Tag Archives: Takedown

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.

Dish Network Sues ‘ZemTV’ and ‘TV Addons’ For Copyright Infringement

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dish-network-sues-zemtv-and-tv-addons-for-copyright-infringement-170605/

More and more people are starting to use Kodi-powered set-top boxes to stream video content to their TVs.

While Kodi itself is a neutral platform, third-party add-ons can turn it into the ultimate pirate machine, providing access to movies, TV-shows and IPTV channels.

These add-ons are direct competition for traditional broadcast providers, such as Dish Network in the United States, which filed a lawsuit in a Texas federal court late last week.

The complaint lists the add-on ZemTV as the prime target. The service in question allows users to watch a variety of Dish channels, without permission.

“The ZemTV service is retransmitting these channels over the Internet to end-users that download the ZemTV add-on for the Kodi media player, which is available for download at the websites www.tvaddons.ag and www.tvaddons.org,” Dish’s lawyers write.

The TVAddons platform, which hosts hundreds of unofficial Kodi add-ons including ZemTV, is also listed as a defendant. According to Dish, TVAddons plays an important role in the distribution of the infringing add-on.

The ZemTV operator, who is only known as “Shani” and “Shani_08,” used the TVAddons platform to share and promote its service while asking for donations, the complaint alleges.

“Website Operators have actual or constructive knowledge of this infringing activity and materially contribute to that activity by providing the forum where the ZemTV add-on can be downloaded and soliciting and accepting donations from ZemTV users,” Dish writes.

“But for the availability of the ZemTV add-on at www.tvaddons.ag or www.tvaddons.org, most if not all of Developer’s distribution and/or public performance would not occur,” the complaint adds.

Dish claims that it sent numerous takedown requests to Internet service providers associated with the ZemTV service, but the developer has continued to offer the add-on, circumventing any countermeasures.

With the lawsuit, the broadcast provider holds ZemTV accountable for direct copyright infringement, demanding $150,000 per infringement in damages. TVAddons is accused of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement and also faces statutory damages.

TorrentFreak spoke to a representative from TVAddons, who wasn’t aware of the lawsuit. Dish has not contacted them directly with any takedown requests, he says.

“This is the first we’ve heard of this lawsuit. No one ever sent us any type of takedown or DMCA notice or even tried to contact us prior, they could have easily done so through our contact page or site emails,” TVAddons informs us.

TVAddons says that the ZemTV add-on was already removed prior to the lawsuit due to a technical issue, and it won’t return.

“The Zem addon was actually removed from our addon library and community tools weeks ago due to a completely unrelated technical issue. I have already spoken to the developer, and he has since deleted the Zem addon entirely,” the TVAddons representative says.

Also, shortly after we started to inquire about the lawsuit, the ZemTV add-on appears to have shut down completely. According to Kodi Tips, developer “Shani” said it became too popular to maintain, but the legal threat likely played a role as well.

The lawsuit against ZemTV and TVAddons is the first of its kind in the United States. As such, it will be closely watched by other rightsholders, add-on developers, and platforms similar to TVAddons that distribute software.

The full complaint Dish Network filed is available here (pdf).

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.

Google Has a Hard Time Keeping Streaming Pirates at Bay

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/google-has-a-hard-time-keeping-streaming-pirates-at-bay-170527/

Pirate streaming sites and services are booming.

Whether through traditional websites, apps or dedicated pirate boxes, streaming TV-shows and movies in high quality has never been so easy.

Unwittingly, Google plays a significant role in the shady part of online media distribution. As we highlighted earlier this year and long before, many pirate sites and servers exploit Google’s servers.

By using simple tricks, pirate site operators have found a way to stream videos directly from Google Drive and various other sources, often complete with subtitles and Chromecast support.

The Boss Baby streaming from Googlevideo.com

The videos in question are streamed from the Googlevideo.com domain, as pictured above, which is increasingly being noticed by rightsholders as well.

If we look at Google’s Transparency Report, which only applies to search, we see that roughly 13,000 of these URLs were reported until the end of last year. In 2017 this number exploded, with over a quarter million reported URLs so far, 265,000 at the time of writing.

Reported Googlevideo.com URLs

Why these URLs are being reported to Google search isn’t clear, because they don’t appear in the search engine. Also, many of the URLs have special parameters and only work if they are played from the pirate streaming sites.

That said, the massive surge in reports shows that the issue is a serious problem for rightsholders. For their part, pirate sites are happy to keep things the way they are as Google offers a reliable hosting platform that’s superior to many alternatives.

The question remains why Google has a hard time addressing the situation. It is no secret that the company uses hash matching to detect and block pirated content on Google Drive, but apparently, this doesn’t prevent a constant stream of pirated videos from entering its servers.

TorrentFreak reached out to Google for a comment on the situation. A company spokesperson informed us that they would look into the matter, but a few days have passed and we have yet to hear back.

Interestingly, while we were writing this article, reports started coming in that Google had begun to terminate hundreds, if not thousands of “unlimited” Drive accounts, which were sold through business plan resellers.

These accounts are actively traded on eBay, even though reselling business Drive accounts is strictly forbidden. Many of these accounts are also linked to streaming hosts, so it could be that this is Google’s first step to getting a tighter grip on the situation.

To be continued…

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.

Netflix Focuses Piracy Takedown Efforts on “Orange is The New Black” Leak

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-focuses-piracy-takedown-efforts-on-orange-is-the-new-black-leak-170505/

Last Friday, Netflix became the key victim in one of the biggest piracy leaks in history.

A hacking group or person calling itself TheDarkOverlord (TDO) released the premiere episode of the fifth season of Netflix’s Orange is The New Black, followed by nine more episodes a few hours later.

Netflix hasn’t said much about the issue in public, aside from the generic response. “We are aware of the situation. A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved.”

However, it appears that behind the scenes something has changed.

While browsing through Google’s public repository of piracy takedown requests, hosted by Lumen, we noticed that the anti-piracy vendor “IP Arrow” suddenly started to submit requests on Netflix’s behalf.

The first request from IP Arrow came in on Saturday, the day after the leak, and there have been at least a dozen more since.

What’s unusual about these notices is that they only target the leaked “Orange is The New Black” episodes, no other content. This is also clearly reflected in a statement by the anti-piracy firm, which comes with the request.

“This is submitted for my client Netflix These links are facilitating piracy of my client’s work. The work can be seen by visiting their site www.netflix.com. The item this is relating to is Orange Is The New Black Season 5,” it reads.

Although Netflix might not believe that the leak is a disaster for its business, which is also reflected in several opinion pieces published in recent days, the IP-Arrow notices suggest the company is focusing part of its takedown efforts specifically on containing the fallout.

Netflix isn’t new to anti-piracy work. With help from Vobile Inc the company started sending takedown requests to Google roughly a year ago. Unlike IP-Arrow’s requests, Vobile targets a wide variety of content.

A few weeks ago we also reported that Netflix has its own “Global Copyright Protection Group” which is tasked with fighting online piracy. Given the recent leaks, we assume that the group has plenty of work to do now.

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.

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.

Discogs Attacked By Two Kinds of Horrible ‘Pirate’ Spam

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/discogs-attacked-by-two-kinds-of-horrible-pirate-spam-170415/

It’s often claimed that pirate sites only exist to generate revenue from other people’s hard work, but there are plenty of other entities making money from the online piracy boom too.

For every few dozen pirate sites on the Internet, there’s an anti-piracy outfit claiming that it can claw profits back for copyright holders. Whether or not they live up to these promises is up for debate, but there can be big differences in how these companies go about their trade.

While some clearly strive to be accurate, others make errors that are so huge it raises questions whether there’s much oversight at all. Case in point, the recent wave of DMCA notices targeting Discogs.

For those out of the loop, Discogs is one of the best music databases on the Internet. From its inception in 2000, it has crowdsourced information on 8,400,000 recordings and 5,000,000 artists across all genres, with a particular emphasis on electronic and dance. The site also has a massive marketplace offering more than 23 million titles for sale.

According to anti-piracy outfit Rivendell, however, Discogs is actually a hub of pirate activity.

For the past several weeks on an almost daily basis, Rivendell has been bombarding Google with requests to delist thousands of Discogs URLs, claiming that the site infringes its clients’ copyrights. A small sample is shown in the image below.

Bogus Discogs Takedown Requests

What’s most annoying about these bogus reports is that in many cases they target the work of Discog contributors, who volunteer their time to build one of the most comprehensive databases available today. The site actually works as a brilliant promotional platform, but Rivendell seems intent on making content as difficult to find as possible.

With that in mind, it’s likely that considering their aggressive attitude towards Napster, Metallica won’t appreciate the irony of their listings being repeatedly targeted by the anti-piracy outfit.

Just one of the pages targeted

Fortunately for Discogs, Google appears to be rejecting the bogus complaints filed by Rivendell which means that its listings are safe for now. However, the music database site has another piracy related problem to deal with, again through no fault of its own.

As illustrated via the custom Google search below, Discogs is being used by spammers to promote ‘pirate’ downloads. Pages and pages of results are available for a wide range of video content, from TV shows such as The Walking Dead to Hollywood movies.

Site-specific searches (such as Putlocker and Vodlocker) yield plenty of results, as do more generic terms such as ‘free’, ‘download’, and ‘HD’. However, for those thinking this might be a good way to download a movie or TV show for free, think again.

In common with most online spam, these ‘pirate’ entries on Discogs are often worse than useless, leading unsuspecting users to fake streaming sites that probably deliver malware, subscription traps, or other content best avoided.

Fake movie streaming anyone?

But of course, if they can’t tell the difference between a database entry on Discogs and a pirate music download site, anti-piracy outfits won’t be able to tell the difference between a scam and copyright infringement. To that end, they’ve been taking down fake pages too.

Taking down fake entries

It must be said though, that since these pages are designed to deceive, it shouldn’t be a surprise that some get caught up in the anti-piracy dragnet. It’s actually one of the few situations where most people would welcome a wrongful takedown.

At the time of publication, Discogs had not responded to our request for comment.

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

EFF Criticizes PIPCU’s New Domain Name Policing Effort

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eff-criticizes-pipcus-new-domain-name-policing-effort-170406/

The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is a specialist unit dedicated to the reduction of all IP-related crime, including actions against pirate sites and their operators, sellers of Kodi-type devices, and those who counterfeit luxury goods.

While at times the unit is able to take down infrastructure, it appears to have a broader strategy of disruption, making life difficult for those committing infringement in the hope that they give up or move on.

In recent years, PIPCU has been putting a lot of effort into having domains taken down or suspended. Sometimes it achieves this after applying pressure to pirate site operators, for example, but the majority of takedowns are actioned via voluntary agreements with industry players.

This week, PIPCU announced that it will begin collaborating with the International Anti Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) to take down websites in association with the IACC’s ‘RogueBlock‘ program.

RogueBlock was launched in January 2012 following rights-holder negotiations with the payment industry to develop a strategy for dealing with so-called ‘rogue’ websites. It began by focusing on sites selling counterfeits but in 2015 was expanded to deal with cyberlocker-type sites.

With MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, MoneyGram, American Express, Discover, PULSE, Diners Club and Western Union as members, the program focuses on disrupting revenue streams, such as payments for fake items or subscriptions to file-hosting sites that fail to comply with the requirements of the DMCA.

Since the program began, it claims to have terminated more than 5,300 accounts connected to a claimed 200,000 websites. Now it has a new ally in PIPCU, which will augment the program with its own Operation Ashiko, an initiative aimed at seizing allegedly infringing website domains.

“Since its inception Operation Ashiko has suspended in excess of 20,000 websites by working with our industry partners,” PIPCU says.

“This creates a safer environment for consumers to purchase genuine goods and disrupts the funding of criminals committing intellectual property crime.”

This partnership is an extension of similar industry and voluntary agreements currently gathering momentum in both Europe and the United States. Freed from the shackles of expensive and formal legal action, industry players and police now work together in order to disrupt piracy in all its forms, hitting website infrastructure and revenue collection mechanisms.

While supporters in the creative industries see such programs as nimble and effective in the fight against IP crime, critics such as the EFF are concerned by the lack of transparency and accountability.

“If a website is wrongly listed by the IACC in its RogueBlock program, thereby becoming a target for blocking by the City of London Police and the payment processors, there is no readily accessible pathway to have its inclusion reviewed and, if necessary, reversed,” the EFF says.

“This opens up much scope for websites to be wrongly listed for anti-competitive or political reasons, or simply by mistake.”

The EFF says that it would prefer that action against sites was backed up by enforcement through legal channels. However, as the group points out, that could prove complex due to the multi-jurisdictional nature of the Internet.

“The latest expansion of the program to facilitate the takedown of domains threatens to compound these problems, particularly if the City of London Police apply it against websites that are not globally infringing, or if private domain registries or registrars join the program and begin to act on claims of infringement directly,” it concludes.

While PIPCU will certainly bring something to the table, domain suspensions in the UK don’t always go smoothly. Registrars have previously declined to work with the unit to suspend torrent site domains and in 2014 it was revealed that out of 70 similar requests, just five were granted.

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

Court Orders Pornhub to Expose Copyright Infringers

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-pornhub-to-expose-copyright-infringers-170405/

As one of the largest websites on the Internet to largely rely on user uploaded content, Pornhub is no stranger to copyright infringement allegations.

Similar to other video streaming services, the company maintains a DMCA takedown policy which allows rightsholders to remove content posted without permission.

“We take claims of copyright infringement seriously,” the company states, adding that it reserves the right to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers.

“Responses may include removing, blocking or disabling access to material claimed to be the subject of infringing activity, terminating the user’s access to www.pornhub.com, or all of the foregoing.”

Most porn production companies restrict their enforcement efforts to sending takedown requests, but for some that is not enough. The Seychelles-based company Foshan Ltd, known for the “Wankz” brand, has gone a step further and wants to know who uploaded its videos to the site.

Last week the company obtained a DMCA subpoena from a federal court in California, which orders the adult video portal to identify and expose the uploaders of more than 1,000 copies of its videos.

The request for a DMCA subpoena was granted by a court clerk a day after it was filed. As a result, Pornhub now has until May 1st to hand over the requested information unless it decides to appeal.

The subpoena

The subpoena is rather broad and compels Pornhub to hand over all the information it has available on the uploaders. This includes names, email addresses, IP addresses, user and posting histories, physical addresses, telephone numbers, and any other identifying or account information.

TorrentFreak reached out to Pornhub to find out how the company plans to respond and what personal information it has available on users. However, at the time of publication we were yet to hear back.

It is unclear what Foshan is planning to do if they obtain the personal information of the uploaders. It is likely, however, that they’re considering legal action against one or more persons, if the evidence is sufficient.

As far as we’re aware, this is the first time that a rightsholder has used a DMCA subpoena to obtain information about Pornhub uploaders. And since its a relatively cheap and easy way to expose infringers, this might not be the last.

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