy Jones’s Locker, ThePirateBay.se has always weathered the storms of the high seas. Now, however, all that might be coming to an end.

During Thursday, ThePirateBay.se temporarily stopped redirecting to ThePirateBay.org, at least for some users. Intrigued as to why this might be the case, TF carried out some routine checks and was confronted with what appears to be an unconnected surprise. According to its WHOIS entry, the domain has been put up for sale.

Clicking through reveals a sale underway on domain auction site Sedo. Probably due to the short time it’s been on offer, there has been little to no interest thus far. At the time of writing, bidders are able to offer as little as $90 (plus VAT) to the seller of the domain, who according to Sedo is located in Barbados.

Of course, it’s unlikely the domain will sell for such a low amount but perhaps more importantly, it’s debatable whether it’s worth anything at all.

In 2013, anti-piracy prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad filed a motion targeting ThePirateBay.se and lesser-used alternative PirateBay.se. He argued that Punkt SE (IIS), the organization responsible for Sweden’s top-level .SE domain, should be held liable for Pirate Bay’s copyright infringements unless it suspended the domain.

The case was heard in April 2015 and a month later the Stockholm District Court ruled that The Pirate Bay should forfeit both ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se to the Swedish state. The case later went to the Svea Court of Appeal, which upheld the decision of the District Court, but things weren’t over yet.

While the Court agreed that Pirate Bay co-founder Fredrik Neij had transferred the domains to a third party in 2012, it determined the transaction to be mere ‘paperwork’ and held that Neij had effectively retained control of the domains.

What followed was a June 2016 appeal by Neij to the Supreme Court, which challenged the Court of Appeal’s opinion that a domain name is a type of intellectual property that can be seized under copyright law.

Whether the Supreme Court will take the case remains to be seen. It’s clear, however, that whatever happens ThePirateBay.se is up to its neck in legal disputes and is already prone to seizure, something that casts doubt over its future potential.

TorrentFreak spoke to Sweden’s IIS to find out how any potential sale might affect the ongoing Pirate Bay domain legal dispute but the organization declined to comment. The operators of The Pirate Bay have not confirmed the sale, which appears to have been running for a few weeks.

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

FBI Cannot Examine Megaupload Servers, Canada Appeal Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fbi-cannot-examine-megaupload-servers-canada-appeal-court-rules-170403/

It’s incredible to think that more than five years after the raids on Megaupload, in some respects the case has made virtually no progress. This is particularly true of the defunct company’s servers in Canada.

Canada became quietly involved in the Megaupload investigation in December 2011, around a month before the raids in New Zealand, United States, and elsewhere. The U.S. Department of Justice asked the Minister of Justice to grant to obtain a search warrant authorizing the seizure of 32 leased computer servers located in Toronto.

On January 18, 2012, a Superior Court judge in Ontario issued the warrant which targeted the servers located in an Equinix datacenter. As the case continued to build against Megaupload, Kim Dotcom and his associates, the U.S. government asked Canadian authorities to hand the hardware over, claiming that an internal Megaupload email revealed them to be “database / number crunching machines.”

With the servers in the possession of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, during January 2013 the Minister of Justice applied for an order for the servers to be sent to the United States. Megaupload protested on the basis that the servers contain a lot of information irrelevant to the case, but agreed that an independent forensic examiner could examine them before any handover.

An Ontario court sided with Megaupload and refused to send the servers’ data to the United States. In 2015, both sides were ordered to find a way to filter out irrelevant content, perhaps with the aid of a “clean team” of FBI investigators who had no connection with the case.

While this path was approved by a judge, both Megaupload and Equinix objected to the proposal, complaining that the FBI shouldn’t be involved at all and any examination should be carried out independently. In common with almost every decision in various Megaupload cases, this one also went to appeal.

The Ontario Court of Appeal handed down its decision on Friday, this time in favor of Megaupload.

“The judge had to decide what material, if any, should be ordered sent to the United States. The appellant and the American investigators, the FBI, stood in a strongly adversarial position with respect to the order that should be made,” the Court of Appeal wrote in its decision.

“The judge, because of the nature of the seized material, needed help in determining what order should be made. The judge needed someone who could prepare a report outlining the nature of the material so that the judge could decide what part of the material, if any, should be sent to the United States.”

Noting that the report would “significantly influence” the nature and scope of any order made by the judge, the appeal court said that while the FBI may indeed carry out their task as asked, having them involved at all would be entirely inappropriate.

“In my view, it is offensive to the appearance of fairness, and specifically the appearance of judicial impartiality, to have an entity closely associated with one of the adversaries provide the judge with the necessary report,” the decision reads.

“In coming to that conclusion, I make no assumption that the FBI ‘clean team’ would not comply with whatever conditions the court imposed. My concern is with the appearance of fairness and impartiality.”

The appeal court said that when a judge is asked to appoint an investigator, the starting point should always be with people unconnected with the case. Consideration should also be given to the issue of costs (the FBI option in the Megaupload case was cheaper) but they would have to be prohibitively excessive to chose an affiliated entity over an independent party.

With the earlier decision now overruled, the servers will continue to gather dust in the hands of the RCMP, where they have been since their seizure in 2012. No doubt the legal wrangling will continue, as it has done in the United States concerning the servers there.

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

Private Anti-Piracy Deals With Domain Registries are Dangerous, Professor Warns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/private-anti-piracy-deals-with-domain-registries-are-dangerous-professor-warns-170302/

In recent years various entertainment industry groups have switched their efforts away from legislation, towards voluntary cooperation with various stakeholders.

This has resulted in several agreements with Internet providers, advertising agencies and payment processors, which are all designed to help prevent piracy.

In 2016, this strategy was expanded to cover key players in the domain name industry. Last February, the MPAA and the Donuts registry signed a landmark agreement under which the movie industry group acts as a “trusted notifier” of “pirate” domains. A similar deal was later announced with Radix.

Traditionally, it has been very hard for rightsholders to get domain names suspended without a court order but through voluntary agreements, this process is simplified. Without a court order, the registries in question are now able to take pirate sites offline, if the evidence is sufficient.

Such agreements are praised by Hollywood and even have ICANN’s blessing. However, there are also concerns. In a recent article, University of Idaho Law Professor Annemarie Bridy expresses concern over these developments.

It is the first voluntary deal that touches on the Internet’s core technical functions, assigning private copyright enforcers as some sort of online police. The current agreements are fairly limited and Professor Bridy warns that it could be just the beginning.

“For now, non-judicial notice and takedown practices in the DNS are limited; however, demands on intermediaries for stronger online content regulation across the board are only growing,” Bridy writes.

With a lack of transparency and due process, the MPAA’s programs could easily expand to a broader range of controversial content such as fake news, hate speech, and terrorist propaganda, she warns.

“Lack of transparency and due process in such programs will make them inherently vulnerable to inconsistency, mistake, and abuse and could transform the DNS into a potent tool for suppressing disfavored speech.”

In copyright cases there are worrying consequences as well. Recent history has shown that over-blocking is a legitimate threat. Professor Bridy highlights the FBI’s seizure of the domain name MOOO.COM as an example, which took down 84,000 subdomains even though only ten were problematic.

ICANN, the non-profit body responsible for the smooth-running of the Internet’s Doman Name System, has always insisted that copyright disputes are beyond their mission. As such, it was happy to see registries and rightsholders coming to an agreement.

According to Bridy, however, ICANN is now giving the green light to private agreements that allow corporate and government parties to interfere with DNS without central oversight. That’s a very worrying development, in her book.

“[I]n creating that architecture, ICANN did nothing to secure any procedural protections or uniform substantive standards for domain name registrants who find themselves subject to this new form of DNS regulation,” Bridy writes.

“That omission should be a red flag for those who worry that ICANN’s newly minted independence from the U.S. government will make its internal governance more susceptible to capture by powerful commercial and governmental interests.”

It will be interesting to see where the private deals go from here and if they indeed move beyond copyright enforcement.

Last week the Donuts registry said that fears about a “slippery slope” toward inappropriate content control is unwarranted. Thus far they are correct by stressing that only a few domain names have been suspended under their deal, but that offers no guarantees for the future.

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

Pirate Bay Prosecution In Trouble, Time Runs Out For Investigators

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-prosecution-trouble-time-runs-investigators-170227/

pirate bayDecember 2014, The Pirate Bay went dark after police raided the Nacka station, a nuclear-proof datacenter built into a mountain complex near Stockholm.

The hosting facility reportedly offered services to The Pirate Bay, EZTV and several other torrent related sites, which were pulled offline as a result.

The authorities later announced that 50 servers were seized during the raid. And not without success, it seemed. The raid resulted in the longest ever period of downtime for The Pirate Bay, nearly two months, and led to chaos and a revolt among the site’s staffers.

However, despite a new criminal investigation into The Pirate Bay, the site has been operating as usual for a while now. As it now transpires, the raid may not result in any future prosecutions.

According to prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson, who took over the case from Fredrik Ingblad last year, time is running out. Some of the alleged crimes date back more than five years, which is outside the statute of limitations.

“Some of the suspected crimes are from 2011, although the seizures are from 2014. And the statute of limitations on them are five years,” prosecutor Henrik Rasmusson told IDG.

While several years have passed, there’s not much progress to report. The police provided the prosecutor with some updates along the way, but it’s not clear when the investigation will be completed.

“I have over time received new information from the police, but I have not received any clear indication of when the investigation will be completed,” the prosecutor said.

Even if the investigation is finalized, there are still a lot of steps to take before any indictments are ready. Meanwhile, the quality of the evidence isn’t getting any better. Based on his comments, the prosecutor isn’t very optimistic in this regard.

“The oral evidence could get worse because people forget. There may be difficulties with other monitoring data that may have changed or disappeared, such as registers and data restorations,” he said.

This isn’t the first setback for the authorities. Previously, they had to drop one of the main suspects from the case as they lacked sufficient resources to analyze the data that were seized during the raid.

On top of that, people from the Pirate Bay team itself said that if they were indeed the target, the police didn’t have much on them.

According to the TPB team, only one of their servers was confiscated in 2014, and this one was hosted at a different location. The server in question was operated by the moderators and used as a communication channel for TPB matters.

The team said that it chose to pull their actual site offline as a precaution but that relocating to a new home proved to be harder than expected, hence the prolonged downtime.

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

Police Seize Domains of Fifty ‘Pirate’ Newspaper and Magazine Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-seize-domains-fifty-pirate-newspaper-magazine-sites-170201/

guardiaAnti-piracy operations come in all shapes and sizes but it’s movies, music and TV shows that grab the majority of the headlines. Games, software, and eBooks trail closely behind, but it’s rare that other types of digital print see enforcement action.

Italy, one of the most aggressive countries when it comes to sweeping anti-piracy actions, has just changed all that with one of the largest enforcement operations ever seen in the publishing niche.

Following an investigation carried by rightsholders and the Public Prosecutor of Rome, a total of 50 domains involved in the unlawful distribution of news and magazine content have been seized by the country’s Special Unit for Broadcasting and Publishing.

According to an announcement by the authorities, all of the sites have now gone dark after offering “vast quantities” of material originally published by major newspapers and periodicals including Cosmopolitan, Fashion Magazine, and Vanity Fair.

The operation, dubbed “Odyssey 2”, was carried out under the directives of the Special Command Units of the Guardia di Finanza, a militarized police force under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance.

Fulvio Sarzana, a lawyer with the Sarzana and Partners who specializes in Internet and copyright disputes, says that the sites were probably under the control of separate entities.

“The variety of sites and the diversity of hosting and domain registrations leads me to think that these are different cases,” Sarzana informs TorrentFreak.

“The methods vary but generally the digital kiosks work this way; someone buys the paper or digital versions of newspapers through a duly registered account and then makes them available on the website.”

Until now, Italy has employed the same “follow-the-money” approach used by authorities in other jurisdictions, whereby site owners are identified via payments made by advertisers and similar business partners. Now, however, it claims to have developed a ‘new’ “follow-the-hosting” approach, which allows it to identify site operators, even when they use Cloudflare to hide the location of their servers.

While details on the techniques used by the authorities are thin, uncloaking server locations in this way is nothing new and can be achieved when Cloudflare is ordered to do so by a competent court.

The sites in question, which were not named by the authorities, are said to have served millions of users with pirated content. This, to a background of national media groups losing a third of their turnover over the past five years.

Big anti-piracy operations to protect publishers are extremely rare but with their market closing in and ad revenues falling, more could certainly follow in the future.

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

Swedish Govt. Mulls Tougher Punishments to Tackle Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/swedish-govt-mulls-tougher-punishments-to-tackle-pirate-sites-170131/

law-hammerWhen most country’s copyright laws were first laid down, the Internet simply did not exist. So, when the world-changing network began to develop, the law was often left playing catch-up.

Through various amendments and interpretations, many developed countries have found a way to shoehorn existing legislation to apply to the Internet era. But the fit is rarely perfect and for copyright holders keen to protect their interests, not nearly tight enough to deal with the rise of pirate sites.

Among others, Sweden is now considering its options when it comes to its future prosecutions of large-scale copyright infringement cases. As part of a review now underway, the government is accessing the powers it needs to deal with more serious cases of copyright infringement.

Police national coordinator for intellectual property crimes Paul Pintér hopes that any changes will enable police to operate more efficiently in the future.

“If you have a felony, you can get access to a whole new toolkit. In the terms of reference for the inquiry, the government mentions almost all of the points that we have previously proposed,” he told IDG.

Considering the way anti-piracy enforcement has developed over the past several years, few of the suggestions from the police come as a surprise.

At the top of the tree is treating pirate site operators as more than just large-scale copyright infringers. The Justice Department says that due to the manner in which sites are organized and the subsequent development of revenue, treating them as self-contained crime operations may be appropriate.

“With the help of well-organized sites, infringement is made fast, easy, and both openly and more or less anonymous,” says Anna Enbert, legal adviser at the Department of Justice.

“Not infrequently, there is a business motive for the major players, which is roughly comparable to organized crime. This has made infringement more extensive, difficult to investigate, and harmful in relation to both rights holders, consumers, and society at large.”

Like the UK, the current maximum sentence for online copyright infringement in Sweden is two years in prison. The UK is about to boost this to ten years via the Digital Economy Act but in recent years has seen many prosecutions carried out under fraud legislation.

This kind of amendment has caught the eyes of Sweden. By viewing ‘pirate’ sites as platforms for commercial and organized crime, harsher sentences may also become available. Currently, punishments are often limited to fines and suspended sentences.

Also on the table for discussion are domain seizures and site-blocking. In a memorandum submitted to the government last year, Pintér said that websites that violate copyright or trademark law should be blocked by ISPs. Furthermore, while preliminary investigations are underway, domain names should be seized by the authorities.

While specific provisions in law for both blockades and seizures would undoubtedly be welcomed by both police and rightsholders, current law may yet be up to the job. Attempts to seize The Pirate Bay’s domains are still ongoing and ISPs are digging in over demands to block the site. Nevertheless, both could still succeed.

In the meantime, however, the review will press ahead, although not at a speed that pleases the police. IDG notes that the investigation is to presented in February 2018, a time-scale that Paul Pintér finds unacceptable.

“The only thing is, is that the review will take far too long. It should be completed faster than a year,” he concludes.

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