Tag Archives: Torrent Sites

Movie Studios ‘Take Down’ Popular KAT Mirror

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/movie-studios-go-popular-kat-mirror-160729/

kickasstorrents_500x500More than a week has passed since KickassTorrents (KAT) was shut down by the U.S. Government, following the arrest of the site’s alleged owner.

Soon after the official site went offline various mirrors and copies were launched to take its place. While none of these sites have anything to do with the original site, they do attract hundreds of thousands of users.

One of the more popular mirrors is KAT.am. The site was featured in several news reports with some suggesting that it’s an official reincarnation of the original KickassTorrents site.

While that is certainly not true, the instant success of this ‘copyKAT’ was enough to get Hollywood worried. Especially because its operator also started to add new torrents to the site.

It therefore came as no surprise that the Motion Picture Association, representing Hollywood’s major studios, sent KAT.am’s owner a stark warning.

“This Notice requires you to immediately (within 24 hours) take effective measures to end and prevent further copyright infringement. All opportunities provided by the Website to download, stream or otherwise obtain access to the Entertainment Content should be disabled permanently,” MPA’s email reads.

Part of MPA’s mail

katmirrormail

TorrentFreak spoke to operator of the mirror, who informed us that he has no intention of backing down. However, he noted that the MPA(A) pressure did lead to a suspension of the domain name.

“The MPAA coordinated with the Armenian registry and got the domain deleted,” KAT.am’s operator said. “We are making continuous attempts to bring it back, utilizing all the legal channels available.”

At the time of writing KAT.am remains offline. However, the mirror has already launched two new domains, kickass.cd and kickass.mx, from where it continues to operate.

KAT?

katmirror

Operating a KAT mirror is not without risk, given the fact that the original site is the target of a criminal investigation by the U.S. Government. That doesn’t seem to bother the operator in question though.

“We are not worried, because if it’s not us, someone else will keep the game running. If not the alleged owner, it can be us. If we are not there, still there will surely be someone else. This never ends,” he tells us.

For some KAT users the “mirror” situation is rather confusing. They believe that the mirrors are somehow connected to the original site and some may attempt to login, which isn’t possible as these sites don’t have a copy of the user database.

Login attempts are risky, as some rogue mirrors may harvest personal information for nefarious purposes. Previously, the original KAT community team warned against such mirrors, urging former users to avoid these sites.

The operator of the former KAT.am mirror says that his site is completely safe. He’s also considering adding a notice to clarify that it is not related to the original KAT, to clarify the situation.

That said, just like those who operate the mirrors, former KAT users should consider themselves warned too.

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

Sony Sued For Not Protecting Leaked Movie From Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/sony-sued-for-not-protecting-leaked-movie-from-pirates-160729/

November 2014 was one of the darkest months in the history of Sony Pictures. After being hacked by a group calling themselves the ‘Guardians of Peace’, masses of sensitive internal information was leaked online.

In addition to thousands of emails sent between key Sony staff, several movies were also leaked online. They included Still Alice, Mr Turner, Annie, Fury and the unreleased movie To Write Love on Her Arms.

This week, more than 18 months after the hack, the owner of the latter title sued Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions in a Florida court. In its complaint, Possibility Pictures says that Sony failed to meet contractual obligations which required the company to protect the movie from pirates.

Noting that Possibility spent $3.38m producing the movie, the company says that the hack resulted from an “entirely foreseeable and avoidable failure of internal security” following many earlier security incidents at Sony.

“SPE has been a longstanding and frequent target for hackers, but it apparently made a conscious and deliberate business decision to accept both the risk of losses and the actual losses of being hacked,” the complaint (first posted by HWR) reads.

Possibility says that due to Sony’s negligence the movie was leaked four months ahead of its official release. Then, due to its appearance on multiple pirate sites, the audience demand for the title was “destroyed”.

“While the total number of illegal downloads is unknown and unknowable, it is far more than likely [that the final tally is] many, many times the nearly 20,000 downloads recorded in just six days [following the leak],” the company adds.

Furthermore, in the wake of the leak, Sony allegedly “lost all interest” in promoting and marketing the movie and paid no further distribution revenues to Possibility beyond an initial $800,000 advance. As a result, Possibility claims that it is almost $2.6m out of pocket versus production costs.

To support its claim, Possibility highlights a section of its distribution agreement with Sony titled “Anti-Piracy Authorization”. The company says that the text shows that Sony was obliged to “protect the movie worldwide” using “appropriate technical measures or other techniques” to assist efforts to “remove, disable or otherwise prevent” unauthorized versions of the movie being pirated on the Internet.

sony-auth

No doubt the lawyers will argue over the meaning and scope of the section but thus far Sony is clear. In July 2016 discussions with Possibility Pictures, Sony insisted that it had “no obligation….to take any anti-piracy measures whatsoever.”

It’s certainly rare for a company like Sony to be accused of not doing enough to prevent piracy, so this case should be an interesting one to watch.

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

KickassTorrents’ Alleged Owner Retains Kim Dotcom’s Lawyer

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-alleged-owner-retains-kim-dotcoms-lawyer-160728/

kickasstorrents_500x500Last week Polish law enforcement officers arrested Artem Vaulin, the alleged founder of KickassTorrents.

The arrest resulted in the shutdown of the site, which came as a shock to millions of KAT users and the torrent community at large.

The Polish authorities acted on a criminal complaint from the U.S. Government. In the indictment, the 30-year-old Ukrainian is charged with criminal copyright infringement and money laundering.

These charges are similar to those lodged against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. With this in mind, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Vaulin has decided to retain the same lawyer.

Ira Rothken confirmed to TorrentFreak that he will lead Vaulin’s defense working in collaboration with local counsel. Besides his familiarity with criminal copyright charges, Rothken also knows the ins and outs of torrent sites, as he previously represented isoHunt in a civil case.

While it’s still early days, Rothken believes that they have strong arguments to have the criminal complaint dismissed.

“We believe the US criminal complaint lacks merit. Torrent sites and trackers are devoid of any content files. If any infringement occurs it happens offsite and leaves Kickasstorrents behind,” Rothken informs TorrentFreak.

“This type of copyright theory is known as secondary copyright infringement and there is no United States criminal statute for secondary copyright infringement – that type of theory is at most a civil liability issue.”

The same arguments are also being raised in the Megaupload case, which is still pending after nearly half a decade.

Rothken and Kim Dotcom (credit)

rothkendotcom

Last December a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues can be extradited to the United States. This decision was immediately appealed and a new series of hearings is scheduled to take place in a few weeks.

As noted by ARS, who first reported the news, Vaulin remains in a Warsaw jail pending his extradition request. However, Rothken hopes that the alleged owner of KickassTorrents will be able to fight his extradition outside of jail.

“We are working with local Polish counsel to try to get Artem out of the Warsaw jail so he can assist with his defense,” Rothken tells us.

The KickassTorrents website, meanwhile, is still offline. Although there are numerous mirrors available, it is unlikely that it will come back in the near future.

The KAT “community,” however, has been revived and remains active.

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

Photographer Files $1bn Copyright Claim Against Getty Images

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/photographer-files-1bn-copyright-claim-against-getty-images-160728/

gettySeattle-based Getty Images is an American agency controlling an archive of dozens of millions of stock images. After paying the company an appropriate fee, customers are given the right to use Getty’s images in their own publications.

Like many copyright holders, Getty is extremely aggressive in protecting its rights. The company scans the web in search of instances where people have used its images without obtaining an appropriate license and pursues the alleged infringer for money.

What follows is a typical copyright-troll operation. Those supposedly using content without permission receive a scary letter from Getty agents warning that all kinds of terrible things might happen if Getty decides to take the case to court. All this can be avoided, however, if the supposed image pirate pays a cash settlement.

One such letter was received in December 2015 by the This is America! Foundation, a non-profit set up by Carol Highsmith, a long-established US-based photographer.

Penned by a company calling itself License Compliance Services (LCS) on behalf of Getty-affiliated Alamy, the letter got straight to the point.

“We have seen that an image or image(s) represented by Alamy has been used for online use by your company. According to Alamy’s records your company doesn’t have a valid license for use of the image(s),” the letter began.

The allegedly infringing image

shuttle

“Although this infringement might have been unintentional, use of an image without a valid license is considered copyright infringement in violation of the Copyright Act, Title 17, United States Code. This copyright law entitles Alamy to seek compensation for any license infringement.”

The company demanded $120 to settle the dispute, which admittedly isn’t a huge amount. However, the case contained a series of devastating flaws, not least that the photograph in question was taken by Carol Highsmith herself. But it gets worse.

During a near half-hour telephone conversation with LCS, Highsmith began by explaining that she is the author of the image. However, she also revealed that she had donated this and thousands of other images to the Library of Congress and makes them available to the public to reproduce and display for free.

In the dying days of December 2015, Highsmith received confirmation from LCS that the case against her had been dropped. However, Getty and Alamy clearly hadn’t got the message. Amazingly, the companies were also making available more than 18,000 of Highsmith’s other photographs on their websites.

In a lawsuit filed July 25 in a New York District Court, Highsmith’s lawyers make their position clear.

“Nowhere on its website does Getty identify Ms. Highsmith as the sole author of the Highsmith Photos. Likewise, nowhere on its website does Getty identify Ms. Highsmith as the copyright owner of the work,” they write.

“Instead, Getty misrepresents the terms and conditions of using the Highsmith Photos by falsely claiming a user must buy a copyright license from Getty in order to have the right to use the Highsmith Photos.”

In some cases Getty was demanding $575 for use of just one of Highsmith’s images, despite the photographer making the content freely available to the public. Worse still, the company has also been sending out settlement demands to people who used the images legally on their websites.

“The Defendants have apparently misappropriated Ms. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people,” the lawsuit reads.

“The Defendants are not only unlawfully charging licensing fees to people and organizations who were already authorized to reproduce and display the donated photographs for free, but are falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner and threatening individuals and companies with copyright infringement lawsuits that the Defendants could not actually lawfully pursue.”

As a result, the tables are now turned, with Getty on the receiving end of a settlement demand. For using her images without permission, Highsmith says that Getty is liable for statutory damages of up to $468,875,000.

However, since Getty lost another copyright case (Morel v. Getty) within the last three years, Highsmith believes that the court has the power to treble the statutory damages. In this case up to a cool $1 billion.

Considering Getty’s holier-than-thou position when it comes to infringement, thousands will be cheering Highsmith on to victory. In the meantime, check out her work, it’s something really special.

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

Streaming Sites Dominate Movie and TV-Show Piracy

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/streaming-sites-dominate-movie-and-tv-show-piracy-160727/

streamingkeyA decade ago online video streaming was still a relatively new phenomenon. YouTube had just celebrated its first anniversary and Netflix hadn’t even rolled out its streaming service.

The piracy landscape also looked quite different at the time. Streaming sites were pretty much non-existent and the vast majority of all movie and TV-show piracy was torrent related.

This has drastically changed in recent years. According to a new report published by piracy tracking outfit MUSO, streaming sites have taken over as the prime source of video piracy.

New figures released publicly this week are part of the company’s annual report, which shows that nearly three quarters of all movie and TV-show traffic now goes to streaming sites.

The data from MUSO covers visits to 14,000 of the largest global piracy websites from 226 countries. In total, the company recorded 141 billion visits to pirate sites last year.

More than half of these visits relate to video piracy, which includes movies and TV-shows. The vast majority of these, 57.84 billion (74%), are visits to pirate streaming sites.

According to MUSO, there is a clear transition away from P2P sites and services to streaming. This can in part be explained by improved Internet connectivity across the globe.

Despite the availability of legal services, the United States tops the list of video pirates, representing 12% of total traffic, which is good for nearly 10 billion visits.

Torrent site traffic is slowly declining, for video content at least. Roughly 17% of the traffic went to torrent sites, and MUSO reported a clear downward trend during 2015. Direct download sites account for 8% of video piracy visits, which is relatively stable.

The data further reveals that both streaming pirates and torrent users predominantly use desktop machines to visit these sites, 72 and 77 percent respectively. This means that mobile piracy remains relatively small.

Visits to streaming sites by device (Muso.com)

musostream

The movie and TV-show figures are in line with the overall trend MUSO revealed earlier, where pirates move away from torrent sites to other distribution platforms.

“Piracy audiences are becoming better connected, more tech savvy, and know what they want, which is why so many of them have chosen to stream infringing content, rather than download it illegally,” MUSO’s CCO Christopher Elkins says.

Overall, MUSO’s report concludes that the piracy ecosystem is rapidly changing. It will be interesting to see how the reported traffic trends develop during the years to come.

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

James Cameron: Theater Experience Key to Containing Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/james-cameron-theater-experience-key-to-containing-piracy-160727/

james cameronWith blockbusters including Avatar, Titanic, Terminator (1&2) and Aliens under his belt, James Cameron is without doubt one of the most successful and respected filmmakers of modern times.

While promoting the 30th anniversary of “Aliens” at Comic-Con last week, Cameron and his wife Gale Anne Hurd (who produced the movie) spoke to Variety on a number of movie industry issues.

Among them were the potentially intertwined topics of Napster co-founder Sean Parker’s Screening Room project and, of course, the thorny debate over Internet piracy.

While Screening Room sounds exciting to some, Cameron does not share the sentiment. He believes that having first-run movies in the home will stop people heading off to the cinema, the place where filmmakers can really showcase their art and take the fight to piracy.

“The biggest hedge against piracy is still the sanctity of the viewing experience in a movie theater — when it comes to movies,” he says.

“With ‘The Walking Dead’ or something like that, that’s not what you’re selling, but if we’re talking about movies and theatrical exhibition, keeping it great, making it a special experience, is still the biggest hedge against [piracy].”

Interestingly, Cameron also says that even if piracy somehow became legal and download speeds were drastically improved, viewing content outside the theatrical setting would still come up short.

“You’re still watching [movies] on a small platform, and it’s not that social experience,” he explains.

The notion that innovation is the key to dealing with piracy is a belief that Cameron has held for a number of years.

Back in 2010 the filmmaker was basking in the glory of Avatar making more than $2.6 billion at the box office, despite pirate copies being available online. The sci-fi movie later went on to become the most pirated movie of all time, and the most successful too.

But without offering something different, something unique, the movie industry could face the same threat as the music industry did, Cameron warns.

“Just collectively the industry needs to know if we fail at creating a premium immersive experience in the theater, then the Napster-like downloading phenomenon will destroy the industry,” Cameron says.

“You won’t be able to afford to make a movie like ‘Avatar’ or ‘Transformers’ or ‘Captain America’ or any of these big films. The economics will no longer make sense. And you simply won’t have them in any format or platform.”

But while Cameron talks innovation, his producer wife Gale Anne Hurd cautions that those sharing content online might be doing so with rose-tinted glasses.

“‘File Sharing’ sounds like a good thing. It’s file stealing,” she told Variety.

“I’ve just seen the figures — there’s money to be made in it and that’s not what people are thinking about. If they go to a torrent site or whatever, [the site’s operators] are making money through advertising.”

While that isn’t anything new to most file-sharers, Hurd also attacks the driving force behind many sharing platforms – the community’s idea that by uploading content to peers they’re spreading the enjoyment.

“So it’s not like, ‘Oh, your friend is helping you out’,” she says.

“There’s billions that people are making. The more that’s siphoned away because people are like, ‘Oh, I’ll just wait and I’ll stream it and I don’t even have to pay to stream it from a legitimate source,’ that is making it so much tougher on the exhibitors,” Hurd concludes.

Only time will tell whether projects such as Screening Room will be able to co-exist with the theatrical experience. If done well, however, both should be able to chip away at piracy – if the forecasts of Cameron and Fanning are to be believed.

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

Pirate Bay Founder: The ‘Piracy’ Scene Needs Innovation

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-founder-piracy-scene-needs-innovation-160726/

peter-sundeLast week the alleged owner of KickassTorrents (KAT) was arrested in Poland, where he faces an extradition request from the United States.

The news came as a shock to many of the site’s users and also had a profound impact on the torrent ecosystem at large, particularly in the short term.

TorrentFreak discusses the events and repercussions with several experts on a special episode of Steal This Show. Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde is one of the guests, and he finds it quite odd that the long arm of the United States can reach deep into Europe.

“For me, it’s weird that Poland is arresting someone on the orders of the United States where the person has not been,” Sunde says.

“I have an issue with a country having that much power. I don’t care if it’s the United States, Russia or whatever, but one country shouldn’t be able to just grab people from anywhere in the world just because they do something on the Internet. That’s insanity.”

Sunde and the other Pirate Bay founders had their own criminal prosecution in Sweden several years ago, for which they all served jail time. Their case was also spurred on by U.S. influence, he believes, but it was prosecuted on their home turf instead.

Legalities aside, Peter Sunde believes that the shutdown of KAT shows how vulnerable the torrent ecosystem is. The majority of users rely on a very small group of torrent sites, which are all major targets for law enforcement.

A more distributed system would be much better, according to Pirate Bay’s founder.

“I think maybe people now understand that we shouldn’t just have a few sites. Because everything depends on these sites. That’s the thing I always wanted, a large hybrid of lots of smaller sites instead of one big target like KickassTorrents or Pirate Bay.”

Just setting up basic mirrors isn’t going to cut it in this case. At the moment there are still dozens of KAT copies online, but since they don’t have access to the backend of the original site, uploaders can’t use their accounts.

Also, many smaller torrent sites were relying on KAT’s database of torrents, and these have been faced with a similar problem since last week. A lack of new content.

“If one of the big sites goes down a lot of smaller sites are hit as well because they are just a copy of the original database. We need lots of sites that federate all the data instead of having to depend on the higher-ups,” Sunde notes.

So what’s the alternative? According to Pirate Bay’s founder, more innovation and decentralization is required.

ipfs

There are already plenty of new technologies that could make torrent sites more decentralized. Zeronet and IPFS, for example. However, according to Sunde the large torrent sites such as TPB don’t really have the urge to innovate.

“IPFS is really good and if everyone started using that instead it would be great. It would be working perfectly with less centralization. The problem is that the big sites like TPB and KAT are not really good at using new technology.”

Without a userbase these new technologies don’t catch on, so that keeps the current status quo intact. The only way to change this is by bringing in something fresh, Sunde says.

“If you look at the big sites, name one of them that has an up-to-date user experience or uses new technology at all. It’s the same shit that’s been around for 10, 15 years. There is no innovation whatsoever that’s visible on these sites.

“We need new voices, new people, new activists and new ideologies in the piracy scene,” Sunde adds.

Millions of people now rely on TPB and KAT to just be there for them. However, that makes the ecosystem very vulnerable without any incentive to innovate. This is why Sunde and others who were involved early, wanted to shut down the site on its 10th anniversary. To make room for something better.

“I’ve been saying for years that I want The Pirate Bay to shut down, and now with KickassTorrents being shut down I hope this will actually inspire people to do something fresh, innovative and something new.”

“To be honest, it’s not really hard to run a torrent site, or set one up,” Sunde says.

—-

You can hear more from Peter Sunde in the latest episode of Steal This Show (not all comments cited here appear in the episode), which was published earlier today. The episode also features isoHunt founder Gary Fung and U.S. Pirate Party founder Andrew Norton.

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

Steal This Show S01E14: KickassTorrents Down!

Post Syndicated from J.J. King original https://torrentfreak.com/steal-show-s01e14-kickasstorrents/

stslogoThe alleged owner of KickassTorrents was arrested last week, to be extradited from Poland to the United States. The site – at least the original version – remains offline.

In this episode of STEAL THIS SHOW, we invite Peter Sunde, co-founder of The Pirate Bay, Andrew Norton, US Pirate Party chairman, and Gary Fung, founder of isoHunt, to discuss this critical event, its significance for the torrent community, and implications for the world of P2P.

We discuss the propriety of extraordinary rendition for copyright crime, the question of how much money pirates are really making, and how the anti-P2P agenda is leading to further decentralisation. Kickass Torrents, we learn, is just one head of the many-headed hydra.

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

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

Host: Jamie King

Guests: Peter Sunde, Gary Fung and Andrew Norton.

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

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

Openload Domain Suspended By Namecheap

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/openload-domain-suspended-by-namecheap-160726/

namecheapCopyright holders know that one of the most effective ways to hinder a file-sharing site is to attack its domain. As a result, various strategies have emerged to deprive owners of their use.

Those methods range from a basic complaint to registrars over incomplete or inaccurate WHOIS entries, to the more complex seizing of domains via the legal system.

The amount of time spent on enforcement is often comparable with the quality of the end results. WHOIS information is quickly fixed but domains ordered seized by a judge tend to stay that way forever.

Interestingly, a situation now faced by a leading file-hosting site might lie somewhere in the middle.

Openload is one of the most-used file-hosting platforms on the Internet, with more traffic than 4shared, Rapidgator and Uploaded. It has a worldwide Alexa rank of 402 and millions of visitors every week but yesterday a wrench was thrown into the works.

Around 18:22 Monday, Openload’s .co domain was suspended by its registrar Namecheap. As can be seen in the entry below, the reason is reported as “abuse”.

openload-namecheap

Namecheap passed our request for comment to its legal department who have yet to formally respond. However, we were able to contact the operator of Openload who confirmed that there had been an alleged breach of Namecheap’s Terms of Service.

“Namecheap suspended our domain for abuse according to their TOS,” Openload’s operator told TF. “Basically, they just said that they received too many DMCA reports.”

It is fairly unusual for a domain registrar to be targeted with so many copyright complaints since they are traditionally directed at the site itself, its webhost, or both. In this case, however, Namecheap appears to have been overwhelmed.

To get an idea of potential scale, in less than a year Google has received in excess of 450,000 DMCA complaints against Openload’s .co and .io domains.

openload-google

The range of entertainment companies involved is broad, from the RIAA, Netflix and Warner Bros, to various Japanese anime distributors. Indeed, a large proportion of Openload’s traffic hails from Japan.

That being said, Openload says it is DMCA-compliant and processes complaints in a timely fashion.

“[The complaints received by Namecheap] were of course all taken down within 6-24 hours, but the number of notices is too much for them,” the site told us.

Copyright holders do have other options though. In addition to inviting complaints via a standard web form, Openload also offers a takedown tool.

“Openload is anxious to optimize the process of taking down files that violate copyright. Therefore Openload is offering a takedown API,” the site says.

But while takedowns are important, Openload does have a feature that tends to irritate copyright holders – paying uploaders for the amount of downloads they generate.

“We pay a fixed amount per 10,000 downloads/streams. Each payment amount per download/stream depends on the country the actions comes from,” the site explains on its rewards page.

openload-rewards

Of course, YouTube also pays uploaders for the amount of traffic they generate but copyright holders have traditionally drawn a line in the sand when the same is offered by Openload-type hosting sites. The U.S. Department of Justice indictment against Megaupload famously paints a loosely similar scheme in a very dim light.

For now, Openload has lost control of its main Openload.co domain but the site is back up and running at Oload.co, a domain that was purchased last night following Namecheap’s suspension.

“Our site is reachable via oload.co which is actually a kind of read-only site. All features will return on the new domain during the next hours,” Openload’s operator concludes.

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

Court Orders News Site Blocked Following Article Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-news-site-blocked-following-article-piracy-160726/

news-smallWhile countries like China have a dubious reputation for online censorship, millions of Internet users are now reluctantly becoming accustomed to sites being blocked on copyright grounds.

The practice is present in scattered countries across Europe but is most prevalent in the UK where more than a thousand sites are now being rendered inaccessible by regular means.

Most of the complaints originate from traditional copyright holders such as movie, TV show and recording labels, but a new threat has just emerged in Russia for the very first time.

Launched in 1999, Gazeta.ru is one of Russia’s leading Internet news resources and the 68th most-visited site overall. The platform enjoys an impressive 11 million readers each month but like many others it claims to have a problem with people republishing its content without permission.

Back in March, Gazeta published an article about tourism in Azerbaijan. The piece was popular with Gazeta readers but other commercial outfits were also attracted to the content. One of them, Story-media.ru, later reproduced the Gazeta article in full, without obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

In the world of news this is hardly a rare event. Many outlets find their articles being reproduced elsewhere on the Internet without permission and within seconds of publication. However, Gazeta decided that enough was enough and decided to fight back.

Using the same copyright complaints system that has been used countless times by movie studios and record labels since its 2013 introduction, Gazeta filed a case at the Moscow City Court.

Categorizing the tourism article as a “literary work” (literary works were added to Russia’s anti-piracy law last May), Gazeta owner Rambler & Co demanded action against Story-media.ru for the unauthorized reproduction of its copyright work.

According to Vedomosti, lawyers for Rambler & Co argued that the company “consistently fights the illegal placement of [copyrighted] content” and since the operators of Story-media.ru hide their identities (WHOIS is anonymous), the site should be blocked.

The Moscow City Court found the argument persuasive and in response ordered Russian ISPs to immediately block Story-media.ru. The court order describes the injunction as “an interim measure” designed to protect the “intellectual rights to the literary work.”

While plenty of torrent, streaming and linking sites have been blocked under the same process, this is believed to be the first use of Russia’s anti-piracy law to block a news resource following a complaint from a publisher over a written article.

Gazeta has previously taken action against a site that published an infographic without permission, resulting in the block of media site go2life.net, Vedomosti reports.

Story-media.ru now needs to respond to the Gazeta complaint but it is unclear whether it will do so. The site is currently offline.

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

KickassTorrents Community Resurrects, Without Torrents

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-community-resurrects-without-torrents-160725/

kickasstorrents_500x500With an active community and millions of regular visitors, KickassTorrents was much more than a site to leech the latest torrents from. Many considered it to be their virtual home.

This ended abruptly last week, following the arrest of its alleged founder in Poland. A criminal complaint from the U.S. Government revealed that the entire operation had been compromised by the Department of Homeland Security.

Although not all domain names and servers were seized, the site quickly disappeared and after nearly a week there is still no sign of life. At least, not at the original site.

Over the past few days, several members of the KAT team have regrouped in an effort to get the community part of the site back up. Since then they have launched Katcr.co, which hosts a forum where several staffers are present.

Speaking on behalf of the KAT-team that’s left, Mr.Black says that the criminal investigation won’t be the end of the community.

“We need to remember that Kickass Torrents is not simply about uploading, the heart and soul of KAT is our members, which are family and family is important as we all know. Nothing can ever take that away and no matter what happens we will not let our community down.”

“We guarantee that KAT will continue in one form or another and we will come back stronger than ever,” Mr.Black adds.

The forum, created by Mr.Prairi3DoG, has already gathered thousands of visitors over the past few days and continues to grow. While many of the original team members are present, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the original site will be restored as well.

KAT forum

katcomun

TorrentFreak has learned that remaining “KAT team” doesn’t have access to the original code. They are mainly people who kept the site clean and in order, in the role of moderator or administrator, and who have no contact with the alleged site owner.

However, if the “owners” of the site would like to make a comeback, they will have the support of the KAT team that’s now trying to keep the community alive.

“Should the business owners choose to revive KAT then they will have our full support,” Mr.Black says.

He further notes that the site was taken down “under dubious circumstances” and calls the charges against the alleged operator “murky” at best. “No copyrighted material was ever stored on Kickass Torrents and the site was fully DMCA compliant,” Mr.Black says.

KAT spirit is still alive

katfor

For now, the forum will give estranged KAT users a place to get together once again. However, many are also still looking for alternatives, with various KAT mirrors growing in popularity.

The KAT team has noticed this as well, but warns that none of these are connected to the old team, urging people to proceed with caution.

“Please be aware that there is no legitimate fully-working KAT site available so be cautious and never attempt to login to any fake sites that may appear online,” Mr.Black warns.

Meanwhile, the alleged operator of KickassTorrents faces extradition to the United States. As far as we know he still remains in Poland, but the authorities haven’t announced any new information since last week, while the court case remains sealed.

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

20th Century Fox Accuses Kim Dotcom of Asset Freeze Breach

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/20th-century-fox-accuses-kim-dotcom-of-asset-freeze-breach-160725/

dotcom-laptopIn the early days of 2012, Kim Dotcom was the operator of arguably the most successful file-hosting site the world had ever seen. With 50 million daily users, Megaupload seemed to be an unstoppable juggernaut. Three weeks later it was all over.

As law enforcement officers raided the company and its operators in multiple locations, authorities were seeking to freeze Kim Dotcom’s considerable assets. Dozens of millions of dollars were seized in multiple jurisdictions, including locally in New Zealand.

Since then, Dotcom and his legal team have engaged in frequent battles to have funds released so that the businessman can go about his life. On the whole, the New Zealand courts have been receptive, and over the past several years have granted Dotcom access to considerable sums of money.

Now, however, one of his main legal adversaries has accused Dotcom of breaching the terms of the asset freeze imposed in 2012. Speaking in the New Zealand High Court, a lawyer for 20th Century Fox said that Dotcom had taken a loan from his lawyers on behalf of a trust for his children.

Speaking for the studio, lawyer Matt Sumpter said the NZ$220,000 (US$154,000) loan amounted to contempt of court, RadioNZ reports.

However, Kim Dotcom’s lawyer Ron Mansfield argued that the loan was a new asset that was not covered by the original freezing order and represented an increase in his clients’sassets, not a reduction.

Dotcom has been free to generate new income since the raid on his home but has been required to obtain permission to access seized assets. Last year he said that an allowance of US$15,000 per month was proving a struggle.

That led to a court awarding him $128K per month to live on, including $60K for mansion rent, $25,600 to cover staff and security, plus $11,300 for grocery and other expenses.

However, in recent months he left his famous mansion for a slightly more modest waterfront penthouse at Princes Wharf, a move which should have positively impacted his living expenses.

Since his departure, Dotcom’s rented mansion has since been sold for an undisclosed sum. The asking price was NZ$35m (US$24.4m).

But even with the mansion behind him, Dotcom’s battles continue.

Following an extradition hearing lasting several weeks, last December a New Zealand District Court judge ruled that Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues can be extradited to the United States to face charges of copyright infringement, conspiracy, money laundering and racketeering.

Dotcom immediately filed an appeal. That hearing is now scheduled to take place in just over a month’s time and is expected to last several weeks.

As always, Dotcom will put up a spirited fight but even a defeat at this stage won’t mark the end of the road.

“The appeal route is High Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court,” Dotcom previously told TF.

“If I lose, it goes to a decision by Minister of Justice, then to a High Court judicial review of the Minister’s decision. Then it’s the end of the road.”

The process will span extremely interesting times over in the United States, as the spotlight falls on the presidential election and the Obama administration which Dotcom blames for the demise of Megaupload. As a result, Dotcom is happy to stir things up, most recently in a series of Tweets this morning.

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

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 07/25/16

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-pirated-movies-week-072516/

xmenapoThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

X-Men: Apocalypse, which came out as HDRip with Korean subtitles, is the most downloaded movie.

The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart.

Ranking (last week) Movie IMDb Rating / Trailer
torrentfreak.com
1 (10) X-Men: Apocalypse (Subbed HDRip) 7.7 / trailer
2 (1) Central Intelligence 6.9 / trailer
3 (…) Batman: The Killing Joke 7.3 / trailer
4 (2) Warcraft (subbed HDRip) 7.7 / trailer
5 (3) The Purge: Election Year (subbed HDRip) 6.3 / trailer
6 (…) Ghostbusters (TS) 5.3 / trailer
7 (5) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 7.0 / trailer
8 (…) The Secret Life of Pets (HDTS) 6.8 / trailer
9 (4) The Legend of Tarzan (HDTS) 6.9 / trailer
10 (9) Independence Day: Resurgence (HDTS) 5.6 / trailer

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

KAT Takedown Triggers Traffic Spike at Torrent Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kat-takedown-triggers-traffic-spike-at-torrent-sites-160724/

kickasstorrents_500x500With millions of unique visitors per day KickassTorrents (KAT) was the largest file-sharing site in the world.

In fact, shortly before the site went offline it was the 69th most-visited site on the entire Internet, beating Craigslist, Alibaba and the BBC.

Today, however, the site is still offline and there haven’t been any signs of an imminent comeback. This means that KAT’s millions of users have to find a new home to get their daily torrent fix.

The Pirate Bay appears to be one of the prime alternatives. The notorious torrent site has been operating steadily recently, aside from some occasional downtime, and is still seen by many as the Godfather of all torrent sites.

At the end of 2014 many Pirate Bay users moved to KAT, when the site suffered more than a month of downtime. To get the latest torrents and discuss the latest developments, among other things. Now many KAT users are likely to switch in the other direction.

TorrentFreak spoke with TPB staff member Spud17, who has seen some increase in forum traffic in recent days. She says they will welcome homeless torrenters with open arms.

“When both TPB and its forum went down, we had overwhelming support from KAT users on their forum, and our staff were able to keep the communities updated on important news and announcements thanks to the help and messages of support we received.

“Reciprocation is only right and we hope KAT staff will keep us informed of any official news/announcements so that we can help to inform,” Spud17 adds.

As for the future, the TPB staffer believes that the KAT community is strong enough to survive one way or another.

“Personally, I think KAT will be back, their community is too strong to just fizzle out, much like the TPB community seeking refuge on IRC meant it stayed together during downtime, I’m sure the KAT community will keep the faith,” Spud17 notes.

Another refuge for KAT users is ExtraTorrent, which was already the third largest torrent site before the KAT takedown. TorrentFreak spoke to an operator of the site who said that they’re seeing a significant traffic spike.

“So far we got 200% signup, and 300% traffic increase at ExtraTorrent,” ET’s SaM told us a day after KAT went down.

Similar to KAT, ExtraTorrent has an active community and forums, which makes it one of the most natural alternatives.

Despite the traffic boost, ExtraTorrent’s operator is not happy to see another site going down. However, he is not willing to throw in the towel and believes that the “torrent community” will survive this setback.

“It is sad to see an iconic site go this way, and it shows how the torrent community is targeted by all means. But, I guess torrenting will prevail and this doesn’t mean the death or end of this era,” SaM says.

Another operator of one of the top torrent sites, who spoke with us on condition of anonymity, reports a traffic increase as well, albeit a small one. The site in question targets a different audience, which may explain the limited effect.

“We’re seeing a small traffic increase, but then again we were never the KAT type of site. So KAT’s users will not move to us,” the operator says.

Despite from the traffic spikes, some torrent sites were adversely affected this week. The popular torrent caching service Torcache.net went offline at the same time KAT did, which is likely related.

As a result, torrents on 1337x.to, Monova and other sites that use the same service are not loading at the moment. Time will tell if and how these events are connected.

It is safe to say, however, that the KAT downtime has had a significant effect on the torrent community. But as history has shown time and time again, it’s doubtful that it will stop many people from sharing files in the long run.

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

VKontakte CEO: Time to Remove Us From ‘Pirate’ Blacklists

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/vkontakte-ceo-time-to-remove-us-from-pirate-blacklists-160724/

After years of being branded one of the world’s worst Internet piracy facilitators, last week social networking giant vKontakte took another important step towards making peace with rightsholders.

Parent company Mail.ru signed a licensing agreement with Universal Music and United Music Agency which will see music and video content appear legally on vKontakte, Classmates (Odnoklassniki) and My World, the three most-visited social networking sites in Russia.

With all copyright-related disputes now settled with Universal Music, the deal effectively transforms bitter conflict into cooperation, opening up opportunities for music sales development in a notoriously difficult region.

To find out more about the deal, this week TF caught up with VKontakte CEO Boris Dobrodeyev, who told us he’s optimistic for the future.

TF: Can you explain how the music licensing system with Universal Music will work?
 
BD: In accordance with the terms of the agreement, we cannot disclose the specific licensing provisions. However, we can say that the licensing agreements cover use of content on existing and planned new services on all of Mail.Ru Group’s social networks: VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World.

TF: What happens to the thousands/millions of ‘pirate’ tracks that are stored already on VKontakte? Do these effectively become legal or will Universal Music be supplying new content?
 
BD: The term “piracy” is not applicable to User Generated Content (UGC) services. Our position, which we have successfully defended in legal disputes, is that we do not distribute pirate content.

VKontakte’s content is user-generated, and so the rights holders’ requests were directed to them. From our side, we do everything that we can to protect the rights of the holders and remove content that violates their ownership rights.

Now that VKontake has signed the respective agreements with the major music companies, it is implementing substantial measures to identify the ownership of user content on the basis of the original files provided by the rights holders. VKontakte’s new services will be created using original content from the labels (including Warner, Sony and Universal).

Boris Dobrodeyev, VKontakte CEO

Boris Dobrodeyev

TF: Is VKontakte obliged to end all music piracy on its platform now, or just for the recoding labels it has struck a deal with?
 
BD: We would reiterate that the term “piracy” is not correct when talking about UGC services. Following significant efforts to license music content, the overwhelming majority of music by global artists on VK is completely legal.

With regard to music rights holders that have not yet signed an agreement with VK, at the very least they are able to use the existing procedures and technology in place to remove content and prevent it from being re-uploaded. It goes without saying that we also intend to sign corresponding agreements with these other rights holders in the near future.

We would add that many users and artists voluntarily upload their own music to VK in order to increase their popularity.

TF: Will fingerprinting technology or any other anti-piracy measures implemented?
 
BD: Yes, we intend to use a unique content identification system, which we developed in-house, and is similar to the technologies used in Audible Magic and Gracenote Content ID.

We will work together with the rights holders to continuously improve this technology in line with the development of the IT industry in general.

Moving forward

Of course, after years of copyright disputes vKontakte’s reputation in the United States has been somewhat sullied, largely due to rightsholders lobbying the United States Trade Representative to add the site to its Notorious Markets list. Dobrodeyev informs TF that it’s now time to move forward.

“We certainly hope that VKontakte will be removed from ‘piracy’ lists following the settlements and taking into account the enormous amount of work that the network has undertaken in this area,” he concludes.

Mail.ru and its subsidiaries now have licensing agreements in place with the three leading recording labels – Universal Music Group (UMG), Warner Music and Sony Music. Together they’ll hope to make inroads and indeed profit from a difficult and largely untapped Russian music market.

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

isoHunt Founder Settles with Music Industry for $66 Million

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isohunt-founder-settles-cria-66-million/

isohunt-fredomAfter years of legal battles, isoHunt and its founder Gary Fung are free at last.

Today, Fung announced that he has settled the last remaining lawsuit with Music Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA).

“After 10 long years, I’m happy to announce the end of isoHunt’s and my lawsuits,” Fung says, noting that he now owes the Canadian music group $66 million.

The multi-million dollar agreement follows an earlier settlement with the MPAA, for $110 million, on paper. While most site owners would be devastated, Fung has long moved beyond that phase and responds rather sarcastically.

“And I want to congratulate both Hollywood and CRIA on their victories, in letting me off with fines of $110m and $66m, respectively. Thank you!” he notes, adding that he’s “free at last”.

The consent order (pdf) signed by the Supreme Court of British Columbia prohibits isoHunt’s founder from operating any file-sharing site in the future.

It further requires Fung to pay damages of $55 million and another $10 million in aggravated punitive damages. The final million dollars is issued to cover the costs of the lawsuit.

Although isoHunt shut down 2013, it took more than two years for the last case to be finalized. The dispute initially began in the last decennium, when the Canadian music industry went after several prominent torrent sites.

In May 2008, isoHunt received a Cease and Desist letter from the CRIA in which they demanded that isoHunt founder Gary Fung should take the site offline. If Fung didn’t comply, the CRIA said it would pursue legal action, and demand $20,000 for each sound recording the site has infringed.

A similar tactic worked against Demonoid, but the isoHunt founder didn’t back down so easily. Instead, he himself filed a lawsuit against the CRIA asking the court to declare the site legal.

That didn’t work out as isoHunt’s founder had planned, and several years later the tables have been turned entirely, with the defeat now becoming final.

While the outcome won’t change anything about isoHunt’s demise, Fung is proud that he was always able to shield its users from the various copyright groups attacking it. No identifiable user data was shared at any point.

Fung is also happy for the support the site’s users have given him over the years.

“I can proudly conclude that I’ve kept my word regarding users’ privacy above. To isoHunt’s avid users, it’s worth repeating since I shutdown isoHunt in 2013, that you have my sincerest thanks for your continued support,” Fung notes.

“Me and my staff could not have done it for more than 10 years without you, and that’s an eternity in internet time. It was an interesting and challenging journey for me to say the least, and the most profound business learning experience I could not expect.”

The Canadian entrepreneur can now close the isoHunt book for good and move on to new ventures. One of the projects he just announced is a mobile search tool called “App to Automate Googling” AAG for which he invites alpha testers.

The original isoHunt site now redirects to MPAA’s “legal” search engine WhereToWatch. However, the name and design lives on via the clone site IsoHunt.to, which still draws millions of visitors per month – frustrating for the MPAA and Music Canada.

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

KickassTorrents’ Connections to the US Doomed the Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-connections-to-the-us-doomed-the-site-160723/

katTo the huge disappointment of millions of BitTorrent users, KickassTorrents disappeared this week following an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.

With a huge hole now present at the top of the torrent landscape, other sites plus interested groups and individuals will be considering their options. Step up their game and take over the top slot? Cautiously maintain the status quo? Or pull out altogether…

Make no mistake, this is a game of great reward, matched only by the risk. If the DHS complaint is to be believed, Kickass made dozens of millions of euros, enough to tempt even the nerviest of individuals. But while that might attract some, is avoiding detection almost impossible these days?

The complaint against KAT shows that while not inevitable, it’s becoming increasingly difficult. It also shows that carelessness plays a huge part in undermining security and that mistakes made by others in the past are always worth paying attention to.

Servers in the United States

Perhaps most tellingly, in the first instance KAT failed to learn from the ‘mistakes’ made by Megaupload. While the cases are somewhat dissimilar, both entities chose to have a US presence for at least some of their servers. This allowed US authorities to get involved. Not a great start.

“[Since 2008], KAT has relied on a network of computer servers around the world to operate, including computer servers located in Chicago, Illinois,” the complaint against the site reads.

The Chicago server weren’t trivial either.

“According to a reverse DNS search conducted by the hosting company on or about May 5, 2015, that server was the mail client ‘mail.kat.ph’.”

Torrent site mail servers. In the United States. What could go possibly go wrong?

In a word? Everything. In January 2016, DHS obtained a search warrant and cloned the Chicago servers. Somewhat unsurprisingly this gifted investigating agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan (the same guy who infiltrated Silk Road) valuable information.

“I located multiple files that contained unique user information, access logs, and other information. These files include a file titled ‘passwd’ located in the ‘etc’ directory, which was last accessed on or about January 13, 2016, and which identified the users who had access to the operating system,” Der-Yeghiayan said.

Servers in Canada

KAT also ran several servers hosted with Montreal-based Netelligent Hosting Services. There too, KAT was vulnerable.

In response to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request, in April 2016 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police obtained business records associated with KAT’s account and made forensic images of the torrent site’s hard drives.

Why KAT chose Netelligent isn’t clear, but the site should have been aware that the hosting company would be forced to comply with law enforcement requests. After all, it had happened at least once before in a case involving Swedish torrent site, Sparvar.

Mistakes at the beginning

When pirate sites first launch, few admins expect them to become world leaders. If they did, they’d probably approach things a little differently at the start. In KAT’s case, alleged founder Artem Vaulin registered several of the site’s domains in his own name, information that was happily handed to the DHS by US-based hosting company GoDaddy.

Vaulin also used a Gmail account, operated by US-based Google. The complaint doesn’t explicitly say that Google handed over information, but it’s a distinct possibility. In any event, an email sent from that account in 2009 provided a helpful bridge to investigators.

“I changed my gmail. now it’s admin@kickasstorrents.com,” it read.

Forging further connections from his private email accounts to those operated from KAT, in 2012 Vaulin sent ‘test’ emails from KAT email addresses to his Apple address. This, HSI said, signaled the point that Vaulin began using KAT emails for business.

No time to relax, even socially

In addition to using an email account operated by US-based Apple, (in which HSI found Vaulin’s passport and driver’s license details, plus his banking info), the Ukranian also had an iTunes account.

Purchases he made there were logged by Apple, down to the IP address. Then, thanks to information provided by US-based Facebook (notice the recurring Stateside theme?), HSI were able to match that same IP address against a login to KAT’s Facebook page.

Anonymous Bitcoin – not quite

If the irony of the legitimate iTunes purchases didn’t quite hit the spot, the notion that Bitcoin could land someone in trouble should tick all the boxes. According to the complaint, US-based Bitcoin exchange Coinbase handed over information on Vaulin’s business to HSI.

“Records received from the bitcoin exchange company Coinbase revealed that the KAT Bitcoin Donation Address sent bitcoins it received to a user’s account maintained at Coinbase. This account was identified as belonging to Artem Vaulin located in Kharkov, Ukraine,” it reads.

Final thoughts

For a site that the US Government had always insisted was operating overseas, KickassTorrents clearly had a huge number of United States connections. This appears to have made the investigation much more simple than it would have been had the site and its owner had maintained a presence solely in Eastern Europe.

Why the site chose to maintain these connections despite the risks might never be answered, but history has shown us time and again that US-based sites are not only vulnerable but also open to the wrath of the US Government. With decades of prison time at stake, that is clearly bad news.

But for now at least, Vaulin is being detained in Poland, waiting to hear of his fate. Whether or not he’ll quickly be sent to the United States is unclear, but it seems unlikely that a massively prolonged Kim Dotcom-style extradition battle is on the agenda. A smaller one might be, however.

While the shutdown of KAT and the arrest of its owner came out of the blue, the writing has always been on the wall. The shutdown is just one of several momentous ‘pirate’ events in the past 18 months including the closure (and resurrection) of The Pirate Bay, the dismantling of the main Popcorn Time fork, and the end of YTS/YIFY.

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

Digital Citizens Slam Cloudflare For Enabling Piracy & Malware

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/digital-citizens-slam-cloudflare-for-enabling-piracy-malware-160722/

For the past several years, one of the key educational strategies of entertainment industry companies has been to cast doubt on the credibility of so-called ‘pirate’ sites.

Previously there have been efforts to suggest that site operators make huge profits at the expense of artists who get nothing, but there are other recurring themes, mostly centered around fear.

One of the most prominent is that pirate sites are dangerous places to visit, with users finding themselves infected with viruses and malware while being subjected to phishing attacks.

This increasingly well-worn approach has just been revisited by consumer interest group Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA). In a new report titled ‘Enabling Malware’, the Hollywood-affiliated group calls out United States-based companies for helping pirate site operators “bait consumers and steal their personal information.”

“When you think of Internet crime, you probably imagine shadowy
individuals operating in Eastern Europe, China or Russia who come up with devious plans to steal your identity, trick you into turning over financial information or peddling counterfeits or stolen content. And you would be right,” DCA begin.

“But while many online criminals are based overseas, and often beyond the reach of U.S. prosecutors, they are aided by North American technology companies that ensure that overseas operators’ lifeline to the public – their websites – are available.”

DCA has examined the malware issue on pirate sites on previous occasions but this time around their attention turns to local service providers, including hosting platform Hawk Host and CDN company Cloudflare who (in)directly provide services to pirate sites.

“Are these companies doing anything illegal? No more than the landlord of an apartment isn’t doing anything illegal by renting to a drug dealer who has sellers showing up day and night,” DCA writes.

“But just like that landlord, more often than not these companies either look the other way or just don’t want to know.”

Faced with an investigative dead-end when it comes to tracing the operators of pirate sites, DCA criticizes Cloudflare for providing a service which effectively shields the true location of such platforms.

“In order to utilize CloudFlare’s CDN, DNS, and other protection services customers have to run all of their website traffic through the CloudFlare network. The end result of doing so is masked hosting information,” DCA reports.

“Instead of the actual hosting provider, IP address, domain name server, etc., a Whois search provides the information for CloudFlare’s network.”

To illustrate its point, DCA points to a pirate domain which presents itself as the famous Putlocker site but is actually a third-party clone operating from the dubious URL, Putlockerr.ac.

“From websites such as putlockerr.ac consumers are tricked into downloading malware. For example, when a consumer clicks to watch a movie, they are sent to a new screen in which they are told their video player is out of date and they must update it. The update, Digital Citizens’ researchers found, is the malware delivery mechanism.”

There’s little doubt that some of these low-level sites are in the malware game so DCA’s research is almost certainly sound. However, just like their colleagues at the MPAA and RIAA who regularly shift responsibility to Google, DCA lays the blame on Cloudflare, a more easily pinpointed target than a pirate site operator.

Unsurprisingly, Cloudflare isn’t particularly interested in getting involved in the online content-policing business.

“CloudFlare’s service protects and accelerates websites and applications. Because CloudFlare is not a host, we cannot control or remove customer content from the Internet,” the company said in a response to the report.

In common with Google, Cloudflare also says it makes efforts to stop the spread of malware but due to the nature of its business it is unable to physically remove content from the Internet.

“CloudFlare leaves the removal of online content to law enforcement agencies and complies with any legal requests made by the authorities,” the company notes.

“If we believe that one of our customers’ websites is distributing malware, CloudFlare will post an interstitial page that warns site visitors and asks them if they would like to proceed despite the warning. This practice follows established industry norms.”

Finally, while DCA says it has the safety of Internet users at heart, its malware report misses a great opportunity. Aside from criticizing companies like Cloudflare for not doing enough, it offers zero practical anti-malware advice to consumers.

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

KickassTorrents Mirrors and Imposters Spring into Action

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-mirrors-and-imposters-spring-into-action-160722/

With an active community and millions of regular visitors, KickassTorrents has been the most used torrent site for quite some time.

This ended abruptly earlier this week, following the arrest of its alleged founder in Poland. A criminal complaint from the U.S. Government revealed that entire operation had been compromised by the Department of Homeland Security.

Starting a few hours ago, the first Kickass domain was signed over to the U.S. authorities. Others are expected to follow during the days to come.

Kickass.to now displays a seizure notice, which means that the associated domain registry was quick to respond to the U.S. warrant. People who visit the Kickass.to address today will see the following banner, specifically tailored for KAT.

KAT’s seizure banner

psh_fullsize_distr

As expected, the U.S. authorities are not the only ones to ‘lift’ KAT’s logo, many others are doing the same, but for a different reason.

Shortly after KAT went offline dozens of people began promoting mirrors and copies of the site. Some are just trying to keep lost files accessible, but there’s also a group trying to take over the brand, similar to the efforts seen following YIFY’s demise.

For example, the operator of Kickass.la sent an email to several reporters promoting a new KAT address. In a follow-up, we were told that the site is an “official backup,” and that a copy of the database is in their possession.

However, the site appears to be little more than a partial copy and the person behind it later admitted that they are not related to KAT.

Only adding to the confusion are the many other copies and alternatives claiming to be the official resurrection of KAT. Some even advertise themselves as such, but most have been available for a longer time as proxy/mirror sites.

Kickasstorrents.to, for example, has been around for a long time, hosting cached pages of the original site. The latter is also true for others, such as Dxtorrent.com. But in any case, there is no true backup with freshly added content available.

Another mirror that has been widely discussed is kickasstorrents.website.

Unlike others, the people behind this site are very clear about the fact that they are not related to the original KAT team. Their copy currently lists torrent files from the past one and a half years, but like other mirrors it doesn’t have a working forum or upload functionality.

“It’s not perfect but if users need to save and archive something it’s time. We don’t know how long it can last, but at least it’s something,” the site’s operator told TorrentFreak.

The people behind the site, who describe themselves as a group of individuals who stand for freedom of the Internet, also launched a petition on Change.org calling for the release of KAT’s alleged owner Artem Vaulin.

“We are protesting against violent attack on our right to share information and arrest of Kat.cr founder Artem Vaulin. Our freedom to share is the human right which Artem Vaulin has been providing to millions of users from all over the world,” they say.

While a notable effort, the banner promoting the cause appears to show a photo of an entirely different Artem Vaulin. The image was removed from the petition after we pointed this out, but it’s still present in the manifesto at the time of writing and being shared in news articles and on social media.

What is clear is that former KAT users are grasping at straws to get their old community back. While mirrors and copies do look like their old home, without a working forum and new content they don’t provide much of an alternative.

For now, people are probably better off not trusting any “KAT resurrection” claims. The chance of getting your password stolen is higher than finding a site with a true backup of the user database.

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

Solarmovie Disappears Following KAT Shutdown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/solarmovie-disappears-following-kat-shutdown-160721/

solarmovieIn the most dramatic turn of events since the raid of The Pirate Bay in December 2014, KickassTorrents went dark yesterday.

Previously the world’s largest torrent site, KAT shut down following the arrest of its alleged founder. Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old from Ukraine, was arrested in Poland after his entire operation had been well and truly compromised by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

When large sites are raided it is common for other sites in a similar niche to consider their positions. This phenomenon was illustrated perfectly when the 2012 raids on Megaupload resulted in sites such as BTjunkie taking the decision to shut down.

At this point, most other torrent sites seem fairly stable but there appears to have been at least one ‘pirate’ casualty following yesterday’s drama.

For many years, Solarmovie has been one of the most visible and visited ‘pirate’ streaming portals. Like many others, the site has had its fair share of domain issues, starting out at .COM and more recently ending up at .PH. However, sometime during the past few hours, Solarmovie disappeared.

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No official announcement concerning the site’s fate has been made but it’s clear from the criminal complaint filed against KickassTorrents that Artem Vaulin had close connections to Solarmovie.

As reported yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security obtained a copy of KickassTorrents’ servers from its Canadian host and also gained access to the site’s servers in Chicago. While conducting his inquiries, the Special Agent handling the case spotted an email address for the person responsible for renting KAT’s servers.

Further investigation of Vaulin’s Apple email account showed the Ukrainian corresponding with this person back in 2010.

“The subject of the email was ‘US Server’ and stated: ‘Hello, here is access to the new server’ followed by a private and public IP address located in Washington DC, along with the user name ‘root’ and a password,” the complaint reveals.

Perhaps tellingly, the IP address provided by this individual to Vaulin was found to have hosted Solarmovie.com from August 2010 through to April 2011. Furthermore, up until just last month, the IP address was just one away from an IP address used to host KickassTorrents.

“As of on or about June 27, 2016, one of the IP addresses hosting solarmovie.ph was one IP address away (185.47.10.11) from an IP address that was being used to host KAT (185.47.10.12 and 185.47.10.13),” the complaint adds.

While none of the above is proof alone that Vaulin was, for example, the owner of Solarmovie, it’s clear that at some point he at least had some connections with the site or its operator.

On the other hand, in torrent and streaming circles it’s common for people to use services already being used by others they know and trust, so that might provide an explanation for the recent IP address proximity.

In any event, last night’s shutdown of Solarmovie probably indicates that the heat in the kitchen has become just a little too much. Expect more fallout in the days to come.

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