Tag Archives: site blocking

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Encrypted DNS and SNI Make Pirate Site Blocking Much Harder

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/encrypted-dns-and-sni-make-pirate-site-blocking-much-harder-190702/

Website blocking has become a prime measure for the entertainment industry to target pirate sites on the Internet.

The practice has been around for well over a decade and has gradually expanded to dozens of countries around the world.

The actual blocking is done by Internet providers, often following a court order. These measures can range from simple DNS blocks to more elaborate schemes involving Server Name Indication (SNI) eavesdropping, or a combination of both.

Thus far, the more thorough blocking efforts have worked relatively well. However, there’s a growing concern among network specialists that blocking and filtering could become problematic in the future as technology moves forward.

For example, tech companies are increasingly starting to adopt DNS over HTTPS (DoH or encrypted DNS). This makes it possible to resolve domain names over the secure HTTPS protocol. As a result, it’s harder for outsiders, including ISPs, to eavesdrop on which sites people access.

Earlier this year, BT’s Principal Network Architect, Andy Fidler, warned that encrypted DNS is a potential game changer in the area. In a presentation before several industry specialists, he outlined a variety of concerns, as ITPro notes.

Among other things, these new developments will make it harder to block websites and to comply with court orders. 

“If UK ISPs are no longer in the DNS path, they may not be able to fulfil certain domain specific court order blocking requests,” Fidler notes in his presentation.

“DNS blocking is the most granular tool in the kit box used by UK ISPs to implement Government / Regulation blocking orders,” he adds.

With regular DNS queries, ISPs such as BT can see which websites users are trying to access, even when people are using a third-party DNS provider. When DNS queries are encrypted, however, Internet providers can no longer see which websites customers visit. 

BT’s Principal Network Architect called on UK Internet providers and the broader industry to see how they can respond to these developments. While increased privacy for users is not a bad thing, ineffective website blockades, useless parental filters, and other issues are seen as problematic. 

This stance was also reiterated previously by a spokesperson for the UK’s Internet Services Providers’ Association, who informed Forbes that encrypted DNS should not break existing protections.

“If internet browser manufacturers switch on DNS encryption by default, they will put users at serious risk by allowing harmful online content to go unchecked.

“We would expect Internet browsers to provide the same protections, uphold the same standards and follow the same laws as U.K. ISPs currently do,” the association’s spokesperson added.

Advancements like this will be hard to stop though. Cloudflare already offers encrypted DNS through its 1.1.1.1 nameserver and Firefox has enabled support for encrypted lookups since Version 62.

And there’s more trouble on the horizon. 

While encrypted DNS will make it harder for ISPs to block sites, it will certainly not be impossible. SNI eavesdropping is still an option, for example.

This may no longer be as easy in the future either. In tandem with increased support for encrypted DNS, more tech companies are embracing encrypted SNI as well, which prevents ISPs from snooping on SNI handshakes.

Last September, Cloudflare announced that encrypted SNI was live across Cloudflare’s network and a few weeks later, Mozilla followed suit by adding support for ESNI to its Firefox browser.

This combination of encrypted DNS and SNI makes it very hard for ISPs to prevent access to pirate sites. Providers can still use blunt tools such as IP-address blocking, but that could become troublesome when sites move to shared IP-addresses. 

While this sounds problematic for site blocking efforts worldwide, it’s not a major issue just yet. Support from browsers and network providers is still limited, and site owners don’t appear to see this as a priority either.

For example, when we try to bypass the Pirate Bay blockade with both encrypted DNS and SNI, as well as support for DNSSEC and TLS 1.3, it still doesn’t work. Although The Pirate Bay uses Cloudflare’s compatible network, the domain doesn’t support DNSSEC, which is another requirement. 

The effectiveness will, of course, rely on which blocking methods an ISP uses, but on the more aggressive ones, a lot of boxes have to be ticked in order to effectively bypass a thorough website blockade. 

That said, it is still early days, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see site operators and users fiddling around with this in the future. Meanwhile, other blocking-busters such as VPNs and the Tor browser remain an option as well.

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

Pirate Site Blocking Efforts Expand to Ecuador

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-efforts-expand-to-ecuador-190611/

Well over a decade ago copyright holders first went to court to block a pirate site. The target in this initial case, which took place in Denmark, was the Russian MP3 ‘store’ AllofMP3. 

The court eventually ordered local ISPs to block the site and soon after similar requests were made in countries all around the world.

Earlier this year, the Motion Picture Association reported that 4,000 websites have been blocked in 31 countries over the past several years. As rightsholders see blocking as an effective means to hinder pirates the list continues to expand, with the South American country Ecuador as the latest addition.

Late last week Ecuador’s National Intellectual Property Service (SENADI) issued an administrative order requiring Internet providers to block subscribers from accessing several Rojadirecta websites. 

As one of the oldest and most prominent live streaming sites, Rojadirecta is a thorn in the side of many international sports organizations. In this case, the blocking order was requested by Fox Latin America and Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional.

The blocking order requires local Internet providers to block a total of five domain names; Rojadiretahd.online, Rojadirectatv.football, Rojadirectatv.tv, Rojadirecta.online and Rojadirecta-tv.me.

The blocking order

This is the first blocking order of this kind in Ecuador that we’re aware of. According to reports, some ISPs are using DNS blockades, which are relatively easy to circumvent, but more evasive techniques are being utilized as well. 

Opponents of the blocking measures complain that they violate freedom of expression. They fear that more blocking efforts will follow, without proper judicial oversight. 

That said, SENADI’s order has a clear legal basis. The measure is permitted under the Organic Code on the Social Economy of Knowledge, Creativity and Innovation. In this case, ISPs were required to take action before June 6th, or face criminal liabilities.

Interestingly, the list of targeted “Rojadirecta” domains doesn’t include the official website, which operates from Rojadirecta.me. Instead, it appears to be targeted at third-party sites that use the same name.

At the time of writing Rojadirectatv.football is redirecting to Rojadirectaonline.biz, possibly in an attempt to circumvent the blocking efforts. Rojadiretahd.online and Rojadirecta.online have stopped working entirely, as these domains were suspended by the domain name registrar.

A copy of SENADI’s blocking order is available here (pdf).

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Bell Wants Canada to Criminalize Pirate Streaming Services

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bell-wants-canada-to-criminalize-pirate-streaming-services-190530/

To ensure that the Internet is able to function to the benefit of the broader public, the Government of Canada appointed an external panel to review Canada’s communications legislative framework. 

The panel is expected to release its findings next month, which will in part be based on input received from public submissions earlier this year. 

Thus far, most submissions have surprisingly been kept from public view. However, University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist filed an Access to Information Act request and will publish the responses he receives. The first one comes from Canadian telco Bell and stretches to 167 pages.

Bell’s submission deals with a wide variety of topics ranging from online video regulations to online privacy requirements. For the purposes of this article, however, we focus on the company’s suggestions when it comes to piracy and copyright infringement.

One of the Government’s prime policy priorities, according to Bell, should be to combat content piracy.  

“Canadian creators, the Canadian broadcasting system, and the Canadian
telecommunications system do not have effective tools to protect the content that is central to the creative and digital economy against the rampant growth of digital piracy,” Bell writes.

The submission goes on to cite various piracy studies that support this claim. It reports, for example, that 26% of all Canadians admit to having accessed pirated content online. In addition, it mentions that 15.3% of all Canadian households use set-top-boxes with piracy add-ons or access piracy subscription services. 

According to Bell, now is the time to address the online piracy issue and it provides two concrete proposals. The first one is aimed at tackling pirate online streaming services, including the previously mentioned streaming sites and set-top boxes. 

Bell equates this relatively new type of piracy to the boom in black market satellite piracy roughly three decades ago. At the time, lawmakers responded by updating the Radiocommunication Act to criminalize the decoding of encrypted signals and the possession and sale of devices intended for that purpose.

“This stimulated law enforcement activity in the area of satellite piracy, which contributed to the investigation and shutting down of piracy operations and also had a significant deterrent effect,” Bell notes.

The telco stresses that a similar response is now required to deal with the online streaming epidemic. Most pirate streaming services no longer rely on encryption but are based on rebroadcasting content over the Internet instead. 

This type of streaming activity should be criminalized in the Broadcasting Act, Bell recommends. Not just the services and sites that do the ‘broadcasting,’ but also people who advertise or sell related products.  

“Accordingly, we recommend that a provision be added to the Broadcasting Act making it a criminal offense for anyone subject to an exemption from the requirement to hold a license to knowingly operate, advertise, supply, or sell or offer to sell access to a distribution undertaking that retransmits broadcasting without lawful authorization from a programming undertaking.”

Criminalize

“Such an approach would concentrate criminal liability on commercially-motivated operators engaged in organized crime and would stimulate additional law enforcement activity to address this pressing threat,” Bell adds.

This measure doesn’t appear to be aimed at end-users but will certainly affect pirate streaming sites, vendors of pirate set-top boxes, as well as those who promote them.

The second anti-piracy proposal put forward by Bell is to make it possible for ISPs to block pirate sites more easily. This is the same plan proposed by Fairplay Canada Coalition last year, but with a twist. 

“By far the most important tool that modernized legislation should adopt is the ability for an independent authority to grant orders requiring all Internet service providers (ISPs) to disable access to sites that are blatantly, structurally, or overwhelmingly engaged in piracy,” Bell writes.

This Fairplay blocking proposal was denied by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) last fall, which noted that it lacks jurisdiction. According to Bell, this is something the Government could change through an update of the Telecommunications Act.

Specifically, it wants the Government to amend current legislation to authorize the CRTC to approve and require Internet providers to disable access to sites that are blatantly, overwhelmingly, or structurally engaged in piracy. 

That blocking is not a perfect solution, shouldn’t matter. Even a partial reduction in traffic to pirate sites, as has happened in other countries, should already be rather effective, Bell argues.

“A policy that reduces the total level of piracy by up to 40% from the level that would otherwise have prevailed, and that substantially increases the legal consumption of content, can only be considered incredibly effective. The fact that it does not eliminate 100% of piracy is not a justification for inaction,” the telco writes.

Website blocking also finds support in a separate submission from Shaw Communications, another major Canadian telco.  Similar to Bell, Shaw believes that an update to the Copyright Act is required to achieve that. The company, however, rejects a proposal to tax ISP subscriptions to support copyright holders.

By criminalizing pirate streaming services and blocking pirate sites, Bell hopes to make a significant dent in Canada’s piracy rates. Whether the government’s expert panel will adopt these recommendations has yet to be seen. 

Many copyright holders are likely to side with Bell,  but there is plenty of opposition as well. Michael Geist, for example, characterizes Bell’s submission as “self-serving in the extreme,” noting that it poses shocking risks to many stakeholders in Canada’s communication industry.

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Majority of Canadians Consume Online Content Legally, Survey Finds

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/majority-of-canadians-consume-online-content-legally-survey-finds-180531/

Back in January, a coalition of companies and organizations with ties to the entertainment industries called on local telecoms regulator CRTC to implement a national website blocking regime.

Under the banner of Fairplay Canada, members including Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media, spoke of an industry under threat from marauding pirates. But just how serious is this threat?

The results of a new survey commissioned by Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) aims to shine light on the problem by revealing the online content consumption habits of citizens in the Great White North.

While there are interesting findings for those on both sides of the site-blocking debate, the situation seems somewhat removed from the Armageddon scenario predicted by the entertainment industries.

Carried out among 3,301 Canadians aged 12 years and over, the Kantar TNS study aims to cover copyright infringement in six key content areas – music, movies, TV shows, video games, computer software, and eBooks. Attitudes and behaviors are also touched upon while measuring the effectiveness of Canada’s copyright measures.

General Digital Content Consumption

In its introduction, the report notes that 28 million Canadians used the Internet in the three-month study period to November 27, 2017. Of those, 22 million (80%) consumed digital content. Around 20 million (73%) streamed or accessed content, 16 million (59%) downloaded content, while 8 million (28%) shared content.

Music, TV shows and movies all battled for first place in the consumption ranks, with 48%, 48%, and 46% respectively.

Copyright Infringement

According to the study, the majority of Canadians do things completely by the book. An impressive 74% of media-consuming respondents said that they’d only accessed material from legal sources in the preceding three months.

The remaining 26% admitted to accessing at least one illegal file in the same period. Of those, just 5% said that all of their consumption was from illegal sources, with movies (36%), software (36%), TV shows (34%) and video games (33%) the most likely content to be consumed illegally.

Interestingly, the study found that few demographic factors – such as gender, region, rural and urban, income, employment status and language – play a role in illegal content consumption.

“We found that only age and income varied significantly between consumers who infringed by downloading or streaming/accessing content online illegally and consumers who did not consume infringing content online,” the report reads.

“More specifically, the profile of consumers who downloaded or streamed/accessed infringing content skewed slightly younger and towards individuals with household incomes of $100K+.”

Licensed services much more popular than pirate haunts

It will come as no surprise that Netflix was the most popular service with consumers, with 64% having used it in the past three months. Sites like YouTube and Facebook were a big hit too, visited by 36% and 28% of content consumers respectively.

Overall, 74% of online content consumers use licensed services for content while 42% use social networks. Under a third (31%) use a combination of peer-to-peer (BitTorrent), cyberlocker platforms, or linking sites. Stream-ripping services are used by 9% of content consumers.

“Consumers who reported downloading or streaming/accessing infringing content only are less likely to use licensed services and more likely to use peer-to-peer/cyberlocker/linking sites than other consumers of online content,” the report notes.

Attitudes towards legal consumption & infringing content

In common with similar surveys over the years, the Kantar research looked at the reasons why people consume content from various sources, both legal and otherwise.

Convenience (48%), speed (36%) and quality (34%) were the most-cited reasons for using legal sources. An interesting 33% of respondents said they use legal sites to avoid using illegal sources.

On the illicit front, 54% of those who obtained unauthorized content in the previous three months said they did so due to it being free, with 40% citing convenience and 34% mentioning speed.

Almost six out of ten (58%) said lower costs would encourage them to switch to official sources, with 47% saying they’d move if legal availability was improved.

Canada’s ‘Notice-and-Notice’ warning system

People in Canada who share content on peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent without permission run the risk of receiving an infringement notice warning them to stop. These are sent by copyright holders via users’ ISPs and the hope is that the shock of receiving a warning will turn consumers back to the straight and narrow.

The study reveals that 10% of online content consumers over the age of 12 have received one of these notices but what kind of effect have they had?

“Respondents reported that receiving such a notice resulted in the following: increased awareness of copyright infringement (38%), taking steps to ensure password protected home networks (27%), a household discussion about copyright infringement (27%), and discontinuing illegal downloading or streaming (24%),” the report notes.

While these are all positives for the entertainment industries, Kantar reports that almost a quarter (24%) of people who receive a notice simply ignore them.

Stream-ripping

Once upon a time, people obtaining music via P2P networks was cited as the music industry’s greatest threat but, with the advent of sites like YouTube, so-called stream-ripping is the latest bogeyman.

According to the study, 11% of Internet users say they’ve used a stream-ripping service. They are most likely to be male (62%) and predominantly 18 to 34 (52%) years of age.

“Among Canadians who have used a service to stream-rip music or entertainment, nearly half (48%) have used stream-ripping sites, one-third have used downloader apps (38%), one-in-seven (14%) have used a stream-ripping plug-in, and one-in-ten (10%) have used stream-ripping software,” the report adds.

Set-Top Boxes and VPNs

Few general piracy studies would be complete in 2018 without touching on set-top devices and Virtual Private Networks and this report doesn’t disappoint.

More than one in five (21%) respondents aged 12+ reported using a VPN, with the main purpose of securing communications and Internet browsing (57%).

A relatively modest 36% said they use a VPN to access free content while 32% said the aim was to access geo-blocked content unavailable in Canada. Just over a quarter (27%) said that accessing content from overseas at a reasonable price was the main motivator.

One in ten (10%) of respondents reported using a set-top box, with 78% stating they use them to access paid-for content. Interestingly, only a small number say they use the devices to infringe.

“A minority use set-top boxes to access other content that is not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (16%), or to access live sports that are not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (11%),” the report notes.

“Individuals who consumed a mix of legal and illegal content online are more likely to use VPN services (42%) or TV set-top boxes (21%) than consumers who only downloaded or streamed/accessed legal content.”

Kantar says that the findings of the report will be used to help policymakers evaluate how Canada’s Copyright Act is coping with a changing market and technological developments.

“This research will provide the necessary information required to further develop copyright policy in Canada, as well as to provide a foundation to assess the effectiveness of the measures to address copyright infringement, should future analysis be undertaken,” it concludes.

The full report can be found here (pdf)

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Police Launch Investigation into Huge Pirate Manga Site Mangamura

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-launch-investigation-into-huge-pirate-manga-site-mangamura-180514/

Back in March, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government was considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites.

While protecting all content is the overall aim, it became clear that the government was determined to protect Japan’s successful manga and anime industries.

It didn’t take long for a reaction. On Friday April 13, the government introduced emergency website blocking measures, seeking cooperation from the country’s ISPs.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., quickly announced they would block three leading pirate sites – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a huge following in Japan. However, after taking the country by storm during the past two years, Mangamura had already called it quits.

On April 17, in the wake of the government announcement, Mangamura disappeared. It’s unclear whether its vanishing act was directly connected to recent developments but a program on national public broadcasting organization NHK, which claimed to have traced the site’s administrators back to the United States, Ukraine, and other regions, can’t have helped.

Further details released this morning reveal the intense pressure Mangamura was under. With 100 million visits a month it was bound to attract attention and according to Mainichi, several publishing giants ran out of patience last year and reported the platform to the authorities.

Kodansha, Japan’s largest publisher, and three other companies filed criminal complaints with Fukuoka Prefectural Police, Oita Prefectural Police, and other law enforcement departments, claiming the site violated their rights.

“The complaints, which were lodged against an unknown suspect or suspects, were filed on behalf of manga artists who are copyright holders to the pirated works, including Hajime Isayama and Eiichiro Oda, known for their wildly popular ‘Shingeki no Kyojin’ (‘Attack on Titan,’ published by Kodansha) and ‘One Piece’ (Shueisha Inc.), respectively,” the publication reports.

Mangamura launch in January 2016 and became a huge hit in Japan. Anti-piracy group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), which counts publishing giant Kodansha among its members, reports that between September 2017 and February 2018, the site was accessed 620 million times.

Based on a “one visit, one manga title read” formula, CODA estimates that the site caused damages to the manga industry of 319.2 billion yen – around US$2.91 billion.

As a result, police are now stepping up their efforts to identify Mangamura’s operators. Whether that will prove fruitful will remain to be seen but in the meantime, Japan’s site-blocking efforts continue to cause controversy.

As reported last month, lawyer and NTT customer Yuichi Nakazawa launched legal action against NTT, demanding that the corporation immediately end its site-blocking operations.

“NTT’s decision was made arbitrarily on the site without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous,” Nakazawa told TorrentFreak.

“I felt that ‘freedom,’ which is an important value of the Internet, was threatened. Actually, when the interruption of communications had begun, the company thought it would be impossible to reverse the situation, so I filed a lawsuit at this stage.”

Japan’s Constitution and its Telecommunications Business Act both have “no censorship” clauses, meaning that site-blocking has the potential to be ruled illegal. It’s also illegal in Japan to invade the privacy of Internet users’ communications, which some observers have argued is necessary if users are to be prevented from accessing pirate sites.

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Bell/TSN Letter to University Connects Site-Blocking Support to Students’ Futures

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bell-tsn-letter-to-university-connects-site-blocking-support-to-students-futures-180510/

In January, a coalition of Canadian companies called on local telecoms regulator CRTC to implement a website-blocking regime in Canada.

The coalition, Fairplay Canada, is a collection of organizations and companies with ties to the entertainment industries and includes Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media. Its stated aim is to address Canada’s online piracy problems.

While CTRC reviews FairPlay Canada’s plans, the coalition has been seeking to drum up support for the blocking regime, encouraging a diverse range of supporters to send submissions endorsing the project. Of course, building a united front among like-minded groups is nothing out of the ordinary but a situation just uncovered by Canadian law Professor Micheal Geist, one of the most vocal opponents of the proposed scheme, is bound to raise eyebrows.

Geist discovered a submission by Brian Hutchings, who works as Vice-President, Administration at Brock University in Ontario. Dated March 22, 2018, it notes that one of the university’s most sought-after programs is Sports Management, which helps Brock’s students to become “the lifeblood” of Canada’s sport and entertainment industries.

“Our University is deeply alarmed at how piracy is eroding an industry that employs so many of our co-op students and graduates. Piracy is a serious, pervasive threat that steals creativity, undermines investment in content development and threatens the survival of an industry that is also part of our national identity,” the submission reads.

“Brock ardently supports the FairPlay Canada coalition of more than 25 organizations involved in every aspect of Canada’s film, TV, radio, sports entertainment and music industries. Specifically, we support the coalition’s request that the CRTC introduce rules that would disable access in Canada to the most egregious piracy sites, similar to measures that have been taken in the UK, France and Australia. We are committed to assist the members of the coalition and the CRTC in eliminating the theft of digital content.”

The letter leaves no doubt that Brock University as a whole stands side-by-side with Fairplay Canada but according to a subsequent submission signed by Michelle Webber, President, Brock University Faculty Association (BUFA), nothing could be further from the truth.

Noting that BUFA unanimously supports the position of the Canadian Association of University Teachers which opposes the FairPlay proposal, Webber adds that BUFA stands in opposition to the submission by Brian Hutchings on behalf of Brock University.

“Vice President Hutching’s intervention was undertaken without consultation with the wider Brock University community, including faculty, librarians, and Senate; therefore, his submission should not be seen as indicative of the views of Brock University as a whole.”

BUFA goes on to stress the importance of an open Internet to researchers and educators while raising concerns that the blocking proposals could threaten the principles of net neutrality in Canada.

While the undermining of Hutching’s position is embarrassing enough, via access to information laws Geist has also been able to reveal the chain of events that prompted the Vice-President to write a letter of support on behalf of the whole university.

It began with an email sent by former Brock professor Cheri Bradish to Mark Milliere, TSN’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, with Hutchings copied in. The idea was to connect the pair, with the suggestion that supporting the site-blocking plan would help to mitigate the threat to “future work options” for students.

What followed was a direct email from Mark Milliere to Brian Hutchings, in which the former laid out the contributions his company makes to the university, while again suggesting that support for site-blocking would be in the long-term interests of students seeking employment in the industry.

On March 23, Milliere wrote to Hutchings again, thanking him for “a terrific letter” and stating that “If you need anything from TSN, just ask.”

This isn’t the first time that Bell has asked those beholden to the company to support its site-blocking plans.

Back in February it was revealed that the company had asked its own employees to participate in the site-blocking submission process, without necessarily revealing their affiliations with the company.

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Japan ISP Says it Will Voluntarily Block Pirate Sites as Major Portal Disappears

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/japan-isp-says-it-will-voluntarily-block-pirate-sites-as-major-portal-disappears-180424/

Speaking at a news conference during March, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government was considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites. The country’s manga and anime industries were treasures worth protecting, Suga said.

“The damage is getting worse. We are considering the possibilities of all measures including site blocking. I would like to take countermeasures as soon as possible under the cooperation of the relevant ministries and agencies,” he added.

But with no specific legislation that allows for site-blocking, particularly not on copyright infringement grounds, it appeared that Japan might face an uphill struggle. Indeed, the country’s constitution supports freedom of speech and expressly forbids censorship. Earlier this month, however, matters quickly began to progress.

On Friday April 13, the government said it would introduce an emergency measure to target websites hosting pirated manga, anime and other types of content. It would not force ISPs to comply with its blocking requests but would simply ask for their assistance instead.

The aim was to establish cooperation in advance of an expansion of legislation later this year which was originally introduced to tackle the menace of child pornography.

“Our country’s content industry could be denied a future if manga artists and other creators are robbed of proceeds that should go to them,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The government didn’t have to wait long for a response. The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT) announced yesterday that it will begin blocking access to sites that provide unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

“We have taken short-term emergency measures until legal systems on site-blocking are implemented,” NTT in a statement.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., will block access to three sites previously identified by the government – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a particularly large following in Japan.

NTT said that it will also restrict access to other sites if requested to do so by the government. The company added that at least in the short-term, it will prevent access to the sites using DNS blocking.

While Anitube and MioMio will be blocked in due course, Mangamura has already disappeared from the Internet. The site was reportedly attracting 100 million visits per month but on April 17 went offline following an apparent voluntary shutdown by its administrators.

AnimeNewsNetwork notes that a news program on NHK dedicated to Mangamura aired last Wednesday. A second episode will reportedly focus on the site’s administrators which NHK claims can be traced back to the United States, Ukraine, and other regions. Whether this exposé played a part in the site’s closure is unclear but that kind of publicity is rarely welcome in the piracy scene.

To date, just three sites have been named by the government as particularly problematic but it’s now promising to set up a consultation on a further response. A bill will also be submitted to parliament to target sites that promote links to content hosted elsewhere, an activity which is not illegal under current law.

Two other major access providers in Japan, KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp., have told local media that their plans to block pirate sites have not yet been finalized.

“The fact that neglecting the situation of infringement of copyright etc. cannot be overlooked is recognized and it is recognized as an important problem to be addressed urgently,” Softbank said in a statement.

“However, since there is concern that blocking infringes secrecy of communications, we need careful discussion. We would like to collaborate with industry organizations involved in telecommunications and consider measures that can be taken from various viewpoints, such as laws, institutions, and operation methods.”

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Registrars Suspend 11 Pirate Site Domains, 89 More in the Crosshairs

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/registrars-suspend-11-pirate-site-domains-89-more-in-the-crosshairs-180423/

In addition to website blocking which is running rampant across dozens of countries right now, targeting the domains of pirate sites is considered to be a somewhat effective anti-piracy tool.

The vast majority of websites are found using a recognizable name so when they become inaccessible, site operators have to work quickly to get the message out to fans. That can mean losing visitors, at least in the short term, and also contributes to the rise of copy-cat sites that may not have users’ best interests at heart.

Nevertheless, crime-fighting has always been about disrupting the ability of the enemy to do business so with this in mind, authorities in India began taking advice from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) a couple of years ago.

After studying the model developed by PIPCU, India formed its Digital Crime Unit (DCU), which follows a multi-stage plan.

Initially, pirate sites and their partners are told to cease-and-desist. Next, complaints are filed with advertisers, who are asked to stop funding site activities. Service providers and domain registrars also receive a written complaint from the DCU, asking them to suspend services to the sites in question.

Last July, the DCU earmarked around 9,000 sites where pirated content was being made available. From there, 1,300 were placed on a shortlist for targeted action. Precisely how many have been contacted thus far is unclear but authorities are now reporting success.

According to local reports, the Maharashtra government’s Digital Crime Unit has managed to have 11 pirate site domains suspended following complaints from players in the entertainment industry.

As is often the case (and to avoid them receiving even more attention) the sites in question aren’t being named but according to Brijesh Singh, special Inspector General of Police in Maharashtra, the sites had a significant number of visitors.

Their domain registrars were sent a notice under Section 149 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure, which grants police the power to take preventative action when a crime is suspected. It’s yet to be confirmed officially but it seems likely that pirate sites utilizing local registrars were targeted by the authorities.

“Responding to our notice, the domain names of all these websites, that had a collective viewership of over 80 million, were suspended,” Singh said.

Laxman Kamble, a police inspector attached to the state government’s Cyber Cell, said the pilot project was launched after the government received complaints from Viacom and Star but back in January there were reports that the MPAA had also become involved.

Using the model pioneered by London’s PIPCU, 19 parameters were applied to list of pirate sites in order to place them on the shortlist. They are reported to include the type of content being uploaded, downloaded, and the number of downloads overall.

Kamble reports that a further 89 websites, that have domains registered abroad but are very popular in India, are now being targeted. Whether overseas registrars will prove as compliant will remain to be seen. After booking initial success, even PIPCU itself experienced problems keeping up the momentum with registrars.

In 2014, information obtained by TorrentFreak following a Freedom of Information request revealed that only five out of 70 domain registrars had complied with police requests to suspend domains.

A year later, PIPCU confirmed that suspending pirate domain names was no longer a priority for them after ICANN ruled that registrars don’t have to suspend domain names without a valid court order.

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