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  1. Ukrainian teen arrested last month for taking down a local ISP with DDoS attacks. Ukrainian police have arrested a 16-year-old from the city of Odessa last month for attempting to extort a local ISP (internet service provider) into sharing data on one of its subscribers. Ukrainian authorities say that when the service provider declined, the teen used distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to take down the ISP's network. The attacks, which took place last year, were severe enough that the ISP contacted law enforcement. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Internal Affairs told ZDNet officers from Ukraine's cyber police tracked down the teen to the city of Odessa, where they arrested the 16-year-old last month, in January. Ukrainian cyber police say they searched the teen's home and seized his devices. Authorities said that during a preliminary review of the suspect's computer they found software used to perform DDoS attacks, along with details for 20 accounts on various hacker forums. According to Ukraine's criminal code, the suspect faces up to six years in prison for launching the DDoS attacks. He was not charged for the attempted extortion. Ukrainian officials declined to comment further on the case, such as whose data the attacker requested, citing an ongoing investigation. The Ukrainian teen is certainly not the first case where a suspect has taken down an entire ISP's network using a simple DDoS botnet. Similar instances of DDoS attacks taking down ISPs have happened in Liberia, Cambodia, and more recently, South Africa. In most cases, attackers either use botnets capable of launching massive waves of junk traffic (Liberia), or are using a clever technique known as carpet-bombing (South Africa). Source
  2. Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof is continuing its crusade against copyright holders that target alleged file-sharers. The company has published an article which shows that these copyright cases have little to do with the Government's intention of protecting individual copyright holders with limited financial means. In recent years file-sharers around the world have been threatened with lawsuits, if they don’t pay a significant settlement fee. These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have been a common occurrence in countries such as Germany and the United States, and in recent years they have conquered Sweden as well. Where Internet providers remain on the sidelines in most countries, Swedish ISP Bahnhof has shown to be a fierce opponent of the copyright enforcement efforts. The company uses all possible means to protect its subscribers, both in an outside of court. In an article published a few days ago, Bahnhof Communicator Carolina Lindahl takes a closer look at the legal basis underlying the threatening letters. Lindahl notes that the Swedish Government sees a need for strict copyright infringement penalties while keeping the barriers for creators to go to court low because they often have limited resources. “In copyright litigation […], it is often the author himself who is a party, and usually the author has limited financial resources,” the Government’s code for Penalties for Certain Serious IP violations reads. However, according to Bahnhof, this is far removed from reality. Lindahl sifted through the legal paperwork related to copyright infringement cases filed at the Criminal Court, to see which companies are behind them. The research uncovered 76 cases, the majority of which formed the basis for the tens of thousands of piracy settlement letters that were sent out. Only five of these cases were filed by the creator of the work, Lindahl notes. In other instances, the creators were represented by intermediaries or licensees, such as Copyright Management Services and Crystalis Entertainment. While these companies may have the legal right to pursue these cases, they are not the original creators of the films they sue over. “The government’s claim – that it is often the author himself who is a party – does not seem to be correct at all,” Lindahl writes. In addition, the ISP rejects the notion that copyright holders have “limited financial resources.” Using public sources, Lindahl shows that several of the companies involved have millions of dollars in revenues. So, instead of protecting individual creators with limited means, the ISP says that the Government’s policy allows major companies to “extort” money from individuals, including those with limited financial resources. “Our legislation rests on assumptions that are badly rooted in reality,” Lindahl writes, noting that government policy only makes rich film companies richer. “The result is an extortion operation that is profitable for already profitable media companies and costly for young people, retirees, and other individuals on the margin, without the capability to tackle sudden costs of thousands of kronor. “The lone and economically limited authors are in fact groups of authors with great wealth. Without pure greed, they probably don’t need to send out extortion letters,” the article adds. Lindahl tells TF that she does see a few options to deal with the issue at hand. Sweden could follow the example of its neighbor Denmark, for example, where copyright trolling is ‘outlawed.’ Alternatively, courts could call the IP-monitoring evidence into question, which isn’t always as solid as it seems. That said, she’s not very hopeful that anything will change soon. “I don’t trust our government or authorities to do anything about this. I’m sure they enjoy things just as they are,” Lindahl notes. “Either because they are stupid and really believe they’re helping the poor, because they have private engagements with copyright organizations, or because they like to chase and punish pirates every way they can. Or all of the above.” Source
  3. The piracy liability case between the RIAA and Internet provider Grande Communications continues, but only based on the contributory infringement claim. Texas District Court Judge Lee Yeakel fully adopts the earlier recommendation from the Magistrate Judge, despite objections from both the RIAA and Grande. Last year several major record labels, represented by the RIAA, filed a lawsuit against ISP Grande Communications accusing it of turning a blind eye to pirating subscribers. According to the RIAA, the Internet provider knew that some of its subscribers were frequently distributing copyrighted material, but failed to take any meaningful action in response. Grande refuted the accusations and filed a motion to dismiss the case. Among other things, the ISP argued that it didn’t disconnect users based on mere allegations, doubting the accuracy of piracy tracking company Rightscorp. Last week Texas District Court Judge Lee Yeakel decided to dismiss the vicarious copyright infringement claim against Grande. The request to dismiss the contributory copyright infringement claim was denied, however. With this decision, Judge Yeakel follows the recommendation of Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin. This, despite detailed objections from both the RIAA and the Internet provider. The RIAA contested the recommendation by arguing that Grande can be held liable for vicarious infringement, as they have a direct financial interest in keeping pirating subscribers on board. “[C]ase law is clear that direct financial benefit exists where the availability of the infringing material acts as a draw. Grande’s refusal to police its system speaks to the right and ability to control element of vicarious infringement,” the RIAA wrote. In addition, the RIAA protested the recommended dismissal of the claims against Grande’s management company Patriot Media Consulting, arguing that it played a central role in formulating infringement related policies. Judge Yeakel was not convinced, however, and concluded that the vicarious infringement claim should be dismissed, as are all copyright infringement claims against Patriot Media Consulting. For its part, the ISP contested the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that Rightscorp’s takedown notices may serve as evidence for contributory infringement, noting that they are nothing more than allegations. “[P]laintiffs do not allege that Grande was willfully blind to any actual evidence of infringement, only to unverifiable allegations of copyright infringement.” In addition, the Internet provider also stressed that the RIAA sued the company solely on the premise that it failed to police its customers, not because it promoted or encouraged copyright infringement. Again, Judge Yeakel waived the objections and sided with the recommendation from the Magistrate Judge. As such, the motion to dismiss the contributory infringement claim is denied. This means that the case between the RIAA and Grande Communication is still heading to trial, albeit on the contributory copyright infringement claim alone. — More details on the report and recommendation are available in our earlier article. US District Court Judge Yeakel’s order is available here (pdf). Source
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  5. The IFPI has given Austria's largest ISPs less than two weeks to block some of the world's largest torrent sites. Five local ISPs have been told by the music industry group that following a European Court of Justice ruling earlier this year, they must now restrict subscriber access to The Pirate Bay, Isohunt.to, 1337x and H33t. A long-running legal case involving an Austrian anti-piracy group, a local ISP, and both the Supreme Court and European Court of Justice came to an end this July. The case, which centered around the now-defunct movie site Kino.to, concluded with both courts agreeing that provided any action is both balanced and proportional, Internet service providers could be forced to block copyright-infringing websites. Taking that decision and running with it, the IFPI in Austria has now written to the country’s largest Internet service providers with demands that they block several of the world’s largest torrent sites. In a letter dated today, five ISPs were given less than two weeks to block subscriber access to ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to. IFPI says the sites are “internationally known piracy portals” which have already been blocked in UK, Belgium, Ireland, Finland and Denmark. The music industry group, which protects the rights of the world’s largest recording labels, notes that its blocking request is reasonable given that the sites’ engage in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material for profit. “The foundation for website-blocking in Austria was created following a four year process involving the European Court of Justice,” IFPI’s Franz Medwenitsch added in a statement. “The sites are all internationally known, structurally-infringing BitTorrent portals. Of course, we do not want to have access to the Internet itself blocked, only access to these four sites.” The ISPs have been given until August 14 to implement the blockades, but whether they will have any effect remains to be seen. The Pirate Bay, the world’s most-blocked torrent site, recently informed TF that despite years of blockages, its traffic has doubled overall. Source: TorrentFreak
  6. 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
  7. As Spain struggles with its continuing online piracy problems, a local court has issued an order for several file-sharing sites to be unblocked by ISPs. The decision overturns a ruling in May which required the service providers to censor torrent and download sites on copyright infringement grounds. In the eyes of the United States, Spain still needs to do more in the battle against unlawful file-sharing. The country has been making progress though, and in some instances has actually gone much further than any U.S. court would dare. Following action by the MPAA-affiliated Anti-Piracy Federation (FAP), in May 2014 a court in the city of Zaragoza ordered local ISPs including Vodafone, Movistar and Orange, to block several sites allegedly engaged in copyright infringement. Within days, SpanishTracker, PCTorrent.com, NewPCT.com, PCTestrenos.com, Descargaya.es and TumejorTV.com were rendered inaccessible. The injunctions were not permanent, however, and could be appealed by the sites’ operators. As can be seen in the Alexa statistics shown below, direct traffic to NewPCT took a huge hit following the court order. However, the site quickly set up alternative domains and there were several reports in local media indicating that proxies and VPNs had quickly become popular with those looking to regain access to the site. But while the court order was cheered by rightsholders keen to see Spain dispel ideas that the country is a safe-haven for file-sharing sites, the celebrations were to be short-lived. The site blocks, championed by both FAP and the police Computer Security Brigade, were this week lifted by a court in Zaragoza. A judge sitting in Court of Instruction No.10 found that there “insufficient grounds” for maintaining the domain blockades to protect property rights, “especially when it is not absolutely necessary for the continuation of the investigation.” El Mundo reports that when the case was being processed back in 2013, a court already found that “the facts alleged did not constitute a crime.” The ISP blockades against the domains are expected to be lifted in the coming days, leaving local and international rightsholders to ponder whether changes in Spanish legislation due this year will help solve the piracy conundrum. Source: TorrentFreak
  8. With its significant entertainment business interests, media giant News Corp has been making its feelings known in the ongoing piracy debate. After targeting Google last month the company says it wants the government to tighten up the law in order to hold Australian ISPs responsible for the actions of their pirating subscribers. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation spin-off not only owns several major newspapers, but also has a stake in Foxtel, the Australian pay TV network that airs Game of Thrones. The hit TV show has become a pivotal talking point in the copyright debate, so it comes as little surprise that News Corp is now regularly throwing its own anti-piracy opinions into the mix. Last month, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson fired shots at Google for operating sophisticated algorithms that “know ­exactly where you are and what you’re doing” yet at the same time “pleading ignorance” on piracy. “[it's an] untenable contradiction,” Thomson said. Now the media outfit is making its feelings known again in a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade, regarding the Free Trade Agreement between the governments of Australia and South Korea. Specifically, News Corp doesn’t like the fact that following the failed Hollywood legal onslaught against iiNet, Aussie ISPs are able to distance themselves from the pirating habits of their subscribers. “As News Corp Australia has expressed previously, we are concerned that the amendments made to the Copyright Act 1968 in 2004 regarding secondary liability of ISPs do not operate as intended,” the company writes. “Specifically, the provisions of the Act – although intended to do so – do not provide rights holders with means to protect rights online as the provisions are technology specific and ineffective in dealing with online copyright infringement as it manifests today, nor as it may manifest in the future.” The law as it stands, News Corps adds, is not “readily suited to enforcing the rights of copyright owners in respect of widespread infringements occasioned by peer-to-peer file sharing, as occurs with the BitTorrent system.” Looking towards a solution, News Corp supports the position taken by Attorney-General George Brandis back in February when the Senator noted that Section 101 of the Copyright Act should be reformed so that an ISP which authorizes the copyright infringements of others can more effectively be held liable for those infringements. “News Corp Australia supports the Attorney-General’s approach to the issue of online copyright infringement, and looks forward to contributing to ensuring domestic copyright protection provisions function as intended, and the balance between obligation (secondary liability) and benefit (safe harbour) is re-established,” the company concludes. Whether ISPs will relish taking on more responsibility is up for debate, but it’s safe to say that one – Hollywood nemesis iiNet – definitely won’t. The company’s Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby has been in the press on numerous occasions in the past few weeks taking a particularly aggressive stance against most government and entertainment industry proposals. Source: TorrentFreak
  9. An ISP that won a prolonged legal battle against a Hollywood-affiliated anti-piracy group has rejected plans to introduce three strikes and site blocking. Today, ISP iiNet is also urging citizens to pressure the government and fight back against the "foreign interests" attempting to dictate Australian policy. Last month Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis labeled his citizens the worst pirates on the planet and vowed to help content holders turn that position around. But Brandis’ industry-leaning position soon became clear as he repeatedly refused to answer questions as to whether he’d properly consulted with consumer groups. Brandis has, however, consulted deeply with the entertainment industries. His proposals for solving the piracy issue are straight out of the MPAA and RIAA cookbook – three strikes and account terminations for errant Internet users plus ISP blockades of torrent and similar sites. The reason why the debate over these measures has dragged on so long is down to the defeat of the studios in their legal battle against ISP iiNet. That case failed to render the ISP responsible for the actions of its subscribers and ever since iiNet has provided the most vocal opposition to tough anti-piracy proposals. Today, iiNet Chief Regulatory Officer Steve Dalby underlined that stance with a call for consumers to fight back against “foreign interests.” “The Hollywood Studios have been relentlessly lobbying the Australian Government on a range of heavy-handed solutions, from a ‘three strikes’ proposal, through to website filtering – none of which take consumers’ interests into account,” Dalby explains. On three strikes, Dalby notes that even though customers will be expected to pick up the bill for its introduction, there’s no evidence that these schemes have curtailed piracy or increased sales in any other country. “This leaves us asking why Hollywood might think this approach would work in Australia when it doesn’t even work in their own patch,” he says. While Dalby believes that the studios’ imposition of ‘three-strikes’ will do little to solve the problem, his opposition to overseas interference is perhaps most visible in his attitudes towards site blocking. “Why would the Australian government let a foreign company dictate which websites our citizens can access? Are our legislators captured by foreign interests? Should we allow American commercial interest to dictate Australian national policy?” he questions. Perhaps inevitably, Dalby says that piracy has only blossomed in Australia due to a failure to serve the market, and the studios must address that first. “Copyright holders have shown us that they’re not interested in new models for Australians, despite the success of services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in the USA,” he explains. “The pattern of US traffic Internet now depends on what content is made available via legitimate distribution channels like Netflix, rather than on the Pirate Bay. Giving your competitor a ten-year head start distributing a ‘free’ alternative is pretty stupid. No wonder the content industry is uncompetitive, with that attitude.” Demand for legal content exists, Dalby says, but only if consumers aren’t subjected to release delays and uncompetitive pricing. “And that’s the fundamental difference between iiNet and the rights holders. They want to tackle how customers are pirating content. We want them to look at why, and then move forward, addressing the cause, not the symptom,” he says. Alongside calls for Australians to lobby their MPs, Dalby says he hopes that Hollywood and the government decide to take a more positive approach to solving the problem. “Until that time, we’ll continue to push for a better future for Australian content users, one removed from the constraints being discussed in Canberra,” he concludes. Dalby’s attack on the proposals currently on the table shows that a voluntary agreement between iiNet and rightsholders is as far away as ever, an indication that the years-long battle is far from over. Source: TorrentFreak
  10. Google is launching an initiative it hopes will help consumers better understand the kind of service its Internet Service Provider (ISP) offers while at the same time encouraging the ISPs to provide the best possible connection speeds, and is using YouTube streaming as the basis of its project. Aware that for Web users there are few things more frustrating than a video that freezes mid-play, or a picture that crumbles into a mass of unwatchable fuzziness, Google will measure the video streaming quality of ISPs and rate them according to “the video streaming quality you can expect (at least 90% of the time) when you watch YouTube on an ISP in a specific area.” On its new Video Quality Report site highlighting the initiative, Google explains that YouTube quality, as well as Internet speeds in general, can also be affected by other factors, including how your Wi-Fi is set up, the number of connected devices, and the level of congestion along any part of the content’s end-to-end path, a factor that can vary widely throughout the day. With this in mind, the Mountain View company aims to produce accurate results by drawing its data from billions of YouTube videos watched across thousands of ISPs during a 30-day period, starting with Canada, a country that in Google’s eyes already has plenty of ISPs offering a high level of service. Results will be made available for viewing region by region, though the Web company’s timetable for taking its research to other countries isn’t currently known. Ratings Once Google has evaluated the data, it’ll rate the ISPs in the following way: A ‘YouTube HD Verified‘ rating, for example, means watching HD videos (720p or 1080p) should be a breeze the vast majority of the time, with fast load times and no annoying hiccups in performance. A ‘Standard Definition‘ rating means standard definition videos (at least 360p) should be watchable with “moderate” load times. The ‘Lower Definition‘ rating – one that all ISPs will certainly want to avoid – means low resolution videos load slowly and could freeze from time to time. Speaking to the Financial Post about the project, YouTube’s Shiva Rajaraman said it’s designed to offer Web users a clear and simple measure of performance, while at the same time giving ISPs the chance to more easily describe their various products and price points. He added that the ISPs would be welcome to use its video quality ratings in their marketing campaigns to help consumers better understand the kind of service they can expect to receive. Source
  11. The UK website web blocking bonanza continued today with the High Court adding two major movie streaming portals to the country’s unofficial ban list. Six major ISPs have been ordered to block access to SolarMovie and TubePlus, two streaming portals with millions of regular visitors. The ruling comes after Hollywood studios filed a complaint that remained uncontested by the ISPs. In recent years the UK has become the easiest country in the world in which to have a website censored on copyright grounds. With several successful court orders in hand it is now a mere formality to have a torrent site or streaming portal blocked under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act. Today another round of blocks was announced in a case initiated by the Motion Picture Association (MPA). The High Court ruled in favor of the major movie studios who had filed demands for six major Internet providers to block subscriber access to the streaming sites TubePlus and SolarMovie. As in previous cases the ISPs did not contest the case in court, while the sites in question were not given express opportunity to defend themselves. This means that both sites will be blocked by BT, Sky, Virgin Media, O2, EE and TalkTalk in the near future. TubePlus and SolarMovie are two of the most popular streaming sites and are ranked as the 558th and 346th most-visited websites in the UK respectively. Worldwide the streaming portals are estimated to have dozens of millions of visitors every month. UK movie industry anti-piracy group FACT is happy with the ruling, which they say will help to protect the work of rightsholders. According to FACT both TubePlus and SolarMovie were contacted, but the sites repeatedly ignored takedown requests from copyright holders. “FACT’s members create exciting entertainment for audiences of all ages and we work to protect the jobs of tens of thousands of people in the UK and the investments made in new content,” a FACT spokesman told TorrentFreak. “All of the sites in recent actions have been asked to comply with UK and international law and have refused to do so.” Solarmovie.so The movie studios are not the only ones cheering on the new verdict. Christine Payne of the UK actor’s union Equity described the ruling as “a great step forward in the fight to ensure creators’ rights are respected online.” “These websites steal creative works for their own, untaxed, profit whilst paying nothing back to creators themselves. It is right and proper that legal, proportionate action be taken to tackle these sites to help turn the tide of widespread online copyright infringement,” Payne added. The UK Pirate Party and several civil rights groups have been more critical of the ever-growing list of banned sites. In particular, they are worried about the lack of transparency as most court orders are not made public. “In the Pirate Party we have always maintained that website blocking is dangerous. Where does this end?” UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye previously told TorrentFreak. FACT told us that an end to site blocking requests is not in sight, on the contrary in fact. Alongside other entertainment industry groups they will continue to file new cases against “pirate” sites. “Sites that continually allow infringing material to be hosted, linked or streamed can be in no doubt that sanctions will be taken against them,” FACT explained. And so the game of Whack-A-Mole will continue, and undoubtedly more websites will be added to the country’s unofficial ban list in the months to come. Source: TorrentFreak
  12. The RIAA’s brand new “notorious sites” submission to the United States Trade Representative reveals that in two days time some of the world’s largest file-sharing sites will become blocked by Internet service providers in the UK. On October 30, meta-search engine Torrentz.eu, torrent indexes ExtraTorrent and BitSnoop, and cyberlocker search site FilesTube will all be blocked at the ISP level. Responding to a request from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), on Friday the MPAA submitted a new list of so-called “notorious markets.” The MPAA’s report listed many of the usual suspects such as The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, ExtraTorrent and Torrentz, plus a selection of file-hosting sites such as Netload, ExtaBit and PutLocker. A little while ago TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the RIAA’s submission and aside from doubling up on some of the same sites listed by the MPAA, it also delivers a surprise. Torrent site blocking imminent The RIAA says that in just 48 hours time a new wave of site blocking will take place in the UK covering not only the usual BitTorrent indexes, but also dedicated search engines in the torrent and file-hosting space. On October 30, ExtraTorrent will be blocked by the UK’s leading ISPs, presumably following action by the major labels of the BPI. ExtraTorrent has suffered at least two anti-piracy setbacks in the last week, first when City of London Police convinced its registrar to take its domain and second when Google removed the site’s homepage from its search results. The second indexing site to be blocked on Wednesday will be BitSnoop, which earlier this year was the eighth most-popular torrent site in the world. The RIAA says that since the site provided no way for rightsholders to make contact the decision was made to have ISPs block the site instead. The third site to be rendered inaccessible this week will be Torrentz.eu. What is unusual about this development is that Torrentz is a so-called meta-search engine, in that it carries no torrents of its own but searches other torrent sites instead. Nevertheless, the site still complies with DMCA takedown notices, a fact acknowledged by the RIAA. “[Torrentz] is currently hosted by Canadian providers. The site complies with take down notices by removing the torrents identified in those notices which provide access to infringing files. The site can take up to several days to remove infringing files following a request by right holders,” the RIAA explain. In the rest of the USTR submission on torrent sites the RIAA lists many of the usual suspects, including The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents, Torrenthound.com, Fenopy.se, Monova.org, Torrentreactor.net and Sumotorrent.sx. Many of these sites are blocked around Europe already. As usual, two resilient trackers from Bulgaria – Arenabg and Zamunda – also get a mention. Cyberlockers and related search engines While there are plenty of file-hosting sites to choose from that could certainly be considered rogue (refusing to take down content etc) it’s again somewhat of a surprise that this week a copyright-compliant site will become blocked at the ISP level. FilesTube is the most popular search engine for file-hosting sites and as such has been absolutely hammered by rightsholders looking for links to be taken down. It is by far the most targeted domain in Google’s Transparency Report with 9,242,032 URLs removed, double its closest ‘competitor’. Interestingly the RIAA admits in its report that Filestube does respond to takedown notices. However, the industry can’t keep up so the implication is that this is FileTube’s fault. “Industry reports links to infringing materials to the site operator, but any action by the operator is ineffective as the speed of the takedowns cannot match the speed at which new links are added,” the RIAA writes. Along with the sites listed above, FilesTube will be blocked by the UK’s top six ISPs on Wednesday. Other hosting sites singled out for detailed criticism by the RIAA include bannedhost.net, 4Shared.com, ZippyShare.com, Rapidgator.net, TurboBit.net and a selection of lesser known sites located in the Czech Republic. Three other sites are mentioned in passing – FreakShare.com, BitShare.com and Extabit.com. “We greatly welcome this initiative designed to expose businesses who operate notorious markets for infringing materials, and who generally either directly profit from the sale or other distribution of infringing materials, or who profit from facilitating such theft—in many cases through the sale of advertising space,” the RIAA writes. “Quite simply, there is no place for open and notorious theft in a civilized world, regardless of how that theft is accomplished. Addressing the conduct of these notorious markets for piracy will go a long way towards promoting the rule of law, fuelling creativity and innovation, and maintaining US economic competitiveness,” the industry group concludes. Meanwhile, every single site listed in the notorious market reports of both the RIAA and MPAA remain 100% accessible from all of the ISPs in the United States. Source: TorrentFreak
  13. When ISPs and video providers fight over money, Internet users suffer. Lee Hutchinson has a problem. My fellow Ars writer is a man who loves to watch YouTube videos—mostly space rocket launches and gun demonstrations, I assume—but he never knows when his home Internet service will let him do so. "For at least the past year, I've suffered from ridiculously awful YouTube speeds," Hutchinson tells me. "Ads load quickly—there's never anything wrong with the ads!—but during peak times, HD videos have been almost universally unwatchable. I've found myself having to reduce the quality down to 480p and sometimes even down to 240p to watch things without buffering. More recently, videos would start to play and buffer without issue, then simply stop buffering at some point between a third and two-thirds in. When the playhead hit the end of the buffer—which might be at 1:30 of a six-minute video—the video would hang for several seconds, then simply end. The video's total time would change from six minutes to 1:30 minutes and I'd be presented with the standard 'related videos' view that you see when a video is over." Hutchinson, a Houston resident who pays Comcast for 16Mbps business-class cable, is far from alone. As one Ars reader recently complained, "YouTube is almost unusable on my [Verizon] FiOS connection during peak hours." Another reader responded, "To be fair, it's unusable with almost any ISP." Hutchinson's YouTube playback has actually gotten better in recent weeks. But complaints about streaming video services—notably YouTube and Netflix—are repeated again and again inarticles and support forums across the Internet. Why does online video have such problems? People may assume there are perfectly innocent causes related to their computers or to the mysterious workings of the Internet. Often, they're correct. But cynical types who suspect their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) intentionally degrade streaming video may be right as well. No, your ISP (probably) isn't sniffing your traffic every time you click a YouTube or Netflix link, ready to throttle your bandwidth. But behind the scenes, in negotiations that almost never become public, the world's biggest Internet providers and video services argue over how much one network should pay to connect to another. When these negotiations fail, users suffer. In other words, bad video performance is often caused not just by technology problems but also by business decisions made by the companies that control the Internet. These business decisions involve "peering" agreements that Internet companies make to pass traffic from one to another and negotiations over caching services that store videos closer to people's homes so they can load faster in your browser. When Internet providers refuse to upgrade peering connections, traffic gets congested. When ISPs refuse to use the caching services offered by the likes of Google and Netflix, video has to travel farther across the Internet to get to its final destination—your living room. The negotiations can lead to brinksmanship and bad blood. Recent public examples of such spats include: November 2010: After Internet backbone provider Level 3 signs a deal with Netflix to distribute video, Comcast demands money from Level 3 for carrying traffic over the proverbial "last mile" to Comcast subscribers.January 2011: European ISPs Deutsche Telekom, Orange (formerly France Telecom), Telecom Italia, and Telefónica commission a report saying companies like Netflix and Google's YouTube service should give ISPs a lot more money.August 2011: Cogent, another Internet backbone provider that handles Netflix traffic, files a complaint in France against Orange, saying the ISP is providing inadequate connection speeds.January 2013: Free, a French ISP, is accused of slowing down YouTube traffic by failing to upgrade infrastructure (but is later cleared of intentionally degrading YouTube traffic by the French regulator). Free also temporarily blocks ads on YouTube and other video services by sending an update to its modems.January 2013: Orange and Google have a similar dispute, with Orange CEO Stephane Richard claiming victory. He says that Google is paying Orange to compensate the operator for mobile traffic sent from Google servers.January 2013: Time Warner refuses Netflix's offer of a free caching service that would provide better performance to Netflix users on Time Warner's network.June 2013: Cogent accuses Verizon of allowing "ports" between the two providers to fill up, degrading Netflix performance for Verizon customers.July 2013: The European Commission opens an antitrust probe into whether ISPs abused market positions in negotiations with content providers, and it searches the offices of Orange, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefónica. Separately, the French government demands details of interconnection agreements involving AT&T and Verizon.In the most extreme cases, large Internet companies stop passing traffic to one another entirely. (This happened in 2005 with France Telecom and Cogent, in 2005 with Cogent and Level 3, and in 2008 with Sprint and Cogent.) But recent disputes have been less likely to lead to a complete severing of ties. "That type of reaction to a policy is becoming less common, possibly because it's so easy to publicize it," Reggie Forster, director of network engineering at XO Communications, told Ars. "They tend to want to keep that quiet." Instead, network operators can degrade traffic by failing to upgrade connections without severing them entirely. The public won't realize that's what's going on unless negotiations become so contentious that one party makes them public—or a government decides to investigate. Degraded connections disproportionately affect the quality of streaming video because video requires far more bits than most other types of traffic. Netflix and YouTube alone account for nearly half of all Internet traffic to homes in North America during peak hours, according to research by SandVine. And customers are far more likely to be annoyed by a video that stutters and stops than by a webpage taking a few extra seconds to load. Full article
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