Tag Archives: takedown notice

DMCA Used to Remove Ad Server URL From Easylist Ad Blocklist

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dmca-used-to-remove-ad-server-url-from-easylist-ad-blocklist-170811/

The default business model on the Internet is “free” for consumers. Users largely expect websites to load without paying a dime but of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. To this end, millions of websites are funded by advertising revenue.

Sensible sites ensure that any advertising displayed is unobtrusive to the visitor but lots seem to think that bombarding users with endless ads, popups, and other hindrances is the best way to do business. As a result, ad blockers are now deployed by millions of people online.

In order to function, ad-blocking tools – such as uBlock Origin or Adblock – utilize lists of advertising domains compiled by third parties. One of the most popular is Easylist, which is distributed by authors fanboy, MonztA, Famlam, and Khrinunder, under dual Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike and GNU General Public Licenses.

With the freedom afforded by those licenses, copyright tends not to figure high on the agenda for Easylist. However, a legal problem that has just raised its head is causing serious concern among those in the ad-blocking community.

Two days ago a somewhat unusual commit appeared in the Easylist repo on Github. As shown in the image below, a domain URL previously added to Easylist had been removed following a DMCA takedown notice filed with Github.

Domain text taken down by DMCA?

The DMCA notice in question has not yet been published but it’s clear that it targets the domain ‘functionalclam.com’. A user called ‘ameshkov’ helpfully points out a post by a new Github user called ‘DMCAHelper’ which coincided with the start of the takedown process more than three weeks ago.

A domain in a list circumvents copyright controls?

Aside from the curious claims of a URL “circumventing copyright access controls” (domains themselves cannot be copyrighted), the big questions are (i) who filed the complaint and (ii) who operates Functionalclam.com? The domain WHOIS is hidden but according to a helpful sleuth on Github, it’s operated by anti ad-blocking company Admiral.

Ad-blocking means money down the drain….

If that is indeed the case, we have the intriguing prospect of a startup attempting to protect its business model by using a novel interpretation of copyright law to have a domain name removed from a list. How this will pan out is unclear but a notice recently published on Functionalclam.com suggests the route the company wishes to take.

“This domain is used by digital publishers to control access to copyrighted content in accordance with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and understand how visitors are accessing their copyrighted content,” the notice begins.

Combined with the comments by DMCAHelper on Github, this statement suggests that the complainants believe that interference with the ad display process (ads themselves could be the “copyrighted content” in question) represents a breach of section 1201 of the DMCA.

If it does, that could have huge consequences for online advertising but we will need to see the original DMCA notice to have a clearer idea of what this is all about. Thus far, Github hasn’t published it but already interest is growing. A representative from the EFF has already contacted the Easylist team, so this battle could heat up pretty quickly.

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

RIAA’s Piracy Claims are Misleading and Inaccurate, ISP Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/riaas-piracy-claims-are-misleading-and-inaccurate-isp-says-170807/

For more than a decade, copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices to alert them that their subscribers are sharing copyrighted material.

Under US law, providers have to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers “in appropriate circumstances” and increasingly they are being held to this standard.

Earlier this year several major record labels, represented by the RIAA, filed a lawsuit in a Texas District Court, accusing ISP Grande Communications of failing to take action against its pirating subscribers.

The ISP is not happy with the claims and was quick to submit a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. One of the arguments is that the RIAA’s evidence is insufficient.

In its original motion, Grande doesn’t deny receiving millions of takedown notices from piracy tracking company Rightscorp. However, it believes that these notices are flawed as Rightscorp is incapable of monitoring actual copyright infringements.

The RIAA disagreed and pointed out that their evidence is sufficient. They stressed that Rightcorp is able to monitor actual downloads, as opposed to simply checking if a subscriber is offering certain infringing content.

In a response from Grande, late last week, the ISP argues that this isn’t good enough to build a case. While Rightcorp may be able to track the actual infringing downloads to which the RIAA labels hold the copyrights, there is no such evidence provided in the present case, the ISP notes.

“Importantly, Plaintiffs do not allege that Rightscorp has ever recorded an instance of a Grande subscriber actually distributing even one of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works. Plaintiffs certainly have not alleged any concrete facts regarding such an act,” Grande’s legal team writes (pdf).

According to the ISP, the RIAA’s evidence merely shows that Rightscorp sent notices of alleged infringements on behalf of other copyright holders, who are not involved in the lawsuit.

“Instead, Plaintiffs generally allege that Rightscorp has sent notices regarding ‘various copyrighted works,’ encompassing all of the notices sent by Rightscorp on behalf of entities other than Plaintiffs.”

While the RIAA argues that this circumstantial evidence is sufficient, the ISP believes that there are grounds to have the entire case dismissed.

The record labels can’t hold Grande liable for secondary copyright infringement, without providing concrete evidence that their works were actively distributed by Grande subscribers, the company claims.

“Plaintiffs cannot allege direct infringement without alleging concrete facts which show that a Grande subscriber actually infringed one of Plaintiffs’ copyrights,” Grande’s lawyers note.

“For this reason, it is incredibly misleading for Plaintiffs to repeatedly refer to Grande having received ‘millions’ of notices of alleged infringement, as if those notices all pertained to Plaintiffs’ asserted copyrights.”

The “misleading” copyright infringement evidence argument is only one part of the ISPs defense. The company also notes that it has no control over what its subscribers do, nor do they control the BitTorrent clients that were allegedly used to download content.

If the court ruled otherwise, Grande and other ISPs would essentially be forced to become an “unpaid enforcement agent of the recording industry,” the company’s lawyers note.

The RIAA, however, sees things quite differently.

The music industry group believes that Grande failed to take proper action in response to repeat infringers and should pay damages to compensate the labels. This claim is very similar to the one BMG brought against Cox, where the latter was eventually ordered to pay $25 million.

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

TVAddons Returns, But in Ugly War With Canadian Telcos Over Kodi Addons

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/tvaddons-returns-ugly-war-canadian-telcos-kodi-addons-170801/

After Dish Network filed a lawsuit against TVAddons in Texas, several high-profile Kodi addons took the decision to shut down. Soon after, TVAddons itself went offline.

In the weeks that followed, several TVAddons-related domains were signed over (1,2) to a Canadian law firm, a mysterious situation that didn’t dovetail well with the US-based legal action.

TorrentFreak can now reveal that the shutdown of TVAddons had nothing to do with the US action and everything to do with a separate lawsuit filed in Canada.

The complaint against TVAddons

Two months ago on June 2, a collection of Canadian telecoms giants including Bell Canada, Bell ExpressVu, Bell Media, Videotron, Groupe TVA, Rogers Communications and Rogers Media, filed a complaint in Federal Court against Montreal resident, Adam Lackman, the man behind TVAddons.

The 18-page complaint details the plaintiffs’ case against Lackman, claiming that he communicated copyrighted TV shows including Game of Thrones, Prison Break, The Big Bang Theory, America’s Got Talent, Keeping Up With The Kardashians and dozens more, to the public in breach of copyright.

The key claim is that Lackman achieved this by developing, hosting, distributing or promoting Kodi add-ons.

Adam Lackman, the man behind TVAddons (@adam.lackman on Instagram)

A total of 18 major add-ons are detailed in the complaint including 1Channel, Exodus, Phoenix, Stream All The Sources, SportsDevil, cCloudTV and Alluc, to name a few. Also under the spotlight is the ‘FreeTelly’ custom Kodi build distributed by TVAddons alongside its Kodi configuration tool, Indigo.

“[The defendant] has made the [TV shows] available to the public by telecommunication in a way that allows members of the public to have access to them from a place and at a time individually chosen by them…consequently infringing the Plaintiffs’ copyright…in contravention of sections 2.4(1.1), 3(1)(f) and 27(1) of the Copyright Act,” the complaint reads.

The complaint alleges that Lackman “induced and/or authorized users” of the FreeTelly and Indigo tools to carry out infringement by his handling and promotion of infringing add-ons, including through TVAddons.ag and Offshoregit.com, in contravention of sections 3(1)(f) and 27(1) of the Copyright Act.

“Approximately 40 million unique users located around the world are actively using Infringing Addons hosted by TVAddons every month, and approximately 900,000 Canadian households use Infringing Add-ons to access television content. The amount of users of Infringing add-ons hosted TVAddons is constantly increasing,” the complaint adds.

To limit the harm allegedly caused by TVAddons, the complaint asked for interim, interlocutory, and permanent injunctions restraining Lackman and associates from developing, promoting or distributing any of the allegedly infringing add-ons or software. On top, the plaintiffs requested punitive and exemplary damages, plus costs.

The interim injunction and Anton Piller Order

Following the filing of the complaint, on June 9 the Federal Court handed down a time-limited interim injunction against Lackman which restrained him from various activities in respect of TVAddons. The process took place ex parte, meaning in secret, without Lackman being able to mount a defense.

The Court also authorized a bailiff and computer forensics experts to take control of Internet domains including TVAddons.ag and Offshoregit.com plus social media and hosting provider accounts for a period of 14 days. These were transferred to Daniel Drapeau at DrapeauLex, an independent court-appointed supervising counsel.

The order also contained an Anton Piller order, a civil search warrant that grants plaintiffs no-notice permission to enter a defendant’s premises in order to secure and copy evidence to support their case, before it can be destroyed or tampered with.

The order covered not only data related to the TVAddons platform, such as operating and financial details, revenues, and banking information, but everything in Lackman’s possession.

The Court ordered the telecoms companies to inform Lackman that the case against him is a civil proceeding and that he could deny entry to his property if he wished. However, that option would put him in breach of the order and would place him at risk of being fined or even imprisoned. Catch 22 springs to mind.

The Court did, however, put limits on the number of people that could be present during the execution of the Anton Piller order (ostensibly to avoid intimidation) and ordered the plaintiffs to deposit CAD$50,000 with the Court, in case the order was improperly executed. That decision would later prove an important one.

The search and interrogation of TVAddons’ operator

On June 12, the order was executed and Lackman’s premises were searched for more than 16 hours. For nine hours he was interrogated and effectively denied his right to remain silent since non-cooperation with an Anton Piller order amounts to contempt of court. The Court’s stated aim of not intimidating Lackman failed.

The TVAddons operator informs TorrentFreak that he heard a disturbance in the hallway outside and spotted several men hiding on the other side of the door. Fearing for his life, Lackman called the police and when they arrived he opened the door. At this point, the police were told by those in attendance to leave, despite Lackman’s protests.

Once inside, Lackman was told he had an hour to find a lawyer, but couldn’t use any electronic device to get one. Throughout the entire day, Lackman says he was reminded by the plaintiffs’ lawyer that he could be held in contempt of court and jailed, even though he was always cooperating.

“I had to sit there and not leave their sight. I was denied access to medication,” Lackman told TorrentFreak. “I had a doctor’s appointment I was forced to miss. I wasn’t even allowed to call and cancel.”

In papers later filed with the court by Lackman’s team, the Anton Piller order was described as a “bombe atomique” since TVAddons had never been served with so much as a copyright takedown notice in advance of this action.

The Anton Piller controversy

Anton Piller orders are only valid when passing a three-step test: when there is a strong prima facie case against the respondent, the damage – potential or actual – is serious for the applicant, and when there is a real possibility that evidence could be destroyed.

For Bell Canada, Bell ExpressVu, Bell Media, Videotron, Groupe TVA, Rogers Communications and Rogers Media, serious problems emerged on at least two of these points after the execution of the order.

For example, TVAddons carried more than 1,500 add-ons yet only 1% of those add-ons were considered to be infringing, a tiny number in the overall picture. Then there was the not insignificant problem with the exchange that took place during the hearing to obtain the order, during which Lackman was not present.

Clearly, the securing of existing evidence wasn’t the number one priority.

Plaintiffs: We want to destroy TVAddons

And the problems continued.

No right to remain silent, no right to consult a lawyer

The Anton Piller search should have been carried out between 8am and 8pm but actually carried on until midnight. As previously mentioned, Adam Lackman was effectively denied his right to remain silent and was forbidden from getting advice from his lawyer.

None of this sat well with the Honourable B. Richard Bell during a subsequent Federal Court hearing to consider the execution of the Anton Piller order.

“It is important to note that the Defendant was not permitted to refuse to answer questions under fear of contempt proceedings, and his counsel was not permitted to clarify the answers to questions. I conclude unhesitatingly that the Defendant was subjected to an examination for discovery without any of the protections normally afforded to litigants in such circumstances,” the Judge said.

“Here, I would add that the ‘questions’ were not really questions at all. They took the form of orders or directions. For example, the Defendant was told to ‘provide to the bailiff’ or ‘disclose to the Plaintiffs’ solicitors’.”

Evidence preservation? More like a fishing trip

But shockingly, the interrogation of Lackman went much, much further. TorrentFreak understands that the TVAddons operator was given a list of 30 names of people that might be operating sites or services similar to TVAddons. He was then ordered to provide all of the information he had on those individuals.

Of course, people tend to guard their online identities so it’s possible that the information provided by Lackman will be of limited use, but Judge Bell was not happy that the Anton Piller order was abused by the plaintiffs in this way.

“I conclude that those questions, posed by Plaintiffs’ counsel, were solely made in furtherance of their investigation and constituted a hunt for further evidence, as opposed to the preservation of then existing evidence,” he wrote in a June 29 order.

But he was only just getting started.

Plaintiffs unlawfully tried to destroy TVAddons before trial

The Judge went on to note that from their own mouths, the Anton Piller order was purposely designed by the plaintiffs to completely shut down TVAddons, despite the fact that only a tiny proportion of the add-ons available on the site were allegedly used to infringe copyright.

“I am of the view that [the order’s] true purpose was to destroy the livelihood of the Defendant, deny him the financial resources to finance a defense to the claim made against him, and to provide an opportunity for discovery of the Defendant in circumstances where none of the procedural safeguards of our civil justice system could be engaged,” Judge Bell wrote.

As noted, plaintiffs must also have a “strong prima facie case” to obtain an Anton Piller order but Judge Bell says he’s not convinced that one exists. Instead, he praised the “forthright manner” of Lackman, who successfully compared the ability of Kodi addons to find content in the same way as Google search can.

So why the big turn around?

Judge Bell said that while the prima facie case may have appeared strong before the judge who heard the matter ex parte (without Lackman being present to defend himself), the subsequent adversarial hearing undermined it, to the point that it no longer met the threshold.

As a result of these failings, Judge Bell declared the Anton Piller order unlawful. Things didn’t improve for the plaintiffs on the injunction front either.

The Judge said that he believes that Lackman has “an arguable case” that he is not violating the Copyright Act by merely providing addons and that TVAddons is his only source of income. So, if an injunction to close the site was granted, the litigation would effectively be over, since the plaintiffs already admitted that their aim was to neutralize the platform.

If the platform was neutralized, Lackman could no longer earn money from the site, which would harm his ability to mount a defense.

“In considering the balance of convenience, I also repeat that the plaintiffs admit that the vast majority of add-ons are non-infringing. Whether the remaining approximately 1% are infringing is very much up for debate. For these reasons, I find the balance of convenience favors the defendant, and no interlocutory injunction will be issued,” the Judge declared.

With the Anton Piller order declared unlawful and no interlocutory injunction (one effective until the final determination of the case) handed down, things were about to get worse for the telecoms companies.

They had paid CAD$50,000 to the court in security in case things went wrong with the Anton Piller order, so TVAddons was entitled to compensation from that amount. That would be helpful, since at this point TVAddons had already run up CAD$75,000 in legal expenses.

On top, the Judge told independent counsel to give everything seized during the Anton Piller search back to Lackman.

The order to return items previously seized

But things were far from over. Within days, the telecoms companies took the decision to the Court of Appeal, asking for a stay of execution (a delay in carrying out a court order) to retain possession of items seized, including physical property, domains, and social media accounts.

Mid-July the appeal was granted and certain confidentiality clauses affecting independent counsel (including Daniel Drapeau, who holds the TVAddons’ domains) were ordered to be continued. However, considering the problems with the execution of the Anton Piller order, Bell Canada, TVA, Videotron and Rogers et al, were ordered to submit an additional security bond of CAD$140,000, on top of the CAD$50,000 already deposited.

So the battle continues, and continue it will

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Adam Lackman says that he has no choice but to fight the telcoms companies since not doing so would result in a loss by default judgment. Interestingly, both he and one of the judges involved in the case thus far believe he has an arguable case.

Lackman says that his activities are protected under the Canadian Copyright Act, specifically subparagraph 2.4(1)(b) which states as follows:

A person whose only act in respect of the communication of a work or other subject-matter to the public consists of providing the means of telecommunication necessary for another person to so communicate the work or other subject-matter does not communicate that work or other subject-matter to the public;

Of course, finding out whether that’s indeed the case will be a costly endeavor.

“It all comes down to whether we will have the financial resources necessary to mount our defense and go to trial. We won’t have ad revenue coming in, since losing our domain names means that we’ll lose the majority of our traffic for quite some time into the future,” Lackman told TF in a statement.

“We’re hoping that others will be as concerned as us about big companies manipulating the law in order to shut down what they see as competition. We desperately need help in financially supporting our legal defense, we cannot do it alone.

“We’ve run up a legal bill of over $100,000 to date. We’re David, and they are four Goliaths with practically unlimited resources. If we lose, it will mean that new case law is made, case law that could mean increased censorship of the internet.”

In the hope of getting support, TVAddons has launched a fundraiser campaign and in the meantime, a new version of the site is back on a new domain, TVAddons.co.

Given TVAddons’ line of defense, the nature of both the platform and Kodi addons, and the fact that there has already been a serious abuse of process during evidence preservation, this is now one of the most interesting and potentially influential copyright cases underway anywhere today.

TVAddons is being represented by Éva Richard , Hilal Ayoubi and Karim Renno in Canada, plus Erin Russell and Jason Sweet in the United States.

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

Game of Thrones Pirates Being Monitored By HBO, Warnings On The Way

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/game-thrones-pirates-monitored-hbo-warnings-way-170719/

Earlier this week, HBO released the long-awaited seventh season of the hit series Game of Thrones.

The show has broken several piracy records over the years and, thus far, there has been plenty of interest in the latest season.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed by HBO. Soon after the first episode of the new season appeared online Sunday evening, the company’s anti-piracy partner IP Echelon started sending warnings targeted at torrenting pirates.

The warnings in question include the IP-addresses of alleged BitTorrent users and ask the associated ISPs to alert their subscribers, in order to prevent further infringements.

“We have information leading us to believe that the IP address xx.xxx.xxx.xx was used to download or share Game of Thrones without authorization,” the notification begins.

“HBO owns the copyright or exclusive rights to Game of Thrones, and the unauthorized download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorized or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks.”

Under US copyright law, ISPs are not obligated to forward these emails, which are sent as a DMCA notification. However, many do as a courtesy to the affected rightsholders.

Redacted infringement details from one of the notices

The warnings are not targeted at a single swarm but cover a wide variety of torrents. TorrentFreak has already seen takedown notices for the following files, but it’s likely that many more are being tracked.

  • Game.of.Thrones.S07E01.720p.WEB.h264-TBS[eztv].mkv
  • Game.of.Thrones.S07E01.HDTV.x264-SVA[rarbg]
  • Game.of.Thrones.S07E01.WEB.h264-TBS[ettv]
  • Game.of.Thrones.S07E01.HDTV.x264-SVA[eztv].mkv
  • Game.of.Thrones.S07E01.720p.HDTV.x264-AVS[eztv].mkv

This isn’t the first time that Game of Thrones pirates have received these kinds of warnings. Similar notices were sent out last year for pirated episodes of the sixth season, and it’s now clear that HBO is not backing down.

Although HBO stresses that copyright infringement is against the law, there are no legal strings attached for the subscribers in question. The company doesn’t know the identity of the alleged pirates, and would need to go to court to find out. This has never happened before.

Filing lawsuits against Game of Thrones fans is probably not high on HBO’s list, but the company hopes that affected subscribers will think twice before downloading future episodes after they are warned.

The DMCA notice asks ISPs to inform subscribers about the various legal alternatives that are available, to give them a push in the right direction.

“We also encourage you to inform the subscriber that HBO programming can easily be watched and streamed on many devices legally by adding HBO to the subscriber’s television package,” the notice reads.

While this type of message may have an effect on some, they only cover a small fraction of the piracy landscape. Millions of people are using pirate streaming tools and websites to watch Game of Thrones, and these views can’t be monitored.

In addition, the fact that many broadcasters worldwide suffered technical issues and outages when Game of Thrones premiered doesn’t help either. The legal options should be superior to the pirated offerings, not the other way around.

A redacted copy of one of the notices is available below.

Dear xxx Communications,

This message is sent on behalf of HOME BOX OFFICE, INC.

We have information leading us to believe that the IP address xx.xxx.xxx.xxx was used to download or share Game of Thrones without authorization (additional details are listed below). HBO owns the copyright or exclusive rights to Game of Thrones, and the unauthorized download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorized or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks.

As the owner of the IP address, HBO requests that xxx Communications immediately contact the subscriber who was assigned the IP address at the date and time below with the details of this notice, and take the proper steps to prevent further downloading or sharing of unauthorized content and additional infringement notices.

We also encourage you to inform the subscriber that HBO programming can easily be watched and streamed on many devices legally by adding HBO to the subscriber’s television package.

We have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted material detailed below is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. The information in this notice is accurate and we state, under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. This letter is not a complete statement of HBO’s rights in connection with this matter, and nothing contained herein constitutes an express or implied wavier of any rights or remedies of HBO in connection with this matter, all of which are expressly reserved.

We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Your prompt response is requested. Any further enquiries can be directed to [email protected] Please include this message with your enquiry to ensure a quick response.

Respectfully,

Adrian Leatherland
CEO
IP-Echelon

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

Movie Studios Wipe Pirate Site Homepages From Google Search

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-studios-wipe-pirate-site-homepages-from-google-search-170716/

Over the past two weeks several pirate streaming sites have seen their homepages disappear from Google’s search results.

Earlier this week we reported how GoMovies switched to a new domain name, for this very reason, but on closer inspection it appears that several other sites have suffered the same fate.

While homepages have been removed before, the takedown notices that triggered the recent removals seem to be a systematic effort. They are all sent by the prominent law firm Kilpatrick Townsend, which acts on behalf of a variety of Hollywood movie studios.

The notices, of which the first was sent roughly two weeks ago, all follow a similar pattern. They identify infringing content on pirate streaming sites and list the individual URLs for these movies. In addition, however, many also include the homepage, which often highlights the same movie as a “new” or popular title.

In the case of Gomovies.is, a request was sent on behalf of Warner Bros. to remove Wonder Woman’s streaming page from Google, as well as the homepage where the movie was listed in the popular section.

This worked, not only for the GoMovies domain name but also for dozens of other streaming sites including yesmovies.org, watchfree.ac, xmovies.is, watch29.com, vivo.to, tunemovie.com, putlockervip.com, playmovies.to, moviesub.is and fmovies.ac.

The takedown notice

The example above is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the past two weeks the law firm has targeted many pirate streaming sites, acting on behalf of Warner Bros, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, NBC Universal and others. This effectively removed dozens of pirate site homepages from search results.

To outsiders, it may seem like a homepage is just another link but for site owners, it’s a crucial matter. Many of these streaming sites rely on their brand name to remain findable in search engines, and when the homepage is removed, it’s nearly impossible to rise to the top of search results.

Although Google removed many of the early requests, it’s not blindly removing all URLs.

In response to several recent notices the search engine decided to take “no action” for the homepages, which is why gomovies.sc, cmovieshd.com, ap551.com, and others remain indexed. It’s possible that the infringing content was no longer linked on these homepages when Google reviewed the DMCA notices in question.

As for GoMovies, they simply decided to move to a new URL and remove any infringing content from the homepage so they don’t face the same problem in the future.

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

GoMovies Moves to GoStream.is and Evades Google ‘Ban’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/gomovies-moves-to-gostream-is-and-evades-google-ban-170714/

Pirate video streaming sites are booming. Their relative ease of use through on-demand viewing makes them a viable alternative to P2P file-sharing, which traditionally dominated the piracy arena.

The popular movie streaming sites GoMovies, formerly known as 123movies, is one of the most-used streaming sites. While it’s built a steady userbase of millions of users over the past year, the site’s home keeps changing.

The latest move came this week. Going forward, the site will be active from GoStream.is, operating from the Icelandic gostream.is domain name.

While the site hasn’t officially commented on the reason for the move, on Twitter a site representative mentioned a Google ‘penalty’ as the main driver behind the recent change.

Penalized

When we looked at the issue more closely, we found that it’s not so much a penalty, but rather a response to a DMCA takedown request.

Earlier this week the site’s homepage was removed from Google’s search engine following a takedown notice from Warner Bros. This made it harder for users to find the site through Google, as various knockoffs were ranked higher in the search results for the “Gomovies” keyword.

In addition to relocating to a new domain name, the site has also changed the look of its homepage. Instead of a page filled with the most popular movies and TV-shows, it now lists a basic search box.

New GoMovies homepage

The homepage change is likely a response to Google’s search engine removal as well. The previous GoMovies domain was targeted by Warner Bros. because it listed a link to a pirated movie, but such links are no longer present on the new homepage.

That said, users who prefer the old look can still access it with a single click, which is prominently mentioned on the site.

Despite the domain name change, the GoMovies brand hasn’t changed. The logo and all other references to the site’s name remain intact. Confusingly, people who search for GoMovies on Google still won’t see the Gostream.is URL in the top results, but perhaps that will change in the future.

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

Steal This Show S03E04: ‘Re-Decentralizing The Net’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/steal-show-s03e04-re-decentralising-net/

stslogo180If you enjoy this episode, consider becoming a patron and getting involved with the show. Check out Steal This Show’s Patreon campaign: support us and get all kinds of fantastic benefits!

In this episode, we meet Ryan Shea, co-founder of Blockstack. This ambitious project aims to create a new, decentralized Internet in which users, not Big Content, own their data and keep control of how their apps run.

We discuss why the internet needs re-decentralising, if and how to pull users away from reliance on monopoly platforms like Facebook and Google, and much more. Plus, Ryan and Jamie come up with a scheme for a blockchain-powered meme market!

Blockstack, which integrates with the IPFS distributed storage system, could have significant upsides in the filesharing world. It would provide, for example, an entirely new DNS, meaning no more domain attacks for filesharing sites. Combined with the fact that they permanence of distributed filesystems makes takedown notices almost impossible to enforce, and it’s easy to see one key reason this has the potential to be a very disruptive development.

Steal This Show aims to release bi-weekly episodes featuring insiders discussing copyright and file-sharing news. It complements our regular reporting by adding more room for opinion, commentary, and analysis.

The guests for our news discussions will vary, and we’ll aim to introduce voices from different backgrounds and persuasions. In addition to news, STS will also produce features interviewing some of the great innovators and minds.

Host: Jamie King

Guest: Ryan Shea

Produced by Jamie King
Edited & Mixed by Riley Byrne
Original Music by David Triana
Web Production by Siraje Amarniss

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

US International Trade Administration Worries About Widespread Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/us-international-trade-administration-worries-about-widespread-piracy-170703/

One of the main goals of the International Trade Administration is to strengthen the interests of U.S. industries around the globe.

The agency, which falls under the Department of Commerce, is committed to ensure fair trade through the “rigorous enforcement” of trade laws and agreements.

Despite its efforts, many challenges remain. In its newly released overview of top markets in the Media and Entertainment (M&E) sector, piracy is highlighted as one of the prime threats.

“Digital trade has brought attention to widespread piracy and the importance of having solid copyright laws and enforcement actions, along with educational campaigns to encourage legal consumption of M&E,” the International Trade Administration (ITA) writes.

The agency points out that it’s hard to measure exactly how much piracy is hurting sales, but states that this number is in the millions. The problem also prompted copyright holders to increase their takedown efforts.

“Piracy and illegal file sharing continue to plague the M&E sectors. It is difficult to quantify losses from piracy and to calculate piracy rates accurately. Therefore many industry groups and businesses track piracy around the clock, and online takedown notices are rising dramatically as a result,” ITA writes.

The piracy threat is a global problem and also affects business in the top export countries for media and entertainment products and services. This includes Canada, India and Brazil, where legislation or enforcement are currently lacking, according to the agency.

In India, for example, various forms of online and physical piracy are booming, despite the fact that legal sales are growing as well.

“[India] is a very challenging marketplace, with barriers, to trade such as high piracy threats to both physical and digital M&E sectors, and uncertain implementation of laws governing the M&E sectors. The IIPA reports online and mobile piracy, illegal file sharing of music, cam cording in theaters, and rampant signal piracy of pay TV content,” ITA writes (pdf).

Another large export market is Canada. While the US and Canada are much alike in many aspects, the northern neighbor’s enforcement against online piracy is lacking, according to the ITA.

“Canada has a well-developed professional sector that makes trading easier and efficient for U.S. exporters. However, there are copyright and other trade barriers for American businesses in Canada. Online infringement is high and enforcement weaker than expected.”

Brazil is the third top expert market where the US media and entertainment sector faces severe challenges. There are various trade barriers, including high taxation of foreign products and services, and piracy is also widespread.

“Copyright industries doing business in Brazil face significant Internet piracy, as do products in the entertainment sector, such as CDs; DVDs; and other media carrying pirated music, movies, TV programming and video games,” ITA writes.

While revenues are growing in Brazil, more work can be done to limit piracy. The Brazilian Government could lower taxes, for example, but the industry itself could also do more to increase the availability of its products.

“Circumvention devices that allow access to video game consoles are a problem for all copyright sectors. The activity is driven by high costs and taxes on entertainment and lack of a full catalogue offering to the public, some of which is a governmental problem, and some of which is caused by the industry.”

The ITA sees robust copyright laws, increased enforcement and campaigns to highlight legal alternatives, as possible solutions to these problems.

In Brazil change may come shortly, as there’s a new copyright law pending. However, not all countries are receptive to the US complaints. Canada previously responded to a similar US report, labeling it as flawed and one-sided.

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

Copyright Holders Ask Google to Block Site-Blocking Notifications

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-holders-ask-google-to-block-site-blocking-notifications-170702/

Following a series of High Court orders, UK Internet providers now block access to thousands of pirate domain names.

If prospective pirates try to access these sites, they are presented with a blocking notification instead.

Virgin Media, for example, shows the following message to its subscribers.

“Virgin Media has received an order from the High Court requiring us to prevent access to this site.”

While these type of messages are crystal clear to the general public, they appear to cause confusion among copyright holders. Or more likely, among the automated takedown tools they use.

This week we stumbled upon an unusual request from the anti-piracy group RipBlock, sent on behalf of Amorphous Music. The notice in question targets several links, but also the blocking page of Virgin Media, as seen below.

Virgin takedown

Needless to say, Virgin’s blocking notification doesn’t list any infringing material. Perhaps RipBlock’s monitoring tool is using a Virgin Media connection, entering the notification in their system instead of the URL of a pirate site?

While that seems plausible, it would mean that the UK company is using more than one ISP, as it also frequently reports the blocking notifications of Sky in its takedown requests.

In any case, it’s clear that the company doesn’t check its submissions very carefully, as the same URLs are listed in dozens of DMCA notices.

Sky takedown

Interestingly, this kind of mistake is not unique to RipBlock. Another UK company, Leak Delete, asked Google to remove BT’s blocking page from its search results with a similar takedown notice.

BT’s “ukispcourtorders.co.uk” page provides a list of blocked sites and no infringing content. Nonetheless, Leak Delete has targeted it repeatedly according to Google’s transparency report.

BT takedown

In situations like this, we can see how erroneous takedown claims can easily lead to over-blocking. If blocking requests are used to block access to site blocking notifications, anything can be targeted.

It’s good to know that, despite receiving millions of requests per day, Google is still able to spot most of these flaws.

The search giant can’t catch them all though. As a result, BT’s blocking notification is no longer listed in the search engine.

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

Nintendo Shuts Down “Donkey Kong” Remake For Roku

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/nintendo-shuts-down-donkey-kong-remake-for-roku-170630/

When Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto came up with Donkey Kong more than 35 years ago, gaming was still a niche pastime.

How different is that today, where the average household has more than a handful of devices that play computer games.

While the gaming industry has come a long way, plenty of people are still drawn to older arcade games. There’s something nostalgic about their look and feel, and thanks to emulators and remakes, they are still widely available.

Donkey Kong, for example, could be played on Roku thanks to the efforts of Marcelo Lv Cabral, who released an unofficial version of the Nintendo game using the original art and music.

The software developer, who lives in Arizona, started the project as a hobby to improve his programming skills. He previously did the same with other games such as Lode Runner and Prince of Persia.

When he finished the project he released the code on GitHub, incuding a disclaimer stating his intent.

“This source code was developed as a programming exercise, it is not being used for profit or any kind of financial gain, all assets and images belong to the original copyright owner,” it read.

Screenshot from the GitHub page

While nostalgic arcade game fans will appreciate the effort, Nintendo was not amused. This week the gaming giant instructed the developer platform GitHub to remove the repository, which it did.

“The reported repository contains a recreation of Nintendo’s Donkey Kong video game for Roku, which was created and published without Nintendo’s authorization,” Nintendo writes in its takedown notice. “Please immediately remove the repository.”

We reached out to the developer, who is disappointed to see his code taken down. While he realizes that Nintendo owns the rights to Donkey Kong, his code was unique and completely custom.

“I believe they have the rights related to the name and the assets, but not to my code. That was completely done by myself, no porting of any Nintendo code, but GitHub took down everything,” Cabral tells TorrentFreak.

“What I don`t understand is why only my project was removed, if you search Donkey Kong on the GitHub you`ll found several other remake projects,” he adds.

The developer doesn’t plan to challenge the takedown. In theory, he could re-release the code with unique artwork and a new name, but Cabral prefers to focus on other projects for the time being.

He is currently working on a remake of the game Moon Patrol for example, also for the Roku platform.

While Nintendo has every right to take the infringing Donkey Kong content offline, some might feel that the company should allow fans a little more leeway for their fan-made projects.

However, judging from recent history, this is idle hope. In recent years the company has taken several fan-projects offline, including a popular JavaScript-powered Game Boy Advance emulator

Luckily for Cabral, his Lode Runner and Prince of Persia remakes are still available, for now. These games were originally released by Brøderbund Software, which no longer exists.

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

Internet Provider Refutes RIAA’s Piracy Allegations

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/internet-provider-refutes-riaas-piracy-allegations-170620/

For more than a decade copyright holders have been sending ISPs takedown notices to alert them that their subscribers are sharing copyrighted material.

Under US law, providers have to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers “in appropriate circumstances” and increasingly they are being held to this standard.

Earlier this year several major record labels, represented by the RIAA, filed a lawsuit in a Texas District Court, accusing ISP Grande Communications of failing to take action against its pirating subscribers.

“Despite their knowledge of repeat infringements, Defendants have permitted repeat infringers to use the Grande service to continue to infringe Plaintiffs’ copyrights without consequence,” the RIAA’s complaint read.

Grande and its management consulting firm Patriot, which was also sued, both disagree and have filed a motion to dismiss at the court this week. Grande argues that it doesn’t encourage any of its customers to download copyrighted works, and that it has no control over the content subscribers access.

The Internet provider doesn’t deny that it has received millions of takedown notices through the piracy tracking company Rightscorp. However, it believes that these notices are flawed as Rightscorp is incapable of monitoring actual copyright infringements.

“These notices are so numerous and so lacking in specificity, that it is infeasible for Grande to devote the time and resources required to meaningfully investigate them. Moreover, the system that Rightscorp employs to generate its notices is incapable of detecting actual infringement and, therefore, is incapable of generating notices that reflect real infringement,” Grande writes.

Grande says that if they acted on these notices without additional proof, its subscribers could lose their Internet access even though they are using it for legal purposes.

“To merely treat these allegations as true without investigation would be a disservice to Grande’s subscribers, who would run the risk of having their Internet service permanently terminated despite using Grande’s services for completely legitimate purposes.”

Even if the notices were able to prove actual infringement, they would still fail to identify the infringer, according to the ISP. The notices identify IP-addresses which may have been used by complete strangers, who connected to the network without permission.

The Internet provider admits that online copyright infringement is a real problem. But, they see themselves as a victim of this problem, not a perpetrator, as the record labels suggest.

“Grande does not profit or receive any benefit from subscribers that may engage in such infringing activity using its network. To the contrary, Grande suffers demonstrable losses as a direct result of purported copyright infringement conducted on its network.

“To hold Grande liable for copyright infringement simply because ‘something must be done’ to address this growing problem is to hold the wrong party accountable,” Grande adds.

In common with the previous case against Cox Communications, Rightscorp’s copyright infringement notices are once again at the center of a prominent lawsuit. According to Grande, Rightscorp’s system can’t prove that infringing content was actually downloaded by third parties, only that it was made available.

The Internet provider sees the lacking infringement notices as a linchpin that, if pulled, will take the entire case down.

It’s expected that, if the case moves forward, both parties will do all they can to show that the evidence is sufficient, or not. In the Cox lawsuit, this was the case, but that verdict is currently being appealed.

Grande Communication’s full motion to dismiss is avalaible here (pdf).

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

BPI Breaks Record After Sending 310 Million Google Takedowns

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/bpi-breaks-record-after-sending-310-million-google-takedowns-170619/

A little over a year ago during March 2016, music industry group BPI reached an important milestone. After years of sending takedown notices to Google, the group burst through the 200 million URL barrier.

The fact that it took BPI several years to reach its 200 million milestone made the surpassing of the quarter billion milestone a few months later even more remarkable. In October 2016, the group sent its 250 millionth takedown to Google, a figure that nearly doubled when accounting for notices sent to Microsoft’s Bing.

But despite the volumes, the battle hadn’t been won, let alone the war. The BPI’s takedown machine continued to run at a remarkable rate, churning out millions more notices per week.

As a result, yet another new milestone was reached this month when the BPI smashed through the 300 million URL barrier. Then, days later, a further 10 million were added, with the latter couple of million added during the time it took to put this piece together.

BPI takedown notices, as reported by Google

While demanding that Google places greater emphasis on its de-ranking of ‘pirate’ sites, the BPI has called again and again for a “notice and stay down” regime, to ensure that content taken down by the search engine doesn’t simply reappear under a new URL. It’s a position BPI maintains today.

“The battle would be a whole lot easier if intermediaries played fair,” a BPI spokesperson informs TF.

“They need to take more proactive responsibility to reduce infringing content that appears on their platform, and, where we expressly notify infringing content to them, to ensure that they do not only take it down, but also keep it down.”

The long-standing suggestion is that the volume of takedown notices sent would reduce if a “take down, stay down” regime was implemented. The BPI says it’s difficult to present a precise figure but infringing content has a tendency to reappear, both in search engines and on hosting sites.

“Google rejects repeat notices for the same URL. But illegal content reappears as it is re-indexed by Google. As to the sites that actually host the content, the vast majority of notices sent to them could be avoided if they implemented take-down & stay-down,” BPI says.

The fact that the BPI has added 60 million more takedowns since the quarter billion milestone a few months ago is quite remarkable, particularly since there appears to be little slowdown from month to month. However, the numbers have grown so huge that 310 billion now feels a lot like 250 million, with just a few added on top for good measure.

That an extra 60 million takedowns can almost be dismissed as a handful is an indication of just how massive the issue is online. While pirates always welcome an abundance of links to juicy content, it’s no surprise that groups like the BPI are seeking more comprehensive and sustainable solutions.

Previously, it was hoped that the Digital Economy Bill would provide some relief, hopefully via government intervention and the imposition of a search engine Code of Practice. In the event, however, all pressure on search engines was removed from the legislation after a separate voluntary agreement was reached.

All parties agreed that the voluntary code should come into effect two weeks ago on June 1 so it seems likely that some effects should be noticeable in the near future. But the BPI says it’s still early days and there’s more work to be done.

“BPI has been working productively with search engines since the voluntary code was agreed to understand how search engines approach the problem, but also what changes can and have been made and how results can be improved,” the group explains.

“The first stage is to benchmark where we are and to assess the impact of the changes search engines have made so far. This will hopefully be completed soon, then we will have better information of the current picture and from that we hope to work together to continue to improve search for rights owners and consumers.”

With more takedown notices in the pipeline not yet publicly reported by Google, the BPI informs TF that it has now notified the search giant of 315 million links to illegal content.

“That’s an astonishing number. More than 1 in 10 of the entire world’s notices to Google come from BPI. This year alone, one in every three notices sent to Google from BPI is for independent record label repertoire,” BPI concludes.

While it’s clear that groups like BPI have developed systems to cope with the huge numbers of takedown notices required in today’s environment, it’s clear that few rightsholders are happy with the status quo. With that in mind, the fight will continue, until search engines are forced into compromise. Considering the implications, that could only appear on a very distant horizon.

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

Disney Asks Google to Remove Its Own (Invisible) Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/disney-asks-google-to-remove-its-own-invisible-takedown-notices-170618/

Pretty much every major copyright holder regularly reports infringing links to Google, hoping to decrease the visibility of pirated files.

Over the past several years, the search engine has had to remove more than two billion links and most of these requests have been neatly archived in the Lumen database.

Walt Disney Company is no stranger to these takedown efforts. The company has sent over 20 million takedown requests to the search engine, covering a wide variety of content. All of these notices are listed in Google’s transparency report, and copies are available at Lumen.

While this is nothing new, we recently noticed that Disney doesn’t stop at reporting direct links to traditional “pirate” sites. In fact, they recently targeted one of their own takedown notices in the Lumen database, which was sent on behalf of its daughter company Lucasfilm.

In the notice below, the media giant wants Google to remove a links to a copy of its own takedown notice, claiming that it infringes the copyright of the blockbuster “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

Disney vs. Disney?

This is not the first time that a company has engaged in this type of meta-censorship, it appears.

However, it’s all the more relevant this week after a German court decided that Google can be ordered to stop linking to its own takedown notices. While that suggests that Disney was right to ask for its own link to be removed, the reality is a bit more complex.

When it was still known as ChillingEffects, the Lumen Database instructed Google not to index any takedown notices. And indeed, searching for copies of takedown notices yields no result. This means that Disney asked Google to remove a search result that doesn’t exist.

Perhaps things are different in a galaxy far, far away, but Disney’s takedown notice is not only self-censorship but also entirely pointless.

Disney might be better off focusing on content that Google has actually indexed, instead of going after imaginary threats. Or put in the words of Gold Five: “Stay on Target,” Disney..

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

Court Orders Google to Remove Links to Takedown Notice

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-google-to-remove-links-to-takedown-notice-170616/

On an average day Google processes more than three million takedown notices from copyright holders, and that’s for its search engine alone.

Thanks to Google’s transparency report, the public is able to see where these notices come from and what content they’re targeting. In addition, Google partners with Lumen to post copies of most notices online.

Founded by Harvard’s Berkman Center, Lumen is one of the few tools that helps to keep copyright holders accountable, while offering an invaluable database for researchers and the public in general.

However, not everyone is pleased with the service. Many copyright holders find it unfair that Google still indirectly links to the infringing URLs, because the search results point people to the takedown notice on Lumen, where these are listed in public.

Google linking to a standard DMCA notice

In Germany, a similar complaint was at the center of a lawsuit. A local company found that when people entered its name into the search engine combined with the term ‘suspected fraud’ (Betrugsverdacht), several search results would appear suggesting that the two were linked.

Since making false claims against companies is not allowed in Germany, the company wanted the results removed. The court agreed with this assessment and ordered Google to take action, which it did. However, after removing the results, Google added a mention at the bottom of the results pointing users to the takedown request on Lumen.

“As a reaction to a legal request that was sent to Google, we have removed one search result. You can find further information at LumenDatabase.org,” Google noted, with a link.

The company wasn’t happy with this and wanted Google to remove this mention, since it indirectly linked to the offensive URLs. After a lower court first sided with Google, the Higher Regional Court of Munich has now ordered (pdf) the search engine to remove the link to the Lumen notice.

Mirko Brüß, a lawyer and expert on German copyright law, wrote a detailed overview of the case in question on IPKAT explaining the court’s reasoning.

“By presenting its users an explanation about the deleted search result, combined with a hyperlink to the Lumen website where the deleted search result could be clicked, Google (still) enabled users to find and read the infringing statements, even after being ordered by a court to discontinue doing so,” he notes.

“The court found that it made no difference whether one or two clicks are needed to get to the result,” Brüß adds.

Lumen

While the order only refers to the link at the bottom of the search results, it may also apply to the transparency report itself, Brüß informs TorrentFreak.

It will be interesting to see if copyright holders will use similar means to ensure that Google stops linking to copies of their takedown notices. That would seriously obstruct Google’s well-intentioned transparency efforts, but thus far this hasn’t happened.

Finally, it is worth noting that Google doesn’t index the takedown notices from Lumen itself. Links to takedown notices are only added to search results where content has been removed, either by court order or following a DMCA request.

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

Copyright Holders Keep Targeting Dead Torrent Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/copyright-holders-keep-targeting-dead-torrent-sites-170611/

Over the past year several major torrent sites have shut down, causing quite an uproar among file-sharers.

Interestingly, however, several copyright holders still appear to think that these sites are alive and kicking. That is, judging from the takedown notices they send to Google.

Publisher Penguin Random House is particularly forgetful. Through its anti-piracy partner Digimarc, the company has reported hundreds of ‘infringing’ KickassTorrents URLs. Not only was KAT shut down last summer, the reported URLs are no longer listed in Google’s search results either.

Penguin is not alone though. Other rightsholders such as Sony Music, Dreamroom Productions, Taylor & Francis Group, The University of Chicago Press and many others have made the same mistakes recently.

Over the past month alone Google has received 1,340 takedown notices for Kat.cr URLs and an additional 775 for the Kat.ph domain name.

The problem is not limited to KAT either. Torrentz.eu, another major torrent site that went offline last summer, is still being targeted at well.

For example, earlier this week Sony Pictures asked Google to remove a Torrentz.eu URL that linked to the series Community, even though it is no longer indexed. In just one month copyright holders sent Google 4,960 takedown requests for “dead” Torrentz URLs.

Recent takedown requests for Torrentz.eu

Apparently, the reporting outfits have failed to adjust their piracy monitoring bots for the changing torrent landscape.

The mistakes are likely due to automated keyword filters that scour sites and forums for links to hosting services. These bots don’t bother to check whether Google actually indexes the content, nor do they remove dead sites from their system.

While targeting dead KAT and Torrentz links is bad enough, things can get worse.

The iconic torrent search isoHunt.com shut down following a MPAA lawsuit in 2013, well over three years ago. Nonetheless, rightsholders still sent Google takedown notices for the site, more than a dozen a month actually.

Or what about BTJunkie. This torrent indexer closed its doors voluntarily more than half a decade ago. Dead or not, some copyright holders still manage to find infringing links in some of the darkest corners of the Internet.

Apparently, torrent users are far quicker to adapt to the changing landscape than the monitoring outfits of some copyright holders…

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

How NAGRA Fights Kodi and IPTV Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/how-nagra-fights-kodi-and-iptv-piracy-170603/

Nagravision or NAGRA is one of the best known companies operating in the digital cable and satellite television content security space. Due to successes spanning several decades, the company has often proven unpopular with pirates.

In particular, Nagravision encryption systems have regularly been a hot topic for discussion on cable and satellite hacking forums, frustrating those looking to receive pay TV services without paying the high prices associated with them. However, the rise of the Internet is now presenting new challenges.

NAGRA still protects traditional cable and satellite pay TV services in 2017; Virgin Media in the UK is a long-standing customer, for example. But the rise of Internet streaming means that pirate content can now be delivered to the home with ease, completely bypassing the entire pay TV provider infrastructure. And, by extension, NAGRA’s encryption.

This means that NAGRA has been required to spread its wings.

As reported in April, NAGRA is establishing a lab to monitor and detect unauthorized consumption of content via set-top boxes, websites and other streaming platforms. That covers the now omnipresent Kodi phenomenon, alongside premium illicit IPTV services. TorrentFreak caught up with the company this week to find out more.

“NAGRA has an automated monitoring platform that scans all live channels and VOD assets available on Kodi,” NAGRA’s Ivan Schnider informs TF.

“The service we offer to our customers automatically finds illegal distribution of their content on Kodi and removes infringing streams.”

In the first instance, NAGRA sends standard takedown notices to hosting services to terminate illicit streams. The company says that while some companies are very cooperative, others are less so. When meeting resistance, NAGRA switches to more coercive methods, described here by Christopher Schouten, NAGRA Senior Director Product Marketing.

“Takedowns are generally sent to streaming platforms and hosting servers. When those don’t work, Advanced Takedowns allow us to use both technical and legal means to get results,” Schouten says.

“Numerous stories in recent days show how for instance popular Kodi plug-ins have been removed by their authors because of the mere threat of legal actions like this.”

At the center of operations is NAGRA’s Piracy Intelligence Portal, which offers customers a real-time view of worldwide online piracy trends, information on the infrastructure behind illegal services, as well as statistics and status of takedown requests.

“We measure takedown compliance very carefully using our Piracy Intelligence Portal, so we can usually predict the results we will get. We work on a daily basis to improve relationships and interfaces with those who are less compliant,” Schouten says.

The Piracy Intelligence Portal

While persuasion is probably the best solution, some hosts inevitably refuse to cooperate. However, NAGRA also offers the NexGuard system, which is able to determine the original source of the content.

“Using forensic watermarking to trace the source of the leak, we will be able to completely shut down the ‘leak’ at the source, independently and within minutes of detection,” Schouten says.

Whatever route is taken, NAGRA says that the aim is to take down streams as quickly as possible, something which hopefully undermines confidence in pirate services and encourages users to re-enter the legal market. Interestingly, the company also says it uses “technical means” to degrade pirate services to the point that consumers lose faith in them.

But while augmented Kodi setups and illicit IPTV are certainly considered a major threat in 2017, they are not the only problem faced by content companies.

While the Apple platform is quite tight, the open nature of Android means that there are a rising number of apps that can be sideloaded from the web. These allow pirate content to be consumed quickly and conveniently within a glossy interface.

Apps like Showbox, MovieHD and Terrarium TV have the movie and TV show sector wrapped up, while the popular Mobdro achieves the same with live TV, including premium sports. Schnider says NAGRA can handle apps like these and other emerging threats in a variety of ways.

“In addition to Kodi-related anti-piracy activities, NAGRA offers a service that automatically finds illegal distribution of content on Android applications, fully loaded STBs, M3U playlist and other platforms that provide plug-and-play solutions for the big TV screen; this service also includes the removal of infringing streams,” he explains.

M3U playlist piracy doesn’t get a lot of press. An M3U file is a text file that specifies locations where content (such as streams) can be found online.

In its basic ‘free’ form, it’s simply a case of finding an M3U file on an indexing site or blog and loading it into VLC. It’s not as flashy as any of the above apps, and unless one knows where to get the free M3Us quickly, many channels may already be offline. Premium M3U files are widely available, however, and tend to be pretty reliable.

But while attacking sources of infringing content is clearly a big part of NAGRA’s mission, the company also deploys softer strategies for dealing with pirates.

“Beyond disrupting pirate streams, raising awareness amongst users that these services are illegal and helping service providers deliver competing legitimate services, are also key areas in the fight against premium IPTV piracy where NAGRA can help,” Schnider says.

“Converting users of such services to legitimate paying subscribers represents a significant opportunity for content owners and distributors.”

For this to succeed, Schouten says there needs to be an understanding of the different motivators that lead an individual to commit piracy.

“Is it price? Is it availability? Is it functionality?” he asks.

Interestingly, he also reveals that lots of people are spending large sums of money on IPTV services they believe are legal but are not. Rather than the high prices putting them off, they actually add to their air of legitimacy.

“These consumers can relatively easily be converted into paying subscribers if they can be convinced that pay-TV services offer superior quality, reliability, and convenience because let’s face it, most IPTV services are still a little dodgy to use,” he says.

“Education is also important; done through working with service providers to inform consumers through social media platforms of the risks linked to the use of illegitimate streaming devices / IPTV devices, e.g. purchasing boxes that may no longer work after a short period of time.”

And so the battle over content continues.

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

City of Abbotsford Enters WordPress’ DMCA “Hall of Shame”

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/city-of-abbotsford-enters-wordpress-dmca-hall-of-shame-170506/

As one of the leading blog platforms, WordPress.com receives thousands of DMCA takedown requests every year, but nearly half of these are rejected.

Parent company Automattic is known to inspect all notices carefully, and has a track record of defending its users against DMCA abuse. In addition, it occasionally highlights the worst offenders in its own “Hall of Shame.”

This week the company added a new entry for the first time in several months. The dubious honor goes to the City of Abbotsford, Canada, which tried to clean up its ‘image’ with a recent DMCA notice.

The “infringement” Abbotsford reported concerns an article written by a homeless blogger, who highlighted that city officials deliberately spread chicken manure on a camp for homeless people.

To illustrate this unfortunate event with a fitting image, the blogger posted a parody logo of the city, replacing the pine tree with a turd.

Abbotsford’s parody logo

Pretty innocent, one would think, but apparently the city of Abbotsford thought otherwise. Through a marketing company, Abbotsford city council sent a DMCA notice to Automattic, asking it to remove the offending image.

However, since there is a clear fair use case here, the company behind the WordPress blogging platform was not impressed.

“Pardon the pun. It was glaringly obvious that the addition of the hilariously large feces was for the purposes of parody, and tied directly to the criticisms laid out in the post,” Automattic writes.

“As a result, it seems hard to believe that the city council took fair use considerations into account before firing off their ill-advised notice, and trying to wipe up this mess,” the company adds.

Instead of taking the image offline, Automattic referred the takedown notice to the blogger in question. He decided to keep it online as well, adding a massive “parody” watermark just to avoid any further confusion.

PARODY

So, instead of wiping the “crappy” logo from the Internet, the marketing firm actually managed to magnify the issue, entering WordPress’ DMCA Hall of Shame. Since the original article is nearly four years old, they would have been better off ignoring it, but some people have to learn that the hard way.

In its closing comments, Automattic stresses that their use of the ‘shitty’ logo also falls under fair use protection, urging the City counsel to refrain from sending them any additional takedown requests.

“Our use of the Abbotsford city logo in this post is also for the purposes of commentary or criticism, and therefore falls under fair use protections. If anybody on the council happens to be reading, please don’t send us another DMCA takedown.”

At TorrentFreak we would like to repeat Automattic’s argument, also adding a fair use exception for the purpose of news reporting.

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

Premier League Asks Google to Take Down Facebook’s Homepage

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/premier-league-asks-google-to-take-down-facebooks-homepage-170429/

Removing search results is nothing new for Google. The company has been cleaning up its search index for years, in response to complaints from copyright holders.

Every week the search engine processes millions of requests. In most cases these claims are legitimate, but every now and then innocent web pages are mistakenly targeted.

This week we stumbled upon a takedown notice that’s clearly not right. The request was sent by NetResult on behalf of the Premier League, and targets a wide variety of sports streaming related sites.

“The reported URLs are offering unauthored live streams of Premier League content,” it reads, listing the homepages of sites such as streamsarena.eu, letsfooty.com, tvlink.in and sportcategory.com.

While targeting the homepages of these sites is already quite broad, it also lists the main Facebook.com URL among the infringing domains, asking Google to remove it from the search engine entirely.

Premier League Takedown Notice

Google has investigated the claims, including the Facebook one, but decided not to comply with the notice in question, leaving Facebook’s homepage in search results.

In situations like this, we can see how easy erroneous takedown claims can easily lead to over-blocking. It’s good to know that, despite receiving millions of requests per day, the search engine is still able to spot most of these flaws.

Unfortunately, however, not all mistakes are easily caught, especially when they concern smaller sites.

Just a few days ago we noticed that a page from the copyright troll blog DieTrollDie was removed from Google’s search results because it mentioned a torrent hash of a Lionsgate film, and another blog had several court filings removed from the results for the same reason.

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

Cloudflare Ordered to Expose Gay-Torrents Operator, Or Else…

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-ordered-to-expose-gay-torrents-operator-or-else-170428/

Cloudflare has taken quite a bit of heat from copyright holders in recent months.

As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe, some of which are notorious pirate sites.

However, instead of proactively taking down these sites, Cloudflare maintains its position as a neutral service provider. If copyright holders want them to take action, they have to follow the legal process.

This is the route adult company Flava Works is taking now. The company went to a clerk at the Illinois federal court and succesfully obtained a DMCA subpoena to expose the personal details connected to the account of the gay torrent community Gay-Torrents.org.

The order commands CloudFlare to hand over the personal details of the associated account holder within a month. This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, account numbers, billing records and other identifying information.

Unlike regular subpoenas, DMCA subpoenas are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from the court clerk. However, in a letter sent to Cloudflare, Flava Works says that it’s considering further legal steps, if they’re needed.

The DMCA subpoena

The adult company explains that it sent three DMCA takedown notices to the company, but that dozens of copyright infringing files on Gay-Torrents.org are still being served through Cloudflare’s servers.

Flava argued that Cloudflare is required to take proper action against repeat infringers under the DMCA, and wants it to terminate the associated account in its entirety, or face lagal action.

“Accordingly, demand is hereby made upon you to immediately and permanently disable and remove the Infringing Site as a repeat infringer and terminate all related accounts,” Flava writes in its letter.

“Absent full compliance with this demand, our Client will be forced to investigate all legal remedies available to it, including, without limitation, bringing a civil cause of action against you to compel compliance.”

The adult entertainment company ends by saying that it would be in the best interests of all parties to avoid costly litigation, but clearly doesn’t rule out the possibility.

It’s doubtful, however, that Cloudflare will be sensitive to this kind of threat. The company has repeatedly said that it follows the letter of the law, and in its opinion this doesn’t cover the termination of clients solely based on third party claims.

TorrentFreak reached out to Cloudflare for a comment on the allegations. The company informed us that they have yet to be served with the subpoena, adding that it is Cloudflare’s policy to respond to proper court process once served.

To be continued.

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

Pirate Site Blockades Violate Free Speech, Mexico’s Supreme Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blockades-violate-free-speech-mexicos-supreme-court-rules-170425/

In many European countries it’s a mere formality to order local Internet providers to block access to pirate sites, but this is not the case in Mexico.

In 2015 the Government’s Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) ordered local ISP Alestra to block access to the website mymusiic.com.

The website in question was targeted at a Mexican audience and offered music downloads, some of which were shared without permission.

The ISP was not pleased with the order and appealed it in court. Among other things, the defense argued that the order was too broad, as it also restricted access to music that might not be infringing.

A few days ago the case was heard by the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation, which ruled that the Government’s order is indeed disproportional. Mexican law does allow for blocking orders, but these have to be targeted at specific content instead of the website as a whole.

Mymusiic.com

“Although such [blocking] measures are provided for by Law and pursue a legitimate purpose, the fact is that they do not meet the requirements of necessity and proportionality since the restrictions on the right of freedom of expression must refer to specific content,” Minister Alberto Perez Dayán said.

“Hence the generic bans on the operation of certain websites and systems may violate the human right of freedom of expression,” he added.

The broad request ordered by IMPI equates to censorship and violates the constitution. Minister Perez Dayán compared the proposed blockade with the shutdown of a printing press, for publishing a single work without permission.

With this Supreme Court decision in hand, it will be very difficult for the authorities, or rightsholders, to demand similar blockades in the future. Instead, they will have to resort to targeting specific content, through takedown notices or via more targeted blocking efforts.

Mymusiic.com, the site that got the landmark case started, has quietly disappeared and is no longer operational.

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