Tag Archives: website blocking

French Court Orders ISPs to Block Torrent Sites and File-Hosters

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/french-court-orders-isps-to-block-torrent-sites-and-file-hosters-191122/

Pirate site-blocking has become a prime measure for the entertainment industries to target pirate sites on the Internet.

The practice has been around for over a decade and has gradually expanded to more than 30 countries around the world.

This is also true in France, where The Pirate Bay was one of the first targets five years ago, but not the last. Several site-blocking applications followed, mostly on behalf of the local anti-piracy group La Société Civile des Producteurs Phonographiques, or SCPP as it’s more commonly known.

The organization, which represents over 2,000 music companies, including Warner, Universal, and Sony, is also behind the most recent blocking efforts.

In three separate orders, a Paris court recently ordered Internet providers Bouygues, Free, Orange, SFR, and SFR Fibre, to prevent customers from accessing piracy-linked websites.

The first order is targeted at six relatively small file-hosting services: Nippyspace.com, Nippyshare.com, Yolobit.com, Nippybox.com, Nippyfile.com, and Nippydrive.com. The sites in question all share the same simple design.

The term file-hoster or cyberlocker can have a broad meaning. In this case, the sites also provided a search function, which makes pirated content easier to find. Also, Zippyshare is no stranger to the music industry, as the RIAA previously listed it as a ‘notorious’ pirate site.

While SCPP didn’t respond to our request for comment, the Finnish anti-piracy group TTVK notes that the ruling is unique, as it’s the first court order that requires ISPs to block a file-hosting service in Europe.

“The decision of the French court confirms the view that blocking orders should be available for all pirated content services, regardless of the technology,” TTVK Executive Director Jaana Pihkala says.

The other two orders, which were released on the same day, target the torrent sites Torlock.com, Toros.co, Bittorrent.am, Seedpeer.me, Yggserver.net and Yggtorrent.ch, as well as the linking site 2DDL.vg.

Interestingly, NextInpact notes that the court suggested that the use of the word “BitTorrent” assumes bad intent, as the file-sharing protocol is often associated with piracy. This is rather broad, as there are also many legitimate BitTorrent services.

The orders (1, 2, and 3) are valid for 18 months. The Internet providers will have to pay the blocking costs themselves but did not oppose the orders in court.

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

ISPs: Pirate Site Blocking Threatens Freedom of Expression

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-pirate-site-blocking-threatens-freedom-of-expression-190907/

Online piracy is an international problem for the content industries, one that’s particularly hard to curb.

Pirate site blocking appears to be the preferred countermeasure, which has been rolled out in dozens of countries over the years.

While industry reports and academic research have shown signs that this can indeed be effective, it’s certainly no a silver bullet.

With few other options to hand, rightsholders do see it as one of their best bets for now. As such, they frequently push lawmakers to lay the groundwork for ISP blocking, if that’s not available.

It’s also a topic of interest in South Africa at the moment, where the Government has been working on a new ‘Cybercrimes Bill. The proposed legislation doesn’t have any blocking requirements, but there have been calls from industry groups to require ISPs to block blatantly-infringing pirate sites.

While this doesn’t come as a complete surprise considering the global trend, local Internet providers are fiercely against any type of piracy enforcement. Speaking with MyBroadband, the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) describes site blocking as ineffective and concerning.

“Blocking is technically complicated and subject to false positives, yet it is relatively trivial for consumers and content providers to bypass the blocks, bringing its effectiveness into question,” ISPA said.

“There are also complex freedom of expression concerns which are not for ISPs or copyright associations to resolve and which need to be properly ventilated through the courts,” the group added.

The ISP association points out that new technologies such as Encrypted DNS could render website blocking pretty much useless, without the need to use proxies or a VPN.

The group doesn’t deny that blocking may have a marginal anti-piracy effect but says that it’s unsure whether the positive impact of such as “blunt and limited” measure will outweigh the potential negative consequences.

“It is not clear that there will be any significant benefit to copyright holder associations and their members from this approach and certainly no indication that any positive impact will outweigh the risks to freedom of expression and access to information outlined above, as well as the cost of implementation,” ISPA noted.

There is currently no indication that the Government is seriously considering implementing any blocking-related obligations. However, it’s always possible that rightsholders will try to have such measures put in place through the judicial route.

ISPA didn’t comment on this option specifically, but going through the court will at least mean that the interests of the public at large will be carefully weighed.

Finally, ISPA also commented on some scaremongering which suggested that, under the new Cybercrimes Bill, ISPs will have to report all pirates to the authorities.

According to ISPA, this is an incorrect interpretation of the bill. The group stressed that current law makes it clear that ISPs don’t have to monitor their customers. In fact, doing so may be illegal.

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

Pirate Bay Overblocking Hits EZTV Due to Shared Cloudflare IP Address

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-overblocking-190718/

The Pirate Bay is arguably the most widely blocked website on the Internet. ISPs from all over the world have been ordered to prevent users from accessing the torrent site.

This is also the case in the Netherlands. While the issue remains pending at the Supreme Court, ISPs including Ziggo are already required to prevent users from accessing the popular torrent site.

A court ruling of 2017 required Ziggo to block both domain names and IP-addresses of The Pirate Bay and its many proxies. The list of blocked domains has grown to hundreds in recent years and the Dutch blocklist is regularly updated with new domains and IP-addresses by anti-piracy group BREIN.

Thus far, this hasn’t caused any trouble but earlier this month several torrent users noticed that Ziggo’s Pirate Bay blockade had carried over to EZTV.io, another popular torrent site. While EZTV also provides access to infringing content, it’s not covered by the court order. 

Still, EZTV users were welcomed by the following message from Ziggo when they tried to access the site.

Blocking message (translated)

As it turns out, both EZTV and The Pirate Bay use Cloudflare and the CDN company decided to put both sites on the same IP-address. As a result, Ziggo’s filters also blocked access to EZTV, which is a classic example of overblocking. 

Ziggo confirmed the error to local news site Tweakers but said that there was little it could do without an update from BREIN. 

“Despite the fact that Ziggo has repeatedly pointed out these these types of risks, the court did not sufficiently account for these types of complications. This means that even if we see or are reminded that a website is being incorrectly blocked, Ziggo is obliged to uphold the blockade, until further notice from Brein,” Ziggo noted.

The ISP said that it informed BREIN about the issue early July, but the list wasn’t immediately updated. This meant that EZTV remained blocked for at least a week. The torrent site was eventually unblocked after BREIN asked Cloudflare to put ETZV on a separate IP-address.

BREIN director Tim Kuik admits that the overblocking took place but doesn’t known why Cloudflare put the sites on the same IP-address. 

“I have no idea why EZTV became available at that IP address. Just like The Pirate Bay, they use Cloudflare and someone apparently thought it was a good idea,” Kuik told Tweakers

While BREIN helped to get EZTV unblocked again, Kuik stresses that the torrent site is illegal as well. The anti-piracy group summoned EZTV to stop its infringing activity and plans to have it blocked in the future as well, once the Pirate Bay case is finalized at the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that shared Cloudflare IP-addresses has resulted on overblocking. Two years go, dozens of pirate sites were mistakenly blocked by Internet backbone provider Cogent, following a court order. Cloudflare eventually resolved the matter by putting the sites on separate IP-addresses.

At the time, Cloudflare’s General Counsel Doug Kramer told TorrentFreak that it’s important for his company to understand how different blocks operate around the world, so  it can limit coleteral damage. However, that clearly didn’t work in EZTV’s case.

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

UK Pirate Site Blocking Requests Have Stopped, For Now

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/uk-pirate-site-blocking-requests-have-stopped-for-now-190715/

Website blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries.

The UK has been a leader on this front. Since 2011, the High Court has ordered ISPs to block access to many popular pirate sites.

Over time the number of blocked URLs in the UK has grown steadily to well over 1,000. This includes many popular torrent, streaming, and direct download sites, which remain barred today.

We have covered these efforts extensively here at TorrentFreak. However, since late 2016 something appears to have changed. The movie industry’s MPA(A) and the music industry’s BPI suddenly stopped submitting new requests.

The latest regular blocking order dates back nearly three years. While the Premier League did request some “dynamic” blockades of streaming related IP-addresses more recently, there have been no new efforts targeting traditional pirate sites.

This lack of new blocking requests is striking, especially since the UK model is often used as a prime example of anti-piracy enforcement around the world. Just a few months ago, MPAA and RIAA argued that it should become part of a possible US-UK trade deal.

“Website blocking has been successful in the United Kingdom with 63 music sites being ordered to be blocked following music right holders’ initiatives. On average this produces a reduction in the use of those sites by UK users by approximately 75 percent,” the RIAA said at the time.

Despite this effectiveness, UK piracy site-blocking efforts have been rather stagnant. While older court order are sill updated with new domain names, no new sites have been targeted by the MPA(A) and BPI in years. As such, new pirate sites can flourish.

TorrentFreak reached out to the MPA and BPI for a comment on this apparent slowdown. Neither organization gave a concrete reason for the absence of recent applications.

MPA informed TorrentFreak that it will continue to use a range of different methods for its enforcement efforts around the world. That includes working with local enforcement agencies to refer criminal cases, offering consumers new and innovative ways to access content, as well as seeking court orders to block access to pirate sites.

“The MPA will continue to use this range of methods as appropriate in the UK as we do around the world. Ensuring that filmmakers everywhere are compensated for their work and that revenues can be reinvested in new productions continues to be the number one priority for the MPA,” the group said.

BPI also stressed that site-blocking remains part of its anti-piracy toolbox.

“There are a very wide range of effective and complementary tools we use to reduce music piracy – site blocking is just a part of these,” a BPI spokesperson told us.

BPI’s other tools include delisting infringing URLs from search engines, site demotion under the search engine Voluntary Code of Practice, direct litigation against sites, criminal investigations, disrupting money flows to pirate sites, anti-piracy partnerships with online platforms, and consumer education.

The music group didn’t provide any details that explain why no new blocking orders were requested in recent years. However, it suggests that other tools are more appropriate at the current time.

“The mix of techniques we use varies over time and reflects the most appropriate strategy for dealing with a given problem at a given time,” the BPI spokesperson says.

“Having obtained High Court orders to block many of the major pirate brands, over the last few years other approaches have been effective to continue the reduction in music piracy. However, website blocking remains part of the mix and we will continue to use it in appropriate cases.”

The question remains why site blocking is seen as less appropriate. Perhaps the rightsholders feel that requesting additional blockades is not worth the resources, compared to other anti-piracy initiatives.

Part of the reason may be that the blocking orders can be quite expensive. Previously, it was estimated that  an unopposed application for a section 97A blocking order is roughly £14,000 per website, while maintaining it costs an additional £3,600 per year.

With well over a hundred sites blocked, the costs are quite significant, to say the least.

While there haven’t been any new requests, the previously ordered blockades are still in place, of course. That being said, we have to note that these are not effective everywhere. When we tried to access The Pirate Bay on a Virgin connection this week, it was freely accessible.

While the notorious pirate site may still be blocked on other ISPs, workarounds are not hard to find. At the time of writing PirateProxy.ch, a TPB proxy,  is among the 150 most-visited websites in the UK.

That said, rightsholders were never under the illusion that they can prevent the most determined pirates from accessing these sites. They simply want to dissuade casual pirates, and they feel that the current site blocking efforts are doing their job.

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

Majority of Canadians Consume Online Content Legally, Survey Finds

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/majority-of-canadians-consume-online-content-legally-survey-finds-180531/

Back in January, a coalition of companies and organizations with ties to the entertainment industries called on local telecoms regulator CRTC to implement a national website blocking regime.

Under the banner of Fairplay Canada, members including Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media, spoke of an industry under threat from marauding pirates. But just how serious is this threat?

The results of a new survey commissioned by Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) in collaboration with the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH) aims to shine light on the problem by revealing the online content consumption habits of citizens in the Great White North.

While there are interesting findings for those on both sides of the site-blocking debate, the situation seems somewhat removed from the Armageddon scenario predicted by the entertainment industries.

Carried out among 3,301 Canadians aged 12 years and over, the Kantar TNS study aims to cover copyright infringement in six key content areas – music, movies, TV shows, video games, computer software, and eBooks. Attitudes and behaviors are also touched upon while measuring the effectiveness of Canada’s copyright measures.

General Digital Content Consumption

In its introduction, the report notes that 28 million Canadians used the Internet in the three-month study period to November 27, 2017. Of those, 22 million (80%) consumed digital content. Around 20 million (73%) streamed or accessed content, 16 million (59%) downloaded content, while 8 million (28%) shared content.

Music, TV shows and movies all battled for first place in the consumption ranks, with 48%, 48%, and 46% respectively.

Copyright Infringement

According to the study, the majority of Canadians do things completely by the book. An impressive 74% of media-consuming respondents said that they’d only accessed material from legal sources in the preceding three months.

The remaining 26% admitted to accessing at least one illegal file in the same period. Of those, just 5% said that all of their consumption was from illegal sources, with movies (36%), software (36%), TV shows (34%) and video games (33%) the most likely content to be consumed illegally.

Interestingly, the study found that few demographic factors – such as gender, region, rural and urban, income, employment status and language – play a role in illegal content consumption.

“We found that only age and income varied significantly between consumers who infringed by downloading or streaming/accessing content online illegally and consumers who did not consume infringing content online,” the report reads.

“More specifically, the profile of consumers who downloaded or streamed/accessed infringing content skewed slightly younger and towards individuals with household incomes of $100K+.”

Licensed services much more popular than pirate haunts

It will come as no surprise that Netflix was the most popular service with consumers, with 64% having used it in the past three months. Sites like YouTube and Facebook were a big hit too, visited by 36% and 28% of content consumers respectively.

Overall, 74% of online content consumers use licensed services for content while 42% use social networks. Under a third (31%) use a combination of peer-to-peer (BitTorrent), cyberlocker platforms, or linking sites. Stream-ripping services are used by 9% of content consumers.

“Consumers who reported downloading or streaming/accessing infringing content only are less likely to use licensed services and more likely to use peer-to-peer/cyberlocker/linking sites than other consumers of online content,” the report notes.

Attitudes towards legal consumption & infringing content

In common with similar surveys over the years, the Kantar research looked at the reasons why people consume content from various sources, both legal and otherwise.

Convenience (48%), speed (36%) and quality (34%) were the most-cited reasons for using legal sources. An interesting 33% of respondents said they use legal sites to avoid using illegal sources.

On the illicit front, 54% of those who obtained unauthorized content in the previous three months said they did so due to it being free, with 40% citing convenience and 34% mentioning speed.

Almost six out of ten (58%) said lower costs would encourage them to switch to official sources, with 47% saying they’d move if legal availability was improved.

Canada’s ‘Notice-and-Notice’ warning system

People in Canada who share content on peer-to-peer systems like BitTorrent without permission run the risk of receiving an infringement notice warning them to stop. These are sent by copyright holders via users’ ISPs and the hope is that the shock of receiving a warning will turn consumers back to the straight and narrow.

The study reveals that 10% of online content consumers over the age of 12 have received one of these notices but what kind of effect have they had?

“Respondents reported that receiving such a notice resulted in the following: increased awareness of copyright infringement (38%), taking steps to ensure password protected home networks (27%), a household discussion about copyright infringement (27%), and discontinuing illegal downloading or streaming (24%),” the report notes.

While these are all positives for the entertainment industries, Kantar reports that almost a quarter (24%) of people who receive a notice simply ignore them.

Stream-ripping

Once upon a time, people obtaining music via P2P networks was cited as the music industry’s greatest threat but, with the advent of sites like YouTube, so-called stream-ripping is the latest bogeyman.

According to the study, 11% of Internet users say they’ve used a stream-ripping service. They are most likely to be male (62%) and predominantly 18 to 34 (52%) years of age.

“Among Canadians who have used a service to stream-rip music or entertainment, nearly half (48%) have used stream-ripping sites, one-third have used downloader apps (38%), one-in-seven (14%) have used a stream-ripping plug-in, and one-in-ten (10%) have used stream-ripping software,” the report adds.

Set-Top Boxes and VPNs

Few general piracy studies would be complete in 2018 without touching on set-top devices and Virtual Private Networks and this report doesn’t disappoint.

More than one in five (21%) respondents aged 12+ reported using a VPN, with the main purpose of securing communications and Internet browsing (57%).

A relatively modest 36% said they use a VPN to access free content while 32% said the aim was to access geo-blocked content unavailable in Canada. Just over a quarter (27%) said that accessing content from overseas at a reasonable price was the main motivator.

One in ten (10%) of respondents reported using a set-top box, with 78% stating they use them to access paid-for content. Interestingly, only a small number say they use the devices to infringe.

“A minority use set-top boxes to access other content that is not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (16%), or to access live sports that are not legal or they are unsure if it is legal (11%),” the report notes.

“Individuals who consumed a mix of legal and illegal content online are more likely to use VPN services (42%) or TV set-top boxes (21%) than consumers who only downloaded or streamed/accessed legal content.”

Kantar says that the findings of the report will be used to help policymakers evaluate how Canada’s Copyright Act is coping with a changing market and technological developments.

“This research will provide the necessary information required to further develop copyright policy in Canada, as well as to provide a foundation to assess the effectiveness of the measures to address copyright infringement, should future analysis be undertaken,” it concludes.

The full report can be found here (pdf)

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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.

Registrars Suspend 11 Pirate Site Domains, 89 More in the Crosshairs

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/registrars-suspend-11-pirate-site-domains-89-more-in-the-crosshairs-180423/

In addition to website blocking which is running rampant across dozens of countries right now, targeting the domains of pirate sites is considered to be a somewhat effective anti-piracy tool.

The vast majority of websites are found using a recognizable name so when they become inaccessible, site operators have to work quickly to get the message out to fans. That can mean losing visitors, at least in the short term, and also contributes to the rise of copy-cat sites that may not have users’ best interests at heart.

Nevertheless, crime-fighting has always been about disrupting the ability of the enemy to do business so with this in mind, authorities in India began taking advice from the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) a couple of years ago.

After studying the model developed by PIPCU, India formed its Digital Crime Unit (DCU), which follows a multi-stage plan.

Initially, pirate sites and their partners are told to cease-and-desist. Next, complaints are filed with advertisers, who are asked to stop funding site activities. Service providers and domain registrars also receive a written complaint from the DCU, asking them to suspend services to the sites in question.

Last July, the DCU earmarked around 9,000 sites where pirated content was being made available. From there, 1,300 were placed on a shortlist for targeted action. Precisely how many have been contacted thus far is unclear but authorities are now reporting success.

According to local reports, the Maharashtra government’s Digital Crime Unit has managed to have 11 pirate site domains suspended following complaints from players in the entertainment industry.

As is often the case (and to avoid them receiving even more attention) the sites in question aren’t being named but according to Brijesh Singh, special Inspector General of Police in Maharashtra, the sites had a significant number of visitors.

Their domain registrars were sent a notice under Section 149 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure, which grants police the power to take preventative action when a crime is suspected. It’s yet to be confirmed officially but it seems likely that pirate sites utilizing local registrars were targeted by the authorities.

“Responding to our notice, the domain names of all these websites, that had a collective viewership of over 80 million, were suspended,” Singh said.

Laxman Kamble, a police inspector attached to the state government’s Cyber Cell, said the pilot project was launched after the government received complaints from Viacom and Star but back in January there were reports that the MPAA had also become involved.

Using the model pioneered by London’s PIPCU, 19 parameters were applied to list of pirate sites in order to place them on the shortlist. They are reported to include the type of content being uploaded, downloaded, and the number of downloads overall.

Kamble reports that a further 89 websites, that have domains registered abroad but are very popular in India, are now being targeted. Whether overseas registrars will prove as compliant will remain to be seen. After booking initial success, even PIPCU itself experienced problems keeping up the momentum with registrars.

In 2014, information obtained by TorrentFreak following a Freedom of Information request revealed that only five out of 70 domain registrars had complied with police requests to suspend domains.

A year later, PIPCU confirmed that suspending pirate domain names was no longer a priority for them after ICANN ruled that registrars don’t have to suspend domain names without a valid court order.

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