Tag Archives: sweden

Swedish Internet Users Face New Wave of Piracy Cash Demands

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/swedish-internet-users-face-new-wave-of-piracy-cash-demands-170225/

Last year, mass ‘copyright-trolling’ hit Sweden for the first time. An organization calling itself Spridningskollen (Distribution Check) claimed its new initiative would save the entertainment industries and educate the masses.

Predictably there was a huge backlash, both among the public and in the media, something which eventually led the group to discontinue its operations in the country. Now, however, a new wave of trolling is about to hit the country.

Swedish publication Breakit.se reports that a major new offensive is about to begin, with a Danish law firm Njord and movie company Zentropa at the helm.

The companies are targeting the subscribers of several ISPs, including Telia, Tele2 and Bredbandsbolaget, the provider that will shortly begin blocking The Pirate Bay. It’s not clear how many people will be targeted but Breakit says that many thousands of IP addresses cover 42 pages of court documents.

Bredbandsbolaget confirmed that a court order exists and it will be forced to hand over the personal details of its subscribers.

“The first time we received such a request, we appealed because we do not think that the privacy-related sacrifice is proportionate to the crimes that were allegedly committed. Unfortunately we lost and must now follow the court order,” a spokesperson said.

It appears the trolls are taking extreme measures to ensure that ISPs comply. Some Swedish ISPs have a policy of deleting IP address logs but earlier this week a court ordered Telia to preserve data or face a $22,000 fine.

Jeppe Brogaard Clausen of the Njord lawfirm says that after identifying the subscribers he wants to “enter into non-aggressive dialogue” with them. But while this might sound like a friendly approach, the ultimate aim will be to extract money. It’s also worth considering who is behind this operation.

The BitTorrent tracking in the case was carried out by MaverickEye, a German-based company that continually turns up in similar cases all over Europe and the United States. The company and its operator Patrick Achache are part of the notorious Guardaley trolling operation.

Also of interest is the involvement of UK-based Copyright Management Services Ltd, whose sole director is none other than Patrick Achache himself. The company is based at the same London address as fellow copyright trolling partner Hatton and Berkeley, which previously sent cash settlement demands to Internet users in the UK.

In addition to two Zentropa titles, the movies involved in the Swedish action are CELL, IT, London Has Fallen, Mechanic: Resurrection, Criminal and September of Shiraz. All have featured in previous Guardaley cases in the United States.

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

“We Won’t Block Pirate Bay,” Swedish Telecoms Giant Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/wont-block-pirate-bay-swedish-telecoms-giant-says-170221/

Last week after almost three years of legal wrangling, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry finally achieved their dream of blocking a ‘pirate’ site

After losing an October 2015 trial at the Stockholm District Court, the rightsholders went to appeal last September, a hearing that ran for several days at the brand new Patent and Market Court.

Last Monday the court ruled that Bredbandsbolaget, the ISP at the center of the action, must block The Pirate Bay.

For the rest of Europe, where blocking is becoming more and more commonplace, it was just another day at the office. Back in Sweden, however, the reaction was more animated. It appears that Internet service providers don’t like the idea of becoming copyright policemen and as a result, none voiced support for the decision.

In other EU countries where blocking injunctions have been achieved, ISPs have often resigned themselves to the same fate and smoothed the process moving forward. The rightsholders are still holding on to the idea that might be a possibility in Sweden, as spokesman Per Strömbäck told IDG this morning.

“We believe that the legal situation is now clear and that ISPs should act in loyalty with Bredbandsbolaget and apply the same rules,” Strömbäck said.

“We believe and hope that we will get to a solution as we have in Norway, Denmark and the UK, where telecom operators cooperate and all block the pirate sites.”

But the signs are not good.

Last week ISP Bahnhof absolutely slammed the decision to block The Pirate Bay, describing the effort as signaling the “death throes” of the copyright industry. It even hinted that it may offer some kind of technical solution to customers who are prevented from accessing the site.

For those familiar with Bahnhof’s stance over the years, this response didn’t come as a surprise. The ISP is traditionally pro-freedom and has gone out of its way to make life difficult for copyright enforcers of all kinds.

However, as one of the leading telecoms companies in Sweden and neighboring Norway, ISP Telia is more moderate. Nevertheless, it too says it has no intention of blocking The Pirate Bay, unless it is forced to do so by law.

“No, we will not block if we are not forced to do so by a court,” a company press officer said this morning.

Telia says that the decision last week from the Patent and Market Court affects only Bredbandsbolaget, indicating that a fresh legal process will be required to get it to respond. That eventuality appears to be understood by the rightsholders but they’re keeping their options open.

“It depends on how [the ISPs] choose to act,” Strömbäck told IDG. “One can have lot of hypothetical scenarios in which some follow, but others do not. Or where some protest loudly and generate debate.”

Thus far, no ISPs have publicly indicated they’re a “follower”. Telia will not be “following”, while one can safely put Bahnhof into the “protest loudly” category. There are plenty of others, however, so it will take more time to see how this plays out.

Interestingly, way back in 2008 after the IFPI forced Danish ISP ‘Tele2’ to block access to The Pirate Bay, Telia received a letter warning that legal measures would follow if it didn’t follow suit. The ISP refused, noting that blocking would be illegal in Sweden.

While subsequent decisions from the EU and indeed Sweden’s courts have now indicated otherwise, it’s been nine long years since that initial threat to the ISP. But in all that time Telia hasn’t changed its position.

Almost a decade ago it advised copyright holders to move away from the idea of blocking and concentrate on providing better legal alternatives instead. Entertainment companies have indeed made significant progress on that front, but today Telia is standing by its long-standing advice, that blocking will not provide the solution.

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

Study: 70% of Young Swedish Men Are Video Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/study-70-of-young-swedish-men-are-video-pirates-170217/

As illustrated by the ruling handed down against ISP Bredbandsbolaget by the country’s Patent and Market Court of Appeal this week, piracy is still considered a big problem in Sweden.

Despite better access to legal services such as Spotify and Netflix, some citizens still prefer to get their fix from pirate sites. Whether that’s via The Pirate Bay and torrents or newer streaming-based portals, piracy is still a popular route for obtaining media.

According to figures just released by media industry consultants Mediavision, in January 2017 almost a quarter of all Swedes aged between 15 and 74 admitted either streaming or downloading movies from ‘pirate’ sites during the past month.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the tendency to do so is greater among the young. More than half of 15 to 24-year-olds said they’d used a torrent or streaming site during December. When concentrating that down to only young men in the same age group, the figure leaps to 70%

Mediavision has been tracking the piracy habits of Scandinavians since 2010 and actually reports an overall increase in piracy over the past seven years. However, piracy levels have remained relatively static during the past three years, with roughly 25% of citizens admitting to engaging in the practice.

The company, which previously reported on the activities of Popcorn Time users, says that illegal consumption of media is far more prevalent in Sweden than in the neighboring Nordic countries of Norway, Denmark and Finland.

“The ruling against Bredbandsbolaget is a big thing in this context,” says Natalia Borelius, Project Manager at Mediavision.

“The measures taken to date, with, for example, shutting down illegal websites, has been shown to have limited effect on illegal consumption. In Finland and Denmark, where site blocking has been in place for years, piracy is less than half as prevalent as in Sweden.”

As a result of this week’s decision, rightsholders now have the opportunity to obtain injunctions against all Swedish Internet service providers, barring them from providing customer access to not only The Pirate Bay, but other allegedly infringing sites worldwide.

While this may have some effect on the habits of casual pirates, it remains to be seen how the masses respond. Blocking a couple of sites via one ISP certainly won’t have the desired effect, a conclusion supported by various studies (1, 2). Expect more blocking then, sooner rather than later.

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

Pirate Bay Blockade Signals Copyright Industry’s Death Throes, ISP Boss Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-blockade-signals-copyright-industrys-death-throes-isp-boss-says-170214/

While in practical terms the impact may not be as pronounced as it would’ve been half a decade ago, yesterday a Court of Appeal in Sweden made a landmark decision.

After years of litigation by Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry, local Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget (Broadband Company) was ordered to block The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer.

The case went to trial at the Stockholm District Court during October 2015, ending in victory for the ISP at the District Court, but the Court of Appeal’s decision unraveled all of that, ordering Bredbandsbolaget to implement “technical measures” to prevent its customers accessing the ‘pirate’ sites through a number of domain names and URLs.

Considering the importance of having The Pirate Bay blocked on home turf, the official response from the industry was somewhat muted. Per Strömbäck, spokesman for the copyright holders, said that it’s good that the legal situation is becoming more clear. Representatives from the ISPs were much more animated.

Bredbandsbolaget itself said it was surprised at the decision, noting that not only does Swedish law does not support it, but it will also fail to achieve its aims.

“The Patent and Market Court of Appeal has not taken into account the intention of the legislator with Swedish law,” the company said.

“Our belief is that this type of blockage is not effective to prevent unlawful distribution of copyrighted work on the internet. Nor is it a good guarantee that creator will get paid for their works.

“Services must evolve and become more customer orientated. The film and television services that grow the most today are those who, instead of seeing the internet as a threat, see opportunities in digitalisation.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the reaction of Jon Karlung, boss of ISP Bahnhof, was much more scathing. Karlung has positioned himself and his company as defenders of Internet freedom and this decision has him all kinds of fired up.

“The entire industry is in shock. It is disastrous in so many ways, the judgment is a deathblow to a free and open Internet,” Karlung said.

“We are the postman and the postman does not read people’s mail, or take control over the content. [This ruling signals] the death throes of the copyright industry,” he added.

While the current action involves just a single ISP, it is crystal clear that the copyright holders didn’t come all this way to have just a couple of sites blocked by one provider. They will be back, probably sooner rather than later, to obtain more injunctions against more providers against a broad range of sites.

At this stage, it seems that any site with a large proportion of infringing content could become a target and Karlung is concerned just how far things could go.

“One can almost think of what the consequences are going to be. There’s copyrighted content on YouTube. And should we block Google, how will that work?”

According to Bredbandsbolaget’s interpretation of the Court ruling, it must block specific URLs to stop customers getting access to The Pirate Bay. However, there are fines attached if the ISP fails to do so and as everyone knows, blocking the site can be extremely difficult. As a result, the ISP says it needs time to work things out.

“Exactly what is it to be blocked? This is very technically complicated. It is extremely difficult to block access to sites. What this actually means to us, we need to analyze in detail,” the ISP said.

But for Bahnhof’s Jon Karlung, the approach seems more adversarial. At some point, it is almost certain his company will be subjected to a similar injunction that will force it to block The Pirate Bay, something the ISP chief vehemently opposes. However, speaking with HD.se, the Swede hinted at another possibility.

Co-opting the Court of Appeal’s instructions for Bredbandsbolaget to use “technical measures” to block The Pirate Bay, Karlung told the publication he may yet introduce “technical countermeasures” for the convenience of his customers.

Quite what that means is unclear, but offering VPN-like services is something that the company is already familiar with. Way back in 2014, Bahnhof provided its customers with a no-logging VPN service to protect their privacy.

That being said, if it chose to offer something along similar lines to unblock The Pirate Bay, the situation could get very interesting indeed.

In the UK, where a similar injunction forbids the country’s leading ISPs from providing customer access to The Pirate Bay, dozens of smaller ISPs still legally allow their customers to access the site. However, back in 2014 when a proxy provider decided to do the same, he was arrested by police. He’s still awaiting trial.

Either way, one gets the impression that the war for the so-called “free and open Internet” is far from over in Sweden – and there are still some people left that are prepared to fight for it.

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

The Pirate Bay Must Be Blocked in Sweden, Court of Appeal Rules

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bay-must-be-blocked-in-sweden-court-of-appeal-rules-170213/

In 2014, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry teamed up in a lawsuit designed to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget (Broadband Company) to block The Pirate Bay and streaming portal Swefilmer.

In a move that was to irk the ISP, the rightsholders argued that Bredbandsbolaget should be held liable for the infringements of the ‘pirate’ sites, if it refused to block them.

In response, Bredbandsbolaget dug in its heels while insisting that its only role is to provide subscribers with unfettered access to the Internet. The upholding (or otherwise) of this concept would be a landmark moment for all Swedish ISPs.

The case went to trial at the Stockholm District Court during October 2015. Considering the outcomes of similar cases against ISPs elsewhere in Europe, Bredbandsbolaget was expected to lose. Instead, however, the ISP won its case, with the District Court ruling that when Bredbandsbolaget facilitated access to The Pirate Bay, that did not amount to participation in a crime under Swedish law.

Soon after, the defeated rightsholders filed an appeal. The case was heard again last September, running for several days at the brand new Patent and Market Court of Appeal. Today the Court made its decision and it’s bad news for the ISP and by extension other ISPs and their collective customers.

In a ruling handed down minutes ago, the Court overruled the earlier ruling of the District Court and ordered Bredbandsbolaget to implement “technical measures” to prevent its customers accessing the ‘pirate’ sites through a number of domain names and URLs.

The Court found that under EU law it is possible for copyright holders to obtain an injunction against ISPs whose services are used to commit copyright infringement, even if the ISP only provides its customers with Intenet access. It found that the Swedish Copyright Act should be interpreted “in the light of EU law.”

The Court also considered whether such a blocking injunction would be proportional. In this respect, it found that since the content being made available via The Pirate Bay and Swefilmer is primarily copyright protected and distributed illegally, then an injunction would be an appropriate response.

“In today’s judgment, the Patent and Market Court held that right holders such as film and music companies can obtain a court order in Sweden against an ISP, which forces the ISP to take measures to prevent copyright infringement committed by others on the Internet,” Court of Appeals Judge Christine Lager said in a statement.

“The decision is based in EU law and Swedish Law should be interpreted in the light of EU law. Similar injunctions have already been announced, such as in Denmark, Finland, France and the UK, but the verdict today is the first of its kind in Sweden.”

The injunction has a time limit of three and years and has a penalty of $56,000 if the ISP fails to comply. The verdict can not be appealed.

“It is a dangerous path to go down, which forces Internet providers to monitor and evaluate content on the Internet and block websites with illegal content in order to avoid becoming accomplices,” Bredbandsbolaget and fellow ISP Telenor warned in an earlier statement.

“We don’t think that tougher legislation and blocking requirements are an effective way to stop the illegal distribution of copyrighted works on the Internet.”

While the current injunction covers just two sites, this ruling opens the floodgates to rightsholders looking to block potentially hundreds of sites.

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

Using Pi to experience another’s reality

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/using-pi-experience-anothers-reality/

Have you ever fancied being part of a real-life version of Being John Malkovich, without the danger of becoming trapped in a portal into the mind of an actor? This project helps you experience just that.

European telecoms operator Tele2 recently relaunched their phone and internet service with a particularly hefty data plan offering 100GB that customers can use across nine different devices, and they asked creative agency Your Majesty to market the new offering. The agency had a novel take on the brief:

In Sweden, a lot of discussion around connectivity tends to be negative, especially when it comes to controlling our exposure to media that can alter our outlook on our surroundings and the world. What if we made a campaign to show limitless connectivity in a way that changes our perspective?

Striving to alter that negative viewpoint, they didn’t focus on anything as simple as nine devices all working at once, but rather went in a very different direction.

Tele2: Settle For More – Case Film

Tele2 is a Swedish telecom company that provides phone and Internet services. They are re-launching in a big way to become the best data provider in the country and asked us to create a campaign to showcase a killer offer.

The final outcome was an immersive online experience, allowing viewers the chance to ‘step inside the minds’ of nine Swedish celebrities, including actor Joel Kinnaman and our favourite Queen of – ahem! – shoddy robots, Simone Giertz.

Users of the Pi-powered device

A custom backpack housed a 3D-printed rig to support a Raspberry Pi 3 for collection of sensor data, and a colour-grading box for footage recorded by a GoPro-equipped helmet.

Image of components

“Wait: did she just say ‘collection of sensor data’?” Yes. Yes, I did. Along with the video and audio streams from the on-board GoPro and microphone, the system collected data on heart rate, emotional state, and even sweat. Delicious.

screenshots from the device

The brain sensor data collected from the EEG then controls the colour of the footage as it’s relayed back to the audience: green for calm, yellow for happy, red for angry, and blue for sad. We can confirm that Simone’s screen turned a deep shade of purple on more than one occasion, and her heart rate actually shot up when she thought she had burned out some servos.

Videos from the various participants can be viewed at the Tele2 YouTube channel, including Joel, Simone, entrepreneur Cristina Stenbeck, and altitude instructor Anna Lundh.

Working with marketing agency Edelman Deportivo and digital studio Wolfmother Co., Your Majesty documented the impact of the campaign on Bēhance, so check it out.

The post Using Pi to experience another’s reality appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Former Prime Minister Admits to Being a Movie Pirate

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/former-prime-minister-admits-to-being-a-movie-pirate-170205/

streamingkeyTwo to three decades ago, being a music, video or software pirate had virtually no social stigma attached at all. Pirate cassettes of all kinds were swapped in public and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who cared.

These days, however, things are somewhat different. While piracy is still widespread, it’s likely that someone will be around to tut, actively complain, or even report the activity, especially if it happens online.

That’s the result of years of hard work by copyright holders, who have elevated the act to “serious business” status within the governments of most developed nations. As a result, most politicians now speak of piracy in negative terms, in public at least.

For former Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, however, talking about piracy in a presumed private situation turned out to be risky business.

It all went south when Milanovic was telephoned by prank-call show “U Zdrav Mozak” (“In Healthy Brain”), which is a shortened version of a local phrase meaning to screw with someone. The show takes delight in messing with famous people and last week it was the turn of Croatia’s former prime minister.

Milanovic is currently in between jobs and is reportedly looking to become a business advisor. As a result, show host Davor Jurkotic called Milanovic pretending to be Mark Russinovich, CTO of Microsoft Azure.

Around three minutes into the conversation the topic turned to movies, with “Russinovich” saying that he watches them when out of work. At this point, Milanovic revealed he likes to do the same.

“As a rule, I watch them through these pirate apps. I shouldn’t say that… but… Moviebox, Cinemabox…,” Milanovic said, referring to the popular pirate tablet and phone applications.

Continuing the conversation, the fake Mark Russinovich said that using those apps is illegal.

“But that is a felony, Mr Milanovic. You shouldn’t be doing that,” he said.

Switching to English, Milanovic – who trained as a lawyer – indicated that he felt otherwise, with an offhand “Well, it’s like…”

Of course, “Russinovich” was happy to keep up the charade.

“In England, if they found out, especially if you were the Prime Minister, they immediately come and knock on the door,” the host warned, rapping his knuckles on the table for effect.

But Milanovic had other ideas about how things might go down.

“Yeah, right! And what if the app isn’t mine, if the iPad isn’t mine?” he said. “You know what I’ll tell you? I think I have maybe two parking violations. I am the man who respects the law of the land.”

After a conversational diversion for a couple of minutes, the discussion returned to piracy. And it turns out that the former prime minister understands his pirate politics.

“But this is something that is still developing, ethically and legally,” he said.

“In Sweden, you have a Pirate Party, in Sweden that is a more organized/regulated country than the USA. And they [Pirate Party] got 12% at the elections. So what is moral these days?”

While it would’ve been good to hear more on the piracy front, the prank eventually came to an end when the fake Russinovich said that Microsoft wanted to invest in speedboats that can travel underwater and also fly.

“This is U Zdrav Mozak, right?” Milanovic guessed, bursting into laughter.

So a good sport it seems, as well as a secret pirate admirer.

Hvala Vlaho!

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

Swedish Govt. Mulls Tougher Punishments to Tackle Pirate Sites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Landmark Movie Streaming Trial Gets Underway in Sweden

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/landmark-movie-streaming-trial-gets-underway-in-sweden-170116/

swefilmlogoFounded half a decade ago, Swefilmer grew to become Sweden’s most popular movie and TV show streaming site. Together with Dreamfilm, another site operating in the same niche, Swefilmer is said to have accounted for 25% of all web TV viewing in Sweden.

In the summer of 2015, local man Ola Johansson revealed that he’d been raided by the police under suspicion of being involved in running the site. In March 2015, a Turkish national was arrested in Germany on a secret European arrest warrant. The now 26-year-old was accused of receiving donations from users and setting up Swefilmer’s deals with advertisers.

In a subsequent indictment filed at the Varberg District Court, the men were accused of copyright infringement offenses relating to the unlawful distribution of more than 1,400 movies. However, just hours after the trial got underway last June, it was suspended, when a lawyer for one of the men asked to wait for an important EU copyright case to run its course.

That case, between Dutch blog GeenStijl.nl and Playboy, had seen a Dutch court ask the EU Court of Justice to rule whether unauthorized links to copyrighted content could be seen as a ‘communication to the public’ under Article 3(1) of the Copyright Directive, and whether those links facilitated copyright infringement.

Last September, the European Court of Justice ruled that it is usually acceptable to link to copyrighted content without permission when people are not aware content is infringing and when they do so on a non-profit basis. In commercial cases, the rules are much more strict.

The Swefilmer siteswefilmer

In light of that ruling, the pair return to the Varberg District Court today, accused of making more than $1.5m from their activities between November 2013 and June 2015.

While Swedish prosecutions against sites such as The Pirate Bay have made global headlines, the case against Swefilmer is the first of its kind against a stream-links portal. Prosecutor Anna Ginner and Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén believe they have the evidence needed to take down the pair.

“Swefilmer is a typical example of how a piracy operation looks today: fully commercial, well organized and great efforts expended to conceal itself. This applies particularly to the principal of the site,” Pontén told IDG.

According to Ginner, the pair ran an extensive operation and generated revenues from a number of advertising companies. They did not act alone but the duo were the ones that were identified by, among other things, their IP addresses.

The 26-year-old, who was arrested in Germany, was allegedly the money man who dealt with the advertisers. In addition to copyright infringement offenses, he stands accused of money laundering.

According to IDG, he will plead not guilty. His lawyer gave no hints why but suggested the reasons will become evident during the trial.

The younger man, who previously self-identified as Ola Johansson, is accused of being the day-to-day operator of the site, which included uploading movies to other sites where Swefilmer linked. He is said to have received a modest sum for his work, around $3,800.

“I think what’s interesting for the Swedish court is that this case has such clear elements of organized crime compared to what we have seen before,” Anna Ginner concludes.

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

RightsAlliance Forces Ten-Year-Old Site to Delete All Torrents

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/rightsalliance-forces-ten-year-old-site-to-delete-all-torrents-170102/

deletePreviously known as Antipiratbyrån, Rights Alliance is Sweden’s foremost anti-piracy group. It has been front and center of countless copyright battles, including one that ended with the jailing of The Pirate Bay’s founders.

While The Pirate Bay continues to this very day, another long-time Rights Alliance target has just thrown in the towel.

Founded around 2005, ‘The Internationals’ was a tight-knit private tracker with a decent reputation for content availability. That placed it on the radar of copyright holders, who started an investigation.

In 2009, in the wake of The Pirate Bay convictions, then-Antipiratbyrån sent out a batch of warnings to other sites hosted in Sweden. Shut down or else, they warned. The Internationals heeded the warning almost immediately, but after a month the site returned.

Two years later in 2011, police carried out raids in two locations in Sweden, seizing the site’s tracker and community data servers. Two men were also arrested, including the site’s operator, Joel Larsson.

In 2015, Larsson was found guilty of copyright infringement and was sentenced to 90 hours community service. In the meantime, however, The Internationals had already been resurrected under another domain name and was operating normally.

A few days ago, however, Rights Alliance showed that it has a long memory. According to a report from The Internationals operator ‘Hachiko’, the site received correspondence from the anti-piracy group ordering it to shut down.

“Hi all. As of now, all torrents on The Internationals has been removed. Download, upload, offers and requests have been deactivated,” Hachiko told the site’s members.

“Why? We’ve been informed on Dec. 29, -16, by a representative, Anders Nilsson, from something called ‘Rättighetsalliansen’, that it’s illegal according to local laws in their country, Sweden.”

Anders Nilsson is a Rights Alliance investigator and former policeman who has been with the anti-piracy outfit for a number of years.

“Due to this fact, we have no other option than to disable all torrents and deactivate all possibilities to engage in what they call illegal file-sharing,” Hachiko said.

internationals

While all torrents have now disappeared from the site, it will stay open to enable the community to stay together. Whether that will happen will remain to be seen. History tells us that sites rarely maintain their strength after the content has been removed.

Aside from its long-running issues with copyright holders, The Internationals will be remembered for being perhaps the only site to have its webhost prosecuted for its activities. When the site’s operator was raided in 2011, the owner of webhosting company PatrikWeb was also detained.

Patrik Lagerman had been previously ordered by Rights Alliance to take down The Internationals’ site but without a court order, he refused. That eventually landed him in court but he stood firm and was acquitted of all charges.

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

ISPs: Blocking The Pirate Bay is Dangerous Censorship

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-blocking-the-pirate-bay-is-dangerous-censorship-161211/

thepirateThe Pirate Bay is without doubt the most censored website on the Internet.

Countries all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, with Europe being at the forefront.

This week copyright holders and ISPs went to court in Sweden, as part of a prolonged legal battle to have the site blocked on its home turf.

Two years ago Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget to block access to The Pirate Bay and Swefilmer.

The rightsholders argued that the ISP is liable for the copyright infringements of its customers if it fails to implement a blockade. However, the Stockholm District Court disagreed and sided with the Internet provider in its ruling late last year.

Now, both parties have argued their case before the Appeals Court. A final decision will be issued at a later date, but Bredbandsbolaget and fellow ISP Telenor warn that a blocking requirement will have serious implications.

“It is a dangerous path to go down, which forces Internet providers to monitor and evaluate content on the Internet and block websites with illegal content in order to avoid becoming accomplices,” the companies write in a joint statement.

Copyright holders have pointed out that similar orders were issued in neighboring countries, but the ISPs stress that a mandatory block will be an unprecedented form of censorship under Swedish law.

“The copyright holders argue that the blockades they request are similar to those in neighboring Nordic countries. But with the legislation we have in Sweden, it means rightsholders’ demands require a form of censorship that has no equivalent in any other EU country.”

The ISPs hope that the Court of Appeal will come to the same conclusion as the District Court; that ISPs which merely provide access to the Internet are not complicit in crimes that are committed by their customers.

While Bredbandsbolaget and Telenor don’t expect that the case will go to the Supreme Court, they believe that the rightsholders will try to convince lawmakers to make blocking requests easier. This is not the right way to go, they say.

“We don’t think that tougher legislation and blocking requirements are an effective way to stop the illegal distribution of copyrighted works on the Internet,” the ISPs note.

Instead, they urge media companies and Internet providers to start collaborating to come to effective and mutually agreeable solutions. Thus far, they have shown little interest in doing that, the ISPs note.

“We hope that the rightholders will be more open to dialogue when this lawsuit is over,” they conclude.

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

Pirate Bay Blocking Case Heads Back to Court in Sweden

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-blocking-case-heads-back-to-court-in-sweden-161206/

tpbOf all websites in the piracy landscape, few can claim to be as hounded as The Pirate Bay (TPB). Due to its resilience and refusal to step into line, the site has been at the core of dozens of direct and indirect court cases for more than a decade.

Today, another process gets underway, with yet another Internet service provider arguing that it should not be held responsible for the actions of The Pirate Bay, or its pirating users.

The case has its roots back in 2014, when Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry teamed up in a lawsuit designed to force Swedish ISP Bredbandsbolaget (Broadband Company) to block the site.

The rightsholders argued that Bredbandsbolaget should be held liable unless it blocked TPB, but the ISP refused to comply. It stated that its only role is to provide customers with Internet access while facilitating the free flow of information.

The case originally went to trial at the Stockholm District Court last October. In line with several other similar rulings elsewhere in Europe, the ISP was expected to lose its case. Instead, it prevailed, with the District Court concluding that Bredbandsbolaget’s actions in facilitating access to the site did not amount to participation in a crime under Swedish law.

Of course, the rightsholders inevitably filed an appeal and today, almost exactly a year later, the parties are set to face off again in a brand new, dedicated venue.

Since September 2016, Sweden has had two new courts. The Patent and Market Court and the Patent and Market Court of Appeal are specialist courts dedicated to tackling intellectual property, competition, and marketing law matters.

The Patent and Market Court is a division of Stockholm District Court while the Patent and Market Court of Appeal is a division of the Svea Court of Appeal. Today’s Pirate Bay case will be heard at the latter.

Bredbandsbolaget’s position remains unchanged. The ISP wants to remain a neutral supplier of Internet connectivity and is alarmed at the prospect of being held liable for any content passing through its infrastructure. While today the discussion is about copyrighted movies, TV shows and music, tomorrow it could be about other offenses allegedly carried out online. The scope is enormous.

Per Strömbäck, representing the copyright holders, told IDG that ISPs like Bredbandsbolaget have knowledge of infringing acts but choose to do nothing about them. This is something the content companies want to change.

“We want to get to a point where a court can order an Internet service provider to block subscribers from accessing an illegal site. The telecom companies will not make that decision themselves,” he says.

A defeat for Bredbandsbolaget in this appeal could have far-reaching consequences. As seen in other countries around Europe, once rightsholders succeed in getting one site blocked, the floodgates open with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of similar requests to block additional domains.

The case begins today and is expected to conclude on Thursday.

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

Surprise! Aussie Internet Pirates Are The Best Customers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/surprise-aussie-internet-pirates-are-the-best-customers-161121/

piratkeybFor years, Australian citizens have been subjected to intense criticism over their eager consumption of unauthorized content. Anti-piracy groups have insisted that Aussies simply don’t want to pay, but anecdotal evidence suggested otherwise.

Many of those frequenting torrent, streaming, and similar portals have often stated their motivations in different terms. Content providers treat Aussies as second class citizens, they argue, debuting material later, less conveniently, and at increased cost.

More recently, however, the situation has been improving and new research from the government suggests that when people are presented with sensible legal alternatives, they are prepared to give up, or at least reduce, their pirating ways.

Conducted on behalf of the Department of Communications and the Arts between January and March 2016, the survey sampled 2,400 people aged 12 and up. It aimed to understand consumption of four types of online content – music, movies, TV shows, and video games. It also sought to understand attitudes to piracy, including the role pricing plays in media consumption.

As a starting point, the survey found that 6 out of 10 Internet users (62%) consumed at least one item of digital content during the period, up from 60% in the same period 2015.

While those volumes are relatively static, there was a difference in how that content was consumed. In 2015, 43% obtained content by downloading but in 2016 that had reduced to 39%. Despite it being the most popular download category overall, the largest drops were witnessed in the music sector, from 29% last year to 26% in 2016.

Streaming, on the other hand, increased from 54% to 57% year on year, with TV shows and movies making the biggest gains.

“The proportion of internet users who streamed TV programs increased from 34% to 38% (making TV the most commonly accessed content type via online streaming) and the proportion of internet users who streamed movies increased from 25% to 29%,” the report reads.

This year the most-consumed content were TV shows (41%, up from 38% in 2015), music (39%, down from 42% in 2015) and movies (33%) and video games (15%).

When all four content types were considered, the survey found that consumers streaming content on a weekly basis increased significantly, with 71% doing so for music and videos games, 55% for TV programs and 51% for movies.

YouTube remained the most popular services, followed by iTunes/Apple platforms. Unsurprisingly, Netflix is doing particularly well in third place.

“In 2016, 27% of consumers or sharers had used Netflix, up from 9% in 2015, and making it the third most popular service overall. The proportion using Netflix for movies increased from 16% in 2015 to 41% in 2016, and the percentage using Netflix for TV programs rose from 12% in 2015 to 31% in 2016, meaning it was the most popular service for both movies and TV programs,” the report reads.

Infringement

Of course, even while authorized content consumption continues to increase, there are still those who choose to frequent unauthorized sources. There has been another decrease this year and drilling down into the figures shows that the situation is far from the catastrophy painted by the entertainment industries.

“We estimate that, over the first 3 months of 2016, 23% of Australian internet users aged 12+ consumed at least one item of online content unlawfully, which equates to approximately 4.6 million people. This was a significant drop from the 26% who had consumed unlawful content in 2015,” the report reads.

However, in yet another blow to those who believe that genuine consumers and pirates are completely different and separate animals, the survey also reveals that millions of pirates are also consumers of legitimate content. In 2016, just 6% of Internet users exclusively obtained content from pirate sources.

aus-pirates

And there was improvement in other areas too. When the survey presents figures from Internet users who consumed content in the period (instead of just ‘all Internet users 12+’), 37% consumed at least one unlawful file, down from 43% in the same period in 2015. Using the same parameters, 9% consumed all of their files unlawfully, down from 12% in 2015.

Movies continued to be the most popular content on pirate networks, but there was a decrease this year over 2015.

“Although movies continued to have the highest rate of unlawful consumption amongst consumers in 2016 (39%), this had declined significantly from 48% in 2015, driven by a significant decline in the proportion consuming ‘100% unlawful’ content from 32% in 2015 down to 23% in 2016,” the survey reports.

“There were similar declines for music (in any unlawful consumption from 37% to 32%; in 100% unlawful consumption from 20% to 15%) and for TV programs (in any unlawful consumption from 33% to 26%; in 100% unlawful consumption from 21% to 15%). The rate of unlawful consumption for video games remained the same as in 2015, but was the lowest of the four content types.”

But while there have been improvements in a number of areas, the volume of content being consumed illegally is not coming down across the board. According to the report, an estimated 279m music tracks, 56m TV shows, 34m movies, and 5m video games were consumed in the three month period.

“This represented a drop in volumes for video games and TV programs but an increase for music and movies,” the report notes.

“Across all consumers of unlawful content, the median number of files downloaded or streamed unlawfully in the first three months of 2016 was 16, which matched the result from 2015. The median number of files downloaded or streamed without permission was highest for music (20 tracks – equivalent to two albums), followed by TV programs (7), movies (5) and video games (3), which were all broadly consistent with findings from 2015.”

However, despite their reputation for being terrible consumers, the majority of Internet pirates are again shown to be the industry’s best customers. In line with similar findings in Sweden recently, people who pirate some content are also more likely to pay.

“For each content type, those who consumed a mix of lawful and unlawful content spent more money over a 3 month period than those who consumed 100% of their content lawfully,” the survey found.

“This is comparable to the figures from 2015, and suggests that those who consume 100% of their content lawfully tend to consume less content (and hence spend less money) than those who consume a mix of lawful and unlawful content.”

Unsurprisingly, those who pirated everything spent the least money, but even they have something to offer.

“Since the majority of spend on music and movies was not from content purchases but from concerts and gigs and the cinema, those who consumed 100% of their content unlawfully still spent a substantial amount of money on music and movies. In contrast, they did not spend very much money on either video games or TV programmes.”

Motivations for using paid or illicit services

Half of the consumers cited convenience as the main reason to use paid services, with 39% citing speed. Wanting to support creators and not wanting to use pirate sites tied at 37% each but the former was down from 43% in 2015.

In line with 2015, pirates said their prime motivations for using infringing sites was due to the content being free (52%), convenient (44%) and quick (41%). However, convenience was down from 51% in 2015, with “try-before-you-buy” collapsing from 35% in 2015 to 24% in 2016.

How to make pirates stop

In line with 2015, 43% of infringers said that better pricing would be the factor that would be most likely to reduce their consumption of illicit content. Availability came second, with 35% complaining about content not being available in Australia at the same time as elsewhere, and 31% complaining about availability, period.

“Only 1 in 20 infringers (6%) said that nothing would make them stop, rising to 1 in 10 (10%) of those consuming 100% of their content unlawfully,” the report concludes.

The full report is available here (pdf)

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

Dreamhack Organizer Arrested in Torrent Site Crackdown

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dreamhack-organizer-arrested-in-torrent-site-crackdown-161121/

raratWhile Rarat.org is relatively unknown in most countries, it gained local fame in Sweden as one of the top private trackers.

This ended abruptly a few weeks ago when the site’s homepage was replaced with a worrying message, indicating the site’s operators were in trouble.

“The week Rarat was subject to a search, seizure, and arrest. This follows a 2013 complaint from a film company that tracked down our PayPal payments. Damages in the millions of krona are feared. The site will now be closed.”

This weekend, Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén, who represents several copyright holders, informed DN that Nordisk Film, SF, and Disney filed a criminal complaint back in 2013.

Initially, there wasn’t much progress in the case. However, a breakthrough came when PayPal, with help from Rights Alliance, identified the person who received Rarat’s donations.

With this information in hand a special unit of Sweden’s Department of National Police Operations, NOA, managed track down one of the alleged operators of the torrent site.

Interestingly, this prime suspect is also one of the organizers of the winter edition of Dreamhack, the largest computer festival in the world. The upcoming Dreamhack event, which takes place in Jönköping, is expected to draw 50,000 computer and gaming fanatics.

Earlier this month the Dreamhack organizer was arrested and taken in for questioning on suspicion of copyright infringement. In addition, several computers were seized as evidence during a house search.

“The investigation is still at an early stage, and there could be more people involved. We will now carry out a cyber forensic investigation. The suspect has been released pending a possible prosecution,” a representative of Stockholm’s Public Prosecution Office told DN.

The alleged torrent site operator denies his involvement with the site but has been put on leave from work by Dreamhack, pending the investigation.

“I’m not worried. The police have the wrong person,” the man commented, noting that the Rarat site shut down while the police were interrogating him.

Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén says that the complaint lists five films. As a result, the total scale of the damages could reach 10 million Swedish krona, which is well over a million dollars.

—-

Header photo via Dreamhack.

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

Internet Pirates More Likely to Pay Than Law-Abiding Counterparts

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/internet-pirates-more-likely-to-pay-than-law-abiding-counterparts-161112/

Each year, The Internet Foundation In Sweden (IIS) produces a report titled ‘Swedes and the Internet.’ As its name suggests, the report aims to shine light on how people behave online.

Covering issues from social media to smartphones, gambling, and of course, content consumption and file-sharing, the survey of 3,000 citizens aged 11-years-old and up has provided interesting insights in previous years. 2016 is no different.

“We continue to use the Internet to listen to music and watch movies. Eight out of ten listen to music and just over six out of ten watch movies. This is most popular among the young where almost everyone is doing it,” the report reads.

“Youtube is the most popular site for all ages. It begins in the pre-school years and almost all four-year-olds are using Youtube, but also the oldest are frequent users.

“With the arrival of streaming services more have begun to pay for music and film, but nevertheless file-sharing remains around 20 percent of the population, which it has done for almost ten years.”

iis-1

But while the survey indicates that peer-to-peer file-sharing has remained static, other areas of unauthorized content consumption have been on the increase. Notably, web-based streaming services are gaining traction, particularly among lower age groups.

iis-2

But of course, people obtaining content for free is only part of the puzzle. People paying for official online services has been on the increase since their inception. In 2011, for example, 15% of the population streamed music. That had increased to 38%, 42% and 44% in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

In 2015, after a late start for video, 28% were subscribing to a Netflix-like service and this year that figure reached 38%. Roughly speaking, four-out-of-ten now pay for a music or video streaming service but it is the young (and traditionally the most likely to pirate) who are the most enthusiastic customers.

iis-3

In fact, IIS says that those who engage in illegal file-sharing and unauthorized streaming are also more likely to pay.

“File-sharers previously bought at least as many CDs as those who do not file-share and today we can see that it is more common for file-sharers to subscribe to streaming services for music and movies than those who do not,” the organization explains.

“60 percent of file-sharers pay for music streaming services, compared with 39 percent of those who do not share files and 44 percent of the population.

“The ratio is similar for those who use the sites where you can download movies for free. 53 percent of those pay for a Netflix-like streaming service, compared with 34 percent of those who are not downloading movies for free,” IIS notes.

The figures are an improvement on those reported in last year’s survey.

In 2015, 58% of music pirates put their hands in their pockets to pay versus just 39% of non-filesharers. The figures for the movie sector were 46% and 24% respectively.

The full report can be downloaded here (pdf, Swedish)

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

Hollywood, Studios & Publishers Demand Tough Anti-Piracy Measures

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-studios-publishers-demand-tough-anti-piracy-measures-161107/

pirate-cardDespite hundreds of arrests, the closure of dozens of pirate sites and numerous successful prosecutions, most entities fighting piracy believe that the tools at their disposal need to be improved.

In daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter, a broad coalition of content creators, distributors and anti-piracy bodies from the movie, music, TV show, games and publishing industries, come together to seek more support to defeat piracy.

Representatives from the IFPI, Rights Alliance (which represents Hollywood) and half a dozen powerful distribution, gaming and publishing groups say that the government isn’t doing anywhere enough to protect creators and clamp down on illegal activity.

Their open letter (Swedish) welcomes a promise in the September budget to increasing funding for informational campaigns and the possibility of introducing a new offense of “serious copyright violation”, but says they represent just “small steps” and won’t be anywhere near enough to stop the problem.

“When will the government see the potential of the creative industries and ensure a decent protection for creative content online?” the groups ask.

“Intellectual and creative content industries are playing an increasingly important role in the digital knowledge society that is emerging. European governments are competing to lay the foundation for growth in the intangible economy. A strong legal protection of copyright in the digital market is a key part of that effort.”

Noting that Sweden is often considered to be among the digital elite due to its superb broadband system and successful tech startups, the industry groups say that the country is among the very worst when it comes to protecting intellectual property rights. Almost a third of Swedes use illegal sites to access film and television, they say.

“The winners of today’s order are often heavily criminal groups abroad who earn millions of dollars running illegal sites distributing pirated movies, TV shows, music, books and games,” the industry groups write.

“The creative industries and its creators are losing billions, which affects growth and employment, but also the supply of culture as new investments are canceled due to lack of finances.”

So what can be done to stop the rot? Unsurprisingly, the huge corporations behind the open letter want a more useful and sympathetic legal system.

“We need stricter laws. The judiciary still lacks the necessary tools to access the often heavy criminal actors behind the illegal sites. For Sweden to move from the bottom rung to at least a decent level of protection for creative content, single points are not enough,” they add.

When it comes to their actual demands, the shortlist isn’t much of a surprise. The industry groups want to be able to do three things – deal with piracy at its roots, close a perceived loophole in the law, and if all else fails, stop the public from accessing pirate sites.

The first involves introducing new legislation which would frame high levels of copyright infringement in a more serious light. This would enable rightsholders to more effectively target the “heavy criminals” behind pirate sites.

The second request involves the continued rise of streaming. As recently reported, the number of citizens involved in P2P file-sharing is on the decline in Sweden, but the same cannot be said about those who stream unauthorized content from web-based services. To that end, the industry groups want legal clarification regarding “temporary copies of copyrighted works.”

Finally, they seek “clarification of the Internet operators’ responsibility to block illegal sites as they do in the other Nordic countries and in numerous European countries.”

This request stems from frustrations with efforts to have The Pirate Bay and other sites blocked by local ISPs and/or have their domains seized by the state. A case involving the latter is headed to the Supreme Court after a prolonged legal battle and earlier this year, police called website blocks without legal process.

“The government must recognize the seriousness of the situation and be prepared to go the distance. The government must also dare to look ahead,” the industry groups write.

“Creative professions are expected to become increasingly important for employment and growth in the future. So why hesitate? Sweden can not afford to wait. When will the government act to ensure adequate protection of creative content in the digital market?” they conclude.

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

Copyright Trolls Abandon Sweden in a Blaze of Bad Publicity

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-trolls-abandon-sweden-in-blaze-of-bad-publicity-161101/

trollsignIn the US, Europe, and Canada, copyright holders have been teaming up with piracy monitoring firms to develop a new flow of revenue. Together they track down alleged pirates and hit them with a demand for cash settlement – or else.

This so-called ‘copyright-trolling’ hit Sweden earlier this year. An organization calling itself Spridningskollen (Distribution Check) headed up by law firm Gothia Law, said its new initiative would save the entertainment industries and educate the masses.

“One can compare it to a speed camera. In the same way that a speed camera only records those who drive too fast, only those Internet users who share copyrighted material without permission are logged,” said spokesman Gordon Odenbark.

Those ‘speeding fines’ were set at around $250 but backed up by threats that they would increase if file-sharers were uncooperative. Predictably there was a huge backlash, both among the public and in the media, but few expected the announcement that came yesterday.

“Gothia Law, who on behalf of rights holders in the film and television industry created Distribution Check, is now ending its involvement in the file sharing issue,” the firm said.

“In a short time, Distribution Check has given rise to criticism but also a decline in illegal file sharing. This without a single collection letter being sent out.”

Noting that in a short time the anti-piracy campaign had generated intense debate, the law firm also went on to claim that it had been a success.

“Knowledge of an individual’s legal responsibility is higher today than it was before the initiative was launched. It also established that the method to address a claim against a person who held a particular IP address through which copyrighted materials were distributed illegally, is in full compliance with both Swedish and European legislation,” the company added.

The claim that the campaign had somehow achieved its aims is somewhat weak, especially when one considers the legal and administrative costs that have been accrued in what was a sizeable operation.

That is further compounded by the fact that no letters being sent out means that a) all the threats and promises were hollow and b) zero revenue was generated. Perhaps worse still, those threats were made by a law firm that now has to deal with damage to its reputation among both its clients and the general public.

“The polarized debate focused on how to act to avoid the Swedish law. Many hold the belief that it is socially acceptable to withhold the truth in order to escape the penalty for a criminal act, which also seriously damages the cultural sector,” Gothia said.

“As legislation and public opinion differs in a significant way, Gothia Law has now ended its involvement in the file-sharing issue.”

It is quite something for a law firm to state that it’s backed out of a project because people have no respect for the law. Then again, it’s not unusual for law firms to get involved in this type of work only to find that it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Still, the company signs off with its successes, which were apparently achieved in just two months and without sending out a single letter.

“The initiative has meant a certain success for rights holders who will continue to protect their own interests in the file-sharing issue. Not only has the issue risen on the agenda, during the time that has passed since the initiative was launched, illegal downloading in Sweden also declined,” Gothia said.

While it’s reportedly true that file-sharing in Sweden is on the decline, it seems unlikely that this campaign had much of an effect on that since its launch in September. Nevertheless, Gothia insists that it did.

“The decline in sharing of the 150 titles represented by Distribution Check has been greater than the overall decline. For some titles, the download has fallen by 17 percent,” the company concludes.

It’s difficult to see the announcement as anything less than a damage limitation exercise but for local ISP Bahnhof, the news is still welcome. Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung has been Distribution Check’s most vocal critic and through his company has been a thorn in the side of the project. Now it’s all over, people can relax again.

“This means that ordinary families do not have to come home to mysterious invoices that you have to think about whether to pay or not,” Karlung says.

“Hopefully this means that the copyright industry will seriously leave the 90s behind and put their resources into better experiences instead, such as Netflix and Spotify have done.”

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

Swedish File-Sharing in Decline, Anti-Piracy Lawyer Says

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/swedish-file-sharing-in-decline-anti-piracy-chief-says-161030/

piracydownLike many European countries, Sweden has millions of file-sharers. Many will have been inspired to take up their hobby through the antics of The Pirate Bay, a site that their government tried and failed to contain.

But despite the site managing to regain and maintain its position as the world’s most popular torrent site, it appears that at least to some extent, file-sharing is falling out of fashion in Sweden.

That’s according to Henrik Pontén, a lawyer with infamous anti-piracy outfit Rights Alliance (Rättighetsalliansen)

“We see a trend reversal. Until now, we have seen a huge increase in file sharing, but we do not see that anymore,” Pontén told SVT.

Pontén and his colleagues have been waging a war against local pirates for more than a decade and despite the progress, it isn’t one that’s likely to end anytime soon. The legal chief says they’re now filing more complaints with the police, who are becoming used to handling these types of cases.

“We do not say how many referrals we make, but it is becoming more and more. The police are becoming better at investigating these cases and now the majority of complaints lead to a prosecution,” he said.

While Rights Alliance isn’t particularly well-known for going after the very casual file-sharer, it has a track record of aggressively pursuing bigger cases. Pontén warns that a successful prosecution these days is likely to end in big claims from the studios.

“It is always millions per movie. It rests on various things, including what a license to distribute the film legally costs,” he says.

“We could claim damages on many more movies, but we usually run with just one, that’s enough.”

While peer-to-peer file-sharing in Sweden and elsewhere may well be on the decline, other instances of piracy are on the rise. In particular, streaming is proving very popular with consumers and Pontén says that his group is currently focusing on people who operate streaming sites.

But in common with other countries facing a similar climate of illicit consumption, it’s now becoming clear that enforcement is only part of the solution. Alice Bah Kuhnke, Swedish Minister of Culture and Democracy, believes that cooperation between stakeholders will play a key role.

“We have collected a number of actors involved in this, and had round tables. There are different players with different interests. A code of conduct is one of the concrete proposals we came up with,” Bah Kuhnke says.

Describing the protection of intellectual property as a central issue for the government, the minister says that developing a voluntary code will assist with that aim.

“The code is also designed to make the Internet a safe and legal place for consumers and businesses. To promote innovation and investment in legal options and limit economic crime based on copyright infringement. I hope that more people want to subscribe to the code to make it a growing platform,” the minister concludes.

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

Court Rejects Massive Torrent Damages Claim, Admin Avoids Jail

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-rejects-massive-torrent-damages-claim-admin-avoids-jail-161011/

Founded a decade ago in 2006, SwePiracy grew to become one of the most famous private torrent sites on the Swedish scene. As such, it became a target for anti-piracy outfits.

In February 2012 following an investigation by anti-piracy group Antipiratbyrån (now Rights Alliance), police in Sweden and the Netherlands took coordinated action to shut down the site.

Earlier this year its now 25-year-old operator appeared in court to answer charges relating to the unlawful distribution of a sample 27 movies between March 2011 and February 2012. The prosecution demanded several years in prison and nearly $3 million (25k kronor) in damages.

During the trial last month, SwePiracy defense lawyer Per E. Samuelsson, who also represents Julian Assange and previously took part in The Pirate Bay trial, said the claims against his client were the most unreasonable he’d seen in his 35 years as a lawyer.

After deliberating for three weeks, the Norrköping District Court handed down its decision today. SwePiracy’s former operator was found guilty of copyright infringement but it appears the prosecution’s demands for extremely harsh punishment were largely dismissed.

The torrent site operator avoided a lengthy jail sentence and was sentenced to probation and 100 hours community service instead. The prosecution’s claim for damages was dramatically reduced from millions to ‘just’ $148,000, payable to movie outfit Nordisk Film. On top, the state confiscated $45,600 said to have been generated by SwePiracy.

While the sentence certainly could’ve been worse, it appears that the 25-year-old will still mount an appeal.

“I have been in contact with my client and we will appeal both the conviction and the issue of damages. He thinks that the court went high with the damages,” Per E. Samuelsson told IDG.

And it appears the prosecution aren’t happy with the outcome either. Henrik Pontén from Rights Alliance says that Nordisk Film may also appeal since the District Court failed to apply principles previously applied in the trial of The Pirate Bay.

The parties have until November 1 to file an appeal.

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

MPAA Reports Pirate Sites and Hosting Providers to U.S. Government

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-reports-pirate-sites-and-hosting-providers-to-u-s-government-161010/

mpaa-logoResponding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), the MPAA has sent in its annual list of notorious markets.

In its latest submission the Hollywood group targets a wide variety of “rogue” sites and services which they claim are promoting the illegal distribution of movies and TV-shows, with declining incomes and lost jobs in the movie industry as a result.

“The criminals who profit from the most notorious markets throughout the world threaten the very heart of our industry and in so doing they threaten the livelihoods of the people who give it life,” the MPAA writes.

What’s new this year is that the MPAA calls out several hosting providers. These companies refuse to take pirate sites offline following complaints, even when the MPAA views them as blatantly violating the law.

“Hosting companies provide the essential infrastructure required to operate a website,” MPAA writes. “Given the central role of hosting providers in the online ecosystem, it is very concerning that many refuse to take action upon being notified.”

The Hollywood group specifically mentions Private Layer, Altushost and Netbrella, which are linked to various countries including the Netherlands, Panama, Sweden and Switzerland.

CDN provider CloudFlare is also named. As a US-based company it can’t be included in the list. However, MPAA explains that it is often used as an anonymization tool by sites and services that are mentioned in the report.

“An example of a CDN frequently exploited by notorious markets to avoid detection and enforcement is Cloudflare. CloudFlare is a CDN that also provides reverse proxy functionality. Reverse proxy functionality hides the real IP address of a web server.”

Stressing the importance of third-party services, the MPAA notes that domain name registrars can also be seen as possible “notorious markets.” As an example, the report mentions the Indian Public Domain Registry (PDR) which has repeatedly refused to take action against pirate sites.

At the heart of the MPAA’s report are as always the pirate sites themselves. This year they list 23 sites in separate categories, each with a suspected location, as defined by the movie industry group.

Torrent Sites

According to the MPAA, BitTorrent remains the most popular source of P2P piracy, despite the shutdowns of large sites such as KAT, Torrentz and YTS.

The Pirate Bay has traditionally been one of the main targets. Based on data from Alexa and SimilarWeb, the MPAA says that TPB has about 47 million unique visitors per month.

The MPAA writes that the site was hit by various enforcement actions in recent years. They also mistakenly suggest that the site is no longer the number one pirate site, but add that it gained traction after KAT and Torrentz were taken down.

“While it has never returned to its number one position, it has had a significant comeback after kat.cr and torrentz.eu went offline in 2016,” the MPAA writes.

ExtraTorrent is another prime target. The site offers millions of torrents and is affiliated with the Trust.Zone VPN, which they advertise on their site.

“Extratorrent.cc claims astonishing piracy statistics: offering almost three million free files with sharing optimized through over 64 million seeders and more than 39 million leechers.

“The homepage currently displays a message warning users to use a VPN when downloading torrents. Extratorrent.cc is affiliated with Trust.Zone,” MPAA adds.

The full list of reported torrent sites is as follows:

-1337x.to (Switzerland)
-Extratorrent.cc (Latvia)
-Rarbg.to (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
-Rutracker.org (Russia)
-ThePirateBay.org (Unknown)

Direct Download and Streaming Cyberlockers

The second category of pirate sites reported by the MPAA are cyberlockers. The movie industry group points out that these sites generate millions of dollars in revenue, citing a report from Netnames.

The “Movshare Group,” which allegedly operates Nowvideo.sx, Movshare.net, Novamov.com, Videoweed.es, Nowdownload.ch, Divxstage.to and several other pirate sites is a particularly large threat, they say.

As in previous submissions VKontakte, Russia’s equivalent of Facebook, is also listed as a notorious market.

-Allmyvideos.net (Netherlands)
-Nowvideo.sx and the “Movshare Group” (several locations)
-Openload.co (Netherlands)
-Rapidgator.net (Russia)
-Uploaded.net (Netherlands/Switzerland)
-VK.com (Russia)

Linking Websites

Finally, there are various linking websites, many of which focus on a foreign audience. These sites don’t host the infringing material, but only link to it. The full list of linking sites is as follows.

123movies.to (Unknown)
-Filmesonlinegratis.net (Brazil/Portugal)
-Kinogo.club (Netherlands)
-Movie4k.to (Russia)
-Newmovie-hd.com (Thailand)
-Pelis24.com (Spain/Mexico/Argentina/Venezuela/Peru/Chile)
-Primewire.ag (Switzerland)
-Projectfreetv.at (Romania)
-Putlocker.is (Switzerland/Vietnam)
-Repelis.tv (Mexico/Argentina/Spain/Peru/Venezuela)
-Watchseries.ac (France)

In its closing comments the Hollywood industry group calls on USTR and the U.S. government at large to help combat these threats, either directly or by encouraging foreign nations to take action.

“We strongly support efforts by the U.S. government to work with trading partners to protect and enforce intellectual property rights and, in so doing, protect U.S. jobs,” the MPAA concludes.

MPAA’s full submission is available here.

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