Tag Archives: site blocking

YouTube Faces Permanent ISP Blocking in Repeat Copyright Infringer Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-faces-permanent-isp-blocking-in-repeat-infringer-lawsuit-200522/

Sad YouTubeFive years ago, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that 400 hours of video were being uploaded to the platform every minute. Today that volume has increased to a staggering 500 hours per minute, a vast amount of content by any standard.

While the majority of the video uploaded to YouTube isn’t problematic for the company or third-parties, some users breach copyright law by uploading content that infringes on the rights of others. When that content is discovered by YouTube’s Content ID system or is manually claimed by a rightsholder it can be monetized or removed, but not everything goes smoothly.

In 2018, Russia-based HR-solutions company OnTarget obtained a ruling from the Moscow City Court which compelled Google-owned YouTube to remove some of its content uploaded without permission. Among other things, the company creates personnel assessment test videos and some of these had been uploaded to YouTube by channels that reportedly assist people to obtain jobs by gaming the system.

According to a report from Kommersant, Google appealed in 2019, stating that the content was no longer on YouTube. However, the court dismissed the case, stating that the platform had “not eliminated the threat” of the plaintiff’s rights being violated in the future. It now appears that prediction has come to pass.

OnTarget has now filed another copyright infringement complaint against Google at the Moscow City Court. Founder and CEO of the company Svetlana Simonenko says that YouTube channels informing job seekers on how to “trick future employees and pass tests for them” has posted video tests developed by OnTarget to the platform in breach of copyright.

Speaking with Kommersant, Simonenko says that the lawsuit demands that YouTube should be completely blocked by local ISPs as the violations against her company continue. She claims that Google has not deleted the infringing content and this means YouTube should be considered a repeat infringer under Russia’s anti-piracy laws.

The permanent blocking of websites is a measure only usually taken against the most blatant of infringing platforms, such as massive torrent site RuTracker that despite repeated warnings, fails to remove any copyrighted content following complaints.

As written, Russia’s copyright laws require that sites that repeatedly infringe copyright should be completely blocked in the country but according to experts, demands to have a site like YouTube blocked across Russia over a few videos are likely to fail under pressure.

“It is clear that the requirement to block the whole of YouTube due to several videos is excessive, and the Moscow City Court should reject the normal course of events due to the fact that it is not proportional to the violation,” says Anatoly Semenov, Deputy Head of the IP Committee of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP).

Semenov says that due to the way the law is written the Court isn’t in a position to push aside the requirement to block the entire site and replace that with a requirement to block individual links to content. However, it could simply refuse to apply it in this case or even refer the matter to the Constitutional Court.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

Music, Publishing and Sports Industries Back Canada’s Pirate Site Blockades

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/music-publishing-and-sports-industries-back-canadas-pirate-site-blockades-200514/

canada flagTwo years ago, Canadian broadcasting giants Groupe TVA, Bell, and Rogers took the relatively small pirate IPTV service GoldTV to court.

What started as a straightforward copyright lawsuit soon became much more than that. With the pirate site not responding, the rightsholders requested an injunction requiring local ISPs to block the service.

Fast forward a few months and Canada became the first North American country to implement a court-ordered Internet provider blockade of a pirate site.

This was a big win for the three companies whose plan for a Government-sanctioned pirate site blocking scheme was previously denied. And, given the interest in site-blocking orders around the world, it was likely just the start.

While most ISPs accepted the order without protest, TekSavvy appealed. This appeal is ongoing and has gained the interest of many copyright groups, which would all like to have their say in court.

Last week, several companies and groups representing the music industry, publishers, and sports organizations, asked the Federal Court of Appeal to have their say in the matter. As so-called intervenors, they plan to stress the importance of pirate site-blocking.

The first filing comes from the International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP), Music Canada, and IFPI. They inform the court that their opinion should be heard as they have vast experience with anti-piracy measures, which they believe are vital to the survival of the music industry.

The music organizations inform the court that they have “significant international experience” when it comes to “effective enforcement” against Internet piracy. This includes site-blocking efforts in other countries.

In addition, they argue that they have a good understanding of the broader implications of these anti-piracy measures, which can guide the Federal Court of Appeal to make the right decision.

“[A]s representatives of the music industry, which has long been at the forefront of the battle against online copyright piracy, the Music Industry Associations seek to assist the Court in understanding the broader impacts of its decision across the cultural industries,” their submission reads.

The second motion to intervene comes from a broader group of rightsholders. This includes several publisher groups, such as the International Publishers Association, and sports companies, including the Premier League and streaming service DAZN.

screenshot from the publishing and sports organizations' motion to intervene in the site blocking appeal

Similar to the music industry, the groups offer to bring their own unique perspective to the table. They argue that their respective industries are harmed by piracy and see site-blocking as a prime tool to limit the effects.

The groups don’t agree with Teksavvy’s argument that blockades violate freedom of speech values or rights and would like to present their own argument in court.

In addition, they also counter similar arguments from United Nations Special Rapporteur David Kaye, who previously warned that website blocking is an extreme measure that could restrict people’s freedom of expression.

“The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression analysis is flawed, is inconsistent with the international jurisprudence, and should not be relied on by this Court,” the publishing and sports groups write.

In their motion, the groups acknowledge that any site-blocking decision should balance the interests of copyright holders, ISPs and internet users. However, they believe that the scale clearly tips in their favor.

The Federal Court of Appeal will now review the motions to see if the music industry, publishing and sports organizations can have their say in court. If anything, this broad interest shows that if Teksavvy loses the appeal, many more site-blocking applications are expected to come in.

A copy of the motion from the music groups is available here (pdf) and a copy of the publishers and sports groups submissions can be found here (pdf).

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also help you to find the best anonymous VPN.

Denmark Blocked 141 Pirate Sites in 2019 But Pirates Are Bypassing The System

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/denmark-blocked-141-pirate-sites-in-2019-but-pirates-are-bypassing-the-system-200503/

Site-blocking to disrupt copyright infringement now takes place in dozens of countries around the world, with its supposed benefits currently being aggressively promoted to lawmakers in the United States.

Having been pioneered in the country more than a decade ago, site-blocking is old news in Denmark but is still one of the preferred methods to reduce access to ‘pirate’ sites. Indeed, according to a report published by leading anti-piracy group Rights Alliance, during 2019 alone it managed to have 141 sites blocked by the majority of ISPs in the country.

In tandem with other anti-piracy initiatives, this appears to have had a drastic effect on local visits to pirate sites. According to the group, in 2018 Danes visited pirate sites 239 million times yet in 2019, that figure was down to 146 million, an impressive 40 percent drop.

When copyright groups measure the effectiveness of blockades it’s worth noting that they often measure traffic levels to the domains that have been blocked. When nearly all ISPs in a country participate in blocking, which is the case in Denmark, there will quite clearly be a reduction in visits to those specific domains. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t still using them or, indeed, alternative platforms.

Indeed, Rights Alliance (RA) notes that despite the reductions in traffic to ‘pirate’ domains, a recent study revealed that the number of pirates in Denmark hasn’t reduced at all.

“According to Mediavision’s annual user behavior survey in the Nordic countries, the proportion of Danish 15 to 74-year-olds who download or stream movies and TV series is stable at 10 percent, which it has been since 2016. This corresponds to approximately 450,000 Danes using illegal sites annually,” RA notes.

“An explanation of the decreased number of visits, but the stable number of users, we partly attribute to the blocking effect, but other causal explanations are also available. Namely, the Mediavision study points out the Danes’ use of so-called VPN connections and the use of alternative DNS providers that allow the blocking to be bypassed.”

When questioned for the survey, 17% of Danish Internet users said they use a VPN. However, when the subset of self-confessed pirates were asked the same question, 44% admitted to using a VPN to access pirated movies. According to RA, this indicates that VPNs are widely used by pirates so the 40% drop in traffic to pirate sites could be overstated.

“The study thus shows that VPN connections are very widespread among those who stream and download illegally so their use of illegal websites is not included in the aforementioned 146 million visits. The figure may actually be higher,” RA adds.

The problem is replicated when looking at how Danish ISPs block their subscribers’ access to pirate sites. Court orders allow them to block by interfering with DNS but users are apparently well aware that if they switch to a DNS provider that isn’t run by their ISP but by OpenDNS or Google, for example, blocking can be bypassed.

“[S]o-called alternative DNS providers are also being used by more Danes who illegally download or stream movies and TV series than the general population,” RA reports.

“Ten percent of Danes who do not stream or download illegally have heard of alternative DNS providers, and out of them, 35 percent use them. If you look at the Danes who stream and download illegally, 23 percent have knowledge of DNS providers and as many as 97 percent use them.”

The end result is that despite widespread blocking and a headline drop in traffic to pirate sites, the number of pirate consumers remains stable, apparently undeterred by the measures. So the big question remains: what can be done to further reduce piracy levels?

On the blocking front, RA is pushing the concept of so-called ‘trusted notifiers’, i.e organizations or groups that have access to a streamlined blocking mechanism, preferably handled by a single court dealing with IP crime. Also on the table is potential action by SØIK, the State Prosecutor for Serious Economic and International Crime, which could require ISPs to block sites without a court process.

In respect of enforcement, Rights Alliance says that it has also identified a number of individuals who have “made extensive use of illegal services.” Data about them and their activities has been passed to the IP Task Force at SØIK but what will become of those referrals remains unclear.

The full report can be found here (Danish, pdf)

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also help you to find the best anonymous VPN.

YouTube Ripper ‘Yout.com’ Loses Site Blocking Case, Despite Putting Up a Defense

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-ripper-yout-com-loses-site-blocking-case-despite-putting-up-a-defense-200423/

In recent years website blocking has become one of the most widely-used anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms in the world.

The process was pioneered in Denmark over a decade ago and was optimized and expanded in the following years.

For example, all major ISPs signed a voluntary agreement to block a site when there’s a court order against one provider. Also, in 2018 the Scandinavian country became the first country to block so-called YouTube rippers.

Last summer a new court order was issued following a complaint from the anti-piracy group Rights Alliance. This order targeted a new set of YouTube rippers, including Converto and MP3-YouTube. Interestingly, however, the court deferred the judgment against Yout.com, which decided to intervene in the case.

This type of intervention is quite unusual. Blocking cases are generally between copyright holders and ISPs. Although the affected sites are notified, they generally don’t get involved.

Yout operator John Nader chose a different path, one that was already forecasted four years ago in an interview on Reddit. Responding to potential copyright issues, Nader said the following.

“You may be right, and I may not see the gravity of the situation I am in. But if I get to the point where this becomes an issue, I will fight for a cause I believe in, and I’m content with that.”

A few years later, Nader boarded a plane to Denmark, to defend his site, without a lawyer. This trip turned out to be in vain, as Rights Alliance provided Nader with the wrong date for the hearing, but the case went on.

The Yout operator eventually hired a lawyer and defended his site in court. Among other things, he argued that Yout never stores any copyright-infringing content on its servers. It merely offers a ‘pipeline’ to enable users to grab YouTube audio or video.

This stance was backed up by an extensive expert testimony from Luis Peter Wahl Knudsen, who works as a technical manager at the Danish software company Minuba.

“From the analysis of the source code for Yout.com’s recording function, it can be concluded that Yout.com does not contain any functionality which stores/saves content from media sources on Yout.com’s servers,” he informed the court last November.

Rights Alliance responded by presenting testimony from Georg Nolte, Google Germany’s Senior Legal Counsel. He stressed that downloading copies is prohibited in YouTube’s Terms of Service.

“In order to prevent unauthorized downloads on a technical level, YouTube implements so-called ‘cipher’ technology to mitigate unauthorized access to YouTube content,” Nolte wrote, adding that this encryption was implemented to protect copyright holders.

Yout’s witness didn’t deny this but stressed that the technical protections are rather weak, reiterating once again that Yout doesn’t store any files. Rights Alliance, for its part, said that Nader was well aware of the potential copyright complications while pointing to the Reddit interview we mentioned earlier.

After reviewing the positions from both sides, the court agreed with Rights Alliance. In an order issued last month, Judge Kinna Eidem orders Internet provider Fibia to block Yout.com.

“The Court finds that Yout.com, by means of the method described, in breach of the exclusive rights held by the holder, is making protected works available to a new public by means of a new technical method whereby they are communicated to the public.

“The Court also finds that Yout.com, via its mode of operation, plays an essential role in the communication of protected works,” the order adds.

According to Judge Eidem, Yout.com helps users to retrieve files from YouTube and store these on their computers. As such, it is classified as a “stream ripping service.” The defense argued that Yout.com should be seen as a recording tool, similar to Xbox Game Bar, but the court disagreed.

“This facilitation is not comparable to the recording functions found in e.g. Xbox Game Bar, whereby the users, in real-time, can record what is being played locally on the users’ own computer,” the order reads.

Judge Eidem also highlighted Google’s testimony, which makes it clear that users are not allowed to access protected YouTube videos. Yout.com, however, offers a tool to do just that, by circumvention the technical protection measures.

In addition to granting the blockade, Yout.com is also ordered to pay the legal feeds of Rights Alliance, which total roughly $4,350 (30,000 DKR). Nader’s request to be compensated for his pointless trip to Denmark was denied, however, as the defense failed to provide more details on the incurred costs.

TorrentFreak reached out to Nader, who is disappointed with the verdict but prefers not to comment on the matter at this time. Yout.com, meanwhile, is blocked by all major Danish ISPs now.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Major Movie Studios Obtain Blocking Injunction Against 115 ‘Pirate’ Domains

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/major-movie-studios-obtain-blocking-injunction-against-115-pirate-domains-200422/

For several years, entertainment industry companies have been applying for blocking injunctions under Australian copyright law. According to them, having sites rendered inaccessible by consumer ISPs is an effective response to large-scale piracy.

This week yet another injunction process, involving a range of movie and TV show companies, came to its conclusion in the Federal Court.

Roadshow Films, Village Roadshow Films, Disney, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros., and Netflix (the ‘MPA/Roadshow applicants’) previously claimed that their copyrights, related to content including The Lego Movie, Toy Story, Spider-Man, Dunkirk, and Stranger Things, were being infringed on a wide range of unlicensed platforms.

Television Broadcasts Limited and TVBO Production Limited (the ‘TVB applicants’) alleged the same in respect of their Chinese television programs including Dead Wrong and Provocateur. Madman Anime (Madman) made similar claims over their film Tokyo Ghoul.

Together, they demanded that 86 “target online locations” should be blocked by 50 ISPs operated by Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG, and Vodafone under s115A of the Copyright Act 1968.

Under that legislation, the Federal Court is able to grant an injunction to prevent access to an “online location” based outside Australia when it infringes or facilitates an infringement of copyright and has the same “primary purpose or primary effect.”

The Court found that the MPA/Roadshow and TVB applicants had standing to bring the action as owners and/or exclusive licensees of content. In respect of Madman, the Court found that despite no copyright owner being joined in the action, its status as an exclusive licensee was sufficient.

The range of sites targeted is broad, including streaming and download platforms, linking sites (including torrent sites), sites that offer software that allows streaming or downloads, subtitle archives, plus sites that offer proxy access to pirate sites.

Some notable inclusions are the community-resurrected KickassTorrents site operating from Katcr.co, plus some less authentic Kickass clones. Others, trading on familiar brands but unconnected to their namesakes, include 123movies, Primewire, CouchTuner, Putlocker, WatchFree, ProjectFreeTV, and YesMovies-style domains.

Further additions are getpopcorntime.is (a site offering a Popcorn Time software variant), subtitle download sites TVSubtitles.net and MSubs.net, plus Russian torrent giant Rutor.info and the China-focused btbtdy.me.

Efforts were made by the applicants to contact the operators of these platforms but according to the Court, just one responded. Sarah Florian, the supposed operator of Animelon.com, claimed to control a “non-profit educational entity that uses animated videos to provide a novel and fun way for users to learn the Japanese language.” The Court concluded, however, that Animelon.com “flagrantly facilitates the infringement of copyright.”

The nature of the other sites in the applications warranted discussion but were all determined to breach copyright law. According to the Court, in various ways they provide direct access or facilitate access to copyright works, including movies, TV shows, and subtitle files. This applies to the proxy and Popcorn Time sites too.

Noting that many of the sites are already blocked in other regions as a result of similar copyright injunctions, Justice Burley declared the platforms to be “flagrant” copyright infringers.

“I am satisfied, having regard to the content made available at the target online locations, that each either makes copyright works available online for transmission to users, or facilitates the infringement of copyright by making it easier for users to ascertain the existence or whereabouts of other online locations that themselves infringe or facilitate the infringement of copyright within section 115A(1)(a),” his order reads.

“I am also satisfied that the primary purpose or primary effect of the target online locations is to infringe, or facilitate the infringement of, copyright: s 115A(1)(b).”

The injunction granted by the Judge allows the applicants to make additions to the domain names, URLs and IP addresses listed in the original order, after the order has been made. This is to tackle countermeasures often implemented by target sites to evade blocking.

The process for this application has been adjusted in order for new instructions to be processed quickly, to reduce costs, and to ensure the objective of Australia’s blocking process isn’t frustrated, the Court adds.

“It is apparent that the legislative intention is to facilitate, in appropriate cases, a more expeditious and less expensive means by which orders may be amended. Importantly, parliament did not intend, and the orders I propose to make do not permit, the applicants to bring new target online locations within the scope of the orders,” Justice Burley notes.

“Rather, the applicants may only seek to bring within the scope of the orders new domain names, IP Addresses or URLs for the 86 target online locations which are in issue in these proceedings. Should the applicants wish to block access to a new target online location, a separate application will need to be brought.”

The injunction (Roadshow Films Pty Limited v Telstra Corporation Limited [2020] FCA 507) can be obtained here.

The full list of domains to be blocked by the 50 ISP respondents reads as follows:


From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Affordable Legal Options Are the Best Anti-Piracy Tool, US Senators Are Told

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/affordable-legal-options-are-the-best-anti-piracy-tool-us-senators-are-told-300320/

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property is currently in the process of finding ways through which the U.S. can better address online piracy.

The initiative, launched by U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, aims to hear experts from various sides, to get a balanced view of the challenges and opportunities.

During a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee earlier this month, key movie industry players argued that pirate site blocking and upload filtering are viable and effective options. However, not everyone agreed with this conclusion.

The senators also heard Julia Reda, former MEP for the Pirate Party, who currently works as a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. In her initial testimony, Reda pointed out that the EU’s ‘indirect’ upload filter requirements, which are part of last year’s copyright reform, are problematic.

Reda’s comments and presentation triggered several follow up questions from senators, who asked her to address some issues in more detail. These answers, which came in a few days ago, caution against stringent measures such as site blocking and upload filters.

Responding to a question from Committee Chairman Tillis, Reda stresses that instead of focusing on restrictions and legislation, the best answer to piracy lies in the hands of copyright holders and the broader entertainment industry.

“When it comes to reducing copyright infringement online, I am convinced that the availability of affordable, attractive legal streaming services is paramount,” Reda writes, adding that legal options have made music piracy less relevant.

The former MEP acknowledges that piracy continues to be a major challenge in the TV and movie industries. However, she attributes this in large part to increased fragmentation and the lack of an affordable all-in-one video platform.

“While legal video streaming services have grown rapidly in popularity and revenue over the recent years, there is still a lack of comprehensive video streaming services that give users access to all the content they want to see in one place,” Reda writes.

“Exclusive deals between rightsholders and streaming services are much more common than in the music industry, therefore users have to choose between a large number of different streaming services with distinct offerings. Subscribing to all major streaming services is not affordable to the average consumer,” she adds.

Next up is the response to Senator Chris Coons, who asked Reda specifically about her views on website blocking and upload filtering. These measures were presented as effective anti-piracy tools by copyright holders.

Reda, however, sees things differently. While she mentions that legal scholars are best placed to evaluate the applicability in the US context, caution against site-blocking measures is warranted.

For example, it can raise free speech concerns when there is overblocking, which has happened in the EU on a few occasions.

“From a free speech perspective, it is very difficult to implement site blocking that only blocks illegal content without adversely affecting users’ rights to access legal content,” Reda writes.

In addition, blocking can make security measures more difficult. This includes the use of DNSSEC, which can be used against phishing attacks but uses the same re-routing techniques as website blockades.

Free speech is also a problem with upload filters, Reda warns. She points out that automated filters can’t check for factors such as fair use, something even the providers of filtering tools themselves openly admit.

“I don’t think there is any possibility, neither today nor in the near to medium-term future, to automate these decisions,” Reda writes.

“Therefore, upload filters for copyrighted content will always lead to many instances of overblocking of legal speech, as many examples of automated notices sent under the current notice-and-takedown regime illustrate.”

Instead, Reda again points out that facilitating the development of affordable legal sources is a more reliable strategy.

This is also the message in response to questions from Senator Richard Blumenthal, who asked whether there are any examples of statutes or technological tools that have proven to curb online piracy.

Instead of focusing on enforcements or restrictions, Reda once again turns the tables, highlighting that the entertainment industry holds the key.

“When tracking the history of online copyright infringement over the course of the last 25 years, the single most successful intervention to increase industry revenues and reduce copyright infringement has been the introduction of affordable, convenient legal alternatives.

“I believe that rather than a legislative intervention, the support of better legal offers for online content is the more successful strategy to curb online copyright infringement and produce new revenue streams,” Reda adds.

These views are obviously one side of the debate. As we previously highlighted, copyright holders see things quite differently. It will be interesting to see if and how the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property can find some common ground.

Julia Reda’s full answers to the senators’ questions are available here (pdf).

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Copyright Holders Want to ‘Quietly’ Expand Canada’s Pirate Site Blocklist

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-holders-want-to-quietly-expand-canadas-pirate-site-blocklist-200318/

Late last year, Canada’s Federal Court approved the first piracy blockade in the country.

Following a complaint from three major media companies, Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court ordered ISPs to block access to domains and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service GoldTV.

The blocking injunction is part of a regular copyright infringement case that started a few months earlier. While the targeted IPTV service is relatively small, the ruling set a new precedent.

The timing wasn’t entirely coincidental either. The case against GoldTV was filed after a bid for an administrative pirate site blocking scheme from the same media companies failed.

While the GoldTV case followed the regular legal process, site blocking opponents fear that this is merely a test event and that requests to block many other sites will follow.

Thus far there are no concrete signs of new cases. However, the blocklist created by the GoldTV case has expanded. After the IPTV service switched to new domains to circumvent the order, the copyright holders went back to court, requesting an updated blocklist which was granted not much later.

Although this updated list may have worked for a while, new ‘circumvention’ domains were soon added. This prompted Rogers, Bell and TVA to return to court again a few days ago, requesting another extension.

These update requests were foreseen and are permitted under the injunction. However, there is considerable secrecy surrounding them.

This is in part due to the fact that ISPs have been asked not to publicize the details, TekSavvy explained to us. While the filing is technically public, the rightsholders want to keep the details quiet, presumably because they don’t want to make GoldTV any wiser. This is also what happened with the previous update request.

“We were again asked not to publicize it,” Andy Kaplan-Myrth, TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory affairs, tells us. “As much as I do not like being in this position, we have decided not to publicize the list of domains for now.”

TorrentFreak also reached out to other sources, trying to get a copy of the court records, but thus far we have yet to get our hands on the documents. The filings can usually be picked up in person at the court but the coronavirus outbreak is complicating matters.

Although the lack of transparency is frustrating from a news perspective, we don’t expect to see anything unusual in the extension request. According to the Wire Report it contains six new domain names, but we haven’t been able to verify the figure.

TekSavvy, meanwhile, remains the only ISP to appeal the blocking order. While the company is complying with the recent injunction, it hopes to overturn the verdict in this separate proceeding.

This week the ISP submitted its memorandum of fact and law to the Federal Court of Appeal. This filing also references the ‘continual update’ process, noting that the court failed to consider that it would consume judicial resources.

A bigger problem, perhaps, will appear when more blocking injunctions are requested, targeting other pirate sites. These may all require updates during the years to come, TekSavvy warns, which will place a significant burden on the courts.

“Given that the Respondents describe a widespread problem with copyright infringement online, the Federal Court can expect many more such site-blocking motions. For each order, the Court will maintain a supervisory role for the duration of the order. Cumulatively, this will place a significant strain on judicial resources,” TekSavvy cautions.

The ISP’s motion reiterates many of the comments that were made when the appeal was announced, including potential net neutrality problems and a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

“The risks of over-blocking and compromising the integrity of the Internet are real, and are heightened in the absence of legislative guidance. As highlighted by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this has serious implications for free expression,” the company adds.

On top of that, TekSavvy questions the effectiveness of the injunction, stressing that there is “strong evidence” that site blocking doesn’t work well as it’s easily circumvented. That alone would be enough to decline a blocking order, the ISP argues.

The appeal process is likely going to take a while, so, for now, the blocking injunction will stand. At the time of writing the federal court has yet to grant the most recent update request. When we learn more about that or the targeted domains, we will report accordingly.

A copy of TekSavvy’s memorandum of fact and law, filed at the Federal Court of Appeal, is ‘transparently’ made available here (pdf).

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

Movie Industry Praises the Effectiveness of Pirate Site Blocking in U.S. Senate

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-industry-praises-the-effectiveness-of-pirate-site-blocking-in-u-s-senate-200311/

Late last year, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis launched a new initiative in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property to find ways the US can better address online piracy.

The DMCA is more than two decades old now and, increasingly, the creative industries are calling for legislative change and bolstered enforcement.

To review the available options and possible hurdles, Tillis chaired a hearing of the Senate Subcommittee yesterday, to examine the approaches taken in foreign jurisdictions.

In two panels, academics plus stakeholders from the entertainment and tech industries shared their thoughts, complemented by written testimonies. While a wide variety of issues were raised, much of the discussion revolved around site blocking.

At the moment, known pirate sites are blocked by Internet providers in dozens of countries around the world. But in the US, which is the largest audience for these sites, pirate site blocking is notably absent. This presents room for improvement.

Stan McCoy, President and Managing Director of the Motion Picture Association’s EMEA region, informed the Senate Subcommittee that foreign site blocking efforts are the “most successful approach to online piracy” to date.

“This remedy allows a rights holder to seek a legal order, subject to due process, from an online intermediary that is capable of preventing its service from being used for unlawful purposes,” he mentions.

A ‘no-fault’ injunction puts no blame on intermediaries such as ISPs. However, it does order them to take action against infringing sites and services, which can include blocking.

“Many countries currently offer such a no-fault injunctive remedy to address infringing conduct by pirate sites, including Australia, most member states of the European Union, India and the United Kingdom, to name a just a few,” McCoy notes, while adding that Canada recently joined in as well.

These blocking efforts, many of which the MPA is directly involved in, have proven to be effective according to the movie industry group.

“Our internal data shows us that site blocking is very effective at cutting traffic to pirate domains – meaning that an order applicable to the main access providers in a given country reduces traffic to a targeted domain by 70% on average and can be as high as 80-90% in some countries,” McCoy notes.

In addition to decreasing traffic to blocked domains, which is an obvious result, McCoy also mentions that traffic to other pirate sites also decreased, while legal websites enjoyed more visitors at the same time.

“So yes, site blocking is effective. And that is why much of the rest of the world has embraced this approach,” McCoy concludes.

The effectiveness claims were backed up in other testimonies as well, including that of Dr. Michael D. Smith of Carnegie Mellon University, who published and reviewed several papers on the effectiveness of anti-piracy enforcement.

While the MPA didn’t explicitly call for new legislation, it’s obvious that the movie industry sees blocking as a viable option in the US as well. This was reiterated in testimony from Jonathan Yunger, the co-president of Millennium Media, which is one of the largest independent film production companies.

Millennium Media is the driving force behind several lawsuits against BitTorrent users, websites such as YTS, and apps including Showbox, Popcorn Time, and Cotomovies. According to Yunger, these and other forms of piracy represent an existential threat to the movie business which the DMCA hasn’t been able to curb.

“The truth is that the battle against piracy has only intensified since the DMCA became law, with too little progress to show for it,” Yunger notes.

“Anything that could be distributed digitally online was stolen and monetized by criminals, facilitated by some of the world’s wealthiest internet companies including Google, its now-sibling YouTube, and Facebook.”

Yunger sees large tech companies as clear rivals, which have only made matters worse. For example, when Millennium did a search on YouTube two years ago it found over 200 pirated versions of its films which had been viewed over 110 million times in just one month.

While blocking YouTube isn’t very realistic, Millennium’s co-president does see site blocking as the prime answer to piracy.

“I would like to be able to tell you that America is on the front lines of this global fight against piracy, but, unfortunately, that is not true. Other countries around the world have taken the lead,” he says.

“The first and most important tool being used abroad is no-fault injunctive relief aimed at blocking access to the market by known, adjudicated pirate sites, referred to by some as ‘site blocking,’ Yunger adds.

Like many others, Yunger knows that site blocking is a sensitive topic in US Congress, specifically after the SOPA legislation failed to pass in 2012. At the time, opponents warned that site blocking would ‘break the internet’ and ‘stifle free speech,’ but that was all “fearmongering” and “hyperbole” according to Yunger.

“Back then, we all thought Silicon Valley was simply trying to make the world a better place. The tech industry and its allies tried to portray the creative community as a rich and greedy behemoth that was trying to take away people’s free content and destroy their access to a safe and well-functioning internet,” he says.

“Well, I think we all know who the rich and greedy industry behemoth is today, and there are plenty of questions about who can properly wave the guardian banner on behalf of internet users. In this David and Goliath scenario, the creative industry is obviously the David to the Big Tech Goliath.”

Millennium sees site blocking as an effective anti-piracy tool and the company wants the US to join other countries. A clear message, but the company’s co-president does derail at the end, by mentioning two long-defunct pirate sites.

“Since the first website blocking order went into place in May 2010, notorious piracy site ThePirateBay has been blocked in 19 countries. Isohunt is now blocked in 10 countries and KickAssTorrents is blocked in 11 countries. But, sadly, all of those sites are still available to Americans.”

Apparently, Yunger believes that torrent sites isoHunt and KickassTorrents remain threats. However, isoHunt shut down years ago after it lost a lawsuit against the MPA, and KickassTorrents was shut down by the feds in 2016.

The overall message is obvious, however. The movie industry sees site blocking as a great tool to combat piracy and the suggestion is that US lawmakers should do something with it.

That brings us to a crucial matter. The DMCA already includes a provision to provide injunctive relief against intermediaries, which could order ISPs to block foreign pirate sites.

This matter was also brought up at the hearing by Matt Schruers, President at the Computer & Communications Industry Association. Schreurs, who represents the interests of many major tech companies, stresses that there are also potential negative consequences to site blocking.

He references several mistakes that were made when US authorities first started seizing domains of allegedly infringing websites, including the fact that 84,000 websites were taken down in error.

In addition, Schreurs also highlights that the DMCA does allow for injunctive relief under subsection 512(j).

“It is interesting to hear talk of other jurisdictions having pioneered site blocking when members of this committee gave the earliest thought to injunctive relief in this context, and it’s embodied in 512(J),” he says. “The notion that there isn’t an injunction remedy in US law is really not accurate.”

Stan McCoy of the MPA acknowledges this “hypothetical” option but points to the crux of why we haven’t seen any site-blocking efforts yet.

“The great benefit we see in a lot of the jurisdictions that have no-fault injunctive relief around the world is that it’s very clearly no-fault. We’re not asserting any kind of wrongdoing on the part of the intermediary against whom the order is sought.”

“Unfortunately, that aspect is not ideally clear in 512(j) and that’s perhaps one reason why that provision has not been used,” McCoy adds.

Yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee is part of an ongoing process to review the state of US copyright law and to see what other options are available. In addition to site blocking, the EU Copyright Directive, including Article 17, was also discussed.

While it is clear that site blocking is on the agenda of US lawmakers, any concrete changes to the DMCA or other legislation are not on the table yet.

Drom: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, torrent sites and more. We also have an annual VPN review.

.CA Domain Registry Objects to Pirate Site Blocking Order

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ca-domain-registry-protests-pirate-site-blocking-order-200211/

Last November, Canada’s Federal Court approved the first pirate site blockade in the country.

Following a complaint from major media companies Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court ordered several major ISPs to block access to domains and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service GoldTV.

This is the first blocking order of its kind in Canada but could be the start of many. While most of the targeted ISPs stayed quiet and didn’t even acknowledge receipt of our questions, TekSavvy chose to appeal the blocking injunction.

The Internet provider is not the only organization that’s worried about the blocking order. Several others have raised concerns and some have now asked the Federal Court of Appeal if they can intervene in the case. This includes CIRA, the registry that operates the .CA domain name.

The registry, which also provides DNS services for .PT, .SE, and .ES domains, says it didn’t previously intervene because it wasn’t aware of the proceeding. It only learned about the blockades after these were reported in the media.

Among other things, CIRA is concerned that the website blocking injunction will interfere with the open Internet infrastructure. In addition, it will also bypass its authority by pointing Internet users to other locations when they try to access a .CA domain.

“Ordering ISPs to intercept and redirect internet communications could conflict with CIRA’s longstanding commitment to maintain an open and effective internet architecture,” CIRA writes.

“It could jeopardize CIRA’s mission to steward the .CA domain and to provide high quality registry, DNS, and cybersecurity services,” the registry adds.

Ideally, more stakeholders should have been consulted before making such a drastic decision, the registry notes. In CIRA’s view, site blocking is not the answer to address infringing sites. It directly conflicts with the Telecommunications Act while there are better alternatives.

One of the options suggested by CIRA is to identify the site owners through the WHOIS database. The organization says that it can provide such information when it’s compelled to do so by a Canadian court order.

Possible measures could also include involving other third-party intermediaries such as hosting companies and payment intermediaries.

“Any and all of those options are, while still extreme, more consistent with the Telecommunications Act and less intrusive into the technical architecture of the internet than the remedy sought from and granted by the Federal Court,” CIRA writes.

Based on these and other arguments, the registry asks the Federal Court of Appeal to grant its motion to intervene in the case.

Another organization that would like to be heard is the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC). The group, which is connected to the University of Ottawa, also believes that the site-blocking order should be reversed.

“ISP-based website blocking is an intrusive remedy, incompatible with the right to free expression,” CIPPIC writes, adding that it also raises issues with the Copyright Act and the Telecommunications Act.

Such orders should not be taken lightly and deserve more scrutiny than the Federal Court has offered so far.

CIPPIC raises a variety of issues which it wants to argue in more detail. This also includes possible conflicts with net neutrality.

“ISP-based website blocking orders have a significant potential to disrupt communications networks and interfere with network innovation,” CIPPIC writes.

“Any ISP-based website blocking order must therefore ensure it does not undermine the CRTC’s role, legislatively mandated under section 36 of the Telecommunications Act, for monitoring net neutrality and ISP interference with transmitted content”

Both motions to intervene have yet to be reviewed by the Court and more may still be filed, also from rightsholders.

Given the interest of these parties, it’s clear that the matter has triggered much broader interest than during the initial proceeding.

A copy of CIRA’s motion to intervene is available here (pdf) and CIPPIC’s motion can be found here (pdf).

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Swedish Court Issues ‘Dynamic’ Pirate Bay Blocking Order

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/swedish-court-issues-dynamic-pirate-bay-blocking-order-200124/

In recent years, Swedish movie outfits and Hollywood studios, including Disney, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros, have been working hard to get local ISPs to block The Pirate Bay.

The first success came a few years ago when a blocking order was issued against local Internet provider Bredbandsbolaget. This was later followed by an interim order against Telia, Sweden’s largest ISP, which was struck down on appeal and sent back to the lower court.

During the second try of the case movie companies again requested a blocking order against The Pirate Bay, as well as three other sites, Dreamfilm, FMovies, and NyaFilmer.

Last month this case was decided in favor of the rightsholders, with the court not only issuing a blocking injunction but also one that can be extended

The Swedish Patent and Market Court ordered Telia to block access to the four pirate sites to prevent these from facilitating further copyright infringement. In addition, the rightsholders are also allowed to add new domain names and IP-addresses going forward.

The movie companies requested this expansion option since blocking orders are often circumvented through new domains and proxy sites. Telia objected to the request for such a “dynamic” blocking order, but the court sided with the copyright holders.

“It is clear that the services change domain names and URLs and that this is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to bypass the effect of a blocking procedure,” the court writes.

“A blocking injunction should, therefore, in order to effectively serve the rights holders’ interest in preventing infringements, not merely target specified domain names and URLs,” the order adds.

This effectively means that Telia must update its blocklist when it’s made aware of changes. Any new URLs and IP-addresses have to provide access to any of the four pirate sites, including The Pirate Bay.

Telia also objected to the general blocking order and questioned whether the rightsholders had shown any proof of infringement. However, the court refuted these arguments and stressed that, under EU law, ISP can be ordered to stop pirating subscribers.

The case resulted in a clash between several rights that are defined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In this instance, the property rights of the movie companies weigh stronger than Telia’s right to entrepreneurial freedom.

Hans Eriksson, Senior Associate at the law firm  Westerberg & Partners, highlighted the case at IPKat, believes that dynamic injunctions, which can be updated regularly, will become more and more common.

“Dynamic injunctions like this one are likely to be the future for blocking injunctions in Europe,” Eriksson tells TorrentFreak.

The Market Court’s injunction is valid for three years. If Telia fails to properly implement the blockades, it risks a penalty of 500,000 Swedish Krona (€47,500). Telia is not happy with the outcome, however, and has already filed an appeal.

A copy of the Patent and Market Court’s order, in Swedish, is available here (pdf).

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Most Canadian ISPs Are Staying Quiet on Pirate Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/most-canadian-isps-are-staying-quiet-on-pirate-site-blocking-200119/

Last November, Canada’s Federal Court approved the first pirate site blockade in the country.

Following a complaint from major media companies Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court ordered several major ISPs to block access to domains and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service GoldTV.

These types of blocking efforts are common in quite a few countries. However, in Canada they are new, which means that developments are closely watched by both supporters and opponents.

One of these newer developments is the expansion of the blocklist with new domain names. After the initial injunction was ordered GoldTV became accessible through new addresses, effectively circumventing the court’s measures. This was dealt with by blocking the new domains as well.

This extension of the court’s order was permitted under the injunction and signed off by the court. This order is also public to those who pay to access it, which allows us to report on it.

However, as more and more blocks are issued this process may become harder to follow. It would be more transparent if ISPs published a list of blocked domains and IP-addresses. This would make it possible for the public to see what’s going on and report errors. If there are any.

This transparency idea isn’t too far-fetched. Canada’s current net neutrality regulations require ISPs to disclose what traffic management practices they use. Disclosing a list of blocked domain names and IP-addresses could fall into the same category.

As we were unable to find any ISP publicly listing this information on a page that’s available outside its network, we decided to ask them whether they had any plans to provide one.

In addition, we also asked what technical means the ISPs use to block domain names. Is it a simple DNS redirect, or are there more invasive techniques in use?

After waiting for several days, we still only have a response from one Internet provider. The ten remaining companies simply stayed quiet and didn’t even acknowledge receipt of our questions.

The company that did respond is TekSavvy, which also happens to be the only ISP that appealed the blocking injunction.

TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory affairs, Andy Kaplan-Myrth, informs us that they already provide detailed information to blocked users. This includes links to all the blocked domains and the court order itself.

In the future, TekSavvy plans to make this available to outsiders as well. The ISP shared a copy of the info page (pdf) with us but it’s not linked from the ISP’s website yet.

The information shows that TekSavvy is using DNS blocking. It effectively changes the DNS entry so the domains point to the blocking notice instead of the regular page.

Kaplan-Myrth notes that this works but adds that the blockade can be circumvented when subscribers switch to alternative DNS providers such as Google, Cloudflare, or OpenDNS.

While we are pleased with TekSavvy’s openness, the lack of response from the other ISPs isn’t very encouraging when it comes to transparency. We contacted Bell, Rogers, SaskTel, Cogeco, Eastlink, Distribitel, Fido, Shaw, Telus, and Videotron, without hearing back.

Although more transparency is welcome, the Canadian system is quite open compared to some other countries. In the UK for example, none of the blocklist changes are publicized beyond the initial court orders. This means that it’s more or less a guess how many are blocked.

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

Canadian Pirate Site Blockade Expands With New Domains

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canadian-pirate-site-blockade-expands-with-new-domains-200109/

Last November Canada’s Federal Court approved the first piracy blockade in the country.

Following a complaint from major media companies Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court ordered several major ISPs to block access to domains and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service GoldTV.

A few days after the order was issued the first blockades were active. These prevented GoldTV customers from accessing the IPTV portal directly, as intended, but it didn’t take long before several alternative domains popped up.

These new domains are managed by GoldTV or its resellers and point to the access portal, allowing subscribers an unblocked route to access the IPTV service.

This wasn’t entirely unexpected. While IPTV blockades are relatively rare, we have seen similar ‘proxy’ workarounds in the past when traditional pirate sites were blocked in other counties. Having learned from this experience, the Canadian court order specifically allowed Bell and the other companies to expand the blocklist.

Specifically, they can amend the original blocklist with any “domain, subdomain or IP address that has as its sole or predominant purpose to enable or facilitate access to the Target Websites,” provided that the IP-address is “not associated with any other active domain.”

Such an update was requested early last month and two weeks later the Canadian Federal Court approved it. An overview of the new blocking requirements was published this week by Andy Kaplan-Myrth, TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory affairs.

This shows that, after some IP-addresses and a domain name were previously removed, several new ones were added with the latest order.

The newly added addresses include gold.myiptvplanet.com, live4k.online, and several pctvhd.net and beex.me subdomains. When we checked these, all indeed redirected to the GoldTV access portal. According to reports we received, the new domains have been added to the blocklist of several Canadian ISPs, as expected.

Avvidavids reveal that the new domains were tracked down by posing as a customer or reseller of the GoldTV service.

Interestingly, the rightsholders asked to keep the names of the new domains secret until the order was granted. The Wire Report notes that they sent a letter (pdf) to the ISP asking them to “refrain from publicizing” the new domains until the Court made a decision.

Keeping possible updates out of the public eye is in the interest of the copyright holders, as it prevents GoldTV from anticipating new blocks. However, it raises concerns among some legal experts who believe that information in a public case should be out in the open. If not, that should be up to a court to decide.

That said, the Canadian procedure is much more transparent than in other countries such as the UK, where new blocklist updates aren’t published at all, making it impossible for the public to check for potential overblocking.

While the expanded blocks are certainly frustrating for GoldTV customers, there will likely be new domains to replace them, continuing the whack-a-mole. The downside for the copyright holders is that there’s a significant delay in the process.

Bell and the others first have to file for an amended order, which then has to be approved by the court. After that, it can take up to two weeks before ISPs implement the blockade. This whole process can take more than a month. In this timeframe, new domain names may have already been put into use.

While website blocks are far from perfect, the continued frustration of switching to new domains may be enough for some pirates to throw in the towel. Or they may switch to more permanent circumvention alternatives, such as VPNs.

Meanwhile, the bigger blocking battle continues as well. Internet provider TekSavvy has appealed the blocking order and hopes to have it overturned. It clearly violates network neutrality and undermines the open Internet, the ISP previously said.

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

Indonesian Government Continues Whac-A-Mole Against Local Streaming Piracy Giant

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/indonesian-government-continues-whac-a-mole-against-local-streaming-piracy-giant-191223/

With millions of views per day, ‘IndoXX1’ is of one the largest pirate sites on the Internet.

In the West, the site doesn’t ring a bell with most people. In Indonesia, however, it is among the top 25 most visited websites in the country, only beaten by Google, YouTube, and a few others.

The site’s popularity didn’t go unnoticed by Hollywood. Earlier this year the MPA listed the site in its yearly overview of notorious pirate sites submitted to the US Trade Representative.

“Indo 21” has emerged as the main brand for piracy in Bahasa throughout Indonesia and Malaysia. One of the related sites, indoxx1.center, has a local ranking of 40 in Indonesia according to SimilarWeb data with 23.85 million monthly visits in August 2019,” MPA wrote.

Today this information is already outdated. While IndoXX1 remains the most visited pirate brand in the country, it continuously relocates in order to evade local blocking efforts.

Most recently the portal was available through domains including idxx1.cam, indoxx1.art, and indoxx1.kim. However, a few days ago, Indonesia’s Information and Communications Ministry (Kominfo) stepped in to block these domains.

Kominfo’s actions coincide with the release of a new survey, commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP), which shows that streaming piracy is rampant in Indonesia.

According to the study, 63% of Indonesians have accessed streaming piracy websites or torrent sites. In addition, 29% of consumers use set-top boxes that can stream pirated video content, with indoXXI(Lite) being the most popular app by far.

This isn’t the first time Kominfo has taken action against IndoXX1. Other domains have been banned previously as part of a national anti-piracy effort. In fact, the Government organization has blocked more than 1,000 domain names since July.

Revealing the gravity of the situation, Kompas reports that these anti-piracy efforts can also count on the support of the national police.

While it’s clear that the authorities are taking the piracy problem seriously, it seems rather hard to curtail. On social media, many people are pointing out alternatives and, when we checked, indoXXI mirrors or copies were indeed available.

Many of the site’s users don’t really seem impressed by yet another blockade, and a meme illustrating the ineffectiveness of the measures has been viewed over a dozen million times in a few days.

Since blocking isn’t 100% effective, to say the least, it may also be worth looking at other means to address the piracy problem. At the supply end, for example. That’s where help from the Government may also be welcome.

Local news site Coconuts reports that Indonesia’s largest Internet provider Telkomsel currently blocks its subscribers from accessing Netflix. The state-owned ISP officially bans Netflix on censorship grounds, but some believe there may be financial reasons as well, as the company has ties to a local streaming service.

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

TekSavvy Appeals First Canadian Pirate Site Blockade

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/teksavvy-appeals-first-canadian-pirate-site-blockade-191126/

Two weeks ago Canada’s Federal Court approved the first pirate site blockade in the country.

Following a complaint from major media companies Rogers, Bell and TVA, the Court ordered several major ISPs to block access to domains and IP-addresses of the pirate IPTV service GoldTV.

While the service in question has a relatively modest number of users, the order paves the way for additional site blocking requests that may target traditional pirate sites as well.

This is exactly what major rightsholders have extensively lobbied for in the past. After a request for a national pirate site blocking scheme was denied last year, the media companies have now accomplished this goal through the courts.

Most Internet providers, which include Bell and Rogers as well, haven’t objected to the request. However, there’s one that’s pushing back. According to TekSavvy, site blocking will do more harm than good and the company filed an official appeal yesterday.

“We are very concerned about what the federal court’s new site-blocking regime means for the open Internet as a whole,” says Andy Kaplan-Myrth TekSavvy’s vice-president of regulatory affairs.

TekSavvy argues that the Federal Court reached the wrong conclusion and asked for the order to be set aside. One of the problems, according to the ISP, is that the Court heavily relied on a UK ruling, instead of merely following Canadian law.

The ISP further highlights that it runs counter to Canada’s Net Neutrality principles.

“[The order] is based on foreign law, and it clearly violates Network Neutrality, without giving any serious consideration to that fundamental principle of communications law in Canada,” Kaplan-Myrth tells TorrentFreak.

“If it is allowed to stand, this site-blocking order will be just the first of many, undermining the open Internet to protect the profits and business models of a handful of powerful media conglomerates,” he adds.

TekSavvy is the only ISP to file an appeal but, outside court, there has been strong opposition from others. Canadian law professor Michael Geist, for example, has criticized the ruling, arguing that the Government should weigh in on such a crucial matter.

“In reviewing the GoldTV ruling, it is obvious that site blocking raises so many issues that it requires a government policy decision, not a single judge making a myriad of policy calls,” Geist noted.

Meanwhile, the Federal Court’s order has already resulted in the first blocks. Several people are reporting that their ISPs have started to roll out the restrictions already. This includes Rogers, Fido, Bell Aliant, and SaskTel.

It’s clear that rightsholders are pleased with the blocking ruling, so they are expected to fiercely defend it at the Federal Court of Appeal. Given the controversy around the site-blocking topic, it would be no surprise if other interested parties will have their say in court as well.


A copy of TekSavvy’s Notice of Appeal, filed at the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal, is available here (pdf).

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French Court Orders ISPs to Block Torrent Sites and File-Hosters

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/french-court-orders-isps-to-block-torrent-sites-and-file-hosters-191122/

Pirate site-blocking has become a prime measure for the entertainment industries to target pirate sites on the Internet.

The practice has been around for over a decade and has gradually expanded to more than 30 countries around the world.

This is also true in France, where The Pirate Bay was one of the first targets five years ago, but not the last. Several site-blocking applications followed, mostly on behalf of the local anti-piracy group La Société Civile des Producteurs Phonographiques, or SCPP as it’s more commonly known.

The organization, which represents over 2,000 music companies, including Warner, Universal, and Sony, is also behind the most recent blocking efforts.

In three separate orders, a Paris court recently ordered Internet providers Bouygues, Free, Orange, SFR, and SFR Fibre, to prevent customers from accessing piracy-linked websites.

The first order is targeted at six relatively small file-hosting services: Nippyspace.com, Nippyshare.com, Yolobit.com, Nippybox.com, Nippyfile.com, and Nippydrive.com. The sites in question all share the same simple design.

The term file-hoster or cyberlocker can have a broad meaning. In this case, the sites also provided a search function, which makes pirated content easier to find. Also, Zippyshare is no stranger to the music industry, as the RIAA previously listed it as a ‘notorious’ pirate site.

While SCPP didn’t respond to our request for comment, the Finnish anti-piracy group TTVK notes that the ruling is unique, as it’s the first court order that requires ISPs to block a file-hosting service in Europe.

“The decision of the French court confirms the view that blocking orders should be available for all pirated content services, regardless of the technology,” TTVK Executive Director Jaana Pihkala says.

The other two orders, which were released on the same day, target the torrent sites Torlock.com, Toros.co, Bittorrent.am, Seedpeer.me, Yggserver.net and Yggtorrent.ch, as well as the linking site 2DDL.vg.

Interestingly, NextInpact notes that the court suggested that the use of the word “BitTorrent” assumes bad intent, as the file-sharing protocol is often associated with piracy. This is rather broad, as there are also many legitimate BitTorrent services.

The orders (1, 2, and 3) are valid for 18 months. The Internet providers will have to pay the blocking costs themselves but did not oppose the orders in court.

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Federal Court Approves First ‘Pirate’ Site Blockade in Canada

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/federal-court-approves-first-pirate-site-blockade-in-canada-191118/

Last year, a coalition of copyright holders and major players in the telco industry asked the Canadian Government to institute a national pirate site blocking scheme.

The Fairplay coalition argued that such measures would be required to effectively curb online piracy. Canada’s telco regulator CRTC reviewed the request but eventually denied the application, noting that it lacks jurisdiction.

The driving forces behind the request, Bell, Rogers, and Groupe TVA, were not prepared to let the blocking idea slip away, however. A few months ago the companies filed a lawsuit against the operators of a ‘pirate’ IPTV service GoldTV.ca. The companies argued that the service provides access to their TV content without licenses or authorization.

Among other things, the rightsholders requested an interim injunction to stop the operators, who remain unidentified, from continuing to offer the allegedly-infringing IPTV service. This was granted, but despite the order, some of the infrastructures remained available.

This resulted in a follow-up request from the media giants, which became the setup for the first-ever pirate site blocking order in Canada. Specifically, the companies requested an interlocutory injunction order that would require several Canadian ISPs to block GoldTV domain names and IP-addresses.

Late last week this request was granted by a Federal Court in Ontario. An order, issued by Judge Patrick Gleeson, requires most of Canada’s largest ISPs, including Cogeco, Rogers, Bell, Eastlink and, TekSavvy, to start blocking their customers’ access to GoldTV within 15 days.

The order is unique in North America and relies heavily on UK jurisprudence, can be extended with new IP-addresses and domain names, if those provide access to the same IPTV service. The court doesn’t prescribe a specific blocking method but mentions DNS and IP-address blocking as options.

Since Rogers and Bell are also ISPs, these companies didn’t object to their own demands. Several other Internet providers didn’t protest either. However, TekSavvy did, listing a broad range of objections.

TekSavvy, for example, argued that blocking websites isn’t very effective, as subscribers have plenty of workarounds they can try, including VPNs. In addition, the company pointed out that many smaller ISPs are not affected by the order, which means that they don’t have to block the service.

Judge Gleeson recognized that blocking measures are not foolproof. However, based on the evidence provided, he concluded that it’s effective enough to make a difference.

“It’s clear from the evidence that site-blocking will not eliminate user access to infringing services. However, the evidence does establish that in those jurisdictions where site-blocking measures have been implemented there has been a significant reduction in visits to infringing websites.

“I am satisfied that a site-blocking order is an effective means of limiting access to GoldTV Services,” Judge Gleeson added.

TekSavvy further argued that it could become very costly to implement a site-blocking system, which would put a significant financial strain on the company. In addition, the order would set a precedent that could lead to hundreds or even thousands of site-blocking orders

Judge Gleeson didn’t agree with this assessment. TekSaffy can rely on DNS and IP-address blocking, which it’s already technically capable of. That wouldn’t require any new hardware investments. In addition, ISPs don’t have to pay the costs of the implementation, as that will be covered by the rightsholders.

TekSavvy also pointed out that site-blocking measures violate net neutrality and freedom of expression. But again, the Court was not convinced that this weighs stronger than the interests of the rightsholders.

“I am satisfied, in the face of a strong prima facie case of ongoing infringement and a draft order that seeks to limit blocking to unlawful sites and incorporates processes to address inadvertent over-blocking, that neither net neutrality nor freedom of expression concerns tip the balance against granting the relief sought,” Judge Gleeson writes.

All in all, the Federal Court sided with the copyright holders. This means that the first-ever pirate site blockade in Canada will soon be in effect. Whether TekSavvy or any of the other ISPs plan to appeal the decision is not known at this point.

The site-blocking question has been a point of debate in Canada over the past several months. While local authorities and lawmakers have spoken out against a non-judicial site-blocking regime, Judge Gleeson’s ruling shows that site-blocking injunctions certainly are an option.

Interestingly, this approach was previously raised by opponents of Fairplay Coalition’s site blocking push. At the time, the rightsholders countered that the legal process could take up to 765 days, but in this case, it went a lot quicker.

A copy of Judge Gleeson’s order is available here (pdf).

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Pirate Site Blocking Boosts Netflix Subscriptions, Research Suggests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-boosts-netflix-subscriptions-research-suggests-190824/

In recent years website blocking has become one of the most widely-used anti-piracy enforcement mechanisms in the world.

ISPs in several dozen countries are now required to prevent subscribers from accessing a variety of ‘pirate’ sites. While new blocks are added every month, research on their effectiveness has been rather scarce.

Most ‘studies’ promoted by copyright holders conclude that blocking a site does indeed reduce traffic to the affected domains. While this is hardly surprising, less is known about where ‘blocked’ subscribers go instead.

Do they simply give up and stop pirating? Are they finding ways to circumvent blockades? Do they decide to sign up for a paid streaming service such as Netflix? As it turns out, all of the above can be answered positively, according to one of the most details studies on site blocking.

In a paper titled The Effect of Piracy Website Blocking on Consumer Behavior, researchers connected to the Carnegie Mellon University’s IDEA program thoroughly researched the effect of various blocking orders in the UK.

The latest version of the peer-reviewed paper, which will soon be published in the Management Information Systems Quarterly, builds on earlier findings that we’ve reported on in the past.

For example, the researchers found that when ISPs only blocked The Pirate Bay in the UK in 2012, not much happened. Pirates were still pirating but simply switched to alternative sites or Pirate Bay mirrors. Others circumvented the blockades by using VPNs.

Follow-up research, looking at the effect of 19 additional sites that were blocked by UK ISPs in 2013, revealed a different trend. Blocking more sites decreased the numbers of visits to pirate sites, but only cyberlockers.

This was later confirmed with data from an even larger blocking wave from 2014, which also found that visits to other unblocked pirate sites decreased. These data also revealed another interesting trend. The broader blocking effort also increased the number of visits to paid streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix.

2014 block effects

The latest article expands on the last finding by estimating whether the blockades actually increased the number of subscriptions. This, opposed to the possibility that pirates were already subscribed and simply used the legal services more after the blocks.

To do this, the researchers looked at ‘pirates’ who repeatedly visited legal services after the blockades, but didn’t before, and compared this to people who were not pirating. This shows that the blocks increased the number of paid subscriptions to streaming services.

“We show that blocking 53 sites in 2014 caused treated users to decrease piracy and to increase their usage of legal subscription sites by 7-12%. It also caused an increase in new paid subscriptions,” the researchers write in their paper.

“Together, these results imply that supply-side antipiracy enforcement can be effective in turning users of illegal piracy channels toward paid legal
consumption,” the paper adds.

It has to be noted that the estimated increase in subscriptions is relatively small. It’s just 1.1 percentage points higher than in the control group of people who were not affected by the blocks. That said, this translates to around 50,000 new subscribers in the UK, which is pretty significant.

Overall the research finds that there are varying responses to pirate site blockades. Some may circumvent them by using alternative pirate sites or signing up for a VPN, while others increasingly turn to legal alternatives.

In addition to this, one of the main messages is that blocking multiple sites at once is more effective than blocking just a single site. Broader blocks are likely to make it harder for people to find pirated content and, as a result, some people appear to give up.

The researchers illustrate this by pointing at the ‘Hydra’ comparison, which has been used by The Pirate Bay as well in the past. In Greek mythology, the Hydra is a beast that’s particularly hard to kill, as it has multiple heads that can grow back.

“Blocking a single site is akin to decapitating only one of the Hydra’s heads. The result will only be a more diffuse network of piracy sites, with no curb on pirating activity,” the researchers write.

Stabbing the Hydra in the hard is the only way to kill it effectively. While that may be impossible in the pirate ecosystem, cutting off as many heads as possible comes close. Especially if these heads are important sources for other sites.

“Blocking multiple sites at once is akin to decapitating several of the Hydra’s heads. With the network of sites significantly disrupted, this could possibly be a mortal wounding. We have shown that users’ behavior is sufficiently disrupted and that some increase the use of legal channels, and reduce illegal ones,” the paper concludes.

The website blocking research was carried out as part of Carnegie Mellon University’s Initiative for Digital Entertainment Analytics (IDEA), which received a generous donation from the MPAA. However, the researchers stress that their work is carried out independently.

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

Man Tried to Burn Down Telecoms Watchdog to Avenge Pirate Site-Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/man-tried-to-burn-down-telecoms-watchdog-to-avenge-pirate-site-blocking-190817/

While copyright holders and many governments see site-blocking as a reasoned and measured response to copyright infringement, some people view it as overkill.

People should be able to access whatever content they want without rich corporations deciding what should and should not appear on computer screens, the argument goes.

For former student Pavel Kopylov, blocking of pirate sites in Russia has gone too far. So, to make his displeasure obvious to Roscomnadzor, the government entity responsible for carrying it out, last year he attempted to burn one of its offices down – three times.

On April 2, 2018, reportedly dissatisfied that his favorite torrent tracker had been blocked, Kopylov went to the local offices of Roscomnadzor,
smashed a window, and threw a bottle of flammable liquid inside together with a burning match. The attempt was a failure – the fire didn’t ignite and a guard was alerted by the noise.

Almost two weeks later, Kopylov returned for a second try. This time a fire did ensue but it was put out, without causing catastrophic damage. A third attempt, on May 9, 2018, ended in complete failure, with a guard catching the would-be arsonist before he could carry out his plan.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor’s office saw the attacks as an attempt to destroy Roscomnadzor’s property by arson, an offense carrying a penalty of up to five years in prison. The prosecution sought two years but in the end, had to settle for considerably less.

Interfax reports that a court in the Ulyanovsk region has now sentenced the man for repeatedly trying to burn down Roscomnadzor’s regional office. He received 18 months probation but the prosecution intends to appeal, describing the sentence as excessively lenient.

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

Pirate Bay Overblocking Hits EZTV Due to Shared Cloudflare IP Address

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-overblocking-190718/

The Pirate Bay is arguably the most widely blocked website on the Internet. ISPs from all over the world have been ordered to prevent users from accessing the torrent site.

This is also the case in the Netherlands. While the issue remains pending at the Supreme Court, ISPs including Ziggo are already required to prevent users from accessing the popular torrent site.

A court ruling of 2017 required Ziggo to block both domain names and IP-addresses of The Pirate Bay and its many proxies. The list of blocked domains has grown to hundreds in recent years and the Dutch blocklist is regularly updated with new domains and IP-addresses by anti-piracy group BREIN.

Thus far, this hasn’t caused any trouble but earlier this month several torrent users noticed that Ziggo’s Pirate Bay blockade had carried over to EZTV.io, another popular torrent site. While EZTV also provides access to infringing content, it’s not covered by the court order. 

Still, EZTV users were welcomed by the following message from Ziggo when they tried to access the site.

Blocking message (translated)

As it turns out, both EZTV and The Pirate Bay use Cloudflare and the CDN company decided to put both sites on the same IP-address. As a result, Ziggo’s filters also blocked access to EZTV, which is a classic example of overblocking. 

Ziggo confirmed the error to local news site Tweakers but said that there was little it could do without an update from BREIN. 

“Despite the fact that Ziggo has repeatedly pointed out these these types of risks, the court did not sufficiently account for these types of complications. This means that even if we see or are reminded that a website is being incorrectly blocked, Ziggo is obliged to uphold the blockade, until further notice from Brein,” Ziggo noted.

The ISP said that it informed BREIN about the issue early July, but the list wasn’t immediately updated. This meant that EZTV remained blocked for at least a week. The torrent site was eventually unblocked after BREIN asked Cloudflare to put ETZV on a separate IP-address.

BREIN director Tim Kuik admits that the overblocking took place but doesn’t known why Cloudflare put the sites on the same IP-address. 

“I have no idea why EZTV became available at that IP address. Just like The Pirate Bay, they use Cloudflare and someone apparently thought it was a good idea,” Kuik told Tweakers

While BREIN helped to get EZTV unblocked again, Kuik stresses that the torrent site is illegal as well. The anti-piracy group summoned EZTV to stop its infringing activity and plans to have it blocked in the future as well, once the Pirate Bay case is finalized at the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that shared Cloudflare IP-addresses has resulted on overblocking. Two years go, dozens of pirate sites were mistakenly blocked by Internet backbone provider Cogent, following a court order. Cloudflare eventually resolved the matter by putting the sites on separate IP-addresses.

At the time, Cloudflare’s General Counsel Doug Kramer told TorrentFreak that it’s important for his company to understand how different blocks operate around the world, so  it can limit coleteral damage. However, that clearly didn’t work in EZTV’s case.

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

UK Pirate Site Blocking Requests Have Stopped, For Now

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-pirate-site-blocking-requests-have-stopped-for-now-190715/

Website blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries.

The UK has been a leader on this front. Since 2011, the High Court has ordered ISPs to block access to many popular pirate sites.

Over time the number of blocked URLs in the UK has grown steadily to well over 1,000. This includes many popular torrent, streaming, and direct download sites, which remain barred today.

We have covered these efforts extensively here at TorrentFreak. However, since late 2016 something appears to have changed. The movie industry’s MPA(A) and the music industry’s BPI suddenly stopped submitting new requests.

The latest regular blocking order dates back nearly three years. While the Premier League did request some “dynamic” blockades of streaming related IP-addresses more recently, there have been no new efforts targeting traditional pirate sites.

This lack of new blocking requests is striking, especially since the UK model is often used as a prime example of anti-piracy enforcement around the world. Just a few months ago, MPAA and RIAA argued that it should become part of a possible US-UK trade deal.

“Website blocking has been successful in the United Kingdom with 63 music sites being ordered to be blocked following music right holders’ initiatives. On average this produces a reduction in the use of those sites by UK users by approximately 75 percent,” the RIAA said at the time.

Despite this effectiveness, UK piracy site-blocking efforts have been rather stagnant. While older court order are sill updated with new domain names, no new sites have been targeted by the MPA(A) and BPI in years. As such, new pirate sites can flourish.

TorrentFreak reached out to the MPA and BPI for a comment on this apparent slowdown. Neither organization gave a concrete reason for the absence of recent applications.

MPA informed TorrentFreak that it will continue to use a range of different methods for its enforcement efforts around the world. That includes working with local enforcement agencies to refer criminal cases, offering consumers new and innovative ways to access content, as well as seeking court orders to block access to pirate sites.

“The MPA will continue to use this range of methods as appropriate in the UK as we do around the world. Ensuring that filmmakers everywhere are compensated for their work and that revenues can be reinvested in new productions continues to be the number one priority for the MPA,” the group said.

BPI also stressed that site-blocking remains part of its anti-piracy toolbox.

“There are a very wide range of effective and complementary tools we use to reduce music piracy – site blocking is just a part of these,” a BPI spokesperson told us.

BPI’s other tools include delisting infringing URLs from search engines, site demotion under the search engine Voluntary Code of Practice, direct litigation against sites, criminal investigations, disrupting money flows to pirate sites, anti-piracy partnerships with online platforms, and consumer education.

The music group didn’t provide any details that explain why no new blocking orders were requested in recent years. However, it suggests that other tools are more appropriate at the current time.

“The mix of techniques we use varies over time and reflects the most appropriate strategy for dealing with a given problem at a given time,” the BPI spokesperson says.

“Having obtained High Court orders to block many of the major pirate brands, over the last few years other approaches have been effective to continue the reduction in music piracy. However, website blocking remains part of the mix and we will continue to use it in appropriate cases.”

The question remains why site blocking is seen as less appropriate. Perhaps the rightsholders feel that requesting additional blockades is not worth the resources, compared to other anti-piracy initiatives.

Part of the reason may be that the blocking orders can be quite expensive. Previously, it was estimated that  an unopposed application for a section 97A blocking order is roughly £14,000 per website, while maintaining it costs an additional £3,600 per year.

With well over a hundred sites blocked, the costs are quite significant, to say the least.

While there haven’t been any new requests, the previously ordered blockades are still in place, of course. That being said, we have to note that these are not effective everywhere. When we tried to access The Pirate Bay on a Virgin connection this week, it was freely accessible.

While the notorious pirate site may still be blocked on other ISPs, workarounds are not hard to find. At the time of writing PirateProxy.ch, a TPB proxy,  is among the 150 most-visited websites in the UK.

That said, rightsholders were never under the illusion that they can prevent the most determined pirates from accessing these sites. They simply want to dissuade casual pirates, and they feel that the current site blocking efforts are doing their job.

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