Tag Archives: Stream ripping

MP3 Stream Rippers Are Not Illegal Sites, EFF Tells US Government

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mp3-stream-rippers-are-not-illegal-sites-eff-tells-us-government-171021/

Free music is easy to find nowadays. Just head over to YouTube and you can find millions of tracks including many of the most recent releases.

While some artists happily share their work, the major record labels don’t want tracks to leak outside YouTube’s ecosystem. For this reason, they want YouTube to MP3 rippers shut down.

Earlier this month, the RIAA sent its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), highlighting several of these sites and asking for help.

“The overall popularity of these sites and the staggering volume of traffic it attracts evidences the enormous damage being inflicted on the U.S. record industry,” the RIAA wrote, calling out Mp3juices.cc, Convert2mp3.net, Savefrom.net, Ytmp3.cc, Convertmp3.io, Flvto.biz, and 2conv.com as the most popular offenders.

This position is shared by many other music industry groups. They see stream ripping as the largest piracy threat online. After shutting down YouTube-MP3, they hope to topple other sites as well, ideally with the backing of the US Government.

However, not everyone shares the belief that stream ripping equals copyright infringement.

In a rebuttal, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) informs the USTR that the RIAA is trying to twist the law in its favor. Not all stream ripping sites are facilitating copyright infringement by definition, the EFF argues.

“RIAA’s discussion of ‘stream-ripping’ websites misstates copyright law. Websites that simply allow users to extract the audio track from a user-selected online video are not ‘illegal sites’ and are not liable for copyright infringement, unless they engage in additional conduct that meets the definition of infringement,” the EFF writes.

Flvto

While some people may use these sites to ‘pirate’ tracks there are also legitimate purposes, the digital rights group notes. Some creators specifically allow others to download and modify their work, for example, and in other cases ripping can be seen as fair use.

“There exists a vast and growing volume of online video that is licensed for free downloading and modification, or contains audio tracks that are not subject to copyright,” the EFF stresses.

“Moreover, many audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe.”

The fact that these sites generate revenue from advertising doesn’t make them illegal either. While there are some issues that could make a site liable, such as distributing infringing content to third parties, the EFF argues that many of the sites identified by the RIAA are not clearly involved in such activities.

Instead of solely relying on the characterizations of the RIAA, the US Government should judge these sites independently, in accordance with the law.

“USTR must apply U.S. law as it is, not as particular industry organizations wish it to be. Accordingly, it is inappropriate to describe ‘stream-ripping’ sites as engaging in or facilitating infringement. That logic would discourage U.S. firms from providing many forms of useful, lawful technology that processes or interacts with copyrighted work in digital form, to the detriment of U.S. trade,” the EFF concludes.

It is worth highlighting that most sites the RIAA mentioned specifically advertise themselves as YouTube converters. While this violates YouTube’s Terms of Service, something the streaming platform isn’t happy with, it doesn’t automatically classify them as infringing services.

Ideally, the RIAA and other music industry group would like YouTube to shut down these sites but if that doesn’t happen, more lawsuits may follow in the future. Then, the claims from both sides can be properly tested in court.

The full EFF response is available here (pdf). In addition to the stream ripping comments, the digital rights group also defends CDN providers such as Cloudflare, reverse proxies, and domain registrars from MPAA and RIAA piracy complaints.

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

RIAA Identifies Top YouTube MP3 Rippers and Other Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-identifies-top-youtube-mp3-rippers-and-other-pirate-sites-171006/

Around the same time as Hollywood’s MPAA, the RIAA has also submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

These submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement.

The RIAA’s overview begins positively, announcing two major successes achieved over the past year.

The first is the shutdown of sites such as Emp3world, AudioCastle, Viperial, Album Kings, and im1music. These sites all used the now-defunct Sharebeast platform, whose operator pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement.

Another victory followed a few weeks ago when YouTube-MP3.org shut down its services after being sued by the RIAA.

“The most popular YouTube ripping site, youtube-mp3.org, based in Germany and included in last year’s list of notorious markes [sic], recently shut down in response to a civil action brought by major record labels,” the RIAA writes.

This case also had an effect on similar services. Some stream ripping services that were reported to the USTR last year no longer permit the conversion and download of music videos on YouTube, the RIAA reports. However, they add that the problem is far from over.

“Unfortunately, several other stream-ripping sites have ‘doubled down’ and carry on in this illegal behavior, continuing to make this form of theft a major concern for the music industry,” the music group writes.

“The overall popularity of these sites and the staggering volume of traffic it attracts evidences the enormous damage being inflicted on the U.S. record industry.”

The music industry group is tracking more than 70 of these stream ripping sites and the most popular ones are listed in the overview of notorious markets. These are Mp3juices.cc, Convert2mp3.net, Savefrom.net, Ytmp3.cc, Convertmp3.io, Flvto.biz, and 2conv.com.

Youtube2mp3’s listing

The RIAA notes that many sites use domain privacy services to hide their identities, as well as Cloudflare to obscure the sites’ true hosting locations. This frustrates efforts to take action against these sites, they say.

Popular torrent sites are also highlighted, including The Pirate Bay. These sites regularly change domain names to avoid ISP blockades and domain seizures, and also use Cloudflare to hide their hosting location.

“BitTorrent sites, like many other pirate sites, are increasing [sic] turning to Cloudflare because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site.”

Finally, the RIAA reports several emerging threats reported to the Government. Third party app stores, such as DownloadAtoZ.com, reportedly offer a slew of infringing apps. In addition, there’s a boom of Nigerian pirate sites that flood the market with free music.

“The number of such infringing sites with a Nigerian operator stands at over 200. Their primary method of promotion is via Twitter, and most sites make use of the Nigerian operated ISP speedhost247.com,” the report notes

The full list of RIAA’s “notorious” pirate sites, which also includes several cyberlockers, MP3 search and download sites, as well as unlicensed pay services, can be found below. The full report is available here (pdf).

Stream-Ripping Sites

– Mp3juices.cc
– Convert2mp3.net
– Savefrom.net
– Ytmp3.cc
– Convertmp3.io
– Flvto.biz
– 2conv.com.

Search-and-Download Sites

– Newalbumreleases.net
– Rnbxclusive.top
– DNJ.to

BitTorrent Indexing and Tracker Sites

– Thepiratebay.org
– Torrentdownloads.me
– Rarbg.to
– 1337x.to

Cyberlockers

– 4shared.com
– Uploaded.net
– Zippyshare.com
– Rapidgator.net
– Dopefile.pk
– Chomikuj.pl

Unlicensed Pay-for-Download Sites

– Mp3va.com
– Mp3fiesta.com

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

Stream Ripping Piracy Goes From Bad to Worse, Music Industry Reports

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/stream-ripping-piracy-goes-from-bad-to-worse-music-industry-reports-170919/

Free music is easy to find nowadays. Just head over to YouTube and you can find millions of tracks including many of the most recent releases.

While the music industry profits from the advertisements on many of these videos, it’s not happy with the current state of affairs. Record labels complain about a “value gap” and go as far as accusing the video streaming platform of operating a DMCA protection racket.

YouTube doesn’t agree with this stance and points to the billions of dollars it pays copyright holders. Still, the music industry is far from impressed.

Today, IFPI has released a new music consumer insight report that highlights this issue once again, while pointing out that YouTube accounts for more than half of all music video streaming.

“User upload services, such as YouTube, are heavily used by music consumers and yet do not return fair value to those who are investing in and creating the music. The Value Gap remains the single biggest threat facing the music world today and we are campaigning for a legislative solution,” IFPI CEO Frances Moore writes.

The report also zooms in on piracy and “stream ripping” in particular, which is another YouTube and Google related issue. While this phenomenon is over a decade old, it’s now the main source of music piracy, the report states.

A survey conducted in the world’s leading music industry markets reveals that 35% of all Internet users are stream rippers, up from 30% last year. In total, 40% of all respondents admitted to obtaining unlicensed music.

35% stream ripping (source IFPI)

This means that the vast majority of all music pirates use stream ripping tools. This practice is particularly popular among those in the youngest age group, where more than half of all Internet users admit to ripping music, and it goes down as age increases.

Adding another stab at Google, the report further notes that more than half of all pirates use the popular search engine to find unlicensed music.

Stream rippers are young (source IFPI)

TorrentFreak spoke to former RIAA executive Neil Turkewitz, who has been very vocal about the stream ripping problem. He now heads his own consulting group that focuses on expanding economic cultural prosperity, particularly online.

Stream ripping is a “double whammy,” Turkewitz says, as it’s undermining both streaming and distribution markets. This affects the bottom line of labels and artists, so YouTube should do more to block stream rippers and converters from exploiting the service.

“YouTube and Alphabet talk of their commitment to expanding opportunities for creators. This is an opportunity to prove it,” Turkewitz informs TF.

“Surely the company that, as Eric Schmidt likes to say, ‘knows what people want before they know it’ has the capacity to develop tools to address problems that inhibit the development of a robust online market that sustains creators.”

While stream ripping remains rampant, there is a positive development the music industry can cling to.

Two weeks ago the major record labels managed to take down YouTube-MP3, the largest ripping site of all. While this is a notable success, there are many sites and tools like it that continue business as usual.

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

Music Industry Urges YouTube to Block Stream Rippers

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/music-industry-urges-youtube-to-block-stream-rippers-170911/

With over a billion users, YouTube is the largest video portal on the Internet.

The site is a blessing to thousands of content creators, but there are also concerns among rightsholders. The music industry, in particular, is not happy with the fact that music can easily be ripped from the site through external services.

Last week the major record labels managed to take out YouTube-MP3, the largest ripping site of all. Still, there are many like it that continue business as usual. For many music industry insiders, who see streamripping as one of the largest piracy threats, this is a constant source of frustration.

In the UK, music industry group BPI worked hard to tackle the issue proactively. Last year the organization already signed an agreement with YouTube-MP3 to block UK traffic. This limited the availability of the site locally, but the group believes that YouTube itself should take responsibility as well.

Geoff Taylor, BPI’s Chief Executive, tells TorrentFreak that they, and several other industry groups, have asked YouTube to step up to help solve this problem.

“BPI and other music industry bodies have been urging YouTube for several years to take effective action to block access to its servers for stream ripping sites, which infringe copyright on a huge scale and also breach YouTube’s terms of service.

“There are more steps YouTube could take to prevent stream ripping but so far the music community has been forced to pursue the stream ripping sites directly,” Taylor adds.

BPI is not alone in its criticism. After we broke the story last Monday, many reports followed, including an opinion piece on the industry outlet Hypebot asking why YouTube didn’t take more responsibility. In the comment section, long-time RIAA executive Neil Turkewitz, who left the organization a few weeks ago, came in with a strong opinion.

“This is something that Google/YouTube should have handled on its own. They were well aware of it, and didn’t need RIAA to step up to identify it as problematic,” Turkewitz notes.

The former RIAA exec speaks freely on the issue in his new role. He is now the head of his own Turkewitz Consulting Group, which fittingly focuses on expanding accountability in the Internet ecosystem.

“I should add, sadly, that Google is still steering people to stream rippers through auto-complete. If you search ‘YouTube,’ one of the first auto-complete recommendations you get is “YouTube to MP3!” Turkewitz states.

“C’mon Google, what’s with that? Not only have they not disabled access to available stream rippers, but they are driving traffic to them. That is inexcusable,” he adds.

Google’s “suggestions”

In YouTube’s defense, the company isn’t completely apathetic when it comes to the stream-ripping problem. They have threatened legal action against YouTube-MP3 and similar sites in the past and implemented some restrictive measures. Still, they never went to court and, restrictions or not, the problem didn’t go away.

TorrentFreak contacted YouTube to hear their stance on the issue, but at the time of publication we haven’t heard back.

While many of the frustrations are not played out in public, it is clear that the stream-ripping problems further complicate the relationship between the labels and YouTube’s parent company Google.

In recent years, rightsholders have called out Google on many occasions over copyright-infringing content on YouTube, in their search engine results, and on their cloud hosting services. While the company has made several changes to accommodate the concerns, the critique hasn’t gone away.

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

YouTube-MP3 Settles With RIAA, Site Will Shut Down

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-mp3-settles-with-riaa-site-will-shut-down-170904/

With millions of visitors per day, YouTube-MP3.org is one of the most visited websites on the Internet.

The site allows its visitors to convert YouTube videos to MP3 files, which they can then listen to where and whenever they want. The music industry sees such “stream ripping” sites as a serious threat to its revenues, worse than traditional pirate sites.

In an attempt to do something about it, a coalition of record labels, represented by the RIAA, took YouTube-MP3 to court last year.

A complaint filed in a California federal court accused the site’s operator of various types of copyright infringement. In addition, the labels accused the site of circumventing YouTube’s copying protection mechanism, violating the DMCA.

“Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the [YouTube-MP3] website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants,” the labels complained.

Today, a year later, both parties have settled their differences. While there haven’t been many updates in the court docket, a recent filing states that both parties have agreed to a settlement.

The details of the deal are not public, but YouTube-MP3 is willing to take all the blame. In a proposed final judgment, both parties ask the court to rule in favor of the labels on all counts of the complaint. In addition, the site’s owner Philip Matesanz agreed to pay a settlement amount.

On all counts

In addition to the order, a proposed injunction will prohibit the site’s operator from “knowingly designing, developing, offering, or operating any technology or service that allows or facilitates the practice commonly known as “streamripping,” or any other type of copyright infringement for that matter.

This injunction, which RIAA and YouTube-MP3 both agreed on, also states that the site’s domain name will be handed over to one of the record labels.

“Defendants are ordered to transfer the domain name www.youtube-mp3.org to the Plaintiff identified in, and in accordance with the terms of, the confidential Settlement Agreement among the parties,” it reads.

If the owner refuses to comply, the registrar will be ordered to sign over the domain name, which means that there’s no escaping.

While the court has yet to sign the proposed judgment and injunction (pdf), it is clear that YouTube-MP3 has thrown in the towel and will shut down. At the time of writing the site remains online, but this likely won’t be for long.

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

Hardcore UK Pirates Dwindle But Illegal Streaming Poses New Threat

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hardcore-uk-pirates-dwindle-but-illegal-streaming-poses-new-threat-170707/

For as many years as ‘pirate’ services have been online it has been clear that licensed services need to aggressively compete to stay in the game.

Both the music and movie industries were initially slow to get off the mark but in recent years the position has changed. Licensed services such as Spotify and Netflix are now household names and doing well, even among people who have traditionally consumed illicit content.

This continuing trend was highlighted again this morning in a press release by the UK’s Intellectual Property Office. In a fairly upbeat tone, the IPO notes that innovative streaming models offered by both Netflix and Spotify are helping to keep online infringement stable in the UK.

“The Online Copyright Infringement (OCI) Tracker, commissioned by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), has revealed that 15 per cent of UK internet users, approximately 7 million people, either stream or download material that infringes copyright,” the IPO reports.

The full tracking report, which is now on its 7th wave, is yet to be released but the government has teased a few interesting stats. While the 7 million infringer number is mostly unchanged from last year, the mix of hardcore (only use infringing sources) and casual infringers (also use legal sources) has changed.

“Consumers accessing exclusively free content is at an all-time low,” the IPO reveals, noting that legitimate streaming is also on the up, with Spotify increasing its userbase by 7% since 2016.

But despite the positive signs, the government says that there are concerns surrounding illicit streaming, both of music and video content. Unsurprisingly, ‘pirate’ set-top boxes get a prominent mention and are labeled a threat to positive trends.

“Illicitly adapted set top boxes, which allow users to illegally stream premium TV content such as blockbuster movies, threaten to undermine recent progress. 13 per cent of online infringers are using streaming boxes that can be easily adapted to stream illicit content,” the IPO says.

Again, since the report hasn’t yet been published, there are currently no additional details to be examined. However, the “boxes that can be easily adapted” comment could easily reference Amazon Firesticks, for example, that are currently being used for entirely legitimate means.

The IPO notes that an IPTV consultation is underway which may provide guidance on how the devices can be dealt with in the future. A government response is due to be published later in the summer.

Also heavily on the radar is a fairly steep reported increase in stream-ripping, which is the unlicensed downloading of music from streaming sources so that it can be kept on a user’s hard drive or device.

A separate report, commissioned by the IPO and PRS for Music, reveals that 15% of Internet users have stream-ripped in some way and the use of ripping services is on the up.

“The use of stream-ripping websites increased by 141.3% between 2014 and 2016,” the IPO notes.

“In a survey of over 9000 people, 57% of UK adults claimed to be aware of stream-ripping services. Those who claimed to have used a stream-ripping service were significantly more likely to be male and between the ages of 16 to 34 years.”

PRS goes into a little more detail, claiming that stream-ripping is now “the most prevalent and fastest growing form of music piracy in the UK.” The music licensing outfit claims that almost 70% of music-specific infringement is accounted for by stream-ripping.

The survey, carried out by INCOPRO and Kantar Media, looked at 80 stream-ripping services, which included apps, websites, browser plug-ins and other stand-alone software. Each supplied content from a range of sources including SoundCloud, Spotify and Deezer, but YouTube was found to be the most popular source, accounting for 75 of the 80 services.

There are several reported motivations for users to stream-rip but interestingly the number one reason involves what some people consider to be ‘honest’ piracy. A total of 31% of stream-rippers said that since they already own the music, and only use ripping services to obtain it in another format.

Just over a quarter (26%) said they wanted to listen to music while not connected to the Internet while 25% said that a permanent copy helps them while on the move. Around one in five people who stream-rip say that music is either unaffordable or overpriced.

“We hope that this research will provide the basis for a renewed and re-focused commitment to tackling online copyright infringement,” says Robert Ashcroft, Chief Executive, PRS for Music.

“The long term health of the UK’s cultural and creative sectors is in everyone’s best interests, including those of the digital service providers, and a co-ordinated industry and government approach to tackling stream ripping is essential.”

Ros Lynch, Copyright and IP Enforcement Director at the IPO, took the opportunity to praise the widespread use of legitimate platforms. However, he also noted that innovation also continues in piracy circles, with stream-ripping a prime example.

“It’s great that legal streaming sites continue to be a hugely popular choice for consumers. The success and popularity of these platforms show the importance of evolution and innovation in the entertainment industry,” Lynch said.

“Ironically it is innovation that also benefits those looking to undermine IP rights and benefit financially from copyright infringement. There has never been more choice or flexibility for consumers of TV and music, however illicit streaming devices and stream-ripping are threatening this progress.”

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

Blocking Pirate Sites Without a Trial is Allowed, Italian Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/blocking-pirate-sites-without-a-trial-is-allowed-italian-court-rules-170403/

Website blockades are becoming more common throughout Europe, with Italy taking a particularly active approach.

In recent months hundreds of domain names have been added to the nation’s pirate blocklist, based on complaints from a wide range of copyright holders.

It is not just the numbers that set Italy apart, the blocking mechanism itself is unique as well. To have a website blocked, rightsholders can ask the local telecoms watchdog AGCOM to issue an order, without need for a trial.

Instead of dealing with blockades in court, AGCOM has the power to grant injunctions without judicial overview, which it does on a regular basis.

The regulation hasn’t been without controversy. Soon after it was introduced several consumer rights groups and other organizations challenged it in court, arguing that it’s unconstitutional.

The case was initially rejected by the Constitutional Court in 2015, which referred it back to the administrative court of Lazio. Last week this court decided that the site blocking procedure is in line with both European and Italian law.

According to the court, the site-blocking regulation is compatible with the European Union’s E-Commerce Directive as well as the Italian Copyright Act. In addition, the procedure doesn’t violate the Italian constitution or fundamental rights in general, as opponents had argued.

Overall the case is seen as a significant victory for copyright holders. Not only can they continue with their site-blocking requests, but the court also clarified that all the blocking costs must be paid by Internet providers.

“This is a big win for rightsholders,” says Enzo Mazza, chief of the Italian music group FIMI, who says that they have plans to expand the current scope of the blocking efforts.

“Our future goal is now to increase the enforcement of AGCOM to also cover new forms of piracy such as live streaming, stream ripping and similar issues. In addition, we hope AGCOM will extend the blockades to the IP-address level as the Criminal Courts are using now,” Mazza tells TorrentFreak.

The consumer groups are disappointed, but lawyer Fulvio Sarzana tells TorrentFreak that this outcome was expected considering the previous stance of the judges. However, he also notes that the battle has only just begun and that the case will be appealed.

“It is important to know that there will be an appeal represented by the State Council and that, should it be confirmed in that case, there is always the possibility of acting in front of the greatest judicial order in Italy, the Court of Cassation,” Sarzana says.

For his part, FIMI’s boss is positive that the current verdict will be upheld in future cases. Meanwhile, Mazza and his organization will continue to push for more and broader blockades.

A copy of the verdict, in Italian, is available here (pdf).

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

US Government Targets Pirate Bay and Other ‘Piracy Havens’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-government-targets-pirate-bay-and-other-piracy-havens-161221/

ustrbIn its yearly “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets”, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has listed more than a dozen websites said to be involved in piracy and counterfeiting.

The overview is largely based on input from industry groups including the RIAA and MPAA, who submitted their recommendations a few weeks ago.

While the USTR admits that the list is not meant to reflect legal violations, the goal of the review is to motivate owners and foreign Governments to take appropriate action and reduce piracy.

“The United States encourages all responsible authorities to intensify efforts to combat piracy and counterfeiting, and to use the information contained in the Notorious Markets List to pursue legal actions where appropriate,” the USTR announced.

As in previous years, The Pirate Bay remains one of the primary offenders.

According to the USTR, the site continues to facilitate downloading of copyright-infringing material. The Government further highlights the site’s resilience and “symbolic importance” as one of the longest-running pirate sites

“Despite enforcement actions around the world and drawn-out legal battles against its operators, The Pirate Bay is of symbolic importance as one of the longest-running and most vocal torrent sites for admittedly illegal downloads of movies, television, music, and other copyrighted content,” the report reads.

ustrtpb

Other prominent torrent sites mentioned in the review are ExtraTorrent, Rutorrent, RARBG, and 1337x.to.

For the first time, USTR has also included a stream ripping site; YouTube-MP3.org. While this phenomenon has been around for a decade, the report includes a special “issue focus” mentioning it as an emerging threat.

“Stream ripping is an emerging trend in digital copyright infringement that is increasingly causing substantial economic harm to music creators and undermining legitimate services,” the USTR writes.

The mention follows a report from earlier this year, which also highlighted concerns about stream ripping. Soon after, several major music labels filed a lawsuit against YouTube-MP3 in a U.S. federal court.

A few newcomers aside, the review is mostly made up of familiar names, including 4shared, Putlocker, Nowvideo, Rapidgator and Uploaded, as well as several non-English language piracy portals and counterfeiting platforms.

In addition to individual sites and services, the USTR notes that some hosting services have also become piracy havens. The report specifically calls out the Swiss company Private layer for hosting the-watch-series.to, projectfree-tv, using a legal loophole.

The U.S has urged Switzerland to implement new legislation to make it easier to take action against pirate sites, but this hasn’t happened thus far.

The full list of the notorious online pirate sites and services that are highlighted in the report (pdf) are included below. The complete overview also contains various e-commerce and counterfeiting sites, including Alibaba’s Taobao.com.

– 4shared.com
– Beevideo.tv
– Bookfi and Libgen
– ExtraTorrent
– Gongchang.com
– Movshare group (allegedly operating Nowvideo.sx, Watchseriesfree.to, Videoweed.es, Novamov.com and others)
– MP3va.com
– Muaban.net
– Myegy.to
– Nanjing Imperiosus (domainerschoice.com)
– Pobieramy24.pl, Darkwarez.pl, Catshare.net and Fileshark.pl
– Private Layer hosted sites (including the-watch-series.to and projectfree-tv.to)
– Putlocker
– RARBG.to
– Rutracker.org and Rapidgator.org
– Taobao.com
– The Pirate Bay
– Uploaded.net
– Vibbo.com
– VK.com
– Youtube-MP3.org

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

RIAA: CloudFlare Shields Pirates and Frustrates Blocking Efforts

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-cloudflare-shields-pirates-and-frustrates-blocking-efforts-161013/

cassetteFollowing in the footsteps of the MPAA, the RIAA has submitted its overview of “notorious markets” to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR).

These annual submissions help to guide the U.S. Government’s position toward foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement.

This year the RIAA’s report includes 47 alleged pirate sites in various categories. As in previous years, popular torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent are prominently mentioned.

There’s also a strong focus on so-called “stream-ripping” sites. While these have been around for roughly a decade, the music industry sees them as a growing threat, which is also evidenced by the recent lawsuit against YouTube-MP3.

According to the music group, it is getting harder to target these sites, as they are increasingly taking precautions.

“It is exceedingly difficult to track, enforce against, and accurately associate various notorious websites,” RIAA writes, listing domain hopping, reverse proxy services and anonymous domain name registrations as the main factors.

Obstructing factors

riaaharder

The Pirate Bay is one of the prime examples of a site that has switched domain names in the past. Due to various enforcement efforts it burnt through more than a dozen domains with ease.

In addition, TPB and other pirate sites are increasingly using the popular CDN CloudFlare. Besides saving costs, it also acts as a reverse proxy and shields the true hosting location from public view.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the RIAA which repeatedly mentions CloudFlare in its report.

“BitTorrent sites, like many other pirate sites, are increasing (sic) turning to Cloudflare because routing their site through Cloudflare obfuscates the IP address of the actual hosting provider, masking the location of the site,” the RIAA writes.

Throughout the report the RIAA attempts to point out the hosting location of all pirate sites, but it often has to put down “obfuscated by Cloudflare” instead.

Obstructing factors

obfuscloud

Aside from making it harder to identify the hosting location, CloudFlare can also make it harder for ISPs to block websites.

Traditionally, some ISPs have blocked pirate sites by IP-address, but this is no longer an option since CloudFlare customers share IPs with other sites, which can lead to overblocking.

“The use of Cloudflare’s services can also act to frustrate site-blocking orders because multiple non-infringing sites may share a Cloudflare IP address with the infringing site,” the RIAA notes in its report.

While CloudFlare itself isn’t tagged as a notorious site, the fact that both the RIAA and MPAA are highlighting the service in their report is not without reason. The industry groups are likely to demand a more proactive anti-piracy policy from CloudFlare in the future.

Apart from all the doom and gloom, there is also a positive development. After being labeled as a notorious pirate site for years, the RIAA has taken social network VK.com off its list. This is the direct result of licensing agreements between the site and various major labels.

“Russia’s vKontakte has now reached licensing agreements with major record companies and has thus been removed from our list,” the RIAA writes.

Finally, it’s worth noting that MP3Skull is no longer on the list. As we suggested yesterday, the RIAA believes that the people behind the site switched their operation to Emp3world.ch. Curiously, this knowledge didn’t prevent them from seizing the domain name of a seemingly unrelated site.

The full list of RIAA’s “notorious” pirate sites can be found below, and the full report is available here (pdf).

Stream-Ripping Sites

– Youtube-mp3.org
– Mp3juices.cc
– Convert2mp3.net
– Aiomp3.com
– Clipconverter.cc
– Savefrom.net
– Youtube2mp3.cc
– Onlinevideoconverter.com

Search-and-Download Sites

– Emp3world.ch
– Audiocastle.biz
– Viperial2.com
– Im1music.info
– Albumkings.com
– Newalbumreleases.net

BitTorrent Indexing and Tracker Sites

– Thepiratebay.org
– Extratorrent.cc
– Bitsnoop.com
– Isohunt.to
– Torrentdownloads.me
– LimeTorrents.cc
– Rarbg.to
– 1337x.to

Cyberlockers

– 4shared.com
– Uploaded.net
– Zippyshare.com
– Rapidgator.net
– Dopefile.pk
– Chomikuj.pl
– Turbobit.net
– Hitfile.net
– 1fichier.com
– Bigfile.to
– Share-online.biz
– Ulozto.cz

Unlicensed Pay-for-Download Sites

– Mp3va.com
– Soundsbox.com
– Iomoio.com
– Soundike.com
– Payplay.fm
– Mp3million.com
– Megaboon.com
– Melodishop.com
– Melodysale.com
– Mp3caprice.com
– Ivave.com
– Mediasack.com
– Goldenmp3.ru

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

UK IP Crime Report 2016 Reveals IPTV/Kodi Piracy as Growing Threat

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-ip-crime-report-2016-reveals-iptvkodi-piracy-as-growing-threat-160929/

For more than a decade the IP Crime Group and the Intellectual Property Office have collaborated to produce an assessment of the level of IP crime in the UK. Their annual IP Crime Report details the responses of businesses, anti-piracy groups, and government agencies.

As usual, this year’s report covers all areas of IP crime, both in the physical realm and online. However, it is the latter area that appears to be causing the most concern to participating anti-piracy groups.

“Perhaps the area where IP crime statistics most often reach jaw-dropping levels is in relation to the industries providing digital content,” the report reads.

“During a sample three-month period last year, 28% of those questioned admitted their music downloads in the UK came from illegal sources. Similarly, 23% of films, 22% of software, 16% of TV and 15% of games were downloaded in breach of copyright.”

While noting that illicit music downloads have actually reduced in recent years, the report highlights areas that aren’t doing so well, TV show consumption for example.

“The reasons for the spike in TV copyright infringement appear to be, in part, technological, with ‘unofficial services’ such as uTorrent, BitTorrent, TV catch up apps and established sources such as YouTube offering content without legal certainty,” it adds.

But while several methods of obtaining free TV content online are highlighted in the report, none achieve as much attention as IPTV – commonly known as Kodi with illicit third-party addons.

In her report preamble, Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe describes anti-IPTV collaboration between the Federation Against Copyright Theft, Trading Standards, and the Police, as one of the year’s operational successes. Indeed, FACT say anti-IPTV work is now their top priority.

Federation Against Copyright Theft

“We have prioritised an emerging threat to the audiovisual industry, internet protocol TV (IPTV) boxes,” FACT write.

“In their original form, these boxes are legitimate. However, with the use of apps and add-ons, they allow users to access copyright infringing material, from live TV and sports, to premium pay-for channels and newly released films. Once configured these boxes are illegal.”

FACT say they are concentrating on two areas – raising awareness in the industry and elsewhere while carrying out enforcement and disruption operations.

“In the last year FACT has worked with a wide range of partners and law enforcement bodies to tackle individuals and disrupt businesses selling illegal IPTV boxes. Enforcement action has been widespread across the UK with numerous ongoing investigations,” FACT note.

Overall, FACT say that 70% of the public complaints they receive relate to online copyright infringement. More than a quarter of all complaints now relate to IPTV and 50% of the anti-piracy group’s current investigations involve IPTV boxes.

fact-ipcrime

British Phonographic Industry (BPI)

In their submission to the report, the BPI cite three key areas of concern – online piracy, physical counterfeiting, and Internet-enabled sales of infringing physical content. The former is their top priority.

“The main online piracy threats to the UK recorded music industry at present come from BitTorrent networks, MP3 aggregator sites, cyberlockers, unauthorised streaming sites, stream ripping sites and pirate sites accessed via mobile devices,” the BPI writes.

“Search engines – predominantly Google – also continue to provide millions of links to infringing content and websites that are hosted by non-compliant operators and hosts that cannot be closed down have needed to be blocked in the UK under s.97A court orders (website blocking).”

The BPI notes that between January 2015 and March 2016, it submitted more than 100 million URL takedowns to Google and Bing. Counting all notices since 2011 when the BPI began the practice, the tally now sits at 200 million URLs.

“These astronomic numbers demonstrate the large quantity of infringing content that is available online and which is easily accessible to search engine users,” the BPI says.

On the web-blocking front, the BPI says it now has court orders in place to block 63 pirate sites and more than 700 related URLs, IP addresses and proxies.

“Site blocking is proving a successful strategy, and the longer the blocks are in place, the more effective they tend to be. The latest data available shows that traffic to sites blocked for over one year has reduced by an average of around 80%; with traffic to sites blocked for less than a year reduced by an average of around 50%,” the BPI adds.

Infringement warnings for Internet subscibers

The Get it Right campaign is an educational effort to advise the public on how to avoid pirate sites and spend money on genuine products. The campaign has been somewhat lukewarm thus far, but the sting in the tail has always been the threat of copyright holders sending warnings to Internet pirates.

To date, nothing has materialized on that front but hidden away on page 51 of the report is a hint that something might happen soon.

“A further component of the ‘Get it Right’ campaign is a subscriber alert programme that will, starting by the end of 2016, advise ISPs’ residential subscribers when their accounts are believed to have been used to infringe copyright,” the report reads.

“Account holders will receive an Alert from their ISP, advising them that unlawful uploading of a copyright content file may have taken place on their internet connection and offering advice on where to find legitimate sources of content.”

Overall, the tone of the report suggests a huge threat from IP crime but one that’s being effectively tackled by groups such as FACT, BPI, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, and various educational initiatives. Only time will tell if next year’s report will retain the optimism.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf)

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

YouTube-MP3 Ripping Site Sued By IFPI, RIAA and BPI

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-mp3-ripping-site-sued-by-ifpi-riaa-and-bpi-160926/

Two weeks ago, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry published research which claimed that half of 16 to 24-year-olds use stream-ripping tools to copy music from sites like YouTube.

The industry group said that the problem of stream-ripping has become so serious that in volume terms it had overtaken downloading from ‘pirate’ sites. Given today’s breaking news, the timing of the report was no coincidence.

Earlier today in a California District Court, a huge coalition of recording labels sued the world’s largest YouTube ripping site. UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, Warner Bros, Sony Music, Arista Records, Atlantic Records and several others claim that YouTube-MP3 (YTMP3), owner Philip Matesanz, and Does 1-10 have infringed their rights.

“YTMP3 rapidly and seamlessly removes the audio tracks contained in videos streamed from YouTube that YTMP3’s users access, converts those audio tracks to an MP3 format, copies and stores them on YTMP3’s servers, and then distributes copies of the MP3 audio files from its servers to its users in the United States, enabling its users to download those MP3 files to their computers, tablets, or smartphones,” the complaint reads.

The labels allege that YouTube-MP3 is one of the most popular sites in the entire world and as a result its owner, German-based company PMD Technologies UG, is profiting handsomely from their intellectual property.

“Defendants are depriving Plaintiffs and their recording artists of the fruits of their labor, Defendants are profiting from the operation of the YTMP3 website. Through the promise of illicit delivery of free music, Defendants have attracted millions of users to the YTMP3 website, which in turn generates advertising revenues for Defendants,” the labels add.

And it’s very clear that the labels mean business. YouTube-MP3 is being sued for direct, contributory, vicarious and inducement of copyright infringement, plus circumvention of technological measures.

Among other things, the labels are also demanding a preliminary and permanent injunction forbidding the Defendants from further infringing their rights. They also want YouTube-MP3’s domain name to be surrendered.

“This is a coordinated action to protect the rights of artists and labels from the blatant infringements of YouTube-mp3, the world’s single-largest ‘stream ripping’ site,” says IFPI Chief Executive Frances Moore.

“Music companies and digital services today offer fans more options than ever before to listen to music legally, when and where they want to do so – over hundreds of services with scores of millions of tracks – all while compensating artists and labels. Stream ripping sites should not be allowed jeopardize this.”

Cary Sherman, the Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says that YouTube-MP3 is making money on the back of their business and needs to be stopped.

“This site is raking in millions on the backs of artists, songwriters and labels. We are doing our part, but everyone in the music ecosystem who says they believe that artists should be compensated for their work has a role to play,” Sherman says.

“It should not be so easy to engage in this activity in the first place, and no stream ripping site should appear at the top of any search result or app chart.”

BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor says that it’s time for web services and related companies to stop supporting similar operations.

“It’s time to stop illegal sites like this building huge fortunes by ripping off artists and labels. Fans have access now to a fantastic range of legal music streaming services, but they can only exist if we take action to tackle the online black market,” Taylor says.

“We hope that responsible advertisers, search engines and hosting providers will also reflect on the ethics of supporting sites that enrich themselves by defrauding creators.”

TorrentFreak contacted YouTube-MP3 owner Philip Matesanz for comment but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.

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

Stream Ripping Problem Worse Than Pirate Sites, IFPI Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/stream-ripping-problem-worse-than-pirate-sites-ifpi-says-160913/

sadyoutubeOne of the recurring themes of recent years has been entertainment industry criticism of Google alongside claims the search giant doesn’t do enough to tackle piracy.

In more recent months, the focus has fallen on YouTube in particular, with the music industry painting the video hosting site as a haven for unlicensed tracks. This, the labels say, allows YouTube to undermine competitors and run a ‘DMCA protection racket‘.

While complaints surrounding the so-called “value gap” continue, the labels are now revisiting another problem that has existed for years.

For the unfamiliar, stream ripping is a mechanism for obtaining music from an online source and storing it on a local storage device in MP3 or similar format. Ripping can be achieved by using dedicated software or via various sites designed for the purpose.

With the largest library online, YouTube is the most popular destination for ‘rippers’. Broadly speaking, the site carries two kinds of music – that for which the site has a license and that uploaded without permission by its users. The labels consider the latter as straightforward piracy but the former is also problematic in a stream-ripping environment. Once a track is downloaded by a user from YouTube, labels aren’t getting paid per play anymore.

According to IFPI, the stream-ripping problem has become huge. A new study by Ipsos commissioned by IFPI has found that 49% of Internet users aged 16 to 24 admitted to stream ripping in the six months ending April. That’s a 41% increase over the same period a year earlier.

When considering all age groups the situation eases somewhat, but not by enough to calm IFPI’s nerves. Ipsos found that 30% of all Internet users had engaged in stream ripping this year, that’s 10% up on a year earlier.

In fact, according to comments made to FT (subscription) by IFPI, the problem has become so large that it is now the most popular form of online piracy, surpassing downloading from all of the world’s ‘pirate’ sites.

Precisely why there has been such a large increase isn’t clear, but it’s likely that the simplicity of sites such as YouTube-MP3 has played a big role. The site is huge by any measurement and has been extremely popular for many years. However, this year has seen a dramatic increase in visits, as shown below.

youtube-mp3-traffic

Equally, with pirate site blockades springing up all over the world, users in affected regions will find YouTube and ripping sites much easier to access. Also, rippers tend to work well on mobile phones, giving young people the portability they desire for their music.

But while YouTube and Google will now find themselves under yet more pressure, the company hasn’t been silent on the issue of stream-ripping. On several occasions, YouTube lawyers have made legal threats against such sites, including YouTube-MP3 in 2012 and more recently against TubeNinja.

“We strive to keep YouTube a safe, responsible community, and to encourage respect for the rights of millions of YouTube creators,” an email from YouTube’s legal team to TubeNinja read.

“This requires compliance with the Terms of Service and API Terms of Service. We hope that you will cooperate with us by ceasing to offer TubeNinja with functionality that is designed to allow users to download content from YouTube within seven days of this letter.”

While it is indeed the biggest platform, the problem isn’t only limited to YouTube. Stream rippers are available for most streaming sites including Vimeo, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Mixcloud, and many dozens of others, with Google itself providing convenient addons for its Chrome browser.

With the major labels now describing stream-ripping as the biggest piracy threat, expect to hear much more on this topic as the year unfolds.

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