Tag Archives: website blocking

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).

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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.

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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.

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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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Hollywood Studios Get ISP Blocking Order Against Rarbg in India

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-studios-score-blocking-order-against-rarbg-in-india-180417/

While the major Hollywood studios are very reluctant to bring a pirate site blocking case to their home turf, they are very active abroad.

The companies are the driving force behind lawsuits in Europe, Australia, and are also active in India, where they booked a new success last week.

Website blocking is by no means a new phenomenon in India. The country is known for so-called John Doe orders, where a flurry of websites are temporarily blocked to protect the release of a specific title.

The major Hollywood studios are taking a different approach. Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, and Warner Bros. are requesting blockades, accusing sites of being structural copyright infringers.

One of the most recent targets is the popular torrent site Rarbg. The Hollywood studios describe Rarbg as a ‘habitual’ copyright infringer and demand that several Internet providers block access to the site.

“It is submitted that the Defendant Website aids and facilitates the accessibility and availability of infringing material, and induce third parties, intentionally and/or knowingly, to infringe through their websites by various means,’ the movie studios allege.

The complaint filed at the High Court of Delhi lists more than 20 Internet providers as co-defendants, and also includes India’s Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology in the mix.

The two Government departments are added because they have the power to enforce blocking orders. Specifically, the Hollywood studios note that the Department of Technology’s license agreement with ISPs requires these companies to ensure that copyright infringing content is not carried on their networks.

“It is submitted that the DoT itself acknowledges the fact that service providers have an obligation to ensure that no violation of third party intellectual property rights takes place through their networks and that effective protection is provided to right holders of such intellectual property,” the studios write.

Last week the court granted an injunction that requires local Internet providers including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Telenor, You Broadband, and Vodafone to block Rarbg.

Blocking order

As requested, the Department of Telecommunications and Department of Electronics and Information Technology are directed to notify all local internet and telecom service providers that they must block the torrent site as well.

The order is preliminary and can still be contested in court. However, given the history of similar blocking efforts around the world, it is likely that it will be upheld.

While there’s not much coverage on the matter, this isn’t the first blocking request the companies have filed in India. Last October, a similar case was filed against another popular torrent site, 1337x.to, with success.

TorrentFreak reached out to the law firm representing the Hollywood studios to get a broader overview of the blocking plans in India. At the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

A copy of the order obtained by Disney Enterprises, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros and the local Disney owned media conglomerate UTV Software, is available here (pdf).

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Pirate Site-Blocking? Music Biz Wants App Blocking Too

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blocking-music-biz-wants-app-blocking-too-180415/

In some way, shape or form, Internet piracy has always been carried out through some kind of application. Whether that’s a peer-to-peer client utilizing BitTorrent or eD2K, or a Usenet or FTP tool taking things back to their roots, software has always played a crucial role.

Of course, the nature of the Internet beast means that software usage is unavoidable but in recent years piracy has swung more towards the regular web browser, meaning that sites and services offering pirated content are largely easy to locate, identify and block, if authorities so choose.

As revealed this week by the MPA, thousands of platforms around the world are now targeted for blocking, with 1,800 sites and 5,300 domains blocked in Europe alone.

However, as the Kodi phenomenon has shown, web-based content doesn’t always have to be accessed via a standard web browser. Clever but potentially illegal addons and third-party apps are able to scrape web-based resources and present links to content on a wide range of devices, from mobile phones and tablets to set-top boxes.

While it’s still possible to block the resources upon which these addons rely, the scattered nature of the content makes the process much more difficult. One can’t simply block a whole platform because a few movies are illegally hosted there and even Google has found itself hosting thousands of infringing titles, a situation that’s ruthlessly exploited by addon and app developers alike.

Needless to say, the situation hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment has spent the last year (1,2,3) targeting many people involved in the addon and app scene, hoping they’ll take their tools and run, rather than further develop a rapidly evolving piracy ecosystem.

Over in Russia, a country that will happily block hundreds or millions of IP addresses if it suits them, the topic of infringing apps was raised this week. It happened during the International Strategic Forum on Intellectual Property, a gathering of 500 experts from more than 30 countries. There were strong calls for yet more tools and measures to deal with films and music being made available via ‘pirate’ apps.

The forum heard that in response to widespread website blocking, people behind pirate sites have begun creating applications for mobile devices to achieve the same ends – the provision of illegal content. This, key players in the music industry say, means that the law needs to be further tightened to tackle the rising threat.

“Consumption of content is now going into the mobile sector and due to this we plan to prevent mass migration of ‘pirates’ to the mobile sector,” said Leonid Agronov, general director of the National Federation of the Music Industry.

The same concerns were echoed by Alexander Blinov, CEO of Warner Music Russia. According to TASS, the powerful industry player said that while recent revenues had been positively affected by site-blocking, it’s now time to start taking more action against apps.

“I agree with all speakers that we can not stop at what has been achieved so far. The music industry has a fight against illegal content in mobile applications on the agenda,” Blinov said.

And if Blinov is to be believed, music in Russia is doing particularly well at the moment. Attributing successes to efforts by parliament, the Ministry of Communications, and copyright holders, Blinov said the local music market has doubled in the past two years.

“We are now in the top three fastest growing markets in the world, behind only China and South Korea,” Blinov said.

While some apps can work in the same manner as a basic web interface, others rely on more complex mechanisms, ‘scraping’ content from diverse sources that can be easily and readily changed if mitigation measures kick in. It will be very interesting to see how Russia deals with this threat and whether it will opt for highly technical solutions or the nuclear options demonstrated recently.

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MPA Reveals Scale of Worldwide Pirate Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/mpa-reveals-scale-of-worldwide-pirate-site-blocking-180410/

Few people following the controversial topic of Internet piracy will be unaware of the site-blocking phenomenon. It’s now one of the main weapons in the entertainment industries’ arsenal and it’s affecting dozens of countries.

While general figures can be culled from the hundreds of news reports covering the issue, the manner in which blocking is handled in several regions means that updates aren’t always provided. New sites are regularly added to blocklists without fanfare, meaning that the public is kept largely in the dark.

Now, however, a submission to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) by Motion Picture Association Canada provides a more detailed overview. It was presented in support of the proposed blocking regime in Canada, so while the key figures are no doubt accurate, some of the supporting rhetoric should be viewed in context.

“Over the last decade, at least 42 countries have either adopted and implemented, or are legally obligated to adopt and implement, measures to ensure that ISPs take steps to disable access to copyright infringing websites, including throughout the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Korea,” the submission reads.

The 42 blocking-capable countries referenced by the Hollywood group include the members of the European Union plus the following: Argentina, Australia, Iceland, India, Israel, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.

While all countries have their own unique sets of legislation, countries within the EU are covered by the requirements of Article 8.3 of the INFOSEC Directive which provides that; “Member States shall ensure that rightholders are in a position to apply for an injunction against intermediaries whose services are used by a third party to infringe a copyright or related right.”

That doesn’t mean that all countries are actively blocking, however. While Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have the legal basis to block infringing sites, none have yet done so.

In a significant number of other EU countries, however, blocking activity is prolific.

“To date, in at least 17 European countries, over 1,800 infringing sites and over 5,300 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked, including in the following four countries where the positive impact of site-blocking over time has been demonstrated,” MPA Canada notes.

Major blocking nations in the EU

At this point, it’s worth pointing out that authority to block sites is currently being obtained in two key ways, either through the courts or via an administrative process.

In the examples above, the UK and Denmark are dealt with via the former, with Italy and Portugal handled via the latter. At least as far as the volume of sites is concerned, court processes – which can be expensive – tend to yield lower site blocking levels than those carried out through an administrative process. Indeed, the MPAA has praised Portugal’s super-streamlined efforts as something to aspire to.

Outside Europe, the same two processes are also in use. For example, Australia, Argentina, and Singapore utilize the judicial route while South Korea, Mexico, Malaysia and Indonesia have opted for administrative remedies.

“Across 10 of these countries, over 1,100 infringing sites and over 1,500 domains utilized by such sites have been blocked,” MPA Canada reveals.

To date, South Korea has blocked 460 sites and 547 domains, while Australia has blocked 91 sites and 355 domains. In the case of the latter, “research has confirmed the increasingly positive impact that site-blocking has, as a greater number of sites are blocked over time,” the Hollywood group notes.

Although by no means comprehensive, MPA Canada lists the following “Notorious Sites” as subject to blocking in multiple countries via both judicial and administrative means. Most will be familiar, with the truly notorious The Pirate Bay heading the pile. Several no longer exist in their original form but in many cases, clones are blocked as if they still represent the original target.


The methods used to block the sites vary from country to country, dependent on what courts deem fit and in consideration of ISPs’ technical capabilities. Three main tools are in use including DNS blocking, IP address blocking, and URL blocking, which can also include Deep Packet Inspection.

The MPA submission (pdf) is strongly in favor of adding Canada to the list of site-blocking countries detailed above. The Hollywood group believes that the measures are both effective and proportionate, citing reduced usage of blocked sites, reduced traffic to pirate sites in general, and increased visits to legitimate platforms.

“There is every reason to believe that the website blocking measures [presented to the CRTC] will lead to the same beneficial results in Canada,” MPA Canada states.

While plenty of content creators and distributors are in favor of proposals, all signs suggest they will have a battle on their hands, with even some ISPs coming out in opposition.

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Not All Canadian ISPs Are Pro Site Blocking

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/not-all-canadian-isps-are-pro-site-blocking-180406/

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 coalition, Bell, Rogers, and others urged telecoms regulator CRTC to institute a national website blocking program.

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

Over the past several weeks, the CRTC has asked the public for input on the plan. While we have already covered several responses, some notable entries were submitted at the very last minute.

The MPAA and the Premier League, which both applied for court-ordered blockades in the UK, voiced their support, for example. The same is true for ISP Shaw Communications. While Shaw is not part of the Fairplay Coalition it fully supports the site blocking proposal.

“New regulatory tools are needed to provide a comprehensive and coordinated response to combat piracy, and the FairPlay Proposal provides an expeditious, effective, and fair process,” Shaw writes, noting that the proposal doesn’t violate net neutrality.

The Independent Telecommunications Providers Association (ITPA) also chimed in. Representing more than a dozen smaller Internet providers, it takes no position on the merits of the plan, but stresses that copyright holders should pick up the bill.

“The ITPA would object to any regime that imposes costs without a cost recovery mechanism for service providers,” the association writes.

While many ISPs are backing the plan or taking a relatively neutral stance, TekSavvy is among the notable exceptions. The independent company that services more than 250,000 Canadian homes and businesses, says that the proposal would have a major impact.

“If implemented, the Applicants’ proposal for site blocking would fundamentally reshape how Internet services would work in Canada, including the manner in which TekSavvy provides Internet services.”

In a rather dry submission, the Internet provider argues that site blocking violates the Common Carrier doctrine of the Telecommunications Act.

“Rather than advancing the telecommunications policy objectives, the approach proposed in the Application to policing content on the Internet is in direct opposition to many of those objectives,” TekSavvy writes.

The proposal interferes with online traffic, the ISP explains, which could affect network neutrality principles. At the same time, it goes against several policy objectives, including the principle that any regulation should be efficient and effective.

“It is well-documented that blocking individual web sites is difficult and expensive and even so relatively trivial to circumvent,” the ISP notes. “As a result, site-blocking is neither efficient, nor effective.”

As such, TechSavvy argues that the site blocking proposal is not the kind of exceptional circumstance that warrants an exception to the common carrier doctrine.

The ISP is not alone in its critique, as Micheal Geist points out. In addition to its own submission, TekSavvy supports the Canadian Network Operators Consortium’s CNOC intervention, which covers a broad range of issues.

CNOC represents several dozen smaller Telcos and, among other things, it argues in detail that the blocking proposal will be costly but ineffective.

“CNOC is not convinced of the efficacy of FairPlay Canada’s proposal, and, in fact, believes that mandatory website blocking could be circumvented with such ease that expending any resources on it is unlikely to be productive, yet it would impose significant costs on ISPs,” CNOC notes.

The one thing that’s clear following all the submissions is that the CRTC will find it impossible to satisfy all parties. Even the Internet providers themselves have conflicting opinions.

A copy of Teksavvy’s submission is available here (pdf). ITPA’s letter can be found here (pdf), CNOC’s here (pdf), and Shaw’s submission in favor of the proposal is available here (pdf).

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Fox Networks Obtains Piracy Blocking Injunction Against Rojadirecta

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/fox-networks-obtains-piracy-blocking-injunction-against-rojadirecta-180405/

Twelve years ago this October, a court in Denmark ordered a local ISP to begin blocking unlicensed Russian music site AllofMP3. It was a landmark moment that opened the floodgates.

Although most countries took a few years to follow, blocking is now commonplace across Europe and if industry lobbyists have their way, it will soon head to North America. Meanwhile, other regions are getting their efforts underway, with Uruguay the latest country to reserve a place on the list.

The news comes via Fox Sports Latin America, which expressed satisfaction this week that a court in the country had handed down an interim injunction against local ISPs which compels them to block access to streaming portal Rojadirecta.

Despite a focus on Spanish speaking regions, Rojadirecta is one of the best known and longest-standing unauthorized sports in the world. Offering links to live streams of most spectator sports, Rojadirecta has gained a loyal and international following.

This has resulted in a number of lawsuits and legal challenges in multiple regions, the latest being a criminal copyright infringement complaint by Fox Sports Latin America. As usual, the company is annoyed that its content is being made available online without the proper authorization.

“This exemplary ruling marks the beginning of judicial awareness on online piracy issues,” said Daniel Steinmetz, Chief Anti-Piracy Officer of Fox Networks Group Latin America.

“FNG Latin America works constantly to combat the illegal use of content on different fronts and with great satisfaction we have found in Uruguay an important ally in the fight against this scourge. We are on our way to ending the impunity of these illegal content relay sites.”

Fox Sports says that with this pioneering action, Uruguay is now at the forefront of the campaign to tackle piracy currently running rampant across South America.

According to a NetNames report, there are 222 million Internet users in the region, of which 110 million access pirated content. This translates to 1,377 million TV hours per year but it’s hoped that additional action in other countries will help to stem the rising tide.

“We have already presented actions in other countries in the region where we will seek to replicate what we have obtained in Uruguay,” Fox said in a statement.

Local reports indicate that Internet providers have not yet taken action to block RojaDirecta but it’s expected they will do so in the near future.

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Canadian BitTorrent Traffic Tanked, But Video Piracy is Still Hot

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canadian-bittorrent-traffic-tanked-but-video-piracy-is-still-hot-180403/

Piracy has become a hot topic in Canada now that there are calls to implement the first website blocking scheme in North America.

One outfit that’s kept a close eye on piracy-related developments in recent years is Ontario-based broadband management company Sandvine.

For years, Sandvine has monitored Internet traffic trends throughout the world. Some of these developments are, at least partially, linked to piracy. This includes the market share of BitTorrent traffic.

In recent years the percentage of BitTorrent-related Internet traffic has dropped significantly and newly released data by Sandvine shows that this is no different in Canada.

Between 2014 and 2017 the aggregate daily traffic share of BitTorrent dropped from 15.1% to a measly 1.6% on fixed networks. This suggests that absolute traffic also took a significant hit.

BitTorrent aggregate daily traffc share (Sandvine)

While Sandvine believes that most torrent traffic was infringement related, the drop doesn’t mean that video piracy is no longer an issue. A lot of this activity has moved to streaming sites and dedicated streaming boxes.

In its report, the company specifically highlights the issue of fully-loaded Kodi boxes. While the Kodi media player itself is perfectly legal, when paired with pirate add-ons it causes problems for copyright holders.

In Canada, it is estimated that nearly 10% of all households have access to a Kodi-powered device. More than two-thirds of these (71%) have their devices configured to access pirated content.

This brings the total of Canadian households with access to ‘pirate’ Kodi addons to 7%, which is slightly higher than the 6% in the US. This figure should not be underestimated, according to Sandvine.

“Sandvine believes that emergent forms of piracy such as the ‘Fully-Loaded’ Kodi ecosystem and subscription television piracy represent a real threat to the revenue streams of network operators,” the company says.

“Not only because the content is being stolen, but because in some instance subscribers are paying to pirate these services, with no money going into the pockets of the content creators or rights holders.”

It is worth noting that Sandvine doesn’t measure the traffic that’s generated by regular pirate streaming sites or other devices. So the total percentage of streaming pirates is much higher.

Finally, we have to mention that the Canadian company is not a neutral party in the blocking debate. As a company that sells blocking solutions, it could possibly benefit from the website blocking plans that triggered the release of these data.

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

UN Human Rights Rapporteur Warns Against Canadian Pirate Site Blocking Plan

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/un-human-rights-rapporteur-warns-against-canadian-pirate-site-blocking-plan-180402/

In January, a coalition of Canadian companies called on the country’s telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program, which would be the first of its kind in North America.

The Canadian deal is supported by Fairplay Canada, a coalition of both copyright holders and major players in the telco industry, such as Bell and Rogers, which also have their own media branches.

Before making a decision on the proposal, the CTRC launched a public consultation asking the public for input on the matter. This has resulted in thousands of submissions, both for and against the plan.

Last week, just before the deadline passed, a noteworthy letter typed on a United Nations letterhead came in. The submission comes from David Kaye, acting as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Special Rapporteurs are independent experts who have a mandate from the Human Rights Council to report and advise United Nations members on threats and problems that arise. In this case, the letter warns against the Canadian site blocking plan.

According to Kaye, the website blocking plan threatens to violate Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This article guarantees people’s freedom of “opinion and expression” through “any media” and “regardless of frontiers.”

The Special Rapporteur informs the CRTC that the blocking plan could violate Canada’s obligations under Article 19 in several ways. The first problem he highlights is proportionality. According to Kaye, website blocking is an extreme measure that is often too broad to tackle copyright infringement.

“While the enforcement of copyright law may be a legitimate aim, I am concerned that website/application blocking is almost always a disproportionate means of achieving this aim,” Kaye writes.

“The risk that online expression will be disproportionately restricted is particularly high for websites/applications that are implicated in copyright infringement but also widely used to protect personal identity and security, such as VPNs, proxy services and peer-to-peer networks.”

The Special Rapporteur also highlights that the proposed criteria for piracy sites are vague, which may lead to over-blocking. This could affect sites and services that also have significant non-infringing uses.

In addition, he also notes that the proposed plan lacks due process safeguards. This means that sites may be blocked solely based on allegations from copyright holders, without judicial oversight.

Finally, it’s pointed out that the website blocking plan requires ISPs to work with copyright holders. However, the Rapporteur notes that these Telcos also own major Canadian commercial television services, which makes it unclear if they can act as neutral gatekeepers.

All in all, the Special Rapporteur urges the CRTC to make sure that, if it adopts any blocking measures, these will be in accordance with Article 19 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Given his summary, that is currently not the case.

“Website blocking is an extreme measure that should only be imposed when an independent and impartial judicial authority or adjudicatory body has determined that it is the least restrictive means available to end individual acts of copyright infringement.”

“The proposed website blocking regime raises concern that websites may be blocked in Canada based on insufficient evidence or misleading allegations of copyright infringement, through a process lacking necessary due process guarantees,” Kaye adds.

Now that the public consultation has ended the CRTC will review the thousands of responses, including this one. When that’s done, it is expected to release a final review on the proposal, which is expected to happen later this year.

The submission of Special Rapporteur David Kaye, which hasn’t gone unnoticed, is available here (pdf).

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Key Internet Players Excoriate Canadian Pirate Site Blocking Plan

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/key-internet-players-excoriate-canadian-pirate-site-blocking-plan-180323/

In January, a coalition of Canadian companies called on the country’s telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program, which would be the first of its kind in North America.

The Canadian deal is supported by FairPlay Canada, a coalition of both copyright holders and major players in the telco industry, such as Bell and Rogers, which also have media companies of their own.

Before making any decisions, the CRTC has asked the public for comments. Last week we highlighted a few from both sides, but in recent days two Internet heavyweights have chimed in.

The first submission comes from the Internet Infrastructure Coalition (i2Coalition), which counts Google, Amazon, Cogeco PEER1, and Tucows among its members. These are all key players in the Internet ecosystem, with a rather strong opinion.

In a strongly-worded letter, the coalition urges the CRTC to reject the proposed “government-backed internet censorship committee” which they say will hurt the public as well as various companies that rely on a free and open Internet.

“The not-for-profit organization envisioned by the FairPlay Canada proposal lacks accountability and oversight, and is certain to cause tremendous collateral damage to innocent Internet business owners,” they write.

“There is shockingly little judicial review or due process in establishing and approving the list of websites being blocked — and no specifics of how this blocking is actually to be implemented.”

According to the coalition, the proposal would stifle innovation, shutter legitimate businesses through overblocking, and harm Canada’s Internet economy.

In addition, they fear that it may lead to broad blockades of specific technologies. This includes VPNs, which Bell condemned in the past, as well as BitTorrent traffic.

“VPN usage itself could be targeted by this proposal, as could the use of torrents, another technology with wide legitimate usage, including digital security on public wifi, along with myriad other business requirements,” the coalition writes.

“We caution that this proposal could be used to attempt to restrict technology innovation. There are no provisions within the FairPlay proposal to avoid vilification of specific technologies. Technologies themselves cannot be bad actors.”

According to the i2Coalition, Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act is already one of the toughest anti-piracy laws in the world and they see no need to go any further. As such, they urge the authorities to reject the plan.

“The government and the CRTC should not hesitate to firmly reject the website blocking plan as a disproportionate, unconstitutional proposal sorely lacking in due process that is inconsistent with the current communications law framework,” the letter concludes.

The second submission we want to highlight comes from the Internet Society. In addition to many individual members, it is supported by dozens of major companies. This includes Google and Facebook, but also ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast, and even copyright holders such as 21st Century Fox and Disney.

While the Internet Society’s Hollywood members have argued in favor of pirate site blockades in the past, even in court, the organization’s submission argues fiercely against this measure.

Pointing to an extensive report Internet Society published last Spring, they inform the CRTC that website blocking techniques “do not solve the problem” and “inflict collateral damage.”

The Internet Society calls on the CRTC to carefully examine the proposal’s potential negative effects on the security of the Internet, the privacy of Canadians, and how it may inadvertently block legitimate websites.

“In our opinion, the negative impacts of disabling access greatly outweigh any benefits,” the Internet Society writes.

Thus far, nearly 10,000 responses have been submitted to the CRTC. The official deadline passes on March 29, after which it is up to the telecoms regulator to factor the different opinions into its final decision.

The i2Coalition submission is available here (pdf) and the Internet Society’s comments can be found here (pdf).

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Google Should Begin Delisting Pirate Sites, Aussie Rightsholders Say

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/google-should-begin-delisting-pirate-sites-aussie-rightsholders-say-180322/

After being passed almost three years ago, in February the Australian government announced a review of its pirate site-blocking laws.

The Department of Communications asked for feedback on the effectiveness of the mechanism, from initial injunction application through to website blocking and, crucially, whether further amendments are required.

“The Department welcomes single, consolidated submissions from organizations or parties, capturing all views on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 (Online Infringement Amendment) [pdf],” the consultation paper began.

Several responses from interested groups have been filed with the government and unsurprisingly, most come from entertainment industry groups seeking to expand on what has been achieved so far.

The most aggressive submissions come from the two companies that have made the most use of the blocking scheme so far – movie group Village Roadshow and TV provider Foxtel. Together the companies have had dozens of sites blocked in Australia by local ISPs but now they want the blocking regime expanded to online service platforms too.

Indeed, in the Roadshow and Foxtel submissions combined, Google is mentioned no less than 29 times as being part of the piracy problem Down Under.

“Village Roadshow strongly supported the original site blocking legislation and now we strongly support strengthening it,” Village Roadshow co-chief Graham Burke writes.

“With all major pirate sites blocked in Australia, the front door of the department store is shut. However, pirates, facilitated by Google and other search engines, are circumventing Australian Laws and Courts and opening a huge back door. Australia needs the power to require Google and other search engines to take reasonable steps to stop facilitating searches which lead to pirate sites.”

Burke goes on to criticize Google’s business model, which pushes tens of millions of people “searching for stolen goods” to pirate sites that hit them with “rogue advertising including illegal gambling, drugs, sex aids and prostitution.”

In a nutshell, the Village Roadshow co-chief suggests that Google’s business model involves profiting from knowingly leading consumers to illegal locations where they are ultimately ripped off.

“The analogy for Google is a Westfield Shopping Centre knowing they are getting big traffic to the center from a store that is using stolen goods to lure people and then robbing them!” he writes.

This anti-Google rant heads in a predictable direction. At the moment, Australia’s site-blocking regime only applies to ‘carriage service providers’, the home ISPs we all use. Village Roadshow wants that provision expanded to include ‘intermediary service providers’, which covers search engines, social media, and other types of internet intermediaries.

“Apart from ISP’s, many intermediaries are able to meaningfully impact traffic to infringing sites, and in fact, can and are currently used by pirates to find new locations and proxies to circumvent the ISP blocks,” Burke adds.

In other words, when served with an injunction, companies like Google and Facebook should delist results that lead people to pirate sites. This position is also championed by Foxtel, which points to a voluntary arrangement in the UK between search engines and the entertainment industries.

Under this anti-piracy code introduced last year, search engines agreed to further optimize their algorithms and processes to demote pirated content in search results. The aim is to make infringing content less visible and at a faster rate. At the same time, legal alternatives should be easier to find.

But like Village Roadshow, Foxtel doesn’t appear to be content with demotion – blocking and delisting is the aim.

“Foxtel strongly believes that extending the site blocking powers to search engines so that they must remove copyright infringing sites from search results would have a substantial impact on reducing piracy in Australia,” the company says.

“Search engines already remove URLs from site indexes to comply with local laws and product community standards and therefore, technologically Foxtel understands it would be a relatively simple exercise for search engines to comply with Australian blocking orders.”

Both Foxtel and Roadshow agree in other areas too. Currently, Australia’s site-blocking provisions apply to “online locations” situated outside Australia’s borders but both companies see a need for that restriction to be removed.

Neither company can understand why local pirate sites can’t be handled in the same way as those based overseas, with Foxtel arguing that proving an overseas element can be a costly process.

“Applicants must review individual domain locations and IP addresses and put on evidence relating to these matters to ensure that the location of the sites is established. This evidence, which we consider to be unnecessary, is produced at significant time and cost, all of which is borne by the rights holders,” Foxtel says.

While none of the above is particularly new in the global scheme of things, it’s interesting to note that even when agreements are reached and new legislation is formed, rightsholders always keep pushing for more.

That’s clearly highlighted in the Foxtel submission when the company says that the threshold for determining a pirate site should be lowered. Currently, a site must have a “primary purpose” to “infringe, or to facilitate the infringement” of copyright. Foxtel sees this as being too high.

In order to encompass general hosting sites that may also carry large quantities of infringing content, it would like to remove the term “primary purpose” and replace it with “substantial purpose or effect.” Given the recent criticisms leveled at Google and particularly YouTube for the infringing content it hosts, that request could prove difficult to push through.

Foxtel also sees a need to better tackle live streaming. In the UK, injunctions obtained by the Premier League and UEFA last year allow pirated live sports streams to be blocked in real-time. Although the injunctions are overseen by the courts, on a practical level the process is carried out between rightsholders and compliant ISPs.

Foxtel believes that Australia needs something similar.

“For site blocking to be effective in Australia in respect of live sport streaming sites which frequently change location, Foxtel anticipates that a similar process will ultimately be required to be implemented,” the company notes.

With the consultation process now over, dissenting submissions are in the minority. The most notable come from the Pirate Party (pdf) and Digital Rights Watch (pdf) although both are likely to be drowned out by the voices of rightsholders.

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

Canadian Pirate Site Blocking Plan Triggers Thousands of Responses

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canadian-pirate-site-blocking-plan-triggers-thousands-of-responses-180317/

In January, a coalition of Canadian companies called on the country’s telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program, which would be the first of its kind in North America.

The Canadian deal is supported by Fairplay Canada, a coalition of both copyright holders and major players in the telco industry, such as Bell and Rogers, which also have media companies of their own.

Before making a decision on the proposal, the CTRC has launched a public consultation asking Canadians for their opinion on the matter. In recent weeks this has resulted in thousands of submissions, with the majority coming from ordinary citizens.

The responses themselves range from an unequivocal “another push by Bell to control all forms of communication,” to very elaborate and rather well-documented arguments.

From the responses we’ve seen it’s clear that many individuals are worried that their Internet access will be censored. The term “slippery slope” is regularly mentioned, as well as the corporate interests that back the plan.

“I strongly oppose any attempt for internet censorship, especially any attempt brought forth by a commercial entity. The internet is and should remain a free flowing source of information that is not controlled by any individuals or groups political or corporate interests,” Shanon Durst writes in her comment.

“If there is concern for illegal activities taking place on the internet then those activities can be addressed in a court of law and the appropriate actions taken there,” she adds.

The same type of arguments also come back in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) submission.

“It is unsurprising that the entertainment industry would rather construct its own private body to bypass the court system in making decisions about website blocking,” the EFF writes.

“But if it is allowed to do this, will the newspaper industry be next to propose and fund a private body to make determinations about defamation? Will the adult entertainment industry propose establishing its own private court to determine the boundaries of the law of obscenity?”

While they appear to be in the minority, there are several commenters who back the proposal. Where most individual responses oppose the plans, it appears that many submissions from organizations are in favor.

A lot of these responses come from outfits that are concerned that piracy is negatively impacting their livelihoods, including Canada Basketball, The Association of Canadian Publishers, and Pier 21 Films.

“Canada’s current tools to combat piracy are not working. The FairPlay proposal is a proportionate response that reflects the modern realities of piracy,” Laszlo Barna, president of Pier 21 Films writes.

“As participants in the legal sports and entertainment market in Canada, this proposal will reduce the theft of content and support the ability to invest in, produce, and distribute the great content that our fans crave,” Canada Basketball concurs.

Drawing conclusions based on this limited sample of comments is hard, aside from the finding that it will be impossible to please everyone. Thankfully, research conducted by Reza Rajabiun and Fenwick McKelvey, with support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, provides additional insight.

The visualization below gives an overview of the most statistically significant concepts emphasized by respondents in their submissions, as well as the relationship among these concepts.

A visualization of significant comment concepts (image credit)

The quantitative content analysis is based on 4,000 submissions. While it requires some interpretation from the reader, many of the themes appear to be closely aligned with the opposition, the researchers write.

“According to their CRTC submissions, Canadians believe that the proposal is a ‘bad’ ‘idea’ because it enables ‘corporations’ and the ‘government’ to restrict ‘freedom’ of ‘speech’ and ‘flow’ of ‘information’ among ‘citizens.’ The fear of setting a bad ‘precedent’ is closely associated with the potential for ‘censorship’ in the future.”

Many of the same words can also be in a different context, of course, but the researchers see the themes as evidence that many members of the public are concerned about the negative consequences.

“Overall, it is easy to see that Canadians tend to view the proposed blocking regime not just in terms of its benefits for fighting ‘piracy’; they also perceive that setting up a national blocking regime may be a threat to their economic interests as ‘consumers’ of ‘legitimate’ ‘media’ and of their political ‘rights’ as ‘citizens’,” they write.

At the time of writing nearly 8,000 responses have been submitted. There is no easy way to determine what percentage is for or against the proposal. When the deadline passes on March 29, CRTC will review them manually.

When that’s done, it is up to the telecoms regulator to factor the different opinions into its final decision, which won’t be an easy feat.

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

Comcast’s Protected Browsing Blocks TorrentFreak as “Suspicious” Site

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/comcasts-protected-browsing-blocks-torrentfreak-as-suspicious-site-18004/

Regular TorrentFreak readers know that website blocking is rampant around the globe.

Thousands of pirate sites have been blocked by court orders for offering access to infringing content. However, there are plenty of voluntary blocking measures as well.

Some Internet providers offer web filtering tools to help their customers avoid malware, adult content, pirate services, or other suspicious content. Comcast’s Xfinity Xfi service, for example, has a “protected browsing” feature.

While this can be useful in some situations, it’s far from perfect. The blocklists that are used can be quite broad. Websites are sometimes miscategorized or flagged as dangerous while that’s not the case.

This also appears to be happening with Xfinity’s protected browsing feature. A reader alerted us that, when he tried to access TorrentFreak, access was denied stating that a “suspicious” site was ahead.

A pirate logo on the blocking page suggests that there’s copyright-infringing activity involved. While it’s no secret that we cover a lot of news related to piracy, it goes a bit far to label this type of news reporting as suspicious.

Suspicious…..

While we don’t know whether the blockade is intentional or a false positive, this is certainly not the only ‘problem’ with Xfinity’s protected browsing feature.

Previously, Comcast users reported that this system prevented people from accessing PayPal as well, which is a bit much, and others reported that it stopped the Steam store from loading properly.

The good news is that the blocking ‘feature’ isn’t mandatory. Subscribers can enable and disable it whenever they please, by changing their network settings.

Unfortunately, Xfinity’s blocking efforts are not unique. We regularly get reports from users who can’t access TorrentFreak because it’s blocked, often on public WiFi networks. In these and other cases, a VPN can always come in handy.

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

Bell Asks Employees to Back Pirate Site Blocking Plan

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/bell-asks-employees-to-back-pirate-site-blocking-plan-180222/

Last month, a coalition of Canadian companies called on the local telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program, which would be the first of its kind in North America.

The Canadian deal is supported by Fairplay Canada, a coalition of both copyright holders and major players in the Telco industry, such as Bell and Rogers, which also have media companies of their own.

Thus far, there’s been a fair amount of opposition to the proposal. While CTRC is reviewing FairPlay Canada’s plans, OpenMedia has launched a petition to stop the effort in its tracks, which has already been signed by tens of thousands of Canadians.

However, there are also people who are backing the blocking efforts. In some cases, with a gentle push from their employer.

Canadian law Professor Micheal Geist, who’s one of the most vocal opponents of the blocking plans, recently tweeted a note Bell sent to its employees. Through an internal message, the ISP asks its workers to “help stop online piracy and protect content creators.”

Bell’s internal message

The company clearly hopes that its employees will back the site-blocking agenda, but according to Geist, this may not be the best way to do it.

Geist points out that the internal message doesn’t encourage employees to disclose their affiliation with Bell. This raises eyebrows, in particular, because Bell agreed to a $1.25 million settlement in 2015 after it encouraged some employees to write positive reviews and ratings on Bell apps.

In this case, the message has nothing to with app ratings, but it’s clear that the company is encouraging its employees to support a regulatory effort that serves Bell’s interests.

“All Canadians can provide their views on the website blocking proposal, but corporate encouragement to employees to participate in regulatory processes on the company’s behalf may raise the kinds of concerns regarding misleading impressions that sparked the Commissioner of Competition to intervene in 2015,” Geist’s writes in a blog post.

Even if Bell’s request is ‘fair play’ and within the boundaries of what’s allowed, it may do more harm than good.

Geist’s observation was picked up by local media with iPhoneinCanada describing Bell’s effort as “disingenuous,” which might lead to even more opposition in response.

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Canadian Pirate Site Blocks Could Spread to VPNs, Professor Warns

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/canadian-pirate-site-blocks-could-spread-to-vpns-professor-warns-180219/

ISP blocking has become a prime measure for the entertainment industry to target pirate sites on the Internet.

In recent years sites have been blocked throughout Europe, in Asia, and even Down Under.

Last month, a coalition of Canadian companies called on the local telecom regulator CRTC to establish a local pirate site blocking program, which would be the first of its kind in North America.

The Canadian deal is backed by both copyright holders and major players in the Telco industry, such as Bell and Rogers, which also have media companies of their own. Instead of court-ordered blockades, they call for a mutually agreed deal where ISPs will block pirate sites.

The plan has triggered a fair amount of opposition. Tens of thousands of people have protested against the proposal and several experts are warning against the negative consequences it may have.

One of the most vocal opponents is University of Ottawa law professor Micheal Geist. In a series of articles, processor Geist highlighted several problems, including potential overblocking.

The Fairplay Canada coalition downplays overblocking, according to Geist. They say the measures will only affect sites that are blatantly, overwhelmingly or structurally engaged in piracy, which appears to be a high standard.

However, the same coalition uses a report from MUSO as its primary evidence. This report draws on a list of 23,000 pirate sites, which may not all be blatant enough to meet the blocking standard.

For example, professor Geist notes that it includes a site dedicated to user-generated subtitles as well as sites that offer stream ripping tools which can be used for legal purposes.

“Stream ripping is a concern for the music industry, but these technologies (which are also found in readily available software programs from a local BestBuy) also have considerable non-infringing uses, such as for downloading Creative Commons licensed videos also found on video sites,” Geist writes.

If the coalition tried to have all these sites blocked the scope would be much larger than currently portrayed. Conversely, if only a few of the sites would be blocked, then the evidence that was used to put these blocks in place would have been exaggerated.

“In other words, either the scope of block list coverage is far broader than the coalition admits or its piracy evidence is inflated by including sites that do not meet its piracy standard,” Geist notes.

Perhaps most concerning is the slippery slope that the blocking efforts can turn into. Professor Geist fears that after the standard piracy sites are dealt with, related targets may be next.

This includes VPN services. While this may sound far-fetched to some, several members of the coalition, such as Bell and Rogers, have already criticized VPNs in the past since these allow people to watch geo-blocked content.

“Once the list of piracy sites (whatever the standard) is addressed, it is very likely that the Bell coalition will turn its attention to other sites and services such as virtual private networks (VPNs).

“This is not mere speculation. Rather, it is taking Bell and its allies at their word on how they believe certain services and sites constitute theft,” Geist adds.

The issue may even be more relevant in this case, since the same VPNs can also be used to circumvent pirate sites blockades.

“Further, since the response to site blocking from some Internet users will surely involve increased use of VPNs to evade the blocks, the attempt to characterize VPNs as services engaged in piracy will only increase,” Geist adds.

Potential overblocking is just one of the many issues with the current proposal, according to the law professor. Geist previously highlighted that current copyright law already provides sufficient remedies to deal with piracy and that piracy isn’t that much of a problem in Canada in the first place.

The CRTC has yet to issue its review of the proposal but now that the cat is out of the bag, rightsholders and ISPs are likely to keep pushing for blockades, one way or the other.

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

Australian Government Launches Pirate Site-Blocking Review

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/australian-government-launches-pirate-site-blocking-review-180214/

Following intense pressure from entertainment industry groups, in 2014 Australia began developing legislation which would allow ‘pirate’ sites to be blocked at the ISP level.

In March 2015 the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 (pdf) was introduced to parliament and after just three months of consideration, the Australian Senate passed the legislation into law.

Soon after, copyright holders began preparing their first cases and in December 2016, the Australian Federal Court ordered dozens of local Internet service providers to block The Pirate Bay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt, SolarMovie, plus many proxy and mirror services.

Since then, more processes have been launched establishing site-blocking as a permanent fixture on the Aussie anti-piracy agenda. But with yet more applications for injunction looming on the horizon, how is the mechanism performing and does anything else need to be done to improve or amend it?

Those are the questions now being asked by the responsible department of the Australian Government via a consultation titled Review of Copyright Online Infringement Amendment. The review should’ve been carried out 18 months after the law’s introduction in 2015 but the department says that it delayed the consultation to let more evidence emerge.

“The Department of Communications and the Arts is seeking views from stakeholders on the questions put forward in this paper. The Department welcomes single, consolidated submissions from organizations or parties, capturing all views on the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 (Online Infringement Amendment),” the consultation paper begins.

The three key questions for response are as follows:

– How effective and efficient is the mechanism introduced by the Online Infringement Amendment?

– Is the application process working well for parties and are injunctions operating well, once granted?

– Are any amendments required to improve the operation of the Online Infringement Amendment?

Given the tendency for copyright holders to continuously demand more bang for their buck, it will perhaps come as a surprise that at least for now there is a level of consensus that the system is working as planned.

“Case law and survey data suggests the Online Infringement Amendment has enabled copyright owners to work with [Internet service providers] to reduce large-scale online copyright infringement. So far, it appears that copyright owners and [ISPs] find the current arrangement acceptable, clear and effective,” the paper reads.

Thus far under the legislation there have been four applications for injunctions through the Federal Court, notably against leading torrent indexes and browser-based streaming sites, which were both granted.

The other two processes, which began separately but will be heard together, at least in part, involve the recent trend of set-top box based streaming.

Village Roadshow, Disney, Universal, Warner Bros, Twentieth Century Fox, and Paramount are currently presenting their case to the Federal Court. Along with Hong Kong-based broadcaster Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), which has a separate application, the companies have been told to put together quality evidence for an April 2018 hearing.

With these applications already in the pipeline, yet more are on the horizon. The paper notes that more applications are expected to reach the Federal Court shortly, with the Department of Communications monitoring to assess whether current arrangements are refined as additional applications are filed.

Thus far, however, steady progress appears to have been made. The paper cites various precedents established as a result of the blocking process including the use of landing pages to inform Internet users why sites are blocked and who is paying.

“Either a copyright owner or [ISP] can establish a landing page. If an [ISP] wishes to avoid the cost of its own landing page, it can redirect customers to one that the copyright owner would provide. Another precedent allocates responsibility for compliance costs. Cases to date have required copyright owners to pay all or a significant proportion of compliance costs,” the paper notes.

But perhaps the issue of most importance is whether site-blocking as a whole has had any effect on the levels of copyright infringement in Australia.

The Government says that research carried out by Kantar shows that downloading “fell slightly from 2015 to 2017” with a 5-10% decrease in individuals consuming unlicensed content across movies, music and television. It’s worth noting, however, that Netflix didn’t arrive on Australian shores until May 2015, just a month before the new legislation was passed.

Research commissioned by the Department of Communications and published a year later in 2016 (pdf) found that improved availability of legal streaming alternatives was the main contributor to falling infringement rates. In a juicy twist, the report also revealed that Aussie pirates were the entertainment industries’ best customers.

“The Department is aware that other factors — such as the increasing availability of television, music and film streaming services and of subscription gaming services — may also contribute to falling levels of copyright infringement,” the paper notes.

Submissions to the consultation (pdf) are invited by 5.00 pm AEST on Friday 16 March 2018 via the government’s website.

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

Pirate Site Blockades Enter Germany With Kinox.to as First Target

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-site-blockades-enter-germany-with-kinox-to-as-first-target-180213/

Website blocking has become one of the leading anti-piracy mechanisms of recent years.

It is particularly prevalent across Europe, where thousands of sites are blocked by ISPs following court orders.

This week, these blocking efforts also reached Germany. Following a provisional injunction issued by the federal court in Munich, Internet provider Vodafone must block access to the popular streaming portal Kinox.to.

The injunction was issued on behalf of the German film production and distribution company Constantin Film. The company complained that Kinox facilitates copyright infringement and cited a recent order from the European Court of Justice in its defense, Golem reports.

While these types of blockades are common in Europe, they’re a new sight in Germany. Vodafone users who attempt to access the Kinox site will now be welcomed with a blocking notification instead.

“This portal is temporarily unavailable due to a copyright claim,” it reads, translated from German.

Blocked

The Kinox streaming site has been a thorn in the side of German authorities and copyright holders for a long time. Last year, one of the site’s admins was detained in Kosovo after a three-year manhunt, but despite these and other actions, the site remains online.

With the blocking efforts, Constantin Film hopes to make it harder for people to access the site, although this measure is also limited.

For now, it seems to be a simple DNS blockade, which means that people can bypass it relatively easily by switching to a free alternative DNS provider such as Google DNS or OpenDNS.

And there are other workarounds as well, as operators of Kinox point out in a message on their homepage.

“Vodafone User: Use the public Google DNS server: 8.8.8.8, that goes the .TO domain again! Otherwise, a VPN or the free Tor Browser can be used!” they write.

While the measure may not be foolproof, the current order is certainly significant. Previously, all German courts have denied similar blocking orders based on different arguments. This means that more blocking efforts may be on the horizon.

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

New Anti-Piracy Coalition Calls For Canadian Website Blocking

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/new-anti-piracy-coalition-calls-for-canadian-website-blocking-180130/

In recent years pirate sites have been blocked around the world, from Europe, through Asia, and even Down Under.

While many of the large corporations backing these blockades have their roots in North America, blocking efforts have been noticeably absent there. This should change, according to a new anti-piracy coalition that was launched in Canada this week.

Fairplay Canada, which consists of a broad range of organizations with ties to the entertainment industry, calls on the local telecom regulator CRTC to institute a national website blocking program.

The coalition’s members include Bell, Cineplex, Directors Guild of Canada, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Movie Theatre Association of Canada, and Rogers Media, which all share the goal of addressing the country’s rampant piracy problem.

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

“What we are proposing has been effective in countries like the UK, France, and Australia,” says Dr. Shan Chandrasekar, President and CEO of Asian Television Network International Limited (ATN), who is filing Fairplay Canada’s application.

“We are ardent supporters of this incredible coalition that has been formed to propose a new tool to empower the CRTC to address online piracy in Canada. We have great faith in Canadian regulators to modernize the tools available to help creators protect the content they make for Canadians’ enjoyment.”

The proposal is unique in the sense that it’s the first of its kind in North America and also has support from major players in the Telco industry. Since most large ISPs also have ties to media companies of their own, the latter is less surprising as it may seem at first glance.

Bell, for example, is not only the largest Internet provider in Canada but also owns the television broadcasting and production company Bell Media, which applauds the new plan.

“Bell is pleased to work with our partners across the industry and the CRTC on this important step in ensuring the long-term viability of the Canadian creative sector,” says Randy Lennox, President of Bell Media.

“Digital rights holders need up-to-date tools to combat piracy where it’s happening, on the Internet, and the process proposed by the coalition will provide just that, fairly, openly and effectively,” he adds.

Thus far the Government’s response to the plan has been rather reserved. When an early version of the plans leaked last month, Canadaland quoted a spokesperson who said that the Government is committed to opening doors instead of building walls.

Digital rights group OpenMedia goes a step further and brands the proposal a censorship plan which will violate net neutrality and limit people’s right to freedom of expression.

“Everybody agrees that content creators deserved to be paid for their work. But the proposal from this censorship coalition goes too far,” Executive Director Laura Tribe says.

“FairPlay Canada’s proposal is like using a machine gun to kill a mosquito. It will undoubtedly lead to legitimate content and speech being censored online violating our right to free expression and the principles of net neutrality, which the federal government has consistently pledged support for.”

While CTRC is reviewing FairPlay Canada’s plans, OpenMedia has launched a petition to stop the effort in its tracks, which has been signed by more than 45,000 Canadians to date.

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