Jump to content

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'piracy'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • Site Related
    • News & Updates
    • Site / Forum Feedback
    • Member Introduction
  • News
    • General News
    • FileSharing News
    • Mobile News
    • Software News
    • Security & Privacy News
    • Technology News
  • Downloads
    • nsane.down
  • General Discussions & Support
    • Filesharing Chat
    • Security & Privacy Center
    • Software Chat
    • Mobile Mania
    • Technology Talk
    • Entertainment Exchange
    • Guides & Tutorials
  • Off-Topic Chat
    • The Chat Bar
    • Jokes & Funny Stuff
    • Polling Station

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Found 77 results

  1. With millions of subscribers throughout Asia and Africa, iflix is one of the leading video streaming services in emerging markets. While the company is up against streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon, it sees piracy as its main adversary. While Netflix is without a doubt the most used paid video streaming service worldwide, there are dozens of smaller players fighting for a piece of the pie. Iflix is one of these companies. The service is available in 25 countries across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, streaming movies and TV-shows to 6.5 million subscribers. In the coming years, the streaming service hopes to expand its reach by offering a better product than its competition. This includes the likes of Netflix and Amazon, but iflix sees piracy as its main adversary. “That is really the big player,” Sherwin dela Cruz, iflix’s country manager, says in an interview with ANC’s The Boss. “The sooner we get people to pay for our service and watch content in one of the real services, I think that’s when we can say that the market is really growing.” Dela Cruz sees the music industry as a good example, where services such as Spotify offer a relatively complete alternative to piracy. As a result, illegal downloading has decreased in countries where it became available. “That’s sort of like the aspiration for us – to get more people to have just one, two or three services and just watch what they want to watch on their mobile phones without really looking at pirated content,” dela Cruz says. Interestingly, iflix doesn’t only see piracy as a problem that needs to be quashed. At the moment, they also use it as market intelligence to find out what content local audiences are interested in. Iflix uses the German company TECXIPIO, which is known to actively monitor BitTorrent traffic, to track local piracy trends. In addition, they also buy pirated DVDs from street vendors to find out what people want. This information is used to license the content people are most interested in, so it can offer the best possible alternative to piracy. The company previously informed us that they believe that piracy is a signal from the public that they can’t get what they want through legal options. Going forward, Iflix hopes to grow its user base by directly competing with piracy. “We believe that people in emerging markets do not actively want to steal content, they do so because there is no better alternative,” iflix concludes. Source
  2. Pirate Site Admin Sentenced to Two Years Prison & €83.6 Million Damages A man said to be the brains behind one of France's most popular streaming sites has been sentenced in his absence by a court in the suburbs of Paris. Currently on the run, the 41-year-old was sentenced to two years in prison and a shocking 83 million euros in damages after infringing the rights of companies including Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros. Way back in 2011, Streamiz was reported to be the second most popular pirate streaming site in France with around 250,000 visitors per day. The site didn’t host its own content but linked to movies elsewhere. This prominent status soon attracted the attention of various entertainment companies including the National Federation of Film Distributors (FNDF) which filed a complaint against the site back in 2009. Investigators eventually traced the presumed operator of the site to a location in the Hauts-de-Seine region of France. In October 2011 he was arrested leaving his Montrouge home in the southern Parisian suburbs. His backpack reportedly contained socks stuffed with almost 30,000 euros in cash. The man was ordered to appear before the investigating judge but did not attend. He also failed to appear during his sentencing this Monday, which may or may not have been a good thing, depending on one’s perspective. In his absence, the now 41-year-old was found guilty of copyright infringement offenses and handed one of the toughest sentences ever in a case of its type. According to an AFP report, when the authorities can catch up with him the man must not only serve two years in prison but also pay a staggering 83.6 million euros in damages to Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros and SACEM, the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers. Streamiz is now closed but at its peak offered around 40,000 movies to millions of users per month. In total, the site stood accused of around 500,000,000 infringements, earning its operator an estimated 150,000 euros in advertising revenue over a two year period. “This is a clear case of commercial counterfeiting” based on a “very structured” system, David El Sayegh, Secretary General of SACEM, told AFP. His sentence “sends a very clear message: there will be no impunity for pirates,” he added. With an arrest warrant still outstanding, the former Streamiz admin is now on the run with very few options available to him. Certainly, the 83.6 million euro fine won’t ever be paid but the prison sentence is something he might need to get behind him. SOURCE
  3. Copyright Trolls Target Up to 22,000 Norwegians for Movie Piracy The Oslo District Court has effectively given a Danish law firm the go-ahead to target up to 21,804 potential pirates with cash settlement demands. Njord Law ran into trouble at the Supreme Court last year when it was found that its evidence against alleged pirates failed to show serious levels of infringement. This time around it has clearly learned from its earlier experiences. Last January it was revealed that after things had become tricky in the US, the copyright trolls behind the action movie London Has Fallen were testing out the Norwegian market. Reports emerged of letters being sent out to local Internet users by Danish law firm Njord Law, each demanding a cash payment of 2,700 NOK (around US$345). Failure to comply, the company claimed, could result in a court case and damages of around $12,000. The move caused outrage locally, with consumer advice groups advising people not to pay and even major anti-piracy groups distancing themselves from the action. However, in May 2017 it appeared that progress had been made in stopping the advance of the trolls when another Njord Law case running since 2015 hit the rocks. The law firm previously sent a request to the Oslo District Court on behalf of entertainment company Scanbox asking ISP Telenor to hand over subscribers’ details. In May 2016, Scanbox won its case and Telenor was ordered to hand over the information. On appeal, however, the tables were turned when it was decided that evidence supplied by the law firm failed to show that sharing carried out by subscribers was substantial. Undeterred, Njord Law took the case all the way to the Supreme Court. The company lost when a panel of judges found that the evidence presented against Telenor’s customers wasn’t good enough to prove infringement beyond a certain threshold. But Njord Law still wasn’t done. More than six months on, the ruling from the Supreme Court only seems to have provided the company with a template. If the law firm could show that the scale of sharing exceeds the threshold set by Norway’s highest court, then disclosure could be obtained. That appears to be the case now. In a ruling handed down by the Oslo District Court in January, it’s revealed that Njord Law and its partners handed over evidence which shows 23,375 IP addresses engaged in varying amounts of infringing behavior over an extended period. The ISP they have targeted is being kept secret by the court but is believed to be Telenor. Using information supplied by German anti-piracy outfit MaverickEye (which is involved in numerous copyright troll cases globally), Njord Law set out to show that the conduct of the alleged pirates had been exceptional for a variety of reasons, categorizing them variously (but non-exclusively) as follows: – IP addresses involved in BitTorrent swarm sizes greater than 10,000 peers/pirates – IP addresses that have shared at least two of the plaintiffs’ movies – IP addresses making available the plaintiffs’ movies on at least two individual days – IP addresses that made available at least ten movies in total – IP addresses that made available different movies on at least ten individual days – IP addresses that made available movies from businesses and public institutions While rejecting some categories, the court was satisfied that 21,804 IP addresses of the 23,375 IP addresses presented by Njord Law met or exceeded the criteria for disclosure. It’s still not clear how many of these IP addresses identify unique subscribers but many thousands are expected. “For these users, it has been established that the gravity, extent, and harm of the infringement are so great that consideration for the rights holder’s interests in accessing information identifying the [allegedly infringing] subscribers is greater than the consideration of the subscribers’,” the court writes in its ruling. “Users’ confidence that their private use of the Internet is protected from public access is a generally important factor, but not in this case where illegal file sharing has been proven. Nor has there been any information stating that the offenders in the case are children or anything else which implies that disclosure of information about the holder of the subscriber should be problematic.” While the ISP (Telenor) will now have to spend time and resources disclosing its subscribers’ personal details to the law firm, it will be compensated for its efforts. The Oslo District Court has ordered Njord Law to pay costs of NOK 907,414 (US$115,822) plus NOK 125 (US$16.00) for every IP address and associated details it receives. The decision can be appealed but when contacted by Norwegian publication Nettavisen, Telenor declined to comment on the case. There is now the question of what Njord Law will do with the identities it obtains. It seems very likely that it will ask for a sum of money to make a potential lawsuit go away but it will still need to take an individual subscriber to court in order to extract payment, if they refuse to pay. This raises the challenge of proving that the subscriber is the actual infringer when it could be anyone in a household. But that battle will have to wait until another day. The full decision of the Oslo District Court can be found here (Norwegian) SOURCE
  4. Canadian Pirate Site Blocks Could Spread to VPNs, Professor Warns A group of prominent Canadian ISPs and movie industry companies are determined to bring pirate site blocking efforts to North America. This plan has triggered a fair amount of opposition, including cautioning analyses from law professor Michael Geist, who warns of potential overblocking and fears that VPN services could become the next target. 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
  5. Major US Sports Leagues Report Top Piracy Nations to Government The Sports Coalition, which includes prominent leagues such as the NBA, NFL, and MLB, has shared its concerns over sports piracy with the US Trade Representative. The coalition urges the US Government to place the Netherlands and Switzerland on the Priority Watch List, as many pirated games are broadcast from these European countries. While pirated Hollywood blockbusters often score the big headlines, there are several other industries that have been battling with piracy over the years. This includes sports organizations. Many of the major US leagues including the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and the Tennis Association, are bundling their powers in the Sports Coalition, to try and curb the availability of pirated streams and videos. A few days ago the Sports Coalition put the piracy problem on the agenda of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). “Sports organizations, including Sports Coalition members, are heavily affected by live sports telecast piracy, including the unauthorized live retransmission of sports telecasts over the Internet,” the Sports Coalition wrote. “The Internet piracy of live sports telecasts is not only a persistent problem, but also a global one, often involving bad actors in more than one nation.” The USTR asked the public for comments on which countries play a central role in copyright infringement issues. In its response, the Sports Coalition stresses that piracy is a global issue but singles out several nations as particularly problematic. The coalition recommends that the USTR should put the Netherlands and Switzerland on the “Priority Watch List” of its 2018 Special 301 Report, followed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles and Sweden, which get a regular “Watch List” recommendation. The main problem with these countries is that hosting providers and content distribution networks don’t do enough to curb piracy. In the Netherlands, sawlive.tv, strikezoneme, wizlnet, AltusHost, Host Palace, Quasi Networks and SNEL pirated or provided services contributing to sports piracy, the coalition writes. In Switzerland, mlbstreamme, robinwidgetorg, strikeoutmobi, BlackHOST, Private Layer and Solar Communications are doing the same. According to the major sports leagues, the US Government should encourage these countries to step up their anti-piracy game. This is not only important for US copyright holders, but also for licensees in other countries. “Clearly, there is common ground – both in terms of shared economic interests and legal obligations to protect and enforce intellectual property and related rights – for the United States and the nations with which it engages in international trade to work cooperatively to stop Internet piracy of sports programming.” Whether any of these countries will make it into the USTR’s final list has yet to be seen. For Switzerland it wouldn’t be the first time but for the Netherlands it would be new, although it has been considered before. A document we received through a FOIA request earlier this year revealed that the US Embassy reached out to the Dutch Government in the past, to discuss similar complaints from the Sports Coalition. The same document also revealed that local anti-piracy group BREIN consistently urged the entertainment industries it represents not to advocate placing the Netherlands on the 301 Watch List but to solve the problems behind the scenes instead. SOURCE
  6. Court Orders Spanish ISPs to Block Pirate Sites For Hollywood Following complaints from Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, a court in Spain has ordered several ISPs to begin blocking a pair of pirate sites. Describing the action as "necessary", the MPA says that the blocks will assist with the "sustainability of the creative community." Determined to reduce levels of piracy globally, Hollywood has become one of the main proponents of site-blocking on the planet. To date there have been multiple lawsuits in far-flung jurisdictions, with Europe one of the primary targets. Following complaints from Disney, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner, Spain has become one of the latest targets. According to the studios a pair of sites – HDFull.tv and Repelis.tv – infringe their copyrights on a grand scale and need to be slowed down by preventing users from accessing them. HDFull is a platform that provides movies and TV shows in both Spanish and English. Almost 60% its traffic comes from Spain and after a huge surge in visitors last July, it’s now the 337th most popular site in the country according to Alexa. Visitors from Mexico, Argentina, United States and Chile make up the rest of its audience. Repelis.tv is a similar streaming portal specializing in movies, mainly in Spanish. A third of the site’s visitors hail from Mexico with the remainder coming from Argentina, Columbia, Spain and Chile. In common with HDFull, Repelis has been building its visitor numbers quickly since 2017. The studios demanding more blocks With a ruling in hand from the European Court of Justice which determined that sites can be blocked on copyright infringement grounds, the studios asked the courts to issue an injunction against several local ISPs including Telefónica, Vodafone, Orange and Xfera. In an order handed down this week, Barcelona Commercial Court No. 6 sided with the studios and ordered the ISPs to begin blocking the sites. “They damage the legitimate rights of those who own the films and series, which these pages illegally display and with which they profit illegally through the advertising revenues they generate,” a statement from the Spanish Federation of Cinematographic Distributors (FEDECINE) reads. FEDECINE General director Estela Artacho said that changes in local law have helped to provide the studios with a new way to protect audiovisual content released in Spain. “Thanks to the latest reform of the Civil Procedure Law, we have in this jurisdiction a new way to exercise different possibilities to protect our commercial film offering,” Artacho said. “Those of us who are part of this industry work to make culture accessible and offer the best cinematographic experience in the best possible conditions, guaranteeing the continuity of the sector.” The development was also welcomed by Stan McCoy, president of the Motion Picture Association’s EMEA division, which represents the plaintiffs in the case. “We have just taken a welcome step which we consider crucial to face the problem of piracy in Spain,” McCoy said. “These actions are necessary to maintain the sustainability of the creative community both in Spain and throughout Europe. We want to ensure that consumers enjoy the entertainment offer in a safe and secure environment.” After gaining experience from blockades and subsequent circumvention in other regions, the studios seem better prepared to tackle fallout in Spain. In addition to blocking primary domains, the ruling handed down by the court this week also obliges ISPs to block any other domain, subdomain or IP address whose purpose is to facilitate access to the blocked platforms. News of Spain’s ‘pirate’ blocks come on the heels of fresh developments in Germany, where this week a court ordered ISP Vodafone to block KinoX, one of the country’s most popular streaming portals. SOURCE
  7. Australian Government Launches Pirate Site-Blocking Review After being passed almost three years ago, the Australian government has launched a review of its pirate site-blocking laws. The Department of Communications is seeking feedback on the effectiveness of the mechanism, from initial injunction application through to website blocking itself. 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
  8. Pirate Site Blockades Enter Germany With Kinox.to As First Target. Following a complaint from a German movie distribution company, Internet provider Vodafone has been ordered to block subscribers from accessing the popular pirate streaming portal Kinox.to. This is the first pirate site blocking order of its kind in Germany and while it's provisional thus far, it's not likely to stop here. 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
  9. EFF Urges US Copyright Office To Reject Proactive 'Piracy' Filters. As entertainment companies and Internet services spar over the boundaries of copyright law, the EFF is urging the US Copyright Office to keep "copyright’s safe harbors safe." In a petition just filed with the office, the EFF warns that innovation will be stymied if Congress goes ahead with a plan to introduce proactive 'piracy' filters at the expense of the DMCA's current safe harbor provisions. Faced with millions of individuals consuming unlicensed audiovisual content from a variety of sources, entertainment industry groups have been seeking solutions closer to the roots of the problem. As widespread site-blocking attempts to tackle ‘pirate’ sites in the background, greater attention has turned to legal platforms that host both licensed and unlicensed content. Under current legislation, these sites and services can do business relatively comfortably due to the so-called safe harbor provisions of the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD). Both sets of legislation ensure that Internet platforms can avoid being held liable for the actions of others provided they themselves address infringement when they are made aware of specific problems. If a video hosting site has a copy of an unlicensed movie uploaded by a user, for example, it must be removed within a reasonable timeframe upon request from the copyright holder. However, in both the US and EU there is mounting pressure to make it more difficult for online services to achieve ‘safe harbor’ protections. Entertainment industry groups believe that platforms use the law to turn a blind eye to infringing content uploaded by users, content that is often monetized before being taken down. With this in mind, copyright holders on both sides of the Atlantic are pressing for more proactive regimes, ones that will see Internet platforms install filtering mechanisms to spot and discard infringing content before it can reach the public. While such a system would be welcomed by rightsholders, Internet companies are fearful of a future in which they could be held more liable for the infringements of others. They’re supported by the EFF, who yesterday presented a petition to the US Copyright Office urging caution over potential changes to the DMCA. “As Internet users, website owners, and online entrepreneurs, we urge you to preserve and strengthen the Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbors for Internet service providers,” the EFF writes. “The DMCA safe harbors are key to keeping the Internet open to all. They allow anyone to launch a website, app, or other service without fear of crippling liability for copyright infringement by users.” It is clear that pressure to introduce mandatory filtering is a concern to the EFF. Filters are blunt instruments that cannot fathom the intricacies of fair use and are liable to stifle free speech and stymie innovation, they argue. “Major media and entertainment companies and their surrogates want Congress to replace today’s DMCA with a new law that would require websites and Internet services to use automated filtering to enforce copyrights. “Systems like these, no matter how sophisticated, cannot accurately determine the copyright status of a work, nor whether a use is licensed, a fair use, or otherwise non-infringing. Simply put, automated filters censor lawful and important speech,” the EFF warns. While its introduction was voluntary and doesn’t affect the company’s safe harbor protections, YouTube already has its own content filtering system in place . ContentID is able to detect the nature of some content uploaded by users and give copyright holders a chance to remove or monetize it. The company says that the majority of copyright disputes are now handled by ContentID but the system is not perfect and mistakes are regularly flagged by users and mentioned in the media. However, ContentID was also very expensive to implement so expecting smaller companies to deploy something similar on much more limited budgets could be a burden too far, the EFF warns. “What’s more, even deeply flawed filters are prohibitively expensive for all but the largest Internet services. Requiring all websites to implement filtering would reinforce the market power wielded by today’s large Internet services and allow them to stifle competition. We urge you to preserve effective, usable DMCA safe harbors, and encourage Congress to do the same,” the EFF notes. The same arguments, for and against, are currently raging in Europe where the EU Commission proposed mandatory upload filtering in 2016. Since then, opposition to the proposals has been fierce, with warnings of potential human rights breaches and conflicts with existing copyright law. Back in the US, there are additional requirements for a provider to qualify for safe harbor, including having a named designated agent tasked with receiving copyright infringement notifications. This person’s name must be listed on a platform’s website and submitted to the US Copyright Office, which maintains a centralized online directory of designated agents’ contact information. Under new rules, agents must be re-registered with the Copyright Office every three years, despite that not being a requirement under the DMCA. The EFF is concerned that by simply failing to re-register an agent, an otherwise responsible website could lose its safe harbor protections, even if the agent’s details have remained the same. “We’re concerned that the new requirement will particularly disadvantage small and nonprofit websites. We ask you to reconsider this rule,” the EFF concludes. SOURCE
  10. Jailed Streaming Site Operator Hit With Fresh $3m Damages Lawsuit. Following a landmark trial last May, a founder of streaming site Swefilmer was jailed for an unprecedented three years, longer than any defendant even in the Pirate Bay case. With an appeal hearing just weeks away, he's just been hit with a fresh $3m damages claim. "This is about organized crime and grossly criminal individuals who earned huge sums on our and others' content," the plaintiffs explain. After being founded more than half a decade ago, Swefilmer grew to become Sweden’s most popular movie and TV show streaming site. It was only a question of time before authorities stepped in to bring the show to an end. In 2015, a Swedish operator of the site in his early twenties was raided by local police. A second man, Turkish and in his late twenties, was later arrested in Germany. The pair, who hadn’t met in person, appeared before the Varberg District Court in January 2017, accused of making more than $1.5m from their activities between November 2013 and June 2015. The prosecutor described Swefilmer as “organized crime”, painting the then 26-year-old as the main brains behind the site and the 23-year-old as playing a much smaller role. The former was said to have led a luxury lifestyle after benefiting from $1.5m in advertising revenue. The sentences eventually handed down matched the defendants’ alleged level of participation. While the younger man received probation and community service, the Turk was sentenced to serve three years in prison and ordered to forfeit $1.59m. Very quickly it became clear there would be an appeal, with plaintiffs represented by anti-piracy outfit RightsAlliance complaining that their 10m krona ($1.25m) claim for damages over the unlawful distribution of local movie Johan Falk: Kodnamn: Lisa had been ruled out by the Court. With the appeal hearing now just a couple of weeks away, Swedish outlet Breakit is reporting that media giant Bonnier Broadcasting has launched an action of its own against the now 27-year-old former operator of Swefilmer. According to the publication, Bonnier’s pay-TV company C More, which distributes for Fox, MGM, Paramount, Universal, Sony and Warner, is set to demand around 24m krona ($3.01m) via anti-piracy outfit RightsAlliance. “This is about organized crime and grossly criminal individuals who earned huge sums on our and others’ content. We want to take every opportunity to take advantage of our rights,” says Johan Gustafsson, Head of Corporate Communications at Bonnier Broadcasting. C More reportedly filed its lawsuit at the Stockholm District Court on January 30, 2018. At its core are four local movies said to have been uploaded and made available via Swefilmer. “C More would probably never even have granted a license to [the operator] to make or allow others to make the films available to the public in a similar way as [the operator] did, but if that had happened, the fee would not be less than 5,000,000 krona ($628,350) per film or a total of 20,000,000 krona ($2,513,400),” C More’s claim reads. Speaking with Breakit, lawyer Ansgar Firsching said he couldn’t say much about C More’s claims against his client. “I am very surprised that two weeks before the main hearing [C More] comes in with this requirement. If you open another front, we have two trials that are partly about the same thing,” he said. Firsching said he couldn’t elaborate at this stage but expects his client to deny the claim for damages. C More sees things differently. “Many people live under the illusion that sites like Swefilmer are driven by idealistic teens in their parents’ basements, which is completely wrong. This is about organized crime where our content is used to generate millions and millions in revenue,” the company notes. The appeal in the main case is set to go ahead February 20th. SOURCE
  11. Virgin Media Store Caught Running Movie & TV Show Piracy Software (Updated) Virgin Media is one of the largest premium telecoms suppliers in the UK and Ireland but the way one of its stores has advertised its "Full House" package leaves a bit to be desired. While asking for 99 euros to supply a top-rated packaged, an advertising display simultaneously showed notifications from one of the most popular movie and TV show piracy applications. While other providers in the UK and Ireland aim to compete, those requiring the absolute fastest fibre optic broadband coupled with a comprehensive TV package will probably find themselves considering Virgin Media. Despite sporting Richard Branson’s Virgin brand, the company has been owned by US-based Liberty Global since 2013. It previously earned the title of first quad-play media company in the United Kingdom, offering broadband, TV, fixed-line and mobile telecoms packages. Today, however, the company has a small piracy-related embarrassment to address. Like several of the large telecoms companies in the region, Virgin Media operates a number of bricks-and-mortar stores which are used to drum up sales for Internet, TV and phone packages while offering support to new and existing customers. They typically look like the one in the image below. Virgin Media store (credit: Virgin) The outside windows of Virgin stores are usually covered with advertising for the company’s products and regularly carry digital displays which present the latest deals. However, one such display spotted by a passer-by carried a little extra. In a now-deleted post on Reddit, a user explained that when out and about he’d passed a Virgin Media store which sported a digital display advertising the company’s impressive “Full House” package. However, intruding at the top of the screen was a notification from one of the most impressive piracy apps available, Terrarium TV. For those out of the loop, Terrarium TV is one of the most feature-rich Android-based applications available today. For reasons that aren’t exactly clear, it hasn’t received the attention of ‘rivals’ such as Popcorn Time and Showbox but its abilities are extremely impressive. As the image shows, the notification is letting the user know that two new movies – The Star and The Stray – have been added to Terrarium’s repertoire. In other words, they’ve just been listed in the Terrarium app for streaming directly to the user’s installation (in this case one of Virgin’s own displays) for free, without permission from copyright holders. Of course, Virgin Media definitely won’t have authorized the installation of Terrarium TV on any of its units, so it’s most likely down to someone in the store with access to the display, perhaps a staff member but possibly a mischievous customer. Whoever it was should probably uninstall it now though, if they’re able to. Virgin will not be happy about this. The person who took the photo didn’t respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment on where it was taken but from the information available in the image, it seems likely that it’s in Ireland. Virgin Media ads elsewhere in the region are priced in pounds – not in euros – so a retail outlet in the country is the most likely location. The same 99 euro “Full House” deal is also advertised on Virgin’s .ie website. Terrarium TV While a display running a piracy application over the top of an advert trying to sell premium access to movies and TV shows is embarrassing enough, Virgin and other ISPs including Eircom, Sky Ireland, and Vodafone Ireland are currently subject to a court order which compels them to block several pirate sites in Ireland. The sources used by Terrarium to supply illicit copies of movies are not part of that order but since ISPs in the region don’t contest blocking orders when rightsholders apply for them, it’s reasonable to presume they’re broadly in favor of blocking pirate sites. Of course, that makes perfect sense if you’re a company trying to make money from selling premium access to content. Update: We have a lengthy statement from Virgin Media: “Virgin Media takes copyright very seriously and does not condone illegal streaming. Our new Tallaght Store is due to officially open later this month and currently does not currently have Virgin Media network connectivity. Over the weekend, an advertising screen display in this Store was being set up by a contractor. The contractor took it on themselves to use their own 4G device to set up the screen, ahead of the store being connected to our fibre services this week. At some stage, it seems an unwanted pop-up appeared on the screen from an illegal streaming site. To be clear, this was not on the Virgin Media network. Other than as outlined above, this occurrence has no connection whatsoever with Virgin Media. We have notified the contractor regarding this incident.” SOURCE
  12. Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 02/05/18 The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'Thor Ragnarok' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle'. 'The Shape of Water' completes the top three. This week we have three newcomers in our chart. Thor Ragnarok is the most downloaded movie. The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise. RSS feed for the weekly movie download chart. This week’s most downloaded movies are: Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer Most downloaded movies via torrents SOURCE 1 (2) Thor Ragnarok 8.1 / trailer 2 (3) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (HDTS) 7.3 / trailer 3 (2) The Shape of Water (DVDScr) 8.0 / trailer 4 (…) 24 Hours to Live 5.7 / trailer 5 (5) Blade Runner 2049 8.9 / trailer 6 (10) Coco 8.9 / trailer 7 (…) Braven 5.6 / trailer 8 (4) Bright 6.5 / trailer 9 (9) Justice League (Subbed HDRip) 7.1 / trailer 10 (…) Suburbicon 5.5 / trailer
  13. A Swedish ISP has lost its battle to keep the personal identities of some users a secret. Bahnhof, which doesn't consider piracy a serious offense, previously refused to hand over the details of suspected copyright infringers to the police. Now, however, the Administrative Court in Stockholm has handed down a ruling which will compel it to do so in future. As large ISPs become more closely aligned with the entertainment industries, the days of providers strongly standing up to blocking and disclosure requests appear to be on the decline. For Swedish ISP Bahnhof, however, customer privacy has become a business model. In recent years the company has been a major opponent of data retention requirement, launched a free VPN to protect its users’ privacy, and put on a determined front against the threat of copyright trolls. Back in May 2016, Bahnhof reiterated its stance that it doesn’t hand over the personal details of alleged pirates to anyone, not even the police. This, despite the fact that the greatest number of disclosure requests from the authorities relate to copyright infringement. Bahnhof insisted that European privacy regulations mean that it only has to hand over information to the police if the complaint relates to a serious crime. But that went against a recommendation from the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS). Now, however, the battle to protect customer privacy has received a significant setback after the Administrative Court in Stockholm found that Swedish provisions on disclosure of subscription data to law enforcement agencies do not contravene EU law. “PTS asked Bahnhof to provide information on subscribers to law enforcement agencies. Bahnhof appealed against the order, claiming that the Swedish rules on disclosure of subscription information are incompatible with EU law,” the Court said in a statement. “In support of its view, Bahnhof referred to two rulings of the European Court of Justice. The Administrative Court has held that it is not possible to state that the Swedish rules on law enforcement agencies’ access to subscription data are incompatible with EU law.” The Court also looked at whether Swedish rules on disclosure of subscriber data meet the requirement of proportionality under EU law. In common with many other copyright-related cases, the Court found that law enforcement’s need to access subscriber data was more important than the individual’s right to privacy. “In light of this, the Administrative Court has made the assessment that PTS’s decision to impose on Bahnhof a requirement to provide information about subscribers to law enforcement authorities is correct,” the Court adds. PTS will now be able to instruct Bahnhof to disclose subscriber information in accordance with the provisions of the Electronic Communications Actand the ISP will be required to comply. But as far as Bahnhof is concerned, the show isn’t over yet. “We believe the sentence is incorrect, but it is also difficult to take PTS seriously when they can not even interpret the laws behind the decision in a consistent manner. We are of course going to appeal,” the company said in a statement. To illustrate its point, Bahnhof says that PTS has changed its opinion on the importance of IP addresses in a matter of months. In October 2017, PTS lawyer Staffan Lindmark said he believed that IP addresses are to be regarded as privacy-sensitive data. In January 2018, however, PTS is said to have spoken of the same data in more trivial terms. “That a supervisory authority pivots so much in its opinions is remarkable,” says Jon Karlung, President of the Bahnhof. “Bahnhof is not in any way against law enforcement agencies, but we believe that sensitive data should only be released after judicial review and suspected crime.” Bahnhof says it will save as little data on its customers as it can and IP addresses will be deleted within 24 hours, a practice that has been in place for some time. In 2016, 27.5% of all disclosure requests sent to Bahnhof were related to online file-sharing, more than any other crime including grooming minors, harassment, sex crimes, forgery, and fraud. Source:https://torrentfreak.com/despite-protests-isp-ordered-to-hand-over-pirates-details-to-police-180201/
  14. The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has thrown out the $25 million piracy liability verdict against Internet provider Cox because of an erroneous jury instruction. This means that there will be a new trial. At the same time, however, the Court also concluded that Cox lost its safe harbor protection, as it failed to implement a meaningful repeat infringer policy, which should have the ISP worried. December 2015, a Virginia federal jury ruled that Internet provider Cox Communications was responsible for the copyright infringements of its subscribers. The ISP was found guilty of willful contributory copyright infringement and ordered to pay music publisher BMG Rights Management $25 million in damages. Cox swiftly filed its appeal arguing that the District Court made several errors in the jury instructions. In addition, it asked for a clarification of the term “repeat infringer” in its favor. Today the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled on the matter in a mixed decision which could have great consequences. The Court ruled that the District Court indeed made a mistake in its jury instruction. Specifically, it said that the ISP could be found liable for contributory infringement if it “knew or should have known of such infringing activity.” The Court of Appeals agrees that based on the law, the “should have known” standard is too low. When this is the case the appeals court can call for a new trial, and that is exactly what it did. This means that the $25 million verdict is off the table, and the same is true for the millions in attorney’s fees and costs BMG was previously granted. It’s not all good news for Cox though. The most crucial matter in the case is whether Cox has safe harbor protection under the DMCA. In order to qualify, the company is required to terminate accounts of repeat infringers, when appropriate. Cox argued that subscribers can only be seen as repeat infringers if they’ve been previously adjudicated in court, not if they merely received several takedown notices. This was still an open question, as the term repeat infringer is not clearly defined in the DMCA. Today, however, the appeals court is pretty clear on the matter. According to Judge Motz’s opinion, shared by HWR, the language of the DMCA suggests that the term “infringer” is not limited to adjudicated infringers. This is supported by legislative history as the House Commerce and Senate Judiciary Committee Reports both explained that “those who repeatedly or flagrantly abuse their access to the Internet through disrespect for the intellectual property rights of others should know that there is a realistic threat of losing that access.” “The passage does not suggest that they should risk losing Internet access only once they have been sued in court and found liable for multiple instances of infringement,” Judge Motz writes in her opinion. Losing Internet access would hardly be a “realistic threat” that would stop someone from pirating if he or she has already been punished several times in court, the argument goes. This leads the Court of Appeals to conclude that the District Court was right: Cox is not entitled to safe harbor protection because it failed to implement a meaningful repeat infringer policy. “Cox failed to qualify for the DMCA safe harbor because it failed to implement its policy in any consistent or meaningful way — leaving it essentially with no policy,” Judge Motz writes. This means that, while Cox gets a new trial, it is still at a severe disadvantage. Not only that, the Court of Appeals interpretation of the repeat infringer question is also a clear signal to other Internet service providers to disconnect pirates based on repeated copyright holder complaints. source
  15. A new academic paper published in the Information Economics and Policy journal shows that piracy can help many artists to sell more music. Results from the peer-reviewed paper are consistent for both digital and physical sales and affect mid-tier artists. Top musicians are not so lucky, as they sell less. The debate over whether online piracy helps or hurts music sales has been dragging on for several decades now. The issue has been researched extensively with both positive and negative effects being reported, often varying based on the type of artist, music genre and media, among other variables. One of the more extensive studies was published this month in the peer-reviewed Information Economics and Policy journal, by Queen’s University economics researcher Jonathan Lee. In a paper titled ‘Purchase, pirate, publicize: Private-network music sharing and market album sales’ he examined the effect of BitTorrent-based piracy on both digital and physical music sales. We covered an earlier version of the study two years ago when it was still a work in progress. With updates to the research methods and a data sample, the results are now more clear. The file-sharing data was obtained from an unnamed private BitTorrent tracker and covers a data set of 250,000 albums and more than five million downloads. These were matched to US sales data for thousands of albums provided by Nielsen SoundScan. By refining the estimation approach and updating the matching technique, the final version of the paper shows some interesting results. Based on the torrent tracker data, Lee finds that piracy can boost sales of mid-tier artists, both for physical CDs and digital downloads. For the most popular artists, this effect is reversed. In both cases, the impact is the largest for digital sales. “I now find that top artists are harmed and mid-tier artists may be helped in both markets, but that these effects are larger for digital sales,” Lee tells TorrentFreak. “This is consistent with the idea that people are more willing to switch between digital piracy and digital sales than between digital piracy and physical CDs.” The findings lead to the conclusion that there is no ideal ‘one-size-fits-all’ response to piracy. In fact, some unauthorized sharing may be a good thing. This is in line with observations from musicians themselves over the past years. Several top artists have admitted the positive effects of piracy, including Ed Sheeran, who recently said that he owes his career to it. “I know that’s a bad thing to say, because I’m part of a music industry that doesn’t like illegal file sharing,” Sheeran said in an interview with CBS. “Illegal file sharing was what made me. It was students in England going to university, sharing my songs with each other.” Sheeran sharing on TPB Today, Sheeran is in a totally different position of course. As one of the top artists, he would now be hurt by piracy. However, the new stars of tomorrow may still reap the benefits. According to the researcher, the music industry should realize that shutting down pirate sites may not always be the best option. On the contrary, file-sharing sites may be useful as promotional platforms in some cases. “Following above, a policy of total shutdown of private file sharing networks seems excessively costly (compared with their relatively small impact on sales) and unwise (as a one-size-fits-all policy). It would be better to make legal consumption more convenient, reducing the demand for piracy as an alternative to purchasing,” Lee tells us. “It would also be smart to experiment with releasing music onto piracy networks themselves, especially for up-and-coming artists, similar to the free promotion afforded by commercial radio.” The researcher makes another interesting extrapolation from the findings. In recent years, some labels and artists have signed exclusive deals with some streaming platforms. This means that content is not available everywhere, and this fragmentation may make piracy look more appealing. “Here you can view piracy as a non-fragmented alternative platform to Spotify et al. Thus consumers will have a strong incentive to use a single non-fragmented platform (piracy) over having multiple subscriptions to fragmented platforms,” Lee says. It would be better for the labels to publish their music on all platforms, and to make these more appealing and convenient than the pirate alternative. The data used for the research was collected several years ago before the big streaming boom, so it might be that the results are different today. However, it is clear that the effect of piracy on sales is not as uniform as the music industry often portrays it. source
  16. Following in the footsteps of the United States, the European Union plans to launch its own piracy "watch list". Based on input from relevant stakeholders, the list will identify sites and services that facilitate copyright infringement, to encourage foreign governments to take action in response. Unlike the USTR's version, the EU list can include American companies as well. Earlier this month, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) released an updated version of its “Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets,” ostensibly identifying some of the worst IP-offenders worldwide. The annual list overview helps to guide the U.S. Government’s position towards foreign countries when it comes to copyright enforcement. The most recent version featured traditional pirate sites such as The Pirate Bay, Rapidgator, and Gostream, but also the Russian social network VK and China-based marketplaces Alibaba and Taobao.com. Since the list only identifies foreign sites, American services are never included. However, this restriction doesn’t apply in Europe, where the European Commission announced this week that it’s working on its own piracy watch list. “The European Commission – on the basis of input from the stakeholders – after thorough verification of the received information – intends to publish a so called ‘Counterfeit and Piracy Watch-List’ in 2018, which will be updated regularly,” the EU’s call for submissions reads. The EU watch list will operate in a similar fashion to the US equivalent and will be used to encourage site operators and foreign governments to take action. “The list will identify and describe the most problematic marketplaces – with special focus on online marketplaces – in order to encourage their operators and owners as well as the responsible local authorities and governments to take the necessary actions and measures to reduce the availability of IPR infringing goods or services.” In recent years various copyright holder groups have repeatedly complained about a lack of anti-piracy initiatives from companies such as Google and Cloudflare, so it will be interesting to see if these will be mentioned. The same is true for online marketplaces. Responding to the US list last week, Alibaba also highlighted that several American companies suffer the same piracy and counterfeiting problems as they do, without being reprimanded. “What about Amazon, eBay and others? USTR has no basis for comparison, because it does not ask for similar data from U.S. companies,” Alibaba noted in a rebuttal. The EU watch list is clearly inspired by the US counterpart. It shows striking similarities with the US version of the watch list and some of the language appears to be copied (or pirated) word for word. The EU writes, for example, that their list “will not mean to reflect findings of legal violations, nor will it reflect the European Union’s analysis of the general intellectual property rights protection and enforcement climate in the country or countries concerned.” Just a few days earlier the USTR noted that its list “does not make findings of legal violations. Nor does it reflect the U.S. Government’s analysis of the general IP protection and enforcement climate in the countries connected with the listed markets.” The above means that, despite branding foreign services as notorious offenders, these are mere allegations. No hard proof is to be expected in the report, nor will the EU research the matter on its own. If the US example is followed, the watch list will be mostly an overview of copyright holder complaints, signed by the authorities. The latter is not without controversy, as China says it doubts the objectivity of USTR’s report for this very reason. Copyright holders and other interested parties are invited to submit their contributions and comments by 31 March 2018, and the final list is expected to be released later in the year. source
  17. This week a man in the US uploaded the remaining three episodes of Power to the Internet in advance of their commercial release. It was clear he didn't care about being identified. Or, presented with tools to pirate with ease, it's possible he didn't even consider it. With that in mind, are we all now just a click away from being a piracy supplier? For several decades the basic shape of the piracy market hasn’t changed much. At the top of the chain there has always been a relatively small number of suppliers. At the bottom, the sprawling masses keen to consume whatever content these suppliers make available, while sharing it with everyone else. This model held in the days of tapes and CDs and transferred nicely to the P2P file-sharing era. For nearly two decades people have been waiting for those with the latest content to dump it onto file-sharing networks. After grabbing it for themselves, people share that content with others. For many years, the majority of the latest music, movies, and TV shows appeared online having been obtained by, and then leaked from, ‘The Scene’. However, with the rise of BitTorrent and an increase in computer skills demonstrated by the public, so-called ‘P2P release groups’ began flexing their muscles, in some cases slicing the top of the piracy pyramid. With lower barriers to entry, P2P releasers can be almost anyone who happens to stumble across some new content. That being said, people still need the skill to package up that content and make it visible online, on torrent sites for example, without getting caught. For most people that’s prohibitively complex, so it’s no surprise that Average Joe, perhaps comforted by the air of legitimacy, has taken to uploading music and movies to sites like YouTube instead. These days that’s nothing out of the ordinary and perhaps a little boring by piracy standards, but people still have the capacity to surprise. This week a man from the United States, without a care in the world, obtained a login for a STARZ press portal, accessed the final three episodes of ‘Power’, and then streamed them on Facebook using nothing but a phone and an Internet connection. From the beginning, the whole thing was ridiculous, comical even. The man in question, whose name and personal details TF obtained in a matter of minutes, revealed how he got the logins and even recorded his own face during one of the uploaded videos. He really, really couldn’t have cared any less but he definitely should have. After news broke of the leaks, STARZ went public confirming the breach and promising to do something about it. “The final three episodes of Power’s fourth season were leaked online due to a breach of the press screening room,” Starz said in a statement. “Starz has begun forensic investigations and will take legal action against the responsible parties.” At this point, we should consider the magnitude of what this guy did. While we all laugh at his useless camera skills, the fact remains that he unlawfully distributed copyright works online, in advance of their commercial release. In the United States, that is a criminal offense, one that can result in a prison sentence of several years. It would be really sad if the guy in question was made an example of since his videos suggest he hadn’t considered the consequences. After all, this wasn’t some hi-tech piracy group, just a regular guy with a login and a phone, and intent always counts for something. Nevertheless, the situation this week nicely highlights how new technology affects piracy. In the past, the process of putting an unreleased movie or TV show online could only be tackled by people with expertise in several areas. These days a similar effect is possible with almost no skill and no effort. Joe Public, pre-release TV/movie/sports pirate, using nothing but a phone, a Facebook account, and an urge? That’s the reality today and we won’t have to wait too long for a large scale demonstration of what can happen when millions of people with access to these ubiquitous tools have an urge to share. In a little over two weeks’ time, boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr fights UFC lightweight champion, Conor McGregor. It’s set to be the richest combat sports event in history, not to mention one of the most expensive for PPV buyers. That means it’s going to be pirated to hell and back, in every way possible. It’s going to be massive. Of course, there will be high-quality paid IPTV productions available, more grainy ‘Kodi’ streams, hundreds of web portals, and even some streaming torrents, for those that way inclined. But there will also be Average Joes in their hundreds, who will point their phones at Showtime’s PPV with the intent of live streaming the biggest show on earth to their friends, family, and the Internet. For free. Quite how this will be combatted remains to be seen but it’s fair to say that this is a problem that’s only going to get bigger. In ten years time – in five years time – many millions of people will have the ability to become pirate releasers on a whim, despite knowing nothing about the occupation. Like ‘Power’ guy, the majority won’t be very good at it. Equally, some will turn it into an art form. But whatever happens, tackling millions of potential pirates definitely won’t be easy for copyright holders. Twenty years in, it seems the battle for control has only just begun. Source
  18. The MPAA's former VP of Worldwide Internet Enforcement says that the industry narrative on piracy is no longer based on trying to get people to act ethically. Hemanshu Nigam says the discussion today is based around the dangers that pirate sites can pose to those who visit them. Few listened before, will they listen now? Over the years there have been almost endless attempts to stop people from accessing copyright-infringing content online. Campaigns have come and gone and almost two decades later the battle is still ongoing. Early on, when panic enveloped the music industry, the campaigns centered around people getting sued. Grabbing music online for free could be costly, the industry warned, while parading the heads of a few victims on pikes for the world to see. Periodically, however, the aim has been to appeal to the public’s better nature. The idea is that people essentially want to do the ‘right thing’, so once they understand that largely hard-working Americans are losing their livelihoods, people will stop downloading from The Pirate Bay. For some, this probably had the desired effect but millions of people are still getting their fixes for free, so the job isn’t finished yet. In more recent years, notably since the MPAA and RIAA had their eyes blacked in the wake of SOPA, the tone has shifted. In addition to educating the public, torrent and streaming sites are increasingly being painted as enemies of the public they claim to serve. Several studies, largely carried out on behalf of the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA), have claimed that pirate sites are hotbeds of malware, baiting consumers in with tasty pirate booty only to offload trojans, viruses, and God-knows-what. These reports have been ostensibly published as independent public interest documents but this week an advisor to the DCA suggested a deeper interest for the industry. Hemanshu Nigam is a former federal prosecutor, ex-Chief Security Officer for News Corp and Fox Interactive Media, and former VP Worldwide Internet Enforcement at the MPAA. In an interview with Deadline this week, he spoke about alleged links between pirate sites and malware distributors. He also indicated that warning people about the dangers of pirate sites has become Hollywood’s latest anti-piracy strategy. “The industry narrative has changed. When I was at the MPAA, we would tell people that stealing content is wrong and young people would say, yeah, whatever, you guys make a lot of money, too bad,” he told the publication. “It has gone from an ethical discussion to a dangerous one. Now, your parents’ bank account can be raided, your teenage daughter can be spied on in her bedroom and extorted with the footage, or your computer can be locked up along with everything in it and held for ransom.” Nigam’s stance isn’t really a surprise since he’s currently working for the Digital Citizens Alliance as an advisor. In turn, the Alliance is at least partly financed by the MPAA. There’s no suggestion whatsoever that Nigam is involved in any propaganda effort, but recent signs suggest that the DCA’s work in malware awareness is more about directing people away from pirate sites than protecting them from the alleged dangers within. That being said and despite the bias, it’s still worth giving experts like Nigam an opportunity to speak. Largely thanks to industry efforts with brands, pirate sites are increasingly being forced to display lower-tier ads, which can be problematic. On top, some sites’ policies mean they don’t deserve any visitors at all. In the Deadline piece, however, Nigam alleges that hackers have previously reached out to pirate websites offering $200 to $5000 per day “depending on the size of the pirate website” to have the site infect users with malware. If true, that’s a serious situation and people who would ordinarily use ‘pirate’ sites would definitely appreciate the details. For example, to which sites did hackers make this offer and, crucially, which sites turned down the offer and which ones accepted? It’s important to remember that pirates are just another type of consumer and they would boycott sites in a heartbeat if they discovered they’d been paid to infect them with malware. But, as usual, the claims are extremely light in detail. Instead, there’s simply a blanket warning to stay away from all unauthorized sites, which isn’t particularly helpful. In some cases, of course, operational security will prevent some details coming to light but without these, people who don’t get infected on a ‘pirate’ site (the vast majority) simply won’t believe the allegations. As the author of the Deadline piece pointed out, it’s a bit like Reefer Madness all over again. The point here is that without hard independent evidence to back up these claims, with reports listing sites alongside the malware they’ve supposed to have spread and when, few people will respond to perceived scaremongering. Free content trumps a few distant worries almost every time, whether that involves malware or the threat of a lawsuit. It’ll be up to the DCA and their MPAA paymasters to consider whether the approach is working but thus far, not even having government heavyweights on board has helped. Earlier this year the DCA launched a video campaign, enrolling 15 attorney generals to publish their own anti-piracy PSAs on YouTube. Thus far, interest has been minimal, to say the least. At the time of writing the 15 PSAs have 3,986 views in total, with 2,441 of those contributed by a single video contributed by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel. Despite the relative success, even that got slammed with 2 upvotes and 127 downvotes. A few of the other videos have a couple of hundred views each but more than half have less than 70. Perhaps most worryingly for the DCA, apart from the Schimel PSA, none have any upvotes at all, only down. It’s unclear who the viewers were but it seems reasonable to conclude they weren’t entertained. The bottom line is nobody likes malware or having their banking details stolen but yet again, people who claim to have the public interest at heart aren’t actually making a difference on the ground. It could be argued that groups advocating online safety should be publishing guides on how to stay protected on the Internet period, not merely advising people to stay away from certain sites. But of course, that wouldn’t achieve the goals of the MPAA Digital Citizens Alliance. Source
  19. One musician thinks she has the ultimate solution to killing off music piracy. By employing a unique type of graduated response - amputating a finger at a time for each offense - music pirates might think again about their actions. Even if they don't, it won't matter, she says, as they won't have fingers to pirate anymore. If there was a guaranteed and cost-effective way for the creative industries to clamp down on piracy, rest assured they would take it. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet in today’s arsenal. Ordering ISPs to block ‘pirate’ sites is one approach, but at least in the first instance the process is both expensive and drawn out, often taking a number of years to come to fruition. Another method is to hit Internet users who dare to download and share copyrighted material. Some frameworks, such as those in the United States and United Kingdom, envision a situation where people can be persuaded to do the right thing after receiving warning letters. More aggressive schemes, such as those in South Korea and New Zealand, foresee potential disconnections for persistent pirates. But one musician in Nigeria believes she has a quick and easy solution to stop people illegally pirating her work. Her version of the so-called “graduated response” is controversial, but might just work. “Cutting their fingers off will stop them, by the time you cut off two people’s fingers others will stop,” popular singer Stella Monye told the News agency of Nigeria. Amputations, the singer says, are doubly effective. Not only do they act as a deterrent, but already-punished pirates will not be able to re-offend either. “If their fingers are cut, they won’t [be able to use the hands] in pirating the works,” Monye said. “They will learn and it will be faster in stopping them; without a drastic measure they won’t stop.” Web blockades have been previously described as a potential abuse of human rights, but Monye’s anti-piracy solution pushes new boundaries. Source: TorrentFreak
  20. There are many ways to tackle the issue of online piracy and Louisiana State University has decided on its approach. At the bottom end, offenders will experience a temporary Internet disconnection, with repeat offenders receiving fines and potentially career-damaging notes on their education records. Anyone providing an Internet-access infrastructure to third parties needs to be aware of the online piracy issue. For service providers, whether that’s a regular ISP, web host, or the operator of a free open WiFi in a local coffee shop, knowledge of how other people’s actions can affect them is a useful asset. For universities in the United States, awareness of how Internet piracy can affect their establishment is especially crucial. On top of the requirements of the DMCA, in July 2010, exactly four years ago, the U.S. put in place a new requirement for colleges and universities to curtail illegal file-sharing on their networks. Failure to do so can result in the loss of federal funding so needless to say, campuses view the issue seriously. Yesterday the The Daily Reveille, the official news resource of the Louisiana State University, revealed that LSU’s IT Services receive between 15 and 20 complaints a month from copyright holders, an excellent result for around 30,000 students. At the start of the last decade it was music companies doing most of the complaining, but Security and policy officer Craig Callender says that with the advent of services such as Spotify being made available, reports from TV companies are more common. But no matter where they originate, LSU acts on these allegations of infringement. A first complaint sees a student kicked offline, with Internet access only restored after the completion of an educational course covering illegal file-sharing. Those who breach the rules again have worse to look forward to, starting with a fine. “LSU is effectively combating unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by fining students implicated in a verified DMCA copyright violation,” the university’s official policy document reads. “The $50 fine provides a mechanism for recovering costs incurred in reviewing and processing DMCA notifications, and funding programs for awareness (e.g., education and ad campaign costs).” Educational campaigns include the promotion of legal services, such as those outlined on the university’s chosen official resource list. Interestingly, while the links for music and books work, the MPAA page for legal TV shows and movies (for which the university receives the most notices) no longer exists. But while the $50 fine might be harsh enough for a student on a limited budget, LSU warns of even tougher sanctions. Allegations of illegal file-sharing are noted on the student’s academic record which can have implications for his or her career prospects. In addition, complaints can result in a referral to the Dean of Students’ office for violation of the LSU Code of Student Conduct. According to official documentation, the Student Conduct Office keeps Student Conduct files for seven years after the date of the incident, or longer if deemed necessary. It’s clear that the work of the RIAA and MPAA in the last decade seriously unnerved universities who have been forced to implement strict measures to curtail unauthorized sharing. LSU says it employs filtering technology to eliminate most P2P traffic but it’s clear that some users are getting through. Almost certainly others will be using VPN-like solutions to evade not only the P2P ban, but also potential complaints. Still, universities will probably care much less about these users, since they don’t generate DMCA notices and have no impact on their ability to receive federal funding. Source: TorrentFreak
  21. Three federal indictments have been unsealed in Georgia revealing charges against six former members of three Android piracy groups. The United States Department of Justice says that the men are charged with intellectual property offenses related to the illegal distribution of millions of copyrighted apps. Assisted by police in France and the Netherlands, in the summer of 2012 the FBI took down three unauthorized Android app stores. Appbucket, Applanet and SnappzMarket all had their domains seized, the first action of its type in the Android scene. For two years the United States Department of Justice has released information on the case and last evening came news of more charges and more arrests. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced the unsealing of three federal indictments in the Northern District of Georgia charging six members of Appbucket, Applanet and SnappzMarket for their roles in the unauthorized distribution of Android apps. SnappzMarket Joshua Ryan Taylor, 24, of Kentwood, Michigan, and Scott Walton, 28, of Cleveland, Ohio, two alleged members of SnappzMarket, were both arrested yesterday. They are due to appear before magistrates in Michigan and Ohio respectively. An indictment returned on June 17 charges Gary Edwin Sharp II, 26, of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, along with Taylor and Walton, with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. Sharp is also charged with two counts of criminal copyright infringement. It’s alleged that the three men were members of SnappzMarket between May 2011 through August 2012 along with Kody Jon Peterson, 22, of Clermont, Florida. In April, Peterson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. As part of his guilty plea he agreed to work undercover for the government. Appbucket Another indictment returned June 17 in Georgia charges James Blocker, 36, of Rowlett, Texas, with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. A former member of Appbucket, Blocker is alleged to have conspired with Thomas Allen Dye, 21, of Jacksonville, Florida; Nicholas Anthony Narbone, 26, of Orlando, Florida, and Thomas Pace, 38, of Oregon City, Oregon to distribute Android apps with a value of $700,000. During March and April 2014, Dye, Narbone and Pace all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. Applanet A further indictment June 17 in Georgia charges Aaron Blake Buckley, 20, of Moss Point, Mississippi; David Lee, 29, of Chino Hills, California; and Gary Edwin Sharp II (also of Appbucket) with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. Lee is additionally charged with one count of aiding and abetting criminal copyright infringement and Buckley with one count of criminal copyright infringement. All three identified themselves as former members of Applanet. The USDOJ claims that along with other members they are responsible for the illegal distribution of four million Android apps with a value of $17m. Buckley previously launched a fund-raiser in an effort to fight off the United States government. “As a result of their criminal efforts to make money by ripping off the hard work and creativity of high-tech innovators, the defendants are charged with illegally distributing copyrighted apps,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “The Criminal Division is determined to protect the labor and ingenuity of copyright owners and to keep pace with criminals in the modern, technological marketplace.” A statement from the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office indicates that the FBI will pursue more piracy groups in future. “The FBI will continue to provide significant investigative resources toward such groups engaged in such wholesale pirating or copyright violations as seen here,” Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson said. Source: TorrentFreak
  22. Los Angeles based anti-piracy firm CEG TEK has expanded its piracy monetization services to Japan, with Australia and Canada next on the list. The company is currently conducting ISP compliance tests in both countries to see if sending out automated piracy fines can bring in substantial extra revenue. For more than a decade copyright holders have been monitoring pirated downloads of their work on various file-sharing networks. Traditionally these efforts have focused on the United States where ISPs are required to forward takedown notices to their account holders. A recent trend has seen these notices become more than mere warnings. Companies such as CEG TEK and Rightscorp also tag on settlement requests, hoping to recoup some of the damages allegedly caused by file-sharers. Since these requests are sent as DMCA notices, copyright holders do not have to involve the courts. Nonetheless, the ‘fines’ can be as high as several hundred dollars per shared file. Thus far these “automated fines” have been limited to the United States, but soon they will expand to Japan, with Australia and Canada next on the list. TorrentFreak spoke with CEG TEK’s Kyle Reed who confirmed that they will soon start their piracy monetization service in Japan. At the same time the company will run various tests to see how Aussie and Canadian Internet providers respond to their notices. “Increased coverage for our monetization clients in additional countries has always been top of mind. We have a base of international clients, some of which call these countries home,” Reed tells TorrentFreak “Canada and Australia are both hot topics with rights owners and the market conditions afford us the opportunity to initiate ISP compliance testing,” Reed adds. If the notice forwarding goes well with the ISPs, and there are decent response rates, the company will also begin sending out settlement requests in Australia and Canada. Internet providers have to be tested in advance, because the settlement scheme fails if ISPs ignore or modify the notices. For example, in the U.S. many of the larger ISPs forward the notice without the actual settlement offer. CEG TEK is not the only piracy monetization service to consider international expansion. Previously Rightscorp announced that it was interested in offering its services in Canada. Whether Internet providers in Australia and Canada are willing to cooperate has yet to be seen. In Canada there is currently no legal obligation for ISPs to cooperate, although this will change soon. Australia has a notice and takedown policy but this doesn’t require ISPs to forward the settlement requests. According to CEG TEK their settlement services are superior to traditional anti-piracy warnings since they stop more unauthorized transfers while making money in the process. “In the United States and around the world, traditional peer-to-peer anti-piracy methods have proved to be largely ineffective. We have the only peer-to-peer solution shown to decrease infringements and repeat offenders, as well as return monetary settlements to rightful copyright owners,” Reed says. The irony is of course that these companies will render themselves obsolete if they become too effective, but for now there are still plenty of pirates around. Source: TorrentFreak
  23. Earlier this year news broke that UK ISPs are set to team up with copyright holders to notify subscribers found sharing pirated material. Today the initiative has been announced officially, receiving praise from all parties involved. Despite the optimism it may take well over a year before the first warnings are sent out. In an effort to curb online piracy, earlier this year the movie and music industries reached agreement with the UK’s leading ISPs to send warnings to alleged copyright infringers. As we previously revealed, the Voluntary Copyright Alert Programme (VCAP) will only apply to P2P file-sharing and will mainly focus on repeat infringers. The monitoring will be carried out by a third-party company and unlike other warning systems there won’t be any punishments. The main purpose of the warnings is to alert and educate copyright infringers, in the hope they will move over to legal alternatives. The program was officially announced today and received support from all parties involved, including the UK Government which is financially backing the measures. Without exception they all praise the warning system and the accompanying educational campaign. “It is fantastic that the UK creative community and ISPs have come together in partnership to address online copyright infringement and raise awareness about the multitude of legitimate online services available to consumers. We are also grateful to the UK Government for backing this important new initiative,” the MPA’s Chris Marcich comments. Thus far BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to send warnings to customers whose connections are being used for unauthorized file-sharing. Commenting on the collaboration, all four ISPs praised the educational nature of the VCAP program. “BT is committed to supporting the creative industries by helping to tackle the problem of online piracy while ensuring the best possible experience for its customers. That’s why we’ve worked very hard with rights-holders and other leading ISPs to develop a voluntary programme based on consumer education and awareness which promotes the use of legal online content.” BT Consumer CEO John Petter says. Lyssa McGowan, Director of Sky Broadband, is equally delighted by the anti-piracy agreement. “As both a content creator and ISP, we understand how vital it is to tackle online copyright infringement in order to protect future investment in content. As a result, we’re pleased [...] to help make consumers aware of illegal downloading and point them towards the wide range of legitimate sites where they can enjoy great content,” she notes. The comments from the other ISPs, copyright holder groups, and the Government, are all variations on the same theme. The parties praise the new awareness campaign and note that the main goal is to convert consumers to legal alternatives through education. The question that remains, however, is how genuine all this positivity really is. While the scheme is being overwhelmed with praise, the parties also announced that the first warning emails will not be sent out before next summer, possibly even later. These delays are a thorn in the side of both copyright holders and the Government, suggesting that negotiations behind the scenes are less uplifting. This also shows in earlier comments from the Prime Minister’s IP advisor Mike Weatherly who said that it’s already time to think about VCAP’s potential failure. He suggested that the program needs to be followed by something more enforceable, including disconnections, fines and jail sentences. More background and details on the planned piracy warning are available in our previous VCAP overview article. Source: TorrentFreak
  24. French anti-piracy authority Hadopi has revealed that in the first four years of its operations it sent initial file-sharing warnings to 9% of French Internet subscribers. Just over 10% of those subscriber accounts went on to receive a second warning, with just 0.4% getting a third. Overall, 116 individuals went on to the court stage. France was one of the first countries in the world to consider implementing a “three strikes” style regime for dealing with online piracy. The system was implemented four years ago and ever since has been under scrutiny as both rightsholders and critics assess its efficacy. Hadopi, the authority responsible for administering the scheme, has just published its latest report presenting its key figures to July 1 this year and they make interesting reading. The cornerstone of the scheme is the warning system, with great importance attached to the first notices sent to subscribers. If the anti-infringement message can be successfully delivered at this stage, fewer follow-ups will be required. Hadopi reveals that since it sent the very first warning notice in 2009, the agency has gone on to send 3,249,481 first warnings to Internet subscribers. It’s a sizable amount that represents almost 9% of all Internet users in France. The big question, however, is how many took action to avoid receiving a second warning. According to Hadopi, during the same period it sent 333,723 second phase warnings by regular mail, a re-offending rate of just over 10%. Those who receive first and second warnings but still don’t get the message go on to receive a third notice. Hadopi says that a total of 1,502 Internet subscribers received three warnings, just 0.45% of those who were sent a second. The agency’s figures state that a large proportion of this group, 1,289 overall, had their cases examined by Hadopi’s committee. Of these, 116 cases went before a judge. Most received yet another warning. Also of interest are the reactions of 31,379 subscribers who telephoned Hadopi after receiving an infringement notice. According to the agency, 35% “spontaneously agreed” the accuracy of the facts set out in their warnings, with around 25% engaging or offering to take measures to avoid content being made available from their connections in the future. Reportedly less than 1% challenged the facts as laid out. On the education front, over the past six months around 72,000 users have accessed an information video on the Hadopi website, while 49,000 sought information on what to do after receiving a warning. The figures presented by Hadopi French, (pdf) clearly show a low re-offending rate, with an impressive gap between those receiving first and second warnings. Hadopi sees this as an indicator of the system’s success, although there is always the possibility that subscribers wised-up on security and safer methods of downloading after getting the first notice. That being said, the agency counters this notion by citing figures from a small poll carried out among letter recipients which found that 73% of those who received a warning did not subsequently shift to another method of illegal downloading. However, that doesn’t mean they all jumped on the iTunes bandwagon either. “Receiving a warning does not result in a massive shift towards legal offers,” Hadopi explains. Overall, 23% of respondents who received a warning said they went on to use a legal service. That suggests that three quarters simply dropped off the media consumption radar altogether, which doesn’t sound like a realistic proposition. Next year will see half a decade of graduated response in France. Will media sales have gone through the roof as a result? Time will tell, but it seems highly unlikely. Source: TorrentFreak
×
×
  • Create New...