Tag Archives: the netherlands

When Joe Public Becomes a Commercial Pirate, a Little Knowledge is Dangerous

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/joe-public-becomes-commercial-pirate-little-knowledge-dangerous-180603/

Back in March and just a few hours before the Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker fight, I got chatting with some fellow fans in the local pub. While some were intending to pay for the fight, others were going down the Kodi route.

Soon after the conversation switched to IPTV. One of the guys had a subscription and he said that his supplier would be along shortly if anyone wanted a package to watch the fight at home. Of course, I was curious to hear what he had to say since it’s not often this kind of thing is offered ‘offline’.

The guy revealed that he sold more or less exclusively on eBay and called up the page on his phone to show me. The listing made interesting reading.

In common with hundreds of similar IPTV subscription offers easily findable on eBay, the listing offered “All the sports and films you need plus VOD and main UK channels” for the sum of just under £60 per year, which is fairly cheap in the current market. With a non-committal “hmmm” I asked a bit more about the guy’s business and surprisingly he was happy to provide some details.

Like many people offering such packages, the guy was a reseller of someone else’s product. He also insisted that selling access to copyrighted content is OK because it sits in a “gray area”. It’s also easy to keep listings up on eBay, he assured me, as long as a few simple rules are adhered to. Right, this should be interesting.

First of all, sellers shouldn’t be “too obvious” he advised, noting that individual channels or channel lists shouldn’t be listed on the site. Fair enough, but then he said the most important thing of all is to have a disclaimer like his in any listing, written as follows:

“PLEASE NOTE EBAY: THIS IS NOT A DE SCRAMBLER SERVICE, I AM NOT SELLING ANY ILLEGAL CHANNELS OR CHANNEL LISTS NOR DO I REPRESENT ANY MEDIA COMPANY NOR HAVE ACCESS TO ANY OF THEIR CONTENTS. NO TRADEMARK HAS BEEN INFRINGED. DO NOT REMOVE LISTING AS IT IS IN ACCORDANCE WITH EBAY POLICIES.”

Apparently, this paragraph is crucial to keeping listings up on eBay and is the equivalent of kryptonite when it comes to deflecting copyright holders, police, and Trading Standards. Sure enough, a few seconds with Google reveals the same wording on dozens of eBay listings and those offering IPTV subscriptions on external platforms.

It is, of course, absolutely worthless but the IPTV seller insisted otherwise, noting he’d sold “thousands” of subscriptions through eBay without any problems. While a similar logic can be applied to garlic and vampires, a second disclaimer found on many other illicit IPTV subscription listings treads an even more bizarre path.

“THE PRODUCTS OFFERED CAN NOT BE USED TO DESCRAMBLE OR OTHERWISE ENABLE ACCESS TO CABLE OR SATELLITE TELEVISION PROGRAMS THAT BYPASSES PAYMENT TO THE SERVICE PROVIDER. RECEIVING SUBSCRIPTION/BASED TV AIRTIME IS ILLEGAL WITHOUT PAYING FOR IT.”

This disclaimer (which apparently no sellers displaying it have ever read) seems to be have been culled from the Zgemma site, which advertises a receiving device which can technically receive pirate IPTV services but wasn’t designed for the purpose. In that context, the disclaimer makes sense but when applied to dedicated pirate IPTV subscriptions, it’s absolutely ridiculous.

It’s unclear why so many sellers on eBay, Gumtree, Craigslist and other platforms think that these disclaimers are useful. It leads one to the likely conclusion that these aren’t hardcore pirates at all but regular people simply out to make a bit of extra cash who have received bad advice.

What is clear, however, is that selling access to thousands of otherwise subscription channels without permission from copyright owners is definitely illegal in the EU. The European Court of Justice says so (1,2) and it’s been backed up by subsequent cases in the Netherlands.

While the odds of getting criminally prosecuted or sued for reselling such a service are relatively slim, it’s worrying that in 2018 people still believe that doing so is made legal by the inclusion of a paragraph of text. It’s even more worrying that these individuals apparently have no idea of the serious consequences should they become singled out for legal action.

Even more surprisingly, TorrentFreak spoke with a handful of IPTV suppliers higher up the chain who also told us that what they are doing is legal. A couple claimed to be protected by communication intermediary laws, others didn’t want to go into details. Most stopped responding to emails on the topic. Perhaps most tellingly, none wanted to go on the record.

The big take-home here is that following some important EU rulings, knowingly linking to copyrighted content for profit is nearly always illegal in Europe and leaves people open for targeting by copyright holders and the authorities. People really should be aware of that, especially the little guy making a little extra pocket money on eBay.

Of course, people are perfectly entitled to carry on regardless and test the limits of the law when things go wrong. At this point, however, it’s probably worth noting that IPTV provider Ace Hosting recently handed over £600,000 rather than fight the Premier League (1,2) when they clearly had the money to put up a defense.

Given their effectiveness, perhaps they should’ve put up a disclaimer instead?

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

Pirate IPTV Sellers Sign Abstention Agreements Under Pressure From BREIN

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-sellers-sign-abstention-agreement-under-pressure-from-brein-180528/

Earlier this month, Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN revealed details of its case against Netherlands-based company Leaper Beheer BV.

BREIN’s complaint, which was filed at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht, claimed that
Leaper sold access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies. Around 4,000 live channels and 1,000 movies were included in the package, which was distributed to customers in the form of an .M3U playlist.

BREIN said that distribution of the playlist amounted to a communication to the public in contravention of the EU Copyright Directive. In its defense, Leaper argued that it is not a distributor of content itself and did not make anything available that wasn’t already public.

In a detailed ruling the Court sided with BREIN, noting that Leaper communicated works to a new audience that wasn’t taken into account when the content’s owners initially gave permission for their work to be distributed to the public.

The Court ordered Leaper to stop providing access to the unlicensed streams or face penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros. Further financial penalties were threatened for non-compliance with other aspects of the ruling.

In a fresh announcement Friday, BREIN revealed that three companies and their directors (Leaper included) have signed agreements to cease-and-desist, in order to avert summary proceedings. According to BREIN, the companies are the biggest sellers of pirate IPTV subscriptions in the Netherlands.

In addition to Leaper Beheer BV, Growler BV, DITisTV and their respective directors are bound by a number of conditions in their agreements but primarily to cease-and-desist offering hyperlinks or other technical means to access protected works belonging to BREIN’s affiliates and their members.

Failure to comply with the terms of the agreement will see the companies face penalties of 10,000 euros per infringement or per day (or part thereof).

DITisTV’s former website now appears to sell shoes and a search for the company using Google doesn’t reveal many flattering results. Consumer website Consumentenbond.nl enjoys the top spot with an article reporting that it received 300 complaints about DITisTV.

“The complainants report that after they have paid, they have not received their order, or that they were not given a refund if they sent back a malfunctioning media player. Some consumers have been waiting for their money for several months,” the article reads.

According to the report, DiTisTV pulled the plug on its website last June, probably in response to the European Court of Justice ruling which found that selling piracy-configured media players is illegal.

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

Court Orders Pirate IPTV Linker to Shut Down or Face Penalties Up to €1.25m

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-pirate-iptv-linker-to-shut-down-or-face-penalties-up-to-e1-25m-180911/

There are few things guaranteed in life. Death, taxes, and lawsuits filed regularly by Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN.

One of its most recent targets was Netherlands-based company Leaper Beheer BV, which also traded under the names Flickstore, Dump Die Deal and Live TV Store. BREIN filed a complaint at the Limburg District Court in Maastricht, claiming that Leaper provides access to unlicensed live TV streams and on-demand movies.

The anti-piracy outfit claimed that around 4,000 live channels were on offer, including Fox Sports, movie channels, commercial and public channels. These could be accessed after the customer made a payment which granted access to a unique activation code which could be entered into a set-top box.

BREIN told the court that the code returned an .M3U playlist, which was effectively a hyperlink to IPTV channels and more than 1,000 movies being made available without permission from their respective copyright holders. As such, this amounted to a communication to the public in contravention of the EU Copyright Directive, BREIN argued.

In its defense, Leaper said that it effectively provided a convenient link-shortening service for content that could already be found online in other ways. The company argued that it is not a distributor of content itself and did not make available anything that wasn’t already public. The company added that it was completely down to the consumer whether illegal content was viewed or not.

The key question for the Court was whether Leaper did indeed make a new “communication to the public” under the EU Copyright Directive, a standard the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) says should be interpreted in a manner that provides a high level of protection for rightsholders.

The Court took a three-point approach in arriving at its decision.

  • Did Leaper act in a deliberate manner when providing access to copyright content, especially when its intervention provided access to consumers who would not ordinarily have access to that content?
  • Did Leaper communicate the works via a new method to a new audience?
  • Did Leaper have a profit motive when it communicated works to the public?
  • The Court found that Leaper did communicate works to the public and intervened “with full knowledge of the consequences of its conduct” when it gave its customers access to protected works.

    “Access to [the content] in a different way would be difficult for those customers, if Leaper were not to provide its services in question,” the Court’s decision reads.

    “Leaper reaches an indeterminate number of potential recipients who can take cognizance of the protected works and form a new audience. The purchasers who register with Leaper are to be regarded as recipients who were not taken into account by the rightful claimants when they gave permission for the original communication of their work to the public.”

    With that, the Court ordered Leaper to cease-and-desist facilitating access to unlicensed streams within 48 hours of the judgment, with non-compliance penalties of 5,000 euros per IPTV subscription sold, link offered, or days exceeded, to a maximum of one million euros.

    But the Court didn’t stop there.

    “Leaper must submit a statement audited by an accountant, supported by (clear, readable copies of) all relevant documents, within 12 days of notification of this judgment of all the relevant (contact) details of the (person or legal persons) with whom the company has had contact regarding the provision of IPTV subscriptions and/or the provision of hyperlinks to sources where films and (live) broadcasts are evidently offered without the permission of the entitled parties,” the Court ruled.

    Failure to comply with this aspect of the ruling will lead to more penalties of 5,000 euros per day up to a maximum of 250,000 euros. Leaper was also ordered to pay BREIN’s costs of 20,700 euros.

    Describing the people behind Leaper as “crooks” who previously sold media boxes with infringing addons (as previously determined to be illegal in the Filmspeler case), BREIN chief Tim Kuik says that a switch of strategy didn’t help them evade the law.

    “[Leaper] sold a link to consumers that gave access to unauthorized content, i.e. pay-TV channels as well as video-on-demand films and series,” BREIN chief Tim Kuik informs TorrentFreak.

    “They did it for profit and should have checked whether the content was authorized. They did not and in fact were aware the content was unauthorized. Which means they are clearly infringing copyright.

    “This is evident from the CJEU case law in GS Media as well as Filmspeler and The Pirate Bay, aka the Dutch trilogy because the three cases came from the Netherlands, but these rulings are applicable throughout the EU.

    “They just keep at it knowing they’re cheating and we’ll take them to the cleaners,” Kuik concludes.

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

    EU Content Rules to Improve Access & Reduce Piracy Start April 1

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/eu-content-rules-to-improve-access-reduce-piracy-start-april-1-180328/

    Any subscriber of a service like Netflix will tell you that where you live can have a big impact on the content made available. Customers in the US enjoy large libraries while less populous countries are treated less well.

    For many years and before Netflix largely closed the loophole, customers would bypass these restrictions, using VPNs to trick Netflix into thinking they were elsewhere. Some wouldn’t bother with the complication, choosing to pirate content instead.

    But for citizens of the EU, things were even more complex. While the EU mandates free movement of people, the same can’t be said about licensing deals. While a viewer in the Netherlands could begin watching a movie at home, he could travel to France for a weekend break only to find that the content he paid for is not available, or only in French.

    Last May, this problem was addressed by the European Parliament with an agreement to introduce new ‘Cross-border portability’ rules that will give citizens the freedom to enjoy their media wherever they are in the EU, without having to resort to piracy or VPNs – if they can find one that still works for any length of time with the service.

    Now, almost 11 months on, the rules are about to come into force. From Sunday, content portability in the EU will become a reality.

    “Citizens are at the core of all our digital initiatives. As of 1 April, wherever you are traveling to in the EU, you will no longer miss out on your favorite films, TV series, sports broadcasts, games or e-books, that you have digitally subscribed to at home,” European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip said in a statement.

    “Removing the boundaries that prevented Europeans from traveling with digital media and content subscriptions is yet another success of the Digital Single Market for our citizens, following the effective abolition of roaming charges that consumers all over Europe have enjoyed since June 2017.”

    This is how it will work. Consumers in the EU who buy or subscribe to films, sports broadcasts, music, e-books or games in their home Member States will now be able to access this content when they reside temporarily in another EU country.

    So, if a person in the UK purchases Netflix to gain access to a TV show to watch in their home country, Netflix will have to add this content to the customer’s library so they can still access it wherever they travel in the EU, regardless of its general availability elsewhere.

    “[P]roviders of paid-for online content services (such as online movie, TV or music streaming services) have to provide their subscribers with the same service wherever the subscriber is in the EU,” the Commission explains.

    “The service needs to be provided in the same way in other Member States, as in the Member State of residence. So for Netflix for example, you will have access to the same selection (or catalog) anywhere in the EU, if you are temporarily abroad, just as if you were at home.”

    The same should hold true for all other digital content. If it’s available at home, it must be made available elsewhere in Europe in order to comply with the regulations. In doing so, providers are allowed some freedom, provided it’s in the customer’s favor. If they want to give customers additional access to full home and overseas catalogs when they’re traveling, for example, that is fine.

    There’s also a plus in there for content providers. While a company like Netflix will sometimes acquire rights on a per country basis, when a citizen travels abroad within the EU they will not be required to obtain licenses for those other territories where their subscribers stay temporarily.

    There is, however, a question of what “temporarily” means since it’s not tightly defined in the regulations. The term will cover business trips and holidays, for example, but providers will be required to clearly inform their customers of their precise terms and conditions.

    Providers will also need to determine a customer’s home country, something that will be established when a customer signs up or renews his contract. This can be achieved in a number of ways, including via payment details, a contract for an Internet or telephone connection, verifying a home address, or using a simple IP address check.

    For providers of free online services, which are allowed to choose whether they want to be included in the new rules or not, there are special conditions in place.

    “Once they opt-in and allow portability under the Regulation, all rules will apply to them in the same manner as for the paid services. This means that the subscribers will have to log-in to be able to access and use content when temporarily abroad, and service providers will have to verify the Member State of residence of the subscriber,” the Commission explains.

    “If providers of free of charge online content services decide to make use of the new portability rules, they are required to inform their subscribers about this decision prior to providing the service. Such information could, for example, be announced on the providers’ websites.”

    The good news for consumers is that providers will not be able to charge for offering content portability and if they don’t provide it as required, they’ll be in breach of EU rules. The EU believes that all providers are ready to meet the standard – the public will find out on Sunday.

    The new rules can be found here (pdf)

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

    Founder of Fan-Made Subtitle Site Lose Copyright Infringement Appeal

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/founder-of-fan-made-subtitle-site-lose-copyright-infringement-appeal-180318/

    For millions of people around the world, subtitles are the only way to enjoy media in languages other than that in the original production. For the deaf and hard of hearing, they are absolutely essential.

    Movie and TV show companies tend to be quiet good at providing subtitles eventually but in line with other restrictive practices associated with their industry, it can often mean a long wait for the consumer, particularly in overseas territories.

    For this reason, fan-made subtitles have become somewhat of a cottage industry in recent years. Where companies fail to provide subtitles quickly enough, fans step in and create them by hand. This has led to the rise of a number of subtitling platforms, including the now widely recognized Undertexter.se in Sweden.

    The platform had its roots back in 2003 but first hit the headlines in 2013 when Swedish police caused an uproar by raiding the site and seizing its servers.

    “The people who work on the site don’t consider their own interpretation of dialog to be something illegal, especially when we’re handing out these interpretations for free,” site founder Eugen Archy said at the time.

    Vowing to never give up in the face of pressure from the authorities, anti-piracy outfit Rättighetsalliansen (Rights Alliance), and companies including Nordisk Film, Paramount, Universal, Sony and Warner, Archy said that the battle over what began as a high school project would continue.

    “No Hollywood, you played the wrong card here. We will never give up, we live in a free country and Swedish people have every right to publish their own interpretations of a movie or TV show,” he said.

    It took four more years but in 2017 the Undertexter founder was prosecuted for distributing copyright-infringing subtitles while facing a potential prison sentence.

    Things didn’t go well and last September the Attunda District Court found him guilty and sentenced the then 32-year-old operator to probation. In addition, he was told to pay 217,000 Swedish krona ($26,400) to be taken from advertising and donation revenues collected through the site.

    Eugen Archy took the case to appeal, arguing that the Svea Hovrätt (Svea Court of Appeal) should acquit him of all the charges and dismiss or at least reduce the amount he was ordered to pay by the lower court. Needless to say, this was challenged by the prosecution.

    On appeal, Archy agreed that he was the person behind Undertexter but disputed that the subtitle files uploaded to his site infringed on the plaintiffs’ copyrights, arguing they were creative works in their own right.

    While to an extent that may have been the case, the Court found that the translations themselves depended on the rights connected to the original work, which were entirely held by the relevant copyright holders. While paraphrasing and parody might be allowed, pure translations are completely covered by the rights in the original and cannot be seen as new and independent works, the Court found.

    The Svea Hovrätt also found that Archy acted intentionally, noting that in addition to administering the site and doing some translating work himself, it was “inconceivable” that he did not know that the subtitles made available related to copyrighted dialog found in movies.

    In conclusion, the Court of Appeal upheld Archy’s copyright infringement conviction (pdf, Swedish) and sentenced him to probation, as previously determined by the Attunda District Court.

    Last year, the legal status of user-created subtitles was also tested in the Netherlands. In response to local anti-piracy outfit BREIN forcing several subtitling groups into retreat, a group of fansubbers decided to fight back.

    After raising their own funds, in 2016 the “Free Subtitles Foundation” (Stichting Laat Ondertitels Vrij – SLOV) took the decision to sue BREIN with the hope of obtaining a favorable legal ruling.

    In 2017 it all fell apart when the Amsterdam District Court handed down its decision and sided with BREIN on each count.

    The Court found that subtitles can only be created and distributed after permission has been obtained from copyright holders. Doing so outside these parameters amounts to copyright infringement.

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

    “Large Scale” Music Pirate Settles With BREIN For 10,000 Euros

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/large-scale-music-pirate-settles-brein-10000-euros-180309/

    In 2018, music piracy is a very different beast than it was back in the early P2P days of Kazaa and LimeWire.

    Where once it ran rampant, vastly improved official offerings have ensured that millions of former pirates are now enjoying music legally via convenient streaming services such as Spotify. However, there is no shortage of people who prefer to have personal archives of illicit MP3s stored safely on their own machines.

    This content can be easily obtained from web-based pirate sites, torrent platforms, and the aging Usenet system. The latter is often (and incorrectly) considered to be a safer option for distribution but for one uploader, things haven’t played out that way.

    According to news from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, a “large-scale” Usenet uploader has recently agreed to pay the not inconsiderable sum of 10,000 euros ($12,374) to make a potential lawsuit disappear.

    BREIN says the person was responsible for uploading unlicensed music releases to Usenet in breach of copyright, including recent albums by Ed Sheeran and Justin Timberlake. However, BREIN also criticizes the Usenet providers who facilitate this kind of sharing.

    “Although such uploaders usually do this free of charge for the status they receive from illegal downloaders, it is the Usenet providers that make money by selling subscriptions for access to their servers,” says BREIN director Tim Kuik.

    “Such providers like to close their eyes and claim that they do not know what is happening on their servers and only take action when they receive a notification.”

    Alongside BREIN’s suggestion of willful blindness to infringement, there’s also the issue of compliance when Usenet operators are presented with an official complaint. Dutch case law requires that when a “reasonable” case of infringement is presented, they must give up the identity of the alleged infringer. In this case, that’s exactly what happened.

    “BREIN has, in order to obtain the details the uploader, requested the Usenet provider of this uploader to provide the data. This request was answered,” the anti-piracy outfit reveals.

    Unlike other jurisdictions where a specific court order is needed for disclosure, in the Netherlands no such process is required. BREIN has taken advantage of this position in many previous cases, insisting that providers who don’t disclose when there are reasonable grounds are acting unlawfully.

    Following BREIN’s approach and the 10,000 euro settlement, the anti-piracy outfit says that the uploader took to Spotnet, a piece of software that allows downloading from newsgroups, to announce his demise.

    “As you may have noticed, I have not been actively uploading for a while, because BREIN finally found my details and I have been asked to stop acting as an uploader of copyrighted music content to Usenet,” the uploader wrote.

    “I have made a settlement with BREIN. A part of this settlement consists of the payment of a considerable sum of 10,000 euros, so I stop with uploading and advise other uploaders to think carefully about whether they want to continue. BREIN doesn’t stand idly by either. They are willing to take the necessary steps to get your details.”

    BREIN says that the circumstances of the uploader were taken into consideration when reaching the 10,000 euro figure but whether the full amount will ever get paid will never be publicly known. That being said, the publicity attached to the settlement agreement will be worth more to BREIN than the cash alone.

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

    Rightsholders & Belgian ISPs Cooperate to Block 450 ‘Pirate’ Domains

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/rightsholders-belgian-isps-cooperate-to-block-450-pirate-domains-180303/

    While site-blocking on copyright infringement grounds is now widespread, in most countries it requires intervention from the courts.

    The process nearly always involves rightsholders grouping together with claims that customers of ISPs are infringing their rights by using ‘pirate’ sites to obtain movies, TV shows and music. As such, it isn’t pirate sites that are targeted by rightsholder legal action, but the ISPs themselves.

    Of course, none of the ISPs targeted are breaking the law by providing access to the sites. However, the demands for a blocking injunction frame the ISPs as the wrong-doers, even if there is an underlying understanding that the pirate sites themselves are the issue. For this reason, ISPs around the world have regularly found themselves in an adversarial process.

    In the Netherlands, for example, ISPs took their fight to the highest court in Europe to avoid blocking but will almost certainly fail after spending large sums of money. In others, such as the UK where the blocking process has matured, ISPs rarely object to anything, smoothing the process for both them and the rightsholders.

    With the knowledge that site-blocking injunctions are likely to be granted by national courts in Europe, rightsholders and ISPs in Belgium now appear to be taking a collaborative approach. Sites have been blocked in the country before but future blocking efforts will be much easier to implement if a case before the Commercial Court of Brussels runs to plan.

    It involves the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA) on one side and ISPs Proximus, Telenet and VOO on the other. Rather than squabbling over the details, it appears that the parties will jointly present a list of 33 websites and 450 domain names to a judge, alongside claims that they facilitate the illegal downloading of copyrighted material.

    According to a report from L’Echo (paywall), the companies hope to avoid complex and costly legal proceedings by working together and accepting the inevitability of a blocking injunction.

    The case has been running for a year already but during a hearing before the Commercial Court of Brussels this week, Benoît Michaux, lawyer for the Belgian Entertainment Association, explained the new approach.

    “The European legislator has put in place a mechanism that allows a national judge to request injunctions to order the providers to block access to the websites in question”, Michaux said.

    After being presented to the Court, the list of sites and domains will be assessed to determine whether they’re acting illegally. Michaux said that the parties have settled on a common approach and have been able to identify “reasonable measures” that can be ordered by the Court that are consistent with case law of the European Court of Justice.

    “This joint request is a little unusual, things are changing, there is a certain maturation of minds, we realize, from all sides, that we must tackle the problem of piracy by blocking measures. There is a common vision on what to do and how to handle piracy,” he said.

    While the ISPs are clearly on a path of cooperation, L’Echo reports that concerns over possible breaches of the E-Commerce Directive mean that the ISPs don’t want to take action against the sites themselves without being ordered to do so by the Court.

    “The responsible actors want to demonstrate that it is possible to stop piracy through procedural law,” says Benoît Van Asbroeck, lawyer for Proximus and Telenet.

    The Court is expected to hand down its judgment within a month. Given the cooperation on all sides, it’s likely to be in favor of mass site-blocking.

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

    The Pirate Bay’s Domain Suffers “40% Traffic Drop” After Dutch Blocking

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirate-bays-domain-suffers-40-traffic-drop-after-dutch-blocking-180302/

    Over the past several years, Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN has been engaged in continuous legal action against local ISPs Ziggo and XS4All. BREIN felt they should block The Pirate Bay to reduce copyright infringement but the ISPs felt blocking was disproportionate.

    The case went all the way to the Supreme Court and then to the EU Court of Justice for clarification. Last June, the ECJ ruled that as a platform effectively communicating copyright works to the public, The Pirate Bay can indeed be blocked by ISPs.

    The case will go back to the Supreme Court which is likely to give permanent blocking the go ahead. However, BREIN wanted a blocking decision more quickly and got one last September when The Hague Court of Appeal told Ziggo and XS4All to block The Pirate Bay pending a Supreme Court decision.

    With The Pirate Bay blocked by the ISPs from September last year, BREIN has been monitoring the effect of the blockade on traffic to the site. In a statement, the anti-piracy outfit suggests that blocking is doing its job.

    “Monitoring by ComScore shows that the number of unique visitors to thepiratebay.org from the Netherlands has dropped by more than 40% between September 2017 and December 2017 after internet providers Ziggo and XS4ALL were ordered by the court to demand access to the site on the basis of BREIN’s claim,” BREIN writes.

    Ziggo is the largest cable operator in the Netherlands and XS4All one of the longest standing, so it comes as no surprise to learn that traffic to The Pirate Bay’s main domain has been hit. However, since the site can be accessed in numerous different indirect ways, including via proxies, mirrors and VPNs, to name a few, does BREIN’s claim that “blocking works” still hold water?

    According to BREIN director Tim Kuik, yes it does.

    “We also are blocking many proxies and mirrors. There is a whole list of them which also changes. New ones are added and others may be deleted,” Kuik informs TF.

    “The monitoring compares like with like and shows a trend that correlates with other sources. I think this trend holds true for all blocked sites.”

    So, to be clear, the 40% does not represent a drop in Dutch traffic to The Pirate Bay’s site and/or content overall, it only represents traffic which goes directly to the specific thepiratebay.org domain. Anyone circumventing the blockade isn’t counted.

    Of course, that’s not to say that the overall traffic numbers from the Netherlands aren’t down as well, but there are no public figures to prove that one way or another. The precise impact of proxies and mirrors is also unclear but Kuik thinks that the blockades themselves send a message.

    “Bypassing a blockade requires users to take action to illegally download and it is now clear that they are committing a criminal offense and most people do not want that,” he says.

    VPNs are undoubtedly an effective unblocking solution for some but Kuik doesn’t believe they represent a big threat, currently at least.

    “We think VPN use is not common under the average user, that is more something for the hardcore and not all of those will use it for access to illegal sources,” he informs TF.

    While BREIN is fairly relaxed about VPNs for now, the group suggests it could take action if they begin to pose a risk to the site-blocking regime they’ve fought so hard for.

    “If it becomes problematic, blocking could in principle also be demanded from VPN services,” Kuik warns.

    Given the 40% figure and the caveats above, it is likely that the direct traffic figure to The Pirate Bay’s domain will fall again in the months to come. Mid-January a Dutch court ruled that local Internet providers KPN, Tele2, T-Mobile, Zeelandnet and CAIW must follow Ziggo and XS4All by also blocking The Pirate Bay.

    There’s no doubt that blocking has at least some effect on direct traffic to pirate sites and it’s clear that entertainment industry groups feel it’s essential as part of a bigger anti-piracy toolkit.

    Thus far, however, pirates have proven to be extremely resilient so the Netherlands will probably need further action against a much broader range of sites if blocking is to have any meaningful effect.

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

    Dutch Continue to Curb Illegal Downloading But What About Streaming?

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-continue-to-curb-illegal-downloading-but-what-about-streaming-180222/

    After many years of downloading content with impunity, 2014 brought a culture shock to the Dutch.

    Citizens were previously allowed to obtain content for their own use due to a levy on blank media that compensated rightsholders. However, the European Court of Justice found that system to be illegal and the government quickly moved to ban downloading from unauthorized sources.

    In the four years that have passed since the ban, the downloading landscape has undergone change. That’s according to a study published by the Consumer Insights panel at Telecompaper which found that while 41% of respondents downloaded movies, TV shows, music and games from unauthorized sources in 2013, the figure had plunged to 27% at the end of 2016. There was a further drop to 24% by the end of 2017.

    Of the people who continue to download illegally, men are overrepresented, the study found. While 27% of men obtained media for free during the last year to October 2017, only 21% of women did likewise.

    While as many as 150 million people still use P2P technologies such as BitTorrent worldwide, there is a general decline in usage and this is reflected in the report.

    In 2013, 18% of Dutch respondents used torrent-like systems to download, a figure that had fallen to 8% in 2016 and 6% last year. Again, male participants were overrepresented, outnumbering women by two to one. However, people appear to be visiting P2P networks less.

    “The study showed that people who reported using P2P to download content, have done so on average 37 times a year [to October 2017]. In January of 2017 it was significantly higher, 61 times,” the study notes. P2P usage in November 2015 was rated at 98 instances per year.

    Perhaps surprisingly, one of the oldest methods of downloading content has maintained its userbase in more recent years. Usenet, otherwise known as the newsgroups, accounted for 9% of downloaders in 2013 but after falling to around 6% of downloaders in 2016, that figure remained unchanged in 2017. Almost five times more men used newsgroups than women.

    At the same time as showing a steady trend in terms of users, instances of newsgroup downloading are reportedly up in the latest count. In November 2015, people used the system an average of 98 times per year but in January 2017 that had fallen to 66 times. The latest figures find an average use of 68 times per year.

    Drilling down into more obscure systems, 2% of respondents told Telecompaper that they’d used an FTP server during the past year, a method that was entirely dominated by men.

    While the Dutch downloading ban in 2013 may have played some part in changing perceptions, the increased availability of legal offers cannot be ignored. Films and TV shows are now widely available on services such as Netflix and Amazon, while music is strongly represented via Spotify, Apple, Deezer and similar platforms.

    Indeed, 12% of respondents said they are now downloading less illegally because it’s easier to obtain paid content, that’s versus 11% at the start of 2017 and just 3% in 2013. Interestingly, 14% of respondents this time around said their illegal downloads are down because they have more restrictions on their time.

    Another interesting reason given for downloading less is that pirate content is becoming harder to find. In 2013, just 4% cited this as a cause for reduction yet in 2017, this had jumped to 8% of respondents, with blocked sites proving a stumbling block for some users.

    On the other hand, 3% of respondents said that since content had become easier to find, they are now downloading more. However, that figure is down from 13% in November 2013 and 6% in January 2017.

    But with legal streaming certainly making its mark in the Netherlands, the illegal streaming phenomenon isn’t directly addressed in the report. It is likely that a considerable number of citizens are now using this method to obtain their content fix in a way that’s not as easily trackable as torrent-like systems.

    Furthermore, given the plans of local film distribution Dutch FilmWorks to chase and demand cash settlements from BitTorrent users, it’s likely that traffic to streaming sites will only increase in the months to come, at least for those looking to consume TV shows and movies.

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

    Mission Space Lab flight status announced!

    Post Syndicated from Erin Brindley original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/mission-space-lab-flight-status-announced/

    In September of last year, we launched our 2017/2018 Astro Pi challenge with our partners at the European Space Agency (ESA). Students from ESA membership and associate countries had the chance to design science experiments and write code to be run on one of our two Raspberry Pis on the International Space Station (ISS).

    Astro Pi Mission Space Lab logo

    Submissions for the Mission Space Lab challenge have just closed, and the results are in! Students had the opportunity to design an experiment for one of the following two themes:

    • Life in space
      Making use of Astro Pi Vis (Ed) in the European Columbus module to learn about the conditions inside the ISS.
    • Life on Earth
      Making use of Astro Pi IR (Izzy), which will be aimed towards the Earth through a window to learn about Earth from space.

    ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, speaking from the replica of the Columbus module at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, has a message for all Mission Space Lab participants:

    ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst congratulates Astro Pi 2017-18 winners

    Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://rpf.io/ytsub Help us reach a wider audience by translating our video content: http://rpf.io/yttranslate Buy a Raspberry Pi from one of our Approved Resellers: http://rpf.io/ytproducts Find out more about the Raspberry Pi Foundation: Raspberry Pi http://rpf.io/ytrpi Code Club UK http://rpf.io/ytccuk Code Club International http://rpf.io/ytcci CoderDojo http://rpf.io/ytcd Check out our free online training courses: http://rpf.io/ytfl Find your local Raspberry Jam event: http://rpf.io/ytjam Work through our free online projects: http://rpf.io/ytprojects Do you have a question about your Raspberry Pi?

    Flight status

    We had a total of 212 Mission Space Lab entries from 22 countries. Of these, a 114 fantastic projects have been given flight status, and the teams’ project code will run in space!

    But they’re not winners yet. In April, the code will be sent to the ISS, and then the teams will receive back their experimental data. Next, to get deeper insight into the process of scientific endeavour, they will need produce a final report analysing their findings. Winners will be chosen based on the merit of their final report, and the winning teams will get exclusive prizes. Check the list below to see if your team got flight status.

    Belgium

    Flight status achieved:

    • Team De Vesten, Campus De Vesten, Antwerpen
    • Ursa Major, CoderDojo Belgium, West-Vlaanderen
    • Special operations STEM, Sint-Claracollege, Antwerpen

    Canada

    Flight status achieved:

    • Let It Grow, Branksome Hall, Toronto
    • The Dark Side of Light, Branksome Hall, Toronto
    • Genie On The ISS, Branksome Hall, Toronto
    • Byte by PIthons, Youth Tech Education Society & Kid Code Jeunesse, Edmonton
    • The Broadviewnauts, Broadview, Ottawa

    Czech Republic

    Flight status achieved:

    • BLEK, Střední Odborná Škola Blatná, Strakonice

    Denmark

    Flight status achieved:

    • 2y Infotek, Nærum Gymnasium, Nærum
    • Equation Quotation, Allerød Gymnasium, Lillerød
    • Team Weather Watchers, Allerød Gymnasium, Allerød
    • Space Gardners, Nærum Gymnasium, Nærum

    Finland

    Flight status achieved:

    • Team Aurora, Hyvinkään yhteiskoulun lukio, Hyvinkää

    France

    Flight status achieved:

    • INC2, Lycée Raoul Follereau, Bourgogne
    • Space Project SP4, Lycée Saint-Paul IV, Reunion Island
    • Dresseurs2Python, clg Albert CAMUS, essonne
    • Lazos, Lycée Aux Lazaristes, Rhone
    • The space nerds, Lycée Saint André Colmar, Alsace
    • Les Spationautes Valériquais, lycée de la Côte d’Albâtre, Normandie
    • AstroMega, Institut de Genech, north
    • Al’Crew, Lycée Algoud-Laffemas, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
    • AstroPython, clg Albert CAMUS, essonne
    • Aruden Corp, Lycée Pablo Neruda, Normandie
    • HeroSpace, clg Albert CAMUS, essonne
    • GalaXess [R]evolution, Lycée Saint Cricq, Nouvelle-Aquitaine
    • AstroBerry, clg Albert CAMUS, essonne
    • Ambitious Girls, Lycée Adam de Craponne, PACA

    Germany

    Flight status achieved:

    • Uschis, St. Ursula Gymnasium Freiburg im Breisgau, Breisgau
    • Dosi-Pi, Max-Born-Gymnasium Germering, Bavaria

    Greece

    Flight status achieved:

    • Deep Space Pi, 1o Epal Grevenon, Grevena
    • Flox Team, 1st Lyceum of Kifissia, Attiki
    • Kalamaria Space Team, Second Lyceum of Kalamaria, Central Macedonia
    • The Earth Watchers, STEM Robotics Academy, Thessaly
    • Celestial_Distance, Gymnasium of Kanithos, Sterea Ellada – Evia
    • Pi Stars, Primary School of Rododaphne, Achaias
    • Flarions, 5th Primary School of Salamina, Attica

    Ireland

    Flight status achieved:

    • Plant Parade, Templeogue College, Leinster
    • For Peats Sake, Templeogue College, Leinster
    • CoderDojo Clonakilty, Co. Cork

    Italy

    Flight status achieved:

    • Trentini DOP, CoderDojo Trento, TN
    • Tarantino Space Lab, Liceo G. Tarantino, BA
    • Murgia Sky Lab, Liceo G. Tarantino, BA
    • Enrico Fermi, Liceo XXV Aprile, Veneto
    • Team Lampone, CoderDojoTrento, TN
    • GCC, Gali Code Club, Trentino Alto Adige/Südtirol
    • Another Earth, IISS “Laporta/Falcone-Borsellino”
    • Anti Pollution Team, IIS “L. Einaudi”, Sicily
    • e-HAND, Liceo Statale Scientifico e Classico ‘Ettore Majorana’, Lombardia
    • scossa team, ITTS Volterra, Venezia
    • Space Comet Sisters, Scuola don Bosco, Torino

    Luxembourg

    Flight status achieved:

    • Spaceballs, Atert Lycée Rédange, Diekirch
    • Aline in space, Lycée Aline Mayrisch Luxembourg (LAML)

    Poland

    Flight status achieved:

    • AstroLeszczynPi, I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace im. Krola Stanislawa Leszczynskiego w Jasle, podkarpackie
    • Astrokompasy, High School nr XVII in Wrocław named after Agnieszka Osiecka, Lower Silesian
    • Cosmic Investigators, Publiczna Szkoła Podstawowa im. Św. Jadwigi Królowej w Rzezawie, Małopolska
    • ApplePi, III Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. prof. T. Kotarbińskiego w Zielonej Górze, Lubusz Voivodeship
    • ELE Society 2, Zespol Szkol Elektronicznych i Samochodowych, Lubuskie
    • ELE Society 1, Zespol Szkol Elektronicznych i Samochodowych, Lubuskie
    • SpaceOn, Szkola Podstawowa nr 12 w Jasle – Gimnazjum Nr 2, Podkarpackie
    • Dewnald Ducks, III Liceum Ogólnokształcące w Zielonej Górze, lubuskie
    • Nova Team, III Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace im. prof. T. Kotarbinskiego, lubuskie district
    • The Moons, Szkola Podstawowa nr 12 w Jasle – Gimnazjum Nr 2, Podkarpackie
    • Live, Szkoła Podstawowa nr 1 im. Tadeusza Kościuszki w Zawierciu, śląskie
    • Storm Hunters, I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace im. Krola Stanislawa Leszczynskiego w Jasle, podkarpackie
    • DeepSky, Szkoła Podstawowa nr 1 im. Tadeusza Kościuszki w Zawierciu, śląskie
    • Small Explorers, ZPO Konina, Malopolska
    • AstroZSCL, Zespół Szkół w Czerwionce-Leszczynach, śląskie
    • Orchestra, Szkola Podstawowa nr 12 w Jasle, Podkarpackie
    • ApplePi, I Liceum Ogolnoksztalcace im. Krola Stanislawa Leszczynskiego w Jasle, podkarpackie
    • Green Crew, Szkoła Podstawowa nr 2 w Czeladzi, Silesia

    Portugal

    Flight status achieved:

    • Magnetics, Escola Secundária João de Deus, Faro
    • ECA_QUEIROS_PI, Secondary School Eça de Queirós, Lisboa
    • ESDMM Pi, Escola Secundária D. Manuel Martins, Setúbal
    • AstroPhysicists, EB 2,3 D. Afonso Henriques, Braga

    Romania

    Flight status achieved:

    • Caelus, “Tudor Vianu” National High School of Computer Science, District One
    • CodeWarriors, “Tudor Vianu” National High School of Computer Science, District One
    • Dark Phoenix, “Tudor Vianu” National High School of Computer Science, District One
    • ShootingStars, “Tudor Vianu” National High School of Computer Science, District One
    • Astro Pi Carmen Sylva 2, Liceul Teoretic “Carmen Sylva”, Constanta
    • Astro Meridian, Astro Club Meridian 0, Bihor

    Slovenia

    Flight status achieved:

    • astrOSRence, OS Rence
    • Jakopičevca, Osnovna šola Riharda Jakopiča, Ljubljana

    Spain

    Flight status achieved:

    • Exea in Orbit, IES Cinco Villas, Zaragoza
    • Valdespartans, IES Valdespartera, Zaragoza
    • Valdespartans2, IES Valdespartera, Zaragoza
    • Astropithecus, Institut de Bruguers, Barcelona
    • SkyPi-line, Colegio Corazón de María, Asturias
    • ClimSOLatic, Colegio Corazón de María, Asturias
    • Científicosdelsaz, IES Profesor Pablo del Saz, Málaga
    • Canarias 2, IES El Calero, Las Palmas
    • Dreamers, M. Peleteiro, A Coruña
    • Canarias 1, IES El Calero, Las Palmas

    The Netherlands

    Flight status achieved:

    • Team Kaki-FM, Rkbs De Reiger, Noord-Holland

    United Kingdom

    Flight status achieved:

    • Binco, Teignmouth Community School, Devon
    • 2200 (Saddleworth), Detached Flight Royal Air Force Air Cadets, Lanchashire
    • Whatevernext, Albyn School, Highlands
    • GraviTeam, Limehurst Academy, Leicestershire
    • LSA Digital Leaders, Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, Lancashire
    • Mead Astronauts, Mead Community Primary School, Wiltshire
    • STEAMCademy, Castlewood Primary School, West Sussex
    • Lux Quest, CoderDojo Banbridge, Co. Down
    • Temparatus, Dyffryn Taf, Carmarthenshire
    • Discovery STEMers, Discovery STEM Education, South Yorkshire
    • Code Inverness, Code Club Inverness, Highland
    • JJB, Ashton Sixth Form College, Tameside
    • Astro Lab, East Kent College, Kent
    • The Life Savers, Scratch and Python, Middlesex
    • JAAPiT, Taylor Household, Nottingham
    • The Heat Guys, The Archer Academy, Greater London
    • Astro Wantenauts, Wantage C of E Primary School, Oxfordshire
    • Derby Radio Museum, Radio Communication Museum of Great Britain, Derbyshire
    • Bytesyze, King’s College School, Cambridgeshire

    Other

    Flight status achieved:

    • Intellectual Savage Stars, Lycée français de Luanda, Luanda

     

    Congratulations to all successful teams! We are looking forward to reading your reports.

    The post Mission Space Lab flight status announced! appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

    Denuvo Has Been Sold to Global Anti-Piracy Outfit Irdeto

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/denuvo-has-been-sold-to-global-anti-piracy-outfit-irdeto-180123/

    It’s fair to say that of all video games anti-piracy technologies, Denuvo is perhaps the most hated of recent times. That hatred unsurprisingly stems from both its success and complexity.

    Those with knowledge of the system say it’s fiendishly difficult to defeat but in recent times, cracks have been showing. In 2017, various iterations of the anti-tamper system were defeated by several cracking groups, much to the delight of the pirate masses.

    Now, however, a new development has the potential to herald a new lease of life for the Austria-based anti-piracy company. A few moments ago it was revealed that the company has been bought by Irdeto, a global anti-piracy company with considerable heritage and resources.

    “Irdeto has acquired Denuvo, the world leader in gaming security, to provide anti-piracy and anti-cheat solutions for games on desktop, mobile, console and VR devices,” Irdeto said in a statement.

    “Denuvo provides technology and services for game publishers and platforms, independent software vendors, e-publishers and video publishers across the globe. Current Denuvo customers include Electronic Arts, UbiSoft, Warner Bros and Lionsgate Entertainment, with protection provided for games such as Star Wars Battlefront II, Football Manager, Injustice 2 and others.”

    Irdeto says that Denuvo will “continue to operate as usual” with all of its staff retained – a total of 45 across Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, and the US. Denuvo headquarters in Salzburg, Austria, will also remain intact along with its sales operations.

    “The success of any game title is dependent upon the ability of the title to operate as the publisher intended,” says Irdeto CEO Doug Lowther.

    “As a result, protection of both the game itself and the gaming experience for end users is critical. Our partnership brings together decades of security expertise under one roof to better address new and evolving security threats. We are looking forward to collaborating as a team on a number of initiatives to improve our core technology and services to better serve our customers.”

    Denuvo was founded relatively recently in 2013 and employs less than 50 people. In contrast, Irdeto’s roots go all the way back to 1969 and currently has almost 1,000 staff. It’s a subsidiary of South Africa-based Internet and media group Naspers, a corporate giant with dozens of notable companies under its control.

    While Denuvo is perhaps best known for its anti-piracy technology, Irdeto is also placing emphasis on the company’s ability to hinder cheating in online multi-player gaming environments. This has become a hot topic recently, with several lawsuits filed in the US by companies including Blizzard and Epic.

    Denuvo CEO Reinhard Blaukovitsch

    “Hackers and cybercriminals in the gaming space are savvy, and always have been. It is critical to implement robust security strategies to combat the latest gaming threats and protect the investment in games. Much like the movie industry, it’s the only way to ensure that great games continue to get made,” says Denuvo CEO Reinhard Blaukovitsch.

    “In joining with Irdeto, we are bringing together a unique combination of security expertise, technology and enhanced piracy services to aggressively address security challenges that customers and gamers face from hackers.”

    While it seems likely that the companies have been in negotiations for some, the timing of this announcement also coincides with negative news for Denuvo.

    Yesterday it was revealed that the latest variant of its anti-tamper technology – Denuvo v4.8 – had been defeated by online cracking group CPY (Conspiracy). Version 4.8 had been protecting Sonic Forces since its release early November 2017 but the game was leaked out onto the Internet late Sunday with all protection neutralized.

    Sonic Forces cracked by CPY

    Irdeto has a long history of acquiring anti-piracy companies and technologies. They include Lockstream (DRM for content on mobile phones), Philips Cryptoworks (DVB conditional access system), Cloakware (various security), Entriq (media protection), BD+ (Blu-ray protection), and BayTSP (anti-piracy monitoring).

    It’s also noteworthy that Irdeto supplied behind-the-scenes support in two of the largest IPTV provider raids of recent times, one focused on Spain in 2017 and more recently in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece and the Netherlands (1,2,3).

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

    US Govt Brands Torrent, Streaming & Cyberlocker Sites As Notorious Markets

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/us-govt-brands-torrent-streaming-cyberlocker-sites-as-notorious-markets-180115/

    In its annual “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets” the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has listed a long list of websites said to be involved in online piracy.

    The list is compiled with high-level input from various trade groups, including the MPAA and RIAA who both submitted their recommendations (1,2) during early October last year.

    With the word “allegedly” used more than two dozen times in the report, the US government notes that its report does not constitute cast-iron proof of illegal activity. However, it urges the countries from where the so-called “notorious markets” operate to take action where they can, while putting owners and facilitators on notice that their activities are under the spotlight.

    “A goal of the List is to motivate appropriate action by owners, operators, and service providers in the private sector of these and similar markets, as well as governments, to reduce piracy and counterfeiting,” the report reads.

    “USTR highlights the following marketplaces because they exemplify global counterfeiting and piracy concerns and because the scale of infringing activity in these marketplaces can cause significant harm to U.S. intellectual property (IP) owners, consumers, legitimate online platforms, and the economy.”

    The report begins with a page titled “Issue Focus: Illicit Streaming Devices”. Unsurprisingly, particularly given their place in dozens of headlines last year, the segment focus on the set-top box phenomenon. The piece doesn’t list any apps or software tools as such but highlights the general position, claiming a cost to the US entertainment industry of $4-5 billion a year.

    Torrent Sites

    In common with previous years, the USTR goes on to list several of the world’s top torrent sites but due to changes in circumstances, others have been delisted. ExtraTorrent, which shut down May 2017, is one such example.

    As the world’s most famous torrent site, The Pirate Bay gets a prominent mention, with the USTR noting that the site is of “symbolic importance as one of the longest-running and most vocal torrent sites. The USTR underlines the site’s resilience by noting its hydra-like form while revealing an apparent secret concerning its hosting arrangements.

    “The Pirate Bay has allegedly had more than a dozen domains hosted in various countries around the world, applies a reverse proxy service, and uses a hosting provider in Vietnam to evade further enforcement action,” the USTR notes.

    Other torrent sites singled out for criticism include RARBG, which was nominated for the listing by the movie industry. According to the USTR, the site is hosted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has changed hosting services to prevent shutdowns in recent years.

    1337x.to and the meta-search engine Torrentz2 are also given a prime mention, with the USTR noting that they are “two of the most popular torrent sites that allegedly infringe U.S. content industry’s copyrights.” Russia’s RuTracker is also targeted for criticism, with the government noting that it’s now one of the most popular torrent sites in the world.

    Streaming & Cyberlockers

    While torrent sites are still important, the USTR reserves considerable space in its report for streaming portals and cyberlocker-type services.

    4Shared.com, a file-hosting site that has been targeted by dozens of millions of copyright notices, is reportedly no longer able to use major US payment providers. Nevertheless, the British Virgin Islands company still collects significant sums from premium accounts, advertising, and offshore payment processors, USTR notes.

    Cyberlocker Rapidgator gets another prominent mention in 2017, with the USTR noting that the Russian-hosted platform generates millions of dollars every year through premium memberships while employing rewards and affiliate schemes.

    Due to its increasing popularity as a hosting and streaming operation, Openload.co (Romania) is now a big target for the USTR. “The site is used frequently in combination with add-ons in illicit streaming devices. In November 2017, users visited Openload.co a staggering 270 million times,” the USTR writes.

    Owned by a Swiss company and hosted in the Netherlands, the popular site Uploaded is also criticized by the US alongside France’s 1Fichier.com, which allegedly hosts pirate games while being largely unresponsive to takedown notices. Dopefile.pk, a Pakistan-based storage outfit, is also highlighted.

    On the video streaming front, it’s perhaps no surprise that the USTR focuses on sites like FMovies (Sweden), GoStream (Vietnam), Movie4K.tv (Russia) and PrimeWire. An organization collectively known as the MovShare group which encompasses Nowvideo.sx, WholeCloud.net, NowDownload.cd, MeWatchSeries.to and WatchSeries.ac, among others, is also listed.

    Unauthorized music / research papers

    While most of the above are either focused on video or feature it as part of their repertoire, other sites are listed for their attention to music. Convert2MP3.net is named as one of the most popular stream-ripping sites in the world and is highlighted due to the prevalence of YouTube-downloader sites and the 2017 demise of YouTube-MP3.

    “Convert2MP3.net does not appear to have permission from YouTube or other sites and does not have permission from right holders for a wide variety of music represented by major U.S. labels,” the USTR notes.

    Given the amount of attention the site has received in 2017 as ‘The Pirate Bay of Research’, Libgen.io and Sci-Hub.io (not to mention the endless proxy and mirror sites that facilitate access) are given a detailed mention in this year’s report.

    “Together these sites make it possible to download — all without permission and without remunerating authors, publishers or researchers — millions of copyrighted books by commercial publishers and university presses; scientific, technical and medical journal articles; and publications of technological standards,” the USTR writes.

    Service providers

    But it’s not only sites that are being put under pressure. Following a growing list of nominations in previous years, Swiss service provider Private Layer is again singled out as a rogue player in the market for hosting 1337x.to and Torrentz2.eu, among others.

    “While the exact configuration of websites changes from year to year, this is the fourth consecutive year that the List has stressed the significant international trade impact of Private Layer’s hosting services and the allegedly infringing sites it hosts,” the USTR notes.

    “Other listed and nominated sites may also be hosted by Private Layer but are using
    reverse proxy services to obfuscate the true host from the public and from law enforcement.”

    The USTR notes Switzerland’s efforts to close a legal loophole that restricts enforcement and looks forward to a positive outcome when the draft amendment is considered by parliament.

    Perhaps a little surprisingly given its recent anti-piracy efforts and overtures to the US, Russia’s leading social network VK.com again gets a place on the new list. The USTR recognizes VK’s efforts but insists that more needs to be done.

    Social networking and e-commerce

    “In 2016, VK reached licensing agreements with major record companies, took steps to limit third-party applications dedicated to downloading infringing content from the site, and experimented with content recognition technologies,” the USTR writes.

    “Despite these positive signals, VK reportedly continues to be a hub of infringing activity and the U.S. motion picture industry reports that they find thousands of infringing files on the site each month.”

    Finally, in addition to traditional pirate sites, the US also lists online marketplaces that allegedly fail to meet appropriate standards. Re-added to the list in 2016 after a brief hiatus in 2015, China’s Alibaba is listed again in 2017. The development provoked an angry response from the company.

    Describing his company as a “scapegoat”, Alibaba Group President Michael Evans said that his platform had achieved a 25% drop in takedown requests and has even been removing infringing listings before they make it online.

    “In light of all this, it’s clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results,” Evans said in a statement.

    The full list of sites in the Notorious Markets Report 2017 (pdf) can be found below.

    – 1fichier.com – (cyberlocker)
    – 4shared.com – (cyberlocker)
    – convert2mp3.net – (stream-ripper)
    – Dhgate.com (e-commerce)
    – Dopefile.pl – (cyberlocker)
    – Firestorm-servers.com (pirate gaming service)
    – Fmovies.is, Fmovies.se, Fmovies.to – (streaming)
    – Gostream.is, Gomovies.to, 123movieshd.to (streaming)
    – Indiamart.com (e-commerce)
    – Kinogo.club, kinogo.co (streaming host, platform)
    – Libgen.io, sci-hub.io, libgen.pw, sci-hub.cc, sci-hub.bz, libgen.info, lib.rus.ec, bookfi.org, bookzz.org, booker.org, booksc.org, book4you.org, bookos-z1.org, booksee.org, b-ok.org (research downloads)
    – Movshare Group – Nowvideo.sx, wholecloud.net, auroravid.to, bitvid.sx, nowdownload.ch, cloudtime.to, mewatchseries.to, watchseries.ac (streaming)
    – Movie4k.tv (streaming)
    – MP3VA.com (music)
    – Openload.co (cyberlocker / streaming)
    – 1337x.to (torrent site)
    – Primewire.ag (streaming)
    – Torrentz2, Torrentz2.me, Torrentz2.is (torrent site)
    – Rarbg.to (torrent site)
    – Rebel (domain company)
    – Repelis.tv (movie and TV linking)
    – RuTracker.org (torrent site)
    – Rapidgator.net (cyberlocker)
    – Taobao.com (e-commerce)
    – The Pirate Bay (torrent site)
    – TVPlus, TVBrowser, Kuaikan (streaming apps and addons, China)
    – Uploaded.net (cyberlocker)
    – VK.com (social networking)

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

    ISP: We’re Cooperating With Police Following Pirate IPTV Raid

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-were-cooperating-with-police-following-pirate-iptv-raid-180113/

    This week, police forces around Europe took action against what is believed to be one of the world’s largest pirate IPTV networks.

    The investigation, launched a year ago and coordinated by Europol, came to head on Tuesday when police carried out raids in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, and the Netherlands. A fresh announcement from the crime-fighting group reveals the scale of the operation.

    It was led by the Cypriot Police – Intellectual Property Crime Unit, with the support of the Cybercrime Division of the Greek Police, the Dutch Fiscal Investigative and Intelligence Service (FIOD), the Cybercrime Unit of the Bulgarian Police, Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), and supported by members of the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA).

    In Cyprus, Bulgaria and Greece, 17 house searches were carried out. Three individuals aged 43, 44, and 53 were arrested in Cyprus and one was arrested in Bulgaria.

    All stand accused of being involved in an international operation to illegally broadcast around 1,200 channels of pirated content to an estimated 500,000 subscribers. Some of the channels offered were illegally sourced from Sky UK, Bein Sports, Sky Italia, and Sky DE. On Thursday, the three individuals in Cyprus were remanded in custody for seven days.

    “The servers used to distribute the channels were shut down, and IP addresses hosted by a Dutch company were also deactivated thanks to the cooperation of the authorities of The Netherlands,” Europol reports.

    “In Bulgaria, 84 servers and 70 satellite receivers were seized, with decoders, computers and accounting documents.”

    TorrentFreak was previously able to establish that Megabyte-Internet Ltd, an ISP located in the small Bulgarian town Petrich, was targeted by police. The provider went down on Tuesday but returned towards the end of the week. Responding to our earlier inquiries, the company told us more about the situation.

    “We are an ISP provider located in Petrich, Bulgaria. We are selling services to around 1,500 end-clients in the Petrich area and surrounding villages,” a spokesperson explained.

    “Another part of our business is internet services like dedicated unmanaged servers, hosting, email servers, storage services, and VPNs etc.”

    The spokesperson added that some of Megabyte’s equipment is located at Telepoint, Bulgaria’s biggest datacenter, with connectivity to Petrich. During the raid the police seized the company’s hardware to check for evidence of illegal activity.

    “We were informed by the police that some of our clients in Petrich and Sofia were using our service for illegal streaming and actions,” the company said.

    “Of course, we were not able to know this because our services are unmanaged and root access [to servers] is given to our clients. For this reason any client and anyone that uses our services are responsible for their own actions.”

    TorrentFreak asked many more questions, including how many police attended, what type and volume of hardware was seized, and whether anyone was arrested or taken for questioning. But, apart from noting that the police were friendly, the company declined to give us any additional information, revealing that it was not permitted to do so at this stage.

    What is clear, however, is that Megabyte-Internet is offering its full cooperation to the authorities. The company says that it cannot be held responsible for the actions of its clients so their details will be handed over as part of the investigation.

    “So now we will give to the police any details about these clients because we hold their full details by law. [The police] will find [out about] all the illegal actions from them,” the company concludes, adding that it’s fully operational once more and working with clients.

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

    Europol Hits Huge 500,000 Subscriber Pirate IPTV Operation

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/europol-hits-huge-500000-subscriber-pirate-iptv-operation-180111/

    Live TV is in massive demand but accessing all content in a particular region can be a hugely expensive proposition, with tradtional broadcasting monopolies demanding large subscription fees.

    For millions around the world, this ‘problem’ can be easily circumvented. Pirate IPTV operations, which supply thousands of otherwise subscription channels via the Internet, are on the increase. They’re accessible for just a few dollars, euros, or pounds per month, slashing bills versus official providers on a grand scale.

    This week, however, police forces around Europe coordinated to target what they claim is one of the world’s largest illicit IPTV operations. The investigation was launched last February by Europol and on Tuesday coordinated actions were carried out in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, and the Netherlands.

    Three suspects were arrested in Cyprus – two in Limassol (aged 43 and 44) and one in Larnaca (aged 53). All are alleged to be part of an international operation to illegally broadcast around 1,200 channels of pirated content worldwide. Some of the channels offered were illegally sourced from Sky UK, Bein Sports, Sky Italia, and Sky DE

    If initial reports are to be believed, the reach of the IPTV service was huge. Figures usually need to be taken with a pinch of salt but information suggests the service had more than 500,000 subscribers, each paying around 10 euros per month. (Note: how that relates to the alleged five million euros per year in revenue is yet to be made clear)

    Police action was spread across the continent, with at least nine separate raids, including in the Netherlands where servers were uncovered. However, it was determined that these were in place to hide the true location of the operation’s main servers. Similar ‘front’ servers were also deployed in other regions.

    The main servers behind the IPTV operation were located in Petrich, a small town in Blagoevgrad Province, southwestern Bulgaria. No details have been provided by the authorities but TF is informed that the website of a local ISP, Megabyte-Internet, from where pirate IPTV has been broadcast for at least the past several months, disappeared on Tuesday. It remains offline this morning.

    The company did not respond to our request for comment and there’s no suggestion that it’s directly involved in any illegal activity. However, its Autonomous System (AS) number reveals linked IPTV services, none of which appear to be operational today. The ISP is also listed on sites where ‘pirate’ IPTV channel playlists are compiled by users.

    According to sources in Cyprus, police requested permission from the Larnaca District Court to detain the arrested individuals for eight days. However, local news outlet Philenews said that any decision would be postponed until this morning, since one of the three suspects, an English Cypriot, required an interpreter which caused a delay.

    In addition to prosecutors and defense lawyers, two Dutch investigators from Europol were present in court yesterday. The hearing lasted for six hours and was said to be so intensive that the court stenographer had to be replaced due to overwork.

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

    Dutch Film Distributor Wins Right To Chase Pirates, Store Data For 5 Years

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/dutch-film-distributor-wins-right-to-chase-pirates-store-data-for-5-years-171208/

    For many years, Dutch Internet users were allowed to download copyrighted content without reprisals, provided it was for their own personal use.

    In 2014, however, the European Court of Justice ruled that the country’s “piracy levy” to compensate rightsholders was unlawful. Almost immediately, the government announced a downloading ban.

    In March 2016, anti-piracy outfit BREIN followed up by obtaining permission from the Dutch Data Protection Authority to track and store the personal data of alleged BitTorrent pirates. This year, movie distributor Dutch FilmWorks (DFW) made a similar application.

    The company said that it would be pursuing alleged pirates to deter future infringement but many suspected that securing cash settlements was its main aim. That was confirmed in August.

    “[The letter to alleged pirates] will propose a fee. If someone does not agree [to pay], the organization can start a lawsuit,” said DFW CEO Willem Pruijsserts

    “In Germany, this costs between €800 and €1,000, although we find this a bit excessive. But of course it has to be a deterrent, so it will be more than a tenner or two,” he added.

    But despite the grand plans, nothing would be possible without first obtaining the necessary permission from the Data Protection Authority. This Wednesday, however, that arrived.

    “DFW has given sufficient guarantees for the proper and careful processing of personal data. This means that DFW has been given a green light from the Data Protection Authority to collect personal data, such as IP addresses, from people downloading from illegal sources,” the Authority announced.

    Noting that it received feedback from four entities during the six-week consultation process following the publication of its draft decision during the summer, the Data Protection Authority said that further investigations were duly carried out. All input was considered before handing down the final decision.

    The Authority said it was satisfied that personal data would be handled correctly and that the information collected and stored would be encrypted and hashed to ensure integrity. Furthermore, data will not be retained for longer than is necessary.

    “DFW has stated…that data from users with Dutch IP addresses who were involved in the exchange of a title owned by DFW, but in respect of which there is no intention to follow up on that within three months after receipt, will be destroyed,” the decision reads.

    For any cases that are active and haven’t been discarded in the initial three-month period, DFW will be allowed to hold alleged pirates’ data for a maximum of five years, a period that matches the time a company has to file a claim under the Dutch Civil Code.

    “When DFW does follow up on a file, DFW carries out further research into the identity of the users of the IP addresses. For this, it is necessary to contact the Internet service providers of the subscribers who used the IP addresses found in the BitTorrent network,” the Authority notes.

    According to the decision, once DFW has a person’s details it can take any of several actions, starting with a simple warning or moving up to an amicable cash settlement. Failing that, it might choose to file a full-on court case in which the distributor seeks an injunction against the alleged pirate plus compensation and costs.

    Only time will tell what strategy DFW will deploy against alleged pirates but since these schemes aren’t cheap to run, it’s likely that simple warning letters will be seriously outnumbered by demands for cash settlement.

    While it seems unlikely that the Data Protection Authority will change its mind at this late stage, it’s decision remains open to appeal. Interested parties have just under six weeks to make their voices heard. Failing that, copyright trolling will hit the Netherlands in the weeks and months to come.

    The full decision can be found here (Dutch, pdf) via Tweakers

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

    Ares Kodi Project Calls it Quits After Hollywood Cease & Desist

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/ares-kodi-project-calls-it-quits-after-hollywood-cease-desist-171117/

    This week has been particularly bad for those involved in the Kodi addon scene. Following cease-and-desist notices from the MPA-led anti-piracy coalition Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, several addon developers and repositories shut down.

    With Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner, Netflix, Amazon and Sky TV all lined up for war, the third-party developers had little choice but to quit. One of those affected was the leader of the hugely popular Ares Project, which quietly disappeared mid-week.

    The Ares Wizard was an extremely popular and important piece of software which allowed people to switch Kodi builds, install third-party addons, install popular repositories, change system settings, and carry out backups. It’s installed on huge numbers of machines worldwide but it will soon fall into disrepair.

    The mighty Ares Wizard in action

    “[This week] I was subject to a hand-delivered notice to cease-and-desist from MPA & ACE,” Ares Project leader Tekto informs TorrentFreak.

    “Given the notice, we obviously shut down the repo and wizard as requested.”

    The news that Ares Project is done and never coming back will be a huge blow to the community. The project just celebrated its second birthday and has grown exponentially since it first arrived on the scene.

    “Ares Project started in Oct 2015. Originally it was to be a tool to setup up the video cache on Kodi correctly. However, many ideas were thrown into the pot and it became a wee bit more; such as a wizard to install community provided builds, common addons and few other tweaks and options,” Tekto says.

    “For my own part I started blogging earlier that year as part of a longer-term goal to be self-funding. I always disliked seeing begging bowls out to support ‘server’ costs, many of which were cheap £5-10 per month servers that were used to gain £100s in donations.

    “The blog, via affiliate links and ads, could and would provide the funds to cover our hosting costs without resorting to begging for money every weekend.”

    Intrigued by this first wave of actions by ACE in Europe, TorrentFreak asked for a copy of the MPA/ACE cease-and-desist notice but unfortunately, Tekto flat-out refused. All he would tell us is that he’d agreed not to give out any copies or screenshots and that he was adhering to that 100%.

    That only leaves speculation as to what grounds the MPA/ACE cited for closing the project but to be fair, it doesn’t take much thought to find a direct comparison. Earlier this year, in the BREIN v Filmspeler case, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that selling “fully-loaded” Kodi boxes amounted to illegally communicating copyrighted content to the public.

    With that in mind, it doesn’t take much of a leap to see how this ruling could also apply to someone distributing “fully-loaded” Kodi software builds or addons via a website. It had previously been considered a legal gray area, of course, and it was in that space that the Ares team believed it operated. After all, it took ECJ clarification for local courts in the Netherlands to be satisfied with the legal position.

    “There was never any question that what we were doing was illegal. We didn’t and never have hosted any content, we always prevented discussions about illegal paid services, and never sold any devices, pre-loaded or otherwise. That used to be enough to occupy the ‘gray’ area which meant we were safe to develop our applications. That changed in 2017 as we were to discover,” Tekto notes.

    Up until this week and apparently oblivious to how the earlier ECJ ruling might affect their operation, things had been going extremely well for Ares. In mid-2016, the group moved to its own support forum that attracted 100,000 signed-up members and 300,000 visitors every month.

    “This was quite an achievement in terms of viral marketing but ultimately this would become part of our downfall,” Tekto says.

    “The recent innovation of the ‘basket driven’ Ares Portal system seems to have triggered the legal move to shut the project down completely. This simple system gave access to hundreds of add-ons. The system removed the need for builds, blogs and YouTubers – you just shopped on the site for addons and then installed them to your device with a simple 6 digit code.”

    While Ares and Tekto still didn’t believe they were doing anything illegal (addons were linked, not hosted) it is now pretty clear to them that the previous gray area has been well and truly closed, at least as far as the MPA/ACE alliance is concerned. And with that in mind, the show is over. Done. Finished.

    “We are not criminals or malicious hackers, we weren’t even careful about hiding our identities. You couldn’t meet a more ordinary bunch of folks in truth,” he says.

    “There was never any question we would close our doors if what we were doing crossed any boundaries of legality. So with the notice served on us, we are closing our doors and removing all our websites and applications. It’s a sad day in many ways, but nobody wants to be facing court or a potential custodial sentence, for what is essentially a hobby.”

    Finally, Tekto says that others like him might want to consider their positions carefully, before they too get a knock at the door. In the meantime, he gives thanks to the project’s supporters, who have remained loyal over the past two years.

    “It just leaves me to thank our users for their support and step away from the Kodi scene,” he concludes.

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

    ‘Pirate’ IPTV Provider Loses Case, Despite Not Offering Content Itself

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-provider-loses-case-despite-not-offering-content-itself-171031/

    In 2017, there can be little doubt that streaming is the big piracy engine of the moment. Dubbed Piracy 3.0 by the MPAA, the movement is causing tremendous headaches for rightsholders on a global scale.

    One of the interesting things about this phenomenon is the distributed nature of the content on offer. Sourced from thousands of online locations, from traditional file-hosters to Google Drive, the big challenge is to aggregate it all into one place, to make it easy to find. This is often achieved via third-party addons for the legal Kodi software.

    One company offering such a service was MovieStreamer.nl in the Netherlands. Via its website MovieStreamer the company offered its Easy Use Interface 2.0, a piece of software that made Kodi easy to use and other streams easy to find for 79 euros. It also sold ‘VIP’ access to thousands of otherwise premium channels for around 20 euros per month.

    MovieStreamer Easy Interface 2.0

    “Thanks to the unique Easy Use Interface, we have the unique 3-step process,” the company’s marketing read.

    “Click tile of choice, activate subtitles, and play! Fully automated and instantly the most optimal settings. Our youngest user is 4 years old and the ‘oldest’ 86 years. Ideal for young and old, beginner and expert.”

    Of course, being based in the Netherlands it wasn’t long before MovieStreamer caught the attention of BREIN. The anti-piracy outfit says it tried to get the company to stop offering the illegal product but after getting no joy, took the case to court.

    From BREIN’s perspective, the case was cut and dried. MovieStreamer had no right to provide access to the infringing content so it was in breach of copyright law (unauthorized communication to the public) and should stop its activities immediately. MovieStreamer, however, saw things somewhat differently.

    At the core of its defense was the claim that did it not provide content itself and was merely a kind of middleman. MovieStreamer said it provided only a referral service in the form of a hyperlink formatted as a shortened URL, which in turn brought together supply and demand.

    In effect, MovieStreamer claimed that it was several steps away from any infringement and that only the users themselves could activate the shortener hyperlink and subsequent process (including a corresponding M3U playlist file, which linked to other hyperlinks) to access any pirated content. Due to this disconnect, MovieStreamer said that there was no infringement, for-profit or otherwise.

    A judge at the District Court in Utrecht disagreed, ruling that by providing a unique hyperlink to customers which in turn lead to protected works was indeed a “communication to the public” based on the earlier Filmspeler case.

    The Court also noted that MovieStreamer knew or indeed ought to have known the illegal nature of the content being linked to, not least since BREIN had already informed them of that fact. Since the company was aware, the for-profit element of the GS Media decision handed down by the European Court of Justice came into play.

    In an order handed down October 27, the Court ordered MovieStreamer to stop its IPTV hyperlinking activities immediately, whether via its Kodi Easy Use Interface or other means. Failure to do so will result in a 5,000 euro per day fine, payable to BREIN, up to a maximum of 500,000 euros. MovieStreamer was also ordered to pay legal costs of 17,527 euros.

    “Moviestreamer sold a link to illegal content. Then you are required to check if that content is legally on the internet,” BREIN Director Tim Kuik said in a statement.

    “You can not claim that you have nothing to do with the content if you sell a link to that content.”

    Speaking with Tweakers, MovieStreamer owner Bernhard Ohler said that the packages in question were removed from his website on Saturday night. He also warned that other similar companies could experience the same issues with BREIN.

    “With this judgment in hand, BREIN has, of course, a powerful weapon to force them offline,” he said.

    Ohler said that the margins on hardware were so small that the IPTV subscriptions were the heart of his company. Contacted by TorrentFreak on what this means for his business, he had just two words.

    “The end,” he said.

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

    The Pirate Bay is Hard to Find on Google in Some Countries

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-hard-find-google-countries-171027/

    Search engine results are something on which any Internet user should be able to rely. After entering a search term, we generally expect the most relevant results to appear at the top, which seems like a fair assumption.

    That being said, all searches aren’t equal, even when the same parameters are entered into the same company’s product. Case in point: Google Search and The Pirate Bay.

    We’ve known for years that due to entertainment industry pressure, Google has been demoting pirate sites in its search results. That’s perhaps understandable when trying to deter a user from finding specific content via a Google search but should that affect a search about the site itself?

    If one types the term The Pirate Bay into Google, there is no reason for the site iin question not to appear at the top of the list. After all, it’s the most informative result for one of the world’s most popular sites. However, tests carried out by TF show that some Google search variants coupled with certain countries’ IP addresses produce dramatically different results.

    In all tests we began with an incognito Chrome browser window, to ensure no previous behavior affected our results. We then commenced testing searches for The Pirate Bay, with the UK up first. We know that Google has been under pressure to demote pirate sites in the country, so it wasn’t a surprise to find a relatively poor result.

    Using a UK-based IP address to access Google.co.uk, we had to click through to the fifth page of results to find the entry for thepiratebay.org, the site’s main domain.

    Google.co.uk, accessed via a UK IP address

    However, when we carried out exactly the same test on Google.co.uk but after substituting our UK IP address for one located in the United States, a very different result was achieved. As can be seen in the image below, thepiratebay.org now appears as the very top result, as it should.

    Google.co.uk, accessed via a US IP address

    Given the above, there’s the suggestion that Google only penalizes users of Google.co.uk searching for The Pirate Bay, if they’re using a UK-based IP address. So we switched things around a little bit to try and find out.

    Testing Google.com with a US-based IP address, thepiratebay.org appeared as the top result, as expected. Then, when accessing Google.com with a UK-based IP address, thepiratebay.org was relegated to the sixth page of Google results, which wasn’t a surprise.

    Thus far, one could be forgiven for thinking that having a UK-based IP address is the poisoned chalice here. So, with that in mind, we switched over to the Netherlands for some testing there.

    Using a Netherlands-based IP address on Google.nl, thepiratebay.org appears as the first result. But, to our surprise, deploying a UK IP address on the same service returns exactly the same position, i.e right at the very top. The same was true for searches carried out on Google.ca (Canada). No matter what IP addresses were used, thepiratebay.org appeared at the top of results.

    Of course, The Pirate Bay has been blocked in the UK for some time, so people may have switched away from searching directly for The Pirate Bay towards other proxy services, for example. However, that doesn’t change the indisputable fact that a search for The Pirate Bay should list the site as the first result – because that’s what people are looking for.

    But if people think that only UK-based searchers are getting a raw deal, then they should reconsider.

    Over in India, using an Indian IP address to access Google.co.in, thepiratebay.org doesn’t appear until page 8. Somewhat unexpectedly, doing a similar search on the same Google variant using a UK IP address actually improved matters, with thepiratebay.org appearing more readily on page 6.

    A lowly page 8 for Indian searchers of The Pirate Bay

    But in terms of results, there are other countries doing even worse. Tests carried out on Google.fr (France) reveal that thepiratebay.org doesn’t appear until page 12, a result matched identically by Google.ru (Russia), no matter which source IP addresses were used.

    To be clear, it’s not like Google doesn’t understand the significance of the site in these low-ranking regions or that searchers aren’t interested. Although it doesn’t place the actual site until a dozen pages down the road, Google is very happy to list dozens of proxies in the first sets of results, including some fake ‘Pirate Bay’ sites that Google itself flags up as unsafe due to malware.

    Overall, it’s hard to find much consistency but it’s reasonable to presume that at least to some extent, searches for The Pirate Bay are being manipulated, depending on where you live and which search variant people use. For English speakers, Canada seems a good variant for now. But that could change at any moment.

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

    ‘Pirate’ EBook Site Refuses Point Blank to Cooperate With BREIN

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-ebook-site-refuses-point-blank-to-cooperate-with-brein-171015/

    Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN is probably best known for its legal action against The Pirate Bay but the outfit also tackles many other forms of piracy.

    A prime example is the case it pursued against a seller of fully-loaded Kodi boxes in the Netherlands. The subsequent landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice will reverberate around Europe for years to come.

    Behind the scenes, however, BREIN persistently tries to take much smaller operations offline, and not without success. Earlier this year it revealed it had taken down 231 illegal sites and services includes 84 linking sites, 63 streaming portals, and 34 torrent sites. Some of these shut down completely and others were forced to leave their hosting providers.

    Much of this work flies under the radar but some current action, against an eBook site, is now being thrust into the public eye.

    For more than five years, EBoek.info (eBook) has serviced Internet users looking to obtain comic books in Dutch. The site informs TorrentFreak it provides a legitimate service, targeted at people who have purchased a hard copy but also want their comics in digital format.

    “EBoek.info is a site about comic books in the Dutch language. Besides some general information about the books, people who have legally obtained a hard copy of the books can find a link to an NZB file which enables them to download a digital version of the books they already have,” site representative ‘Zala’ says.

    For those out of the loop, NZB files are a bit like Usenet’s version of .torrent files. They contain no copyrighted content themselves but do provide software clients with information on where to find specific content, so it can be downloaded to a user’s machine.

    “BREIN claims that this is illegal as it is impossible for us to verify if our visitor is telling the truth [about having purchased a copy],” Zala reveals.

    Speaking with TorrentFreak, BREIN chief Tim Kuik says there’s no question that offering downloads like this is illegal.

    “It is plain and simple: the site makes links to unauthorized digital copies available to the general public and therefore is infringing copyright. It is distribution of the content without authorization of the rights holder,” Kuik says.

    “The unauthorized copies are not private copies. The private copy exception does not apply to this kind of distribution. The private copy has not been made by the owner of the book himself for his own use. Someone else made the digital copy and is making it available to anyone who wants to download it provided he makes the unverified claim that he has a legal copy. This harms the normal exploitation of the
    content.”

    Zala says that BREIN has been trying to take his site offline for many years but more recently, the platform has utilized the services of Cloudflare, partly as a form of shield. As readers may be aware, a site behind Cloudflare has its originating IP addresses hidden from the public, not to mention BREIN, who values that kind of information. According to the operator, however, BREIN managed to obtain the information from the CDN provider.

    “BREIN has tried for years to take our site offline. Recently, however, Cloudflare was so friendly to give them our IP address,” Zala notes.

    A text copy of an email reportedly sent by BREIN to EBoek’s web host and seen by TF appears to confirm that Cloudflare handed over the information as suggested. Among other things, the email has BREIN informing the host that “The IP we got back from Cloudflare is XXX.XXX.XX.33.”

    This means that BREIN was able to place direct pressure on EBoek.info’s web host, so only time will tell if that bears any fruit for the anti-piracy group. In the meantime, however, EBoek has decided to go public over its battle with BREIN.

    “We have received a request from Stichting BREIN via our hosting provider to take EBoek.info offline,” the site informed its users yesterday.

    Interestingly, it also appears that BREIN doesn’t appreciate that the operators of EBoek have failed to make their identities publicly known on their platform.

    “The site operates anonymously which also is unlawful. Consumer protection requires that the owner/operator of a site identifies himself,” Kuik says.

    According to EBoek, the anti-piracy outfit told the site’s web host that as a “commercial online service”, EBoek is required under EU law to display its “correct and complete business information” including names, addresses, and other information. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the site doesn’t want to play ball.

    “In my opinion, you are confusing us with Facebook. They are a foreign commercial company with a European branch in Ireland, and therefore are subject to Irish legislation,” Zala says in an open letter to BREIN.

    “Eboek.info, on the other hand, is a foreign hobby club with no commercial purpose, whose administrators have no connection with any country in the European Union. As administrators, we follow the laws of our country of residence which do not oblige us to disclose our identity through our website.

    “The fact that Eboek is visible in the Netherlands does not just mean that we are going to adapt to Dutch rules, just as we don’t adapt the site to the rules of Saudi Arabia or China or wherever we are available.”

    In a further snub to the anti-piracy group, EBoek says that all visitors to the site have to communicate with its operators via its guestbook, which is publicly visible.

    “We see no reason to make an exception for Stichting BREIN,” the site notes.

    What makes the situation more complex is that EBoek isn’t refusing dialog completely. The site says it doesn’t want to talk to BREIN but will speak to BREIN’s customers – the publishers of the comic books in question – noting that to date no complaints from publishers have ever been received.

    While the parties argue about lines of communication, BREIN insists that following this year’s European Court of Justice decision in the GS Media case, a link to a known infringing work represents copyright infringement. In this case, an NZB file – which links to a location on Usenet – would generally fit the bill.

    But despite focusing on the Dutch market, the operators of EBoek say the ruling doesn’t apply to them as they’re outside of the ECJ’s jurisdiction and aren’t commercially motivated. Refusing point blank to take their site offline, EBoek’s operators say that BREIN can do its worst, nothing will have much effect.

    “[W]hat’s the worst thing that can happen? That our web host hands [BREIN] our address and IP data. In that case, it will turn out that…we are actually far away,” Zala says.

    “[In the case the site goes offline], we’ll just put a backup on another server and, in this case, won’t make use of the ‘services’ of Cloudflare, the provider that apparently put BREIN on the right track.”

    The question of jurisdiction is indeed an interesting one, particularly given BREIN’s focus in the Netherlands. But Kuik is clear – it is the area where the content is made available that matters.

    “The law of the country where the content is made available applies. In this case the EU and amongst others the Netherlands,” Kuik concludes.

    To be continued…..

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

    Yarrrr! Dutch ISPs Block The Pirate Bay But It’s Bad Timing for Trolls

    Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/yarrrr-dutch-isps-block-the-pirate-bay-but-its-bad-timing-for-trolls-171005/

    While many EU countries have millions of Internet pirates, few have given citizens the freedom to plunder like the Netherlands. For many years, Dutch Internet users actually went about their illegal downloading with government blessing.

    Just over three years ago, downloading and copying movies and music for personal use was not punishable by law. Instead, the Dutch compensated rightsholders through a “piracy levy” on writable media, hard drives and electronic devices with storage capacity, including smartphones.

    Following a ruling from the European Court of Justice in 2014, however, all that came to an end. Along with uploading (think BitTorrent sharing), downloading was also outlawed.

    Around the same time, The Court of The Hague handed down a decision in a long-running case which had previously forced two Dutch ISPs, Ziggo and XS4ALL, to block The Pirate Bay.

    Ruling against local anti-piracy outfit BREIN, it was decided that the ISPs wouldn’t have to block The Pirate Bay after all. After a long and tortuous battle, however, the ISPs learned last month that they would have to block the site, pending a decision from the Supreme Court.

    On September 22, both ISPs were given 10 business days to prevent subscriber access to the notorious torrent site, or face fines of 2,000 euros per day, up to a maximum of one million euros.

    With that time nearly up, yesterday Ziggo broke cover to become the first of the pair to block the site. On a dedicated diversion page, somewhat humorously titled ziggo.nl/yarrr, the ISP explained the situation to now-blocked users.

    “You are trying to visit a page of The Pirate Bay. On September 22, the Hague Court obliged us to block access to this site. The pirate flag is thus handled by us. The case is currently at the Supreme Court which judges the basic questions in this case,” the notice reads.

    Ziggo Pirate Bay message (translated)

    Customers of XS4ALL currently have no problem visiting The Pirate Bay but according to a statement handed to Tweakers by a spokesperson, the blockade will be implemented today.

    In addition to the site’s main domains, the injunction will force the ISPs to block 155 URLs and IP addresses in total, a list that has been drawn up by BREIN to include various mirrors, proxies, and alternate access points. XS4All says it will publish a list of all the blocked items on its notification page.

    While the re-introduction of a Pirate Bay blockade in the Netherlands is an achievement for BREIN, it’s potentially bad timing for the copyright trolls waiting in the wings to snare Dutch file-sharers.

    As recently reported, movie outfit Dutch Filmworks (DFW) is preparing a wave of cash-settlement copyright-trolling letters to mimic those sent by companies elsewhere.

    There’s little doubt that users of The Pirate Bay would’ve been DFW’s targets but it seems likely that given the introduction of blockades, many Dutch users will start to educate themselves on the use of VPNs to protect their privacy, or at least become more aware of the risks.

    Of course, there will be no real shortage of people who’ll continue to download without protection, but DFW are getting into this game just as it’s likely to get more difficult for them. As more and more sites get blocked (and that is definitely BREIN’s overall plan) the low hanging fruit will sit higher and higher up the tree – and the cash with it.

    Like all methods of censorship, site-blocking eventually drives communication underground. While anti-piracy outfits all say blocking is necessary, obfuscation and encryption isn’t welcomed by any of them.

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