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  1. The owner of TickBox TV, a Kodi-powered streaming device, is being sued for copyright infringement by a group of major Hollywood studios plus Amazon and Netflix. The box seller previously argued that it's operating legally but in a scathing reply the movie companies counter this assertion. The rising popularity of piracy streaming boxes has turned into Hollywood’s main piracy concern in recent months. While the hardware and media players such as Kodi are not a problem, sellers who ship devices with unauthorized add-ons turn them into fully-fledged piracy machines. According to the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), an anti-piracy partnership comprised of Hollywood studios, Netflix, Amazon, and more than two dozen other companies, Tickbox TV is one of these bad actors. Last year, ACE filed a lawsuit against the Georgia-based company, which sells set-top boxes that allow users to stream a variety of popular media. The Tickbox devices use the Kodi media player and comes with instructions on how to add various add-ons. According to ACE, these devices are nothing more than pirate tools, allowing buyers to stream copyright-infringing content. The coalition, therefore, asked the court for a permanent injunction to remove all infringing add-ons from previously sold devices. Tickbox maintained its innocence, however. The company informed the court that its box is a simple computer like any other, which is perfectly legal. According to Tickbox, they don’t have anything to do with the infringing “Themes” that users can select on their device. These themes feature several addons that link to infringing content. This explanation doesn’t sit well with the movie companies, which submitted a reply to the court late last week. They claim that Tickbox is deliberately downplaying their own role, as they are the ones who decided to make these themes accessible through their boxes. “TickBox falsely claims that the presence of these ‘Themes’ on TickBox devices ‘have nothing to do with Defendant’,” ACE’s reply reads. “To the contrary, TickBox intentionally chooses which ‘Themes’ to include on its ‘Select your Theme’ menu for the TickBox TV interface, and TickBox pushes out automatic software updates to its customers’ TickBox TV devices.” The movie companies also dispute Tickbox’s argument that they don’t induce copyright infringement because their device is “simply a small computer” that has many legitimate uses. This liability question isn’t about whether Tickbox stores any infringing material or runs pirate streams through their servers, they counter. It’s about the intended use and how Tickbox promotes its product. “TickBox’s liability arises based on its advertising and promoting TickBox TV as a tool for infringing use, and from designing and including software on the device that encourages access to infringing streams from third-party sources.” ACE notes that, unlike Tickbox claims, the current case shows a lot of parallels with previous landmark cases including Grokster and Fung [isoHunt]. The isoHunt website didn’t store and infringing material, nor was it crucial in the torrent piracy ecosystem. However, it was liable because the operator willingly facilitated copyright infringing activity. This is what Tickbox does too, according to ACE. “TickBox ‘competes’ with legitimate services by telling customers that they can access the same content available from legitimate distributors ‘ABSOLUTELY FREE’ and that customers therefore ‘will find that you no longer need those subscriptions’.” The movie companies therefore ask the court to issue the requested injunction. They want all existing devices to be impounded and Tickbox should, through an update, remove infringing addons from already sold devices. Tickbox argued that this would require them to “hack into” their customers’ boxes and delete content. ACE, however, says that this is a simple update and nothing different from what the company has done in the past. “The proposed injunction would merely obligate TickBox to make good on its halfhearted and ineffective efforts to do what it claims to have already done: remove Kodi builds with illicit addons from TickBox TV,” ACE writes. “As demonstrated by TickBox’s own, repeated software updates since the filing of Plaintiffs’ Complaint, TickBox has the means and ability to easily and remotely change what options users see and can access on their TickBox TVs.” After having heard the arguments from both sides, it’s now up to the California federal court to decide who’s right. The current case should set an important precedent. In addition to Tickbox, ACE also filed a similar lawsuit against Dragon Box. Clearly, the coalition is determined to get these alleged pirate devices off the market. — A copy of ACE’s reply is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/tickbox-clearly-promotes-and-facilitates-piracy-hollywood-tells-court-180115/
  2. @Inviter the December Contest announced winners?
  3. This week police across Europe coordinated to shut down what is claimed to be one of the world's largest pirate IPTV networks. Following raids in Cyprus, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and Greece, TorrentFreak identified the ISP from where the illicit operation allegedly broadcast to the world. Located in a small Bulgarian town, the ISP says it is cooperating with the police to identify the suspects. This week, police forces around Europe took action against what is believed to be one of the world’s largest pirate IPTV networks. The investigation, launched a year ago and coordinated by Europol, came to head on Tuesday when police carried out raids in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece, and the Netherlands. A fresh announcement from the crime-fighting group reveals the scale of the operation. It was led by the Cypriot Police – Intellectual Property Crime Unit, with the support of the Cybercrime Division of the Greek Police, the Dutch Fiscal Investigative and Intelligence Service (FIOD), the Cybercrime Unit of the Bulgarian Police, Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC³), and supported by members of the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA). In Cyprus, Bulgaria and Greece, 17 house searches were carried out. Three individuals aged 43, 44, and 53 were arrested in Cyprus and one was arrested in Bulgaria. All stand accused of being involved in an international operation to illegally broadcast around 1,200 channels of pirated content to an estimated 500,000 subscribers. Some of the channels offered were illegally sourced from Sky UK, Bein Sports, Sky Italia, and Sky DE. On Thursday, the three individuals in Cyprus were remanded in custody for seven days. “The servers used to distribute the channels were shut down, and IP addresses hosted by a Dutch company were also deactivated thanks to the cooperation of the authorities of The Netherlands,” Europol reports. “In Bulgaria, 84 servers and 70 satellite receivers were seized, with decoders, computers and accounting documents.” TorrentFreak was previously able to establish that Megabyte-Internet Ltd, an ISP located in the small Bulgarian town Petrich, was targeted by police. The provider went down on Tuesday but returned towards the end of the week. Responding to our earlier inquiries, the company told us more about the situation. “We are an ISP provider located in Petrich, Bulgaria. We are selling services to around 1,500 end-clients in the Petrich area and surrounding villages,” a spokesperson explained. “Another part of our business is internet services like dedicated unmanaged servers, hosting, email servers, storage services, and VPNs etc.” The spokesperson added that some of Megabyte’s equipment is located at Telepoint, Bulgaria’s biggest datacenter, with connectivity to Petrich. During the raid the police seized the company’s hardware to check for evidence of illegal activity. “We were informed by the police that some of our clients in Petrich and Sofia were using our service for illegal streaming and actions,” the company said. “Of course, we were not able to know this because our services are unmanaged and root access [to servers] is given to our clients. For this reason any client and anyone that uses our services are responsible for their own actions.” TorrentFreak asked many more questions, including how many police attended, what type and volume of hardware was seized, and whether anyone was arrested or taken for questioning. But, apart from noting that the police were friendly, the company declined to give us any additional information, revealing that it was not permitted to do so at this stage. What is clear, however, is that Megabyte-Internet is offering its full cooperation to the authorities. The company says that it cannot be held responsible for the actions of its clients so their details will be handed over as part of the investigation. “So now we will give to the police any details about these clients because we hold their full details by law. [The police] will find [out about] all the illegal actions from them,” the company concludes, adding that it’s fully operational once more and working with clients. https://torrentfreak.com/isp-were-cooperating-with-police-following-pirate-iptv-raid-180113/
  4. Open: GFXPeers (GFXP) | OTHER

    Tracker Name: GFXPeers (GFXP) Genre: Other Sign-up Link: https://gfxpeers.net/register.php Closing Date: Unknown Additional Information: GFXPeers is the best graphic related tracker, own by GFXDomain Forum Content is amazing, there are full of graphic related content, keys and more. All of the torrents have a good speed to leech and seed.They have 65k+ users and 19k+ torrents.
  5. Tracker Name: PirateTheNet (PTN) Genre: Movies Sign-up Link: https://www.piratethenet.org/comeandplay.php Closing Date: Until the 13th. Additional Information: PirateTheNet (PTN) is a Private Torrent Tracker for Movies Releases. Note: PirateTheNet (PTN) is Open for Application Signup.
  6. Open: HQMusic | MUSIC

    Tracker Name: HQMusic Genre: Music Sign-up Link: http://hqmusic.info/register.php Closing Date: Unknown Additional Information: Thailland music tracker.
  7. Representatives from platforms thought to include Google, Facebook and Twitter will meet with five EU Commissioners today to discuss progress in tackling the spread of illegal content online. While focus is being placed on terrorist propaganda and hate speech, intellectual property rights infringements are also high on the agenda. Thousands perhaps millions of pieces of illegal content flood onto the Internet every single day, a problem that’s only increasing with each passing year. In the early days of the Internet very little was done to combat the problem but with the rise of social media and millions of citizens using it to publish whatever they like – not least terrorist propaganda and racist speech – governments around the world are beginning to take notice. Of course, running parallel is the multi-billion dollar issue of intellectual property infringement. Eighteen years on from the first wave of mass online piracy and the majority of popular movies, TV shows, games, software and books are still available to download. Over the past couple of years and increasingly in recent months, there have been clear signs that the EU in particular wishes to collectively mitigate the spread of all illegal content – from ISIS videos to pirated Hollywood movies – with assistance from major tech companies. Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are all expected to do their part, with the looming stick of legislation behind the collaborative carrots, should they fail to come up with a solution. To that end, five EU Commissioners – Dimitris Avramopoulos, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Věra Jourová, Julian King and Mariya Gabriel – will meet today in Brussels with representatives of several online platforms to discuss progress made in dealing with the spread of the aforementioned material. In a joint statement together with EC Vice-President Andrus Ansip, the Commissioners describe all illegal content as a threat to security, safety, and fundamental rights, demanding a “collective response – from all actors, including the internet industry.” They note that online platforms have committed significant resources towards removing violent and extremist content, including via automated removal, but more needs to be done to tackle the issue. “This is starting to achieve results. However, even if tens of thousands of pieces of illegal content have been taken down, there are still hundreds of thousands more out there,” the Commissioners writes. “And removal needs to be speedy: the longer illegal material stays online, the greater its reach, the more it can spread and grow. Building on the current voluntary approach, more efforts and progress have to be made.” The Commission says it is relying on online platforms such as Google and Facebook to “step up and speed up their efforts to tackle these threats quickly and comprehensively.” This should include closer cooperation with law enforcement, sharing of information with other online players, plus action to ensure that once taken down, illegal content does not simply reappear. While it’s clear that that the EC would prefer to work collaboratively with the platforms to find a solution to the illegal content problem, as expected there’s the veiled threat of them being compelled by law to do so, should they fall short of their responsibilities. “We will continue to promote cooperation with social media companies to detect and remove terrorist and other illegal content online, and if necessary, propose legislation to complement the existing regulatory framework,” the EC warns. Today’s discussions run both in parallel and in tandem with others specifically targeted at intellectual property abuses. Late November the EC presented a set of new measures to ensure that copyright holders are well protected both online and in the physical realm. A key aim is to focus on large-scale facilitators, such as pirate site operators, while cutting their revenue streams. “The Commission seeks to deprive commercial-scale IP infringers of the revenue flows that make their criminal activity lucrative – this is the so-called ‘follow the money’ approach which focuses on the ‘big fish’ rather than individuals,” the Commission explained. This presentation followed on the heels of a proposal last September which had the EC advocating the take-down-stay-down principle, with pirate content being taken down, automated filters ensuring infringement can be tackled proactively, with measures being taken against repeat infringers. Again, the EC warned that should cooperation with Internet platforms fail to come up with results, future legislation cannot be ruled out. ,https://torrentfreak.com/tech-companies-meet-ec-to-discuss-removal-of-pirate-illegal-content-180109/
  8. The people behind TVAddons and the ZemTV Kodi addon have asked a Texas District Court to dismiss the piracy lawsuit filed by Dish Networks against them. Both defendants are foreign nationals who say they have no connection to Texas. The case, therefore, violates their due process rights, the defense argues. Last year, American satellite and broadcast provider Dish Network targeted two well-known players in the third-party Kodi add-on ecosystem. In a complaint filed in a federal court in Texas, add-on ZemTV and the TVAddons library were accused of copyright infringement. As a result, both are facing up to $150,000 in damages for each offense. While the case was filed in Texas, neither of the defendants live there, or even in the United States. The owner and operator of TVAddons is Adam Lackman, who resides in Montreal, Canada. ZemTV’s developer Shahjahan Durrani is even further away in London, UK. Their limited connection to Texas is reason for the case to be dismissed, according to the legal team of the two defendants. They are represented by attorneys Erin Russel and Jason Sweet, who asked the Court to drop the case late last week. According to their motion, the Texas District Court does not have jurisdiction over the two defendants. “Lackman and Durrani have never been residents or citizens of Texas; they have never owned property in Texas; they have never voted in Texas; they have never personally visited Texas; they have never directed any business activity of any kind to anyone in Texas […] and they have never earned income in Texas,” the motion reads. Technically, defendants can be sued in a district they have never been, as long as they “directed actions” at the state or its citizens. According to Dish, this is the case here since both defendants made their services available to local residents, among other things. However, the defense team argues that’s not enough to establish jurisdiction in this case. “Plaintiff’s conclusory allegation that Lackman and Durrani marketed, made available, and distributed ZemTV service and the ZemTV add-on to consumers in the State of Texas and the Southern District of Texas is misleading at best,” the attorneys write. If the case proceeds this would go against the US constitution, violating the defendants’ due process rights. Whether the infringement claims hold ground or not, Dish has no right to sue, according to the defense. “Defendants are citizens of Canada and Great Britain and have not had sufficient contacts in the State of Texas for this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction over them. To do so would violate the Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution.” The Court must now decide whether the case can proceed or not. TorrentFreak reached out to TVAddons but the service wishes to refrain from commenting on the proceeding at the moment. Previously, TVAddons made it clear that it sees the Dish lawsuit as an attempt to destroy the Kodi addon community. One of the methods of attack it mentioned, was to sue people in foreign jurisdictions. “Most people don’t have money lying around to hire lawyers in places they’ve never even visited. This means that if a company sues you in a foreign country and you can’t afford a lawyer, you’re screwed even if you did nothing wrong,” TVAddons wrote at the time. — A copy of the motion to dismiss is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/tvaddons-and-zemtv-ask-court-to-dismiss-u-s-piracy-lawsuit-180108/
  9. In the fall of 2007, BitTorrent sites like isoHunt, Mininova, and TorrentSpy were dominating the Internet. Today they are all gone and their former operators have moved on. We talk to isoHunt's Gary Fung to see how he views those turbulent times and what he thinks about the current media landscape. Ten years ago, November 2007 to be precise, we published an article featuring the four leading torrent site admins at the time. Niek van der Maas of Mininova, Justin Bunnell of TorrentSpy, Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde and isoHunt’s Gary Fung were all kind enough to share their vision of BitTorrent’s future. This future is the present today, and although the predictions were not all spot-on, there are a few interesting observations to make. For one, these four men were all known by name, despite the uncertain legal situation they were in. How different is that today, when the operators of most of the world’s largest torrent sites are unknown to the broader public. Another thing that stands out is that none of these pioneers are still active in the torrent space today. Niek and Justin have their own advertising businesses, Peter is a serial entrepreneur involved in various startups, while Gary works on his own projects. While they have all moved on, they also remain a part of Internet history, which is why we decided to reach out to them ten years on. Gary Fung was the first to reply. Those who’ve been following torrent news for a while know that isoHunt was shut down in 2013. The shutdown was the result of a lawsuit and came with a $110 million settlement with the MPAA, on paper. Today the Canadian entrepreneur has other things on his hands, which includes “leveling up” his now one-year-old daughter. While that can be a day job by itself, he is also finalizing a mobile search app which will be released in the near future. “The key is speed, and I can measure its speedup of the whole mobile search experience to be 10-100x that of conventional mobile web browsers,” Gary tells us, noting that after years of development, it’s almost ready. The new search app is not one dedicated to torrents, as isoHunt once was. However, looking back, Gary is proud of what he accomplished with isoHunt, despite the bitter end. “It was a humbling experience, in more ways than one. I’m proud that I participated and championed the rise of P2P content distribution through isoHunt as a search gateway,” Gary tells us. “But I was also humbled by the responsibility and power at play, as seen in the lawsuits from the media industry giants, as well as the even larger picture of what P2P technologies were bringing, and still bring today.” Decentralization has always been a key feature of BitTorrent and Gary sees this coming back in new trends. This includes the massive attention for blockchain related projects such as Bitcoin. “2017 was the year Bitcoin became mainstream in a big way, and it’s feeling like the Internet before 2000. Decentralization is by nature disruptive, and I can’t wait to see what decentralizing money, governance, organizations and all kinds of applications will bring in the next few years. “dApps [decentralized apps] made possible by platforms like Ethereum are like generalized BitTorrent for all kinds of applications, with ones we haven’t even thought of yet,” Gary adds. Not everything is positive in hindsight, of course. Gary tells us that if he had to do it all over again he would take legal issues and lawyers more seriously. Not doing so led to more trouble than he imagined. As a former torrent site admin, he has thought about the piracy issue quite a bit over the years. And unlike some sites today, he was happy to look for possible solutions to stop piracy. One solution Gary suggested to Hollywood in the past was a hash recognition system for infringing torrents. A system to automatically filter known infringing files and remove these from cooperating torrent sites could still work today, he thinks. “ContentID for all files shared on BitTorrent, similar to YouTube. I’ve proposed this to Hollywood studios before, as a better solution to suing their customers and potential P2P technology partners, but it obviously fell on deaf ears.” In any case, torrent sites and similar services will continue to play an important role in how the media industry evolves. These platforms are showing Hollywood what the public wants, Gary believes. “It has and will continue to play a role in showing the industry what consumers truly want: frictionless, convenient distribution, without borders of country or bundles. Bundles as in cable channels, but also in any way unwanted content is forced onto consumers without choice.” While torrents were dominant in the past, the future will be streaming mostly, isoHunt’s founder says. He said this ten years ago, and he believes that in another decade it will have completely replaced cable TV. Whether piracy will still be relevant then depends on how content is offered. More fragmentation will lead to more piracy, while easier access will make it less relevant. “The question then will be, will streaming platforms be fragmented and exclusive content bundled into a hundred pieces besides Netflix, or will consumer choice and convenience win out in a cross-platform way? “A piracy increase or reduction will depend on how that plays out because nobody wants to worry about ten monthly subscriptions to ten different streaming services, much less a hundred,” Gary concludes. Perhaps we should revisit this again next decade… — The second post in this series, with Peter Sunde, will be published this weekend. The other two pioneers did not respond or declined to take part. https://torrentfreak.com/torrent-pioneers-isohunts-gary-fung-ten-years-later-180106/
  10. Large numbers of people are running Kodi with a poorly-protected remote access interface, which enables third-parties to view their addons and other sensitive information. In some cases, people's private videos are also vulnerable to being viewed remotely by anyone with a browser. Worst still, attackers can change Kodi users' settings, which can cause chaos to the unexpecting. As quite possibly the most people media player on earth, Kodi is installed on millions of machines – around 38 million according to the MPAA. The software has a seriously impressive range of features but one, if not configured properly, raises security issues for Kodi users. For many years, Kodi has had a remote control feature, whereby the software can be remotely managed via a web interface. This means that you’re able to control your Kodi setup installed on a computer or set-top box using a convenient browser-based interface on another device, from the same room or indeed anywhere in the world. Earlier versions of the web interface look like the one in the image below. The old Kodi web-interface – functional but basic But while this is a great feature, people don’t always password-protect the web-interface, meaning that outsiders can access their Kodi setups, if they have that person’s IP address and a web-browser. In fact, the image shown above is from a UK Kodi user’s setup that was found in seconds using a specialist search engine. While the old web-interface for Kodi was basically a remote control, things got more interesting in late 2016 when the much more functional Chorus2 interface was included in Kodi by default. It’s shown in the image below. Chorus 2 Kodi Web-Interface Again, the screenshot above was taken from the setup of a Kodi user whose setup was directly open to the Internet. In every way the web-interface of Kodi acts as a web page, allowing anyone with the user’s IP address (with :8080 appended to the end) to access the user’s setup. It’s no different than accessing Google with an IP address (216.58.216.142), instead of Google.com. However, Chorus 2 is much more comprehensive that its predecessors which means that it’s possible for outsiders to browse potentially sensitive items, including their addons if a password hasn’t been enabled in the appropriate section in Kodi. Kodi users probably don’t want this seen in public While browsing someone’s addons isn’t the most engaging thing in the world, things get decidedly spicier when one learns that the Chorus 2 interface allows both authorized and unauthorized users to go much further. For example, it’s possible to change Kodi’s system settings from the interface, including mischievous things such as disabling keyboards and mice. As seen (or not seen) in the redacted section in the image below, it can also give away system usernames, for example. Access to Kodi settings – and more But aside from screwing with people’s settings (which is both pointless and malicious), the Chorus 2 interface has a trick up its sleeve. If people’s Kodi setups contain video or music files (which is what Kodi was originally designed for), in many cases it’s possible to play these over the web interface. In basic terms, someone with your IP address can view the contents of your video library on the other side of the world, with just a couple of clicks. The image below shows that a Kodi setup has been granted access to some kind of storage (network or local disk, for example) and it can be browsed, revealing movies. (To protect the user, redactions have been made to remove home video titles, network, and drive names) Network storage accessed via Chorus 2 The big question is, however, whether someone accessing a Kodi setup remotely can view these videos via a web browser. Answer: Absolutely. Clicking through on each piece of media reveals a button to the right of its title. Clicking that reveals two options – ‘Queue in Kodi’ (to play on the installation itself) or ‘Download’, which plays/stores the content via a remote browser located anywhere in the world. Chrome works like a charm. Queue to Kodi or watch remotely in a browser While this is ‘fun’ and potentially useful for outsiders looking for content, it’s not great if it’s your system that’s open to the world. The good news is that something can be done about it. In their description for Chorus 2, the Kodi team explain all of its benefits of the interface but it appears many people don’t take their advice to introduce a new password. The default password and username are both ‘kodi’ which is terrible for security if people leave things the way they are. If you run Kodi, now is probably the time to fix the settings, disable the web interface if you don’t use it, or enable stronger password protection if you do. Change that password – now Just recently, Kodi addon repository TVAddons issued a warning to people using jailbroken Apple TV 2 devices. That too was a default password issue and one that can be solved relatively easily. “People need to realize that their Kodi boxes are actually mini computers and need to be treated as such,” a TVAddons spokesperson told TF. “When you install a build, or follow a guide from an unreputable source, you’re opening yourself up to potential risk. Since Kodi boxes aren’t normally used to handle sensitive data, people seem to disregard the potential risks that are posed to their network.” https://torrentfreak.com/is-your-kodi-setup-being-spied-on-180101/
  11. Open: XtremeWrestlingTorrents | SPORTS

    Tracker Name: XtremeWrestlingTorrents Genre: Sports Sign-up Link: http://xtremewrestlingtorrents.net/signup.php Closing Time: N/A Additional Information: N/A
  12. The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'Blade Runner 2049' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘Justice League'. 'Bright' completes the top three. This week we have two newcomers in our chart. Blade Runner 2049 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 1 (7) Blade Runner 2049 8.9 / trailer 2 (1) Justice League 7.1 / trailer 3 (4) Bright 6.7 / trailer 4 (…) Brawl in Cell Block 99 7.2 / trailer 5 (5) Dunkirk 8.3 / trailer 6 (3) Kingsman: The Golden Circle 7.2 / trailer 7 (…) Lady Bird (DVDscr) 8.2 / trailer 8 (10) The Foreigner 7.2 / trailer 9 (2) It 7.6 / trailer 10 (8) Coco (HDTS) 8.9 / trailer
  13. Open: AppzUniverse | OTHER

    Tracker Name: AppzUniverse Genre: Other Sign-up Link: http://www.appzuniverse.org/signup.php Closing Date: Only for today Additional Information: AppzUniverse is a Private Torrent Tracker for Software Releases.
  14. Today marks the start of a new year which will undoubtedly bring many more innovations and legal troubles related to copyright, file-sharing, and piracy. We take a look at some of the stories that, with a bit of imagination, could make headlines in 2018. On January 1, the TF newsroom often wonders what copyright and piracy news the new year will have in store. Today we want to give our readers some insight into some of the things that crossed our minds. Granted, predicting the future isn’t an easy task, but the ‘fantastic’ forecasts below give plenty of food for thought and discussion. POWER CORD MANUFACTURER HELD LIABLE FOR STREAMING PIRACY Hollywood’s concerns over pirate streaming boxes will reach unprecedented levelsthis year. After successful cases against box sellers and add-on developers, the major movie studios will take aim at the hardware. A Chinese power cord manufacturer, believed to be linked to more than half of all the streaming boxes sold throughout the world, will be taken to court. The movie studios argue that the power-cords are essential to make pirate streaming boxes work. They are therefore liable for contributory copyright infringement and should pay for the billions in losses they are partly responsible for. PIRATE SITES LAUNCH ‘THE PIRATE COIN’ In 2017 The Pirate Bay added a cryptocoin miner to its website, an example many other pirate sites followed. In the new year, there will be another cryptocurrency innovation that will have an even more profound effect. After Google Chrome adds its default ad-blockerto the Chrome browser, a coalition of torrent sites will release The Pirate Coin. With this new cryptocurrency, users can buy all sorts of perks and features on their favorite download and streaming portals. From priority HD streaming, through personalized RSS feeds, to VIP access – Pirate Coins can pay for it all. The new coin will see mass adoption within a few months and provide a stable income for pirate sites, which no longer see the need for traditional ads. YOUTUBE MUSIC LABEL SIGNS FIRST ARTISTS For years on end, the major music labels have complained bitterly about YouTube. While the video service earned them millions, they demanded better deals and less piracy. In 2018, YouTube will run out of patience. The video streaming platform will launch a counter-attack and start its own record label. With a talent pool of millions of aspiring artists among its users, paired with the right algorithms, they are a force to be reckoned with. After signing the first artists, YouTube will scold the other labels for not giving their musicians the best deals. COMCAST INTRODUCES TORRENT PRO SUBSCRIPTION While there’s still a lot of public outrage against the net neutrality repeal in 2018, torrent users are no longer complaining. After the changes are approved by Congress, Comcast will announce its first non-neutral Internet package. The Torrent Pro (®) package will allow subscribers to share files via BitTorrent in an optimized network environment. Their traffic will be routed over separate lanes with optimal connections to India, while minimizing interference from regular Internet users. The new package comes with a free VPN, of course, to ensure that all transfers take place in a fully encrypted setting without having to worry about false notifications from outsiders. PIRATE BAY GOES ALL-IN ON STREAMING The Pirate Bay turns 15 years old in 2018, which is an unprecedented achievement. While the site’s appearance hasn’t changed much since the mid-2000s, technically it has been changed down quite a bit. The resource-intensive tracker was removed from the site years ago, for example, and shortly after, the .torrent files followed. This made The Pirate Bay more ‘portable’ and easier to operate, the argument was. In 2018 The Pirate Bay will take things even further. Realizing that torrents are no longer as modern as they once were, TPB will make the switch to streaming, at least for video. While the site has experimented with streaming browser add-ons in the past, it will implement WebTorrent streaming support in the new year. This means users can stream high-quality videos directly from the TPB website. The new streaming feature will be released together with an overhaul of the search engine and site navigation, allowing users to follow TV-shows more easily, and see what’s new at a glimpse. — Happy 2018! Don’t believe in any of the above? Look how accurate we were last year! Don’t forget the salt… https://torrentfreak.com/five-fantastic-piracy-predictions-for-2018-180101/
  15. Late last summer, Dana Barancik of Las Vegas, Nevada, and her father Frank filed comments in support of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's desire to do away with net neutrality. Their submissions would have been entirely above suspicion had the former not died in 2014, and the latter in 2015, or if their letters had not contained the same boilerplate language as thousands of other apparently bogus filings. The consultation process leading to the FCC's Dec. 14 vote to kill rules that ensure all internet traffic is treated equally, regardless of content or provenance, was seriously problematic, even fraudulent. And the decision itself was even worse. Critics in Congress plan to vote in early 2018 on at least two proposals to overrule the FCC decision, and either partly or wholly restore net neutrality. Canadians should hope they succeed. In Canada, net neutrality is the long-standing policy of our equivalent of the FCC, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, and the desire to preserve it is largely shared by federal lawmakers from all parties. But when the country that is the centre of the global internet abruptly changes course, we risk being swamped by its wake. Why does net neutrality matter? Start with the pocketbook issues: Without net neutrality, consumers could be faced with paying their internet service provider to access some otherwise free websites, or they could be entirely deprived of the chance to see some content, because the websites that carry it won't or can't pay ISPs. An unfettered web also constitutes a key vehicle for the dissemination of Canadian cultural products which, coincidentally, is the subject of a wide-ranging CRTC consultation that wraps up on Jan. 31. The broadcast regulator is pondering the future of Canadian programming, which has become inextricably tied to the digital world. It's just one of the major culture policy revisions slated for 2018, another being a long-awaited revamp of the Copyright Act. What does this have to with net neutrality? The transition to digital delivery of music, television and films continues – via streaming and other means – and it is taking up more and more of the space long occupied by traditional broadcasters. Governments may have little affection for companies like Netflix, but the fact is they have become serious financiers of Canadian projects. As University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist summarized in a recent submission to the CRTC, "foreign financing now contributes more toward English-language television production than the licensing fees paid by private or public broadcasters, federal tax credits, Canadian distributors, and the Canadian Media Fund." According to data released by the country's music copyright collectives, the surge in revenues from streaming over the past five years makes Canada's music market one of the fastest-growing in the world. Net neutrality keeps that ecosystem vibrant, by preventing internet service providers from "fast-laning" their own or their partners' content, and throttling sites and products that aren't willing to pay to play. Prof. Geist is right to call on the CRTC to drop the "walled garden" approach to regulation in favour of a consumer-oriented approach to maintain affordable internet access and other measures "that foster increased global competitiveness of Canadian services and creators." It may also be time to do away with the long-standing cash cow that is simultaneous substitution – U.S. programming shown with Canadian commercials – and for the CRTC to create incentives for broadcasters to carry content produced in Canada. The more programming moves from cable to the internet, the less the old model makes sense. And then there's the big telecos' proposal to create a federal black list for content blocking. The ostensible justification is combatting piracy, but there's a risk sites will be added indiscriminately, and the free flow of information will be interfered with – precisely what net neutrality aims to prevent. If piracy is the problem, we should rely on Canada's robust laws against intellectual property theft. It's a lot of take in, but here's a guiding principle: The exigencies of the digital economy dictate nothing will be possible if the internet does not remain neutral for Canadians.