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  1. Center for Justice, a Washington non-profit organization, has asked a federal court to unseal several documents that may provide more insight into the financial agreements between filmmakers, lawyers and piracy tracking outfits. The so-called copyright trolling operations may, in fact, be well-coordinated "illegal settlement factories" that prey on people with limited financial resources. Mass-piracy lawsuits have been plaguing the U.S. for years, targeting hundreds of thousands of alleged downloaders. While the numbers are massive, there are only a few so-called “copyright trolling” operations running the show. These are copyright holders, working together with lawyers and piracy tracking firms, trying to extract cash settlements from alleged subscribers. Getting a settlement is also what the makers of the “Elf-Man” movie tried when they targeted Ryan Lamberson of Spokane Valley, Washington. Unlike most defendants, however, Lamberson put up a fight, questioning the validity of the evidence. After the filmmaker pulled out, the accused pirate ended up winning $100,000 in attorney fees. All this happened three years ago but it appears that there might be more trouble in store for Elf-Man and related companies. The Washington non-profit organization Center for Justice (CFJ) recently filed a motion to intervene in the case. The group, which aims to protect “the wider community from abuse by the moneyed few,” has asked the court to unseal several documents that could reveal more about how these copyright trolls operate. The non-profit asks the court to open up several filings to the public that may reveal how film companies, investigators, and lawyers coordinated an illegal settlement factory. “The CFJ’s position is simple: if foreign data collectors and local lawyers are feeding on the subpoena power of federal courts to extract settlements from innocent people, then the public deserves to know. “What makes this case so important is that, based on the unsealed exhibits and declarations, it appears that a German operation is providing the ‘investigators’ and ‘experts’ that claim to identify infringing activities, but its investigators apparently have a direct financial interest and the ‘software’ is questionable at best,” CFJ adds. Another problem mentioned by the non-profit organization is that not all defense lawyers are familiar with these ‘trolling’ cases. They sometimes need dozens of hours to research them, which costs the defendant more than the cash settlement deal offered by the copyright holder. As a result, paying off the trolls may seem like the most logical and safe option to the accused, even when they are innocent. CFJ hopes that the sealed documents will help to expose the copyright trolls’ “mushrooming” enterprise, not just in this particular case, but also in many similar cases where people are pressured into settling. “The entire lawsuit may have been a sham. Which is where CFJ comes in. Money and information remain the most significant hurdles for those being named as defendants in lawsuits like this one who receive threatening settlement letters like the one Mr. Lamberson received. “CFJ’s goal is to level the playing field and reduce the plaintiffs’ informational advantage. The common-law right of access to judicial records is especially important where, as here, the copyright ‘trolling’ risks infecting the judicial system,” the non-profit adds. The recent filings were spotted by SJD from Fight Copyright Trolls, who rightfully notes that we still have to see whether the documents will be made public, or not. If they are indeed unsealed, it may trigger a response from other accused pirates, perhaps even a class action suit. —– Center For Justice’s full motion to intervene is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/center-for-justice-wants-court-to-unveil-copyright-trolling-secrets-171116/
  2. A federal court in Seattle has asked a copyright holder of the film "Once Upon a Time in Venice" to provide more information on the evidence it has against accused BitTorrent pirates. The accuracy of the tracking tools was put in doubt after the company sued a now-deceased man, who was mentally and physically incapable of operating a computer at the time of the accusation. In recent years, file-sharers around the world have been pressured to pay significant settlement fees, or face legal repercussions. These so-called “copyright trolling” efforts have been a common occurrence in the United States for more than half a decade, and still are. While copyright holders should be able to take legitimate piracy claims to court, there are some who resort to dodgy tactics to extract money from alleged pirates. The evidence isn’t exactly rock-solid either, which results in plenty of innocent targets. A prime candidate for the latter category is a man who was sued by Venice PI, a copyright holder of the film “Once Upon a Time in Venice.” He was sued not once, but twice. That’s not the problem though. What stood out is that defendant is no longer alive. The man’s wife informed a federal court in Seattle that he passed away recently, at the respectable age of 91. While age doesn’t prove innocence, the widow also mentioned that her husband suffered from dementia and was both mentally and physically incapable of operating a computer at the time of the alleged offense. These circumstances raised doubt with US District Court Judge Thomas Zilly, who brought them up in a recent order (citations omitted). “In two different cases, plaintiff sued the same, now deceased, defendant, namely Wilbur Miller. Mr. Miller’s widow submitted a declaration indicating that, for about five years prior to his death at the age of 91, Mr. Miller suffered from dementia and was both mentally and physically incapable of operating a computer,” the Judge writes. The Judge notes that the IP-address tracking tools used by the copyright holder might not be as accurate as is required. In addition, he adds that the company can’t simply launch a “fishing expedition” based on the IP-address alone. “The fact that Mr. Miller’s Internet Protocol (‘IP’) address was nevertheless identified as part of two different BitTorrent ‘swarms’ raises significant doubts about the accuracy of whatever IP-address tracking method plaintiff is using. “Moreover, plaintiff may not, based solely on IP addresses, launch a fishing expedition aimed at coercing individuals into either admitting to copyright infringement or pointing a finger at family members, friends, tenants, or neighbors. Plaintiff must demonstrate the plausibility of their claims before discovery will be permitted,” Judge Zilly adds. From the order Since the copyright holder has only provided an IP-address as evidence, the plausibility of the copyright infringement claims is not properly demonstrated. This means that the holder was not allowed to conduct discovery, which includes discussions with defendants. The court, therefore, ordered Venice PI to cease all communication with defendants effective immediately, until further notice. This order applies to a dozen cases which are now effectively on hold. The copyright holder has been given 28 days to provide more information on several issues related to the evidence gathering. This offer of proof should be supported by a declaration of an expert in the field. The Judge wants to know if an IP-address can be spoofed or faked by a BitTorrent tracker, and if so, how likely this is. In addition, he questions if the material that was tracked (possible only part of a download) is actually playable. And finally, the Judge asks what other evidence Venice PI has against each defendant, aside from the IP-address. “In the absence of a timely filed offer of proof, plaintiff’s claims will be dismissed with prejudice and without costs, and these cases will be closed,” Judge Zilly warns. The harsh order was noticed by copyright troll skeptic FCT, who notes that Venice PI will have a hard time providing the requested proof. Venice and other “copyright trolls” use the German company Maverickeye to track BitTorrent pirates on a broad scale. They are also active with their settlement demands in various other countries, most recently in Sweden. If the provided proof is not sufficient in the court’s opinion, it will be hard for them and other rightsholders to continue their practices in the Washington district. — The full order is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/judge-puts-brakes-on-piracy-cases-doubts-evidence-against-deceased-man-171114/
  3. Hollywood is not happy with the increased popularity of pirate streaming boxes. In addition to voicing their concerns in the media, the topic is also part of the MPAA's lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. By adding it to the agenda of US lawmakers, the movie industry hopes to curb the trend. As part of its quest to reduce piracy, the MPAA continues to spend money on its lobbying activities, hoping to sway lawmakers in its direction. While the lobbying talks take place behind closed doors, quarterly disclosure reports provide some insight into the items under discussion. The MPAA’s most recent lobbying disclosure form features several new topics that weren’t on the agenda last year. Among other issues, the Hollywood group lobbied the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on set-top boxes, preloaded streaming piracy devices, and streaming piracy in general. The details of these discussions remain behind closed doors. The only thing we know for sure is what Hollywood is lobbying on, but it doesn’t take much imagination to take an educated guess on the ‘why’ part. Just over a year ago streaming piracy boxes were hardly mentioned in anti-piracy circles, but today they are on the top of the enforcement list. The MPAA is reporting these concerns to lawmakers, to see whether they can be of assistance in curbing this growing threat. Some of the lobbying topics It’s clear that pirate streaming players are a prime concern for Hollywood. MPA boss Stan McCoy recently characterized the use of these devices as “Piracy 3.0” and a coalition of industry players sued a US-based seller of streaming boxes earlier this month. The lobbying efforts themselves are nothing new of course. Every year the MPAA spends around $4 million to influence the decisions of lawmakers, both directly and through external lobbying firms such as Covington & Burling, Capitol Tax Partners, and Sentinel Worldwide. While piracy streaming boxes are new on the agenda this year, they are not the only topics under discussion. Other items include trade deals such as the TPP, TTIP, and NAFTA, voluntary domain name initiatives, EU digital single market proposals, and cybersecurity. TorrentFreak reached out to the MPAA for more information on the streaming box lobbying efforts, but we have yet to hear back. https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-lobbies-us-congress-on-streaming-piracy-boxes-171112/
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  5. A few days ago a US federal court issued a broad injunction against Sci-Hub, ordering the site's operator to pay millions in damages. On top of that, the court issued a broad injunction granting search engine and ISP blockades under certain conditions. While the order sets a precedent, Google and Comcast won't be asked to take action anytime soon. Sci-Hub, often referred to as the “Pirate Bay of Science,” hasn’t had a particularly good run in US courts so far. Following a $15 million defeat against Elsevier in June, the American Chemical Society won a default judgment of $4.8 million in copyright damages late last week. In addition, the publisher was granted an unprecedented injunction, requiring various third-party services to stop providing access to the site. The order specifically mentions domain registrars and hosting companies, but also search engines and ISPs, although only those who are in “active concert or participation” with the site. This order sparked fears that Google, Comcast, and others would be ordered to take action, but that’s not the case. After the news broke ACS issued a press release clarifying that it would not go after search engines and ISPs when they are not in “active participation” with Sci-Hub. The problem is that this can be interpreted quite broadly, leaving plenty of room for uncertainty. Luckily, ACS Director Glenn Ruskin was willing to provide more clarity. He stressed that search engines and ISPs won’t be targeted for simply linking users to Sci-Hub. Companies that host the content are a target though. “The court’s affirmative ruling does not apply to search engines writ large, but only to those entities who have been in active concert or participation with Sci-Hub, such as websites that host ACS content stolen by Sci-Hub,” Ruskin said. When we asked whether this means that ISPs such as Comcast are not likely to be targeted, the answer was affirmative. “That is correct, unless the internet service provider has been in active concert or participation with SciHub. Simply linking to SciHub does not rise to be in active concert or participation,” Ruskin clarified. The above suggests that ACS will go after domain name registrars, hosting companies, and perhaps Cloudflare, but not any further. Still, even if that’s the case there is cause for worry among several digital rights activists. The Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that these type of orders set a dangerous precedent. The concept of “active concert or participation” should only cover close associates and co-conspirators, not everyone who provides a service to the defendant. Domain registrars and registries have often been compelled to take action in similar cases, but EFF says this goes too far. “The courts need to limit who can be bound by orders like this one, to prevent them from being abused,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz informs TorrentFreak. “In particular, domain name registrars and registries shouldn’t be ordered to help take down a website because of a dispute over the site’s contents. That invites others to use the domain name system as a tool for censorship.” News of the Sci-Hub injunction has sparked controversy and confusion in recent days, not least because Sci-hub.cc became unavailable soon after. Instead of showing the usual search box, visitors now see a “403 Forbidden” error message. On top of that, the bulletproof Tor version of the site also went offline. The error message indicates that there’s a hosting issue. While it’s easy to conclude that the court’s injunction has something to do with this, that might not necessarily be the case. Sci-Hub’s hosting company isn’t tied to the US and has a history of protecting sites from takedown efforts. We reached out to Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan for comment but we’re yet to receive a response. The site hasn’t posted any relevant updates on its social media pages either. That said, the site is far from done. In addition to the Tor domain, Sci-Hub has several other backups in place such as Sci-Hub.io and Sci-Hub.ac, which are up and running as usual. https://torrentfreak.com/sci-hub-wont-be-blocked-by-us-isps-anytime-soon-171111/
  6. The controversial Kodi software should not be targeted for copyright infringement offenses, according to an industry body representing the likes of Netflix, Amazon and BT. The Computer and Communications Industry Association says Kodi is a general purpose software used for lawful purposes. It says law enforcement agencies should target the infringers, such as those selling loaded Kodi boxes and those creating third-party add-ons to facilitate access to copyrighted material. Related: Kodi latest “Unscrupulous vendors selling general-purpose devices preloaded with software whose function is to infringe content or circumvent technological protection measures (TPMs) are an appropriate target for enforcement activities,” the CCIA, which also represents Facebook, Google, Intel and Samsung wrote (via Independent). “These enforcement activities should focus on the infringers themselves, however, not a general-purpose technology, such as an operating system for set-top boxes, which may be used in both lawful and unlawful ways.” A global threat? The CCIA comments came in response to the Motion Picture Association of America’s, which recently described Kodi as a “global threat”. “An emerging global threat is streaming piracy which is enabled by piracy devices preloaded with software to illicitly stream movies and television programming and a burgeoning ecosystem of infringing add-ons,” the MPAA said in October. “The most popular software is an open source media player software, Kodi. Although Kodi is not itself unlawful, and does not host or link to unlicensed content, it can be easily configured to direct consumers toward unlicensed films and television shows.” Recent criminal cases have seen Kodi box purveyors punished, while a number of the most popular third-party add-ons have been shut down amid increasing pressure from the authorities. Are the copyright cops right to target the infringers? Or does Kodi have more to answer for as a facilitator? Share your thoughts with us @TrustedReviews on Twitter.
  7. STRANGER Things fans who have been tempted to illegally download torrents or stream online season two have been put on alert over a piracy crackdown. Stranger Things is the latest hit show from Netflix, with season two out right now - and fans may have been tempted by illegal downloads or streams. Stranger Things season two was arguably one of the most highly anticipated TV events of this year, after season one became a breakout cult hit. The sci-fi horror show charts the strange goings on in a small US town, with a group of loveable kids caught in the middle of supernatural events. Stranger Things season two launched last Friday, and season three of the show is already in the works. And amid all the hype and excitement for Stranger Things, Netflix have quietly been ramping up their efforts to stop online piracy. The streaming giant are pushing forward with their efforts to crackdown on illegal streams and torrent downloads with a brand new hire. TorrentFreak spotted a new job listing which shows Netflix is looking to expand its content protection team. They are looking for a co-ordinator who will head up its “internal tactical takedown efforts with the goal of reducing online piracy”. Netflix are hoping the new hire will make illegal torrents and streams “a socially unacceptable fringe activity”. The new addition to Netflix’s anti-piracy team will scan for illegally shared content across a wide range of platforms. The streaming giant will be monitoring hugely popular social networks like Facebook and Twitter in their efforts to stop online piracy. And they will also be keeping a close eye on YouTube, Periscope, Daily Motion, Google, Bing and other well-known platforms used for online piracy. So, if you share on The Pirate Bay any download links to Stranger Things or if you host files on BitTorrent - it could come to Netflix’s attention. The new hire will also be tasked with looking at new technological solutions to tackle piracy online The job listing marks the bolstering of already significant efforts Netflix are putting in to stop online piracy. In the last year alone, Netflix has sent more than one million takedown requests to Google. But monitoring content that is illegally shared online is not the only way Netflix are cracking down. Earlier this year Netflix, HBO and 28 other companies formed a anti-piracy alliance. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment – includes the some of the most powerful studios and content creators around at the moment, including Amazon, Sky, HBO, BBC Worldwide, Netflix and Twentieth Century Fox. The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment is focused on building efforts to curtail online piracy. ACE will conduct its own research and work alongside law enforcement as part of its anti-piracy efforts. The penalties for online piracy has become more severe this year thanks to the Digital Economy Act becoming law. The new law raised the maximum possible sentence for online copyright infringement offences from two to 10 years. The maximum sentence will only apply to people who commit serious copyright crimes, such as distributing content. If you want to watch Stranger Things online, prices for a Netflix subscription start from just £5.99 for the basic plan. The standard plan, which includes watching HD content online, costs £7.99. And if you’re a brand new subscriber, you can get your first month for free to test out the service before you fork out even a single penny.
  8. Independent photographers are suing pirating mainstream media outlets by the dozens. Copyright infringement lawsuits against moguls such as AOL, CBS, NPR, Viacom, Warner Bros, and Yahoo have resulted in more than 200 private settlements this year alone and the end is still not in sight. When piracy hits the mainstream news, it’s often in relation to books, games, music, TV-shows and movies. These industries grab headlines because of the major players that are involved, but they are not the only ones dealing with piracy. In fact, photos are arguably the most commonly infringed works online. Not just by random users on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, but also by major mainstream media outlets. While most photographers spend little time battling piracy, more and more are willing to take the matter to federal court. This trend started two years ago by the Liebowitz Law Firm is paying off. The lawsuits in question, filed on behalf of several independent photographers, are fairly straightforward. A news site or other media outlet uses a photo to spice up an article but fails to pay the photographer. This is fairly common, even for major publications. The photographer then files a lawsuit demanding compensation. However, before the case goes to trial both parties usually resolve their issues in a private settlement. Just this year alone, the Liebowitz Law Firm closed over 200 cases for its clients. ABC, AOL, CBS Broadcasting, NBCUniversal, NPR, Time, Viacom, Warner Bros, Yahoo and Ziff Davis are just a few of the companies that have signed settlements recently. One of the many settlements While the court records don’t point out any winners, it’s safe to assume that many of these cases end favorably for the firm’s clients. Otherwise, they wouldn’t continue to file new ones. TorrentFreak reached out to Richard Liebowitz, lead counsel in many of these cases. Unfortunately, he can’t share exact details as the settlements themselves are confidential. The photographers don’t make millions through this scheme, but it appears to be an effective way to get paid a few thousand dollars. If one repeats that often enough, it should provide a decent income. And indeed, several have already filed over a dozen cases. The practice is reminiscent of copyright trolling cases, with the exception that the accused are major companies instead of random citizens. And unlike the lawsuits movie companies file against BitTorrent users in the US, the evidence the photographers have is rock solid. The evidence.. When a random copyright troll sues BitTorrent users, hoping to extract a settlement, they rely on indirect IP-addresses and geo-location evidence. The photographers, however, can show an actual screenshot of the infringing work in the mainstream news outlet. That’s hard to ignore, to say the least, and based on the number of settlements it’s safe to argue that the media outlets prefer to settle instead of litigating the issue. It’s probably cheaper and avoids bad PR. — For the record, all photos used for this article are properly licensed or part of court documents, which are public domain. https://torrentfreak.com/pirating-mainstream-media-outlets-haunted-by-photographers-in-court-171028/
  9. The CCIA, which represents global tech firms including Amazon, Google, and Netflix, is cautioning the US Government against blaming open source media players such as Kodi for streaming box piracy. Any enforcement actions should be aimed at those who misuse the software for infringing means, not those who code it. At the beginning of October, several entertainment industry groups shared their piracy concerns with the US Government’s Trade Representative (USTR). Aside from pointing towards traditional websites, pirate streaming boxes were also brought up, by the MPAA among others. “An emerging global threat is streaming piracy which is enabled by piracy devices preloaded with software to illicitly stream movies and television programming and a burgeoning ecosystem of infringing add-ons,” the MPAA noted. This week the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), which includes members such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix, notes that the USTR should be careful not to blame an open source media player such as Kodi, for the infringing actions of others. CCIA wrote a rebuttal clarifying that Kodi and similar open source players are not the problem here. “Another example of commenters raising concerns about generalized technology is the MPAA’s characterization of customizable, open-source set-top boxes utilizing the Kodi multimedia player application along with websites that allegedly ‘enable one-click installation of modified software onto set-top boxes or other internet-connected devices’,” CCIA writes. While the MPAA itself also clearly mentioned that “Kodi is not itself unlawful,” CCIA stresses that any enforcement actions should be aimed at those who are breaking the law. The real targets include vendors who sell streaming boxes pre-loaded with infringing addons. “These enforcement activities should focus on the infringers themselves, however, not a general purpose technology, such as an operating system for set-top boxes, which may be used in both lawful and unlawful ways. “Open-source software designed for operating a home electronics device is unquestionably legitimate, and capable of substantial non-infringing uses,” CCIA adds in its cautionary letter the USTR. While the MPAA’s submission was not trying to characterize Kodi itself as illegal, it did call out TVAddons.ag as a “piracy add-on repository.” The new incarnation of TVAddons wasn’t happy with this label and previously scolded the movie industry group for its comments, pointing out that it only received a handful of DMCA takedown notices in recent years. “…in the entire history of TV ADDONS, XBMC HUB and OffshoreGit, we only received a total of about five DMCA notices in all; two of which were completely bogus. None of which came from a MPAA affiliate.” While it’s obvious to most that Kodi isn’t the problem, as CCIA is highlighting, to many people it’s still unclear where the line between infringing and non-infringing is drawn. Lawsuits, including those against TVAddons and TickBox, are expected to bring more clarity. — CCIA’s full submission is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/tech-giants-warn-kodi-scapegoating-171022/
  10. A trader who sold TV boxes which allowed viewers to watch subscription films and football for free has been given a suspended jail term. Brian Thompson had denied breaking the law by selling the Kodi boxes, setting up the prospect of a landmark trial. But appearing at Teesside Crown Court he changed his plea to guilty. The 55-year-old, who runs Cut Price Tomo's TV store in Middlesbrough, was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years. Thompson, of Barnaby Avenue, Middlesbrough, admitted one count of selling and one count of advertising devices "designed, produced or adapted for the purpose of enabling or facilitating the circumvention of effective technological measures". The court heard Thompson had been selling "fully loaded" Kodi boxes - ones that had been installed with third-party add-ons that can access pirated content. He had previously claimed the law was a "grey area" and said he wanted to know whether he was "doing anything illegal". 'No doubt' Thompson had sold an estimated 400 boxes, earning him about £40,000, and losses to Sky were an estimated £200,000 in subscriptions, the court heard. Judge Peter Armstrong said there could be no doubt now about the legality of the fully loaded boxes. "Those who lawfully have to pay £50 a month or more on Sky or BT subscriptions, are done a disservice by people like you and those who buy these devices," he said. He said he was suspending Thompson's jail sentence but others in the future may not be so fortunate. Cameron Crowe, prosecuting, said streaming devices were not illegal if they were used to access free content. But he added: "If they are designed, produced or adapted for gaining unauthorised access to copyright content or subscription services - such as Sky and BT Sports - they become illegal." Image copyrightKODI Image captionKodi turns compatible devices into a "media centre" What are Kodi boxes? Some shops sell ready-to-use set-top boxes or television sticks preloaded with the Kodi software. The developers behind Kodi say their software does not contain any content of its own and is designed to play legally owned media or content "freely available" on the internet. However the software can be modified with third-party add-ons that provide access to illegal copies of films and TV series, or provide free access to subscription television channels. Some traders sell Kodi boxes preloaded with third-party add-ons that can access pirated content. It is the sale of these "fully-loaded" boxes which was the subject of the case against Mr Thompson. Trading Standards officers made a test purchase from Thompson's Dundas shopping centre outlet in 2015 and a raid was carried out. He moved premises after the raid and advertised on Facebook claiming to have "every film and box set ever made, even ones at the cinema". Paul Fleming, defending, said his client was a hard worker who had succeeded and failed in businesses over the years. Kieron Sharp, the chief executive of Fact (formerly the Federation Against Copyright Theft), said one million illegal Kodi TV boxes had been sold in the UK in the past two years. He said the perpetrators were not "Robin Hood characters", but criminals. "Selling pre-configured streaming devices that allow access to content you normally would have to pay for is illegal," he added.
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  12. A newly announced coalition of major entertainment companies including Disney, Fox, HBO, NBCUniversal and BBC Worldwide has set its eye on pirate streaming boxes. The Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) will coordinate local enforcement efforts in Asia, hoping to disrupt the "criminal syndicates" behind these devices. Traditionally there have only been a handful of well-known industry groups fighting online piracy, but this appears to be changing. Increasingly, major entertainment industry companies are teaming up in various regions to bundle their enforcement efforts against copyright infringement. Earlier this year the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) was formed by major players including Disney, HBO, and NBCUniversal, and several of the same media giants are also involved in the newly founded Coalition Against Piracy (CAP). CAP will coordinate anti-piracy efforts in Asia and is backed by CASBAA, Disney, Fox, HBO Asia, NBCUniversal, Premier League, Turner Asia-Pacific, A&E Networks, Astro, BBC Worldwide, National Basketball Association, TV5MONDE, Viacom International, and others. The coalition has hired Neil Gane as its general manager. Gane is no stranger to anti-piracy work, as he previously served as the MPAA’s regional director in Australasia and was chief of the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. The goal of CAP will be to assist in local enforcement actions against piracy, including the disruption and dismantling of local businesses that facilitate it. Pirate streaming boxes and apps will be among the main targets. These boxes, which often use the legal Kodi player paired with infringing add-ons, are referred to as illicit streaming devices (ISDs) by industry insiders. They have grown in popularity all around the world and Asia is no exception. “The prevalence of ISDs across Asia is staggering. The criminals who operate the ISD networks and the pirate websites are profiting from the hard work of talented creators, seriously damaging the legitimate content ecosystem as well as exposing consumers to dangerous malware”, Gane said, quoted by Indian Television. Gane knows the region well and started his career working for the Hong Kong Police. He sees the pirate streaming box ecosystem as a criminal network which presents a major threat to the entertainment industries. “This is a highly organized transnational crime with criminal syndicates profiting enormously at the expense of consumers as well as content creators,” Gane noted. The Asian creative industry is a major growth market as more and more legal content is made available. However, the growth of these legal services is threatened by pirate boxes and apps. The Coalition Against Piracy hopes to curb this. The launch of CAP, which will be formalized at the upcoming CASBAA anti-piracy convention in November, confirms the trend of localized anti-piracy coalitions which are backed by major industry players. We can expect to hear more from these during the years to come. Just a few days ago the founding members of the aforementioned ACE anti-piracy initiative filed their first joint lawsuit in the US which, unsurprisingly, targets a seller of streaming boxes. https://torrentfreak.com/new-coalition-against-piracy-will-crack-down-on-pirate-streaming-boxes-171017/
  13. In its continuing legal battle, popular hip-hop mixtape site and app Spinrilla is striking back against the major record labels. The company accuses the labels of maliciously hiding crucial piracy data, which puts it at a severe disadvantage. Spinrilla now wants to see the entire case dismissed. Earlier this year, a group of well-known labels targeted Spinrilla, a popular hip-hop mixtape site and app which serves millions of users. The coalition of record labels, including Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records, and Universal Music Group, filed a lawsuit against the service over alleged copyright infringements. While the discovery process is still ongoing, Spinrilla recently informed the court that the record labels have “just about derailed” the entire case. The company has submitted a motion for sanctions, which is currently sealed, but additional information submitted to the court this week reveals what’s going on. When the labels filed their original complaint they listed 210 tracks, without providing the allegedly infringing URLs. These weren’t shared during the early stages of the discovery process either, forcing the site to manually search for potentially infringing links. Then, early October, Spinrilla received a massive spreadsheet with over 2,000 tracks, including the infringing URLs. This data came from the RIAA and supported the long list of infringements in the amended complaint submitted around the same time. The spreadsheet would have made the discovery process much easier for Spinrilla. In a supplemental brief supporting a motion for sanctions, Spinrilla accuses the labels of hiding the piracy data from them and lying about it, “derailing” the case in the process. “Significantly, Plaintiffs used that lie to convince the Court they should be allowed to add about 1,900 allegedly infringed sound recordings to their original list of 210. Later, Plaintiffs repeated that lie to convince the Court to give them time to add even more sound recordings to their list.” vbcn Spinrilla says they were forced to go down an expensive and unnecessary rabbit hole to find the infringing files, even though the RIAA data was available all along. “By hiding and lying about the RIAA data, Plaintiffs forced Defendants to spend precious time and money fumbling through discovery. Not knowing that Plaintiffs had the RIAA data,” the company writes. The hip-hop mixtape site argues that the alleged wrongdoing is severe enough to have the entire complaint dismissed, as the ultimate sanction. “It is without exaggeration to say that by hiding the RIAA spreadsheets and that underlying data, Defendants have been severely prejudiced. The Complaint should be dismissed with prejudice and, if it is, Plaintiffs can only blame themselves,” Spinrilla concludes. The stakes are certainly high in this case. With well over 2,000 infringing tracks listed in the amended complaint, the hip-hop mixtape site faces statutory damages as high as $300 million, at least in theory. — Spinrilla’s supplement brief in further support of the motion for sanctions is available here (pdf). https://torrentfreak.com/spinrilla-wants-riaa-case-thrown-out-over-lies-about-hidden-piracy-data-171016/
  14. The Pirate Bay's iconic .SE domain name has expired and will be deactivated soon if no action is taken. This means that thepiratebay.se, which played a central part in the site's history, is no longer redirecting to the most current Pirate Bay domain. When The Pirate Bay first came online during the summer of 2003, its main point of access was thepiratebay.org. Since then the site has burnt through more than a dozen domains, trying to evade seizures or other legal threats. For many years thepiratebay.se operated as the site’s main domain name. Earlier this year the site moved back to the good old .org again, and from the looks of it, TPB is ready to say farewell to the Swedish domain. Thepiratebay.se expired last week and, if nothing happens, it will be de-activated tomorrow. This means that the site might lose control over a piece of its history. The torrent site moved from the ORG to the SE domain in 2012, fearing that US authorities would seize the former. Around that time the Department of Homeland Security took hundreds of sites offline and the Pirate Bay team feared that they would be next. Thepiratebay.se has expired Ironically, however, the next big threat came from Sweden, the Scandinavian country where the site once started. In 2013, a local anti-piracy group filed a motion targeting two of The Pirate Bay’s domains, ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se. This case that has been dragging on for years now. During this time TPB moved back and forth between domains but the .se domain turned out to be a safer haven than most alternatives, despite the legal issues. Many other domains were simply seized or suspended without prior notice. When the Swedish Court of Appeal eventually ruled that The Pirate Bay’s domain had to be confiscated and forfeited to the state, the site’s operators moved back to the .org domain, where it all started. Although a Supreme Court appeal is still pending, according to a report from IDG earlier this year the court has placed a lock on the domain. This prevents the owner from changing or transferring it, which may explain why it has expired. The lock is relevant, as the domain not only expired but has also been put of for sale again in the SEDO marketplace, with a minimum bid of $90. This sale would be impossible, if the domain is locked. Thepiratebay.se for sale Perhaps the most ironic of all is the fact that TPB moved to .se because it feared that the US controlled .org domain was easy prey. Fast forward half a decade and over a dozen domains have come and gone while thepiratebay.org still stands strong, despite entertainment industry pressure. Update: We updated the article to mention that the domain name is locked by the Swedish Supreme Court. This means that it can’t be updated and would explain why it has expired. https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bays-iconic-se-domain-has-expired-and-is-for-sale-171016/
  15. The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'War for the Planet of the Apes' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The Dark Tower'. 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' completes the top three. This week we have two newcomers in our chart. War for the Planet of the Apes 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 (2) War for the Planet of the Apes 7.8 / trailer 2 (9) The Dark Tower 5.9 / trailer 3 (1) Spider-Man: Homecoming 7.8 / trailer 4 (…) American Made (Subbed HDrip) 7.3 / trailer 5 (3) Baby Driver 8.0 / trailer 6 (…) Annabelle Creation (Subbed HDRip) 6.7 / trailer 7 (7) Wonder Woman 8.2 / trailer 8 (4) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales 6.9 / trailer 9 (5) Transformers: The Last Knight 5.2 / trailer 10 (8) Despicable Me 3 6.4 / trailer