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  1. The server load is very high at the moment. Retrying, please wait... ...or is this only my problem?
  2. A group of independent movie companies has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Internet provider WOW!. The company, which has over three million subscribers across the US, faces far-reaching demands from the filmmakers who request site-blocking measures, a three-strikes policy for pirates, and the ongoing identification of alleged copyright infringers. WOW! logoThe “repeat infringer” issue remains a hot topic in US courts after rightsholders filed lawsuits against several ISPs. These Internet providers are accused of not doing enough to stop copyright infringers on their networks, even after receiving multiple ‘copyright infringement’ notifications. The copyright infringement allegations can have real consequences. In 2019, a Virginia jury ordered Internet provider Cox to pay a billion dollars in damages to a group of major record labels. This case is being appealed but at the same time, other ISPs have been dragged to court over similar issues. Filmmaker Sue WOW! Most of the early ‘repeat infringer’ cases were filed by music companies backed by the industry group RIAA. However, in recent weeks some independent movie companies have filed similar lawsuits featuring even more far-reaching demands. This includes a copyright infringement lawsuit against Internet provider Wide Open West, better known as WOW!. In a complaint filed at a federal court in Colorado, the makers of movies including “After We Collided,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Rambo V: Last Blood,” and “London Had Fallen” accuse WOW! of contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. The ISP allegedly turned a blind eye to pirating subscribers. “Defendant failed to terminate the accounts and/or take any meaningful actions against its subscribers in response to the Notices consistent with a reasonably implemented policy for termination of subscribers […] who are repeat infringers,” the complaint reads. No Meaningful Action The movie companies, represented by attorney Kerry Culpepper, list several examples of account holders for whom WOW! was sent dozens of copyright infringement notices. Despite these alerts, the accounts remained active and continued their piracy activities. For one IP address, the rightsholders sent over 100 infringement notices, without any meaningful response. That account was eventually terminated earlier this year after the attorney alerted WOW! through a separate letter. The fact that WOW! advertised high-speed Internet access, combined with the inaction against online piracy, attracts potential copyright infringers to the ISP, the complaint alleges. As such, WOW! should be held liable for the pirating activities on its network. “Defendant’s subscribers are motivated to become subscribers from the knowledge of Defendant’s practice of ignoring notices of infringements or failing to take any meaningful action,” the movie companies write. YTS Evidence There are a few key differences between the music companies’ repeat infringers lawsuits and the present one. Most notably, the movie companies cite specific cases where WOW! subscribers used the popular torrent site YTS to download content. That claim is backed up by an affidavit from the operator of YTS, who signed settlements with several of the movie companies in the past. As part of this deal, the operator agreed to hand over data from the site’s user database. With this lawsuit, the movie companies hope to recoup millions of dollars in piracy damages. However, that’s just the beginning. Site Blocking, Three-Strikes, and Identifying Pirates What stands out most are the far-reaching and concrete demands for injunctive relief. The complaint specifically requests an order requiring WOW! to terminate subscribers whose accounts were targeted by three unique infringement notices in three days. In addition to this mandatory three-strikes policy, WOW! should also block all alleged pirate sites that are listed in the USTR’s annual overview of notorious markets. This includes the likes of The Pirate Bay, RARBG, and YTS. Finally, the movie companies request an order which requires the ISP to disclose the identities of account holders whose accounts are flagged for copyright infringement. This would allow the companies to target the alleged pirates directly. – order Defendant to adopt a policy that provides for the prompt termination of subscribers for which Defendant receives more than three unique notices of infringements of copyright protected Works within 72 hours – order Defendant to block subscribers from accessing notorious piracy websites of foreign origin that are listed in the annual trade report of Notorious Foreign Markets published by the United States Government on all networks under its control to prevent further pirating of Plaintiffs’ Works via the BitTorrent protocol – order the Defendant to disclose to Plaintiffs the identifications of the subscribers who used and use Defendant’s service to infringe Plaintiffs’ Works on an ongoing basis after said subscribers are provided notice as required by 47 U.S.C. § 551 Needless to say, these demands go further than those in the repeat infringer cases we’ve seen thus far. Court-ordered site blocking and Internet disconnections are a novelty in US courts, which will be fiercely contested. At the time of writing WOW! has yet to respond to the complaint. When it does, we will report on it accordingly. The present lawsuit is similar to the allegations that many of the same movie outfits lodged against Internet provider Frontier Communications in a bankruptcy proceeding. That case could eventually be referred to a District Court as well, but that decision has yet to be made. — A copy of the movie companies’ complaint against WOW!, filed at the US District Court for Colorado, is available here (pdf). Content source: TorrentFreak.
  3. Police in the UK have arrested a 56-year-old man in connection with the illegal streaming of premium TV channels. Officers were able to access and disrupt the online platform, disconnect the illegal streams, and display an online message to customers. In addition to money laundering, the man is suspected of carrying out offenses contrary to the Serious Crimes Act and Fraud Act. IPTVIn the past, those operating unlicensed torrent sites or streaming services in the UK needed to be aware of breaching civil copyright law, action that could result in a damages award but not a custodial sentence. Times have changed. These days civil copyright actions have almost completely disappeared and it’s now exponentially more likely that offenders will be pursued in criminal cases, ones that have the potential to put them behind bars. That’s also the case following a new arrest carried out by police in the UK. West Mercia Police Make New Arrest In an announcement Wednesday, West Mercia Police said they had arrested a 56-year-old man in the Shropshire town of Shrewsbury for offenses connected to the operation of an illegal streaming service offering premium TV channels and other copyrighted content. The action was taken following an investigation carried out in partnership with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). The anti-piracy company informs TorrentFreak that since there is a live investigation, the name of the service cannot be named. However, West Mercia Police has provided additional details which put a little more meat on the bones. Streams Disabled, Message Displayed to Users It’s not clear when the warrant was executed but police say they were able to access and then disrupt the streaming service and disable the illegal streams. They also placed on an on-screen message viewable by users of the service stating that the content they were watching is suspected to be unlawful. This tactic of warning users directly has been deployed before, including when Norfolk and Suffolk police targeted the Global / Global Entertainment (GE Hosting) IPTV service last summer. “This operation is the unit’s first arrest in relation to online streaming and sends out a strong message that we are homing in on those who knowingly commit or facilitate online copyright infringement,” says Sergeant Ian Osborne from West Mercia’s Cyber Crime Unit. “Not only is there an enormous loss to the entertainment industry with this particular operation but it is also unfair that millions of people work hard to afford their subscription-only TV services while others cheat the system.” Items Seized During the Raid (Image: West Mercia Police)IPTV Equipment Suspect Arrested For Multiple Offenses While copyright infringement offenses appear to underpin the alleged crimes of the suspect, West Mercia Police say the man was arrested for Money Laundering (s327 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) and encouraging or assisting in the commission of the offense of obtaining services dishonestly (s44 Serious Crime Act 2007 and s11 Fraud act 2006). Breaking this down, section 11 of the Fraud Act makes it an offense for any person to obtain services for which payment is required, with the intent to avoid payment. The person must know that the services are made available on the basis that they are chargeable, which is certainly the case in respect of official TV broadcasts or streams. Section 44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 relates to those intentionally encouraging or assisting an offense. As pointed out by FACT CEO Kieron Sharp, customers of pirate streaming services also commit an offense. This was also stated in letters previously sent to the customers of GE Hosting who were told by Norfolk and Suffolk Police they were committing an offense under the Fraud Act. The allegations against the recently arrested suspect indicate that he could be held responsible for assisting his customers to commit a crime. The money laundering aspect is a natural consequence of generating gain from crime and then possessing, concealing, or otherwise dealing with assets including, but not limited to, cash and other forms of money. Current information indicates that the suspect hasn’t yet been formally charged. Content source: TorrentFreak.
  4. Following a request from a local anti-piracy group, Greek ISPs are required to block access to dozens of new domain names. The targeted domains include Fmovies.to, zooqle.com, and several RARBG proxies. The subtitle-sharing community OpenSubtitles is also on the list. greece flagPirate site blocking was a novelty ten years ago, but today it’s common practice in many countries. This is also true for Greece, where the first domains were targeted in 2018. These blocking requests are managed by the EDPPI, a special commission at the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports that acts following complaints from rightsholders. The Greek system is different from that of many other countries because it doesn’t involve court oversight. It’s an administrative procedure that allows copyright holders to swiftly request pirate site blockades, without the need for lengthy and costly legal proceedings. 47 New Domains Targeted The most recent blocking request was filed by the Society for the Protection of Audiovisual Works (EPOE), a local anti-piracy group that represents the interests of major Greek copyright holders. The company previously obtained a blocking order against The Pirate Bay, 1337x, and YTS, and regularly requests expansions. The new blocking order, granted a few days ago, targets 47 domain names. Several of these are for proxies or copies of the popular torrent site RARBG, such as rarbgto.org, proxyrarbg.or, rarbgget.org, rarbgmirror.com, and rarbgmirror.org. greece blocking Other pirates sites in the list include several domains of the popular streaming sites Flixtor, Filmix, and Watchservies. In addition, the torrent sites Zooqle, TorrentGalaxy, and several KickassTorrents’ inspired sites are covered as well. Pirated Subtitles Pretty much all domains on the list offer access to pirated movies and TV-shows, with one exception. The blocklist expansion also targeted the long-running subtitle community OpenSubtitles, which doesn’t host or link to infringing videos. While OpenSubtitles is the odd one out, the site has been targeted by similar blocking requests in the past. In Australia, for example, the Federal Court issued an injunction after several movie companies argued that OpenSubtitles ‘communicates a literary work to the public,’ referencing movie screenplays. Whether a lack of (open)subtitles is going to stop the Greeks from pirating films and TV-shows is doubtful though, especially since there are plenty of workarounds. Two Escape Routes TorrentFreak spoke to one of the site operators affected by the blockades. They informed us that EDPPI sent an official notice before it went into effect, presenting two escape routes. Site operators can either acquire a license or file an official appeal. “[Y]ou may voluntarily comply with the applicant’s request or obtain from the applicant a relevant license within ten working days from the date of receipt of the notification,” EDPPI wrote. “Alternatively, you may raise your objections to the Committee within five working days from the date of receipt of the notification, sending, at the same time, all the evidence showing, in particular, that there is no infringement.” The site operator we spoke with doesn’t intend to take any action, and we’re not aware of any others who will. — The full list of blocked sites is as follows: 123moviesfree.net, europixhd.one, europixhd.biz, fevgatotv-tainies.com, filmix.ac, filmix.co, filmix.me, flixtor.to, flixtor.is, flixtor.it, flixtor.nu, flixtor.one, flixtor.se, flixtor.vc, fmovies.to, gamato-movies.com, gamato-movies.gr, greek.to, greekin.info, greek-team.cc, hellasddl.eu, kickasstorrents.to , kat.am, katcr.to, kickasstorrent.cr, kickasstorrents.cr, moviez.space, onlinemovie.one, onlinemovie.gr, opensubtitles.org, promovies.pro, rarbgto.org, proxyrarbg.or, rarbgget.org, rarbgmirror.com, rarbgmirror.org, rarbgproxy.org, teniesonline.gr, tenies-online.gr, torrent4you.me, torrentgalaxy.to, torrentgalaxy.mx, torrentgalaxy.su, voody.online, watchserieshd.tv, watchserieshd.io, and zooqle.com. Content source: TorrentFreak.
  5. The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, is being held mostly without spectators but the reach of global TV will ensure it is seen around the world. With the assistance of a High Court order, Sony Pictures wants to make sure that viewers in India enjoy the games without resorting to illegal streaming platforms. Toky OlympicsFollowing massive preparations that were thrown into turmoil due to the global pandemic, this Friday the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony will finally get underway. For just over two weeks the sporting action will largely take place without spectators but a global audience in the billions is set to watch the spectacle unfold on TV and via numerous streaming services. In India, Sony Pictures holds the exclusive rights to broadcast the games and with help from the court, wants to ensure that people don’t turn to unlicensed platforms instead. Sony’s Pre-emptive Legal Action According to an application before the Delhi High Court, Sony Pictures owns the Sony Ten Network of channels including Sony TEN 1, Sony TEN 1 HD, Sony TEN 2, Sony TEN 2 HD, Sony TEN 3, Sony TEN 3 HD, Sony TEN 4, Sony TEN 4 HD, Sony SIX, Sony SIX HD. The company acquired the exclusive rights from the International Olympic Committee to broadcast the games in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives. However, Sony has reason to believe that the games will be broadcast illegally via dozens of unlicensed websites and wants to prevent this where possible. Representing Sony Pictures, Advocate Abhishek Malhotra told the Court that more than 40 websites and over 30 multi-system and cable operators are likely to play a part in distributing pirated content so should be restrained, especially since these entities had been involved in similar situations in the past. High Court Hands Down Ex-Parte Interim Order In his submissions, Malhotra said that a case involving torrent site 1337x.to laid out the parameters for a ‘rogue website’, noting that 47 websites listed in the order fit that description so are eligible for blocking. In its interim order handed down July 19, the Court appears to agree with this characterization. The judge restrained the first 47 defendants (only Yallashootextra.com is specifically named) from “hosting, streamlining [sic], reproducing, distributing, making available to the public and/or communicating to the public or facilitating the same on their websites through the internet in any manner whatsoever, any cinematograph work, content, program and show or event in which the plaintiffs have copyright.” The injunction also covers the possibility that mirror or proxy sites may appear to circumvent the ban. These are preemptively included too, even though they may not currently exist. Additionally, 30 service providers are ordered to block access to the 47 ‘rogue’ websites, including any mirrors or proxies they may deploy to help users gain access. Order to Remain in Place Until September The ex-parte interim order handed down Monday will remain in force until September 29, when the next hearing in the case is scheduled to take place. By then the 2020 Olympics will be over but considering the injunction now in force covers all Sony content, there may be issues that still need to be resolved. The Delhi High Court order can be found here (pdf) Content source: TorrentFreak.
  6. The IIPA, which represents the MPA, RIAA, and other entertainment industry groups, is calling for stricter anti-piracy enforcement in South Africa and a thorough redraft of the country's Copyright Act. These measures are needed to deter copyright infringement, the groups argue, noting that the country shouldn't be eligible for trade benefits if it fails to show progress. south africaThe American copyright industry generates billions of dollars in annual revenue and is generally seen as one of the primary export products. Whether it’s movies, music, software or other goods, US companies are among the market leaders. To protect the interests of these businesses around the globe, copyright holder groups can count on help from the US Government. The yearly list of ‘notorious markets,’ for example, is a well known diplomatic pressure mechanism to encourage other countries to up their enforcement actions and improve laws. The same is true for trade deals and other policies, which often require trade partners to take actions in favor of copyright holder interests. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA), which represents the ESA, MPA, and RIAA, among others, has been the voice of major entertainment industries on this front. The Alliance regularly encourages the U.S. to further the international interests of its members, Africa included. The African Growth and Opportunity Act A few days ago the IIPA published its views on the latest eligibility review of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This process, led by the US Trade Representative (USTR), determines which sub-Saharan African countries can enjoy certain trade benefits. The idea behind AGOA is to improve economic relations between the African region and the US. However, African countries first have to qualify and that comes with certain restrictions, including a clause that prohibits states from opposing US foreign policy. The IIPA, for its part, would like to use the legislation to improve copyright laws and strengthen anti-piracy measures. While copyright holders support growth in African countries, they say that the growth of Internet access comes with a major downside; piracy. “To effectively ensure a safe, healthy, and sustainable digital marketplace, AGOA-eligible countries should assess whether their legal regimes are capable of responding to today’s challenges, including rampant online piracy,” IIPA writes. The group’s submission for the USTR’s 2022 AGOA eligibility review discusses problematic issues in a variety of countries, but most ink is dedicated to South Africa. ‘South Africa Fails to Protect Rightsholders’ The IIPA writes that South Africa must update and improve its laws to bring these in line with international standards such as the TRIPS Agreement and the WIPO Internet Treaties. “South Africa’s current legal regime fails to provide adequate and effective protection of copyrighted materials. Significant reforms are needed to South Africa’s Copyright Act and Performers’ Protection Act in order to bring the country’s laws into compliance with international agreements,” IIPA notes. This is particularly important now that the country is recovering from the COVID pandemic. “At a time when South Africa is endeavoring to rebound from the economic impacts of the global pandemic, the stakes are extremely high. Parliament should redraft these bills to avoid destabilizing the creative industries and to support a thriving copyright sector.” Adequate Civil and Criminal Penalties This strong warning comes with a list of possible improvements. For example, South Africa should have stricter rules to prevent people from circumventing technical protection measures. In addition, copyright holders should have more options to recover damages from pirates, while the authorities should be able to enforce tougher criminal penalties for copyright infringements. “South Africa’s legal regime does not provide adequate civil remedies or criminal penalties to allow rights holders to recover their losses from infringement or to deter piracy. Without an adequate means to remedy infringement or deter piracy, the path for legitimate services to operate is difficult,” IIPA notes. Impact of Earlier Complaints This isn’t the first time that U.S. copyright holders have criticized South Africa’s copyright law. IIPA and others uttered similar complaints last year. At the time, they were particularly concerned about fair use provisions, which they believe are too broad. The legislation, which was just a signature away from becoming law last year, was subsequently sent back to Parliament by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who requested a do-over. In their recommendation, IIPA stresses that this do-over should be done carefully. “It is critical that the National Assembly does not rush reconsideration of the bills and make only cosmetic revisions,” it writes. Among other things, the various copyright exceptions and “fair use” rules, which are largely modeled after US law, should be tightened up. This should take place “in full consultation” with copyright holders and other relevant parties. The fact that both bills were pulled at the last minute suggests that South Africa is sensitive to these and other complaints. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see what the final versions will look like and if IIPA and others are indeed heard. — A copy of IIPA’s submission for the US Trade Representative’s 2022 AGOA eligibility review is available here (pdf) Content source: TorrentFreak.
  7. Rules Modification Regarding Uploading of Aither Content to Other Sites Hello everyone, It has come to our attention that recent Aither content has been channeled to a specific DDL site. This activity is not acceptable, as it is aimed at making profit using another team's work, which is downloaded here for free, and also provides unneeded exposure of our content to a very large and random audience. To prevent this we decided to modify our Rules as follows: Uploading Aither content to public trackers, Usenet, private indexers, or DDL sites is prohibited. Please respect the hard work of release groups, upload Aither content to other private trackers only. Thank you, Aither staff team