Tag Archives: takedown notices

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.

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.

Anti-Piracy Outfit Targets ‘Troll’ Defense Sites With DMCA Takedowns

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-outfit-targets-troll-defense-sites-with-dmca-takedowns-170923/

Anti-piracy enforcement comes in all shapes and sizes and there can be little doubt that’s it’s an extremely challenging and complex arena. Little surprise then that screw-ups are pretty common.

This week’s facepalm moment arrives courtesy of IP Arrow, an anti-piracy outfit working on behalf of clients including California-based movie company Lionsgate.

For some time, IP Arrow has been sending takedown notices to Google asking it to delist thousands of ‘pirate’ URLs for the movie Mechanic: Resurrection. In the main, the company appears to have done a good job, but like so many similar operations, at times it struggles to tell the difference between pirate copies of a movie and completely non-infringing content.

This week, the operator of troll defense blog Fight Copyright Trolls pointed out to fellow troll defenders DieTrollDie that IP Arrow had reported the site to Google for being a copyright infringer, which it most clearly is not.

The problem began in January when DieTrollDie (DTD) published an article about numerous trolling cases filed by ME2 Productions, the company that holds rights to Mechanic: Resurrection.

ME2 has been suing BitTorrent users all over the United States, so the cases naturally came to the attention of DTD, which offered its usual critique of the company’s actions thus far. However, in explaining certain flaws in some cases, the site referenced the hash value (B5201111ACEC1E5025DE3087B15DF84612C02579) of one of the pirate copies of Mechanic: Resurrection floating about on the Internet.

This was enough for IP Arrows’ bots to flag DTD as a pirate site and report it to Google. While this was probably a simple error, this is an extremely sensitive area so it’s easy to see how some might view the takedown as an attempt to silence ME2’s critics.

Certainly, that’s the view of DTD’s operator, who informs TF that he was surprised that IP Arrow had targeted his site.

“I was a bit surprised that IP Arrow asked Google to remove the listing of one of my pages. I knew there was absolutely no reason to justify it,” he told TF.

“They claim that they wanted the links removed because, ‘These links are facilitating piracy of my client’s work.’ What they actually wanted removed was one of the ‘Tags’ I used to index an article concerning the BT copyright troll cases for Mechanic: Resurrection.”

But whatever the conclusion, the problems don’t stop there. The same takedown notice filed against DTD makes matters worse by also targeting yet another website setup to help people targeted by copyright trolls.

Troll-Defense.com is operated by Lybeck, Pedreira & Justus, a Washington law firm that’s extremely unlikely to be infringing upon Lionsgate or ME2 copyrights. Nevertheless, the site was also reported to Google for copyright infringement.

Bizarrely, in each case the target of the infringement notices were court papers referencing ME2’s Mechanic: Resurrection cases against alleged copyright infringers. As in the reporting of DTD, it doesn’t look good that sites offering legal help to citizens are being targeted by companies with connections to the content in question.

“At first I thought IP Arrow was too stupid to understand what a hash file is. But after seeing that they also tried to remove search listings to publically available court documents, it looks like an effort to hide information concerning their copyright trolling operation,” DTD’s operator says.

“They are probably of the opinion that if you throw enough crap at a target, something is eventually going to stick.”

DTD also expressed concern that considering the volumes of notices being received by Google, it’s likely that innocent sites will fall victim to errors like these. It turns out that those concerns are well founded.

Torrent-Defense has been targeted by IP Arrow on several occasions (1,2,3), with Google delisting pages 100% of the time.

This hasn’t pleased lawyer Benjamin Justus, who operates the site for Lybeck, Pedreira & Justus.

“With courts and consumers already concerned that mass copyright suits by ME2 and its affiliates are being pursued in arbitrary fashion, I think that ME2’s agents’ targeting innocent parties with baseless takedown notices will only further the skepticism that these companies are not engaged in legitimate enforcement efforts,” he concludes.

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

Spammers Populate Google Maps With Pirate Links

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/spammers-populate-google-maps-with-pirate-links-170422/

Google Maps is an extremely useful service that’s made it easier for people to navigate in the real world, pointing the way to a local movie theater, for example.

However, for a few months, the service has also been leading people to places where pirated content is available, online. Spammers are using the “My Maps” feature to bookmark custom locations with links to a wide variety of pirated media.

The goal of this strategy is to have these links show up high in search results. This appears to be effective, especially since Google has started to push results from known pirate sites down.

These “treasure maps” have captured quite a few eyeballs, as some of the custom maps have already been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

You’re here?

In some cases, the links point to actual torrent sites or download portals, but they are also used to lure people into downloading malware or other scammy content. For example, one of the links we tried triggered an automatic download of “gone_girl_torrent.exe,” which doesn’t promise anything good.

And the problem appears to be widespread, with links appearing for all sorts of content. A search for “Mymaps” URLs with the keyword “MP3” returns 44,900 results at the time of writing, and a search for the keywords “torrent download” shows 23,300 results, with a lot of popular video titles.

Pirate maps

Spammers’ use of Google’s My Maps hasn’t gone unnoticed to copyright holders either. Many of the links have been reported to Google, but thus far the problem remains.

Since Google has started to downrank pirate sites in search results, spammers are increasingly using legitimate services to promote their content. Just last week we pointed out a similar problem at Discogs and Change.org has been targeted as well.

One solution would be for Google to start flagging its own Maps service as a pirate site and downrank its results, but that may just be a bit too drastic.

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

ISP Can’t Have Blanket Immunity From Pirating Subscribers, Court Rules

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-cant-have-blanket-immunity-from-pirating-subscribers-court-rules-170420/

Internet provider Windstream is among the companies that are gravely concerned about the verdict against fellow ISP Cox, which was held liable for pirating subscribers in 2015.

With more than a million subscribers nationwide, it is one of the larger Internet providers in the United States, and as such it regularly receives takedown notices targeting its subscribers.

Many of these notices come from music rights group BMG and its anti-piracy partner Rightscorp, which accused the ISP of being liable for the actions of its customers.

Windstream wasn’t happy with these accusations and the associated risk, filing a request for declaratory judgment at a New York District Court last year. It asked the court to rule that it’s not liable for the infringing actions of its subscribers under the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions.

For their part, BMG and Rightscorp protested the request and told the court that a lawsuit is premature, as the copyright holder hasn’t even officially filed an infringement complaint. Instead, they accused the ISPs of trying to get broad immunity without going into specifics, such as their repeat infringer policies.

In a motion to dismiss the case music rights group told the court that concrete actions and policies play a crucial role in determining liability, accusing Windstream of trying to escape this responsibility.

This week the court issued its final verdict in the case, which brings bad news for the Internet provider.

The court ruled that there is indeed no actual controversy and that it can’t issue a hypothetical and advisory opinion without concrete facts. As such, the case is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

“The amended complaint does not present such a controversy. Instead, Windstream seeks a blanket approval of its business model, without reference to any specific copyright held by BMG or any specific act of direct infringement by any Windstream subscriber,” the court writes.

“Windstream seeks the kind of hypothetical and advisory opinion, isolated from concrete facts, that cannot confer jurisdiction upon this Court,” the order adds (pdf).

The ISP hoped to get clarity on how to respond to the copyright infringement notices BMG sends, but the court says that it can’t decide on this without concrete examples.

This doesn’t mean that Windstream is liable, of course. The ISP may very well be protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions, but this has to be decided on a case-by-case basis.

“Because Windstream seeks declarations untethered from any actual instances of copyright infringement or any mention of a specific copyrighted work, the complaint fails to identify an actual case or controversy and the declaratory judgment claims must be dismissed,” the court writes.

The order is a major disappointment for Windstream, which can still only guess whether it’s doing the right thing or not.

BMG and Rightscorp previously said that the ISP was liable for damages as high as $150,000 per infringed work, and with the current order this threat is still hanging over its head.

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

Reddit Rejects 81% Of All ‘Piracy’ Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/reddit-rejects-81-of-all-piracy-takedown-notices-170416/

With millions of pageviews per day, Reddit is without doubt one of the most visited sites on the Internet.

The community-oriented platform has “subreddits” dedicated to pretty much every topic you can think of, including several dedicated to online piracy and related issues.

While the vast majority remain within the boundaries of the law, on occasion users post copyright-infringing material. This means that, like any user-generated site of its size, Reddit also has to process a steady stream of takedown requests from rightsholders.

To give the public insight into the process and volume, Reddit regularly publishes a transparency report. In the most recent report, published a few days ago, the company outlines the number of DMCA takedown notices received and how many of these were “valid.”

“For a request to be valid, it must comply with the statutory requirements outlined in the DMCA,” Reddit explains.

“Each DMCA takedown notice is reviewed carefully and, in circumstances where content is actually hosted on our servers, we assess whether the existence of the content on Reddit can fall under an exception, such as ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material.”

If the company believes that the reported content might be covered by an exemption under copyright law, they contact the copyright holder asking for additional information. If the claim turns out to be legitimate, it is then removed.

Unlike some other sites and services, Reddit doesn’t blindly remove a posting that links to copyrighted content hosted on an external site. The company previously stated that “links do not generally infringe copyright.”

This is definitely a different approach than other companies, including Google, take, and it’s likely to be reflected in the numbers as well.

So how much content was removed in 2016?

According to the transparency report, Reddit received 3,294 copyright removal requests over the entire year. Not really an impressive number compared to a service like Google, but substantial nonetheless.

The rejection rate is without a doubt impressive. The company says that it was required to remove content from the site in 610 instances, which is 19 percent. That means that of all DMCA requests, 81 percent was rejected.

That’s quite a significant percentage. At Google, for example, more than 90 percent of all reported content is removed.

While the number of takedown requests Reddit receives pales in comparison to other Internet services, it’s good to see that the company carefully reviews all notices to prevent unwarranted censorship. It will be interesting to see how the volume of requests and the removal rate changes over time.

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

‘Piracy Filters Are Expensive and Far From Perfect’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/piracy-filters-are-expensive-and-far-from-perfect-170329/

Signed into law nearly twenty years ago, the DMCA is one of the best known pieces of Internet related legislation.

The law introduced a safe harbor for Internet services, meaning that they can’t be held liable for their pirating users as long as they properly process takedown notices and deal with repeat infringers.

In recent years, however, various parties have complained about shortcomings and abuse of the system. On the one hand, rightsholders believe that the law doesn’t do enough to protect creators, while the opposing side warns of increased censorship and abuse.

To address these concerns, the U.S. Copyright Office hosted a public consultation asking stakeholders to submit comments as well as research. One of the organizations participating is Engine, a non-profit organization representing the interests of the startup and tech communities.

Previously, several copyright industry representatives suggested that piracy filters are an efficient and effective way to deal with piracy. This would save rightsholders a lot of work, and in part shift the ‘policing’ burden to Internet services. However, not everyone in the tech community agrees.

Balancing the scale, Engine teamed up with Professor Nick Feamster of Princeton University to show that automated filters are far from perfect. In their research report titled “The limits of Filtering,” they list a wide variety of drawbacks.

“Before considering dangerous mandatory content filtering rules, policymakers should understand the inherent limitations of filtering technologies,” they write in their report.

“Reversing two decades of sensible copyright policy to require OSPs to deploy tools that are costly, easily circumvented, and limited in scope would deeply harm startups, users, and content creators alike.”

The researchers point out that filtering has a limited scope. File-formats continuously change or can be masked, for example, and even in the ideal case where a site only hosts straightforward audio files, it’s not perfect either.

The report cites a recent case study which found that the music fingerprinting system Echoprint misidentifies between 1 and 2 percent of all files. This might not sound like a lot, but when a site hosts millions of files, it adds up quickly.

With these numbers, tens of thousands of files would be taken down in error, which is far from ideal.

“Given the reported error rates, one could thus expect the state of the art fingerprinting algorithm to misidentify about one or two in every 100 pieces of audio content,” the researchers write.

“Accordingly, a 1–2 percent false positive rate for an automated filtering procedure is problematic for the same reasons, as such a technique would result in filtering legitimate content at rates that would frequently obstruct speech.”

That’s in an ideal situation. The reality is more complicated. An automated filtering tool can’t effectively decide fair use cases, for example. And for some types of content there are no good filtering options available to begin with.

On a broader scale, Engine’s research also predicts an overall negative impact on Internet services. The costs involved could prove to be problematic for smaller startups, for example. Medium-sized file-sharing services would have to pay between $10,000 and $25,000 in licensing fees alone.

A filtering requirement will also create uncertainty among startups. Are they required to filter, to what degree, and is their fingerprinting technology sufficient?

Finally, there’s an elephant in the room. Even if filtering magically works 100%, there will always be plenty of rogue pirate sites in foreign jurisdictions that still offer infringing content.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Engine’s Executive Director Evan Engstrom, who co-authored the report, hopes that lawmakers will seriously consider the concerns. Not just the US Copyright Office, but also the European Commission (EC) which has concrete plans to make piracy filters mandatory.

“All filtering technologies are limited in significant ways: they are only able to process a relatively narrow range of content files and all can be circumvented through encryption or basic file manipulation. And contrary to the EC’s belief, fingerprinting technologies can be quite expensive, particularly for startups,” Engstrom says.

“We hope this paper provides policymakers considering such mandatory filtering proposals with the technical and economic evidence necessary to fully understand their implications.”

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

Netflix Gets Serious About Its Anti-Piracy Efforts

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-gets-serious-about-its-anti-piracy-efforts-170324/

A few years ago Netflix had a pretty casual stance when it came to online piracy.

At the time, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said that they were keeping an eye on the phenomenon, stressing that it’s not exclusively a bad thing. It also creates demand, he argued.

“Certainly there’s some torrenting that goes on, and that’s true around the world, but some of that just creates the demand,” Hastings said.

Netflix openly admitted to using torrent download data as a market signal, buying shows that are popular among pirates in a certain region. The best way to beat piracy is to provide good options, the mantra was.

While it’s still an important issue, Netflix as a company has a different role now. With an increasing number of original shows, it’s becoming a significant content producer, instead of ‘just’ a distribution platform.

Interestingly, this also shows in Netflix’s approach to piracy. The casual stance has long gone, and today Netflix is operating on par with the major Hollywood studios when it comes to copyright enforcement efforts.

Last year we reported that the company had begun sending DMCA takedown notices on a large scale, but its actions don’t stop there. While Netflix doesn’t boast about its anti-piracy efforts in public, a recent job listing for a Global Copyright Protection Counsel is quite a revelation.

The counsel in question will support Netflix’s “Global Copyright Protection Group,” a department the streaming service hasn’t mentioned in public thus far. One of the key focuses of the job is to minimize online piracy, through an advanced strategy.

“He or she will be tasked with supporting the Netflix Global Copyright Protection Group in its industry-wide anti-piracy strategic initiatives and tactical take down efforts with the goal of reducing online piracy to a socially unacceptable fringe activity.”

The responsibilities that come with the job are very broad, touching on pretty much every piracy angle utilized by Hollywood studios in recent years. Ranging from leak-prevention to automated takedown efforts, Netflix has it covered.

Counsel, Global Copyright Protection

The prospective employee will assist in “enforcement activities” and conduct “piracy trends analysis” while keeping an eye on the overall piracy ecosystem, including third-party platforms such as search engines, social media, advertisers, payment processors, domain name registrars.

In addition to traditional pirate sites, the anti-piracy efforts also focus on streaming devices, including fully-loaded Kodi boxes, and anonymizer tools such as VPNs and proxies.

“Consider solutions to deal with new piracy models and ways to consume pirate content online, such as illicit streaming devices and the use of TV add on apps. Monitor use of circumvention and anonymizer tools in the online pirate world,” the job application reads.

The application further mentions a review of “piracy demand” and “piracy messaging projects,” suggesting a concrete outreach to consumers. In addition, Netflix will directly reach out to pirate sites and other intermediaries.

“Assist in the management of Netflix correspondence with and outreach to both the administrators of pirate sites and the facilitators of piracy, including hosting platforms and providers, social media platforms and UGC sites in response to our tactical and industry copyright protection efforts.”

Overall the job application paints a picture of a rather mature and complete anti-piracy program and strategy. Now that copyrights are becoming a more vital asset for Netflix, it’s likely to become even more advanced as time progresses.

That’s quite a leap from the casual stance a few years ago. Apparently, Netflix now believes that solving piracy isn’t just as simple as making content available. They also want a ‘stick’ with their carrot.

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

Getty Images Slams Google For Seeking Copyright Safe Harbor

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/getty-images-slams-google-for-seeking-copyright-safe-harbor-170320/

The notion that online platforms should not be held responsible for the infringing acts of their users is something entrenched in law in many regions, including the United States and Europe.

In Australia, however, a perceived drafting error in the implementation of the Australia – US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA) means that safe harbor provisions only apply to commercial Internet service providers.

As a result, Google, Facebook, YouTube and similar platforms face copyright uncertainty, a tenuous position also suffered by schools, universities, museums, libraries and archives.

If proposed amendments to the Copyright Act are adopted, all of the above will receive enhanced safe harbor protections and the country into be brought into compliance with AUSFTA. Instead, however, battle lines are being drawn, with technology companies on one side and heavily copyright-reliant entities on the other.

Today it’s the turn of Getty Images to throw its hat into the ring. Getty has been embroiled in dozens of copyright lawsuits in its history so is well aware of the difficulties its business can encounter. It’s also strongly against safe harbors that would allow companies like Google to use its images in search results, for example, without having to shoulder any liability.

Speaking with The Australian (paywall), Getty Images’ general counsel Yoko Miyashita says that safe harbors have been ruthlessly exploited by online platforms and actually make it harder for copyright holders to protect their rights.

“Here in the US the safe harbors were intended to provide strong incentives for online ­service providers and copyright holders to co-operate to detect and deal with copyright infringements … but that has never materialized,” Miyashita says.

“There is no incentive for co-operation. The safe harbors are instead used by service providers as a shield and an excuse for doing nothing to detect or prevent copyright infringement.”

When service providers become aware that their platforms are being used for infringement in a specific case, it’s argued that they are required to take remedial action to bring them into compliance and maintain their safe harbor protections.

But for the Getty general counsel, all this does is force technology platforms to look even further in the opposite direction to avoid knowledge, rather than getting sucked into a copyright minefield. Becoming involved in steps to prevent piracy can even mean they become further exposed.

“In fact, we have seen that ­service providers risk greater ­liability if they take steps to detect and prevent infringements, so they are encouraged to stick their head in the sand,” Miyashita said.

While the music, movie and TV show companies have their specific complaints against Google, Getty Images feels it is particularly exposed by the search giant’s actions. While movies and TV shows are largely streamed or downloaded from third-party sites to which Google merely links, Getty’s images appear in results themselves, ready to be shared with others with a couple of clicks.

Results can be taken down of course, but the onus lies with copyright holders to take action in each and every case, something which sees Google process millions of takedown notices every week.

“Each of those reports represents an instance where copyright holders were not com­pensated for use of their works,” Miyashita notes.

“This shows not only the burden on copyright holders to identify infringements and prepare and send notices…but also the lack of respect for copyright which has been fuelled in large part by the safe harbors.”

That Getty Images should single out Google in the safe harbor debate comes as no surprise, as the companies rarely see eye to eye when it comes to the use of Getty’s images.

Last year the stock photograph outfit filed a complaint with the European Union’s antitrust commission, claiming that Google is engaged in piracy of its content. Getty told the EU that Google undermines its business by utilizing Getty stock images in a manner that “siphons traffic” away from the Getty’s own website.

Considering that safe harbor provisions are standard across Europe and the United States, the battle underway in Australia is something of an anomaly.

That being said, the fact that Australia-based technology companies are now being forced to fight entertainment and heavily copyright-dependent industries to achieve their goals is nothing new and is only likely to drive the parties apart – or investment away.

At the moment the momentum is in favor of safe harbor introduction, but things are only just getting heated up and are far from over.

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

Google Gets More WordPress.com Takedown Requests Than WordPress Itself

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-gets-more-wordpress-com-takedown-requests-than-wordpress-170319/

Automattic, the company behind the popular WordPress.com blogging platform, receives thousands of takedown requests from rightsholders.

A few days ago the company published its latest transparency report, showing that they processed 5,006 requests during the second half of last year.

While this is a significant amount, it pales in comparison to many other user-generated services. Google, for example, receives the same number in less than four minutes.

What’s also different is the high rejection rate WordPress has. More than 40% of all DMCA takedown notices are rejected due to inaccuracies or abuse, more than many other service providers.

Overall, however, both the number of takedown requests and the removal rate are relatively stable. As can be seen below, Automattic generally removes content for just over half of the notices it receives; the rest are rejected.

When we took a closer look at the takedown numbers, comparing them to Google’s data, something else stood out. It appears that Google receives more takedown requests for WordPress.com than Automattic, the company that operates the blogging platform.

Over the past 12 months, copyright holders asked Google to remove over 13,100 WordPress.com URLs, while Automattic received less than 10,000 last year. In other words, copyright holders are more keen to remove the search engine results than the actual content, which is not very logical.

TorrentFreak contacted Steve from Automattic, who says that the numbers suggest that rightsholders prefer to go through Google because this is the easier path.

“Those numbers aren’t entirely surprising for a few reasons. When looking to limit access to material online, complainants will naturally look for the path of least resistance,” Steve says.

“Since we manually scrutinize every single DMCA takedown notice that we receive for formal validity and fair use considerations, removal is not guaranteed, and we reject about 40% of all notices for being deficient in some way,” he adds.

The Google takedown process is highly automated which makes it relatively easy for copyright holders to target a high volume of URLs, including those of Wordpess.com.

“Removing sites from top search engines is often much easier due to the automatic nature of the review process… something that is made even easier still by the various trusted partnership programs, and use of bulk electronic takedown notices,” Steve notes.

Still, it’s a strange situation. If a copyright holder is really concerned about infringing content on WordPress.com, it should be at least worth a shot to ask the company to remove it.

But no, of the top ten reporting organizations that asked Google to remove WordPress URLs, none appears in Automattic’s most recent top ten.

Finally, it appears that the thousands of notices that are sent to the search engine are pretty much useless anyway. It may be easier than reaching out to Automattic, but not very effective since Google appears to have whitelisted the blogging platform.

Of the 13,100 takedown requests Google processed over the past 12 months, only 0.3% were ultimately removed.

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

Russia Drafts Legislation to Remove Pirate Sites From Search Engines

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/russia-drafts-legislation-remove-pirate-sites-search-engines-170226/

Copyright holders all over the world believe that search engines play a crucial role in the piracy ecosystem. They argue that when seeking out content, people often use sites like Google, which can lead them to infringing material on pirate sites.

Entertainment companies can address the problem by sending takedown notices, but they insist that’s a very inefficient process. Pirate content is way too visible in search results, they argue, particularly when it appears in the first few pages of results.

With most countries continuing to grapple with the issue, it now appears that Russia intends to legislate against it. This week, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev submitted a draft bill to parliament that will force search engines to remove specified pirate sites from their results.

Developed by the Ministry of Communications, the bill will compel search companies such as Google and local giant Yandex to deindex sites that have failed to respond to takedown requests on several occasions, perhaps as little as twice.

One such example is huge torrent site RuTracker, which was blocked by local ISPs following an order from the Moscow City Court. RuTracker was effectively told to remove around 320,000 torrents to avoid a ban but chose not to do so after running a poll among its users. Under current legislation, RuTracker is now blocked for life, and if the new law is passed, all of its pages will disappear from search engines.

The draft bill also targets counter-measures employed by sites attempting to circumvent ISP blockades.

Often, when one domain is blocked, sites will buy new domains in an effort to keep going. Others will use proxy sites and even full-scale mirrors to stay one step ahead of the court. The bill refers to all of these options as “derivative sites” and will allow for them to be blocked without further court process.

The bill was approved during a government meeting on February 17 and will now pass through its various parliamentary stages before becoming law.

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

Movie Company Issues Warning Over Fake “Piracy” Fines

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-company-issues-warning-over-fake-piracy-fines-170224/

For more than a decade copyright holders have been monitoring unauthorized downloads.

Traditionally this have resulted in harmless takedown notices but increasingly, these warnings are being turned into settlement demands or automated fines.

Rightsholders in the Netherlands are planning similar action, and this week it appeared that the first mass-campaign had gone live. Yesterday, several people received a letter in the mail which accused them of illegal downloading.

The letters in question were sent in the name of local distributer Dutch Filmworks and each quotes a standard fine of 150 euros per download. Adding in a classic conversion trick, those who pay within eights days only have to cough up €52.74.

The letters look pretty legitimate, especially to people who are unfamiliar with these type of demands. However, the fact that several crucial details are missing, including an IP-address and the name of the pirated movie, should set off alarm bells.

And indeed, after several people reported the apparent scam, Dutch Filmworks confirmed that they have nothing to do with these fines. To avoid any confusion, the movie distributer quickly placed a prominent warning on its website, advising recipients to trash the letters.

“There is a fake letter in circulation. This letter is NOT sent by Dutch Filmworks. Do not pay and throw the letter away,” the movie distributer warns.

While the letters look real enough to fool some people, the first mass warnings (with or without fines) have yet to be sent in the Netherlands.

When the process happens for real, things might not go as smoothly as copyright holders would like as several Internet providers are refusing to cooperate. Last month, leading Dutch Internet provider Ziggo said it had refused to voluntarily participate in the plan of local anti-piracy group BREIN, who want to send out mass warnings to pirates.

“As an ISP we are a neutral access provider. This does not include the role of active enforcement of rights or interests of third parties, including BREIN,” a company spokesperson said.

Also, if rightsholders want to obtain the personal details of alleged downloaders they will have to go to court first, which hasn’t happened thus far. Until then, it is safe to throw all unsubstantiated piracy letters in the trash.

Fake piracy fines are by no means a new phenomenon. Last year many U.S. Internet subscribers were targeted in a similar scam. In this case, the scammers used the name of a known piracy tracking outfit and rightsholders such as Lionsgate, to send fake DMCA notices and settlement demands to ISPs.

—-

A copy of the fake letter, pictured below, was posted by Tweakers.

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

Google: 99.95% of Recent ‘Trusted’ DMCA Notices Were Bogus

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-99-95-of-recent-trusted-dmca-notices-were-bogus-170222/

Under current legislation, US-based Internet service providers are not expected to proactively police infringing user content. They are, however, expected to remove it, if a copyright holder complains.

The so-called ‘safe harbor’ that providers enjoy as a result of such cooperation is currently under the microscope, following rightsholder complaints that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is failing them.

To address these concerns, the U.S. Copyright Office has been running an extended public consultation. As noted earlier, the RIAA and other music groups just submitted their comments and Google have now added theirs.

In contrast to the music groups who believe that the DMCA is “failing”, Google believes otherwise. Noting that rogue sites have been driven out of the United States by an effective DMCA, the search giant suggests leaving the law intact while encouraging voluntary mechanisms between content owners and providers.

“In short, the DMCA has proven successful at fostering ongoing collaboration between rightsholders and online service providers, a collaboration that continues to pay dividends both in the U.S. and in international contexts,” Google writes.

The company highlights its YouTube-based Content ID as one such collaboration, with the system helping creators take down or monetize infringing content, as they see fit. Google also cites the benefits afforded by the takedown tools it provides to rightsholders in respect of Google search.

“First, in recent years, Google has streamlined its submission process, enabling rightsholders to send more notices more easily (while still continuing to reduce the average time to resolution to under six hours),” the company notes.

“Second, Google has provided new incentives to make heavy use of the DMCA takedown system. We now use the number of valid DMCA requests a domain has received as one of the inputs in making ranking determinations in search results, so rightsholders seeking to take advantage of this signal have further incentive to file notices.”

But while Google supports the current takedown provisions, there are problems. The company says that a significant portion of the recent increases in DMCA submission volumes stem from notices that are either duplicate, unnecessary, or bogus.

“A substantial number of takedown requests submitted to Google are for URLs
that have never been in our search index, and therefore could never have appeared in our search results,” Google states.

“For example, in January 2017, the most prolific submitter submitted notices that Google honored for 16,457,433 URLs. But on further inspection, 16,450,129 (99.97%) of those URLs were not in our search index in the first place.”

This kind of rampant abuse was highlighted in our recent report which revealed that one small site had millions of bogus notices filed against it. But, according to Google, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“In total, 99.95% of all URLs processed from our Trusted Copyright Removal Program in January 2017 were not in our index,” the company reveals.

But despite the abuse, Google is apparently giving these ‘trusted’ submitters some wiggle room to be creative. In a rather unexpected move, the search giant says that it now accepts takedown notices for URLs that don’t exist, to ensure that they never appear in future search results.

While copyright holders will presumably enjoy that feature, it is a fairly curious move. A proactive takedown of a non-existent URL necessarily happens in advance of any determination of whether that URL is infringing, which goes way beyond any legislation currently being demanded.

That being said, some of these non-existent (and essentially fabricated) URLs do eventually turn up in Google search, albeit at a tiny rate.

“Of the 35,000,000 URLs we processed in the latter half of September 2016 that were not in our index, fewer than 2% of those would have made it into our index in the intervening four months; notices for the other 98% therefore were at best unnecessary,” Google says.

“Many of these submissions appear to be generated by merely scrambling the words in a search query and appending that to a URL, so that each query makes a different URL that nonetheless leads to the same page of results,” it adds, referencing an earlier TF report.

Overall, however, Google seems comfortable with the current notice-and-takedown framework, noting that a “robust ecosystem” of companies with expertise in sending takedown requests is being bolstered by voluntary service provider measures that already go beyond the requirements of Section 512 of the DMCA.

“While stakeholders can be expected to disagree about the details of these voluntary efforts, it cannot be said that the DMCA safe harbors are failing in the face of this overwhelming evidence that these voluntary measures continue to grow both in number and diversity,” Google concludes.

It’s crystal clear from Google’s submission that it sees the DMCA as a law it can work with, since it enables service providers to innovate without fear while simultaneously addressing the concerns of copyright holders. The latter see things quite differently though, so expect the battles to continue.

Google’s submission can be found here, via Michael Geist.

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