Tag Archives: youtube

RIAA Delists YouTube Rippers From Google Using Rare Anti-Circumvention Notices

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-delists-youtube-rippers-from-google-using-rare-anti-circumvention-notices-191108/

While music piracy has reduced in recent years due to the popularity of platforms such as Spotify, the major labels remain highly concerned over so-called steam-ripping services.

These sites allow users to enter a YouTube URL, for example, and then download audio from the corresponding video, mostly in MP3 format. This means that users can download music and store it on their own machines, negating the need to revisit YouTube for the same content. This, the major labels say, deprives content creators of streaming revenue.

Tackling this issue has become one of the industry’s highest anti-piracy priorities. Previously, YouTube-MP3 – the largest ripping site at the time – was shut down following legal action by the major labels. Since then, lawsuits have been filed against other platforms but the battle is far from over and recently a new strategy appears to have been deployed.

A pair of DMCA notices appeared on the Lumen Database late October, having been filed there by Google. The sender of both notices is listed as the RIAA, acting on behalf of its members including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group.

They are worded slightly differently but each target the homepages of five major YouTube-ripping sites – 2conv.com, flvto.biz, y2mate.com, yout.com, and youtubeconverter.io. Both contain the following key claim:

“To our knowledge, the URLs provide access to a service (and/or software) that circumvents YouTube’s rolling cipher, a technical protection measure, that protects our members’ works on YouTube from unauthorized copying/downloading,” the notices read.

Unlike regular DMCA takedown notices filed with Google, these notices do not appear in Google’s Transparency report. However, Google has acted on them by delisting the homepages of all five platforms from its search results. Other URLs for the platforms still appear, but their homepages are all gone.

The notices are listed on the Lumen Database in the anti-circumvention section, meaning that the RIAA-labeled complaints demand action from Google under the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA, rather than demanding the takedown of URLs based on the claim they carry infringing music titles.

The ‘technical measures’ allegedly being circumvented (such as the “rolling cypher” referenced in the complaints) are those put in place by YouTube, which in turn protect the copyrighted content of the labels.

TorrentFreak contacted the RIAA yesterday, requesting comment and seeking additional information on the basis for the notices. Unfortunately, the industry group declined to make any further comment on any aspect of the complaints.

Nevertheless, the RIAA and its members are no strangers to the claim that by circumventing YouTube’s ‘technological measures’, so-called ‘ripping’ sites infringe their rights too. Two of the sites targeted in the recent notices – 2conv.com and flvto.biz – were sued by the labels in 2018. The original complaint contains the following text:

From the complaint

That circumvention (at least in respect of the labels’ works when users select them for download) may also amount to an infringement of the labels’ rights seems to be supported by comments made in the Disney vs VidAngel case.

An opinion from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated that “[n]o person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a [copyrighted] work. Circumvention means ‘to decrypt an encrypted work.. without the authority of the copyright owner’.”

Nevertheless, it was previously argued by the EFF that stream-ripping sites are not by definition illegal since on top of the usual fair use exemptions, some creators who upload their content to online platforms grant permission for people to freely download and modify their work.

“There exists a vast and growing volume of online video that is licensed for free downloading and modification, or contains audio tracks that are not subject to copyright,” the EFF stresses.

“Moreover, many audio extractions qualify as non-infringing fair uses under copyright. Providing a service that is capable of extracting audio tracks for these lawful purposes is itself lawful, even if some users infringe.”

The anti-circumvention notices detailed above are not only relatively rare but also have an additional interesting property – they are harder to dispute than regular DMCA takedown notices.

As detailed here last year, Google told the target of a similar complaint requesting URL delisting that “There is no formal counter notification process available under US law for circumvention, so we have not reinstated these URLs.”

The pair of DMCA anti-circumvention notices can be found here 1,2 (pdf)

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Have Pirate IPTV Sellers on YouTube Lost Their Minds?

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/have-pirate-iptv-sellers-on-youtube-lost-their-minds-191103/

Anyone who has followed piracy and copyright infringement issues for years or even decades, few developments fall into the ‘WOW’ category anymore.

That torrent and streaming services are still getting sued or raided is frankly daily fodder and after the military-style raid on Kim Dotcom hit the headlines, pretty much anything is possible.

Over the past couple of years, however, something so bizarre – so ridiculous – has been developing on sites like YouTube to make even the most outspoken of pirates raise an eyebrow or two. We’re talking about the rise of the IPTV seller and reseller ‘celebrities’ who are openly promoting their businesses like a regular company might.

As reported this week, IPTV reseller company Boom Media LLC is getting sued by DISH Networks and NagraStar in the United States. That another one of these outfits is being targeted isn’t a shock. However, when promotional YouTube videos are produced in court evidence, with the alleged owner of the company personally appearing in them stating that “it’s pirated f**cking streams. It’s no different than buying f**king knockoff shoes. It’s black market shit,” one has to wonder what the hell is going on.

So, just one person has allegedly done something reckless or ill-considered, right? Wrong. This type of behavior is neither isolated or rare.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been sitting through hours of YouTube videos produced by people selling or reselling ‘pirate’ IPTV packages. In a worrying number, particularly given the popularity of their services, owners, founders, or ’employees’ of these outfits appear in person.

Their names are publicly known and in some cases, even their addresses. These are not small players, not by any stretch. In some cases, we’re talking huge numbers of followers and many hundreds of thousands of views, selling well-recognized services.

While in some cases hyperbole is clearly part of the pitch, it’s child’s play to find operators of these companies bragging about how much money they’ve made or are making, and how many customers they have. They speak to their subscribers, in person via live-streams, conduct detailed Q&A sessions, while ‘confirming’ the supposed legality of what they’re doing.

In a surprising number of cases, negative comments by users concerning legality are passed off as ridiculous, with sellers describing the sale of pirate IPTV subscriptions as residing in a gray area with the law powerless to do anything about it. While we could have a detailed argument here about the intricacies of any number of laws, both criminal and civil, and any potential defenses to them, these people appear to be missing the point.

Just this week, Openload – a true Internet giant with considerable resources – was pummeled into submission by dozens of the world’s largest content companies after agreeing to pay substantial damages. This was a file-hosting goliath being beaten up dozens of bigger goliaths. No face on YouTube required.

Another example can be found in Kim Dotcom, who says he has spent upwards of $40m in legal fees, even though, on the surface, many argue he has a solid legal basis for mounting a successful defense in the United States. But that’s $40,000,0000 already, before trial, an amount that will no doubt skyrocket in the event he ever gets sent there.

But here’s the thing. The majority of these IPTV ‘celebrities’, for want of a better term, are actually living in the United States already. It’s not necessary to name any of them, they do enough of that themselves. But in addition to their self-declared IPTV empires, some have significant and legitimate additional business interests too, which could all be put in jeopardy, one way or another, should the proverbial hit the fan.

In a piracy world where many are discussing anonymity, encryption, proxies, cryptocurrency payments, to name just a few, these people are deliberately making their identities known. They are not hiding away and as a result, they are known by anti-piracy groups who probably can’t believe their luck.

They not only have their real names and their own faces splashed across their own IPTV-based YouTube channels, but also channels that cover other aspects of their sometimes flamboyant lives. Anti-piracy groups don’t need investigators to find out who they are anymore, it’s common knowledge. An alias? Not parading yourself on the modern equivalent of TV? That’s soooo 1999, apparently.

The big question is whether these people really have lost their minds, or do they actually know something that most other people don’t? When did putting your own face in multiple videos, selling access to an admittedly pirated product via a company in your own name, become part of a solid business plan? It’s truly bizarre and cannot end well.

Welcome to 2019, it’s a truly strange place to be.

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

YouTube Settles Lawsuit With Alleged DMCA Extortion Scammer for $25,000

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-settles-lawsuit-with-alleged-dmca-extortion-scammer-for-25000-191016/

YouTube’s copyright takedown policy poses one of the biggest threats to the streaming platform’s content creators.

YouTubers who receive three copyright infringement strikes can easily lose their channel, which for some equates to their livelihood.

This looming threat also provides an opportunity for scammers. As we reported a few months ago, YouTube’s copyright takedown process was being abused to extort YouTubers, including ‘ObbyRaidz’ and ‘Kenzo.’ Both repeatedly received ‘strikes’ against their channels.

The scammer in question pretended that he was the legitimate owner of the videos uploaded by the users and requested money to retract the false claims.

“We striked you. Our request is $150 PayPal, or $75 btc. You may send the money via goods/ services if you do not think we will cancel or hold up our end of the deal,” the scammer wrote.

This abuse didn’t go unnoticed by YouTube, which tracked down the alleged offender and took action.

Last month the video streaming service sued Nebraska-resident Christopher Brady, accusing him of violating the DMCA by falsely claiming the content of other YouTubers as his own.

According to YouTube, Brady repeatedly attempted to harass and extort money from content creators through his bogus copyright infringement claims.

The company believes Brady went as far as using the address of YouTube user Cxlvxn, which is shared with a rightsholder for the purpose of filing a lawsuit, in an attempt to dispatch a large number of police officers to his home.

In the complaint, YouTube demanded a jury trial but it didn’t get that far. A few hours ago they submitted an agreed judgment and permanent injunction to the Nebraska federal court, which settles the matter without any further bloodshed.

Under the proposed injunction (pdf), Brady is prevented from filing any bogus copyright claims going forward. In addition, he separately agreed to pay $25,000 for his misconduct, offering a public apology to all the people who were hurt by his actions.

“I, Christopher L. Brady, admit that I sent dozens of notices to YouTube falsely claiming that material uploaded by YouTube users infringed my copyrights,” reads the apology, which YouTube shared with The Verge.

“I apologize to the YouTube users that I directly impacted by my actions, to the YouTube community, and to YouTube itself,” Brady adds.

The proposed judgment and injunction have yet to be signed off by the court, but this is expected to happen later this week. It’s not clear whether any of the affected users will receive compensation, but YouTube says that it’s happy with this outcome.

“This settlement highlights the very real consequences for those that misuse our copyright system. We’ll continue our work to prevent abuse of our systems,” a YouTube spokesperson said.

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Epic Games and ‘Cheating’ Fortnite Kid Settle Copyright Lawsuit

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/epic-games-settles-copyright-lawsuit-with-cheating-fortnite-kid-191007/

Frustrated by thousands of cheaters who wreak havoc in Fortnite’s “Battle Royale,” game publisher Epic Games has taken several to court.

The game developer isn’t trying to bankrupt these people financially. The main goal appears to be to stop the cheaters and prevent them from encouraging and facilitating others to do the same.

In most instances, the alleged cheaters are eager to settle the cases. However, a YouTuber called CBV, who was sued by Epic Games this summer, started out by returning fire. Despite his relatively young age of 14 years old, he showed no sign of backing off.

The alleged cheater lawyered up and responded by filing a motion to dismiss at a North Carolina federal court. Among other things, his attorneys pointed out that the Court doesn’t have jurisdiction over this client and that requiring a minor to defend himself in another state would be unreasonable.

The games company, which hit the minor (referred to as C.B. in the complaint) with several claims, including copyright infringement and breaches of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision, wasn’t planning on letting CBV get away with it though.

Epic Games countered that it had a solid case, noting that the defendant’s cheating activity continued despite the lawsuit.

With both sides choosing not to back off, the lawsuit seemed destined for a drawn-out fight. But it didn’t get to that. Behind the scenes, the parties came together to settle their differences without court intervention. This has now resulted in a settlement that’s formalized through an order of approval by the court.

With help from pro bono attorneys and his mother Kari as a General Guardian, C.B. reached a confidential settlement with Epic Games. It’s unclear whether there is a damages amount involved, but both sides have dropped their (counter)claims, effectively ending the dispute.

“Defendant’s General Guardian and Defendant agree and are satisfied that the Settlement Agreement that is the subject of this Order is fair and reasonable. In particular, Defendant’s General Guardian and Defendant believe that the terms of the Settlement Agreement properly account for C.B.’s status as a minor,” the order reads.

As part of the settlement, the defendant likely agreed not to engage in any cheating activities. This includes uploading cheat videos on YouTube, which he initially continued to do on a new YouTube channel.

The defendant also continued to develop and sell cheat software, Epic Games previously said. After the lawsuit was filed he created a new website, NexusCheats.us, which was advertised through his YouTube videos. At the time of writing, this website is no longer online.

When the lawsuit was first announced (C.B.) CBV responded with some quite aggressive language on his YouTube channel, but since then the channel has gone quiet. The last upload dates back three months and, given the settlement, it’s unlikely that any new Fortnite cheat videos will appear there going forward.

For Epic Games, these lawsuits are the only way to remove some cheat videos from YouTube. If a YouTuber continues to dispute a DMCA takedown request, as happened in this case, YouTube will restore the video unless a lawsuit is filed.

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

Members of Congress Question Google CEO about YouTube’s Content-ID System

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/members-of-congress-question-google-ceo-about-youtubes-content-id-system-190906/

To protect copyright holders, YouTube uses an advanced piracy recognition system that flags and disables videos that are used without permission.

This system, known as Content ID, works well most of the time, but it’s not perfect. In recent years it’s been heavily criticized by YouTube users and rightsholders alike.

YouTubers, for example, have repeatedly complained that their content has been inaccurately claimed. On the other side, there are tens of thousands of copyright holders who would love to join the Content ID program but are not allowed to.

For now, YouTube’s Content ID system is limited to a few thousand participants. These are claimants which own the exclusive rights to a “substantial body of material” that is “frequently uploaded” by YouTube users. In other words, not the average indie creator.

This exclusivity is a thorn in the side of smaller artists, who instead have to manually go through YouTube to find infringing content. While that’s no different from any other site on the Internet, they feel left out and disadvantaged by the video streaming site.

This issue hasn’t gone unnoticed by US lawmakers. This week, a group of eight members of Congress, including Sen. Marcha Blackburn, Sen. Christopher Coons, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, and Rep. Adam Schiff, invited Google CEO Sundar Pichai to a roundtable discussion specifically about Content ID.

The members explain that they are quite content with Google’s copyright enforcement efforts, but they are also concerned that smaller content creators are being left out.

“We are concerned that copyright holders with smaller catalogs of works cannot utilize Content ID, making it more difficult or impossible for them to effectively protect their copyrighted works from infringement and, ultimately, impacting their livelihoods,” they write.

The lawmakers stress that many copyright holders have been denied access to Content ID. While they are still able to take infringing content down manually, they have to do more work than some larger competitors and with fewer resources.

“We have heard from copyright holders who have been denied access to Content ID tools, and as a result, are at a significant disadvantage to prevent the repeated uploading of content that they have previously identified as infringing,” the letter explains.

“They are left with the choice of spending hours each week seeking out and sending notices about the same copyrighted works, or allowing their intellectual property to be misappropriated,” they add.

The Congress members hope to obtain more insight into the matter during a roundtable, where representatives of the creative community will also be present. They’ve prepared a set of questions for Google’s CEO, which they hope to have answered.

Among other things, the members want to know how the Content ID system works, what type of rightsholders are able to join now, whether Google plans to open it up to more rightsholders, and if it will be expanded to other Google services, such as Blogger.

The entire roundtable appears to be limited to the perspective of external rightsholders. There is no mention of the many inaccurate claiming requests YouTubers (who are also content creators) complain about, nor is Content ID abuse on the agenda.

The goal of the roundtable is clear. The Congress members want YouTube’s Content ID system to be available to a wider range of rightsholders, as clearly indicated in their closing words.

“Again, we appreciate the efforts that you have made to combat distribution of infringing content on YouTube. Given its apparent benefits to rights holders, we hope that you will consider making Content ID and the benefits it provides available to a larger category of content creators.”

A copy of the letter the Members of Congress sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai is available here (pdf), via IPWatchdog.

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YouTube Sued For $720K Over Alleged Copyright Strike “Retaliation”

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-sued-for-720k-over-alleged-copyright-strike-retaliation-190829/

While most YouTube users are simply visitors to the site, a minority produce their own content and upload it to the platform for others to enjoy.

Some can make a decent living when they enter a revenue-sharing agreement with YouTube but when things go wrong, those earnings can stop in an instant. According to popular YouTuber DJ Short-E (real name Erik Mishiyev), this happened to him – and he’s blaming the whole thing on YouTube using copyright-strikes as “retaliation” to his threats of a lawsuit.

In a complaint filed in a California federal court Wednesday, Mishiyev describes himself as a “well-known Journalist and DJ, known as ‘Short-E’, who publishes original music, DJ mixes, and celebrity interviews in videos on YouTube.”

Since 2007, Mishiyev says he’s run two YouTube channels – ‘djshortehot4eva’ and ‘theshorteshow’. These channels were monetized following an agreement with YouTube and after developing a subscriber base of 250,000 users, his channels generated more than 110 million views. For this, YouTube paid him $310,000 over a five-year period.

In March 2016, Mishiyev claims he began receiving copyright claims on his “highest advertisement revenue videos”. He says he responded with counter-claims to avoid YouTube’s “three strikes” process which would’ve disabled his channel. However, he reports that all claims were won and his channel was re-instated for monetization.

A year later, Mishiyev says YouTube recognized him as a successful contributor by handing him a “Silver Creator Award” for reaching 100,000 subscribers. However, despite growing his audience at a rate of around 4,000 subscribers per month, views remained low when compared to similar channels.

“Plaintiff was concerned about this suspicious activity and sought confirmation numerous times from YOUTUBE that they were truly distributing his new videos to his fans and subscribers, but YOUTUBE failed to provide such confirmation, stating ‘They could not share this information’ with him,” the complaint notes.

Mishiyev includes an email from one of his subscribers to back up his claims that YouTube failed to promote his content as per his agreement with the company.

“I subscribed to both of your channels and turned my notifications on for you so I would know when you uploaded new videos,” it reads.

“I subscribed about 2 weeks ago and haven’t got a single notification from youtube but I noticed you have uploaded many new videos since I subscribed [to your channels]. Please fix this problem, i’m sure there are many other people who haven’t been notified either and that’s why I noticed your views are very low compared to other similar channels.”

According to Mishiyev, YouTube’s failure to promote his content would cause him to lose $125,000 in revenue over a three-year period but after losing faith in YouTube’s support team, he told the company he would be filing a lawsuit if its conduct persisted.

In response, on December 18, 2018, YouTube reportedly sent a notice saying that they would be terminating Mishiyev’s accounts and removing his content. The very next day, serious copyright problems began.

“On December 15, 2018 through January 15, 2019, Plaintiff was abruptly bombarded with copyright claims like he never had been before the entire time he had been managing and growing his channels,” the complaint notes.

A sample of the copyright notices received

On January 22, 2018, YouTube reportedly blocked access to all of Mishiyev’s videos, replacing them with a notice that they had been removed due “to a copyright claim.” YouTube then placed “strikes” on his account but Mishiyev says that YouTube’s actions were actually in response to his threat of a lawsuit.

“Although YOUTUBE stated they removed his channels and videos for copyright claims, the removals appeared to Plaintiff to be in retaliation for his placing them on notice that he would be filing a lawsuit,” Mishiyev’s lawyers write.

According to the YouTuber, he followed the company’s rules by submitting counter-notices as required by the DMCA, noting that every time he had done that in the past he had prevailed since no one ever filed a lawsuit against him.

Generally, when a counter-notification is filed and there is no lawsuit notification from a complainant, content goes back up. But YouTube apparently wrote back saying that at least some of Mishiyev’s counter-notices were “ineligible.”

The complaint adds that YouTube later retracted its statement that the videos were ineligible for counter-notification and promised to process them. It’s not clear what happened next but it didn’t help Mishiyev’s predicament.

“To date, Plaintiff’s strikes have not been removed, his counter claims have
not been processed, and his videos and channels have been permanently removed, though no claimants presented evidence that they filed any lawsuits. Thus, evidencing that YOUTUBE did not simply remove his content because of copyright claims, but instead in retaliation for placing them on notice that he was filing a lawsuit against them,” the complaint asserts.

As a result, the now-former YouTuber says he lost $90,000 in revenue between January 2019 and July 2019, adding that when lost subscribers, views, future views, performance bookings, and lost advertising and sponsorship deals are taken into account, YouTube’s actions have caused him damages of $720,000, for which he demands compensation in full.

Mishiyev is suing YouTube for breach of contract, interference with contractual relations, interference and negligent interference with economic advantage, and negligence. He also demands an injunction preventing YouTube from “banning Plaintiff from the full use of the internet and YOUTUBE’s services.”

The complaint plus supporting documents can be found here 1,2,3,4,5 (pdf)

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Keynote speeches from Scratch Conference Europe 2019

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/keynote-speeches-scratch-conference-europe-2019/

This weekend, the Raspberry Pi Foundation hosted Scratch Conference Europe 2019 at Churchill College in Cambridge, UK.

Framing the busy weekend’s schedule were presentations from:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab’s Mitchel Resnick, co-inventor of Scratch himself
  • Science presenter Neil Monterio
  • Raspberry Pi favourite, the fire-loving Fran Scott

Since not everyone was able to travel to Cambridge to attend the conference, we wanted to make sure you’re not missing out, so we filmed their presentations, for you to watch at your leisure.

For the full Scratch Conference experience, we suggest gathering together a group of like-minded people to watch the videos and discuss your thoughts. Alternatively, use #ScratchEurope on Twitter to join in the conversation with the conference attendees online.

Enjoy!

Mitch Resnick presents at Scratch Conference Europe 2019

Mitch Resnick addresses the attendees of Scratch Conference Europe, hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK on 24 August 2019.

Neil Monteiro presents at Scratch Conference Europe 2019

Neil Monteiro closes the show on day two of Scratch Conference Europe, hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK on 24 August 2019. In this show, Neil takes the audience on a journey into a dangerous labyrinth…in code!

Fran Scott presents at Scratch Conference Europe 2019

Fran Scott closes the show on day three of Scratch Conference Europe, hosted by the Raspberry Pi Foundation at Churchill College, Cambridge, UK on 25 August 2019.

 

The post Keynote speeches from Scratch Conference Europe 2019 appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

Can YouTube Be Liable For Copyright Infringing Videos? EU Court to Decide

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/can-youtube-be-liable-for-copyright-infringing-videos-eu-court-to-decide-190822/

Week in and week out YouTube’s users upload millions of hours of videos. As with any user-generated content site, this also includes copyright-infringing content.

YouTube tackles this by processing takedown notices and using its Content-ID system to automatically remove allegedly infringing content. However, according to some prominent copyright holders, this is not good enough.

In Austria, this complaint is at the center of a lawsuit between the local television channel Puls 4 and YouTube. In an initial order last summer, the court ruled that the video platform can be held directly liable for users’ copyright infringements. YouTube was not seen as a neutral intermediary and should do more to prevent infringing uploads.

The court noted that YouTube takes several motivated actions to actively organize and optimize how videos are displayed. By doing so, it becomes more than a neutral hosting provider. Therefore, it can’t rely on a safe harbor defense.

This ruling was overturned by the Higher Regional Court of Vienna earlier this year. According to the appeal court, YouTube doesn’t have an “active role” as its search, categorization, and advertising service are seen as part of the normal business models of hosting platforms, which do not make the company liable.

Puls4 was disappointed with this ruling and immediately decided to take the case to the Supreme Court. This case is still pending but before it rules on the matter, the highest Austrian court is seeking input from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) on several crucial questions.

The questions haven’t been published publicly on CJEU’s website yet, but TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the Portuguese versions and IP KAT did the same with the German questions. These questions reveal, as expected, that the EU’s highest court will have to decide the boundaries of Europe’s safe harbors.

The first question, for example, asks if a video host, under Article 14 of the EU’s Electronic Commerce Directive 2000, takes on an “active role” that can make it liable for copyright infringements when it categorizes videos, makes suggestions by topic, and uses targeted advertising, among other things. 

The EU Court is further asked to clarify whether Articles 12 to 14 of the EU’s Electronic Commerce Directive mean that providers are shielded from liability, even when their activity is seen as a communication to the public.

In addition, the Austrian Supreme Court wants to know if a court-ordered injunction only applicable if a service provider has actual knowledge of infringements which have been confirmed by a court?

The latter appears to deal with the question of whether sites such as YouTube have to remove content merely based on metadata (to prevent repeated uploads), as opposed to pointing out specific infringing content. That’s important because, in the Puls4 case, YouTube was not aware of any the contested infringements.

The CJEU’s decision will be a crucial one in the ongoing legal debate about the potential liability of third-party intermediaries such as video hosting providers.

Puls4 previously stressed that it believes that EU law is on its side. Among other things, the company pointed out other relevant CJEU decisions, including the case regarding the infringing nature of The Pirate Bay. In addition, it believes that recent developments regarding liability under the proposed Article 17 of the new EU copyright directive will help its cause.

Interestingly, this isn’t the only YouTube-related case on CJEU’s agenda. A German court also referred various copyright infringement-related questions last year. The Austrian Supreme Court was aware of this referral but believes that its questions deserve to be handled separately.

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

YouTube Sues Alleged Scammer Over DMCA Extortion Scheme

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-sues-alleged-scammer-over-dmca-extortion-scheme-190920/

Obtaining multiple unresolved copyright complaints on a YouTube account can prove fatal to those who rely on the platform to make a living.

For those obtaining “three strikes”, it can mean the closure of an entire channel and along with it, access to potentially hundreds of otherwise revenue-generating videos.

Back in January, it was reported that a YouTuber known as ‘Obbyraidz’, who focuses on Minecraft content, was having this system turned against him.

After receiving two bogus strikes against his account, he took to Twitter to complain that he was being extorted by a scammer identifying as ‘Vengeful Flame’, who threatened a third and debilitating strike unless money was paid via PayPal or bitcoin.

A second YouTuber, known online as ‘Kenzo’ was also given similar treatment, with the scammer demanding money not to file complaints that could terminate his account.

Now, however, the tables are being turned after YouTube itself filed a complaint in federal court against Nebraska-resident Christopher Brady, the person who allegedly attempted to defraud both Obbyraidz and Kenzo.

“Defendant, Christopher L. Brady (‘Brady’), has repeatedly attempted to harass and extort money from YouTube content creators through bogus allegations of copyright infringement,” the complaint filed Monday begins.

“This lawsuit seeks to hold him accountable for that misconduct, and for the damage he has caused to YouTube.”

Detailing the DMCA takedown process in general and noting that notices can be used “maliciously to secure the removal of content that was not legitimately claimed to be infringing”, YouTube states it’s in a position to bring an action against a sender of bogus notices for damages.

“This is such an action,” the complaint reads.

According to YouTube, Brady sent the video platform dozens of DMCA notices falsely claiming that content posted by YouTube users infringed his supposed copyrights. He did this as part of a scheme to “harass and extort” innocent users, YouTube continues, in order to pressure them into payment and the avoidance of account closures.

Citing the work of three YouTubers – Obbyraidz, Kenzo and Cxlvxn – YouTube notes that between them they have uploaded around 1,000 videos related to video gaming. All are members of the YouTube Partner program, earning revenue from their work.

Brady allegedly targeted Kenzo and Obbyraidz “among others” by sending false DMCA notices to YouTube, claiming that he was the original creator of their videos, certifying as much “under penalty of perjury.” YouTube said it acted on these false claims, removing the videos.

However, when Kenzo and Obbyraidz went public with the extortion attempts, YouTube launched an investigation, restored the videos, and removed the strikes against their accounts.

The complaint alleges that in June and July 2019, Brady sent four more fraudulent notices, this time targeting Cxlvxn. However, this appears to have been an attempt to have Cxlvxn file a DMCA counter-notification, something that exposed his home address to Brady.

On July 10, 2019, six days after the counter-notification was filed, Cxlvxn reported he’d been ‘swatted’, something which YouTube describes as “the act of making a bogus call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.” YouTube believes Brady was responsible.

As a result of the above actions, YouTube states that Brady is responsible for violations of 17 U.S.C. § 512(f). The company says it successfully traced back at least 15 online identities to the man, an investigation which caused it to expend “substantial sums” in an effort to bring the behavior to a halt.

The company is demanding preliminary and permanent injunctions against Brady, compensation to be decided at trial, costs, attorneys fees, and any further relief the court deems proper.

The YouTube complaint filed in Nebraska can be downloaded here (pdf)

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YouTube Forbids Monetizing Short Music Clips Through Manual Content-ID Claims

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-forbids-monetizing-short-music-clips-through-manual-content-id-claims-100816/

Millions of people use YouTube to share their creations with the world, as commentary, entertainment, education, or for any other purpose they see fit.

In most cases, these videos remain online without any issues. However, for some creators, YouTube’s copyright enforcement is causing a mess, one that severely affects their day-to-day activities.

We’ve repeatedly covered problems with YouTube’s Content-ID system dating as far back as eight years ago. Most of these issues are the result of overbroad filters, often when YouTube finds a copyright match where it shouldn’t.

However, the problems go much deeper than random ‘bot’ mistakes. YouTube allows certain copyright holders to make “manual” Content-ID claims as well. This allows them to flag content that’s not caught by Content-ID. However, despite the fact that these claims are reviewed by a person, some are rather frivolous.

In some instances, it appears that just mentioning the title of an artist or song can result in a manual copyright claim, even though the audio itself isn’t used in the video.

After many YouTube creators bitterly complained about these types of abuse, which deprives them of revenue, YouTube is beginning to change its policies.

“One concerning trend we’ve seen is aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetized videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed,” the YouTube team explains.

Last month the video service took the first step by requiring copyright holders to provide timestamps for all manual claims, precisely identifying what they see as infringing. This week, the company goes a step further.

In an effort to create a fairer creator ecosystem, YouTube will soon forbid copyright holders from using the manual claiming process to monetize videos that feature short or unintentional music fragments.

This means, for example, that a three-second music clip in a longer video can no longer be claimed this way. The same would likely be true for a song that unintentionally plays in the background on a TV or radio.

The YouTube team notes that these additional changes are intended to improve fairness in the creator ecosystem. The company hopes that it will ultimately lead to fewer unfair and aggressive practices by some rightsholders.

In addition, the policy update also copes with a stick for rightsholders, which is relatively rare for YouTube. Those rightsholders who repeatedly violate the new policy can lose their manual Content-ID claiming rights.

“Once we start enforcement, copyright owners who repeatedly fail to adhere to these policies will have their access to Manual Claiming suspended,” YouTube writes.

While this change is a big step, it only impacts a relatively small number of claims. Automated Content-ID claims, which represent the vast majority, are not affected by the policy update.

In addition, copyright holders can still manually claim short or unintentional uses of their work. However, instead of taking the monetization option, they can choose to prevent any type of monetization of the video, or block it altogether.

It remains to be seen how happy video creators will be with this new policy once it goes into effect mid-September. In theory, the result could see more videos get blocked, as YouTube recognizes.

“We acknowledge that these changes may result in more blocked content in the near-term, but we feel this is an important step toward striking the right balance over the long-term. Our goal is to unlock new value for everyone by powering creative reuse and content mashups, while fairly compensating all rightsholders,” the YouTube team concludes. 

Time will tell whether the changes have the intended effect, or if the current problems will persist.

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‘Cheating’ Fortnite Kid Wants Copyright Lawsuit Dismissed

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/cheating-fortnite-kid-wants-copyright-lawsuit-dismissed-190807/

Frustrated by thousands of cheaters who wreak havoc in Fortnite’s “Battle Royale,” game publisher Epic Games has taken several to court.

The game developer isn’t trying to bankrupt these people financially. It is mainly interested in preventing them from cheating in the future.

The main strategy thus far has been to ‘settle’ the cases. Several accused cheaters have signed consent judgments, promising not to cheat or engage in any copyright-infringing activity going forward. This includes the popular YouTuber Golden Modz, who settled his case earlier this year.

Despite these widely publicized lawsuits, cheaters will be cheaters. The problem persists and some still openly sell cheats online while posting YouTube videos to promote their work.

This includes a YouTuber called CBV, who was sued by Epic Games a few weeks ago. The games company is pursuing the minor (referred to as C.B. in the complaint) with several claims, including copyright infringement and breaches of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provision.

While plenty of kids would be terrified facing a lawsuit like this, CBV didn’t appear to be impressed. In a YouTube video discussing his troubles, the 14-year-old states that he won’t make Fortnite videos anymore. But his tone is far from apologetic.

“Fuck epic games. I mean, at least they can’t come after my channel anymore. I’m never gonna make another video. But if they really want to come at my neck for 100 Mil then they can just fuck their brand on their own,” CBV notes.

“They’re going to attempt to bankrupt my family just because I made Fortnite cheats. Just cause I allegedly made Fortnite tonight cheats and played this game while making YouTube videos,” he adds.

In its complaint, Epic Games indeed seeks damages. However, the statutory maximum in this case, where one work is at stake, wouldn’t exceed $150,000, which is far from $100 million.

CBV is trying to make the point that it would look bad if Epic Games pursues massive damages from a relatively small cheater, who’s not even an adult. While that may be, arguments like that don’t win a lawsuit.

The YouTuber’s attorneys, however, have more arguments why the case should be dismissed. This week they filed a motion to dismiss the case. Among other things, they point out that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over their client and that requiring a minor to defend himself in another state would be unreasonable.

“Defendant C.B. is a child who lives in Illinois with absolutely no connection to North Carolina. Nonetheless, Plaintiff Epic Games, Inc., a multibillion company, wants to drag him into court here,” they write.

“Exercising jurisdiction over C.B. would be unfair and unreasonable, as well as forbidden by the United States Constitution,” the attorneys add.

One of the additional issues highlighted is that the TOS and EULA are not enforceable, because a minor can not enter into a legally binding contract. In fact, both Epic’s TOS and EULA specifically state that the signee has to be an adult.

In the YouTube video, CBV notes that the case is “kind of a joke,” adding that Epic Games surely doesn’t need the little money that he has, as they just hosted a 100 million dollar tournament.

However, reading through the paperwork it becomes clear that this lawsuit, which is similar to the ones that have been filed in the past, isn’t really about money. The main issue Epic Games appears to be concerned with is to stop CBV from promoting and selling hacks.

Epic has previously asked YouTube to remove several videos where this activity is promoted. Since CBV submitted DMCA counternotices to reinstate a video, Epic has to file a lawsuit, otherwise the video will automatically become available again after 14 days.

In other words, the lawsuits may not be about bankrupting and defendants, as we have suggested before, but mostly an indirect effort to ensure that certain hacking-related YouTube videos remain offline. Or as Epic Games puts it in the original complaint.

“Defendant’s submission of a DMCA counter notification, which requires YouTube to restore the infringing content unless Epic files an action seeking a court order to restrain Defendant from engaging in infringing activity, creates a continuing risk of copyright infringement.”

It will be up to the court to decide whether it has jurisdiction over the 14-year-old and if Epic’s claims hold up or not.

A copy of the motion to dismiss, filed on behalf of the alleged cheater, is available here (pdf).

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Free Spotify and YouTube Users Are Now a Bigger Challenge Than Music Pirates

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/free-spotify-and-youtube-users-are-now-a-bigger-challenge-than-music-pirates-190721/

Pirate site blocking has proven to be a rather effective copyright enforcement tool in many countries.

Italy, one of the European frontrunners, has taken a particularly active approach. In recent years, thousands of domain names have been added to the nation’s pirate blocklist, following complaints from a wide range of copyright holders.

It is not just the numbers that set Italy apart, the blocking mechanism itself is unique as well. To have a website blocked, rightsholders can ask the local telecoms watchdog Agcom to issue an order, without need for a trial.

Instead of dealing with blockades in court, Agcom has the power to grant injunctions without judicial overview, which it does on a regular basis. Over the past year alone, 385 blocking orders were issued by the telecoms watchdog.

The site blocking efforts have obviously decreased traffic to the targeted sites, but according to data released by Agcom, the number of visits to all pirate sites combined has dropped too. As shown below, the number of mobile and desktop visits to pirate sites decreased more than a third (35%) between 2018 and 2019. 

The downward traffic trend is visible across all types of piracy sites but, logically, the traffic drop for the blocked sites is most pronounced. The graph below shows that the number of visitors to blocked sites tank swiftly after a new blocking order is issued. 

For example, in January 2019 2conv.com (blue line) and flv2mp3.by (green line) were blocked, and soon after, the visitor numbers went down. 

Agcom and various entertainment industry groups are happy with the overall impact. They believe that, after many years, they finally managed to get a grip on piracy.

TorrentFreak spoke to Enzo Mazza, chief at Italian music industry group FIMI, who believes that a combination of site blocking and educational campaigns has paid off.

“The first major blockade targeted the Pirate Bay in 2008 and the case was confirmed by the Supreme Court. In terms of market impact, site blocking has proven to be effective in conjunction with the increase of the legal offer,” Mazza says.

“The Agcom regulation played a great role, also in terms of education and awareness. Most of the blocked sites have a landing page, created by Agcom and shown by the ISPs, which explains visitors how to reach legal sites.”

While this is positive news for the Italian music industry, it doesn’t mean that all is well. Mazza informs us that there are bigger problems than piracy. Ironically, these problems are linked to the legal alternatives many pirates have switched to. 

“The main issue here is not piracy. It’s how to convert people from free YouTube and Spotify accounts to premium services,” Mazza says.”Italy is a country where the ‘culture of free’ is radicated and it’s not easy to drag people into a subscription model.”

Nearly 90% of Italian music consumers use YouTube to stream music, which is a problem for the industry. While these people are enjoying music legally, record labels would like to see these people converted into paying customers.

“Conversion rates are still below the global average and this is a major challenge for the industry. We are urging in particular Spotify to do more in terms of promotional campaigns in order to engage new premium customers,” Mazza says. 

So, while the website blocking efforts have helped to bring piracy rates down, this isn’t immedially resulting in much more revenue.

The next step is to convert these same people into paying subscribers. However, this should be done witch caution, as cutting the free options could simply drive people back to pirate sites. 

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Stream-Rippers Successfully Counter YouTube’s Blocking Efforts

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/stream-rippers-successfully-counter-youtubes-blocking-efforts-190719/

After the music industry complained about YouTube stream-rippers for many years, the streaming service took a drastic measure last week.

As first reported here, YouTube began blocking several popular stream-ripping tools, which resulted in these sites becoming unusable.

YouTube didn’t repond to our request for comment, but it appeared to be a concerted efforts to prevent outsiders from downloading music from the platform. A big move, which generated widespread attention, all the way up to the US Congress.

House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, reportedly reached out to Google in response. Nadler is a driving force behind many copyright reform proposals and known as a staunch advocate of a more aggresive anti-piracy approach by tech companies.

According to CNET, Nadler was interested in hearing more about the blocking measures, and he’s not alone. Several music industry insiders have shown a keen interest in the developments as well, and the RIAA is cautiously optimistic following the news.

“While we do not yet know how effective these new measures are, we applaud YouTube for taking affirmative steps towards shutting down the fastest growing form of music piracy,” RIAA boss Mitch Glazier said.

YouTube, meanwhile, has yet to respond to our request for more details. CNET was more lucky, and quotes the video platform stating that “some MP3 stream ripping sites” were blocked after the platform made some changes recently.

“It’s our desire to be good partners to our content licensors as our interests are aligned on thwarting violative downloads and downloader site,” YouTube added in a statement.

While YouTube is happy to side with the music industry and the music industry is pleased with the enforcement efforts, the blocked sites are not sitting still. As is often the case when something becomes blocked online, people quickly find ways to thwart or circumvent the efforts.

And indeed, little over a week after the blocking efforts started, many of the targeted sites are able to rip MP3s from YouTube again.

Mp3-youtube.download almost instantly announced that it was working on a fix and today the site is working just fine. The same is true for Dlnowsoft.com, which was also blocked last week, as well as the massively popular Onlinevideoconverter.com, which is among the top 200 most-visited sites on the Internet.

Ripping again…

TorrentFreak spoke to the operator of a stream-ripping site who prefers to remain anonymous. He confirmed that bypassing YouTube’s block wasn’t that complicated. Simply moving the site to new IP-addresses did the trick.

“To fix the problem, we simply used other servers that are not in the range of IP-addresses blocked by YouTube,” the operator of the stream-ripping site informed us.

If YouTube is indeed serious about its efforts to take out ‘voliative’ stream-ripping sites, it will likely block the new IP-addresses as well, eventually. This will then trigger a proverbial cat and mouse game, one we know all too well from other pirate site blocking efforts.

Although it’s unlikely that YouTube can completely ban stream-ripping sites from its platform, continued blocking efforts may eventually prompt some site operators and users to give up. Whether these users will switch to legal services or other ”free’ resources, remains a question, of course.

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YouTube ‘Blocks’ Popular MP3 Stream-Ripping Sites

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-blocks-popular-mp3-stream-ripping-sites-190710/

Free music is easy to find nowadays. Just head over to YouTube and you can find millions of tracks, including many of the most recent releases.

While some artists happily share their work, the major record labels don’t want tracks to leak outside YouTube’s ecosystem. For this reason, they see YouTube-to-MP3-rippers as a major threat.

Several prominent music companies have already taken legal action against key players in recent years. They managed to shut down sites such as YouTube-MP3, blocked others, and are currently involved in a civil lawsuit against FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com in the US.

At the same time, music companies have repeatedly asked YouTube to step up as well. While the streaming site threatened several stream-ripping sites with tough language in the past, it hasn’t taken any strong countermeasures. 

However, it appears that this position may have changed. Several operators of YouTube-to-MP3 rippers have confirmed that the streaming service is actively blocking requests from their sites. 

“All my servers are blocked with error ‘HTTP Error 429: Too Many Requests’,” the operator of Dlnowsoft.com informs TorrentFreak. As a result, the stream-ripping site currently displays a “service temporarily unavailable, we will come back soon” error message. 

The site in question is not alone. Mp3-youtube.download, another stream-ripper, is facing a similar issue. According to its operator, something changed yesterday evening and users now see a ‘this URL does not exist’ error message when they try to convert a YouTube clip. 

The massively popular Onlinevideoconverter.com, which is among the top 200 most-visited sites on the Internet, appears to be affected as well. While videos from sites such as Vimeo can still be converted, YouTube links now return the following error message. 

None of the site operators we heard from was warned by YouTube in advance.

We also reached out to the video streaming service for a comment and further details, but at the time of writing, we have yet to hear back.

While YouTube’s efforts, intentional or not, are effective, they will likely trigger a cat-and-mouse game. The operator of a popular stream-ripper, who prefers to remain anonymous, managed to get around the blockade by deploying several proxy servers. 

Many other stream-rippers and YouTube converters such as FLVTO.biz and 2conv.com are still working fine as well, but it’s not clear whether they were actively targeted by YouTube. 

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RIAA Targets 14 New Sites in Campaign Against YouTube-Rippers & Piracy

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-targets-14-new-sites-in-campaign-against-youtube-rippers-piracy-190606/

For some time, the world’s leading record labels have complained that YouTube doesn’t pay the going rate for musical content streamed to its users.

However, when consumers use so-called YouTube-ripping sites to obtain content, it’s claimed that the position worsens. By obtaining music in this fashion, users are able to keep local libraries which further deplete YouTube hits and by extension, revenue generated by the labels.

To plug this hole, the RIAA is working to identify the operators of leading YouTube-ripping platforms. Via DMCA subpoenas, the industry group has been forcing CDN service Cloudflare and domain registries such as NameCheap to hand over the personal details of the people behind these tools.

Two new DMCA subpoenas, obtained by the RIAA in recent days, reveal an apparent escalation in this activity. Mainly targeting Cloudflare but in one instance also NameCheap, the RIAA demands private information relating to several sites.

10Convert.com

With around two million visitors per month (SimilarWeb stats), this platform has a prime focus on YouTube-ripping. The majority of its traffic comes from Brazil (69%), with the United States accounting for a little over 2% of its users.

Amoyshare.com

Enjoying around 4.6m visits per month with most of its visitors coming from the United States (15%), this platform’s focus is offering downloadable tools that enable users to grab videos and music from a wide range of platforms.

However, Amoyshare also offers “AnyUTube”, an online converter which is the element the RIAA is complaining about.

Anything2MP3.cc

This site, which enjoys a relatively low 300,000 visits per month, appears to be dual-use. While it is possible to download content from YouTube, Anything2MP3 also offers users the ability to convert their own audio files in the browser.

IMP3Juices.com

With around six million visits per month, this platform is one of the more popular ones targeted by the RIAA. Around 12.5% of the site’s traffic comes from Italy, with the US following behind with just under 10%.

The site functions like a ‘pirate’ download portal, with users able to search for artists and download tracks. However, the RIAA provides a URL which reveals that the site also has a YouTube to MP4 conversion feature. Indeed, it seems possible that much of the site’s content is obtained from YouTube.

BigConverter.com

Down at the time of writing, possibly as a result of the subpoena, this site offered downloading functionality for a range of sites, from YouTube and Facebook through to Twitter, Vimeo, Vevo, Instagram, Dailymotion, Metacafe, VK, AOL, GoogleDrive and Soundcloud.

YouTubeMP4.to

Enjoying around 7.7 million visits per month, YouTubeMP4.to is a straightforward YouTube video downloader. Almost 23% of its traffic comes from the United States with the UK just behind at close to 11%.

QDownloader.net

This platform has perhaps the most comprehensive offering of those targeted. It claims to be able to download content from 800 sites, of which YouTube is just one. With more than 12 million visits per month, it’s not difficult to see why QDownloader has made it onto the RIAA’s hit list.

GenYouTube.net

Another big one, this multi-site downloader platform attracts around seven million visits per month. The majority of its traffic comes from India (14%), with the United States following behind with around 12%.

Break.TV

For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, YouTube and SoundCloud downloader Break.TV has lost a lot of its monthly traffic since late 2018. From a high edging towards three million visits per month, it now enjoys just over 1.6 million. Interestingly the site says it must only be used to obtain Creative Commons licensed material.

MP3XD.com

In common with IMP3Juices.com, MP3XD.com appears to be focused on offering pirate MP3 downloads rather than straightforward ripping services. However, its content does appear to have been culled from YouTube.

Given that it defaults to Spanish, it seems to target Latin America. Indeed, with close to 10 million visits per month, almost a third hail from Mexico, with Venezuela and Argentina following behind.

DL-YouTube-MP3.net

This platform is a straightforward YouTube-ripping site, offering downloads of both video and audio content. It is one of the lower-trafficked sites on the list, with around 870,000 visits per month with most of its traffic (38%) coming from France.

ConvertBox.net

With around 150,000 visits, ConvertBox is the smallest platform targeted by the RIAA in this batch. It offers conversion features for YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, and SoundCloud via its website and mobile apps. Around a fifth of its traffic comes from France.

Downloaders.io

Another multi-downloader, Downloaders.io offers tools to rip content from a number of platforms, YouTube included. It’s traffic has been up and down since the start of the year but has averaged around 200K visits per month. Close to 30% of traffic hails from the United States.

Hexupload.net

A relative newcomer, this site doesn’t appear to fit into the ripping or general pirate site niche. Down at the time of writing, this 270,000 visit per month platform appears to have acted as a file upload site, from which users could generate revenue per download.

Cloudflare and NameCheap will now be required to hand over the personal details they have on the users behind all of these sites. As usual, that will include names, addresses, IP addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, and more.

It isn’t clear what the RIAA has planned for these platforms but since the request was made by the group’s Vice-President Online Piracy, it doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a few ideas.

This latest move by the RIAA follows similar action against several other sites detailed in our earlier reports (1,2,3).

The RIAA’s letters to Cloudflare and NameCheap can be found here and here.

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’12 Million Watched a Pirate Stream of Joshua vs. Ruiz on YouTube’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/12-million-watched-a-pirate-stream-of-joshua-vs-ruiz-on-youtube-190606/

The fight between Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr last weekend was highly anticipated by boxing fans.

Events like this draw an audience of millions. Unfortunately for the rightsholders, not all fans go through legal channels.

Before the fight, Kieron Sharp of anti-piracy group FACT issued a public announcement, urging the public to do the right thing. “More and more people are becoming aware that piracy is illegal – don’t find yourself in the criminals’ corner this weekend,” he said.

Whether these words had any impact is hard to measure, but new statistics released by piracy monitoring firm MUSO reveal that millions of people watched the fight through unlicensed channels.

MUSO estimates that 13 million people turned to unauthorized sources. The vast majority of these, 93% or over 12 million views, are traced back to YouTube. These numbers surpass those for the Fury vs Wilder fight last year, which came in at nearly 10 million views.

YouTube usually responds rapidly when any infringing content is spotted, but with live events like this, many takedown notices come too late it appears.

The geographical location data for the unauthorized viewers show that most came from Nigeria, 2,351,496 to be precise. This may in part be due to the Nigerian background of the British boxer Anthony Joshua, who lost the fight in the seventh round.

Kenya follows at a respectable distance with 998,027 viewers, followed by the United Kingdom with 921,994, the United States with 600,501, and Mexico with 587,028 viewers.

Commenting on the findings Andy Chatterley, CEO at MUSO, says that this is the largest unauthorized streaming audience his company has ever tracked.

“The Joshua vs. Ruiz fight has been the largest unauthorized audience that we’ve ever tracked across boxing and it’s staggering to see that 93% of the audience watched via YouTube,” Chatterley says.

The numbers are definitely impressive, which may be in part driven by the high cost of the pay-per-view broadcasts.

As for the fight, the latest reports note that Joshua is looking for a rematch against Ruiz. If it gets that far, it will be interesting to compare the unauthorized streaming numbers, although it may be hard to beat the 13 million.

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YouTube Ordered to Hand Over Identities of Manga Pirates

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-ordered-to-hand-over-identities-of-manga-pirates-190603/

Users of YouTube upload millions of pieces of content to the platform every month, much of it without incident or irritation to third-parties.

However, there are those who upload copyright content, most of it music and videos, that infringe on the rights of the original owners.

When that happens, copyright holders can file claims with YouTube to have the content removed, via the platform’s Content ID system or by filing a manual claim.

Users are generally aware that these complaints have the potential to lead to a ‘strike’ against their accounts but a publishing giant in Japan seems to want to take things much further.

Founded in 1922, Shogakukan Inc. is one of Japan’s largest publishers offering more than 60 magazines, 8,000 books, and 13,000 manga titles (comics/graphic novels), to name a few. It’s also part owner of Viz Media, the largest publisher of comic books and graphic novels in the United States.

Shogakukan’s manga publications are often pirated in digital formats (PDF documents, for example) but they also get uploaded to YouTube. These take the form of videos, often set to music, featuring static views of the pages of each title, timed for easy reading.

YouTube users who uploaded the company’s content in this fashion now need to look over their shoulders.

On May 24, lawyers acting for Shogakukan requested a DMCA subpoena at a California district court to help it identify several YouTube channel operators who allegedly uploaded images of the company’s content.

DMCA subpoenas are not reviewed by a judge and only require a signature from a court clerk. As a result, Shogakukan may shortly be in receipt of some very sensitive information, at least according to its letter to YouTube.

In addition to requiring YouTube to disable access to the infringing works as listed by the publisher, the Google-owned video platform must also hand over the personal details of several channel operators identified as LNDA, Kile Russo, Anime FightClub, and Optimistic Neko, among others.

The subpoena requires YouTube to hand over information it holds on the alleged infringers “from the time of user registration with any and all of the Infringer’s Accounts”, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, IP address logs, account and credit card numbers and the names of financial institutions connected to them.

According to the subpoena, the information above shall be obtained “from any and all sources” including YouTube accounts, Google AdSense accounts, “or any other service accounts(s) registered with or linked to the infringer’s account” with YouTube.

Interestingly, however, the term “infringer” appears to apply to a broader range of YouTube users than just the handful of individuals listed in the subpoena.

The letter contains a list of Shogakukan works and then states that, in addition to the named channels/users, YouTube must hand over the details of “any other users registered with www.youtube.com who uploaded and/or posted any Infringing Work specified under the column entitled as “Infringing Work” in Exhibit A.”

Exhibit A (DMCA subpoena to YouTube)

Given the broad nature of the subpoena, it seems that YouTube is not only being asked to provide targeted information but is also required to work pro-actively by searching for the content in question and then handing over the personal details of anyone who may have uploaded it.

While the DMCA subpoena process may be quick, a judge’s experience might have proven valuable in this case, given its potential scope.

The subpoena and associated documents can be found here (1,2)

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YouTube-Rippers Infringe Copyright on “Industrial Scale” Says Judge

Post Syndicated from Andy original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-rippers-infringe-copyright-on-industrial-scale-says-judge-190601/

As part of the music industry’s war on so-called ‘stream-ripping’, earlier this year Sony, Universal, and Warner, with assistance from Music Rights Australia and the Australasian Performing Right Association, demanded that ISPs in Australia block access to several YouTube-ripping platforms.

Following a Federal Court appearance in April, during which the music groups asked for action against four key players – 2conv, Flv2mp3, FLVto, and Convert2mp3 – Justice Perram handed down an order requiring most of the country’s ISPs to block the platforms.

This week, the Judge published the reasoning for his decision. While the blocking aspects are specific to Australian law, it contains some interesting comments about the activities of such platforms that may inform similar cases and actions in other regions.

In setting up his arguments, Justice Perram places an emphasis on the differences between streaming and downloading from YouTube.

While it has been argued that in practice there is only one difference (the former is a transient process while the latter goes a step further by retaining the data), the Judge indicates that is not for the end user to decide. The decision is made by the entity that uploads the data to YouTube and by YouTube itself.

“A person who uploads media to YouTube is required, as part of that process, to determine who can view that media and under what circumstances. It is possible as part of that process to grant permission to permit downloading of files,” the Judge writes.

In most cases uploading takes place after the user selects the ‘Standard YouTube License’, which only allows end users to stream the media, not download. Uploading under a ‘Creative Commons License’ can permit end users to download but the labels do not upload on this basis. In essence, the decision of whether to allow streaming or downloading from YouTube lies with the uploader, the Judge says.

YouTube then delivers that content to end users under the terms of the uploading agreement, which is “achieved by YouTube defaulting to delivery of the media via the HTML5 format which enables streaming but not downloading.”

Turning to the ripping sites themselves, the Judge notes that in testing the platforms a paralegal at a law firm was able to “strip music files” out of the musical works uploaded to YouTube by the record companies. Since she was given permission, that was fine, but the Judge noted that there is “no doubt” that anyone else doing so would have infringed copyright.

After ripping took place on the sites in question, the resulting content was made available to end users. That, the Judge notes, is a “communication to the public” so in respect of the musical works detailed in the case, that represents copyright infringement.

“It follows that the operators of the websites are infringing the relevant music and performance copyrights by copying the soundtracks out of music videos streamed from YouTube,” the Judge writes.

“They are also infringing the same copyrights by making soundtracks then available online and electronically transmitting them to users. The operators also facilitate the infringement of both kinds of copyright by permitting users to make a copy of the soundtrack.”

Given that uploaders can grant the ability to allow streaming or downloading, the Judge says that such ripping platforms will only be of use to anyone where YouTube does not allow download functionality, i.e “where no permission is given to make a copy of media on YouTube.”

A statement published on the ConvertMP3 platform, that claims that downloading from YouTube is “completely legal” when users have obtained permission from the copyright owner to do so, is described as “technically correct” by the Judge. However, he dismissed the disclaimer as “entirely without substance”, existing only to “underscore the dishonesty of the website operators.”

The traffic to the websites listed in the order is considerable (66.5 million visits to Convert2mp3.net in January 2019 and 112.4 million to Flvto.biz in January 2019 alone), something which indicates that they are “responsible for piracy of music from music videos on an industrial scale.”

While it’s important to repeat that the order was considered and granted under Australian law, there are common threads with legislation in other regions that may yet prove important in cases against similar platforms.

Justice Perram’s order can be downloaded here.

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YouTuber Sends Lawyer After UFC to Stop ‘Unfair’ Takedown Notices

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtuber-sends-lawyer-after-ufc-to-stop-unfair-takedown-notices-190517/

Copyright enforcement on YouTube is a growing source of frustration,  particularly the overbroad takedown efforts.

Many channel operators and users have complained about apparent abuse, but most don’t go any further than that. 

John MacKay, owner of the popular channel  “Boxing Now” is an exception. On his channel, MacKay releases videos with post-fight commentary of popular fights. With hundreds of thousands of subscribers, he’s amassed a sizeable audience over the years.

The channel also comments on matches from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Since MacKay hasn’t cleared the rights to these broadcasts, he doesn’t use video footage from these fights. Instead, he shows a few still images, commenting on these. 

Nonetheless, the UFC is not happy with his coverage, as the organization has sent five takedown notices targeting Boxing Now’s videos. These are not automated Content-ID flags, but actual takedown notices, which resulted in the videos being removed from YouTube. 

MacKay believes that his work is a clear case of fair use so in response sent counternotices for each takedown. The UFC hasn’t responded to any of these, which meant that YouTube restored the videos. However, at that point, most harm was already done. 

“My videos are most often viewed in the days immediately after a fight, and when UFC has them taken down for a few days with these unfair copyright claims, I lose a lot of viewers and a significant amount of money,” MacKay says, commenting on the issue.

Frustrated by the continued takedowns, MacKay decided to take a stand. He reached out to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to help him address the matter. The EFF was happy to oblige and this week attorney Alex Moss sent a letter to the UFC, demanding that it stops sending unwarranted notices.

Boxing Now

In the letter, Moss goes over the four factors of fair use, concluding that all weigh in the channel operator’s favor.  For example, the videos are transformative, only use a few frames of the copyrighted content, and do not compete with the original broadcast.

“Mr. MacKay’s post-fight commentary could not and did not affect the market for a live broadcast or recording of the entire fight. If anything, Mr. MacKay’s use of still images for commentary purposes would likely increase demand for the original,” Moss writes.

The EFF’s attorney points out that the UFC has an obligation to consider fair use before sending a takedown request, as was determined in the Lenz vs. Universal case. The repeated notices targeting Boxing Now’s videos indicate that the UFC has failed to meet this obligation, which harms the channel’s business. 

When the videos are taken down shortly after being posted, MacKay is missing a lot of views and therefore ad revenue. Added to that, the takedown notices also put his channel at risk, as YouTube may terminate accounts after repeat infringements. 

What the UFC’s precise motivation is for the requests is unknown. The EFF’s attorney points out, however, that the UFC also has its own post commentary videos on YouTube and that it’s reducing the competition with its takedown notices.

“We note that UFC also produces YouTube videos containing post-fight commentary, and that Mr. McKay’s videos and UFC’s videos may compete for viewership and advertising revenue. This further suggests that UFC’s takedowns of Mr. McKay’s videos were done in bad faith,” Moss writes.

The channel operator, therefore, demands that the UFC stops issuing unwarranted takedown requests. The EFF requests that the organization confirms this intention before the end of the month. 

“Accordingly, we demand that you cease sending takedown notices for Mr. McKay’s videos that make fair use of still images from UFC fights. Please confirm your agreement to do so by May 28, 2019, ” Moss concludes.

It’s not clear whether the EFF and MacKay plan any legal action should the UFC fail to meet their demand. However, as highlighted a few days ago, the likelihood of a lawsuit over unwarranted takedown notices becomes ever more likely, whether that happens in this case or not.

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Moss says she can’t go into detail about any potential follow-up steps. The EFF’s attorney hopes that the letter has some effect and that the UFC stops sending wrongful takedown notices. 

“It’s not too much to expect copyright owners to consider whether something actually infringes before cutting off people’s access,” Moss tells us.

A copy of EFF’s letter, sent to UFC on behalf of Boxing Now’s John MacKay, is available here (pdf).

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‘YouTube Content-ID Abusers Could Face Millions of Dollars in Damages’

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/youtube-content-id-abusers-could-face-millions-of-dollars-in-damages-190509/

With over 20 million subscribers of its main channel and over 30 million over its entire network, WatchMojo is one of the largest players on YouTube.

The Montreal-based video production company has been around for well over a decade and continues to expand its viewership, despite fierce competition.

While WatchMojo owes a lot of its success to YouTube, the company is also growing increasingly frustrated with rampant copyright abuse on the platform. We’re not talking about people who steal their content, but about companies that unlawfully claim their videos.

These complaints are far from new and we have highlighted these issues repeatedly over the years. However, when a channel the size of WatchMojo sounds the alarm bell, people should pay attention. This includes abusive rightsholders, which could be liable for millions of dollars in damages.

But let’s start with the basis for the recent uproar. Last weekend WatchMojo’s CEO Ashkan Karbasfrooshan published a video in which he exposed some of the worst Content-ID abusers. The video provides several examples of companies that claimed WatchMojo content which, according to the channel, is protected under fair use.

For example, when WatchMojo published a video commenting on an Avengers movie trailer, an outfit called Hexacorp (which does business as Orfium) claimed it, arguing that the trailer’s music was used without permission. Hexacorp represented Ramen Music, which licensed the track to Marvel, but apparently, WatchMojo wasn’t allowed to show it.

WatchMojo disagreed and protested the claim citing fair use. After all, the trailer and music were clearly used for commentary purposes. This worked and Hexacorp eventually let the claim go, but many other channels with less legal knowledge simply accepted the claim, allowing Hexacorp to monetize their videos.

What plays a major role here is that protesting Content-ID claims may eventually lead to copyright notices. These notices can result in “strikes” which can then cause people to lose all content in their YouTube channels. That’s not a risk many channels want to take.

TorrentFreak spoke to WatchMojo’s CEO who informed us that this is just one of the many examples. Every month they receive hundreds of Content-ID claims across their channels. However, WatchMojo vigorously fights back and prevails on nearly every occasion.

Karbasfrooshan notes that Content-ID abusers come in all shapes and sizes. Some stand out in terms of volume but are quick to let go of claims once a channel protests. Others send only a few complaints but protest when channels push back.

While there’s no doubt that rightsholders should be able to pursue legitimate claims, WatchMojo believes that many see the system as a revenue-generating opportunity. They simply issue thousands of frivolous claims, knowing that many won’t be protested, even though there are clear arguments for fair use.

This means that the rightsholders will scoop up extra revenue with very little expense. After all, most Content-ID claims are automated.

In addition, WatchMojo also signals a possible anti-competitive angle. The channel receives a lot of strikes for content from the music company BMG.  These, again, often target fair use videos and are sometimes issued globally, even though the rights can only be enforced in certain countries.

The full expose is explained in detail in WatchMojo’s video, where Karbasfrooshan highlights that BMG’s parent company, Bertelsmann, also has a stake in ZergNet, which happens to be a direct competitor of WatchMojo on YouTube.

“Bertelsmann, through their investment arm BMDI, has invested in our direct competitor ZergNet, whose assets Looper, Nicky Swift and a bunch of others compete with us for the same audience, fighting for the same ad dollars, competing for the same eyeballs,” WatchMojo’s CEO notes.

WatchMojo’s CEO Ash Karbasfrooshan

Whether the behavior is anti-competitive or not, the overarching problem is that many rightsholders ‘abuse’ the Content-ID system, willingly or not. According to US case law, they are required to consider fair use when issuing takedown requests, something that doesn’t happen very often it seems.

Content-ID is a voluntary system that’s not rooted in law. However, WatchMojo believes that abusive rightsholders are opening themselves up to millions of dollars in potential damages from YouTube channels. One way this could happen is through a class action lawsuit.

Karbasfrooshan floated this idea in his initial video which triggered a lot of response from fellow channel operators. The basic idea is that a group of affected channels files a class action suit against an abusive rightsholder, with the goal of obtaining a settlement for unlawfully claimed and monetized videos.

In a follow-up video, WatchMojo explains in detail how this would work. What is clear, is that the potential damages are massive. According to a calculation made by the channel, rightsholders earned over $2 billion through unlawfully claimed videos over the past several years.

YouTube revenue and potential damages (red) (credit: WatchMojo)

Whether the calculations hold up or not, it is clear that companies that send out a lot of claims against fair use content could theoretically face substantial damages. This, of course, has to be backed up in court, but according to WatchMojo’s CEO, who has plenty of legal experience, it’s a viable option.

“We are now actively exploring taking legal action against a couple of targets where we have built up a lot of evidence of wrongdoing, abuse, and received additional evidence from other channels too,” Karbasfrooshan tells TorrentFreak.

For now, WatchMojo is not ready to serve as a representative plaintiff in a class action suit. It hopes that by highlighting the potential risks for copyright holders, the associated companies will do the right thing and properly consider fair use.

WatchMojo has complained about Content-ID abuse for quite a while and it believes that some type of legal action against an abuser is inevitable. Whether that’s through a class action suit or not.

“It’s a matter of time, if not us, someone will come along and sue and win big,” Karbasfrooshan tells us.

WatchMojo’s CEO has spoken to lawyers who, once they were informed about what was going on, were also convinced that some type of legal action is inevitable.

“I assure you that once I explained how Content-ID worked vs. copyright law, and then how rightsholders abused it, the general consensus was: ok, these rightsholders are going to get sued,” Karbasfrooshan says.

“Now, whether that’s done via a class action suit or a direct lawsuit is a different matter. I think the former is interesting but the latter is practically more likely,” he adds.

Still, Karbasfrooshan hopes that lawsuits are not needed to address this. Ideally, copyright holders should change the way they operate and respect fair use, he says.

And there’s also a major role for YouTube here. They can make a simple change and whitelist channels that have good standing, so these are not harmed by frivolous claims.

“The answer is simple: it’s time for a separate class of channels for those who use the platform in a professional manner,” Karbasfrooshan notes.

The latter angle will be discussed in the third episode of WatchMojo’s four-part series on Content-ID abuse. In addition, the channel will also launch “The FU Show”, where it will break down and discuss fair use (FU) issues in regards to content claims. 

Needless to say, these videos are very informative, and there’s something in there for channel operators as well as copyright holders. 

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