Tag Archives: Torrent Sites

Cloudflare Fights RIAA’s Piracy Blocking Demands in Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-fights-riaas-piracy-blocking-demands-in-court-160823/

skullRepresenting various major record labels, the RIAA filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull last year.

With millions of visitors per month the MP3 download site had been one of the prime sources of pirated music for a long time, frustrating many music industry insiders.

Although the site was facing a claim of millions of dollars in damages, the owners failed to respond in court. This prompted the RIAA to file for a default judgment, with success.

Earlier this year a Florida federal court awarded the labels more than $22 million in damages. In addition, it issued a permanent injunction which allowed the RIAA to take over the site’s domain names.

However, despite the million dollar verdict, MP3Skull still continues to operate today. The site actually never stopped and simply added several new domain names to its arsenal, with mp3skull.vg as the most recent.

MP3Skull’s most recent home

mp3skullvg

The RIAA is not happy with MP3Skull’s contempt of court and has asked Cloudflare to help out. As a CDN provider, Cloudflare relays traffic of millions of websites through its network, including many pirate sites.

According to the RIAA, Cloudflare should stop offering its services to any MP3Skull websites, but the CDN provider has thus far refused to do so without a proper court order.

To resolve this difference of opinion, the RIAA has asked the Florida federal court for a “clarification” of the existing injunction, so it applies to Cloudflare as well.

In practice, this would mean that Cloudflare has to block all currently active domains, as well as any future domains with the keyword “MP3Skull,” which are tied to the site’s known IP-addresses.

“Cloudflare should be required to cease its provision of services to any of the Active MP3Skull Domains, as well as any website at either 89.46.100.104 or 151.80.100.107 that includes ‘MP3Skull’ in its name,” RIAA argued.

RIAA’s request

riaareq

However, Cloudflare believes that this goes too far. While the company doesn’t object to disconnecting existing accounts if ordered to by a court, adding a requirement to block sites based on a keyword and IP-address goes too far.

The proposed injunction goes well beyond the scope of the DMCA, the CDN provider informs the court in an opposition brief this week (pdf).

“…Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction would force Cloudflare —which provides services to millions of websites— to investigate open-ended domain letter-string and IP address combinations to comply with the injunction.

“Cloudflare believes that this Court should hold the Plaintiffs accountable for following clear rules of the road,” Cloudflare adds.

The company suggests that the court could require it to terminate specific accounts that are found to be infringing, but doesn’t want to become the RIAA’s copyright cop.

“What Cloudflare cannot do, and which the Court should not require, is to serve as a deputy for the Plaintiffs and their RIAA trade association in investigating and identifying further targets of an injunction.”

To outsiders the difference between RIAA’s request and what Cloudflare suggests may seem small, but the company draws a clear line to prevent having to scan for pirate sites, proactively. This could turn into a slippery censorship slope, they feel.

This isn’t the first time that the RIAA has requested a keyword ban. In a similar case last year Cloudflare was ordered to terminate any accounts with the term “grooveshark” in them. However, in this case the RIAA owned the trademark, which makes it substantially different as it doesn’t involve the DMCA.

The EFF applauds Cloudflare’s actions and hopes the court will properly limit the scope of these and other blocking efforts.

“The limits on court orders against intermediaries are vital safeguards against censorship, especially where the censorship is done on behalf of a well-financed party,” EFF’s Mitch Stoltz writes.

“That’s why it’s important for courts to uphold those limits even in cases where copyright or trademark infringement seems obvious,” he adds.

The Florida court is expected to rule on the RIAA’s injunction demands during the days to come, a decision that will significantly impact future blocking requests.

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

Denuvo Weakens After ‘Inside’ Gets Cracked in Record Time

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/denuvo-weakens-after-inside-cracked-in-record-time-160824/

denuvoDozens of anti-piracy techniques have been tested over the years on formats ranging from cassette tapes to digital downloads, but for pirates the lure of free content is both intoxicating and enduring.

In recent years, games developers have come to accept that piracy cannot be eradicated entirely, but it can be slowed down. The main aim in the modern era is to stop games leaking in the days, weeks and early months following their launch. This allows titles, especially those with high production costs, to make the best of those crucial early days.

In no insignificant terms that breathing room has been provided by Austrian anti-piracy outfit Denuvo. Its anti-tamper technology is quite possibly the best there is and as a result, many so-called AAA titles have remained piracy free since their launch. Just recently, however, significant cracks (excuse the pun) have appeared in its armor.

Early this month, a ‘Scene’ group called CONSPIR4CY properly cracked an iteration of Denuvo that had been protecting Rise of the Tomb Raider (ROTTR). The news had many pirates extremely excited.

While undoubtedly a momentous occasion, ROTTR had been released in January, meaning that in theory CONSPIR4CY might have worked on the crack for six or seven months, a lifetime for most pirates. Furthermore, half a year’s head start is huge for the title’s developers in terms of sales, so without doubt Denuvo had done its job.

Yesterday, however, there was a new development which might represent a more worrying chink in Denuvo’s defenses.

With a lack of fanfare usually associated with some of the Scene’s more mature groups, CONSPIR4CY (a reported collaboration between the CPY and CODEX groups) released a fully cracked version of puzzle-platformer ‘Inside

inside-nfo

The importance here is that while ROTTR enjoyed six months without having to compete with free, Inside was released for Windows on July 7, 2016. No one but CONSPIR4CY knows precisely when they began chipping away at the game’s protection but even if they started on day one, it has taken only six weeks to defeat it.

There is some speculation that Inside took less time to crack because in storage terms it’s a smaller sized game that ROTTR. That being said, it will be of little consolation to Danish developer Playdead who will have paid Denuvo handsomely for their protection.

With CONSPIR4CY all but impossible to find, let alone obtain a comment from, TorrentFreak asked game cracker Royalgamer06, a colleague of Voksi who found a Denuvo workaround earlier this month, for his thoughts on the new release.

“It’s quite obvious that CONSPIR4CY is beating Denuvo. At least the current Denuvo protection,” Royalgamer06 told TF.

“Inside’s Denuvo protection is quite recent and therefore we could expect all sorts of Denuvo (Steam) games coming from [CONSPIR4CY].”

Royalgamer06 believes that it may have only taken CONSPIR4CY two weeks to crack Inside and that another big game’s debut (also Denuvo protected) might have influenced the pirate release yesterday.

“It took [CONSPIR4CY] two weeks. They either waited to release it (just before the new Deus Ex game is nice timing) or it’s all the time it took them to patch all in-game triggers and polish the crack,” he explains.

So all eyes now turn to the brand new release of Deus Ex Mankind Divided. If that game is quickly cracked by CONSPIR4CY, Denuvo could be coming out in a cold sweat. In the meantime, others are also attempting to dismantle their empire.

“Voksi is also up to something,” Royalgamer06 concludes.

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

Cloudflare Faces Lawsuit For Assisting Pirate Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cloudflare-faces-lawsuit-for-assisting-pirate-sites-160823/

cloudflareAs one of the leading providers of DDoS protection and an easy to use CDN service, Cloudflare is used by millions of sites across the globe.

This includes many “pirate” sites who rely on the U.S. based company to keep server loads down.

The Pirate Bay is one of the best-known customers, but there are literally are thousands of other ‘pirate’ sites that use services from the San Francisco company.

As a result, copyright holders are not happy with CloudFlare’s actions. Just recently, the Hollywood-affiliated group Digital Citizens Alliance called the company out for helping pirate sites to stay online.

Adult entertainment outfit ALS Scan agrees and has now become the first dissenter to take CloudFlare to court. In a complaint filed at a California federal court, ALS describes piracy as the greatest threat to its business.

The rise of online piracy has significantly hurt the company’s profits, they argue, noting that “pirate” sites are not the only problem.

“The problems faced by ALS are not limited to the growing presence of sites featuring infringing content, or ‘pirate’ sites. A growing number of service providers are helping pirate sites thrive by supporting and engaging in commerce with these sites,” ALS writes (pdf).

These service providers include hosting companies, CDN providers, but also advertising brokers. The lawsuit at hand zooms in on two of them, CloudFlare and the advertising provider Juicy Ads.

According to the complaint, both companies have failed to cut their ties with alleged pirate sites, even though they received multiple takedown notices.

CloudFlare and Juicy Ads’ terms state that they terminate accounts of repeat infringers. However, according to ALS both prefer to keep these sites on as customers, so they can continue to profit from them.

“Even though the law requires parties to terminate business with repeat infringers, and even though both Juicy Ads and Cloudflare’s own terms
state that they will terminate business with repeat infringers, neither Juicy Ads nor Cloudflare has terminated its business accounts with these chronic direct infringers.

“On information and belief, this is because Juicy Ads and Cloudflare make money by continuing to do commerce with sites that draw traffic through the lure of free infringing content,” the company writes.

The complaint lists Imgchili.net, Slimpics.com, Cumonmy.com, Bestofsexpics.com and Stooorage.com and CloudFlare customers that host copyright infringing material from ALS, and as of today these sites are still using the CDN provider’s services.

Juicy Ads reportedly terminated the accounts of several infringing sites after they learned about the lawsuit, but that doesn’t mean that it can escape liability for its earlier actions.

ALS holds both companies responsible for various counts of copyright and trademark infringement, for which it demands actual and statutory damages. With hundreds of works at stake, theoretical damages can run to dozens of millions of dollars.

Both CloudFlare and Juicy Ads have yet to file a formal response to the allegations.

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

PIPCU’s Operation Creative Gets New Leader & New Backers

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pipcus-operation-creative-gets-new-leader-new-backers-160823/

Back in 2013, major torrent sites began receiving letters from the UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), a City of London Police unit tasked with identifying organized crime groups in order to disrupt their activities.

Behind the scenes, the fledgling Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) had been working with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) and The Publishers Association with the aim of closing as many torrent and streaming sites as possible.

In time, this initiative became known as Operation Creative, a multi-pronged effort to reduce piracy using a variety of tactics, including the targeting of domains and the disruption of revenue streams.

The latter included the development of the Infringing Website List (IWL), a blacklist of websites distributed to potential advertisers and agencies who are asked to boycott the domains in the name of supporting creators.

The police, on the other hand, reportedly placed their own ads on some ‘pirate’ sites in an effort to scare would-be pirates.

Operation Creative is now in its third year and with that anniversary comes the appointment of a brand new senior officer to head up the initiative.

Detective Constable Steve Salway joins PIPCU having spent time at the National Fraud Investigation Bureau (NFIB) as a disruptions team investigator. During his time there, Salway is reported to have overseen the closure of “hundreds of criminal websites” worldwide.

While NFIB is involved in tackling IP infringement, the unit also has responsibility for investigating a wide variety of online crimes including financial fraud and identity theft. Salway’s work there crossed over with PIPCU operations and enticed him in.

“Operation Creative is leading the way in disrupting UK online digital piracy, and now it’s time to take success to the next level by exploring different tactics like maximising disruption opportunities around criminal revenue,” Salway says.

“My experience in tackling online crime and closing down criminal internet infrastructures will be applied to all future referrals and I am proud to be part of this new era for the initiative.”

PIPCU’s new dedicated officer puts the successes of Operation Creative down to the strength of the partnerships the police have forged with the private sector.

In addition to FACT, BPI and The PA, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), PRS for music and the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) are all members. Coinciding with Salway’s appointment, the initiative now welcomes a new member in the form of the Music Publishers Association (MPA).

The MPA has a mission to “safeguard and promote” the interests of music publishers and writers while representing their interests to government, the rest of the industry, and the public. It currently boast around 260 members and 4,000 music catalogues.

“I am pleased to welcome the Music Publishers Association to the Operation Creative initiative,” says PIPCU head Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe.

“The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit is committed to reducing the impact of intellectual property crime on the UK’s creative industries and in Creative we have a wonderful tool to disrupt the infringers’ revenue streams and hit them where it hurts them the most.”

While providing no specific details, Ratcliffe says that since Operation Creative is “entering a new phase”, new supporters will help strengthen its ranks.

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

KickassTorrents ‘Front Company’ Disappears From Web

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kickasstorrents-front-company-disappears-from-web-160822/

After becoming the world’s largest torrent site months before, July 20 saw KickassTorrents’ reign collapse when the organization was dismantled by US law enforcement.

In addition to the site going offline, KAT’s alleged founder, Artem Vaulin, was arrested in Poland, from where the United States Government is now demanding his extradition.

In a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Vaulin is charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. All of these offences are naturally connected with KAT but according to US authorities, at least one other entity was closely involved.

If its website was to be believed, Cryptoneat was a sizeable web company with perhaps dozens of employees. It first appeared online in 2014 and months later was updated with a very basic logo.

crypto-1

For non-Russian speakers the message underneath the graphic reads “With no zombies”.

Over the months that followed the site had periodic updates and by August 2015 was sporting a new logo and some early indications of what its business might be.

“We develop our own products. From concept to the user’s screen,” a statement read.

crypto-2

“Cryptoneat is a software development company crafting our own products since 2008. Our latest project is Wine scanner iOS application Wineeapp.com,” the site read in January 2016.

“We support personal responsibility and involvement with no over-management standing in the way of imagination and creative thinking. Flexible schedules and smart workspace. We hold to the ergonomics cult: Herman Miller chairs, standing desks, Apple hardware and multi-monitor configurations.”

Cryptoneat’s logo was developed by former architect and Ukrainian graphic artist Andrey Koval. There’s no suggestion that Koval was directly involved in Cryptoneat or KAT, but he does share the same location, Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine.

Koval did not immediately respond to TorrentFreak’s requests for comment but we did manage to find a video which showcases the Cryptoneat logo he created for the company.

Cryptogram from CRYPTONEAT on Vimeo.

Cryptoneat operated from two URLs, .COM and .UA. In the early days following Vaulin’s arrest the sites were operational, but both have now disappeared. Perhaps not surprising given the statements made by the US Department of Justice.

“During a significant part of the conspiracy, Vaulin has operated KAT under the auspices of a Ukrainian-based front company called Cryptoneat,” wrote Jared Der-Yeghiayan, a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations.

“As of on or about June 20, 2016, Vaulin’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as the founder of Cryptoneat and lists the company’s creation date as November 2009. On Cryptoneat’s Instagram and Facebook page I have viewed pictures of Vaulin purportedly at Cryptoneat’s office.”

Cryptoneat’s Facebook and Instagram accounts have since been disabled. Various LinkedIn profiles relating to Vaulin and other employees have been edited. Having previously indicated the Cryptoneat’s employees could potentially number as many as 50, the company’s main LinkedIn page now list the company’s size as “myself only.”

Slowly but surely the company is disappearing from the web, with just a couple of pages now available via Google’s cache. One offers coding jobs with a competitive salary, paid vacation and holidays, health insurance, a stocked kitchen and gym fees.

But now, a month following KAT’s shutdown, Cryptoneat’s online presence has taken another hit. Two days ago the site’s .COM domain ceased to function after its two-year registration period expired.

crypto-3

Unlike several other KickassTorrents-related domains, the US Government doesn’t appear interested in seizing Cryptoneat’s domains at this stage, even though it clearly states that the Ukraine-based company was used as a KAT front. Indeed, the Homeland Security investigation found that at least several Cryptoneat employees worked on KickassTorrents.

“Many of the employees found on LinkedIn who present themselves as working for Cryptoneat are the same employees who received assignments from Vaulin in the KAT alert emails,” Special Agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan reported.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the three main individuals mentioned by Der-Yeghiayan (although not by name in the criminal complaint) have removed Cryptoneat from their resumes. Lower ranking employees have left their history in place but moved on to new jobs.

Given the apparent size of the Cryptoneat operation, it’s not yet clear why the US Government has only reported one arrest thus far. It’s certainly likely that it has more cards up its sleeve but it could be a considerable length of time before those are revealed in public.

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

Cox Denies Liability for Pirating Subscribers, Appeals $25 Million Verdict

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cox-denies-liability-for-pirating-subscribers-appeals-25-million-verdict-160822/

cox-logoLast December a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers.

The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and must pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages.

The verdict was a massive victory for the music company and a disaster for Cox, but the case is not closed yet.

After a failed motion for judgment as a matter of law earlier this month, the ISP has now informed the court that it will take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Cox denies any wrongdoing and hopes to get a judgment in its favor at the appeals court.

Cox’s appeal notice

coxappeal

Considering the gravity of the case, Cox’s move is not surprising. The liability verdict has come as a shock to the Internet provider industry, as it suggests that providers have to actively disconnect repeat infringers.

At the moment, many ISPs don’t have a solid policy in place where repeat copyright infringers lose their subscription. In fact, the law doesn’t prescribe when and based on what evidence an ISP has to terminate an account.

Up until now, several Internet providers argued that only a court could determine if a subscriber is a repeat infringer, but with the Cox verdict this has now become uncertain.

After the appeal, which is expected to take several months at least, both Cox and BMG still have the option to take the case to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp is using the current verdict to threaten other ISPs to forward their notices. Thus far, however, this doesn’t appear to have had much effect.

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

Indian Piracy Blocks Scare Torrent Users With 3-Year Prison Sentence

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/indian-piracy-blocks-scare-torrent-users-prison-sentence-160822/

stop-blockedStarting a few days ago, many Indian Internet users noticed that their favorite torrent websites were blocked and displaying a rather scary message.

The blocks themselves are nothing new. For years Indian copyright holders have sought to protect their content from unauthorized online distribution.

This has mainly taken the form of so-called ‘John Doe’ orders where access to sites such as The Pirate Bay or ExtraTorrent is restricted to protect copyrighted content from being freely shared.

However, the warning message that’s currently presented when attempting to access blocked sites has a lot of people worried.

The notice reads that the site in question has been blocked per instruction of the Government or through a court order, similar to what it said before. In addition, it adds that those who still access the content in question may face up to three years in prison and a hefty fine.

“Viewing, downloading, exhibiting or duplicating an illicit copy of the contents under this URL is punishable as an offence under the laws of India, including but not limited to under Sections 63, 63-A, 65 and 65-A of the Copyright Act, 1957 which prescribe imprisonment for 3 years and also fine of up to Rs. 3,00,000/-.”

The new blocking message

indiablock

A relatively small change, but one with widespread impact it seems.

Several Indian news outlets have started to warn their readership that the threat is real. India Today, for example, reports that merely downloading a torrent file or viewing a copyrighted image from a file-hosting site may land people in prison.

“You don’t have to download a torrent file, and then the actual videos or other files, which might have copyright. Just accessing information under a blocked URL will land you in jail and leave your bank account poorer by Rs 3 lakh,” the news site reports.

While the warning message can be interpreted in various ways, very little appears to have changed. There’s no new law that introduces higher sentences. In fact, the message clearly quotes India’s 1957 Copyright Act.

In addition, there are no signs that the authorities are planning to crack down on individual file-sharers. Let alone people who merely download a torrent file, not the infringing content itself.

There is a recent court case that may have spurred the recent change though.

Earlier this year the Government’s Department of Electronics and Information Technology actually intervened in one of the “John Doe” cases on behalf of the public, arguing against site-wide blocks.

In this case, the High Court decided against the Government, arguing that broad blockades are warranted. Among other things, the Court found that it is the “duty of the government” to “assist in the enforcement of court orders.”

In this light it could be that the Government “assisted” in updating the language of the blocking message.

From the information we’ve seen thus far, the wording of the blocking notification is the only thing that has changed so far. But, considering the response from the media and public, this is already quite effective as a deterrent.

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

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week – 08/22/16

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-pirated-movies-week-082216/

nowyouseeThis week we have three newcomers in our chart.

Now You See Me 2 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 (…) Now You See Me 2 6.8 / trailer
2 (1) Independence Day: Resurgence (Subbed HDRip) 5.6 / trailer
3 (2) The Legend of Tarzan (Subbed HDRip) 6.6 / trailer
4 (…) Neighbors 2 6.0 / trailer
5 (…) Imperium 6.7 / trailer
6 (3) The Jungle Book 7.8 / trailer
7 (6) Suicide Squad (HDTS) 6.9 / trailer
8 (4) Warcraft 7.7 / trailer
9 (7) Jason Bourne (CAM/TS) 7.4 / trailer
10 (5) The Nice Guys 7.7 / trailer

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

Fail: Anti-Piracy Outfits Send Takedown Request For Non-Existent Torrents

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fail-anti-piracy-outfits-send-takedown-request-for-non-existent-torrents-160821/

failOver the past years a lot has been said about the effectiveness and accuracy of DMCA takedown practices.

Rightsholders often complain that it’s impossible to keep content offline, while critics warn about mistakes caused by automated takedown bots.

The latter has been illustrated anecdotally, but we recently stumbled upon a rather worrying development that illustrates just how far anti-piracy groups are prepared to go when it comes to fabricating “evidence”.

One of the companies involved is IP-Echelon, which sends takedown notices on behalf of HBO and Paramount Pictures, among others.

Looking through their recent submissions we see notices targeting sites that allegedly distribute popular content such as recent episodes of Game of Thrones, Ballers, and Silicon Valley.

Among the sites reported are The Pirate Bay, ExtraTorrent and various lesser known sites. However, our eye was drawn to Zoink.it and Torrage.com.

The latter two have been operating as so-called torrent caches for a long time. These don’t have a searchable index of torrents, but serve as a hosting platform for torrent sites, identifying torrents by their unique hash.

For example, a torrent for an episode of Ballers that aired a few weeks ago has the hash C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513. This file would then be available at Zoink under the following url:

zoink.it/torrent/C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513.torrent.

We say would be, because Zoink.it was shut down at the end of 2014. The same is true for the other torrent cache, Torrage, which has been offline for quite a while as well.

However, the takedown notices IP-Echelon sends on behalf of HBO and Paramount pictures still list these sites with hashes of new torrents, which never existed when the sites were still online.

ballers

How can this be? Well, it seems obvious that IP-Echelon is fabricating URLs based on torrent hashes without checking if they even exist. This isn’t an isolated mistake either, as the company is sending dozens of these fabricated notices per month.

In this case, no harm has been done. The sites in question are offline and can’t be punished by Google’s downranking algorithm. However, the fact that they keep fabricating links more than a year after sites have disappeared, shows that there is little oversight.

TorrentFreak spoke to the former hosting provider of Zoink and Torrage who confirms that both sites remain targeted, and not just by IP-Echelon.

Indian anti-piracy outfit MarkScan is also sending takedown notices to Zoink and Torrage’s former hosting provider on a regular basis, we were informed. In addition, the company is also sending takedown requests to Google for new torrents, as does Rico Management.

It’s safe to say that these anti-piracy outfits are quite sloppy, to say the least. Of course, copyright holders have the right to protect their content, but they have to play by the rules.

Making up evidence certainly doesn’t look good in this regard.

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

How Legitimate Content Killed an “Ethical” Torrent Site

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/how-legitimate-content-killed-an-ethical-torrent-site-160821/

When peer-to-peer file-sharing networks started to gain traction more than a decade and a half ago, it soon became clear that if entertainment industries were to compete, they’d need to step up their game.

In the early 2000s, for example, users of Sharman Networks’ Kazaa software already had wide and free access to music and video titles. The introduction of BitTorrent shortly after only turned up the pressure.

Fifteen years down the line it’s now clearer than ever. The true enemy of illicit file-sharing is broad and convenient access to all content at a fair price. In the meantime, however, platforms such as torrent sites continue to pick up the slack. More than a decade ago, they were leading the charge.

Founded in 2003/4, torrent site UKNova took a somewhat unusual approach to its offering. Rather than the free-for-all witnessed on most platforms, UKNova aimed to responsibly service UK-based consumers and those overseas with select content that couldn’t easily be obtained by other means.

Initially, the site catered to a few ex-pats who were desperate for their fix of long-running TV soap, Eastenders. It had been made available in the States by BBC America, but in 2003 the iconic show was dropped.

“After initially sending VHS tapes across the Atlantic, a daring foray into the unknown world of trackers and torrents was made by brave visionaries and uknova.com was born,” a site operator told TorrentFreak.

“UKNova rapidly became known as the ‘go-to’ place for UK television and for a while was probably the leading private tracker catering to ex-pats and Anglophiles around the world.”

Most private torrent sites have strict rules, but UKNova went a step further than most by only allowing UK-produced TV content that was not available on DVD or premium channels. But despite the restrictions, UKNova was a success.

“Membership rapidly grew and was voluntarily limited to between 30,000 and 40,000 members. Forum activity could become so heavy that server problems arose, leading to an iconic ‘Mind The Gap‘ message.”

But UKNova was much more than just a torrent site. Like many niche trackers, UKNova had a thriving close-knit community centered around the theme and culture of UK TV. With assistance from the site’s radio station, those friendships thrived beyond the digital space.

“Events and activities grew from the forums: picnics and meet-ups, annual awards ceremonies with live radio, mugs and t-shirts, fantasy football leagues, and above all solidarity for members who were in need, ill or deceased,” the operator explains.

“There were at least four marriages resulting from friendships struck up on UKNova’s forums and IRC chat.”

Due to the nature of UK TV (free to view, for those who pay the standard license fee), UKNova offered a lot of BBC content. Back in the early days BBC iPlayer simply did not exist so once shows disappeared off air, that was that until the corporation decided to bring them back. UKNova not only filled that gap, but even received a request to help the BBC complete its archives.

“During this time relations with the BBC were cordial. In one case UKNova was even asked if they could find a missing recording of documentary series Horizon,” a site representative explains.

But by 2012, the atmosphere had begun to shift.

“UKNova is being forced to change,” an operator told TF at the time. “We have been issued with a ‘cease and desist’ order by FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft.”

FACT was clear in its demands. All copyrighted content needed to come down, no matter where that content had come from and despite the fact that UKNova had never had a complaint from any TV station since its inception. The site didn’t believe it could be successfully prosecuted but had no way of defending itself.

“UKNova has never had any source of revenue other than donations to help pay for the servers and bandwidth. In latter years the site survived uniquely on private donations from Staff,” TF was told.

Within weeks UKNova shut down, but the dream wasn’t quite over yet.

“In 2013 a group of independent users decided to re-ignite the flame with a new site which was kept as low profile as possible. This site kept the ethos of the original UKNova, with the same rules concerning commercially available material,” a site veteran explains.

This, it appears, was to be the site’s ultimate undoing. The environment in 2013 was massively different to that of 2003. Legitimate services were appearing left and right, meaning that the content pool available to UKNova users under the site’s own stringent rules was diminishing every day.

UKNova’s decision to maintain its position as “the ethical torrent site” was cutting off its own oxygen supply and over the next three years the site began to die.

“In 2016 it became clear that the advent of the BBC Store and Amazon Video, linked to the quasi-immediate availability of shows from other channels on DVD, meant that allowable content was shrinking daily,” a site operator explains.

With the main reason for people visiting the site diminishing all the time, members had less and less to talk about. The continued rise of external and mainstream social media only exacerbated the situation.

“The discussion forums were grinding to a halt and membership was gradually shrinking. Rather than flogging a dead horse it seemed appropriate to turn out the lights, lock the door and gracefully retire.”

On Saturday August 7, UKNova’s trackers were taken offline. A week later the site was shuttered completely. UKNova was dead, this time for real.

“It’s been a good long run, so much good has been done, and so much fun has been had, by so many people – a unique experience. But all good things..,” the site said in a closing statement.

While FACT’s intervention was certainly an unwelcome one, it seems fairly clear that its own strict rules and the availability of legitimate content was what ultimately led to UKNova’s demise. Sadly, however, UKNova’s initial goals of serving the ex-pat community are still proving a problem today.

Only last week, FACT and the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Unit shut down an IPTV service directly aimed at British citizens living abroad.

PIPCU said that the platform had many thousands of customers, showing that a potentially lucrative market still exists if only someone, somewhere, would service it. Someone will, but it won’t be UKNova.

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

Dallas Buyers Club Lawyer Calls Out “Copyleft” TorrentFreak

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/dallas-buyers-club-lawyer-calls-out-copyleft-torrentfreak-160820/

dallasThe makers of Dallas Buyers Club have sued thousands of BitTorrent users over the past few years.

Many of these cases end up being settled for an undisclosed amount. This usually happens after the filmmakers obtain the identity of the Internet account holder believed to have pirated the movie.

The tactics used by Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) are often described as “copyright trolling,” and equated to the abusive practices of Prenda Law.

However, according to Dallas Buyers Club attorney James S. Davis this is certainly not the case. In a recent filing requesting the deposition of an alleged pirate, he distances his enforcement actions from Prenda’s previous practices.

“In these cases, Plaintiffs would offer settlements for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of defense, creating a situation in which a Defendant would reluctantly pay rather than have their names associated with illegally downloaded porn,” DBC’s lawyer writes (pdf).

“This was a pattern of clear abuse and is well recognized,” he adds.

It’s quite unusual for a lawyer to open his filing by scolding his former ‘colleagues,’ but in this case it serves a higher purpose.

The problem, according to Davis, is that Prenda’s actions gave rise to an “aggressive BitTorrent Defense Bar.” This group of individuals and organizations is actively protests all related copyright enforcement actions, including DBC’s cases.

This group of torrent defenders apparently uses TorrentFreak and other sites to spread their message to the public.

“[An] aggressive BitTorrent Defense Bar, whom is against any copyright enforcement, has attempted to have all copyright enforcement actions categorized as part of the ‘porn-trolling collective’ through the use of the internet with sites like, dietrolldie.com, torrentfreak.com, fightcopyrighttrolls.com, and related arguments presented to the courts,” Davis writes.

As if that wasn’t enough, the “defense bar,” which is apparently against all copyright enforcement, also organizes itself on a political level through the “copyleft” Pirate Party.

“In some countries this opposition is organized as a political party called the Pirate Party, but domestically often referred to as the Copyleft. This BitTorrent Defense Bar is critical of any copyright enforcement actions without regards to any specifics,” Davis writes.

copyleft

Davis tells the court that copyright holders can’t do anything right in the eyes of these torrent defenders. If settlement amounts are too high it’s seen as extortion, and if they’re too low they exploit the costs of litigation and their nuisance value.

Dallas Buyers Club’s lawyer hopes that the court will see through these arguments and judge the cases on their merit.

“On scrutiny, the courts are finding that current enforcement practices used by counsel, are not to ‘plunder the citizenry,’ ‘exploit individuals,’ monetizing, or profiting from illegal downloading, but truly motivated by Plaintiff’s desire to protect its copyrights interests and fight piracy,” he writes.

At TorrentFreak we were surprised to see ourselves mentioned in relation to a mysterious copyleft BitTorrent defense bar that rallies against all copyright enforcement.

While we have our opinions, we do not recognize ourselves in the description given by DBC’s lawyer. In fact, without copyright enforcement we would have very little to write about.

We contacted Davis for a comment on the allegations but unfortunately he hasn’t replied to our request, perhaps worried that we would unleash our inner copyleftists.

Luckily for him, however, his arguments did convince the court. Judge Jacqueline Scott granted his request to interrogate various alleged BitTorrent pirates, which he can use to find out more about the actual copyright infringers.

Some would say that such depositions can be abused as another instrument to pressure defendants into settling, but those concerns are unwarranted according to Davis, of course.

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

Google Saves Anthropoid Movie From Anti-Piracy Meltdown

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-saves-anthropoid-movie-from-anti-piracy-meltdown-160820/

anthropoidAnthropoid is a new historical thriller which tells the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking German Nazi official during World War II, and one of the main architects of the Holocaust.

The movie has been getting mixed reviews so for those worried that their investment may leave them underwhelmed, a pirate copy is often the solution.

In the early days following a release, file-sharers often have to put up with so-called ‘cam’ or camcorder copies. Nearly always of low quality, these are often avoided by those who don’t mind waiting for a better release. Nevertheless, studios feel that any copy is a threat and they often hire anti-piracy companies to purge them from the web.

That’s exactly what New York City-based film distribution company Bleecker Street did to protect the release of Anthropoid with their hiring of India-based anti-piracy outfit MarkScan. On August 12, on the day of the movie’s release in the US, MarkScan began sending takedowns to Google.

However, there was a ‘small’ problem. Anthropoid hadn’t even been leaked online yet.

In a notice to Google targeting 66 unique domains, MarkScan demanded the removal of dozens of allegedly infringing links. Of course, not a single one related to a leak of the full movie. As can be seen in the sample below, many links reference sites that appear to have the movie but in fact only carry the official trailer.

anthropoid-dmca

But while taking down the official trailer is enough to ensure that fewer people are aware of the movie’s existence, MarkScan weren’t finished yet, not by a long way.

The very first link in the notice targets a completely unrelated and entirely legal short film which just happens to use the word ‘Anthropoid’ in its description.

The third link – and this is a good one – attempts to stop anyone on Twitter finding the movie using the hashtag ‘Anthropoid’ by asking Google to remove ‘https://twitter.com/hashtag/anthropoid’ from its search indexes.

What follows is a car crash of sizeable proportions, with MarkScan attempting to take down promotional material and video clips from the Wall Street Journal, People.com, The Hollywood Reporter, and many other sites discussing the title.

As if that wasn’t enough, MarkScan then places the BBC in its sights, demanding that Google removes its world radio and TV homepage from the company’s search results, for no apparent reason.

anthropoid-dmca2

Fortunately, Google spotted this disastrous notice before it did any real harm and refused to remove any links. That means that the many reviews the company tried to wipe out will stand, as will the BBC’s radio and TV page.

However, it boggles the mind to think that an anti-piracy outfit would send such a notice (and presumably charge the distributor for it) before taking the time to check that the movie had actually been leaked online. But by now, that’s not really a surprise, especially given MarkScan’s earlier efforts.

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

Scammers Use Harvard Education Platform to Promote Pirated Movies

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/scammers-use-harvard-education-platform-promote-pirated-movies-160819/

harvardlawH2O is a tool that allows professors and students to share learning material in a more affordable way.

This is very welcome in a time where textbook and other educational costs continue to rise year after year.

Developed by the Berkman Center and the Harvard Law School Library, the H2O platform is mainly geared towards law professors but anyone with an .edu email address is allowed to join.

“H2O allows users – faculty or students – to develop, remix, and share online textbooks and casebooks under a Creative Commons license,” Harvard Law School explains.

H2O is a welcome system that’s actively used by many renowned scholars. However, in recent weeks the platform was also discovered by scammers. As a result, it quickly filled up with many links to pirated content.

Instead of course instructions and other educational material, the H2O playlists of these scammers advertise pirated movies. Below is an example of one of these dubious entries, but there are thousands more.

The scammers in question are operating from various user accounts and operate much like traditional spam bots, offering pages with movie links and related keywords such as putlocker, megashare, viooz, torrent and YIFY.

A “pirate” H2O playlist

hardvardspam

While most students won’t mind free access to the latest blockbusters, the links provided are not leading to regular pirate sites and services.

Instead they point to scammy portals, many of which require a credit card to signup, which undoubtedly leads to disappointment. These kinds of scams are nothing new, but seeing them listed on a Harvard website is a new development.

Access?

scamsignup

With links from the official Harvard domain name, the pages are an SEO goldmine and do very well in Google’s search results. This is something copyright holders have noticed too..

Over the past few weeks movie studios including Lionsgate, Sony Pictures, Columbia and Magnolia Pictures have sent dozens of DMCA notices trying to get the pages removed from the search engine.

Interestingly, Google has thus far chosen to take no action, which means that the pages remain indexed in search results. Whether the movie studios have sent DMCA notices to Harvard directly is unknown, but since the H2O playlists are still online this seems unlikely.

Although the movie link pages don’t meet the standards of a typical Harvard course, they do serve as a crash course on how to recognize piracy scams and avoid them in the future. That’s worth something too.

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

Mexican Govt Officials Reprimanded For Olympics Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mexican-govt-officials-reprimanded-for-olympics-piracy-160819/

rio2016Due to their very nature, the Olympic Games are often considered to belong to the people. With competitors from every corner of the world, the Olympics is a celebration of sport on a truly global scale.

But while the utopian dream is one of beauty, the reality is that the Olympics are massively commercialized with billions of dollars at stake. And when sums of that scale hang in the balance, corporations go all out to protect their interests.

Earlier this week we reported how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been sending takedown requests to Twitter after Periscope users streamed Olympic events online without permission. Now it appears that people much higher up the food chain have fallen foul of the strict licensing framework put in place by the IOC.

According to a report by Mexico’s Eluniversal, the Rio Organizing Committee has taken the decision to withdraw press credentials from Mexico’s National Commission of Physical Culture and Sports (Conade) following a copyright dispute.

The publication says that Conade violated licensing conditions put in place by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after one of its members filmed the gymnast Alexa Moreno using a cellphone. The video was subsequently posted to social media.

According to the Committee, Conade failed to obtain the necessary rights to broadcast Olympic content, so in retaliation nine Conade members, who work for the Mexican government, had their press credentials taken away.

“The use of Olympic materials turned into animated graphic formats like GIF, GFY or WebM, as well as short video formats like Vine, are expressly forbidden,” a Committee statement reads.

While the Committee probably felt it needed to set an example, taking away the credentials of the Conade staff will be felt back home in Mexico. Conade is the arm of the Mexican government charged with promoting physical education and sport in the country. Before their punishment, they were also the conduit between the Games and their countrymen.

But while the Rio Organizing Committee punishes the whole of Mexico for the sharing of a single video, thousands of people are sharing recorded events at will on sites such as The Pirate Bay.

The real action, however, is taking place on the thousands of streaming sites currently in operation. In addition to web-browser based services, users of Kodi with the correct plug-ins have continuous access to live Olympic events, often in HD quality, no matter where they are in the world. Rio can do absolutely nothing about that.

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

BREIN Tracks Down Facebook Music Pirate, Settles for €7,000

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/brein-tracks-down-facebook-music-pirate-settles-for-e7000-160818/

facebook-shareDutch anti-piracy group BREIN has targeted operators of pirate sites for over a decade but more recently it began going after individual file-sharers as well.

The rightsholder-backed group has targeted Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents uploaders, for example, as well as a prolific Usenet uploader.

Today BREIN announces another success in its ongoing anti-piracy quest. The group obtained an ex-parte court order against a man who uploaded music to a cyberlocker which he then shared to a Facebook group.

According to BREIN the man and other members of the Dutch Facebook group shared pirated music as a hobby, gaining recognition for the links they posted.

Presented with the court order, the man agreed to stop his activities and pay a €7,000 settlement. In a message posted to the Facebook group he announced the reason for his sudden departure.

“Ladies and gentlemen, by order of BREIN I have to stop uploading music. I will therefore quit effective immediately. In addition, I will leave the group today, both as administrator and as a member.”

“I wish everyone all the best,” he concludes, noting that he faces an additional fine up to €50,000 if he continues sharing links to pirated content.

The €7,000 settlement is lower than those negotiated in previous cases closed by BREIN. The anti-piracy group says that it bases the amount on the financial circumstances of the uploaders, suggesting that the man has a lower income than some of the previous defendants.

BREIN doesn’t explain how it tracked down the uploader in question, but it seems likely that his Facebook account exposed him. Whether Facebook also assisted in the investigation is unknown.

Initially, the Facebook music sharing group continued to operate, but it was closed shortly thereafter. In addition, Facebook closed several similar groups after reports from BREIN.

It’s clear that the anti-piracy group is targeting uploaders of all shapes and sizes. In addition, it continues to keep its eyes on linking sites and cyberlockers.

“Among cyberlockers are many who deceitfully use the limitation of liability for hosting services. They have ineffective Notice & Takedown policies, which ensure that their main source of revenue, unauthorized entertainment content, continues to exist,” BREIN notes.

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

Kim Dotcom & John McAfee “At War” Over Megaupload 2.0 Revelations

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-john-mcafee-at-war-over-megaupload-2-0-revelations-160818/

dotcom-laptopTo celebrate the five year anniversary of the Megaupload raids, in January 2017 Kim Dotcom hopes to deliver a brand new file-sharing system to the masses.

Provisionally titled Megaupload 2.0, Dotcom says the system will take decentralization, anonymity & encryption “to the next level” by connecting file transfers to bitcoin transactions.

Importantly, the new iteration of Megaupload will launch with the original Megaupload’s user database, which could potentially mean 100 million users checking in shortly after launch. Unsurprisingly then, news of the project has been generating a lot of interest online, even before any hard technical details have been made public.

While Dotcom is yet to reveal any of his investment partners, he has just made a surprise announcement concerning who he won’t be doing business with. It began with a tweet in which Dotcom claimed he’d been offered cash to participate in what he saw as a “pump and dump” deal.

The MGT to which Dotcom refers is MGT Capital Investments, a company which advertises itself as dealing with cyber threats “through advanced protection technologies for mobile and personal tech devices.” Early May, security expert John McAfee was confirmed as the company’s new CEO and a chaotic period of stock trading ensued.

So why was MGT trying to get involved with Megaupload 2.0? TorrentFreak spoke with Dotcom to find out more and it transpires some big numbers were involved.

“[MGT’s approach] was connected to the new businesses I’m working on. They offered to invest $30m in cash and $MGT stock. But after some due diligence it became clear that their offer was unrealistic,” Dotcom informs TF.

“They didn’t have the substance to make such an offer. When I questioned that they responded that the substance can be created by the partnership announcement. Meaning an increase in stock value which would make the stock component of the deal more valuable”

While $30m plus stock might sound like a lot, Dotcom said he poured cold water on the idea.

“I told them I’m not interested in pumping up $MGT stock and that they need to raise the money first before we can enter into any kind of agreement,” he explains.

Undeterred, MGT had another proposal for the Megaupload founder.

“Then they offered $500k for signing a Letter of Intent to be announced at a big press conference during Defcon. The whole thing was designed to drive up the $MGT stock price with no substance. We declined,” Dotcom says.

We asked Dotcom if John McAfee himself was aware of the deal being put on the table.

“John knows about this,” he told us. “In my opinion it was all about pump and dump. All they always talked about was the effect of previous announcements on the stock price. That’s not how you create value or run a business.”

But while Dotcom may not have liked the offer made by MGT, behind the scenes it appears that he had also irritated McAfee.

Eric J. Anderson (Eijah) is a former Rockstar games developer and the founder of anonymous information sharing app DemonSaw, a product endorsed by McAfee. Dotcom says he offered Anderson, McAfee’s friend and the CTO of MGT, an important job.

“I offered Eijah [the] CTO role at Megaupload 2.0 – he agreed. Mcafee goes mental, scares Eijah, making serious threats,” Dotcom reveals.

“I decided to come forward about $MGT when I witnessed how Mcafee abused Eijah. I’m not concerned about the fallout. I stand up for friends.”

And now it appears the touchpaper has been lit. In a message from McAfee last evening, the security expert warned Dotcom that things might get a little bumpy today.

Early reaction to Dotcom’s decision to go public about the MGT offer has been largely positive, with people praising the businessman for coming clean. However, Dotcom says his decision to go public could have its downsides.

“I had to say something. I know I’m exposing myself to attacks by $MGT but I had to go public. Based on everything I have learned about $MGT there is no substance, yet,” he says.

“They might create substance in the future. They might come up with real products that create real value. But at the moment they are focusing on making announcements to drive up the $MGT stock price instead of creating real value for investors. It’s unethical and that’s why we declined the money and I went public.”

TorrentFreak contacted MGT but the company did not respond to our request for comment.

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

Anti-Piracy Firm Rightcorp Continues to Lose Big Money

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-firm-rightcorp-continues-to-lose-big-money-160817/

rightscorpFor several years, piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has been trying to turn piracy into profit.

The company sends DMCA notices to ISPs and bundles these with settlement demands, intended for Internet subscribers who allegedly shared pirated content. If the accused subscribers pay $30, they avoid further trouble.

Rightscorp works with prominent copyright holders including music licensing group BMG and movie studio Warner Bros. However, thus far they haven’t been able to turn their scheme into a success.

Instead, the company has been turning a loss quarter after quarter, a trend that continues with its most recent financial figures published this week.

According to the latest financial report, Rightscorp generated just $146,043 in revenue during the second quarter of 2016. That’s 38% less than the $233,816 it made during the same period last year.

The costs during the same period were substantial, $671,781, meaning that Rightscorp recorded a loss of over half a million during the past three months. A significant amount, but due to reduced operating expenses it’s better than the $1,7 million loss it recorded last year.

rightcorrevenue

One of Rightscorp’s problems, as previously highlighted, is that many ISPs refuse to forward their settlement requests. Some Internet providers flat-out refuse to forward Rightscorp’s notices and others, such as Comcast, remove the settlement part.

ISPs’ refusal to forward notices is also one of the reasons that was given for the disappointing numbers for the most recent quarter.

Rightscorp recently celebrated a court success, where Cox was ordered to pay $25 million because they failed to properly respond to its DMCA notices. This prompted the anti-piracy firm to threaten every ISP in the country, but whether that will have any effect has yet to be seen.

Under U.S. law Internet providers are not required to forward DMCA notices to their subscribers, and if they choose to do so they can remove the settlement request. With this in mind, Rightscorp’s aggressive stance may actually work against them.

After losing the court case Cox has started to process Rightscorp’s notices, but whether they also forward the settlement requests is unknown.

Interestingly, the biggest settlement news of the year actually goes against Rightscorp. The company and several copyright holders, including Hollywood studio Warner Bros, previously agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over intimidating robo-calls.

As a result, more than 2,000 accused pirates are eligible for a $100 settlement each, and according to the quarterly report Rightscorp has set aside $200,000 to cover these costs.

Ironically, that’s more than the revenue the company itself generated from settlements over the past several months.

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

Universal Music Settles In-Flight Music Lawsuit for $30m+

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/universal-music-settles-in-flight-music-lawsuit-for-30m-160817/

universal-smallWhile jumping on an airplane is the most efficient way of traveling thousands of miles, there can be few who enjoy the hours of sitting idly in between. Some fill the time with a book, others choose in-flight entertainment.

One company providing such content is Global Eagle Entertainment. In addition to the latest Hollywood blockbusters and independent film, the company also offers a wide range of audio entertainment.

“No matter what their tastes, we can help your passengers settle back and immerse themselves in the onboard audio experience we have created specifically for your airline,” the company’s marketing reads.

“Our highly experienced audio team comes from a radio and music industry background, and is passionate about delivering a perfect mix of channels that will entertain and inform your passengers.”

The normal route for a company to provide such a service would be via licensing agreement with the record labels but for a number of reasons Global Eagle (GEE) did not enter into one. Instead, GEE subsidiary Inflight Productions (IFP) created its own packages by buying CDs and digital tracks and copying them to hard drives which were shipped out the airlines.

In May 2014, Universal Music filed a lawsuit against GEE and IFP for allegedly reproducing, distributing and publicly performing tracks from artists including Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga without permission. In total, UMG claimed infringement on more than 4,500 sound recordings.

This April, almost two years after the initial lawsuit was filed, UMG won its case. A Los Angeles federal court ruled that the in-flight entertainment provider willfully violated the label’s copyrights by “repeatedly making the business decision to continue its unauthorized use” of UMG’s songs.

With a big win in the bag for UMG, a trial to determine damages was scheduled for May. With 4,500 sound recordings and statutory damages of $150,000 per track available, Global Eagle faced paying out a potential $675m. In response, GEE said it would file an appeal.

Now, however, it appears that agreement has been reached between the warring parties. A filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission reveals that the companies have chosen to settle their differences with a massive cash and stock deal.

“Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries entered into a Settlement Agreement dated as of August 9, 2016 with UMG Recordings, Inc., Capitol Records, LLC, Universal Music Corp. and entities affiliated with them resolving all claims relating to the previously disclosed lawsuit filed by UMG against the Company and certain of its subsidiaries for music copyright infringement and related claims,” the filing reads.

“UMG and the Company have agreed to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice and have further agreed that the Settlement Agreement does not constitute any admission of liability, wrongdoing or responsibility by any party to it.”

The agreement also states that GEE and UMG will reach a licensing deal within 60 days to allow GEE to continue using UMG content. In the meantime, UMG promises not to sue for any infringing use.

But of course, these lawsuits are extremely expensive and GEE will pay a heavy price for its failure to secure licenses. The filing states that GEE must immediately pay UMG $15m in cash and issue the company with 1,360,544 shares of its common stock, currently worth around $12.2m

Before March 31, 2017, GEE must also pay UMG a further $5m and potentially hand over yet more stock, 400,000 or 500,000 shares, if the share price exceeds $12 or $10 respectively. Global Eagle shares are currently trading at $9.13.

Facing a potential $30m+ payout, Global Eagle and other players in their market seem likely to take licensing more seriously in the future.

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

International Olympic Committee Cracks Down on Periscope Pirates

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/international-olympic-committee-cracks-down-on-periscope-pirates-160816/

perigoneThe International Olympic Committee (IOC) is known to maintain a tight grip on its intellectual property rights.

Using an image of the Olympic rings or even just the world ‘Olympic’ can lead to legal trouble, especially in a commercial context.

Most valuable, however, are the broadcast rights. With literally billions of dollars at stake, the IOC is going all out to prevent people from streaming its events without permission.

In previous years we’ve seen a crackdown on torrents, with the IOC targeting The Pirate Bay. Nowadays, however, live streaming appears to be a bigger target, including homemade rebroadcasts using Twitter’s Periscope.

Over the past week the IOC has sent hundreds of takedown notices to Periscope, targeting live streams of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

While most Periscope streams are of a horrible quality, with only a few dozen viewers, they’re seen as a legitimate threat. As a result, the IOC has hired a dedicated team of investigators to track down and report these and other unauthorized streams.

At the time of writing, Periscope has received around 1,000 takedown requests from the IOC for infringing footage from Rio, and this number continues to rise.

Periscope Olympics

perisoly

Periscope is the only live streaming service that publicly shares its takedown notices with the Lumen database but it’s safe to say that the IOC also targets other sites and services. These include dedicated sports streaming sites offering high-quality streams.

Besides the rebroadcasting of the official TV-signal, the IOC also explicitly forbids the use of Periscope and similar apps to broadcast footage at official Olympic venues. This means that visitors and accredited persons are not allowed to live-stream inside any of the stadiums.

“Broadcasting images via live-streaming applications (e.g. Periscope, Meerkat) is prohibited inside Olympic venues,” IOC’s digital media guidelines state (pdf).

Rules or no rules, it appears that thousands of Periscope users are happily streaming live events. And even if they all stopped, the anti-piracy efforts seem rather futile.

Besides homebrew live-streams there are numerous dedicated streaming sites that continue to offer high-quality footage of the Olympics.

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

Reddit Refuses to Disclose Alleged Music Leaker’s IP Address

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/reddit-refuses-to-disclose-alleged-music-leakers-ip-address-160816/

redditpBack in June, Atlantic Records were in the final stages of releasing the track ‘Heathens’ by the platinum-certified band Twenty One Pilots. Things didn’t go to plan.

The track, which was also set to appear on “Suicide Squad: The Album”, was leaked online, first appearing on an anonymous Slovakian file-hosting service called Dropfile.to.

From there it’s claimed that the alleged leaker advertised that file on Reddit, posting a link which enabled any viewer to download it for free. The posting, which was made on the ‘Twenty One Pilots’ subreddit by a user called ‘twentyoneheathens’, caught the eye of Atlantic Records.

Earlier this month in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Atlantic described how the leak had ruined its plans for the release and promotion of the track. Underlying these complaints was the belief that the leak originated close to home.

The label said it had provided an early release copy “to an extremely limited number of individuals”, including members of 21 Pilots, their manager, Atlantic and [record label] Fueled by Ramen executives, plus members of Atlantic’s radio field staff.

According to Atlantic, all of its employees who were aware of the impending release were “contractually obligated and/or under a fiduciary obligation” not to disclose its existence until June 24.

So, in order to find out who was responsible for the pre-release, Atlantic asked the Court to force Reddit to hand over the presumed leaker’s details, including his or her IP address. Reddit, however, doesn’t want to play ball.

heathens

In a response to the Court, Reddit’s legal team at Harris Beach PLLC say that Atlantic’s claims fail to reach the standards required for discovery.

“In order to obtain pre-action discovery, Atlantic must demonstrate now that it has meritorious claims against the Reddit user. However, Atlantic has failed to show that its claims are meritorious for two, simple reasons,” Reddit begins (pdf).

“First, it has failed to establish that it has a contractual relationship with the Reddit user. Second, it has failed to establish that it has a fiduciary relationship with the Reddit user. Because Atlantic has not demonstrated that it has meritorious causes of action against the unidentified Reddit user, its petition for pre-action discovery related to such user should be denied.”

The problem lies with Atlantic’s allegation that the person responsible for the leak and the link on Reddit is under contract with the company. Reddit’s lawyers point out that while the label is clear about what action it would take in that instance, it has made no statement detailing what it would do if the person who posted the link on Reddit is disconnected from the initial leak.

“Atlantic does not describe the claims it would bring against a non-employee Reddit user who discovered the link on Dropfile.to and posted it to Reddit.com without assistance from an Atlantic employee or an employee of Fueled by Ramen, the members of Twenty One Pilots, or their manager, each of whom had access to the song at the time of the leak,” Reddit writes.

Underlining its concerns, Reddit points out that Atlantic provides no proof to back up its claims that the “individual or individuals” who uploaded the file to Dropfile.to also posted the link to Reddit.

“[T]he Reddit user may have been a member of the general public, who, after discovering the Dropfile.to link on another publicly available website, decided to resubmit it to Reddit.com. A member of the public would not likely have a contractual relationship with Atlantic that was breached and Atlantic has not alleged as much.”

Furthermore, Reddit says Atlantic has not advised the Court of any efforts made to obtain the alleged poster’s details from Dropfile.to. While that might indeed be the case, the operator of Dropfile previously informed TorrentFreak that his site is completely anonymous and carries no logs, so identifying any user would be impossible.

In closing, Reddit describes Atlantic’s effort as an “impermissible fishing expedition” and asks for its petition for pre-action discovery to be denied. However, should the Court decide otherwise, Reddit has asked for a cap to be placed on the amount of data it must hand over.

“Presently, Atlantic’s subpoena requests not only information related to the user twentyoneheathens, but also for information related to ‘all and any other Reddit accounts which accessed [Reddit’s] service from the same IP address on or about June 15, 2016’,” Reddit notes.

“While such users may share an IP address, they otherwise have no relationship among them. For this reason, any order requiring pre-action discovery should be limited to information directly related to the user twentyoneheathens and not violate the privacy interests of any Reddit users sharing the IP address.”

While Reddit is digging in its heels now, it seems likely that at some point the Court will indeed order the alleged leaker’s IP address to be handed over. However, only time will tell what action Atlantic will publicly take. Leaks are potentially embarrassing, so making their findings widely known may not be a priority.

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