Tag Archives: Universal Music

Court Orders Cloudflare to Prevent Access to Pirated Music or Face Fines or Prison

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-cloudflare-to-prevent-access-to-pirated-music-or-face-fines-or-prison-200219/

Earlier this week, Germany-focused music piracy site DDL-Music.to suddenly became inaccessible to the public. The site had been using the services of Cloudflare but an unusual error message suggested that the US-based company had stepped in disrupt the site’s activities.

‘Error HTTP 451’ is displayed by Cloudflare when a site is “Unavailable For Legal Reasons” and at least as far as pirate sites are concerned, its appearance is very rare indeed. Cloudflare’s documentation indicates that the message should be accompanied by a reason for the response, noting that it “should include an explanation in the response body with details of the legal demand.”

As the image above shows, no explanation was provided by Cloudflare but an investigation by Tarnkappe, details of which were shared with TorrentFreak, now reveals the unusual circumstances behind DDL-Music’s disconnection.

Early June 2019, Universal Music GmbH (Germany) reportedly sent a copyright infringement complaint to Cloudflare after finding links on DDL-Music to tracks from the album Herz Kraft Werke by German singer Sarah Connor. The tracks themselves were not hosted by DDL-Music but could be found on a third-party hosting site. Universal wanted the tracks to be rendered inaccessible within 24 hours but Cloudflare didn’t immediately comply.

Universal Music reportedly followed up with a warning to Cloudflare on June 19, 2019, demanding information about DDL-Music and its operators. A day later, the CDN company responded by declaring that it’s not responsible for its customers’ activities and Universal should deal with the website’s operator and/or webhost. However, Cloudflare did provide Universal with an email address along with details of DDL-Music’s hosting provider, supposedly in Pakistan.

With an obvious dispute underway, a hearing took place at the Cologne District Court (Landgericht Köln) on December 5, 2019. Lars Sobiraj of Tarnkappe, who obtained documentation relating to the hearing, informs TF that the Court ultimately determined that Cloudflare could be held liable for infringement of Universal Music’s copyrights by facilitating access to the tracks via DDL-Music, if it failed to take action.

This “liability as a disturber” (Störerhaftung) comes into play when a service (in this case, Cloudflare) contributes to a third-party’s infringement, without the element of intent. Under German law, however, the service can be held liable for infringement, if it fails to take reasonable action to prevent infringement in future.

On January 30, 2020, the Cologne District Court handed down a preliminary injunction against Cloudflare. This was received at the Hamburg offices of Cloudflare’s law firm TaylorWessig on February 4, 2020. It informed Cloudflare that should it continue to facilitate access to the Universal Music content detailed above, it could be ordered to pay a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($270,000) or, in the alternative, the managing director of Cloudflare could serve up to six months in prison.

In the event, however, Cloudflare appears to have taken the decision to jettison DDL-Music completely, as indicated by the Error 451 message that appeared a few days ago. The district court’s decision can be appealed but whether Cloudflare will take that route is currently unknown. Despite requests from TF for comment, the company has remained silent.

Meanwhile, DDL-Music appears to be migrating to DDoS-Guard, a CDN and DDoS mitigation platform that according to its website is registered in Scotland but is most probably based in Russia. Or the Netherlands, if its Twitter account is to be believed.

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

Award-Winning John Lennon Photographer Sues Universal Music For $150,000

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/award-winning-john-lennon-photographer-sues-universal-music-for-150000-190523/

As part of the RIAA, Universal Music is known for being the aggressor in dozens of copyright infringement complaints concerning the unlicensed use of its music.

Now, however, it now finds itself on the other side of the fence, following a copyright infringement complaint filed against it in the United States.

The man behind the action is Allan Tannenbaum, an award-winning photographer known for his works depicting the New York art, music and nightlife scene in the 70s and early 80s.

Tannenbaum’s portfolio contains many iconic photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, including a very well known one that depicts the couple in bed laughing. (shown below)

“John Lennon cracks a joke while he and Yoko are nude in bed filming a video for ‘Just Like Starting Over’ in a SoHo studio, November 26, 1980,” says a description of the image on Tannenbaum’s site.

“Tannenbaum is the author of the Photograph and has at all times been the sole owner of all right, title and interest in and to the Photograph, including the copyright thereto,” Tannenbaum’s complaint reads.

According to the complaint, filed under Section 501 of the Copyright Act, Universal Music is the operator of uDiscoverMusic, a website that takes an in-depth look at “some of the most influential music in the world – and the artists that created it.”

At issue is an article published on the site titled “John Lennon – Milk and Honey” which ran Tannenbaum’s image alongside to the right, as shown in the screenshot below.

Screenshot from uDiscoverMusic/complaint

According to the Universal-owned site, the article was first published during July 2015, but Tannenbaum says that he only discovered the unlicensed use of his work in May 2019. The article is still live at the time of writing.

“Universal Music infringed Plaintiff’s copyright in the Photograph by reproducing and publicly displaying the Photograph on the Website,” the complaint notes.

“Universal Music is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publically display, distribute and/or use the Photograph.”

It further alleges that Universal’s actions were willful, intentional, and purposeful, in “disregard of and indifference to Plaintiff’s rights.”

Demanding a trial by jury, Tannenbaum says he is entitled to damages and profits generated as a result of Universal’s “unlawful conduct”. Alternatively, he demands statutory damages of up to $150,000 for the infringed work.

The complaint, obtained by TorrentFreak, was filed just yesterday so Universal Music has not yet responded. It can be viewed 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.

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.