Tag Archives: torrent

Kodi-Addon Developer Gives Up Piracy Defense Due to Lack of Funds

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/kodi-addon-developer-gives-up-piracy-defense-due-to-lack-of-funds-180521/

Last year, American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network targeted two well-known players in the third-party Kodi add-on ecosystem.

In a complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were accused of copyright infringement, with both facing up to $150,000 for each offense.

While TVAddons operator Adam Lackman responded to the allegations last week, ZemTV’s developer ‘Shani’ decided not to reply.

Shahjahan Durrani, Shani for short, never denied that he was the driving force behind the Kodi-addons ZemTV, LiveStreamsPro, and F4MProxy. While the London-based developer had never set foot in Texas, he initially planned to put up a defense. Financially, however, this was a problem.

ZemTV’s developer launched a fundraiser last fall to crowdsource the legal battle. While he was able to raise close to £1,000, the legal costs already exceeded that the case even got fully underway.

Without the ability to pay the legal costs Shani is unable to put up a proper defense. But speaking with TorrentFreak, he explains that after the motion to dismiss was denied, he didn’t have much hope for a fair trial anyway.

“I was shocked and disappointed, not only by reading that the court dismissed my jurisdiction appeal, they did so with just one sentence. It seems unfair and doesn’t give any confidence to me that the court/judge would be fair,” Shani tells us.

This left the developer with two options. Find a way to fund the legal battle, money which may never be recovered, or give up the fight and face a default judgment. Shani chose the latter option.

Shani told his attorney Erin Russel to cease all activity on the case and to take no further steps on his behalf.

“I don’t have enough resources to fight this case completely with four kids that I am raising and anything more I do will be seem to be submitting to the US Courts which I am not going to do unless I have enough money to fight the case,” the developer wrote in an email to Russel.

The attorney informed the court of this decision late last week and withdrew from the case.

This means that the lawsuit is steering towards a default judgment, and indeed, Dish has already moved for an entry of default.

“To date, Durrani has not filed an answer or other responsive pleading or requested additional time to do so,” Dish’s motion reads. “Accordingly, the Clerk should enter a default against Durrani.”

Shani still hopes that Dish will not push through. The developer stresses that he never operated any of the servers that provided copyright-infringing streams, nor has he ever made money from his addons.

“I hope they would let the matter go as the addon code has been taken down for more than a year now. Plus, they already know by the return of the subpoena to the servers that none of them were handled or paid by me,” Shani says.

“This was an open source addon and no one would pay hundreds of pounds to host the servers/streams in the hope that people would donate. I actually never ever asked for any donation and never ever earned a single penny from Kodi addons.”

ZemTV, like many other addons, merely offered the interface that makes it possible to watch third-party streams on the Kodi platform. While that may be infringement or not, the developer notes that despite the lawsuit, these third-party streams are still online.

“The irony of all this mess is that those servers and apps are still functional and working while I am dealing with this illogical case,” Shani concludes.

If the Texas District Court enters the default, Dish will demand a judgment which likely includes thousands of dollars in damages. However, since Durrani lives in the UK and has no assets in the US, these damages may be hard to recoup.

Dish’s request for an entry of default is available here (pdf).

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

Singapore ISPs Block 53 Pirate Sites Following MPAA Legal Action

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/singapore-isps-block-53-pirate-sites-following-mpaa-legal-action-180521/

Under increasing pressure from copyright holders, in 2014 Singapore passed amendments to copyright law that allow ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites.

“The prevalence of online piracy in Singapore turns customers away from legitimate content and adversely affects Singapore’s creative sector,” said then Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah.

“It can also undermine our reputation as a society that respects the protection of intellectual property.”

After the amendments took effect in December 2014, there was a considerable pause before any websites were targeted. However, in September 2016, at the request of the MPA(A), Solarmovie.ph became the first website ordered to be blocked under Singapore’s amended Copyright Act. The High Court subsequently ordering several major ISPs to disable access to the site.

A new wave of blocks announced this morning are the country’s most significant so far, with dozens of ‘pirate’ sites targeted following a successful application by the MPAA earlier this year.

In total, 53 sites across 154 domains – including those operated by The Pirate Bay plus KickassTorrents and Solarmovie variants – have been rendered inaccessible by ISPs including Singtel, StarHub, M1, MyRepublic and ViewQwest.

“In Singapore, these sites are responsible for a major portion of copyright infringement of films and television shows,” an MPAA spokesman told The Straits Times (paywall).

“This action by rights owners is necessary to protect the creative industry, enabling creators to create and keep their jobs, protect their works, and ensure the continued provision of high-quality content to audiences.”

Before granting a blocking injunction, the High Court must satisfy itself that the proposed online locations meet the threshold of being “flagrantly infringing”. This means that a site like YouTube, which carries a lot of infringing content but is not dedicated to infringement, would not ordinarily get caught up in the dragnet.

Sites considered for blocking must have a primary purpose to infringe, a threshold that is tipped in copyright holders’ favor when the sites’ operators display a lack of respect for copyright law and have already had their domains blocked in other jurisdictions.

The Court also weighs a number of additional factors including whether blocking would place an unacceptable burden on the shoulders of ISPs, whether the blocking demand is technically possible, and whether it will be effective.

In common with other regions such as the UK and Australia, for example, sites targeted for blocking must be informed of the applications made against them, to ensure they’re given a chance to defend themselves in court. No fully-fledged ‘pirate’ site has ever defended a blocking application in Singapore or indeed any jurisdiction in the world.

Finally, should any measures be taken by ‘pirate’ sites to evade an ISP blockade, copyright holders can apply to the Singapore High Court to amend the blocking order. This is similar to the Australian model where each application must be heard on its merits, rather than the UK model where a more streamlined approach is taken.

According to a recent report by Motion Picture Association Canada, at least 42 countries are now obligated to block infringing sites. In Europe alone, 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains have been rendered inaccessible, with Portugal, Italy, the UK, and Denmark leading the way.

In Canada, where copyright holders are lobbying hard for a site-blocking regime of their own, there’s pressure to avoid the “uncertain, slow and expensive” route of going through the courts.

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

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 05/21/18

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-pirated-movies-week-bittorrent-05-21-18/

Legendary Pictures/Universal Studios

This week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Pacific Rim: Uprising 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.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1 (…) Pacific Rim: Uprising 5.8 / trailer
2 (2) Avengers: Infinity War (HDCam) 9.1 / trailer
3 (…) Deadpool 2 (HDTS) 8.3 / trailer
4 (1) Black Panther 7.9 / trailer
5 (7) Red Sparrow 6.7 / trailer
6 (3) Game Night 7.3 / trailer
7 (4) Ready Player One 7.8 / trailer
8 (6) 12 Strong 6.8 / trailer
9 (8) Den of Thieves 7.0 / trailer
10 (9) Thor: Ragnarok 7.9 / trailer

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

Fairplay Canada Discredits “Pro-Piracy” TorrentFreak News, Then Cites Us

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/fairplay-canada-discredits-pro-piracy-torrentfreak-news-then-cites-us-180520/

At TorrentFreak we do our best to keep readers updated on the latest copyright and piracy news, highlighting issues from different points of view.

We report on the opinions and efforts of copyright holders when it comes to online piracy and we also make room for those who oppose them. That’s how balanced reporting works in our view.

There is probably no site on the Internet who reports on the negative consequences of piracy as much as we do, but for some reason, the term “pro-piracy” is sometimes attached to our reporting. This also happened in the recent reply Fairplay Canada sent to the CRTC.

The coalition of media companies and ISPs is trying to get a pirate site blocking regime implemented in Canada. As part of this effort, it’s countering numerous responses from the public, including one from law professor Michael Geist.

In his submission, Geist pointed out that the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that site blocking is disproportional, referring to our article on the matter. This article was entirely correct at the time it was written, but it appears that the Court later clarified its stance.

Instead of pointing that out to us, or perhaps Geist, Fairplay frames it in a different light.

“Professor Geist dismisses Mexico because, relying on a third party source (the pro-piracy news site TorrentFreak), he believes its Supreme Court has ruled that the regime is disproportionate,” it writes.

Fairplay does not dispute that the Supreme Court initially ruled that a site blockade should target specific content. However, it adds that the court later clarified that blockades are also allowed if a substantial majority of content on a site is infringing.

The bottom line is that, later developments aside, our original article was correct. What bothers us, however, is that the Fairplay coalition is branding us as a “pro-piracy” site. That’s done for a reason, most likely to discredit the accuracy of our reporting.

Pro piracy news site

Luckily we have pretty thick skin, so we’ll get over it. If Fairplay Canada doesn’t trust us, then so be it.

Amusingly, however, this was not the only TorrentFreak article the coalition referenced. In fact, our reporting is cited twice more in the same report but without the pro-piracy branding.

A few pages down from the Geist reference, Fairplay mentions how pirate site blockades do not violate net neutrality in India, referring to our thorough article that explains how the process works.

No pro piracy?

Similarly, we’re also pretty reliable when it comes to reporting on MUSO’s latest piracy data, as Fairplay cites us for that as well. These are the data that play a central role in the coalition’s argumentation and analysis.

We’re not entirely sure how it works, but apparently, we are a “pro-piracy” news site when Fairplay Canada doesn’t like our reporting, and a reliable source when it suits their message.

In any case, we would like to point out that this entire opinion article is written without any pro-piracy messaging. But it appears that every sentence that deviates from the agenda of certain groups, may be interpreted as such.

Not sure if you could call that fair play?

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

ISP Telenor Will Block The Pirate Bay in Sweden Without a Shot Fired

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/isp-telenor-will-block-the-pirate-bay-in-sweden-without-a-shot-fired-180520/

Back in 2014, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit against Bredbandsbolaget, one of Sweden’s largest ISPs.

The copyright holders asked the Stockholm District Court to order the ISP to block The Pirate Bay and streaming site Swefilmer, claiming that the provider knowingly facilitated access to the pirate platforms and assisted their pirating users.

Soon after the ISP fought back, refusing to block the sites in a determined response to the Court.

“Bredbandsbolaget’s role is to provide its subscribers with access to the Internet, thereby contributing to the free flow of information and the ability for people to reach each other and communicate,” the company said in a statement.

“Bredbandsbolaget does not block content or services based on individual organizations’ requests. There is no legal obligation for operators to block either The Pirate Bay or Swefilmer.”

In February 2015 the parties met in court, with Bredbandsbolaget arguing in favor of the “important principle” that ISPs should not be held responsible for content exchanged over the Internet, in the same way the postal service isn’t responsible for the contents of an envelope.

But with TV companies SVT, TV4 Group, MTG TV, SBS Discovery and C More teaming up with the IFPI alongside Paramount, Disney, Warner and Sony in the case, Bredbandsbolaget would need to pull out all the stops to obtain victory. The company worked hard and initially the news was good.

In November 2015, the Stockholm District Court decided that the copyright holders could not force Bredbandsbolaget to block the pirate sites, ruling that the ISP’s operations did not amount to participation in the copyright infringement offenses carried out by some of its ‘pirate’ subscribers.

However, the case subsequently went to appeal, with the brand new Patent and Market Court of Appeal hearing arguments. In February 2017 it handed down its decision, which overruled the earlier ruling of the District Court and ordered Bredbandsbolaget to implement “technical measures” to prevent its customers accessing the ‘pirate’ sites through a number of domain names and URLs.

With nowhere left to go, Bredbandsbolaget and owner Telenor were left hanging onto their original statement which vehemently opposed site-blocking.

“It is a dangerous path to go down, which forces Internet providers to monitor and evaluate content on the Internet and block websites with illegal content in order to avoid becoming accomplices,” they said.

In March 2017, Bredbandsbolaget blocked The Pirate Bay but said it would not give up the fight.

“We are now forced to contest any future blocking demands. It is the only way for us and other Internet operators to ensure that private players should not have the last word regarding the content that should be accessible on the Internet,” Bredbandsbolaget said.

While it’s not clear whether any additional blocking demands have been filed with the ISP, this week an announcement by Bredbandsbolaget parent company Telenor revealed an unexpected knock-on effect. Seemingly without a single shot being fired, The Pirate Bay will now be blocked by Telenor too.

The background lies in Telenor’s acquisition of Bredbandsbolaget back in 2005. Until this week the companies operated under separate brands but will now merge into one entity.

“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget today take the final step on their joint trip and become the same company with the same name. As a result, Telenor becomes a comprehensive provider of broadband, TV and mobile communications,” the company said in a statement this week.

“Telenor Sweden and Bredbandsbolaget have shared both logo and organization for the last 13 years. Today, we take the last step in the relationship and consolidate the companies under the same name.”

Up until this final merger, 600,000 Bredbandsbolaget broadband customers were denied access to The Pirate Bay. Now it appears that Telenor’s 700,000 fiber and broadband customers will be affected too. The new single-brand company says it has decided to block the notorious torrent site across its entire network.

“We have not discontinued Bredbandsbolaget, but we have merged Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and become one,” the company said.

“When we share the same network, The Pirate Bay is blocked by both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget and there is nothing we plan to change in the future.”

TorrentFreak contacted the PR departments of both Telenor and Bredbandsbolaget requesting information on why a court order aimed at only the latter’s customers would now affect those of the former too, more than doubling the blockade’s reach. Neither company responded which leaves only speculation as to its motives.

On the one hand, the decision to voluntarily implement an expanded blockade could perhaps be viewed as a little unusual given how much time, effort and money has been invested in fighting web-blockades in Sweden.

On the other, the merger of the companies may present legal difficulties as far as the court order goes and it could certainly cause friction among the customer base of Telenor if some customers could access TPB, and others could not.

In any event, the legal basis for web-blocking on copyright infringement grounds was firmly established last year at the EU level, which means that Telenor would lose any future legal battle, should it decide to dig in its heels. On that basis alone, the decision to block all customers probably makes perfect commercial sense.

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

The Curious Takedown Notices of ‘Tongues of Glass’ Poet Shaun Shane

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-curious-takedown-notices-of-tongues-of-glass-poet-shaun-shane-180519/

Over the years we have published numerous articles on dubious or inaccurate takedown notices, both from large media conglomerates and independent copyright holders.

One of the most curious cases is without doubt that of Shaun Shane and his poem ‘Tongues Made of Glass.’

Five years ago the case first made headlines when On Press Inc. started hounding people on social media because they dared to recite the single line poem, which consists of just eighteen words.

At the time, Techdirt reported on the issue, which was quickly picked up by others including BoingBoing, professor Michael Geist, and lawyer Ken White at Popehat. Needless to say, the number of poem recitals only increased.

On Press Inc. wasn’t happy with the coverage. Responding to the media attention, the company asked Google to remove links to the poem from its search engine.

This effort backfired in an even bigger way. Not only did it lead to more articles, Google also rejected most of the requests. Even worse, the poem was also posted in full in the Lumen database, where copies of Google’s DMCA notices are published.

Fast forward five years and the Tongues Made of Glass poem is back on the radar. This time it appears to be author ‘Shaun Shane’ himself who’s sending takedown notices to Google.

As before, the DMCA notices are mostly targeting articles that reference the previous debacles, including our own, but the accusations now go far beyond that.

According to Shaun Shane, people are using black hat SEO bots to fool Google’s search algorithm and make these articles rank high for his name.

“Someone is using Bots for the reported Url to artificially raise its ranking in Google search results for the search terms ‘Shaun Shane’ beyond what Googles search algorithm would natural assign it and are engaging in Black Hat Seo [sic],” he writes in the takedown notices.

We’re not sure what these alleged black hat tactics have to do with a copyright claim. What we do know, however, is that the repeated coverage of the poem’s dubious takedowns may have something to do with the high ranking.

It doesn’t end at these accusations though.

Looking more closely at the reported URLs we see some usual suspects, including BoingBoing, TorrentFreak, Techdirt and Popehat links. However, there are also several innocent bystanders being dragged into the drama.

The poet also targets the website of the company “Shaun Shane Bricklaying,” the Linkedin profile of sales manager Shaun Shane, a piece on Legend Solar founders Shaun Alldredge and Shane Perkins, and the TripAdvisor profile of Shaun & Shane Tour Operators.

Needless to say, none of these links are even remotely infringing, and we seriously doubt that they are using Black Hat SEO. They just happen to use the keywords “Shaun” and “Shane”.

Google, luckily, denied all of the takedown requests that we referenced here. We did see one URL that was removed, which used an image with the poem, without any context.

This means that the end result for Shaun Shane is not very uplifting. Most of the content he reported remains online and with new news reports being published (including this one), they will only end up higher in the search results next time.

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

Police Forces Around Europe Hit Pirate IPTV Operation

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-forces-around-europe-hit-pirate-iptv-operation-180519/

Once upon a time, torrent and web streaming sites were regularly in the headlines while being targeted by the authorities. With the rise of set-top box streaming, actions against pirate IPTV operations are more regularly making the news.

In an operation coordinated by the public prosecutor’s office in Rome, 150 officers of the Provincial Command of the Guardia di Finanza (GdF) this week targeted what appears to be a fairly large unauthorized IPTV provider.

Under the banner Operation Spinoff, in Italy, more than 50 searches were carried out in 20 provinces of 11 regions. Five people were arrested. Elsewhere in Europe – in Switzerland, Germany and Spain – the Polizei Basel-Landschaft, the Kriminal Polizei and the Policia Nacional coordinated to execute warrants.

A small selection of the service on offer

“Through technical and ‘in-the-field’ investigations and the meticulous reconstruction of financial flows, carried out mainly through prepaid credit cards or payment web platforms, investigators have reconstructed the activity of a pyramid-like criminal structure dedicated to the illegal decryption and diffusion of pay-per-view television content through the Internet,” the GdF said in a statement.

Italian authorities report that the core of the IPTV operation were its sources of original content and channels. These were located in a range of diverse locations such as companies, commercial premises, garages and even private homes. Inside each location was equipment to receive, decrypt and capture signals from broadcasters including Sky TV.

Italian police examine hardware

These signals were collected together to form a package of channels which were then transmitted via the Internet and sold to the public in the form of an IPTV subscription. Packages were reportedly priced between 15 and 20 euros per month.

It’s estimated that between the 49 individuals said to be involved in the operation, around one million euros was generated. All are suspected of copyright infringement and money laundering offenses. Of the five Italian citizens reported to be at the core of the operations, four were taken into custody and one placed under house arrest.

Reports identify the suspects as: ‘AS’, born 1979 and residing in Lorrach, Germany. ‘RM’, born 1987 and living in Sarno, Italy. ‘LD’, born 1996 and also living in Sarno, Italy. ‘GP’, born 1990, living in Pordenone, Italy. And ‘SM’, born 1981 and living in Zagarolo, Italy.

More hardware

Players at all levels of the business are under investigation, from the sources who decrypted the signals to the sellers and re-sellers of the content to end users. Also under the microscope are people said to have laundered the operation’s money through credit cards and payment platforms.

The GdF describes the pirate IPTV operation in serious terms, noting that it aimed to set up a “parallel distribution company able to provide services that are entirely analogous to lawful companies, from checks on the feasibility of installing the service to maintaining adequate standards and technical assistance to customers.”

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

TVAddons Denies Copyright Infringement Claims in Court

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/tvaddons-denies-copyright-infringement-claims-in-court-180518/

Last year, American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network targeted two well-known players in the third-party Kodi add-on ecosystem.

In a complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were accused of copyright infringement. As a result, both are facing up to $150,000 in damages for each offense.

The owner and operator of TVAddons, Adam Lackman, and ZemTV developer, Shahjahan Durrani, previously asked the court to dismiss the case, because neither reside in the United States.

The request was recently denied and the case continues. This means that the defendants must respond to the allegations at the Texas District Court. Yesterday, TVAddons’ lawyer Jason Sweet submitted the answers of defendant Adam Lackman, who denies many of the claims put forward by Dish.

TVAddons’ operator denies that he had the “ability to supervise and control” the alleged infringing activity of ZemTV, as Dish stated, and also refutes the claims that he received a “direct financial benefit” and “refused to take any action” to stop the infringement.

Lackman does confirm that ZemTV was available for download through TVAddons and that Dish sent a takedown notice to have it removed. TVAddons received this notice and forwarded it to the developer of the addon.

The answers are very minimal and mostly deny the complaint’s claims. However, the filing also includes several affirmative defenses, which provide some more insight and detail.

In the complaint, TVAddons’ operator stands accused of “contributory / inducing copyright infringement,” but his lawyer points out that these are two different claims with separate thresholds which can’t be combined.

One requires knowledge of and a material contribution to the infringement, for example, while the other deals with the distribution of a device or product through which the infringing use is promoted.

“Contributory infringement and inducing infringement are two distinct causes of action and cannot be combined when pled. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 10(b) requires separate counts for separate claims,” Sweet writes.

And there are other points of confusion highlighted by the defense. Dish has stated that the copyrighted works at issue have not been registered, as that is no longer required to file a lawsuit under the Copyright Act.

While that is correct, TVAddons’ lawyer points out that it prevents Dish from seeking statutory damages and attorneys fees or costs, because that does require copyright registration.

“Plaintiff is not entitled to statutory damages, including attorney’s fees and costs because registration is required for foreign works to gain the procedural benefits of a prima facie presumption of the validity of a copyright, statutory damages, and attorney’s fees..,” the defense writes.

Adding to that, TVAddons’ operator denies that he engaged in or contributed to any of the alleged infringements. And if there was any wrongdoing, this was certainly not intended.

“Defendant was not aware and had no reason to believe that any of his acts constituted an infringement of copyright. Any infringement by Defendant was innocent and not willful.”

The response is just the start of the case and both sides are expected to conduct further discovery to back up their respective positions. ZemTV’s operator, whose alleged infringements are central to the TVAddons case, has yet to file his answers.

TVAddons, meanwhile, remains operational through TVAddons.co with a reduced library of addons. After it was decimated last year, the site has started to regain its user base, in the hope that they will support the legal battle.

“If you are tired of seeing big companies act like they own the law, please consider making a donation to help us pay our lawyers. This lawsuit is about more than just us, it’s about the expansion of copyright law and a big bad corporation trying to bully us into submission,” TVAddons wrote last week.

A copy of TVAddons answer to the amended complaint is available here (pdf).

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

ExtraTorrent Replacement Displays Warning On Predecessor’s Shutdown Anniversary

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/extratorrent-replacement-displays-warning-on-predecessors-shutdown-anniversary-180518/

Exactly one year ago, millions of users in the BitTorrent community went into mourning with the shock depature of one of its major players.

ExtraTorrent was founded in back in November 2006, at a time when classic platforms such as TorrentSpy and Mininova were dominating the torrent site landscape. But with dedication and determination, the site amassed millions of daily visitors, outperforming every other torrent site apart from the mighty Pirate Bay.

Then, on May 17, 2017, everything came crashing down.

“ExtraTorrent has shut down permanently,” a note in the site read. “ExtraTorrent with all mirrors goes offline. We permanently erase all data. Stay away from fake ExtraTorrent websites and clones. Thx to all ET supporters and torrent community. ET was a place to be….”

While ExtraTorrent staff couldn’t be more clear in advising people to stay away from clones, few people listened to their warnings. Within hours, new sites appeared claiming to be official replacements for the much-loved torrent site and people flocked to them in their millions.

One of those was ExtraTorrent.ag, a torrent site connected to the operators of EZTV.ag, which appeared as a replacement in the wake of the official EZTV’s demise. Graphically very similar to the original ExtraTorrent, the .ag ‘replacement’ had none of its namesake’s community or unique content. But that didn’t dent its popularity.

ExtraTorrent.ag

At the start of this week, ExtraTorrent.ag was one of the most popular torrent sites on the Internet. With an Alexa rank of around 2,200, it would’ve clinched ninth position in our Top 10 Torrent Sites report earlier this year. However, after registering the site’s domain a year ago, something seems to have gone wrong.

Yesterday, on the anniversary of ExtraTorrent’s shutdown and exactly a year after the ExtraTorrent.ag domain was registered, ExtraTorrent.ag disappeared only to be replaced by a generic landing page, as shown below.

ExtraTorrent.ag landing page

This morning, however, there appear to be additional complications. Accessing with Firefox produces the page above but attempting to do so with Chrome produces an ominous security warning.

Chrome warning

Indeed, those protected by MalwareBytes won’t be able to access the page at all, since ExtraTorrent.ag redirects to the domain FindBetterResults.com, which the anti-malware app flags as malicious.

The change was reported to TF by the operator of domain unblocking site Unblocked.lol, which offers torrent site proxies as well as access to live TV and sports.

“I noticed when I started receiving emails saying ExtraTorrent was redirecting to some parked domain. When I jumped on the PC and checked myself it was just redirecting to a blank page,” he informs us.

“First I thought they’d blocked our IP address so I used some different ones. But I soon discovered the domain was in fact parked.”

So what has happened to this previously-functioning domain?

Whois records show that ExtraTorrent.ag was created on May 17, 2017 and appears to have been registered for a year. Yesterday, on May 17, 2018, the domain was updated to list what could potentially be a new owner, with an expiry date of May 17, 2019.

Once domains have expired, they usually enter an ‘Auto-Renew Grace Period’ for up to 45 days. This is followed by a 30-day ‘Redemption Grace Period’. At the end of this second period, domains cannot be renewed and are released for third-parties to register. That doesn’t appear to have been the case here.

So, to find out more about the sudden changes we reached out to the email address listed in the WHOIS report but received no response. Should we hear more we’ll update this report but in the meantime the Internet has lost one of its largest torrent sites and gained a rather pointless landing page with potential security risks.

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

‘Blocking Pirate Sites Through Court is Uncertain, Slow and Expensive’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/blocking-pirate-sites-through-court-is-uncertain-slow-and-expensive-180517/

FairPlay Canada, a coalition of copyright holders and major players in the telco industry, wants to institute a national pirate site blocking scheme.

The group submitted its plan to the Canadian telecoms regulator CRTC earlier this year, which subsequently asked the public for input.

This consultation triggered a wave of responses. Those opposed to the blocklist idea highlight the risk of over-blocking, net neutrality threats, and the lack of judicial oversight, among other things.

Yesterday, the Fairplay Coalition responded to these comments in a new filing. Providing additional evidence, the group countered the opposition head-on, accusing some commenters of spreading false and inaccurate information.

The coalition also responded to the common argument that there is no need for a separate blocking scheme. Copyright holders can already request injunctive relief from the courts, demanding that ISPs block pirate sites, as is common in many other countries.

In its reply, Fairplay counters that this may not be as straightforward as some claim. Section 36 of the Telecommunications Act suggests that, in addition to a court order, Commission approval is needed to block a site. This is complex and makes it uncertain if courts will be willing to grant these blockades.

“It is possible a court would be dissuaded from making an order against ISPs to disable to access to a piracy site given section 36 and the Commission’s view of its impact,” Fairplay’s response reads.

In other words, the coalition suggests that with proper judicial oversight under current law, there may not be any blockades. It’s not clear how that helps their argument, as that might be the exact point of the critics, but there is more.

In addition to the uncertainty of getting a blocking order through the courts, Fairplay argues that this route will also be very expensive. To make this point, the coalition hired the law firm Hayes eLaw to calculate the potential costs and time required to complete the process.

According to this analysis, it may take more than two years before a blocking order is final, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses for just one site. This is too slow and too expensive, the coalition concludes.

“[T]he process involves first completing litigation against each egregious piracy site, and could take up to 765 days and cost up to $338,000 to address a single site,” Fairplay writes.

“While copyright enforcement actions are a crucial and powerful tool in many cases, it is not reasonable to suggest that rightsholders should spend this much time and resources to address every case in which their content is being stolen.”

Finally, Fairplay notes that those commenters who suggest the judicial route are apparently not against site blocking, but only against how these blockades are administered.

Arguments against the court option

As is often the case with consultations, both sides of the argument will present issues in a light that suits them best.

However, Fairplay goes even further and suggests that many consultation responses are based on misleading information, which is the result of online activists.

Among other things, these responses suggest that the plan would allow ISPs to unilaterally decide to block websites. However, Fairplay counters that ISPs can only block sites if they’re ordered to do so by the Commission, not on their own accord.

“The fact that the Commission received such interventions is not surprising, as every indication is that they were driven by online campaigns that made exactly this false claim,” they write.

“Indeed, the petitions or form letters submitted by CIPPIC/OpenMedia, SumOfUs, and LeadNow all explicitly contain this particular point of misinformation.”

In addition to the misinformation, Fairplay also notes that some interventions are false, while thousands of petitions are mere duplicates.

“There are a number of obviously false interventions and the identity, veracity, and location of the others can generally not be confirmed. In the case of the petitions, there are more than 14,000 identified duplicate entries, and an unknowable number of other false entries.”

Fairplay doesn’t ask the CRTC to ignore these submissions. It just points out that they cannot be relied upon, as they are not representative or based on faulty assumptions about the actual proposal.

Instead, the coalition comes up with a survey of its own. Fairplay hired Nanos Research to ask random Canadians whether their country should have less, the same, or more protection than countries that currently block piracy sites, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and France.

According to the results, 77% of Canadians believed Canada should have the same or more protection than those countries, suggesting that Canadians are not anti-site-blocking at all. That said, the above mentioned foreign blockades are court sanctioned.

The entire response from Fairplay Canada is available here (pdf). It totals more than 60 pages and further addresses the economic impact of piracy, the effectiveness of the plan, how blocking is consistent with net neutrality and freedom of speech, as well as a wide range of other topics.

While the extra context will be useful to the CRTC, it’s unlikely to sway the opposition.

Around the same time as the coalition submitted its response, a new controversy emerged. Documents published by the Forum for Research and Policy in Communications suggest that Bell discussed the site blocking plan privately with the CRTC before it was made public. While it’s apparent that site blocking was on the agenda, Bell told Mobile Syrup that there’s “nothing procedurally unusual” in this case.

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

Police Arrest Suspected Member of TheDarkOverlord Hacking Group

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-arrest-suspected-member-of-the-dark-overlord-hacking-group-180517/

In April 2017, the first episode of the brand new season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black was uploaded to The Pirate Bay, months ahead of its official release date.

The leak was the work of a hacking entity calling itself TheDarkOverlord (TDO). One of its members had contacted TorrentFreak months earlier claiming that the content was in its hands but until the public upload, nothing could be confirmed.

TDO told us it had obtained the episodes after hacking the systems of Hollywood-based Larson Studios, an ADR (additional dialogue recorded) studio, back in 2016. TDO had attempted to blackmail the company into paying a bitcoin ransom but when it wasn’t forthcoming, TDO pressed the nuclear button.

Netflix responded by issuing a wave of takedown notices but soon TDO moved onto a new target. In June 2017, TDO followed up on an earlier threat to leak content owned by ABC.

But while TDO was perhaps best known for its video-leaking exploits, the group’s core ‘business’ was hacking what many perceived to be softer targets. TDO ruthlessly slurped confidential data from weakly protected computer systems at medical facilities, private practices, and businesses large and small.

In each case, the group demanded ransoms in exchange for silence and leaked sensitive data to the public if none were paid. With dozens of known targets, TDO found itself at the center of an international investigation, led by the FBI. That now appears to have borne some fruit, with the arrest of an individual in Serbia.

Serbian police say that members of its Ministry of Internal Affairs, Criminal Police Directorate (UCC), in coordination with the Special Prosecution for High-Tech Crime, have taken action against a suspected member of TheDarkOverlord group.

Police say they tracked down a Belgrade resident, who was arrested and taken into custody. Identified only by the initials “S.S”, police say the individual was born in 1980 but have released no further personal details. A search of his apartment and other locations led to the seizure of items of digital equipment.

“According to the order of the Special Prosecutor’s Office for High-Tech Crime, criminal charges will be brought against him because of the suspicion that he committed the criminal offense of unauthorized access to a protected computer, computer networks and electronic processing, and the criminal offense of extortion,” a police statement reads.

In earlier correspondence with TF, the TDO member always gave the impression of working as part of a team but we only had a single contact point which appeared to be the same person. However, Serbian authorities say the larger investigation is aimed at uncovering “a large number of people” who operate under the banner of “TheDarkOverlord”.

Since June 2016, the group is said to have targeted at least 50 victims while demanding bitcoin ransoms to avoid disclosure of their content. Serbian authorities say that on the basis of available data, TDO received payments of more than $275,000.

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

Internet Association Blasts MPAA’s ‘Crony Politics’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/internet-association-blasts-mpaas-crony-politics-180516/

Last month, MPAA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin used the Facebook privacy debacle to voice his concern about the current state of the Internet.

“The Internet is no longer nascent – and people around the world are growing increasingly uncomfortable with what it’s becoming,” Rivkin wrote in his letter to several Senators, linking Internet-related privacy breaches to regulation, immunities, and safe harbors.

“The moment has come for a national dialogue about restoring accountability on the internet. Whether through regulation, recalibration of safe harbors, or the exercise of greater responsibility by online platforms, something must change.”

While it’s good to see that the head of Hollywood’s main lobbying group is concerned about Facebook users, not everyone is convinced of his good intentions. Some suggest that the MPAA is hijacking the scandal to further its own, unrelated, interests.

This is exactly the position taken by the Internet Association, a US-based organization comprised of the country’s leading Internet-based businesses. The organization is comprised of many prominent members including Google, Twitter, Amazon, Reddit, Yahoo, and Facebook.

Several of these companies were the target of the MPAA’s criticism, named or not, which prompted the Internet Association to respond.

In an open letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, the group’s president and CEO, Michael Beckerman, lashes out against the MPAA and similar lobbying groups. These groups hijack the regulatory debate with anti-internet lobbying efforts, he says.

“Look no further than the gratuitous letter Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. Chairman & CEO Charles Rivkin submitted to the Energy and Commerce Committee during your recent Zuckerberg hearing,” Beckerman writes.

“The hearing had nothing to do with the Motion Picture industry, but Mr. Rivkin demonstrated shameless rent-seeking by calling for regulation on internet companies simply in an effort to protect his clients’ business interest.”

These rent-seeking efforts are part of the “crony politics” used by “pre-internet” companies to protect their old business models, the Internet Association’s CEO adds.

“This blatant display of crony politics is not unique to the big Hollywood studios, but rather emblematic of a broader anti-consumer lobbying campaign. Many other pre-internet industries —telcos, legacy tech firms, hotels, and others — are looking to defend old business models by regulating a rising competitor to the clear detriment of consumers.”

These harsh words show that the rift between Silicon Valley and Hollywood is still wide open.

It’s clear that the MPAA and other copyright industry groups are still hoping for stricter regulation to ensure that Internet companies are held accountable. Privacy is generally not their main focus though.

They mostly want companies such as Google and Facebook to prevent piracy and compensate rightsholders. Whether using the Facebook privacy scandal was a good way to bring this message to the forefront is a matter of which camp one’s in.

While the Internet Association bashes the MPAA’s efforts, they don’t discount the idea that more can be done to prevent and stop abuse.

“As technology and services evolve to better meet user needs, bad actors will find ways to take advantage. Our members are ever vigilant and work hard to stop them. The task is never done, and we pledge to work harder and do even better,” Beckerman notes.

The Internet Association’s full letter, spotted by Variety, is available here (pdf).

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

Roku Displays FBI Anti-Piracy Warning to Legitimate YouTube & Netflix Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/roku-displays-fbi-anti-piracy-warning-to-legitimate-youtube-netflix-users-180516/

In 2018, dealing with copyright infringement claims is a daily issue for many content platforms. The law in many regions demands swift attention and in order to appease copyright holders, most platforms are happy to oblige.

While it’s not unusual for ‘pirate’ content and services to suddenly disappear in response to a DMCA or similar notice, the same is rarely true for entire legitimate services.

But that’s what appeared to happen on the Roku platform during the night, when YouTube, Netflix and other channels disappeared only to be replaced with an ominous anti-piracy warning.

As the embedded tweet shows, the message caused confusion among Roku users who were only using their devices to access legal content. Messages replacing Netflix and YouTube seemed to have caused the greatest number of complaints but many other services were affected.

FoxSportsGo, FandangoNow, and India-focused YuppTV and Hotstar were also blacked out. As were the yoga and transformational videos specialists over at Gaia, the horror buffs at ChillerFlix, and UK TV service BritBox.

But while users scratched their heads, with some misguidedly blaming Roku for not being diligent enough against piracy, Roku took to Twitter to reveal that rather than anti-piracy complaints against the channels in question, a technical hitch was to blame.

However, a subsequent statement to CNET suggested that while blacking out Netflix and YouTube might have been accidental, Roku appears to have been taking anti-piracy action against another channel or channels at the time, with the measures inadvertently spilling over to innocent parties.

“We use that warning when we detect content that has violated copyright,” Roku said in a statement.

“Some channels in our Channel Store displayed that message and became inaccessible after Roku implemented a targeted anti-piracy measure on the platform.”

The precise nature of the action taken by Roku is unknown but it’s clear that copyright infringement is currently a hot topic for the platform.

Roku is currently fighting legal action in Mexico which ordered its products off the shelves following complaints that its platform is used by pirates. That led to an FBI warning being shown for what was believed to be the first time against the XTV and other channels last year.

This March, Roku took action against the popular USTVNow channel following what was described as a “third party” copyright infringement complaint. Just a couple of weeks later, Roku followed up by removing the controversial cCloud channel.

With Roku currently fighting to have sales reinstated in Mexico against a backdrop of claims that up to 40% of its users are pirates, it’s unlikely that Roku is suddenly going to go soft on piracy, so more channel outages can be expected in the future.

In the meantime, the scary FBI warnings of last evening are beginning to fade away (for legitimate channels at least) after the company issued advice on how to fix the problem.

“The recent outage which affected some channels has been resolved. Go to Settings > System > System update > Check now for a software update. Some channels may require you to log in again. Thank you for your patience,” the company wrote in an update.

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

Metallica Was Right About Suing Napster, Guitarist Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/metallica-was-right-about-suing-napster-guitarist-says-180515/

When Metallica sued the revolutionary file-sharing platform Napster in 2000, the band was both criticized and praised.

Music industry insiders and several other musicians backed the move, but the public wasn’t happy to see their new sharing tool being destroyed.

What followed was a heated legal battle from which Metallica emerged as the clear winner, but not without scars. The defense painted the band as greedy rock stars and Luddites who had no clue about technology, as drummer Lars Ulrich later recalled.

Today, nearly two decades later, the world has moved on. Napster is long dead and gone, but online piracy is still very much alive. Perhaps even more so than in the early 2000s.

In an interview with Swedish TV show Nyhetsmorgon picked up by Rolling Stone, Metallica’s lead guitarist Kirk Hammett now says that going after Napster was the right thing to do. While the lawsuit also brought in negative elements, the Napster threat was real.

“The whole Napster thing definitely didn’t do us any favors whatsoever,” Hammett says. “But you know what? We’re still in the right on that. We’re still right about Napster. No matter who’s out there saying, ‘Metallica was wrong’.

“All you have to do is look at the state of the music industry, and that kind of explains the whole situation right there,” Hammett adds.

Metallica’s guitarists appear to suggest that the music industry is still collapsing due to the burden of piracy. Interestingly, however, the music industry’s own figures are rather uplifting.

In 2017, the recorded music market grew by 8.1% worldwide. This was the third growth year in a row, and the highest growth rate since the music industry body IFPI started tracking these numbers in 1997.

This doesn’t mean that piracy has no effect at all, of course. Still, there is still plenty of room to grow, despite this disappearance of the highly profitable CD format. Times have changed, but people are still willing to pay for music.

It’s worth noting that a lot of growth is coming from streaming services, which are good for more than half of all recorded music revenues in the US today. This also happens to be the platform that Metallica has ignored for years.

It took until the release of the 2016 album “Hardwired… to Self-Destruct” until the band embraced streaming more broadly.

Metallica now wants to make sure that their work is accessible legally, even though the outlet is not ideal in their view. This, ironically, means that their work is available on Napster again, as it’s a legal streaming service now.

“We want to be accessible, and you need to have a mixture that you’re accessible on all the modern fronts,” Hammett says in the interview. And indeed, that’s a wise strategy if you want to prevent people from pirating.

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

Pirate IPTV Service Gave Customer Details to Premier League, But What’s the Risk?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-service-gave-customer-details-to-premier-league-but-whats-the-risk-180515/

In a report last weekend, we documented what appear to be the final days of pirate IPTV provider Ace Hosting.

From information provided by several sources including official liquidation documents, it became clear that a previously successful and profitable Ace had succumbed to pressure from the Premier League, which accused the service of copyright infringement.

The company had considerable funds in the bank – £255,472.00 to be exact – but it also had debts of £717,278.84, including £260,000 owed to HMRC and £100,000 to the Premier League as part of a settlement agreement.

Information received by TF late Sunday suggested that £100K was the tip of the iceberg as far as the Premier League was concerned and in a statement yesterday, the football outfit confirmed that was the case.

“A renowned pirate of Premier League content to consumers has been forced to liquidate after agreeing to pay £600,000 for breaching the League’s copyright,” the Premier League announced.

“Ace IPTV, run by Craig Driscoll and Ian Isaac, was selling subscriptions to illegal Premier League streams directly to consumers which allowed viewing on a range of devices, including notorious Kodi-type boxes, as well as to smaller resellers in the UK and abroad.”

Sources familiar with the case suggest that while Ace Hosting Limited didn’t have the funds to pay the Premier League the full £600K, Ace’s operators agreed to pay (and have already paid, to some extent at least) what were essentially their own funds to cover amounts above the final £100K, which is due to be paid next year.

But that’s not the only thing that’s been handed over to the Premier League.

“Ace voluntarily disclosed the personal details of their customers, which the League will now review in compliance with data protection legislation. Further investigations will be conducted, and action taken where appropriate,” the Premier League added.

So, the big question now is how exposed Ace’s former subscribers are.

The truth is that only the Premier League knows for sure but TF has been able to obtain information from several sources which indicate that former subscribers probably aren’t the Premier League’s key interest and even if they were, information obtained on them would be of limited use.

According to a source with knowledge of how a system like Ace’s works, there is a separation of data which appears to help (at least to some degree) with the subscriber’s privacy.

“The system used to manage accounts and take payment is actually completely separate from the software used to manage streams and the lines themselves. They are never usually even on the same server so are two very different databases,” he told TF.

“So at best the only information that has voluntarily been provided to the [Premier League], is just your email, name and address (assuming you even used real details) and what hosting package or credits you bought.”

While this information is bad enough, the action against Ace is targeted, in that it focuses on the Premier League’s content and how Ace (and therefore its users) infringed on the football outfit’s copyrights. So, proving that subscribers actually watched any Premier League content would be an ideal position but it’s not straightforward, despite the potential for detailed logging.

“The management system contains no history of what you watched, when you watched it, when you signed in and so on. That is all contained in a different database on a different server.

“Because every connection is recorded [on the second server], it can create some two million entries a day and as such most providers either turn off this feature or delete the logs daily as having so many entries slows down the system down used for actual streams,” he explains.

Our source says that this data would likely to have been the first to be deleted and is probably “long gone” by now. However, even if the Premier League had obtained it, it’s unlikely they would be able to do much with it due to data protection laws.

“The information was passed to the [Premier League] voluntarily by ACE which means this information has been given from one entity to another without the end users’ consent, not part of the [creditors’ voluntary liquidation] and without a court order to support it. Data Protection right now is taken very seriously in the EU,” he notes.

At this point, it’s probably worth noting that while the word “voluntarily” has been used several times to explain the manner in which Ace handed over its subscribers’ details to the Premier League, the same word can be used to describe the manner in which the £600K settlement amount will be paid.

No one forces someone to pay or hand something over, that’s what the courts are for, and the aim here was to avoid that eventuality.

Other pieces of information culled from various sources suggest that PayPal payment information, limited to amounts only, was also handed over to the Premier League. And, perhaps most importantly (and perhaps predictably) as far as former subscribers are concerned, the football group was more interested in Ace’s upwards supplier chain (the ‘wholesale’ stream suppliers used, for example) than those buying the service.

Finally, while the Premier League is now seeking to send a message to customers that these services are risky to use, it’s difficult to argue with the assertion that it’s unsafe to hand over personal details to an illegal service.

“Ace IPTV’s collapse also highlighted the risk consumers take with their personal data when they sign up to illegal streaming services,” Premier League notes.

TF spoke with three IPTV providers who all confirmed that they don’t care what names and addresses people use to sign up with and that no checks are carried out to make sure they’re correct. However, one concedes that in order to run as a business, this information has to be requested and once a customer types it in, it’s possible that it could be handed over as part of a settlement.

“I’m not going to tell people to put in dummy details, how can I? It’s up to people to use their common sense. If they’re still worried they should give Sky their money because if our backs are against the wall, what do you think is going to happen?” he concludes.

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

Pirate Site Blocking Threatens Canada’s Net Neutrality, House of Commons Committee Says

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-threatens-canadas-net-neutrality-house-of-commons-committee-says-180514/

Earlier this year several of the largest telcos in Canada teamed up with copyright holders to present their plan to tackle online piracy.

United in the Fairplay Canada coalition, Bell, Rogers, and others urged telecoms regulator CRTC to institute a national website blocking program.

The blocklist should be maintained by a yet to be established non-profit organization called the “Independent Piracy Review Agency” (IPRA) and both IPRA and the CRTC would be overseen by the Federal Court of Appeal, the organizations propose.

Thus far the response to the plan has been mixed. Several large media companies are in favor of blockades, arguing that it’s one of the few options to stop piracy. However, others fear that it will lead to overblocking and other problems.

Last week, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics joined the opposition. In a detailed report on the protection of net neutrality in Canada, it signaled the blocking proposal as a serious concern.

The House of Commons committee, which advises Parliament on a variety of matters, notes that the Fairplay coalition hasn’t sufficiently explained why the current process doesn’t work, nor has it supplied sufficient evidence to justify the new measures.

“[T]he Committee is of the view that the proposal could impede the application of net neutrality in Canada, and that in their testimony, the ISPs did not present sufficient explanation as to why the existing process is inadequate or sufficient justification to support to application,” the report reads.

At the same time, the lack of judicial oversight is seen as a problem.

“The Committee also remains skeptical about the absence of judicial oversight in the Fair Play proposal and is of the view that maintaining such oversight is critical,” it adds.

What is clear, however, is that the proposal could impede the application of net neutrality in Canada. As such, the House of Commons committee recommends that the Government asks the CRTC to reconsider its decision, if it decides in favor of the blocking plan.

“That, in the event that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission supports FairPlay Canada’s application, the federal government consider using the authority provided under section 12 of the Telecommunications Act to ask the CRTC to reconsider its decision,” the recommendation reads.

Recommendation

The net neutrality angle has been brought up by several parties in the past, ranging from legal experts, through copyright holders, to the public at large. While many see it as a threat, those in favor of website blocking say it’s a non-issue.

Even Internet providers themselves are divided on the topic. Where Shaw sees no net neutrality concerns, TekSavvy has argued the opposite.

The House of Commons committee report clearly sides with the opponents and with backing from all political parties, it sends a strong message. This is music to the ears of law professor Micheal Geist, one of the most vocal critics of the Fairplay proposal.

“With all parties joining in a recommendation against the site blocking plan, the report represents a strong signal that the FairPlay coalition plan led by Bell does not have political support given that it raises freedom of expression, due process, and net neutrality concerns,” Geist notes.

A copy of the report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics is available here (pdf).

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

Police Launch Investigation into Huge Pirate Manga Site Mangamura

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/police-launch-investigation-into-huge-pirate-manga-site-mangamura-180514/

Back in March, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the government was considering measures to prohibit access to pirate sites.

While protecting all content is the overall aim, it became clear that the government was determined to protect Japan’s successful manga and anime industries.

It didn’t take long for a reaction. On Friday April 13, the government introduced emergency website blocking measures, seeking cooperation from the country’s ISPs.

NTT Communications Corp., NTT Docomo Inc. and NTT Plala Inc., quickly announced they would block three leading pirate sites – Mangamura, AniTube! and MioMio which have a huge following in Japan. However, after taking the country by storm during the past two years, Mangamura had already called it quits.

On April 17, in the wake of the government announcement, Mangamura disappeared. It’s unclear whether its vanishing act was directly connected to recent developments but a program on national public broadcasting organization NHK, which claimed to have traced the site’s administrators back to the United States, Ukraine, and other regions, can’t have helped.

Further details released this morning reveal the intense pressure Mangamura was under. With 100 million visits a month it was bound to attract attention and according to Mainichi, several publishing giants ran out of patience last year and reported the platform to the authorities.

Kodansha, Japan’s largest publisher, and three other companies filed criminal complaints with Fukuoka Prefectural Police, Oita Prefectural Police, and other law enforcement departments, claiming the site violated their rights.

“The complaints, which were lodged against an unknown suspect or suspects, were filed on behalf of manga artists who are copyright holders to the pirated works, including Hajime Isayama and Eiichiro Oda, known for their wildly popular ‘Shingeki no Kyojin’ (‘Attack on Titan,’ published by Kodansha) and ‘One Piece’ (Shueisha Inc.), respectively,” the publication reports.

Mangamura launch in January 2016 and became a huge hit in Japan. Anti-piracy group Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA), which counts publishing giant Kodansha among its members, reports that between September 2017 and February 2018, the site was accessed 620 million times.

Based on a “one visit, one manga title read” formula, CODA estimates that the site caused damages to the manga industry of 319.2 billion yen – around US$2.91 billion.

As a result, police are now stepping up their efforts to identify Mangamura’s operators. Whether that will prove fruitful will remain to be seen but in the meantime, Japan’s site-blocking efforts continue to cause controversy.

As reported last month, lawyer and NTT customer Yuichi Nakazawa launched legal action against NTT, demanding that the corporation immediately end its site-blocking operations.

“NTT’s decision was made arbitrarily on the site without any legal basis. No matter how legitimate the objective of copyright infringement is, it is very dangerous,” Nakazawa told TorrentFreak.

“I felt that ‘freedom,’ which is an important value of the Internet, was threatened. Actually, when the interruption of communications had begun, the company thought it would be impossible to reverse the situation, so I filed a lawsuit at this stage.”

Japan’s Constitution and its Telecommunications Business Act both have “no censorship” clauses, meaning that site-blocking has the potential to be ruled illegal. It’s also illegal in Japan to invade the privacy of Internet users’ communications, which some observers have argued is necessary if users are to be prevented from accessing pirate sites.

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

Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 05/14/18

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/top-10-pirated-movies-week-bittorrent-05-14-18/

This week we have two newcomers in our chart.

Black Panther is the most downloaded movie for the second week in a row.

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.

This week’s most downloaded movies are:
Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
Most downloaded movies via torrents
1 (1) Black Panther 7.9 / trailer
2 (2) Avengers: Infinity War (HDCam) 9.1 / trailer
3 (3) Game Night 7.3 / trailer
4 (…) Ready Player One 7.8 / trailer
5 (9) Samson 4.2 / trailer
6 (5) 12 Strong 6.8 / trailer
7 (…) Red Sparrow 6.7 / trailer
8 (8) Den of Thieves 7.0 / trailer
9 (10) Thor: Ragnarok 7.9 / trailer
10 (4) Anon 6.1 / trailer

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

The Pirating Elephant in Uncle Sam’s Room

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/the-pirating-elephant-in-uncle-sams-room-180413/

It’s not a secret that, in sheer numbers, America is the country that harbors most online pirates.

Perhaps no surprise, since it has a large and well-connected population, but it’s important to note considering what we’re about to write today.

Over the past decade, online piracy has presented itself as a massive problem for the US and its entertainment industries. It’s a global issue that’s hard to contain, but Hollywood and the major record labels are doing what they can.

Two of the key strategies they’ve employed in recent years are website blocking and domain seizures. US companies have traveled to courts all over the world to have ISP blockades put in place, with quite a bit of success.

At the same time, US rightsholders also push foreign domain registrars and registries to suspend or seize domains. The US Government is even jumping in, applying pressure against pirate domains as well.

Previously, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica threatened to have the country’s domain name registry shut down, unless it suspended ThePirateBay.cr. This hasn’t happened, yet, but it was a clear signal.

What’s odd, though, is that ThePirateBay.cr is a relatively meaningless proxy site. The real Pirate Bay operates from an .org domain name, which happens to be managed by the US-based Public Interest Registry (PIR).

So, if the US authorities threaten to shut down Costa Rica’s domain registry over a proxy, why is the US-based PIR registry still in action? After all, it’s the registry that ‘manages’ the domain name of the largest pirate site on the entire web, and has done for nearly 15 years.

Also of note is that the entertainment industries previously launched an overseas lawsuit to seize The Pirate Bay’s .se and .is domains, but never attempted to do the same with the US-based .org domain.

There are more of these strange observations. Let’s move back to website blocking, for example.

In a detailed overview, the Motion Picture Association recently reported that ISP blocking measures, which are in place in more than two dozen countries, help to reduce piracy significantly. This is further backed up by industry-supported reports and independent academic research.

In an ideal world, the US entertainment industries would like ISPs in every country to block pirate sites. While this is all fine and understandable from the perspective of these companies, there’s also an elephant in the room.

Over the past decade, US companies have worked hard to spread their blocking message around the world, while they yet have to attempt the same on their home turf. And this happens to be the country with the most pirates of all, which could make a massive impact.

Sure, it was a major success when a court in Iceland ordered local ISPs to block The Pirate Bay. But with roughly 130,000 Internet subscriptions in the entire country, that’s peanuts compared to the US.

So why is the US, the largest “pirate nation,” ignored?

From what we’ve heard, the entertainment industries are not pushing for ISP blockades in US courts because they fear a SOPA-like backlash. This likely applies to domain suspensions as well, which aren’t all that hard to accomplish in the US.

Instead, the major entertainment companies are focusing their efforts elsewhere.

While these entertainment companies are well within their rights to lobby for these measures, there’s an elephant in the room that is hard to ignore. Personally, I can’t help but cringe every time Hollywood pushes the blocking agenda to a new country or demands domain seizures abroad.

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

Pirate IPTV Service Goes Bust After Premier League Deal, Exposing Users

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-iptv-service-goes-bust-after-premier-league-deal-exposing-users-180913/

For those out of the loop, unauthorized IPTV services offering many thousands of unlicensed channels have been gaining in popularity in recent years. They’re relatively cheap, fairly reliable, and offer acceptable levels of service.

They are, however, a huge thorn in the side of rightsholders who are desperate to bring them to their knees. One such organization is the UK’s Premier League, which has been disrupting IPTV services over the past year, hoping they’ll shut down.

Most have simply ridden the wave of blocks but one provider, Ace Hosting in the UK, showed signs of stress last year, revealing that it would no longer sell new subscriptions. There was little doubt in most people’s minds that the Premier League had gotten uncomfortably close to the IPTV provider.

Now, many months later, the amazing story can be told. It’s both incredible and shocking and will leave many shaking their heads in disbelief. First up, some background.

Doing things ‘properly’ – incorporation of a pirate service…

Considering how most operators of questionable services like to stay in the shade, it may come as a surprise to learn that Ace Hosting Limited is a proper company. Incorporated and registered at Companies House on January 3, 2017, Ace has two registered directors – family team Ian and Judith Isaac.

In common with several other IPTV operators in the UK who are also officially registered with the authorities, Ace Hosting has never filed any meaningful accounts. There’s a theory that the corporate structure is basically one of convenience, one that allows for the handling of large volumes of cash while limiting liability. The downside, of course, is that people are often more easily identified, in part due to the comprehensive paper trail.

Thanks to what can only be described as a slow-motion train wreck, the Ace Hosting debacle is revealing a bewildering set of circumstances. Last December, when Ace said it would stop signing up new members due to legal pressure, a serious copyright threat had already been filed against it.

Premier League v Ace Hosting

Documents seen by TorrentFreak reveal that the Premier League sent legal threats to Ace Hosting on December 15, 2017, just days before the subscription closure announcement. Somewhat surprisingly, Ace apparently felt it could pay the Premier League a damages amount and keep on trading.

But early March 2018, with the Premier League threatening Ace with all kinds of bad things, the company made a strange announcement.

“The ISPs in the UK and across Europe have recently become much more aggressive in blocking our service while football games are in progress,” Ace said in a statement.

“In order to get ourselves off of the ISP blacklist we are going to black out the EPL games for all users (including VPN users) starting on Monday. We believe that this will enable us to rebuild the bypass process and successfully provide you with all EPL games.”

It seems doubtful that Ace really intended to thumb its nose at the Premier League but it had continued to sell subscriptions since receiving threats in December, so all things seemed possible. But on March 24 that all changed, when Ace effectively announced its closure.

Premier League 1, Ace Hosting 0

“It is with sorrow that we announce that we are no longer accepting renewals, upgrades to existing subscriptions or the purchase of new credits. We plan to support existing subscriptions until they expire,” the team wrote.

“EPL games including highlights continue to be blocked and are not expected to be reinstated before the end of the season.”

Indeed, just days later the Premier League demanded a six-figure settlement sum from Ace Hosting, presumably to make a lawsuit disappear. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“When the proposed damages amount was received it was clear that the Company would not be able to cover the cost and that there was a very high probability that even with a negotiated settlement that the Company was insolvent,” documents relating to Ace’s liquidation read.

At this point, Ace says it immediately ceased trading but while torrent sites usually shut down and disappear into the night, Ace’s demise is now a matter of record.

Creditors – the good, the bad, and the ugly

On April 11, 2018, Ace’s directors contacted business recovery and insolvency specialists Begbies Traynor (Central) LLP to obtain advice on the company’s financial position. Begbies Traynor was instructed by Ace on April 23 and on May 8, Ace Hosting director Ian Isaac determined that his company could not pay its debts.

First the good news. According to an official report, Ace Hosting has considerable cash in the bank – £255,472.00 to be exact. Now the bad news – Ace has debts of £717,278.84. – the details of which are intriguing to say the least.

First up, Ace has ‘trade creditors’ to whom it owes £104,356. The vast majority of this sum is a settlement Ace agreed to pay to the Premier League.

“The directors entered into a settlement agreement with the Football Association Premier League Limited prior to placing the Company into liquidation as a result of a purported copyright infringement. However, there is a residual claim from the Football Association Premier League Limited which is included within trade creditors totaling £100,000,” Ace’s statement of affairs reads.

Bizarrely (given the nature of the business, at least) Ace also owes £260,000 to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in unpaid VAT and corporation tax, which is effectively the government’s cut of the pirate IPTV business’s labors.

Former Ace Hosting subscriber? Your cash is as good as gone

Finally – and this is where things get a bit sweaty for Joe Public – there are 15,768 “consumer creditors”, split between ‘retail’ and ‘business’ customers of the service. Together they are owed a staggering £353,000.

Although the documentation isn’t explicit, retail customers appear to be people who have purchased an Ace IPTV subscription that still had time to run when the service closed down. Business customers seem likely to be resellers of the service, who purchased ‘credits’ and didn’t get time to sell them before Ace disappeared.

The poison chalice here is that those who are owed money by Ace can actually apply to get some of it back, but that could be extremely risky.

“Creditor claims have not yet been adjudicated but we estimate that the majority of customers who paid for subscription services will receive less than £3 if there is a distribution to unsecured creditors. Furthermore, customer details will be passed to the relevant authorities if there is any suggestion of unlawful conduct,” documentation reads.

We spoke with a former Ace customer who had this to say about the situation.

“It was generally a good service notwithstanding their half-arsed attempts to evade the EPL block. At its heart there were people who seemed to know how to operate a decent service, although the customer-facing side of things was not the greatest,” he said.

“And no, I won’t be claiming a refund. I went into it with my eyes fully open so I don’t hold anyone responsible, except myself. In any case, anyone who wants a refund has to complete a claim form and provide proof of ID (LOL).”

The bad news for former subscribers continues…potentially

While it’s likely that most people will forgo their £3, the bad news isn’t over for subscribers. Begbies Traynor is warning that the liquidators will decide whether to hand over subscribers’ personal details to the Premier League and/or the authorities.

In any event, sometime in the next couple of weeks the names and addresses of all subscribers will be made “available for inspection” at an address in Wiltshire for two days, meaning that any interested parties could potentially gain access to sensitive information.

The bottom line is that Ace Hosting is in the red to the tune of £461,907 and will eventually disappear into the bowels of history. Whether its operators will have to answer for their conduct will remain to be seen but it seems unimaginable at this stage that things will end well.

Subscribers probably won’t get sucked in but in a story as bizarre as this one, anything could yet happen.

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