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  1. Every day Google processes more than a million takedown requests, sent in by dozens of specialized anti-piracy outfits. While most of these companies play by the rules, some insiders believe that a few intentionally submit bogus notices to boost their numbers. Four years ago Google decided to publish detailed statistics of all the takedown notices it receives for its search engine. Since then, the number of requests have skyrocketed. The increase in notices is partly the result of their public nature, with anti-piracy groups proudly revealing how many URLs they have removed. Over the past several years TF has spoken to insiders on condition of anonymity, and several mentioned that this PR-angle is hurting the validity of the requests. Some anti-piracy outfits are more concerned with the volume of requests than their accuracy. “There are a number of automated services sending endless duplicate DMCA Notices to Google,†said ‘Jack,’ the owner of a boutique takedown company. These duplicate requests include many URLs which have been removed previously (e.g. 1, 2, 3). This means that they don’t add anything in terms of effectiveness. However, Google does add them to the overall statistics. “Consequently, anti-piracy companies can make it look like they’re doing far more work than they actually are and thus improve their business development, sales or PR story,†Jack added. Whether the duplicate notices are intentional or just the result of a shoddy system will be hard to prove conclusively. But they do stand out, together with other dubious issues that boost the numbers. Earlier this week the operator of popular MP3 search engine MP3Juices.is alerted us to an increasing number of fake notices, listing URLs that were never indexed by Google at all. Instead of finding pages in Google’s search engine they list search terms such as the following from a recent takedown request: http://mp3juices.is/search?q=Kay+One+Intro&hash=2accae5374d2477fnprt4f These search pages are not indexed by Google, so can’t be removed. Also, MP3juices generates a unique hash for each search, but in the notices the same hash is used over and over again for different search terms. This means that the search URLs are generated through a simple script instead of being the result of actual searches. In addition, the same keywords are used across different sites, as the image below shows. “MUSO is the main offender, they’re sending dynamically generated (fake) URLs created by their poorly written script. They don’t even verify if the page exists,†MP3Juices informed TF. In addition, and this is the case for many outfits, most notices sent to Google are not sent to the site which actually hosts or links to the content. “Only a minority of the notices are directly sent to us, the vast majority are sent to Google even though we remove reported URLs quicker than Google does. We also replace the page with a message encouraging users to use Amazon MP3 as a legal alternative,†MP3Juices said. MP3Juices is not happy with the bogus takedown notices and plans to report the false claims to Google, not least since Google uses the takedown numbers to downrank websites in its search results. MUSO didn’t answer any of our specific questions regarding the non-existing pages and search results, but provided a generic statement. “We analyse over 12 million pages of content daily, across thousands of different hosting, streaming, P2P or search sites,†a MUSO spokesperson said. “We are focused on providing a fast, efficient and transparent solution, and we welcome correspondence with all sites with whom we work to remove content, including MP3Juices.†https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-outfits-boost-numbers-with-bogus-takedown-notices-150628/
  2. The Internet Security Task Force, an anti-piracy initiative launched by several independent movies studios, is calling for an end to the "six strikes" Copyright Alert System. According to the group the voluntary agreement does nothing to stop piracy. Instead, the group is promoting the Canadian notice-and-notice model as a much more effective alternative. To counter the ever increasing piracy threat a group of smaller movie studios launched a new coalition last month, the Internet Security Task Force (ISTF). ISTF, which includes Voltage Pictures, Millennium, Bloom, Sierra/Affinity and FilmNation Entertainment among its members, is poised to be more aggressive than the MPAA. Today the group unveils its first point of action. According to the group it’s time to end the voluntary “six strikes†Copyright Alert System, the voluntary anti-piracy agreement between the RIAA, MPAA and several large U.S. Internet providers. ISTF presents data which reveals that the six strikes warnings are not getting the desired result, describing the system as a “shamâ€. According to Millennium Films President Mark Gill his studio sent numerous piracy notices directed at ‘Expendables 3′ pirates under the scheme, but only a tiny fraction were forwarded by the participating ISPs. “We’ve always known the Copyright Alert System was ineffective, as it allows people to steal six movies from us before they get an educational leaflet. But now we have the data to prove that it’s a sham,†Gill comments. “On our film ‘Expendables 3,’ which has been illegally viewed more than 60 million times, the CAS only allowed 0.3% of our infringement notices through to their customers. The other 99.7% of the time, the notices went in the trash,†he adds. As part of the Copyright Alert System ISPs and copyright holders have agreed to send a limited number of notices per month, so anything above this threshold is not forwarded. ISTF’s data on the number of ‘Expendables 3′ infringements suggests that the Copyright Alerts are in fact less effective than the traditional forwarding schemes of other providers. Cox and Charter, two ISPs who do not participate in the Copyright Alert System, saw a 25.47% decrease in reported infringements between November 2014 and January 2015. However, the ISPs who sent six strikes notices saw a 4.54% increase over the same period. “These alarming numbers show that the CAS is little more than talking point utilized to suggest these five ISPs are doing something to combat piracy when in actuality, their customers are free to continue pirating content with absolutely no consequences,†Voltage Pictures CEO Nicolas Chartier notes. “As for its laughable six strikes policy, would any American retailer wait for someone to rob them six times before handing them an educational leaflet? Of course not, they call the cops the first time around,†he adds. While it’s clear that ISTF is not happy with the Copyright Alert System, they seem mistaken about how it works. Customers don’t have to be caught six times before they are warned, they get an educational notice the first time they’re caught. The “six strikes†terminology refers to the graduated response scheme, in which customers face stronger punishments after being caught more times. Interestingly, the filmmakers promote the Canadian notice-and-notice system as a better alternative. Since earlier this year, Canadian ISPs are obligated to forward infringement notices to their subscribers, and ISTF notes that it has been instrumental in decreasing piracy. Since the beginning of 2015, Bell Canada has seen a 69.6% decrease in infringements and Telus (54.0%), Shaw (52.1%), TekSavvy (38.3%) and Rogers (14.9%) all noted significant reductions. The data presented is collected by the monitoring outfit CEG TEK. This American company sends infringement notices paired with settlement requests on behalf of copyright holders, sometimes demanding hundreds of dollars from alleged pirates. Needless to say, these threats may in part be the reason for the reported effectiveness. In the United States, ISPs are currently not obliged to forward copyright infringement notices. Some ISPs such as Comcast do so voluntarily, but they also strip out the settlement demands. ISTF hopes this will change in the near future and the group has sent a letter to the MPAA, RIAA and the major ISPs urging them to expire the Copyright Alert System, and switch to the Canadian model instead. https://torrentfreak.com/six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-is-a-sham-filmmaker-say-150513/
  3. A broad coalition including Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, ISPs and anti-piracy organization Rights Alliance have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the issue of online infringement. The agreement, which is the result of efforts by Denmark's Ministry of Culture, will see the companies working together to defeat piracy, promote legitimate content, and make the Internet a safer place. While action against online infringement takes place on many levels, parallel large-scale initiatives with broader aims are increasingly being employed by entertainment industry companies. Outside of “three strikes†style programs, “follow the money†is perhaps the next best well-known. This type of initiative, carried out with the assistance of big brands, advertising companies and payment processors, aims to strangle the finances of ‘pirate’ sites. As seen last week, there are also tandem efforts to portray unauthorized sites as “unsafe†places for netizens to frequent. The overall message is that pirate sites are run by criminals, consumers should not support them, and money is best spent with legitimate content providers. Denmark has become the latest country to embrace these ideals via a Memorandum of Understanding titled ‘Code to Promote Lawful Behavior on the Internet’ signed by some of the world’s biggest online players. Google and Microsoft are the most recognizable international technology signatories and all the big Hollywood studios make a proxy appearance via anti-piracy group Rights Alliance. Broadcasters and cinema companies are also represented. The interests of more than 40,000 composers, songwriters and music publishers are served by rights group Koda and payment companies including MasterCard and Diners Club are also on board. Local ISPs have signed through the Tele Industrien group. According to the Ministry of Culture the MoU represents the beginning of a collaborative mechanism designed to tackle digital challenges on five key issues. 1. To help make the Internet a safe and legal platform for consumers and businesses. 2. To stress that copyright is an important cornerstone for growth and innovation. 3. To work together to reduce financial crime, based on copyright violations. 4. To work together to promote the dissemination of legal products. 5. To contribute to efficient processes that can help to reduce copyright violations and associated crimes. In keeping with voluntary anti-piracy initiatives currently underway in other countries, signatories will also participate in discussion aimed at identifying new areas of cooperation. The shape of this Danish initiative looks familiar, with rightsholders applying the pressure and search engines, ISPs, payment processors and advertisers falling into step. While the emphasis is on consumer safety, it is clear that companies are being advised to do everything they can to disassociate themselves from “criminal enterprises†on the Internet. As part of the MoU, signatories agree not to “finance criminal activities†by offering support of any kind including giving them “exposureâ€, providing advertising revenue or payment processing services. “The companies and organizations that are part of this Code want to counter that their companies are associated with economic crime, based on copyright violations,†the code reads. In a statement announcing the signing of the MoU, the Ministry of Culture stressed the aims and importance of the broad agreement. “The code reflects a common desire to make a determined effort to ensure that the Internet is a safe and economically sustainable marketplace. It will help to create better conditions for growth and innovation for legitimate businesses and security and transparency for the users,†the Ministry said. Time will tell how far each signatory will be prepared to go and on what basis, but the companies involved are the biggest players around and having them all at the same table will be a powerful tool. https://torrentfreak.com/google-microsoft-mastercard-isps-sign-anti-piracy-agreement-150511/
  4. While entertainment companies and authorities believe they are necessary to stem the tide of online infringement, many current anti-piracy strategies are putting Internet users at risk. Domain suspensions, seizures, plus search engine down-rankings are all playing a part in creating a less-safe online environment. While it’s not entirely clear when the theory first appeared, the notion that cutting the head off one file-sharing site results in the creation of several others has been in circulation for many years. The analogy, regularly referred to as the file-sharing ‘hydra’, is often deployed in response to action taken by entertainment companies and local authorities. Tripping off tongues somewhat easily, the defensive reaction paints anti-piracy measures as a futile waste of time. Nevertheless, the outrage these measures often provoke suggest that they do have some impact, if only the raising of blood pressure and gnashing of teeth among site users. Whether or not they reduce overall piracy rates long-term remains to be seen, but right now these strategies are almost certainly undermining the safety of Internet users. Domain attacks – blocks Attacks against site domains come in various shapes and sizes but all are designed to limit a site’s ability to remain operational. While they are undoubtedly an annoyance to site owners, they also cause problems for site users. For example, many leading ‘pirate’ sites are blocked by ISPs in the UK. The blocks are easily circumvented using a VPN but in the case of some of the bigger sites, hundreds of proxy and mirror sites have appeared to facilitate access. The end result is that there are now dozens of Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents clones, lookalikes, mirrors and proxies. Long live the hydra, right? Well not quite. We’ve already seen the chaos and confusion these sites can cause and the situation isn’t getting any better. It is now very likely that hundreds of thousands of casual users think they are using a relatively trustworthy known site when they are not. Sadly, many clones are filled with aggressive and sometimes malicious ads not present on the original site. Domain attacks – suspensions and seizures As documented on many previous occasions, a key strategy of the entertainment industries is to put pressure on domain companies and registries to stop them providing domains to pirate sites. One of the sites hit on a number of occasions is KickassTorrents (KAT). KAT has lost several domains in recent years including KAT.ph (music industry action), Kickass.so (unconfirmed) and more recently KickassTorrents.im. Currently the site is operating from KAT.cr (Costa Rica) but ever since the last switch a steady stream of apparently confused site users have been writing to TF and posting on sites including Reddit. “I never had to sign up for KAT before, why is it asking me to now?†one asked. “Why is Kickass asking for my credit card details?†questioned another. Obviously one of these questions is more serious than the other, but both have straightforward explanations. Some users are so confused about which domain the site is operating from they are using any number of fake sites instead, some of which are asking for credit card details. It’s a horrible situation provoked entirely by action against the official site’s domains, but are so many casual users being affected? Search engine downranking For years Hollywood and the recording industry have been placing immense pressure on Google to stop presenting ‘pirate’ sites in its search results. After resisting for some time, Google began tweaking it algorithms to downrank sites that have the most copyright complaints logged against them. In October 2014, Google made its biggest changes yet which resulted in traffic to torrent and other file-sharing sites taking a nosedive. And now, thanks to decisions made by Google, a simple search for KickassTorrents presents listings that do not include the real site at all, but fake sites looking for money instead. Deliberate disruption – but at what cost? While blocks are easily circumvented, it is clear that forcing sites from domain to domain undermines their reputation with users. To those not keeping up with the news on a regular basis, disappearing sites seem unreliable due to their own incompetence. When they are ‘found’ using Google but then start asking for credit card details, users must really begin to think the worst. While this must be music to the ears of Hollywood and the music industry, one has to question how many innocent victims are getting caught up in this mess. “I registered for a free trial to obtain pdf of washing machine manual but ended up with free trial of Fat Games which is all games, so had to ring this number to cancel trial,†said a user of the dubious service running hand-in-hand with fake site KickassTorrents.to. Living in the ghetto The instances detailed above are just the tip of the iceberg. With every new seizure, suspension and blockade, more scammers will see opportunities to make money by tricking users to sign up to bogus services while obtaining their credit card details by deception. Of course, none of these problems can be blamed directly on the music or movie companies since they aren’t the ones running the scams. That being said, whenever concern is expressed for the well-being of Internet users supposedly exposed to malware on pirate sites, at some point that concern should be extended to those subjected to malware and identity fraud as a result of anti-piracy strategies. Yeah, don’t hold your breath. https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-measures-putting-internet-users-at-risk-150503/
  5. People who run 'pirate' sites out of Russia have been given a final warning by the government. Amendments to local copyright law that come into force May 1 not only protect more content than ever before, but also contain provisions to permanently block sites that continually make unauthorized content available. Following massive pressure from both local and international rightsholders, 21 months ago Russia took steps to improve its reputation of going soft on piracy. On August 1, 2013, the country introduced a brand new intellectual property law which provided a mechanism through which sites could be blocked by intermediaries should they not comply with rightsholder takedown requests within 72 hours. A year later telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor revealed that during the law’s first year of operation the Moscow City Court imposed preliminary interim injunctions against 175 sites following copyright complaints. It went on to block just 12 file-sharing domains for being unresponsive to takedowns, many of them BitTorrent trackers. With complaints from copyright holders continuing to mount, Russia decided to make further amendments to the legislation. Initially only video content was covered by the law but with an expansion scheduled for May 1, 2015, all multimedia content (photographs excluded) will receive protection. Furthermore, the law also amends the provisions on preliminary injunctions. Although it remains unclear how the new system will work in practice, the theory is that intermediaries (ISPs and webhosts) can be ordered by the Court to permanently block websites that continually host or provide access to infringing content. At least at this early stage it appears to be the kind of system U.S. copyright holders are pushing for elsewhere, one in which content that is taken down, stays down. With the new law just over a week away, State Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak has been underlining the legislation’s reach. “The anti-piracy legislation that created the ability to block access to sites that distribute copyright-infringing films and TV shows entered into force on 1 August 2013. On May 1, 2015 amendments to the Act will come into force that apply to music, books and software,†Zheleznyak says. “This development will mean that the systematic violation of intellectual property rights will result in sites providing access to stolen content being blocked forever.†Putting operators of torrent and similar sites on notice, Zheleznyak issued a stern warning. “I would like to warn those who are still abusing piracy: you have until May 1 to try to and enter into constructive dialogue with rightsholders. They are open to cooperation,†he said. “Our common goal is to ensure that all work is adequately rewarded and that the benefit from successful books, music and wonderful computer programs is enjoyed by those who created them, and not those who stole them. If [site owners] are not interested in legal business, the response of the state will become quite obvious.†Russia’s first attempt at site blocking legislation failed to produce the apocalyptic conclusion many predicted. Only time will tell what the results of these latest tweaks will mean for local sites. https://torrentfreak.com/new-russian-anti-piracy-law-could-block-sites-forever-150425/
  6. MPAA chief Chris Dodd has urged theater owners and customers alike to support WhereToWatch, a "one-stop shop" designed to quickly guide audiences to legal content. Following its launch everyone could access the resource but perhaps fittingly, users outside the U.S. now need a VPN to receive advice. At the same time as the Hollywood studios complain endlessly about piracy, the counter argument that they simply haven’t done enough to make content available legally online persists. Without a similarly complex system of release windowing and geo-restriction, the music industry has largely overcome those obstacles. Meanwhile, however, Hollywood appears largely hamstrung by its own business model, leaving itself open to criticism that it hasn’t done enough to provide legal alternatives to torrent and streaming sites. In an attempt to dispel claims that content simply isn’t available, the MPAA came up with WhereToWatch, a searchable database listing where movies and TV-shows can be watched legally. Due to poor coding the site initially proved impossible for Google and Bing to index, a situation that has improved somewhat since last November. Yesterday during a speech at CinemaCon, MPAA chief Chris Dodd again urged theater owners and customers alike to spread the word that in order in to protect the industry and its workers, consumers need to access content from legal resources. “That’s why we at the MPAA created WhereToWatch.com – a one-stop shop, guiding your audiences to content quickly, simply, and – most importantly – legally. And if what they’re looking for is online, WhereToWatch.com will show which sites and at what prices that film is available,†Dodd said. “On a broader level, this effort is also a crucial recognition of the changing technological landscape, and the need to continue evolving to meet the demands of our consumers,†he continued. “That will mean finding new ways to enable audiences to see movies where and how they want, while maintaining the magic and unrivaled appeal of the theater-going experience that has been this industry’s driving force for well over a century.†But while recognizing that consumers should be able to see content at a time and place of their choosing – a major complaint that has persisted for well over a decade – consumers wanting to find out where to watch that content legally are also faced with a dilemma. Since its triumphant launch in November last year, the operators of WheretoWatch have now chosen to give it the same treatment that Hollywood bestows on its movies – by geo-restricting it. For the hundreds of millions of citizens outside the United States who are also expected to consume film and TV content legally, the above message is nothing less than they’ve come to expect. Free and equal access to content is not something the major studios and their distributors are good at, and that is now reflected by the very resource that former senator Dodd spent so long championing yesterday. But never fear. Thanks to the wonders of tunneling technology, last evening TF was able to find a VPN exit node in Seattle that enabled us to sneak past the MPAA guard dogs. Once on WhereToWatch.com we were able to search for a number of films and find out where we could obtain them legally. The irony was headache inducing. Overall it’s a ridiculous situation. The music industry largely managed to solve these issues years ago but for as long as users are forced to jump through hoops to obtain or even learn about the availability of legal content (not to mention waiting for extended periods, Australian style), piracy will persist. And when other MPAA strategies such as site-blocking and “three strikes†systems are already being exported to all corners of the globe at huge expense, one has to wonder why the obvious solution isn’t being taken first. https://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-anti-piracy-initiative-requires-a-vpn-outside-the-u-s-150422/
  7. Piracy is a hot topic around the world and in Australia the issue has made mainstream headlines over the past week. After the announcement of a new anti-piracy scheme and the news of copyright trolls coming Down Under this week, VPN usage has surged to unprecedented levels. This week news broke that the makers of Dallas Buyers Club have the court’s approval to go after 4,726 alleged movie pirates in Australia, opening the door to many more copyright lawsuits. Around the same time the country’s largest Internet providers submitted their online anti-piracy code, announcing that 200,000 piracy warnings will be sent out each year. Facing increased monitoring and potential legal action many file-sharers have taken counter measures, hiding their IP-addresses so their sharing activities can no longer be linked to their ISP account. Early March, the initial announcement of the warning letters already increased interest in VPNs and other anonymizing services, but this week’s surge broke new records. Data from Google trends reveals that interest in anonymizing services has soared, with searches for “VPN†quadrupling in recent weeks. This effect, shown in the graph below, is limited to Australia and likely a direct result of the recent anti-piracy threats. The effects are clearly noticeable at VPN providers as well, in both traffic and sales. TorGuard, a VPN and BitTorrent proxy provider, has seen the number of Australian visitors spike this week, for example. “Over the past week TorGuard has seen a massive jump in Australian subscribers. Traffic from this region is currently up over 150% and recent trends indicate that the upsurge is here to stay,†TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt tells us. “VPN router sales to Australia have also increased significantly with AU orders now representing 50% of all weekly shipments.†TorGuard traffic from Australia The recent events are expected to drive tens of thousands of new users to anonymizing services. However, it appears that even before the surge they were already commonly used Down Under. A survey among 1,008 Australians early March showed that 16% of the respondents already used VPNs or Tor to increase privacy. The Essential survey shows that anonymizing tools are most prevalent among people aged 18-34. While copyright holders don’t like the increased interest in these evasion tools, it may not all be bad news. In fact, to a certain degree it shows that pirates are spooked by the new initiatives. Where some decide to go underground, others may choose to pirate less. And for the “trolls†there are still plenty of unsecured file-sharers out there. https://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-threats-trigger-massive-surge-in-vpn-usage-150411/
  8. After a judge handed down a summary judgment in its case against EMI this week, embattled music streaming service Grooveshark has published a new anti-piracy policy. Among other things, the company will keep a database of repeat infringers and cooperate even further with rightsholders. Throughout Grooveshark’s history the company has come to rely on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As a site that largely relies on users to upload content, the protections provided by the DMCA allow the company to operate without being held liable for the infringements of others. While that’s certainly the theory, those protections are only available if strict patterns of behavior are adhered to and many conditions are met. It’s an area that has seen Grooveshark and parent company Escape Media face a string of lawsuits in recent years. In response to a case involving Capitol Records and the company’s responsibilities in dealing with repeat infringers, Grooveshark has just published some interesting amendments to its anti-piracy policy. “The requirements for hosting digital music evolve with every new court ruling and we regularly update our policies to remain compliant. Therefore, we are implementing the following changes until the final outcome of this case, including our expected appeal,†the company explains. Dealing with infringers Interestingly the first change sees Grooveshark shifting from a “one strike†policy to a now familiar “three strikes†arrangement. This will see Grooveshark terminating user accounts on the third offense “in order to make sure no repeat infringers can ‘slip through the cracks’.†In the Capitol case the Court noted that while Grooveshark keeps records of all processed DMCA takedown complaints and associated users, it does not keep an “independent record†of repeat infringers. “Escape does not try to identify repeat infringers and fails to keep records that would allow it to do so,†the judge said. Grooveshark says it is now dealing with that criticism. “In an era of simple database queries this new requirement may be redundant, but we will now create an additional independent record of repeat infringers from our existing databases, until our appeal clarifies this issue for Grooveshark and other hosting services committed to complying with the DMCA,†the company writes. Taking down infringing content While Grooveshark does takedown content quickly when asked (TorrentFreak was informed just this week that an independent artist had no issues having his music removed from the service), the company says it will now go even further. “We will provide a pre-screening tool for rights-holders that provides immediate access to compare uploaded files on our servers that aren’t even yet available for end-user streaming with content owned by the rights-holder,†Grooveshark explains. While no further details have been provided at this stage, on the surface this appears to be a step towards a YouTube-like Content ID system. Just how automated the system will be remains to be seen, but in some respects it appears that Grooveshark is actually prepared to go a step further. In addition to removing content that matches rightsholder content (possibly by comparing fingerprint data), Grooveshark will proactively suggest additional content that it believes may also be prime for deletion. “When a rights-holder provides a single file URL to the tool, they will receive a list of other files on our servers that have been found to be digitally different, but contain similar metadata,†the company explains. In conclusion Grooveshark says that it hopes that its anti-piracy policies now go “well beyond†the standard required by the court, something which will allow the company to expand. “Our goal remains to license every bit of audio content ever created, with ongoing commitment to operate a service that complies with the DMCA and all legal requirements as standards for hosting providers continue to evolve,†Grooveshark concludes. But even as the company looks forward it still has massive legal issues to deal with. As reported by Billboard, Judge Alison Nathan of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York has just granted EMI Music’s motion for summary judgment in its copyright infringement case against Grooveshark parent Escape Media. The case, which concerns more than 2,800 copyrighted tracks, exposes Escape Media to potential damages of $420 million. A conference on damages will now take place early May and Grooveshark will be able to appeal any judgment. https://torrentfreak.com/grooveshark-publishes-proactive-anti-piracy-policy-150403/
  9. The Ultimate Ebook Library, TUEBL, is taking countermeasures against anti-piracy company MUSO for continued abuse of its DMCA takedown process. The ebook site is demanding the payment of a $150 fine, while threatening to ban MUSO's IP-addresses and restore previously removed books if the company fails to comply. Like many other Internet-based services, The Ultimate Ebook Library (TUEBL) has to process numerous takedown requests to make sure that pirated content is swiftly removed from the site. Unfortunately, not all requests they receive are legitimate. According to TUEBL there’s one company that stands out negatively, and that’s the London-based outfit MUSO. When browsing through the takedown notices TUEBL founder Travis McCrea stumbled upon several automated requests that were submitted by MUSO, each listing inaccurate information. The takedown notices were not merely incorrect, according to McCrea. They also circumvented the site’s CAPTCHA system, which is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This isn’t the first time TUEBL has noticed problems with MUSO’s takedown tactics. The company previously tried to remove several legitimately hosted titles, including a Creative Commons licensed book by Cory Doctorow. “A year ago, after another issue where they were sending requests without any of the required information, they had filed a wrongful DMCA request for one of our featured authors Laurel Russwurm, and we sent them a warning,†McCrea tells TF. “They further used our system to send a DMCA request for a book by Cory Doctorow. At that time we sent them an $150 invoice for our time reverting their improper DMCA request. When they didn’t reply, we let it slide… not wanting to make waves.†MUSO never paid the $150 ‘fine’ and TUEBL initially let them get away with that. But after the recent mistakes McCrea decided that enough is enough. On Sunday evening TUEBL sent the anti-piracy company an ultimatum. If MUSO fails to pay up, the company will be banned from sending further notices. In addition, hundreds of previously removed books will be restored. “Today we are going to insist that your $150 fine be paid, or we will cut off all MUSO IP addresses, computers, and/or servers from accessing our DMCA page. Emailed requests will also be rejected as SPAM and all requests to be removed will have to come directly from the copyright holder instead of MUSO,†TUEBL wrote to the company. MUSO has until 10PM PST today to respond, but thus far TUEBL hasn’t received a reply. The ebook library is still holding out for a peaceful resolution, but as the hours pass by this becomes less likely. Despite the current problems, TUEBL’s founder says that the site respects copyright and notes that the amount of infringing material on its server is less than one percent of all books. However, wrongful takedown notices are making it harder to keep the site clean. “DMCA abuse is a real threat to not only community websites like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and our own… but it also makes it more difficult to successfully process legitimate DMCA requests by authors who have had their copyright violated,†McCrea says. “We have decided to fight this, not in spite of authors and their rights regarding their work, but rather to protect authors and to ensure our automated system remains open for them to use for the rare cases that copyrighted material make it onto our site,†he adds. TF contacted MUSO for a comment on the allegations, but we haven’t heard back from the company at the time of publication. https://torrentfreak.com/ebook-library-punishes-anti-piracy-outfit-for-wrongful-dmca-notices-150311/
  10. All records that are part of the now-closed case between Hotfile and the MPAA will be unsealed in the interests of the public. In a decision that will be a disappointment to the industry group, U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams declined a request from the MPAA who wanted to keep sensitive court filings sealed indefinitely claiming they may benefit pirates. More than a year has passed since the MPAA defeated Hotfile, but the case has still been stirring in the background. Hoping to find out more about Hollywood’s anti-piracy policies the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) previously asked the court to make several sealed documents available to the public. These documents are part of the counterclaim Hotfile filed, where it accused Warner of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process. In particular, the EFF wants the public to know how Hollywood’s anti-piracy policies and tools work. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams sided with the EFF and ruled that it’s in the public interest to unseal the information. The MPAA, however, argued that this may hurt some of its members. Information regarding Columbia Pictures’ anti-piracy policies, in particular, would still be beneficial to pirates for decades to come, the Hollywood group argued. “Defendants have cited two specific pieces of information regarding Columbia’s enforcement policies that, if revealed to the public, could compromise Columbia’s ability to protect its copyrighted works,†the MPAA’s lawyers wrote. In addition, anti-piracy vendor Vobile feared that having its pricing information revealed could severely hurt the company. Judge Williams has now reviewed these and other arguments but ruled that sealing records indefinitely is not an option. In this case, the public interest in the records outweighs the concerns of the MPAA. “In reaching this conclusion, the Court has weighed the parties’ interests in maintaining the confidentiality of the sealed entries, including Plaintiffs’ assertions that disclosure of the sealed information would undermine the effectiveness of their antipiracy systems and copyright enforcement abilities, as well as third-party Voible’s argument that disclosure of the sealed data would unfairly put it at economic risk, against the presumption in favor of public access to court records,†Williams writes (pdf). As a result of this decision all sealed documents will be made public ten years after the case was filed, which is on February 8, 2021. Previously, Warner Bros. already released some of the confidential documents. Among other things the unsealed records showed that Warner Bros. uses “sophisticated robots†to track down infringing content. How damaging the other documents are to Hollywood’s anti-piracy efforts will become clear in five years. However, it’s unlikely to top the Sony-leak of last December, through which many sensitive anti-piracy strategies were already unveiled. http://torrentfreak.com/hollywoods-anti-piracy-secrets-must-be-revealed-court-rules-150309/
  11. Australians' interest in VPN services has skyrocketed after local ISPs announced plans for a three-strikes anti-piracy system. With potential lawsuits against consumers on the table, many subscribers are now planning ahead to stay on the safe side. Australia has been called out as the world’s piracy capital for several years, a claim that eventually captured the attention of the local Government. After negotiations between ISPs and entertainment companies bore no fruit, authorities demanded voluntary anti-piracy measures from Internet providers. If that failed, the Government threatened to tighten the law. Faced with an ultimatum the telecoms body Communications Alliance published a draft proposal on behalf of the ISPs, outlining a three-strikes notification system. Titled ‘Copyright Notice Scheme Industry Code‘, the proposal suggests that ISPs start to forward infringement notices to their subscribers. After the initial notice subscribers are warned that copyright holders may go to court to obtain their identities. Several groups have voiced their concerns in response. Australia’s leading consumer group Choice, for example, warns over the potential for lawsuits and potentially limitless fines. These threats haven’t gone unnoticed by the general public either. While the proposals have not yet been implemented, many Australians are already taking countermeasures. Over the past two weeks many file-sharers have been seeking tools to hide their IP-addresses and bypass the proposed monitoring system. By using VPN services or BitTorrent proxies their sharing activities can no longer be linked to their ISP account, rendering the three-strikes system useless. Data from Google trends reveals that interest in anonymizing services has surged, with searches for “VPN†nearly doubling in recent days. This effect, shown in the graph below, is limited to Australia and appears to be a direct result of the ISPs proposals. Google searches for VPN in Australia TF spoke to several VPN providers who noticed an increase in both traffic and sales from down under. TorGuard, a VPN and BitTorrent proxy provider, saw the number of Australian visitors and subscribers increase significantly, as seen in the traffic graph below. “TorGuard has seen a steady increase in Australian subscribers and this new surge of users shows no signs of slowing. To keep up with the demand from this region we have recently added many new VPN servers in Australia, New Zealand, and Los Angeles,†TorGuard Aussie traffic increase Another VPN service, which preferred not to be named, also witnessed a similar spike in interest from Australians. “We are seeing a peak in traffic and sales from Australia. In the past two weeks we saw an 88% traffic increase,†the VPN provider informed us. These changes have to be seen in perspective of course. It’s still only a fraction of Aussie file-sharers who have taken countermeasures. However, it’s a clear signal that warnings are not the silver bullet to stop piracy. The Aussie case is not the first time that anti-piracy measures have turned people to anonymizing tools. The same happened when the US Copyright Alert System launched, and earlier this year there was also a spike in Canada when ISPs began forwarding piracy notices. https://torrentfreak.com/aussie-anti-piracy-plans-boost-demand-vpns-150308/
  12. Six websites setup as "fan pages" to the popular Popcorn Time software have been shut down by anti-piracy group BREIN. All reportedly reached a financial settlement with the Dutch group and currently display a notice advising against the use of the so-called "Netflix for Pirates". Released in the first quarter of 2014, any minute now Popcorn Time will celebrate its one year anniversary. It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the various forks of the project after generating hundreds of headlines between them. Needless to say, many have focused on how the project provides sleek access to unauthorized content. Predictably that ease of use has proven most popular in the United States but interestingly Popcorn Time also proved itself a disproportionate hit in the Netherlands. Last September one fork reported 1.3 million installs in a population of just 17 million. No surprise then that Popcorn Time has appeared on the radar of Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. The Hollywood-affiliated group has been relatively quiet in recent months but is now reporting action aimed at stemming the flow of users to the popular torrent streaming application. Denouncing Popcorn Time as an “illegal serviceâ€, BREIN reports that it has recently shut down “six Dutch Popcorn Time sites†and reached a settlement with their operators. BREIN usually keeps the names of shuttered sites a closely guarded secret, but on this occasion has chosen to name four out of the six. PopcornTime.nl, Popcorn-Time.eu, Popcorn-Time.info and PopcornTimeFilms.nl are now non-operational and currently display the warning message below as per their agreement with BREIN. This site has been removed by the BREIN foundation for propagating Popcorn Time Software. Popcorn Time encourages illegal use and uses an illegal online supply of films and television series. WARNING: Popcorn Time software uses peer-to-peer (P2P) technology allowing users to both up – and download. Streaming, uploading and downloading of illegal content is prohibited by law and will therefore result in liability for the damages caused. NOTE: Uploading is illegal and causes greater damage than a single download. SUPPORT CREATIVITY: Go to Thecontentmap.nl and see where you can legally download and stream. According BREIN each site operator also agreed to pay a financial penalty relative to the circumstances of his or her case, but the big question is just how important these sites were. The answer in all cases is “not veryâ€. Firstly, none of the sites were affiliated in any way with either of the current large forks located at Popcorntime.io and Popcorn-time.se. None hosted the software either, instead preferring to link to their official sources. “We are not a part or makers of Popcorn Time. This is just a fansite. Not hosting content, merely linking to files hosted elsewhere,†an archive copy of Popcorntime.nl reads. “Popcorn-Time.info is a fanpage Popcorn Time,†that site declared before being targeted by BREIN. “Popcorn-Time.info hosts no downloads of Popcorn Time on its server. Popcorn-Time.info has no links with the developers and designers of Popcorn Time.†None of the sites were particularly popular either. Alexa currently scores PopcornTime.nl as the most visited of the bunch with a global rank of 205,405 and 3,215 in the Netherlands. PopcornTimeFilms.nl is the least visited and ranked the 1.84 millionth most popular site in the world. Nevertheless, BREIN is warning that it will continue to take local “Popcorn Time sites†offline. Legal proceedings could be initiated against those who fail to comply and the anti-piracy group isn’t ruling out criminal referrals either. “For Popcorn-Time sites that entrench themselves in foreign countries including the illegal torrent sites which are used, BREIN cooperates with similar national and international organizations,†the group warns. Considering the Netflix-related news that broke mid-January, it was almost inevitable that BREIN wouldn’t wait long before positioning itself against Popcorn Time. In a letter to the company’s shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings specifically highlighted the Popcorn Time ‘problem’ in the Netherlands, describing the app’s popularity in the country as “soberingâ€. http://torrentfreak.com/popcorn-time-fan-pages-nuked-by-anti-piracy-outfit-150224/
  13. An anti-piracy outfit working on behalf of porn studios has surprised 'pirate' students with demands for cash. The University of California passed on the $300 threats from CEG TEK alongside suggestions to pay up, but advice given by a campus computer science professor could put even more people at risk. For more than a decade copyright holders have been sending out warnings and threats to people they believe have downloaded and shared content without permission. In 2015 the practice is now at unprecedented levels. While some might agree that targeting student pirates is fair game, it can cause issues. The RIAA got the ball rolling more than ten years ago but abandoned the practice amid public outcry – and after having new laws passed which compel educational establishments to deal with the issue or lose funding. But while receiving a notice about an unauthorized music download is one thing, receiving a threat over porn downloads is something entirely different. Nevertheless, students are now receiving cash demands from anti-piracy companies acting on behalf of the adult industry which include the titles of the movies allegedly downloaded. Two such cases have just been documented by the University of California in Santa Barbara. The University reports that the Associated Students Legal Resources Centerreceived two cases inside a week after students were sent threats by anti-piracy outfit CEG TEK via the University’s Information Technology Office and Cox Communications. The threats included demands for $300, which AS Legal Resource Center attorney Robin Unander told the University’s Daily Nexus were deterrent amounts and not designed to be compensation. “Right now it seems that the intent from CEG Tek is to make aware to students to stop,†Unander said. Sadly, Unander is seems unaware of CEG Tek’s business model. The outfit regularly demands much higher sums, up to several thousand dollars, and is very clear that payments are to be made to avoid legal action. Unander also advises students who are caught by CEG TEK to comply with the cash demands but CEG TEK have no history of ever carrying a threat through to its conclusion. Indeed, the company has no idea who they are targeting since their threats are forwarded by ISPs to users and only they know the identity of the recipient. But while the advice given above may be a little wide of the mark, comments made by UCSB computer science professor Giovanni Vigna are of greater concern. From the Daily Nexus: Computer science professor Giovanni Vigna said he thinks the students who allegedly downloaded the porn illegally made their usage easy to track by using a website like BitTorrent.com, which makes it accessible for anyone, including anti-piracy firms, to see what they have downloaded Of course, BitTorrent.com certainly isn’t offering porn downloads to anyone but it’s the subsequent advice that raises the biggest alarm. Things start off well, however. “If people use well-known content distribution networks, those users can be easily tracked,†Vigna said. Fair enough, but then Vigna suggests that if BitTorrent users only download and don’t continue to seed once the file is complete, they wouldn’t have received a threat. “After [students have] downloaded, they make [the files] available to the rest of the world and they usually raise a sort of alarm. If they would have probably taken the porn and movies out of their disk right away, they probably wouldn’t have been targeted,†Vigna said. The advice is poor. What many BitTorrent users don’t appreciate is that anti-piracy companies monitor torrents of their clients’ content all the time and they don’t care whether users have some or all of the file. Once people start participating in a swarm, whether that’s downloading, uploading or both (such is the nature of BitTorrent) they can and will be tracked by companies such as CEG TEK. While it’s now clear that the University of California forwards CEG TEK cash demands to students, they’re not the only ones. According to the Cashman Law Firm, Rice University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Stanford University, University of Michigan, Wisconsin University and the University of Alaska all comply with the company’s requests. Finally, other anti-piracy companies see an alternative solution to the problem of campus file-sharing. Yesterday digital fingerprinting company Audible Magic debuted a new version of its CopySense system. CopySense can monitor campus networks for users attempting to download and share content on peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent. Using a built-in database of digital fingerprints of music and movies, CopySense is able to detect attempts by users to download or share infringing content. They are then directed to a landing page informing them of the University’s network policies. “Sharing of non-copyrighted files on P2P networks is ignored, thus allowing the campus to embrace and allow P2P file sharing for non-infringing uses,†the company says. While that will be some comfort to users, the fact that everything they do is being spied on by Audible Magic will probably not. http://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-outfit-sends-porn-fines-to-university-150204/
  14. Australian ISPs are working hard to present an anti-piracy code of conduct following intense pressure from the government. iiNet, the country's second largest ISP, reports confidence in meeting an April 8 deadline but whether the proposals will meet expectations remains to be seen. For years Australian citizens have complained of being treated as second class citizens by content companies who have failed to make content freely available at a fair price. As a result millions of Aussies have turned to file-sharing networks for their media fix. This has given the country somewhat of a reputation on the world stage, which in turn has put intense pressure on the Australian government to do something to reduce unlawful usage. After years of negotiations between ISPs and entertainment companies went nowhere, last year the government stepped in. ISPs were warned that if they don’t take voluntarily measures to deter and educate pirating subscribers, the government would force a mechanism upon them by law. With a desire to avoid that option at all costs, the service providers went away with orders to come up with a solution. Just last month Attorney-General George Brandis and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull set an April 8 deadline, a tight squeeze considering the years of failed negotiations. Nevertheless, iiNet, Australia’s second largest ISP, feels that the deadline will be met. “We will have code; whether or not it gets the rubber stamp remains to be seen,†says iiNet chief regulatory officer Steve Dalby. “Dedicated people are putting in a lot of work drafting documents and putting frameworks together.†With just 120 days to come up with a solution the government’s deadline is a big ask and Dalby says there are plenty of complications. “There are issues around privacy, there are issues around appeals. There are issues around costs. There is a lot of work that needs to be done,†he says. Of course, these are exactly the same issues that caused talks to collapse on a number of occasions in the past. However, in recent months it’s become clear that the government is prepared to accept less stringent measures than the entertainment industries originally wanted. Slowing and disconnecting subscribers is now off the table, for example. Although there has been no official announcement, it seems likely that the ISPs will offer a notice-and-notice system similar to the one being planned for the UK. Subscribers will be informed by email that their connections are being used to share content unlawfully and will be politely but firmly asked to stop. An educational program, which advises users where to obtain content legally, is likely to augment the scheme. Who will pay for all this remains to be seen. ISPs have previously refused to contribute but with the government threatening to impose a code if a suitable one is not presented, compromise could be on the table. http://torrentfreak.com/aussie-isps-rushing-ahead-with-anti-piracy-proposals-150113/
  15. The Canadian based anti-piracy firm Canipre is known for hounding file-sharers with lawsuits and copyright infringement notices. Ironically, however, the company may want to start cleaning up its own house first as a blog affiliated with the company has been frequently "pirating" news articles. Copyright is a double-edged sword, and those who sharpen one side often get cut by the other. We see it happening time and time again with lawyers, lawmakers, anti-piracy groups and copyright holders. In Canada the local anti-piracy group Canipre is running into the same trap. The blogcopyrightenforcement.ca, which is linked to one of the company’s top executives and often used to post Canipre press releases, has been making a habit out of lifting articles written by hard-working journalists. Most of the articles that appear on the site are copied from other news sources, including TechCrunch, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, The Hollywood Reporter, TorrentFreak and many others. At TF we publish our content under a CC license, so there’s no foul play there, but the other news sites are not all copy friendly. In fact, the publication of most of the lifted articles amounts to blatant copyright infringement. While fair dealing exists, posting full articles, some of which are behind a paywall, generally doesn’t fall into this category. And it’s not only the text that’s being copied but also the images which are often independently copyrighted. After becoming the first company to go after individual Canadian file-sharers in court, this week Canipre announced a new campaign to send copyright infringement warnings to ISPs under the notice-and-notice program. However, as University of Ottawa professor Michael Geist points out, they may have to start sending piracy notices to their own staff first. “Canipre would likely offer its services to the media companies whose work is affected, yet it might want to take a closer look at its internal conduct before throwing stones in the form of thousands of notices alleging infringement,†Geist notes. Making matter even worse, this isn’t the first time that Canipre has been linked to unauthorized copying. Two years ago the company’s own website blatantly used photos that were ripped-off from independent photographers. http://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-firm-caught-pirating-news-articles-150107/
  16. Leaked documents reveal in detail how Hollywood plans to take on piracy in the years to come. One of the top priorities for the MPAA are cyberlockers and illegal streaming sites, with lawsuits planned in the UK, Germany and Canada. Torrent sites are a medium priority, which the MPAA hopes to fight with criminal prosecutions, domain seizures and site blocking. The Sony Pictures leak has caused major damage to the Hollywood movie studio, but the fallout doesn’t end there. Contained in one of the leaked data batches is a complete overview of the MPAA’s global anti-piracy strategy for the years to come. In an email sent to top executives at the major Hollywood studios earlier this year, one of the MPAA’s top executives shared a complete overview of Hollywood’s anti-piracy priorities. The email reveals key areas of focus for the coming years, divided into high, medium and low priority categories, as shown below. The plan put forward by the MPAA is the ideal strategy. Which elements are to be carried out will mostly depend on the funds made available by the studios. HIGH PRIORITY For cyberlockers and video streaming sites the MPAA plans to reach out to hosting providers, payment processing companies and advertising networks. These companies are urged not to work with so-called rogue sites. Part of the plan is to create “legal precedent to shape and expand the law on cyberlockers and their hosting providers,†with planned lawsuits in the UK, Germany and Canada. Other top priorities are: Apps: Making sure that pirate apps are taken down from various App stores. Google’s removal of various Pirate Bay apps may be part of this. In addition, the MPAA wants to make apps “unstable†by removing the pirated files they link to. Payment processors: The MPAA wants to use government influence to put pressure on payment processors, urging them to ban pirate sites. In addition they will approach major players with “specific asks and proposed best practices†to deter piracy. Site blocking: Expand site blocking efforts in the UK and other countries where it’s supported by law. In other countries, including the U.S., the MPAA will investigate whether blockades are an option through existing principles of law. Domain seizures: The MPAA is slowly moving toward domain seizures of pirate sites. This strategy is being carefully tested against sites selling counterfeit products using trademark arguments. Site scoring services: Developing a trustworthy site scoring system for pirate sites. This can be used by advertisers to ban rogue sites. In the future this can be expanded to payment processors, domain name registrars, hosting providers and search engines, possibly with help from the government. Copyright Notices: The MPAA intends to proceed with the development of the UK Copyright Alert System, and double the number of notices for the U.S. version. In addition, the MPAA wants to evaluate whether the U.S. Copyright Alert System can expand to mobile carriers. MID AND LOW PRIORITY BitTorrent is categorized as a medium priority. The MPAA wants to emphasize the role of BitTorrent in piracy related apps, such as Popcorn Time. In addition, illegal torrent sites will be subject to site blocking and advertising bans. http://i.imgur.com/adA7hDE.png Other medium and low priorities are: Search: Keep putting pressure on search engines and continue periodic research into its role in facilitating piracy. In addition, the MPAA will support third-party lawsuits against search engines. Hosting: The MPAA sees Cloudflare as a problem and is developing a strategy of how to deal with the popular hosting provider. Lawsuits against hosting providers are also in the agenda. Link sites: Apart from potential civil lawsuits in Latin America, linking sites will only be targeted if they become “particularly problematic.†In the email the MPAA’s top executive does not consider the above strategies to be “final†or “set in stoneâ€. How much the MPAA will be able to carry out with its partners depends on funds being availble, which appears to be a subtle reminder that the studios should keep their payments coming. “…the attached represents priorities and activities presuming online CP is adequately resourced. Your teams understand that, depending upon how the budget process plays out, we may need to lower priorities and activities for many sources of piracy and/or antipiracy initiatives,†the email reads. The leaked strategy offers a unique insight into Hollywood’s strategy against various forms of online infringement. It exposes several key priorities that were previously unknown. The MPAA’s strong focus on domain name seizures for example, or the plans to target cyberlockers with lawsuits in the UK, Germany and Canada. torrentfreak
  17. A U.S-based company behind the Liam Neeson movie Non-Stop is preparing to shake down file-sharers in Sweden. Prosecutions are being promised In a rare case targeting five ISPs, but with one privacy-conscious provider they're definitely wasting their time. File-sharers in the United States, Germany and the UK are particularly familiar with the tactics of so-called copyright trolls. In recent years the lucrative nature of the business has attracted many companies, all out to turn piracy into profit. Most countries have managed to avoid the attentions of these outfits, Sweden, the spiritual home of The Pirate Bay, included. However, in a surprise move the Scandinavian country has now appeared on the file-sharing lawsuit radar. Along with Universal Pictures and Studio Canal, Check Entertainment is one of the companies behind the 2014 Liam Neeson movie, Non-Stop. According to latest figures from Box Office Mojo it has done very well, bringing in excess of $222 million on a $50 million budget. Nevertheless, according to Dagens Media, Check Entertainment has hired lawfirm Nordic Law to go to court in Sweden to obtain the identities of individuals said to have downloaded and shared the action thriller. The U.S.-based company has targeted subscribers of five local Internet service providers – Com Hem, Bredbandsbolaget, Banhof, Telia Sonera and Telenor – with the aim of forcing them to turn over the names and addresses of 12 of their Internet subscribers. Data on the alleged file-sharers was captured by German anti-piracy outfit Excipio. At this point Check Entertainment says it wants to “investigate and prosecute†the subscribers for alleged copyright infringement but if cases in the rest of the world are any yardstick the aim will be a cash settlement, not a full court case. Interestingly, one ISP from the five has indicated that its customers do not have to be concerned about possible lawsuits or shakedowns. Service provider Banhof, a company long associated with subscriber privacy, says it is currently the only ISP in the Swedish market that does not store data on its customers’ Internet activities. The development dates back to April when the EU Court of Justice declared the Data Retention Directive to be invalid. In response, many Swedish ISPs stopped storing data but since then most have reversed their decision to comply with apparent obligations under the Swedish Electronic Communications Act. Banhof did not, however. This means that even if the ISP is ordered by the court to reveal which subscribers were behind a particular IP address at a certain time, it has no data so simply cannot comply. “We have no such data. We turned off data storage on the same day that the EU judgment was handed down,†Banhof CEO Jon Karlung told Dagens Media. While Sweden has a long tradition of file-sharing and the state regularly prosecutes large scale file-sharers, actions against regular sharers of a single title are extremely rare, ‘trolling’ even more so. “It’s pretty rare,†Karlung says. “It has been quite a long time since it happened last.†The big question now is whether the courts will be sympathetic to Check Entertainment’s complaint. “We have submitted [our case] to the district court and now we want to see what the service providers say in response,†Nordic Law’s Patrick Andersson concludes. http://torrentfreak.com/liam-neeson-downloaders-face-anti-piracy-shakedown-141115/
  18. Rightscorp, a prominent piracy monitoring firm that sends settlement requests for Warner Bros. and other copyright holders, may soon go out of business. The publicly listed company is losing millions of dollars per year and says it desperately needs a fresh cash injection to survive. For years the entertainment industries have been complaining that online piracy hurts their revenues. This problem has motivated people to start anti-piracy companies such as Rightscorp, a company that uses standard DMCA takedown requests to send settlement offers to alleged copyright infringers. Rightscorp had big plans and went public last year on the NASDAQ exchange, aiming to help the biggest entertainment companies turn piracy into profit. Thus far, however, the results have been rather disappointing. Despite teaming up with prominent names such as Warner Bros. and BMG, the company hasn’t been able to turn a profit. In their latest SEC filing published earlier today the company reports a total loss of $2.2 million for the current year. This brings the total loss since its founding in 2011 to more than $6.5 million. “The Company had a cumulative net loss from inception to September 30, 2014 of $6,540,194. The Company has not yet established an ongoing source of revenues sufficient to cover its operating costs and to allow it to continue as a going concern,†the SEC filing reads. For Rightscorp to remain in business it desperately needs extra investment. The current revenue stream of $250,000 per quarter from piracy settlements doesn’t come close to covering operating costs. In a word of caution to investors, Rightscorp warns that without extra funding the company may have to cease its operations. “If the Company is unable to obtain adequate capital it could be forced to cease operations. Accordingly, these factors raise substantial doubt as to the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern,†the filing reads. Investors appear to have foreseen Rightcorp’s troubles as the companies stock price continues to nosedive, straight to the bottom. This week it reached a new low of 13 cents per share. One of Rightscorp’s problems is that they can only reach a fraction of U.S. Internet subscribers. Most large ISPs, including Comcast, have thus far refused to forward their settlement demands. Several smaller providers are not eager to forward the “settlement†DMCA notices either. In an attempt to force them to do so the company recently obtained several DMCA subpoenas against local ISPs, but these are also being protested. Whether Rightscorp will be able to survive these setbacks has yet to be seen. One thing’s for sure though, profiting from piracy is not as easy as they had hoped. http://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-firm-rightscorp-on-the-brink-of-bankruptcy-141114/
  19. A former copyright chief at music collections society SGAE has been jailed for 30 months. The former anti-piracy boss ran up brothel bills totaling $50K, but failed in his attempt to pass off the VISA card expenditure as legitimate copyright protection costs. Most commonly known as SGAE, the Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) is Spain’s main collecting society for songwriters, composers and music publishers. The group, which also acts as the leading music anti-piracy outfit in the country, has campaigned endlessly for tougher penalties for both file-sharing site operators and the unauthorized downloader at home. SGAE’s position is to protect the rights of artists, but in 2011 a dark cloud fell over the organization. More than 50 police, tax officials and staff from Spain’s Audit Office raided SGAE’s headquarters in Madrid following allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds. One of those investigated was Pedro Farré, SGAE’s former head of corporate relations and the boss of its anti-piracy office. This week he was sentenced to 30 months in jail and the back story is quite extraordinary. Farré’s problems stemmed from his penchant for spending time in the company of prostitutes. While some might argue that’s a personal matter that should remain private, it became a public interest story when Farré chose to mix his pleasures with the business of protecting copyrights. To carry out his work the anti-piracy chief had been given a credit card by SGAE to cover legitimate business expenses. However, Farré ran up bills on the VISA card in numerous visits to brothels where he used it to withdraw cash from the premises which he spent on champagne and prostitutes. According to Publico.es, evidence at trial revealed that on at least once occasion Farré had taken a booth at a brothel “..at five in the afternoon and left at six o’clock the next day, consuming drinks, champagne, and frequently changing girls.†All told, Farré ran up bills of almost 40,000 euros ($50,000) on the SGAE card, falsifying receipts as he went. He claimed that money had been spent on meals with guests, entertaining the police commissioner, financing meetings with journalists and holding a university seminar. The judge did not buy Farré’s version of events and said it was “pure absurdity†that academics and those involved in protecting copyrights would go to a brothel to discuss the topic. Farré’s claims that he went to the brothels to check their music rights compliance was rejected as “pure nonsenseâ€. Former SGAE CFO Ricardo Azcoaga, who was also arrested in 2011, was jailed for 12 months after concealing Farré’s expenditure. The sentences can be appealed. http://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-boss-spent-50k-in-brothels-to-protect-copyright-141114/
  20. Columbia Pictures has asked a Florida federal court to keep its anti-piracy policies secret forever. The records in question are part of the now closed case between Hotfile and the MPAA. Previously, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams ruled that the information should be unsealed in the public's interest. It’s been almost a year since Hotfile was defeated by the MPAA, but the case hasn’t yet gone away completely. Earlier this year the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) asked the court to unseal documents regarding the workings of Warner Bros.’ anti-piracy tools. These documents are part of the counterclaim Hotfile filed, where it accused Warner of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process. In particular, the EFF wants the public to know what mistakes were made and how these came to be. In September the Court ruled that the sealed documents should indeed be made public, and the first information was released soon after. Among other things the unsealed records showed that Warner Bros. uses “sophisticated robots†to track down infringing content. This week the MPAA submitted its proposed schedule (pdf) for the release of the other documents. With regards to Warner’s anti-piracy system they propose a wait of at least 18 months before more information is unsealed. By then Warner will have changed its systems significantly so that the information can no longer be used by pirates to circumvent detection. In the case of Columbia Pictures, however, things are more complicated. The sealed information of the Sony Pictures owned studio would still be beneficial to pirates for decades to come, the court is told. “Defendants have cited two specific pieces of information regarding Columbia’s enforcement policies that, if revealed to the public, could compromise Columbia’s ability to protect its copyrighted works,†the MPAA’s lawyers write. In a sworn declaration Sony Pictures’ Vice President Content Protection, Sean Jaquez, explains that the redacted documents describe broad policy decisions regarding online copyright enforcement that are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. “Columbia intends to continue to implement these confidential copyright enforcement policies indefinitely,†Jaquez writes. “These confidential enforcement policies will not become less sensitive over time because they reflect broad policy judgments, rather than specific implementation features of Columbia’s anti-piracy enforcement system that are likely to change as technology evolves or time passes,†he adds. To keep these secrets out of the public eye, the MPAA asks the court to keep the records relating to Columbia Pictures under seal indefinitely. If that’s too much, the information should remain secret for at least ten years. It’s now up to Judge Williams to decide whether the proposed timeframes are reasonable and whether Columbia can keep its anti-piracy secrets locked up forever. To be continued. http://torrentfreak.com/columbia-pictures-wants-anti-piracy-policies-kept-secret-indefinitely-141113/
  21. The number of takedown notices sent by copyright holders has skyrocketed after Google implemented its new search downranking algorithm. The new measures hit pirate sites hard, and also appear to serve as an incentive for rightsholders to step up their reporting duties. The change has hit pirate sites hard. Some sites have lost more than half of all their search engine traffic, which translates to millions of visitors per week. The key element of the new alghorithm are the DMCA notices. The more a website gets, the less likely it is that the site appears in the top results for various download and streaming related searches. This has created a new incentive for copyright holders to send more takedown notices, to ensure that no pirate site can fly under the radar. Various rightsholders appear to realize this as the number of DMCA notices Google receives has skyrocketed. Over the past week the search engine was asked to remove 11,668,660 allegedly infringing URLs. That is nearly double the amount it received earlier this month, and the largest week to week increase ever. Takedown requests increase 100% in weeks Looking at the sites that are targeted we see that most notices indeed refer to relatively new sites. The top 5 domains last week were conexaomp3.com, vmusice.net, tpbt.org, proxymirror.co and helpamillionpeople.com. These sites went unnoticed before but all had more than 300,000 URLs removed last week. On the surface helpamillionpeople.com appears to be an odd target, but the site in question runs a Pirate Bay proxy through a subdomain. The big question now is whether this new takedown surge will pay off. Of course, copyright holders aren’t under the illusion that Google can eradicate piracy, or even stop those who regularly download or stream content without permission. Their goal is to make pirated content invisible in search results so less people will be drawn to it. Whether this will decrease piracy rates in the long run is unknown, but judging from the early results it does indeed make it less likely for people to stumble upon pirate sites.
  22. The City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has received substantial new funding which secures its future until at least 2017. The £3 million cash boost, announced this morning by Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe, will come from public funds. It's being billed as good news for the economy and bad news for pirates. In a relatively short space of time City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit has stamped its mark on the online piracy space in a way few other organizations have managed. Since its official launch in September 2013 the unit has tackled online copyright infringement from a number of directions including arrests, domain seizures and advertising disruptions. PIPCU has shut down several sports streaming and ebook sites plus a large number of proxies. In June 2013 when the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announced the creation of PIPCU, Viscount Younger of Leckie noted that the Intellectual Property Office would provide an initial £2.56 million in funding to the unit over two years. However, this funding was allocated on a temporary basis and was set to expire in 2015, a situation which prompted the Prime Minister’s former Intellectual Property Advisor Mike Weatherley to call for additional support. This morning the government confirmed that additional funding will indeed be made available to PIPCU enabling it to operate until at least 2017. Speaking to the national crime unit at the Anti-Counterfeiting Group Conference in London, Minister for Intellectual Property Baroness Neville-Rolfe said that PIPCU would be boosted by £3 million of funding from the public purse. “We’ve seen significant success in PIPCU’s first year of operation. This extra support will help the unit to build on this impressive record in the fight against intellectual property crime, which costs the UK at least £1.3 billion a year in lost profits and taxes,†Baroness Neville-Rolfe said. “With more money now being invested in ideas than factories or machinery in the UK, it is vital that we protect creators and consumers and the UK’s economic growth. Government and industry must work together to give long-term support to PIPCU, so that we can strengthen the UK’s response to the blight of piracy and counterfeiters.†City of London Police Commander Steve Head, who is the Police National Coordinator for Economic Crime, welcomed the cash injection. “The government committing to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit until 2017 is fantastic news for the City of London Police and the creative industries, and very bad news for those that seek to make capital through intellectual property crime,†Head said. “Since launching a year ago, PIPCU has quickly established itself as an integral part of the national response to a problem that is costing the UK more than a billion pounds a year. Much of this success is down to PIPCU moving away from traditional policing methods and embracing new and innovative tactics, to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks responsible for causing huge damages to legitimate businesses.†The news was also well received at music industry group BPI. “The work of PIPCU to date has been invaluable in tackling piracy, which is recognized as a significant threat to musicians’ income, investment in new businesses and the growth of the UK’s creative economy,†said Director of Copyright Protection, David Wood. “This funding demonstrates the commitment of the UK Government to promoting respect for intellectual property, which acts as the backbone of growth for our world-leading creative and digital media sectors.†PIPCU, which is closely allied with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), is a 21-strong team comprised of detectives, investigators, analysts, researchers, an education officer and a communications officer. The unit also reports two secondees – a Senior Intelligence Officer from the IPO and an Internet Investigator from the BPI. The latter role was previously filled by the BPI’s Mark Rampton but according to his Linkedin profile he left his position last month. No announcement has been made detailing his replacement. While PIPCU is definitely leaving its mark, not all operations have gone to plan. In one of its highest-profile actions to date, last month the unit shut down what it described as an illegal and “industrial scale†sports streaming service in Manchester. However, in mid October all charges were dropped against its alleged operator. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  23. Today Wikileaks released a new draft of the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. The intellectual property chapter covers a wide range of issues, from increased ISP liability, through extended copyright terms to criminalizing non-commercial piracy. copyright-brandedThe Trans-Pacific Partnership, an agreement aimed at strengthening economic ties between the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and eight other countries in the region, has been largely shrouded in secrecy. Today whistleblower outfit Wikileaks sheds some light on the ongoing negotiations by leaking a new draft of the agreement’s controversial intellectual property chapter. The draft dates back to May 2014 and although it’s far from final, some significant progress has been made since the first leak during August last year. For example, the countries have now agreed that a new copyright term will be set in the agreement. No decision has been made on a final term but options currently on the table are life of the author plus 50, 70 or 100 years. The proposal to add criminal sanctions for non-commercial copyright infringement, which is currently not the case in many countries, also remains in play. The leak further reveals a new section on ISP liability. This includes a proposal to make it mandatory for ISPs to alert customers who stand accused of downloading copyrighted material, similar to the requirement under the U.S. DMCA. Alberto Cerda of Georgetown University Law Center points out that some of the proposals in the ISP liability section go above and beyond the DMCA. “The most worrying proposal on the matter is that one that would extend the scope of the provisions from companies that provide Internet services to any person who provides online services,†Cerda told TorrentFreak. This means that anyone who passes on Internet traffic could be held liable for the copyright infringements of others. This could include the local coffeehouse that offers free wifi, or even someone’s own Internet connection if it’s shared with others. The leaked draft also adds a provision that would allow ISPs to spy on their own users to catch those who download infringing content. This is another concern, according to the law Professor. “From a human rights viewpoint, that should be expressly limited to exceptional circumstances,†Cerda says. It’s clear that the ISP liability section mimicks the DMCA. In fact, throughout the TPP chapter the most draconian proposals often originate from the United States. Law Professor Michael Geist notes that Canada has been the leading opponent of many of the U.S. proposals, which often go against the country’s recently revamped copyright law. Geist warns that the TPP may eventually lead to tougher local laws as U.S. pressure continues. “As the treaty negotiations continue, the pressure to cave to U.S. pressure will no doubt increase, raising serious concerns about whether the TPP will force the Canadian government to overhaul recently enacted legislation,†Geist writes. Compared to the previous draft that leaked last year there are also some positive developments to report. For example, Canada put forward a proposal that permits countries to allow exceptions to technological protection measures. This would makes it possible to classify DRM-circumvention as fair use, for example. A refreshing proposal, but one that’s unlikely to be approved by the U.S. If anything, the leaked TPP chapter shows once again that there is still a very long way to go before a final draft is ready. After more than three years of negotiating many of the proposals are still heavily debated and could go in multiple directions. That is, if an agreement is ever reached.
  24. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  25. U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams has ordered Warner Bros. to unseal documentation detailing its flawed anti-piracy technology. The records are part of the now closed case between Hotfile and the MPAA, and are expected to shed some light on the movie studio's inaccurate takedown policy. Three years ago file-hosting service Hotfile countersued Warner Bros., accusing the movie studio of repeatedly abusing the DMCA takedown process. Hotfile alleged that after giving Warner access to its systems, the studio removed hundreds of files that weren’t theirs, including games demos and Open Source software. The case was poised to reveal how Warner Bros. anti-piracy system works and what mistakes were made by the movie studio. But last November, a few weeks before the trial was due to begin, the case was closed as part of a settlement between Hotfile and the MPAA. The decision was a disappointment to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) whoasked the court to unseal documents regarding Warner’s alleged abuse. According to the group, the public has the right to know what mistakes Warner made. Warner Bros. objected to this request, arguing that the effectiveness of their anti-piracy technology would be undermined by a public disclosure. The movie studio asked the Court to permanently seal the records, but during an oral hearing this week U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams denied this request. The Judge ordered Warner Bros. to hand over some of the information within ten days, and come up with a schedule for the release of all relevant documents. According to Judge Williams the public has the right to see how Warner Bros. handles DMCA takedown requests. The EFF is happy with the ruling, and says it will help legislators to refine and improve the current DMCA process. This year both the Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. House Judiciary Committee have looked into possible changes to the current process. “More information about how the DMCA process has been abused – particularly through automated takedown systems with inadequate human review – will help us improve it, and hold people responsible when they use this powerful tool of censorship abusively or without caution,†EFF’s Mitch Stoltz says in a comment. “The sealed documents from the Hotfile case will help,†he adds. While it’s too late for Hotfile, it is definitely valuable to see what how Warner Bros. made its mistakes and how their piracy takedown technology is set up. “We’re pleased that Judge Williams preserved the public’s right to open court proceedings here, and we are looking forward to a close analysis of the Warner documents when they are released,†Stoltz concludes. http://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-warner-bros-to-reveal-flawed-anti-piracy-technology-140927/