Tag Archives: streaming

Bulgaria CyberCrime Unit Arrests Man For Running Dozens of Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bulgaria-cybercrime-unit-arrests-man-for-running-dozens-of-pirate-sites-190810/

Like many countries in Europe, Bulgaria is home to large numbers of pirate sites operating in multiple niches, from torrent and streaming platforms, to dedicated IPTV services.

In recent times authorities there have indicated that they are taking a tougher line to combat infringement in the country and yesterday announced results on that front.

According to an announcement from the Ministry of the Interior, a “special operation” was carried out this week to take down dozens of streaming platforms said to be involved in the unlicensed distribution of copyright works.

Carried out under the direction of the Sofia District Prosecutor’s office, the Cybercrime Specialized Unit at the State Security Service detained a 40-year-old man said to be the owner/operator of dozens of pirate sites, which appear to have focused on the streaming sector.

The authorities claimed that the man ran more than 40 websites which distributed movies online without obtaining permission from copyright holders. He allegedly got one site off the ground and then used the content from that to fuel the others, which were then supported financially by adverts provided by Google.

“He originally published the films on one of the sites he controlled. After reaching a certain number of visitors and the traffic generated – for which he was paid for by Google respectively – he downloaded the works and shared them again, but on some other domains,” the statement from the Ministry reads.

“The procedure was repeated 4-5 times until the resource was exhausted from the sites he controlled. Thus, for the same copyright sites, the capitalist received multiple payments from Google.”

According to the statement, most of the sites were “hosted” on the Internet by one of the largest cloud service providers in the United States. This, the authorities claimed, led the man to believe he was anonymous. However, international investigations carried out by Bulgaria’s General Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime (GDBOP) uncovered his identity.

The full list of sites attributed to the man by the authorities reads as follows:

x-movies-8.com, new123movies.com, phim-3s.com, phim-14.com, xxxmovies8.com, ww1.serialitebg.com, xmovies8- tv.com, onlinemovies2017.com, xmovies-8.com, onlinemovies2016.com, newcinema2016.info, movies-16.com, onlinemovies-gold.com , megashare-movies.com, newmovies-2016.com, onlinemovies-is.com, big-top-40.com, movie-8k.com, tv-1000.net, online-movies-pro.info, moviesonline-pro.com, filmi-bg-audio.com, terminator-genesys-online.info, starwars7download.info, resident-evil-7-online.info, mision-impossible-5-online.info, james-bond-24-online.info, onlain-filmi-bg.com, filmi-fen.com, filmi-2015.com, kinofilme-2014.com, movies-2017.com, hulu-movies.com, onlain-filmi.info, movies-2015.com, movies-16.com, movie-32.com, new123movies.stream

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

Police Arrest Two in Football Piracy Crackdown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-arrest-two-in-football-piracy-crackdown-190809/

Piracy of football (or soccer for those in the US) is currently one of the hottest copyright infringement related topics.

The major leagues – the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, and Serie A, to name just four – see piracy as an existential threat, with millions of fans favoring unlicensed platforms over their expensive official offerings.

But while Europe is currently the key battleground, broadcasters and their anti-piracy partners are cracking down elsewhere too. South America, where football is followed by some of the most passionate fans in the world, is now seeing action after the police targeted two men this week.

Following an investigation launched in 2017, officers of the Intellectual Property Brigade (BRIDEPI) of the Chilean Investigative Police arrested one man in the port city of Valparaíso while the other was detained in the
Santiago Province commune Maipú.

Aged between 20 and 30-years-old, they are the alleged administrators of FutbolChile.net and VeoPartidos.com, sites which aired live matches to fans without permission from rightsholders.

Head of BRIDEPI Marco León told Chile’s 24horas that the men operated independently but generated money from advertising placed on their respective sites. According to the police unit, losses to local cable broadcasters run to several million dollars.

The original signals were allegedly obtained from companies including Fox Sports via a subscription but were then captured in the suspects’ homes and transmitted to the sites via the Internet. One of the men is believed to have been operating for around five years.

“We are talking about 100,000 or 200,000 monthly visits [to the websites], where all the content was offered absolutely for free,” León said.

BRIDEPI added that it was “technically very difficult” to determine where the original signals were coming from. It was the first case of its type in the country and as a result, the police had to call in expert support from Brazil and Argentina.

The police unit warns that piracy is a moving target and today’s techniques may not work as well in the future. Technology is moving so quickly that in a year’s time, something else will come along to complicate investigations.

“[T]echnological progress is faster than us,” BRIDEPI concludes.

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

Premier League & UEFA Obtain Court Orders to Block Piracy in 2019/20

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-uefa-obtain-court-orders-to-block-piracy-in-2019-20-190729/

While rightsholders and anti-piracy groups often deploy multiple strategies for dealing with online copyright infringement, blocking websites, streams, and servers is now one of the most common.

The Premier League broke new ground on this front in 2017, after it obtained a pioneering injunction which enabled it to track live ‘pirate’ streams and have them blocked by leading ISPs BT, Virgin Media, EE, Sky Broadband and TalkTalk in real-time.

With backing from the High Court, the Premier League deployed its system during the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons. We can now confirm that the Court recently granted permission for the efforts to continue during the 2019/20 campaign.

A High Court order signed off July 15, 2019, by Justice Arnold, but as yet unannounced by the Premier League or the Court, will be the basis for the blocking mechanism during the upcoming season. Thus far, one ISP has confirmed the existence of the order.

“A number of unidentified servers associated with infringing Premier League match footage will be blocked until the end of the 2019/20 Premier League season,” Sky notes.

Unlike other blocking orders targeting torrent sites or streaming platforms with a fixed domain, the servers streaming Premier League content are “unidentified” until its anti-piracy partners are able to locate them a few minutes before matches begin. The relevant IP addresses are then forwarded to the ISPs who block them under the authority of the Court.

TorrentFreak has been able to confirm that other ISPs are aware of the new Premier League order but are yet to make a public statement.

Late 2017, UEFA followed in the footsteps of the Premier League by obtaining a similar order covering the period February 13, 2018, to May 26, 2018, in an effort to protect European matches. A month later in July 2018, UEFA was given permission by the High Court to expand and extend its campaign until July 12, 2019.

Earlier this month, UEFA obtained permission from the High Court to continue. As yet, no associated documents have been published by the Court but both Sky and Virgin have confirmed they will be blocking ‘pirate’ servers again, with the Court’s authorization, until 2021.

“A number of unidentified servers associated with infringing UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup, UEFA Nations League, UEFA European Qualifiers and UEFA Friendlies match footage will be blocked until the end of the 2020/21 Champions League or Europa League competitions,” Sky notes.

Virgin states that it will block “Various Target Servers notified to Virgin Media by UEFA or its appointed agent for the duration of the UEFA 2019/2020 & 2020/2021 competition seasons.”

The technical details of the blocking systems deployed by both the Premier League and UEFA (TF understands they’re managed by different anti-piracy companies) are largely secret although some insiders have recently been prepared to talk more about what happens behind the scenes.

As the new season progresses, we expect to report more on how this digital game of cat-and-mouse is playing out.

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

Senators and Copyright Office Want Streaming Piracy Loophole Fixed

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/senators-and-copyright-office-want-streaming-piracy-loophole-fixed-190726/

Under US law, streaming and downloading piracy are seen as two different offenses. Not just from a technical point of view, but also in the way they are punished.

Unauthorized streaming is categorized as a public performance instead of distribution, which is punishable as a misdemeanor, not a felony.

Lawmakers tried to change this with the Commercial Felony Streaming Act in 2011, and later with the SOPA and PIPA bills. These bills were met with public outrage and didn’t pass.

As a result, the gap between streaming and traditional file-sharing still remains today. This frustrates major copyright holder groups and recently caught the eye of the Senate Judiciary Committee as well.

Last month, the Committee’s Chairman Senator Thom Tillis, and Ranking Member Senator Christopher Coons, requested clarification from the US Government’s Copyright Office on several streaming-related issues.

The letter was sent after a hearing, where the NBA and the UFC both requested to increase the criminal penalty for streaming. The senators warn that streaming piracy poses important risks to copyright owners. The fact that this is seen as a lesser offense is problematic and creates a loophole for prospective copyright infringers, they argue.

“Based on the testimony we received regarding the apparent ‘streaming loophole’ enabling illicit streamers to avoid felony criminal liability, we would appreciate the U.S. Copyright Office providing clear guidance regarding if and when unauthorized streaming infringes the right to control distribution of a work.

“Allowing this to remain unanswered will only benefit infringers and harm America’s economy,” the senators add in their letter to the Copyright Office.

The senators asked several questions, starting with whether streaming piracy violates the copyright holder’s right to public performance. In a reply letter published this week, Copyright Office director Karyn Temple answered this with an unequivocal “yes,” which wasn’t a surprise.

From the Copyright office’s letter (pdf)

The senators next wanted to know whether streaming piracy violates rightsholders’ right to control reproduction and distribution, as downloading does. This one was less straightforward with the Copyright Office noting that, depending upon the technology at issue, there may be instances in where this is the case.

These two questions are at the crux of the “loophole” debate as public performance infringements are seen as misdemeanors while reproduction and distribution offenses are felonies. Streaming is generally seen as a public performance.

However, in the response, the Copyright Office director stresses that it would like this to be changed. Responding to a question about its position, the Office is very clear.

“The Copyright Office supports the same level of felony penalties for violation of the public performance right as for the reproduction and distribution rights, a position reinforced by the combination of the growing importance of streaming to the U.S. economy and the failure of the current law to effectively address unauthorized streaming,” the Office’s response reads.

Finally, the senators asked whether the Copyright Office has any other suggestions to deal with the streaming piracy problem. The Office didn’t go into much detail on this issue but said that a small claims tribunal, which is currently being considered, could provide an additional tool for rightsholders.

The answers and the questions show that there is quite a bit of concern about streaming piracy. As such, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this issue being addressed in future legislation. Whether that will pass is yet another question, but the Copyright Office is all for it.

“The Office has long supported a legislative fix for the ‘streaming loophole,’ although we do not endorse any particular method of addressing the problem at this time,” Temple writes.

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

Is Innovation Making Casual Pirates Less Knowledgable?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/is-innovation-making-casual-pirates-less-knowledgable-190721/

Anyone with a technically-minded older relative happy to reminisce over their particular ‘golden age’ of motoring is likely to dwell for a moment on a particular train of thought.

Cars today are oversized computers, ones that are designed to be mechanically inaccessible to the regular Joe. Unlike their predecessors, elders argue, they often require specialist tools for repairs, adding that today’s vehicles are not made like they used to be.

Whether one agrees with these points is an individual matter, but it’s difficult to argue that in the face of rising technology, regular motorists are now less likely than ever to tackle even a basic oil change, previously the most simple of maintenance tasks.

In many respects, the same can be said of today’s consumer computing environments.

Enthusiasts of yesteryear had to be well-versed in languages like MS-DOS or BASIC simply to get by, which helped them to understand a great deal more about how their machines actually worked. Today’s graphical interfaces have all but demolished those barriers to entry, meaning there are now millions of people who class clicking icons as the height of ‘programming’ expertise.

For today’s casual pirates, this could be a ticking timebomb.

This week, Stan McCoy, President and Managing Director of the MPA in Europe, published an interesting piece titled “Piracy Went from Geeky to Easy. What’s Next?”

“[W]hile the makers innovate, so do the takers,” McCoy wrote.

“In the last 15 years, piracy went from geeky to easy. Transmission technologies improved with the advent of streaming, and delivery via new apps and devices bridged the divide between the PC and the living room.

“Today’s piracy has become a very different type of organized crime: more sophisticated, tech intensive, very elusive, and massive in scale. Where will it go next? Increasingly, industry antipiracy efforts are bending the trajectory from geeky, to easy, to … broken.”

McCoy’s argument goes as follows;

Piracy was once the realm of the technically minded but as technologies developed – pirate streaming sites, Kodi add-ons, dedicated apps, IPTV – it became very easy and more accessible to the masses. However, with numerous anti-piracy initiatives underway, piracy is more easily broken.

Add-ons suddenly fail, app creators and their tools ‘mysteriously’ disappear, IPTV platforms become less reliable. In this new and somewhat dumbed-down piracy world, access can be switched off in an instant, sometimes by hitting just one component in a system.

At this point, the more seasoned pirate will argue that none of these things present a problem for them. Add-ons can be reconfigured, new sites pop up to replace the last, new app makers fill in the gaps, and so on and so forth. Which, generally speaking, is correct. However, for the less well informed, these things are much more of a headache.

Casual pirates – the friend or colleague who bought a “loaded Firestick” off Craigslist or eBay – make up a huge proportion of today’s pirating masses. And the vast majority haven’t a clue how anything really works. To cite McCoy, “95 percent of TV piracy is driven by purpose-built set-top boxes.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that 100% of these boxes are owned by tech-illiterates, far from it. However, it seems very likely that the screaming majority have little to no idea how their device works, or what to do when it all goes wrong. The ‘blame’ for this can be placed squarely at the feet of technology and plug-and-play culture.

As piracy has grown more sophisticated, partly due to evolution and partly due to anti-piracy measures, much of the brainpower has become entrenched behind the scenes. Like the people who fix modern cars using a laptop and a ‘black magic’ cable, many pirates rely completely on the wizardry of a tiny minority to get them out of a jam.

To put it another way, Joe Public’s ability to carry out the equivalent of a simple oil change is being lost, largely due to pirated content being presented to them as a sophisticated pre-cooked meal on a plate, made using a recipe that few know about or even care to understand.

To an extent, piracy has always been like this. In general terms, the brains have always been at the top while those at the bottom take what’s available. That said, today’s prevalence of “click-and-get” apps and services means that few have the motivation to learn anything technical while those that do can run into trouble.

Thanks to pirate sites and apps being downranking and removed from search results (sometimes after a lawsuit), combined with the opportunism of the malicious-minded, it’s now harder than ever for the novice to separate the wheat from the chaff.

“Try looking for alternatives on a search engine and you’re more likely than ever to get malware and clickbait sites posing as pirates. Are you feeling lucky?” McCoy asked this week.

While the more technically advanced will dismiss the above paragraph as scare tactics, McCoy’s comments can hold true for the casual user. It’s becoming a minefield out there for novices and unless people take the time to study and do their own research, bad things always have the potential to happen.

It will probably take many more years for the piracy ‘brain drain’ to show its full effects but the popularity and ease of today’s ultra-simple and feature-rich pirate apps and services could potentially end up as a positive for entertainment companies.

Will the casual pirating masses spend days, months or years learning how to do piracy the ‘old school’ way when things go pear-shaped, or dump a few dollars a month into a couple of legal services and get the headaches over and done with?

As usual, time will tell.

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

Police: Scam Streaming Sites Are Exploiting Internet Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-scam-streaming-sites-are-exploiting-internet-users-190707/

It is fairly common for anti-piracy outfits to describe pirate sites and devices as “scams” but despite being mostly illegal, they deliver what they promise and rarely attempt to defraud the public.

Over in Germany, a much more sinister operation is being reported, one that involves more than a couple of hundred sites that claim to be legal but are actually a huge money-making scheme for fraudsters.

In the example shown below, AsoFlix looks like a regular pirate streaming platform. However, the site claims to be legitimate, despite the fact that the irregular capitalization of its various movie categories suggests an unprofessional offer.

No content can be accessed before registering and when users try to sign up, they are asked to enter all of their personal details. This is where the trouble starts.

In return for handing over their names, addresses, credit card and cellphone numbers, users are given a five-day free trial but according to police, this amounts to a so-called “subscription trap”. Buried away in the terms and conditions is a note that if “users do not unsubscribe during the free trial, your account will automatically be upgraded to a one-year premium account.”

In the case of Asoflix, that’s the princely sum of € 395.88 per year, charged in one transaction. Worst still, local news outlet Tarnkappe reports that the sites actually have “little to no works” on offer, which means a huge bill and no return for those unfortunate enough to sign up. Police add that they cannot say whether any content offered is licensed, although that seems unlikely.

The scam was first uncovered in 2018 but according to police, it is very much ongoing. They have published a list of the domains involved in the fraud which number around 220 (TF tests reveal that a number are now inactive), alongside warnings not to pay up.

The problem is that many victims are receiving pressure from the sites to do just that via bogus debt collection letters threatening to seize property, pensions, bank deposits, and even unemployment benefits. And in a sign of how sophisticated the scam is, police say that videos have been posted to YouTube supposedly featuring lawyers who advise that the demands for cash are legitimate.

Video advising that the scam on GadaFlix.de is legal (credit: German police)

It’s worth noting that AsoFlix and GadaFlix (the site referenced in the YouTube screenshot above) are identical, yet they claim to be owned by different companies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a report from Germany connects this scam with an earlier one involving bogus copyright infringement notices.

Since we highlighted AsoFlix above, we took a closer look at who might be behind the service. Strangely, given the heat this and similar platforms are under in Germany, the AsoFlix site actually lists its owning company as FOXRUSH FILMS LTD, England.

Whether this is actually the owning company is unknown, but a company by that name does exist in the UK having been incorporated in 2013. It is currently listed as dormant and since its inception has never reported any trading. Google Maps shows the address as a small mid-terrace house in a residential area of Coventry. According to EU databases, the VAT number provided by AsoFlix doesn’t exist.

TorrentFreak checked a number of the companies listed on these scam sites as their owners and many are incorporated entities in the UK. While it’s possible the scammers trawled Companies House in search of random companies to blame, further investigation by the authorities is needed to draw a definitive conclusion.

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

Premier League Seeks Live Sports Blocking Order in Ireland

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-seeks-live-football-blocking-order-in-ireland-180705/

Blocking of pirate websites and services is now a global phenomenon. Mostly carried out by movie and music companies, around 4,000 sites are blocked by ISPs in more than 30 countries.

In the UK, the Premier League has pioneered the blocking of illegal live streams. Using various technologies and under the supervision of the courts, the football league is now able to track streams in real-time and have local ISPs such as Sky and Virgin Media block them in an effort to reduce piracy.

The Premier League clearly believes that this mechanism, which has been sanctioned by the courts twice, is having success. According to a report from Irish Times, the league is now seeking to expand its blocking program to Ireland.

An application filed at the High Court demands that several ISPs including Eircom, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone, begin preventing their customers from accessing illicit services. At this stage details are scarce, but it seems probable that this will be a direct expansion of the program previously established in the UK.

The targeted ISPs have yet to comment but given the cooperation they’ve offered the Premier League in the UK, it seems unlikely they will put up a serious fight. As suppliers of TV content themselves, some have a vested interest in bringing piracy under control since it could make a difference to their own bottom lines.

Interestingly, Irish Times cites an anonymous source who says that the Premier League, in conjunction with Ireland’s national police, is already investigating people involved in the supply of pirate streams.

Who these people are is currently unknown but Ireland-sourced streams of TV content are easy to spot on pirate IPTV services due to the advertising in between shows being clearly targeted at Irish customers.

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

New Foxtel Blocking Application Targets Streaming, Torrent & Proxy Sites

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/new-foxtel-blocking-application-targets-streaming-torrent-proxy-sites-190701/

Following the introduction of amendments to copyright law in 2018, it is now easier than ever to have ‘pirate’ sites blocked by ISPs in Australia.

The new rules mean that regular ‘pirate’ sites such as streaming and torrent platforms, as well as any service that has the primary purpose and/or primary effect of facilitating access to infringing content, can be targeted.

On June 18, 2019, Foxtel returned to the Federal Court in Sydney with a new blocking application. The court has yet to make the associated documents public but TorrentFreak was able to obtain them via a third-party source.

They reveal Foxtel writing to ISPs – TPG, Telstra, Optus, Vocus, Vodafone, plus their subsidiaries (52 in total) – at the end of May, indicating its intention to file an application to have a total of 35 torrent, streaming and proxy site domains blocked via court order.

Streaming ‘Target Online Locations’

The sites in this category are described as providing Internet users “with a browsable and/or searchable index or directory of digital (including audiovisual) content from which they can select content of their choice”.

Transmission of this content from the sites either takes place directly or through a “frame” which presents the content from another location. Or, alternatively, the sites provide lists of hyperlinks that allow users to access content after being redirected to another platform.

The sites targeted are ShareMovies, SeriesOnline8, Movie4U, SeeHD, StreamDreams and MoviesOnline.

Torrent ‘Target Online Locations’

Sites under this heading are described as having a browsable or searchable index of digital content or facilitating access to the same on other ‘online locations’. They provide users with access to .torrent files (or links to the same) which provide access to content without charge.

The sites targeted are WatchSoMuch, TorrentKen and SkyTorrents.

Proxy “Target Online Locations”

Given the changes to the law last year, proxy sites – which often exist to enable access to sites that are blocked by court order – can now be subject to blocking requests since they have the “primary effect” of facilitating access to infringing content.

The sites in the Foxtel application are described as providing Internet users with a browsable/searchable index of proxies providing access to streaming and torrent sites, including those sites listed above.

“[E]ach of the Proxy TOLs provides, or facilitates, free access for Internet users to content which it is not licensed to provide” the application reads, adding that none have “legitimate functions”.

The sites targeted are Unblocked.lol, Unblocked.win, Unblockall, Unblocker, and MyUnblock.

A case management hearing is booked for July 11, 2019.

The full list of URLs requested for blocking is as follows: sharemovies.net, seriesonline8.co, seriesonline8.com, movie4u.live, movie4u.cc, movie4u.co, seehd.uno, seehd.biz, streamdreams.org, streamdreams.me, streamdreams.co, streamdreams.online, streamdreams.video, stream-dreams.com, moviesonline.mx, wsmmirror.info, watchsomuch.info, watchsomuch.com, seventorrentsmirror.info, seventorrentsproxy.com, 7tmirror.info, torrentken.site, skytorrents.lol, unblocked.lol, unblocked.is, unblocked.ms, unblocked.win, unblocked.gdn, unblocked.vet, unblocked,sh, unblocked.mx, unblockall.org, unblocker.cc, unblock.win, myunblock.com

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

UFC: Online Platforms Should Proactively Prevent Streaming Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/ufc-online-platforms-should-proactively-prevent-piracy-190625/

With millions of dedicated fans around the world, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) events are extremely popular.

They are also relatively expensive and as a result, unauthorized broadcasts are thriving.

For most popular fight cards, dozens of dedicated pirate streams are queued up via unauthorized IPTV services, streaming torrents, and streaming sites, in the latter case often masked with an overlay of ads. At the same time, unauthorized rebroadcasts also appear on more traditional Internet platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

This is a thorn in the size of rightsholders, including the UFC, which dominates the MMA fighting scene. To tackle the problem the UFC has employed various anti-piracy strategies. Most recently, it contracted Stream Enforcement, a company that specializes in taking down pirated broadcasts.

In addition, the MMA promoter also involves itself in the lawmaking process. Just a few weeks ago, UFC General Counsel Riché McKnight, shared his anti-piracy vision with the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

One of the main goals for the UFC is to criminalize unauthorized streaming. Unlike downloading, streaming is currently categorized as a public performance instead of distribution, which is punishable as a misdemeanor, instead of a felony.

The Senators made note of this call, which was shared by another major sports outfit, the NBA. They also had some additional questions, however, which McKnight could answer on paper later, so it could be added to the record.

These answers, which were just published, show that the UFC is not satisfied with how some social media companies and other online services address the pirate streaming issue.

McKnight explains that the UFC has takedown tool arrangements with several social media companies, but adds that online platforms have neglected its requests to combat illegal streaming more effectively.

“We believe communication, coordination, and cooperation could be greatly improved. Our general experience is that those subject to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) use it as a floor and do the minimum required to be in compliance,” McKnight notes.

The UFC notes that Facebook recently bettered its communication and ‘slightly’ improved its takedown response but overall, more could be done. However, most online services appear to be reluctant to voluntarily do more than the law requires, which means that in order to trigger change, the law should change.

“Private, voluntary partnerships [with online platforms] are not sufficient to combat online piracy. Addressing this problem requires a new approach that includes a strong legal framework, a combination of private and public enforcement, and enhanced cooperation with our international partners,” McKnight writes.

Criminalizing streaming is a step forward, according to the UFC. However, that doesn’t affect the platforms that host these streams, as these are protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.

According to the UFC’s General Counsel, Congress should consider other options as well. In particular, changes to the legal framework that will motivate social media companies and other online platforms to proactively prevent piracy.

“Congress should examine how best to properly incentivize platform providers to protect copyrighted online streaming content,” McKnight writes.

“Transitioning from a reactive ‘take down’ regime to a proactive ‘prevention’ regime would better protect and enhance a vibrant online ecosystem,” he adds.

McKnight specifically mentions policies to effectively ban repeat infringers, which is already part of the DMCA, but not always properly implemented.

While not specifically mentioned, the words “proactive” and “prevention” are reminiscent of the EU’s Article 17, which could potentially lead to upload filters.  The UFC doesn’t reference filters here, but other rightsholders have in the past.

Later this year, the US Copyright Office is expected to issue a report on the effectiveness of the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions. This will be based on input from a variety of stakeholders, some of which discussed filtering requirements.

The UFC hopes that the Copyright Office report will further help Congress to shape a more effective legal framework to tackle online streaming.

A copy of the written responses to the questions from the Senate Committee on the Judiciary is available here (pdf).

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

Fragmented Streaming Landscape Keeps Piracy Relevant, Research Suggests

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fragmented-streaming-landscape-keeps-piracy-relevant-research-suggests-190613/

There is little doubt that, for many people, streaming services have become the standard for watching movies and TV-shows.

This is no surprise, since subscription-based streaming services are among the best and most convenient alternatives to piracy at this point.

There is a problem though. The whole appeal of the streaming model becomes diluted when there are too many ‘Netflixes.’

More choice wouldn’t be a bad thing if all these services offered a broad library of content. The problem, however, is that all have different ‘libraries’ and exclusive productions are becoming more and more common.

Since most households have a limited budget for online entertainment, consumers have to choose which services they want. This is a problem that keeps getting worse, especially now that Apple and Disney are planning to release their own streaming platforms soon.

The irony of this situation is that the platforms, which are supposed to make piracy obsolete, are in fact keeping it relevant. This has been argued anecdotally in the past, but research by piracy research firm MUSO among 1,000 UK adults, shows that this is indeed happening.

The vast majority of all surveyed consumers, 80.4%,  feel that they’re already paying too much for content streaming. At the same time, 64.2% of the people who took part in the survey are not willing to pay for any more streaming services this year.

Even more worrying is that more than half of all respondents, 50.8%, said they were likely or very likely to use unlicensed platforms to search for content that’s not available to them. In other words, they are considering to pirate video in order to get what they want.

“This research shows that people will inevitably seek it elsewhere via unlicensed platforms, but this does, however, create further opportunities for content owners to understand this audience with meaningful and valuable insights,” MUSO CEO Andy Chatterley notes.

“With most people only subscribing to only a couple of services, it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens with the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+. Will consumers ditch an existing service for one of the new ones? Or will Apple struggle to crack the TV market again?”

While it’s easy to blame rightsholders and streaming platforms, this puzzle isn’t easy to solve.

Ideally, there would be a single platform where people can access everything they want, similar to pirate sites and services. The problem is, however, that this won’t bring in enough revenue, at least not at the subscription rates we have now.

That said, there has to be a better option than to keep adding more and more services and fragmenting the steaming landscape?

In any case, the flawed argument that people have no ‘excuse’ to pirate because there are plenty of legal alternatives is weakening every year. Yes, pretty much everything can be accessed legally, but people need deep pockets to do so.

It appears that the people who benefit the most from increased fragmentation are the operators of pirate sites and services. That’s probably not what Hollywood intended.

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

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.

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

Popular Streaming Site Pelispedia Shuts Down, Operators Arrested

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/popular-streaming-site-pelispedia-shuts-down-operators-arrested-190522/

With over a million visitors per day, Pelispedia.tv was one of the most popular streaming sites in Latin America. 

Just a few weeks ago, it was highlighted by the US Trade Representative as a notorious pirate site, following a referral from Hollywood’s MPAA. 

By then, rightsholders and enforcement authorities already had their eyes focused on the site’s alleged operators, a couple from Uruguay. Following collaborative efforts from Interpol, rightsholders, and Uruguayan authorities, this culminated in two arrests last week.

According to Uruguayan prosecutor Mónica Ferrero, the alleged operators are charged with “a continuing offense of making available a digital broadcast for profit without the written authorization of their respective holders or successors, and a crime of money laundering.”

The two, who are referred to in local media by their initials JAGR and MJHG, will remain in custody for  30 days. Their case is being handled by a court specialized in organized crime, which will take a closer look at the allegations. 

Initially, Pelispedia.tv remained online following the arrests, but since yesterday it is no longer available. The sister site Pelisplus is still accessible but is also expected to shut down.

Pelispedia

The pair reportedly have no other employment and made roughly $5,000 per month from the business. In addition to the arrests, several assets were seized including hardware, a 2008 Peugeot, a 2014 Volkswagon, $1,257 in cash, and two Payoneer cards. 

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment collaborated with the authorities and is pleased with the outcome thus far.

“We thank Interpol, the Uruguayan police, and prosecutors for their leadership in this important action against a major illegal streaming service operator,” ACE spokesperson Richard VanOrnum said, commenting on the news.

MPAA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin agrees and sees the shutdown of Pelispedia.tv as another example of ACE’s successful and ongoing global effort to reduce piracy.

“Each time we collaborate with law enforcement authorities to disrupt major piracy operations like Pelispedia.tv, we support the millions of people around the world working in the film and television industry and the dynamic legal marketplace for creative content,” Rivkin notes.

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

AWS Online Tech Talks – June 2018

Post Syndicated from Devin Watson original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-online-tech-talks-june-2018/

AWS Online Tech Talks – June 2018

Join us this month to learn about AWS services and solutions. New this month, we have a fireside chat with the GM of Amazon WorkSpaces and our 2nd episode of the “How to re:Invent” series. We’ll also cover best practices, deep dives, use cases and more! Join us and register today!

Note – All sessions are free and in Pacific Time.

Tech talks featured this month:

 

Analytics & Big Data

June 18, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTGet Started with Real-Time Streaming Data in Under 5 Minutes – Learn how to use Amazon Kinesis to capture, store, and analyze streaming data in real-time including IoT device data, VPC flow logs, and clickstream data.
June 20, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PT – Insights For Everyone – Deploying Data across your Organization – Learn how to deploy data at scale using AWS Analytics and QuickSight’s new reader role and usage based pricing.

 

AWS re:Invent
June 13, 2018 | 05:00 PM – 05:30 PM PTEpisode 2: AWS re:Invent Breakout Content Secret Sauce – Hear from one of our own AWS content experts as we dive deep into the re:Invent content strategy and how we maintain a high bar.
Compute

June 25, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTAccelerating Containerized Workloads with Amazon EC2 Spot Instances – Learn how to efficiently deploy containerized workloads and easily manage clusters at any scale at a fraction of the cost with Spot Instances.

June 26, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTEnsuring Your Windows Server Workloads Are Well-Architected – Get the benefits, best practices and tools on running your Microsoft Workloads on AWS leveraging a well-architected approach.

 

Containers
June 25, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTRunning Kubernetes on AWS – Learn about the basics of running Kubernetes on AWS including how setup masters, networking, security, and add auto-scaling to your cluster.

 

Databases

June 18, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTOracle to Amazon Aurora Migration, Step by Step – Learn how to migrate your Oracle database to Amazon Aurora.
DevOps

June 20, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTSet Up a CI/CD Pipeline for Deploying Containers Using the AWS Developer Tools – Learn how to set up a CI/CD pipeline for deploying containers using the AWS Developer Tools.

 

Enterprise & Hybrid
June 18, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTDe-risking Enterprise Migration with AWS Managed Services – Learn how enterprise customers are de-risking cloud adoption with AWS Managed Services.

June 19, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTLaunch AWS Faster using Automated Landing Zones – Learn how the AWS Landing Zone can automate the set up of best practice baselines when setting up new

 

AWS Environments

June 21, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTLeading Your Team Through a Cloud Transformation – Learn how you can help lead your organization through a cloud transformation.

June 21, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTEnabling New Retail Customer Experiences with Big Data – Learn how AWS can help retailers realize actual value from their big data and deliver on differentiated retail customer experiences.

June 28, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTFireside Chat: End User Collaboration on AWS – Learn how End User Compute services can help you deliver access to desktops and applications anywhere, anytime, using any device.
IoT

June 27, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTAWS IoT in the Connected Home – Learn how to use AWS IoT to build innovative Connected Home products.

 

Machine Learning

June 19, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTIntegrating Amazon SageMaker into your Enterprise – Learn how to integrate Amazon SageMaker and other AWS Services within an Enterprise environment.

June 21, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTBuilding Text Analytics Applications on AWS using Amazon Comprehend – Learn how you can unlock the value of your unstructured data with NLP-based text analytics.

 

Management Tools

June 20, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTOptimizing Application Performance and Costs with Auto Scaling – Learn how selecting the right scaling option can help optimize application performance and costs.

 

Mobile
June 25, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTDrive User Engagement with Amazon Pinpoint – Learn how Amazon Pinpoint simplifies and streamlines effective user engagement.

 

Security, Identity & Compliance

June 26, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTUnderstanding AWS Secrets Manager – Learn how AWS Secrets Manager helps you rotate and manage access to secrets centrally.
June 28, 2018 | 09:00 AM – 09:45 AM PTUsing Amazon Inspector to Discover Potential Security Issues – See how Amazon Inspector can be used to discover security issues of your instances.

 

Serverless

June 19, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTProductionize Serverless Application Building and Deployments with AWS SAM – Learn expert tips and techniques for building and deploying serverless applications at scale with AWS SAM.

 

Storage

June 26, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTDeep Dive: Hybrid Cloud Storage with AWS Storage Gateway – Learn how you can reduce your on-premises infrastructure by using the AWS Storage Gateway to connecting your applications to the scalable and reliable AWS storage services.
June 27, 2018 | 01:00 PM – 01:45 PM PTChanging the Game: Extending Compute Capabilities to the Edge – Discover how to change the game for IIoT and edge analytics applications with AWS Snowball Edge plus enhanced Compute instances.
June 28, 2018 | 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM PTBig Data and Analytics Workloads on Amazon EFS – Get best practices and deployment advice for running big data and analytics workloads on Amazon EFS.

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)

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

FCC Asks Amazon & eBay to Help Eliminate Pirate Media Box Sales

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fcc-asks-amazon-ebay-to-help-eliminate-pirate-media-box-sales-180530/

Over the past several years, anyone looking for a piracy-configured set-top box could do worse than search for one on Amazon or eBay.

Historically, people deploying search terms including “Kodi” or “fully-loaded” were greeted by page after page of Android-type boxes, each ready for illicit plug-and-play entertainment consumption following delivery.

Although the problem persists on both platforms, people are now much less likely to find infringing devices than they were 12 to 24 months ago. Under pressure from entertainment industry groups, both Amazon and eBay have tightened the screws on sellers of such devices. Now, however, both companies have received requests to stem sales from a completetey different direction.

In a letter to eBay CEO Devin Wenig and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first spotted by Ars, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly calls on the platforms to take action against piracy-configured boxes that fail to comply with FCC equipment authorization requirements or falsely display FCC logos, contrary to United States law.

“Disturbingly, some rogue set-top box manufacturers and distributors are exploiting the FCC’s trusted logo by fraudulently placing it on devices that have not been approved via the Commission’s equipment authorization process,” O’Rielly’s letter reads.

“Specifically, nine set-top box distributors were referred to the FCC in October for enabling the unlawful streaming of copyrighted material, seven of which displayed the FCC logo, although there was no record of such compliance.”

While O’Rielly admits that the copyright infringement aspects fall outside the jurisdiction of the FCC, he says it’s troubling that many of these devices are used to stream infringing content, “exacerbating the theft of billions of dollars in American innovation and creativity.”

As noted above, both Amazon and eBay have taken steps to reduce sales of pirate boxes on their respective platforms on copyright infringement grounds, something which is duly noted by O’Rielly. However, he points out that devices continue to be sold to members of the public who may believe that the devices are legal since they’re available for sale from legitimate companies.

“For these reasons, I am seeking your further cooperation in assisting the FCC in taking steps to eliminate the non-FCC compliant devices or devices that fraudulently bear the FCC logo,” the Commissioner writes (pdf).

“Moreover, if your company is made aware by the Commission, with supporting evidence, that a particular device is using a fraudulent FCC label or has not been appropriately certified and labeled with a valid FCC logo, I respectfully request that you commit to swiftly removing these products from your sites.”

In the event that Amazon and eBay take action under this request, O’Rielly asks both platforms to hand over information they hold on offending manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers.

Amazon was quick to respond to the FCC. In a letter published by Ars, Amazon’s Public Policy Vice President Brian Huseman assured O’Rielly that the company is not only dedicated to tackling rogue devices on copyright-infringement grounds but also when there is fraudulent use of the FCC’s logos.

Noting that Amazon is a key member of the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) – a group that has been taking legal action against sellers of infringing streaming devices (ISDs) and those who make infringing addons for Kodi-type systems – Huseman says that dealing with the problem is a top priority.

“Our goal is to prevent the sale of ISDs anywhere, as we seek to protect our customers from the risks posed by these devices, in addition to our interest in protecting Amazon Studios content,” Huseman writes.

“In 2017, Amazon became the first online marketplace to prohibit the sale of streaming media players that promote or facilitate piracy. To prevent the sale of these devices, we proactively scan product listings for signs of potentially infringing products, and we also invest heavily in sophisticated, automated real-time tools to review a variety of data sources and signals to identify inauthentic goods.

“These automated tools are supplemented by human reviewers that conduct manual investigations. When we suspect infringement, we take immediate action to remove suspected listings, and we also take enforcement action against sellers’ entire accounts when appropriate.”

Huseman also reveals that since implementing a proactive policy against such devices, “tens of thousands” of listings have been blocked from Amazon. In addition, the platform has been making criminal referrals to law enforcement as well as taking civil action (1,2,3) as part of ACE.

“As noted in your letter, we would also appreciate the opportunity to collaborate further with the FCC to remove non-compliant devices that improperly use the FCC logo or falsely claim FCC certification. If any FCC non-compliant devices are identified, we seek to work with you to ensure they are not offered for sale,” Huseman concludes.

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

Hong Kong Customs Arrest Pirate Streaming Device Vendors

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hong-kong-customs-arrest-pirate-streaming-device-vendors-180529/

As Internet-capable set-top boxes pour into homes across all populated continents, authorities seem almost powerless to come up with a significant response to the growing threat.

In standard form these devices, which are often Android-based, are entirely legal. However, when configured with specialist software they become piracy powerhouses providing access to all content imaginable, often at copyright holders’ expense.

A large proportion of these devices come from Asia, China in particular, but it’s relatively rare to hear of enforcement action in that part of the world. That changed this week with an announcement from Hong Kong customs detailing a series of raids in the areas of Sham Shui Po and Wan Chai.

After conducting an in-depth investigation with the assistance of copyright holders, on May 25 and 26 Customs and Excise officers launched Operation Trojan Horse, carrying out a series of raids on four premises selling suspected piracy-configured set-top boxes.

During the operation, officers arrested seven men and one woman aged between 18 and 45. Four of them were shop owners and the other four were salespeople. Around 354 suspected ‘pirate’ boxes were seized with an estimated market value of HK$320,000 (US$40,700).

“In the past few months, the department has stepped up inspections of hotspots for TV set-top boxes,” a statement from authorities reads.

“We have discovered that some shops have sold suspected illegal set-top boxes that bypass the copyright protection measures imposed by copyright holders of pay television programs allowing people to watch pay television programs for free.”

Some of the devices seized by Hong Kong Customs

During a press conference yesterday, a representative from the Customs Copyright and Trademark Investigations (Action) Division said that in the run up to the World Cup in 2018, measures against copyright infringement will be strengthened both on and online.

The announcement was welcomed by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia’s (CASBAA) Coalition Against Piracy, which is back by industry heavyweights including Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, National Basketball Association, TV5MONDE, Viacom International, and others.

“We commend the great work of Hong Kong Customs in clamping down on syndicates who profit from the sale of Illicit Streaming Devices,” said General Manager Neil Gane.

“The prevalence of ISDs in Hong Kong and across South East Asia is staggering. The criminals who sell ISDs, as well as those who operate the ISD networks and pirate websites, are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware.”

Malware warnings are very prevalent these days but it’s not something the majority of set-top box owners have a problem with. Indeed, a study carried by Sycamore Research found that pirates aren’t easily deterred by such warnings.

Nevertheless, there are definite risks for individuals selling devices when they’re configured for piracy.

Recent cases, particularly in the UK, have shown that hefty jail sentences can hit offenders while over in the United States (1,2,3), lawsuits filed by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) have the potential to end in unfavorable rulings for multiple defendants.

Although rarely reported, offenders in Hong Kong also face stiff sentences for this kind of infringement including large fines and custodial sentences of up to four years.

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

Project Floofball and more: Pi pet stuff

Post Syndicated from Janina Ander original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/project-floofball-pi-pet-stuff/

It’s a public holiday here today (yes, again). So, while we indulge in the traditional pastime of barbecuing stuff (ourselves, mainly), here’s a little trove of Pi projects that cater for our various furry friends.

Project Floofball

Nicole Horward created Project Floofball for her hamster, Harold. It’s an IoT hamster wheel that uses a Raspberry Pi and a magnetic door sensor to log how far Harold runs.

Project Floofball: an IoT hamster wheel

An IoT Hamsterwheel using a Raspberry Pi and a magnetic door sensor, to see how far my hamster runs.

You can follow Harold’s runs in real time on his ThingSpeak channel, and you’ll find photos of the build on imgur. Nicole’s Python code, as well as her template for the laser-cut enclosure that houses the wiring and LCD display, are available on the hamster wheel’s GitHub repo.

A live-streaming pet feeder

JaganK3 used to work long hours that meant he couldn’t be there to feed his dog on time. He found that he couldn’t buy an automated feeder in India without paying a lot to import one, so he made one himself. It uses a Raspberry Pi to control a motor that turns a dispensing valve in a hopper full of dry food, giving his dog a portion of food at set times.

A transparent cylindrical hopper of dry dog food, with a motor that can turn a dispensing valve at the lower end. The motor is connected to a Raspberry Pi in a plastic case. Hopper, motor, Pi, and wiring are all mounted on a board on the wall.

He also added a web cam for live video streaming, because he could. Find out more in JaganK3’s Instructable for his pet feeder.

Shark laser cat toy

Sam Storino, meanwhile, is using a Raspberry Pi to control a laser-pointer cat toy with a goshdarned SHARK (which is kind of what I’d expect from the guy who made the steampunk-looking cat feeder a few weeks ago). The idea is to keep his cats interested and active within the confines of a compact city apartment.

Raspberry Pi Automatic Cat Laser Pointer Toy

Post with 52 votes and 7004 views. Tagged with cat, shark, lasers, austin powers, raspberry pi; Shared by JeorgeLeatherly. Raspberry Pi Automatic Cat Laser Pointer Toy

If I were a cat, I would definitely be entirely happy with this. Find out more on Sam’s website.

And there’s more

Michel Parreno has written a series of articles to help you monitor and feed your pet with Raspberry Pi.

All of these makers are generous in acknowledging the tutorials and build logs that helped them with their projects. It’s lovely to see the Raspberry Pi and maker community working like this, and I bet their projects will inspire others too.

Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m late for a barbecue.

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Google’s Chrome Web Store Spammed With Dodgy ‘Pirate’ Movie Links

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/googles-chrome-web-store-spammed-with-dodgy-pirate-movie-links-180527/

Launched in 2010, Google’s Chrome Store is the go-to place for people looking to pimp their Chrome browser.

Often referred to as apps and extensions, the programs offered by the platform run in Chrome and can perform a dazzling array of functions, from improving security and privacy, to streaming video or adding magnet links to torrent sites.

Also available on the Chrome Store are themes, which can be installed locally to change the appearance of the Chrome browser.

While there are certainly plenty to choose from, some additions to the store over the past couple of months are not what most people have come to expect from the add-on platform.

Free movies on Chrome’s Web Store?

As the image above suggests, unknown third parties appear to be exploiting the Chrome Store’s ‘theme’ section to offer visitors access to a wide range of pirate movies including Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Rampage.

When clicking through to the page offering Ready Player One, for example, users are presented with a theme that apparently allows them to watch the movie online in “Full HD Online 4k.”

Of course, the whole scheme is a dubious scam which eventually leads users to Vioos.co, a platform that tries very hard to give the impression of being a pirate streaming portal but actually provides nothing of use.

Nothing to see here

In fact, as soon as one clicks the play button on movies appearing on Vioos.co, visitors are re-directed to another site called Zumastar which asks people to “create a free account” to “access unlimited downloads & streaming.”

“With over 20 million titles, Zumastar is your number one entertainment resource. Join hundreds of thousands of satisfied members and enjoy the hottest movies,” the site promises.

With this kind of marketing, perhaps we should think about this offer for a second. Done. No thanks.

In extended testing, some visits to Vioos.co resulted in a redirection to EtnaMedia.net, a domain that was immediately blocked by MalwareBytes due to suspected fraud. However, after allowing the browser to make the connection, TF was presented with another apparent subscription site.

We didn’t follow through with a sign-up but further searches revealed upset former customers complaining of money being taken from their credit cards when they didn’t expect that to happen.

Quite how many people have signed up to Zumastar or EtnaMedia via this convoluted route from Google’s Chrome Store isn’t clear but a worrying number appear to have installed the ‘themes’ (if that’s what they are) offered on each ‘pirate movie’ page.

At the time of writing the ‘free Watch Rampage Online Full Movie’ ‘theme’ has 2,196 users, the “Watch Avengers Infinity War Full Movie” variant has 974, the ‘Watch Ready Player One 2018 Full HD’ page has 1,031, and the ‘Watch Black Panther Online Free 123putlocker’ ‘theme’ has more than 1,800. Clearly, a worrying number of people will click and install just about anything.

We haven’t tested the supposed themes to see what they do but it’s a cast-iron guarantee that they don’t offer the movies displayed and there’s always a chance they’ll do something awful. As a rule of thumb, it’s nearly always wise to steer clear of anything with “full movie” in the title, they can rarely be trusted.

Finally, those hoping to get some guidance on quality from the reviews on the Chrome Store will be bitterly disappointed.

Garbage reviews, probably left by the scammers

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

Putin Asked to Investigate Damage Caused By Telegram Web-Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/putin-asked-to-investigate-damage-caused-by-telegram-web-blocking-180526/

After a Moscow court gave the go-ahead for Telegram to be banned in Russia last month, the Internet became a battleground.

On the instructions of telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor, ISPs across Russia tried to block Telegram by blackholing millions of IP addresses. The effect was both dramatic and pathetic. While Telegram remained stubbornly online, countless completely innocent services suffered outages as Roscomnadzor charged ahead with its mission.

Over the past several weeks, Roscomnadzor has gone some way to clean up the mess, partly by removing innocent Google and Amazon IP addresses from Russia’s blacklist. However, the collateral damage was so widespread it’s called into question the watchdog’s entire approach to web-blockades and whether they should be carried out at any cost.

This week, thanks to an annual report presented to President Vladimir Putin by business ombudsman Boris Titov, the matter looks set to be escalated. ‘The Book of Complaints and Suggestions of Russian Business’ contains comments from Internet ombudsman Dmitry Marinichev, who says that the Prosecutor General’s Office should launch an investigation into Roscomnadzor’s actions.

Marinichev said that when attempting to take down Telegram using aggressive technical means, Roscomnadzor relied upon “its own interpretation of court decisions” to provide guidance, TASS reports.

“When carrying out blockades of information resources, Roskomnadzor did not assess the related damage caused to them,” he said.

More than 15 million IP addresses were blocked, many of them with functions completely unrelated to the operations of Telegram. Marinichev said that the consequences were very real for those who suffered collateral damage.

“[The blocking led] to a temporary inaccessibility of Internet resources of a number of Russian enterprises in the Internet sector, including several banks and government information resources,” he reported.

In advice to the President, Marinichev suggests that the Prosecutor General’s Office should look into “the legality and validity of Roskomnadzor’s actions” which led to the “violation of availability of information resources of commercial companies” and “threatened the integrity, sustainability, and functioning of the unified telecommunications network of the Russian Federation and its critical information infrastructure.”

Early May, it was reported that in addition to various web services, around 50 VPN, proxy and anonymization platforms had been blocked for providing access to Telegram. In a May 22 report, that number had swelled to more than 80 although 10 were later unblocked after they stopped providing access to the messaging platform.

This week, Roscomnadzor has continued with efforts to block access to torrent and streaming platforms. In a new wave of action, the telecoms watchdog ordered ISPs to block at least 47 mirrors and proxies providing access to previously blocked sites.

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