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  1. The iconic sitcom Friends aired its last episode more than a decade ago, but that doesn't mean Warner Bros. is letting people pirate the show without consequences. Over the past several weeks the movie studio has sent automated fines to alleged pirates, demanding $20 for the downloading of episodes from various torrent sites. Like many other Hollywood studios, Warner Bros. sees online piracy as a major threat to its revenues. Torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay represent a thorn in the side and the company is doing everything in its power to limit the damage. For Warner Bros. this includes targeting individual users of these sites. Not just to warn them that they are breaking the law, but also by demanding money from alleged pirates. Just recently the Hollywood studio started sending settlement demands to Internet subscribers whose accounts were used to download and share an episode of the popular sitcom Friends. While the series ended well over a decade ago, Warner Bros. is still keeping a close eye on possible infringements. In one notice, seen by TF, the recipient is accused of sharing an episode from season 2, which originally aired in 1995. The Hollywood studio says it “appreciates†that the alleged pirate is a fan of Friends, but notes that sharing copyrighted material is a serious offense. “Although WB understands and appreciates that you are a fan of its content, the unauthorized uploading and downloading of its copyrighted content is a serious matter,†the notice reads. “Your ISP service could be suspended if this matter is not resolved. You could also be liable for substantial civil penalties for copyright infringement.†To resolve the matter Warner Bros. offers the account holder an opportunity to settle the case, linking to the page below where the recipient can submit a payment of $20 to avoid further trouble. Settlement offer While $20 is relatively cheap, Warner Bros. writes that the real damage resulting from the unauthorized sharing is much higher. “The damage to WB from your conduct substantially exceeds $20, but in the interest of having you stop your infringement of WB content permanently, WB is prepared to make you this settlement offer,†the notice explains. Warner Bros. first started sending ‘fines’ to U.S. Internet subscribers two years ago. At the time the Hollywood studio informed us that it was meant as a “discouragement of future unauthorized activity.†However, the automated settlement offers haven’t been without controversy. Warner Bros. and Rightscorp, the company behind the scheme, have been sued for abuse and harassment by several accused downloaders. This is the first time that we’ve seen people being targeted for downloading video content that’s more than 20-years-old. Friends’ age makes it a rather unusual target, but also suggests that Warner Bros. is still generating decent revenue from the series. https://torrentfreak.com/warner-bros-demands-cash-from-friends-pirates-150608/
  2. Every day thousand of Internet subscribers receive a piracy warning from their Internet provider. Increasingly, these notifications also include a settlement request ranging from $20 to hundreds of dollars. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ISPs should protect their customers from these invasive tactics. There are many ways copyright holders approach today’s “online piracy problem.†Some prefer to do it through innovation, while others prefer educational messages, warnings or even lawsuits. Another group is aiming to generate revenue by obtaining lots of small cash settlements. Rightscorp and CEG TEK have chosen the latter model. Their emails are sent as regular DMCA notices which many ISPs then forward to their customers, often with a settlement demand included. Both companies send millions of warnings to U.S. Internet providers every year, but how these are handled varies per ISP. Some, including Charter, forward the entire notice, while others such as Comcast strip out the settlement details. To find out more about the legality of these notices, and the options Internet providers and subscribers have, TorrentFreak sat down with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) staff attorney Mitch Stoltz. According to Stoltz, Internet providers should carefully review what they’re forwarding to their users. Under U.S. law they are not required to forward DMCA notices and stripping out settlement demands is in the best interest of the consumer. “In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,†he says. “An ISP can also choose not to forward notices at all if they are deficient, misleading, or inaccurate,†Stoltz adds. Misleading notices The notices these companies send are designed to threaten and pressure the recipient, who is often not the person who downloaded the allegedly infringing material. “The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading,†Stoltz notes. “They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true.†Some of the notices mention disastrous consequences, such as excessively large jury verdicts against file sharers who previously had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. However, they forget to mention that these type of piracy cases almost never go to court. Similarly, ISPs rarely disconnect casual copyright infringers. “Rightscorp, for one, has never sued an accused file sharer. Having an ISP forward a demand for money also makes it seem like the ISP will cut off the subscriber if they don’t pay, which is also not true– most ISPs don’t ban customers just because a penny-stock outfit in Santa Monica asks them to,†Stoltz says. Legal repercussions? As a result of the threatening language many subscribers fear that they might be made bankrupt. The reality, however, is that nothing usually happens if they opt to ignore the threats. Stoltz advises people who receive a notice not to reach out to the sender. Instead, they should carefully consider their options and consult a lawyer if needed. “Circumstances vary, and it’s always a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. Be cautious about communicating with any company or lawyer that accuses you of copyright infringement – they will use anything you say against you. Stop, think, and read carefully before you decide to send money or information.†In theory ISPs do have the right to disconnect an account after a subscriber receives multiple notices, but this is relatively rare. The same is true for lawsuits. As far as we know neither Rightscorp nor CEG TEK have taken a file-sharer to court. “They would rather scare a hundred people into paying $20 than spend thousands on a lawsuit against one person,†Stoltz says. The problem remains that even a minuscule chance of getting in trouble is enough for some to pay up. Some people just want the whole thing to go away, that’s what the settlement model is based on. The only way to make this threat disappear is for Internet providers to either strip the settlement demands, or simply toss all notices in the trash. https://torrentfreak.com/why-isps-should-stop-forwarding-piracy-settlement-demands-150502/
  3. Fears that teachers and pupils might breach Spain's new copyright law if strict guidelines aren't adhered to have led to some schools being presented with an enormous bill. The worldwide Motion Picture Licensing Corporation is now offering a blanket license to one region in return for a payment of $350,000 a year. In many countries there are exceptions to copyright law that allow those in education to use copyrighted material to further their studies. Those exceptions often have limits but copying for research, comment and reporting purposes are generally allowed while teachers are able to make multiple copies of content to hand out to their students. Following the tabling of a new intellectual property law in Spain, last December the Department of Education sent out a circular reminding schools that the showing of audiovisual content outside strict “fair use†parameters is completely banned. While airing short clips should be ok, the government had become concerned that schools stepping over the mark could be forced to obtain prior authorization to show content or might even find themselves being sued. That resulted in the decision-making body in the autonomous region of Galicia striking a private licensing deal with rightsholders from the movie industry. According to Praza.gal the existence of the deal was revealed in a letter (pdf) sent to schools this week by the local CEO of the worldwide Motion Picture Licensing Corporation. The letter revealed that MPLC was willing to license each student for the price of 1.25 euros per year. While that doesn’t sound much in isolation, there are 260,000 students in the region making a grand total of 325,000 euros ($350,000) to be sent to MPLC’s movie and TV show company members. The CIG-Ensino union has reacted furiously to the news and is now calling for local authorities to prohibit the collection of any monies and ensure that audiovisual resources for use as teaching and learning aids remain free. “[schools and teachers] should not to pay any tax for doing their job and should be able to continue using all kinds of tools that are needed to do their jobs as effectively as possible,†the union said. “It is incomprehensible to try to limit the task of educating exclusively to the use of the textbooks and reducing the use of resources such as film, music, documentaries in classrooms.†MPLC has not yet commented on the news. https://torrentfreak.com/movie-licensing-group-demands-350k-from-schools-150402/
  4. Pressure is mounting on companies that provide domain name services to alleged pirate sites. Following in the footsteps of Hollywood and the U.S. Government, the music industry is now demanding strict anti-piracy measures. The EFF, however, notes that companies are not obliged to take action without a valid court order. In recent years copyright holders have demanded stricter anti-piracy measures from ISPs, search engines, advertising networks and payment processors, with varying results. Continuing this trend various entertainment industry groups are now going after companies that offer domain name services. The MPAA, for example, has joined the domain name system oversight body ICANN and is pushing for policy changes from the inside. A few days ago the RIAA added more pressure. The music group sent a letter to ICANN on behalf of several industry players asking for tougher measures against pirate domains. The RIAA’s senior vice president Victoria Sheckler wants the Internet to be a safe place for all, where music creation and distribution can thrive. “… we expect all in the internet ecosystem to take responsible measures to deter copyright infringement to help meet this goal,†she notes. The music groups believe, however, that domain registrars don’t do enough to combat piracy. ICANN’s most recent registrar agreement states that domain names should not be used for copyright infringement, but most registrars fail to take action in response. Instead, many registrars simply note that it’s not their responsibility to act against pirate sites. “We […] do not see how it is an appropriate response from a registrar to tell a complainant that it has investigated or responded appropriately to a copyright abuse complaint by stating it does not provide non-registrar related services to the site in question,†Sheckler writes. In what appears to be a coordinated effort to pressure ICANN and other players in the domain name industry, the U.S. Government also chimed in last week. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, Canada-based Tucows is reported as “an example of a registrar that fails to take action when notified of its clients’ infringing activity.†Despite the critique, it’s far from clear that Tucows and other registrars are doing anything wrong. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that there is no law requiring registrars to disconnect pirate sites. “Domain registrars do not have an obligation to respond to a random third party’s complaints about the behavior of a domain name user. Unless ordered by a court, registrars cannot be compelled to take down a website,†notes Jeremy Malcolm, EFF’s Senior Global Policy Analyst. “What the entertainment industry groups are doing is exaggerating the obligations that registrars of global top-level domains (gTLDs) have under their agreement with ICANN to investigate reports of illegal activity by domain owners, an expansion of responsibilities that is, to put it mildly, extremely controversial, and not reflected in current laws or norms.†Law or no law, the entertainment industry groups are not expected to back down. They hope that ICANN will help to convince registrars that pirate sites should be disconnected, whether they like it or not. Torrentfreak
  5. The MPAA is urging the U.S. Government to defeat online piracy and has identified several countries where change is required. Australia is a priority according to Hollywood, so to change this situation better enforcement, improved legislation and stiffer penalties are required. The MPAA has published its latest submission to the U.S. Government. It provides an overview of countries the studios believe could better protect the interests of the copyright industry. The movie group lists more than two dozen countries and describes which “trade barriers†they present. In recent years the Obama administration has helped Hollywood to counter online piracy and with a letter, signed by MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd, the movie organization urges the Government not to drop the ball. “The US government must not falter from being a champion of protecting intellectual property rights, particularly in the online market,†Dodd told the United States Trade Representative. According to the MPAA there are more than two dozen countries that require special attention. This includes Australia, which has one of the highest online piracy rates in the world “Australia has consistently ranked amongst the highest incidence of per capita P2P infringement of MPAA member company films in the region,†the MPAA chief writes. One of the main grievances against Australia is the lack of thorough copyright laws. On this front the movie studios put forward a specific recommendation to draft legislation to deter ‘camming’ in movie theaters. “Australia should adopt anti-camcording legislation. While illegal copying is a violation of the Copyright Act, more meaningful deterrent penalties are required,†the MPAA notes. In recent years there have been several arrests of people linked to scene release groups who illegally recorded movies in theaters. However, instead of several years in jail they usually get off with a slap on the wrist. “For instance, in August 2012, a cammer was convicted for illicitly recording 14 audio captures, many of which were internationally distributed through his affiliation with a notorious release group; his fine was a non-deterrent AUD 2,000,†the MPAA writes. “These lax penalties fail to recognize the devastating impact that this crime has on the film industry,†they add. The MPAA hopes that the U.S. Government can help to change this legal climate Down Under. The most recent anti-piracy plans of the Aussie Government are a step in the right direction according to the Hollywood group. This is not the first time that the MPAA has become involved in Australian affairs. Previously a Wikileaks cable revealed that the American movie group was also the main force behind the lawsuit against iiNet. In addition to Australia, the MPAA also points out various copyright challenges in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden. The latter country is seen as a “safe haven†for pirates and lacks effective enforcement, as The Pirate Bay remains online despite the convictions of its founders. “The law [in Sweden] must also change in order to effectively curb organized commercial piracy, as evidenced by the difficulties thwarting The Pirate Bay – an operation the court system has already deemed illegal,†MPAA writes. MPAA’s full list of comments and recommendations is available here. http://torrentfreak.com/hollywood-demands-tougher-penalties-for-aussie-pirates-141114/
  6. Popular file-hosting service 4shared has criticized a "defamatory" report in which it was branded a "shadowy cyberlocker." 4shared explains that it takes extensive measures to deter pirates and is now demanding a public retraction of the damaging report. Last month the Digital Citizens Alliance and NetNames released a new report with the aim of exposing the business models and profitability of “rogue†file-storage sites. The report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions, is being used as ammunition for copyright holders to pressure credit card companies and advertisers to cut ties with the listed sites. While some of the sites mentioned are indeed of a dubious nature the report lacks nuance. The “shadowy†label certainly doesn’t apply to all. Mega, for example, was quick to point out that the report is “grossly untrue and highly defamatory.†The company has demanded a public apology. 4shared, the most visited site in the report with over 50 million unique visitors per month, is now making similar claims. According to 4shared’s Mike Wilson the company has put its legal team on the case. “We decided to take action and demand a public retraction of the information regarding 4shared’s revenues and business model as published in the report. Our legal team is already working on the respective notes to Digital Citizens Alliance and Netnames,†Wilson tells TorrentFreak. As the largest file-hosting service the report estimates that 4shared grosses $17.6 million per year. However, 4shared argues that many of the assumptions in the report are wrong and based on a distorted view of the company’s business model. “Revenue volumes in this report are absolutely random. For instance, 4shared’s actual revenue from premium subscription sales is approximately 20 times smaller than is shown in the document,†Wilson says. 4shared explains that its premium users are mostly interested in storing their files safely and securely. In addition, the company notes that it doesn’t have any affiliate programs or other encouragements for uploading or downloading files. Unlike the report claims, 4shared stresses that it’s not setup as a service that aims to profit from copyright infringement, although it admits that this does take place. To deal with this unauthorized use the file-hosting service has a DMCA takedown policy in place. In addition, some of the most trusted rightsholder representative have direct access to the site where they can delete files without sending a takedown notice. This works well and the overall takedown volume is relatively low. Together, the site’s users store a billion files and in an average month 4shared receives takedown notices for 0.05% of these files. In addition to their takedown procedure 4shared also scans publicly shared music files for copyright-infringing content. This Music ID system, custom-built by the company, scans for pirated music files based on a unique audio watermark and automatically removes them. Despite these efforts 4shared was included in the “shadowy cyberlocker†report where it’s branded a rogue and criminal operation. Whether the company’s legal team will be able to set the record straight has yet to be seen. Netnames and Digital Citizens have thus far declined to remove Mega from the report as the company previously demanded. Mega informs TorrentFreak that a defamation lawsuit remains an option and that they are now considering what steps to take next. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  7. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  8. A new report which brands Mega.co.nz a "shadowy cyberlocker" has drawn a fierce response from the cloud storage site. CEO Graham Gaylard informs TorrentFreak that should the Digital Citizens Alliance refuse to remove Mega from its entire report and issue a public apology, further action will be taken. Yesterday the Digital Citizens Alliance released a new report that looks into the business models of “shadowy†file-storage sites. Titled “Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions,†the report attempts to detail the activities of some of the world’s most-visited hosting sites. While it’s certainly an interesting read, the NetNames study provides a few surprises, not least the decision to include New Zealand-based cloud storage site Mega.co.nz. There can be no doubt that there are domains of dubious standing detailed in the report, but the inclusion of Mega stands out as especially odd. Mega was without doubt the most-scrutinized file-hosting startup in history and as a result has had to comply fully with every detail of the law. And, unlike some of the other sites listed in the report, Mega isn’t hiding away behind shell companies and other obfuscation methods. It also complies fully with all takedown requests, to the point that it even took down its founder’s music, albeit following an erroneous request. With these thoughts in mind, TorrentFreak alerted Mega to the report and asked how its inclusion amid the terminology used has been received at the company. Grossly untrue and highly defamatory “We consider the report grossly untrue and highly defamatory of Mega,†says Mega CEO Graham Gaylard. “Mega is a privacy company that provides end-to-end encrypted cloud storage controlled by the customer. Mega totally refutes that it is a cyberlocker business as that term is defined and discussed in the report prepared by NetNames for the Digital Citizens Alliance.†Gaylard also strongly refutes the implication in the report that as a “cyberlockerâ€, Mega is engaged in activities often associated with such sites. “Mega is not a haven for piracy, does not distribute malware, and definitely does not engage in illegal activities,†Gaylard says. “Mega is running a legitimate business alongside other cloud storage providers in a highly competitive market.†The Mega CEO told us that one of the perplexing things about the report is that none of the criteria set out by the report for “shadowy†sites is satisfied by Mega, yet the decision was still taken to include it. Infringing content and best practices One of the key issues is, of course, the existence of infringing content. All user-uploaded sites suffer from that problem, from YouTube to Facebook to Mega and thousands of sites in between. But, as Gaylard points out, it’s the way those sites handle the issue that counts. “We are vigorous in complying with best practice legal take-down policies and do so very quickly. The reality though is that we receive a very low number of take-down requests because our aim is to have people use our services for privacy and security, not for sharing infringing content,†he explains. “Mega acts very quickly to process any take-down requests in accordance with its Terms of Service and consistent with the requirements of the USA Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) process, the European Union Directive 2000/31/EC and New Zealand’s Copyright Act process. Mega operates with a very low rate of take-down requests; less than 0.1% of all files Mega stores.†Affiliate schemes that encourage piracy One of the other “rogue site†characteristics as outlined in the report is the existence of affiliate schemes designed to incentivize the uploading and sharing of infringing content. In respect of Mega, Gaylard rejects that assertion entirely. “Mega’s affiliate program does not reward uploaders. There is no revenue sharing or credit for downloads or Pro purchases made by downloaders. The affiliate code cannot be embedded in a download link. It is designed to reward genuine referrers and the developers of apps who make our cloud storage platform more attractive,†he notes. The PayPal factor As detailed in many earlier reports (1,2,3), over the past few years PayPal has worked hard to seriously cut down on the business it conducts with companies in the file-sharing space. Companies, Mega included, now have to obtain pre-approval from the payment processor in order to use its services. The suggestion in the report is that large “shadowy†sites aren’t able to use PayPal due to its strict acceptance criteria. Mega, however, has a good relationship with PayPal. “Mega has been accepted by PayPal because we were able to show that we are a legitimate cloud storage site. Mega has a productive and respected relationship with PayPal, demonstrating the validity of Mega’s business,†Gaylard says. Public apology and retraction – or else Gaylard says that these are just some of the points that Mega finds unacceptable in the report. The CEO adds that at no point was the company contacted by NetNames or Digital Citizens Alliance for its input. “It is unacceptable and disappointing that supposedly reputable organizations such as Digital Citizens and NetNames should see fit to attack Mega when it provides the user end to end encryption, security and privacy. They should be promoting efforts to make the Internet a safer and more trusted place. Protecting people’s privacy. That is Mega’s mission,†Gaylard says. “We are requesting that Digital Citizens Alliance withdraw Mega from that report entirely and issue a public apology. If they do not then we will take further action,†he concludes. TorrentFreak asked NetNames to comment on Mega’s displeasure and asked the company if it stands by its assertion that Mega is a “shadowy†cyberlocker. We received a response (although not directly to our questions) from David Price, NetNames’ head of piracy analysis. “The NetNames report into cyberlocker operation is based on information taken from the websites of the thirty cyberlockers used for the research and our own investigation of this area, based on more than a decade of experience producing respected analysis exploring digital piracy and online distribution,†Price said. That doesn’t sound like a retraction or an apology, so this developing dispute may have a way to go. http://torrentfreak.com/mega-demands-apology-over-defamatory-cyberlocker-report-140919/
  9. The people behind the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club are continuing their crusade against the unauthorized distribution of their film. New lawsuits are filed every week and the first settlement offers have now been sent out, demanding up to $5,000 per offense, or worse. Over the past several years hundreds of thousands of Internet subscribers have been sued in the United States for allegedly sharing copyrighted material, mostly films, online. This year the people behind the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club joined the game. Thus far the filmmakers have filed 66 lawsuits across the United States, targeting more than a thousand alleged downloaders. In common with all other mass-BitTorrent lawsuits the end game is not a full trial, but the revelation of the alleged downloaders’ identities so they can be encouraged to settle. To accomplish this the movie studio asks courts to grant subpoenas ordering associated ISPs to give up their customers’ details. Several courts have complied and recently the first settlement letters arrived in the mailboxes of account holders whose Internet connections were used to share the film. Interestingly, not all alleged downloaders are treated the same. A settlement lettersent to a Texan Internet subscriber offers a complete settlement for $3,500, while an Ohioan in the same position was asked to pay $5,000. The second offer was also presented in a more intimidating form, with a threat to raise the amount to $7,000 if the recipient doesn’t pay in time. Pay or else… While $5,000 may sound high for sharing a single movie, the letter says that this is a reasonable request and that various courts have issued much higher damages awards in the past. “Considering the large expense it incurs to enforce its rights, and further that some cases have awarded as much as $22,500 per infringed work, Dallas Buyers Club, LLC feels that asking for Five Thousand Dollars ($5000.00) to settle is very reasonable,†the letter reads. One of the most often heard comments is that the person who pays for Internet access is not necessarily the infringer in these cases. The movie studio realizes this, but adds that this person is indeed responsible, an argument various courts have refuted in the past. “Dallas Buyers Club, LLC has absolutely no interest or desire in making an innocent person pay; but it does have clear evidence to establish that your internet account was used to copy and distribute the file. Therefore, if it was not you, then it was someone that (sic) you gave the right to use your account,†the letter reads. Dallas Buyers Club, LLC does offer letter recipients a chance to move out of the firing line if they reveal in a sworn affidavit who the real pirate is, but it’s unlikely that many subscribers will take up this offer. Finally, the filmmakers address the “copyright troll†label handed to them by some news outlets. The company states that this label doesn’t apply, as they haven’t bought the copyrights just to sue alleged downloaders. “No. We are not what many refer to as ‘copyright trolls’,†the letter explains, adding that their right to protect their copyrights are ignored and belittled by some Internet critics. “Many internet blogs commenting on this and related cases ignore the rights of copyright owners to sue for infringement, and inappropriately belittle efforts of copyright owners to seek injunctions and damages,†they write. These efforts to distance themselves from the troll label and critics seems a bit misplaced. Based on a very narrow definition of copyright troll they may have a point. But as DTD points out, by addressing the issue in their letter they only direct people to look into the phenomenon, which in settlement terms may result in the opposite of what they want to achieve. Nevertheless, a large percentage of the people who receive a settlement letter are expected to pay up. With over a thousand defendants thus far the potential income from these lawsuits runs into the millions of dollars. And as the dollars continue to roll in, it will be rinse and repeat for as long as the copyright protection efforts are profitable.
  10. WordPress has had it with copyright holders who abuse the DMCA takedown process to censor perfectly legal content. Through a lawsuit they demand $10,000 in compensation to cover the damage they, and one of their users suffered through a false DMCA takedown notice. Automattic, the company behind the popular WordPress blogging platform, has seen a rapid increase in DMCA takedown notices in recent years. Most requests are legitimate, aimed at disabling access to copyright-infringing material. However, there are also many overbroad and abusive takedown notices which take up a lot of the company’s time and resources. Last November, WordPress decided to take a stand against these fraudulent practices. The company teamed up with student journalist Oliver Hotham who hadone of his articles censored by a false takedown notice. Hotham wrote an article about “Straight Pride UK†which included a comment he received from the organization’s press officer Nick Steiner. The latter didn’t like the article Hotham wrote, and after publication Steiner sent WordPress a takedown notice claiming it was infringing on his copyrights. Through a lawsuit filed in a California federal court, WordPress and Hotham now hope to be compensated for the damage this abuse caused them. “The information in the press release that Hotham published on his blog did not infringe any copyright because Hotham had permission to publish it. It was a press release, which by its very nature conveys the intent to ‘release’ information to the ‘press’,†WordPress’ attorney explains to the court. The company says that as an online service provider it faces overwhelming and crippling copyright liability if it fails to take down content. People such as Steiner abuse this weakness to censor critics or competitors, and they have to be stopped. “Steiner’s fraudulent takedown notice forced WordPress to take down Hotham’s post under threat of losing the protection of the DMCA safe harbor,†WordPress argues. “Steiner did not do this to protect any legitimate intellectual property interest, but in an attempt to censor Hotham’s lawful expression critical of Straight Pride UK. He forced WordPress to delete perfectly lawful content from its website.As a result, WordPress has suffered damage to its reputation,†the company adds. Since Steiner failed to respond in court WordPress and Hotham have requested a default judgment. In a recent filing they demand a total of $10,000 in damages as well as $14,520 in attorneys’ fees. If the court agrees with the request it will be mostly a symbolic win, and hopefully a signal to other copyright holders that false DMCA takedown requests are not without consequence. During a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on the DMCA takedown system earlier this year, Automattic General Counsel Paul Sieminski also stressed the importance of this issue to lawmakers, “The system works so long as copyright owners use this power in good faith. But too often they don’t, and there should be clear legal consequences for those who choose to abuse the system,†Sieminski said. In a few weeks we’ll know if the court agrees.
  11. BitTorrent Inc, the parent company of the popular file-sharing applications uTorrent and BitTorrent, is demanding $5.8 million in damages from its German namesake. The San Francisco company accuses Bittorrent Marketing GMBH of misleading prospective users and intercepting sensitive company email. bittorrent-logoAs the owners of two of the most-used BitTorrent clients on the Internet, BitTorrent Inc. is catering to an audience of close to 200 million regular users. Needless to say there is plenty of interest in the BitTorrent brand, and in some cases this demand is being exploited by third-party companies. One of the outfits that has operated in this space is the German-based Bittorrent Marketing GMBH. The company owns the German and European trademark for Bittorrent and has several related domain names such as Bit-Torent.com, Bit-Torrent.com and Bitorrent.net. These domains have been mainly used for advertising, pointing people to paid products. This has been a thorn in the side for BitTorrent Inc. who launched a lawsuit against its German nemesis two years ago. Since the German company and its owner Harald Hochmann failed to respond in court, BitTorrent is moving for a default judgment. In a filing submitted this week they demand $5.8 million in damages. “BitTorrent filed this action to put an end to Defendant’s use of BitTorrent’s trademarks to promote what Defendant touts as an ‘advertising affiliate program’ used to ‘post ads and earn commissions..’,†the company explains. According to the complaint the sites don’t link people to the free software, but to sites where people have to pay for a mere redirection to third-party services. “For example, after paying over $50 to sign up for ultimate-downloadscenter.com, U.S. users are redirected to third-party websites of other digital media providers, like Netflix.com and Hulu.com, and invited to sign up for membership with those services.†These “scams†are a problem for BitTorrent Inc. as they reflect negatively on the company’s brand. However, there is another issue with the domains. Since the German company owns a lot of domains based on misspellings, they occasionally get emails that are intended for the U.S. company. “Hochmann admitted that his company registered many misspellings of BITTORRENT as or as part of domain names, and that, as a result of registering these domain names, he was able to intercept internal emails of BitTorrent when employees and executives of BitTorrent misspelled “bittorrent†in typing the domain name,†the company explains in its motion. Among other emails, the owner of Bittorrent Marketing GMBH obtained internal financial projections from early 2008. Based on this intercepted communication Hochmann allegedly suggested that BitTorrent Inc. should buy the German company for millions of dollars. Through the U.S. federal court BitTorrent Inc. now hopes to obtain an injunction against its German namesake. In their motion for summary judgment they demand a total of $5.8 million in damages and in addition BitTorrent Inc. wants ownership of all the BitTorrent related domain names. “BitTorrent requests an award of statutory damages in the amount of $100,000 per domain name for each of the 58 Infringing Domain Names identified in the accompanying memorandum of points and authorities, for a total statutory damages award of $5,800,000.†Interestingly, while Hochmann and his company failed to respond to the complaint in court, he did release a long statement and supporting documents which are available via the Bittorrent.eu domain. In the statement Hochmann details his version of the dispute, which started more than a decade ago. Among other things, he disputes that he offered BitTorrent Inc. the opportunity to buy his company for millions, and he points to domain disputes his company won in the past against BitTorrent Inc. Talking to TorrentFreak, Hochmann said that in a week or two he will issue a more detailed response explaining why not he, but BitTorrent Inc. are the “scammers.†For the U.S. case this may be too late, due to the lack of response in the past it’s likely that the default judgment will be entered. It’s now up to the judge to decide what the exact punishment should be. http://torrentfreak.com/bittorrent-i...cammer-140530/
  12. BitTorrent Inc, the parent company of the popular file-sharing applications uTorrent and BitTorrent, is demanding $5.8 million in damages from its German namesake. The San Francisco company accuses Bittorrent Marketing GMBH of misleading prospective users and intercepting sensitive company email. As the owners of two of the most-used BitTorrent clients on the Internet, BitTorrent Inc. is catering to an audience of close to 200 million regular users. Needless to say there is plenty of interest in the BitTorrent brand, and in some cases this demand is being exploited by third-party companies. One of the outfits that has operated in this space is the German-based Bittorrent Marketing GMBH. The company owns the German and European trademark for BitTorrent and has several related domain names such as Bit-Torent.com, Bit-Torrent.com and Bitorrent.net. These domains have been mainly used for advertising, pointing people to paid products. This has been a thorn in the side for BitTorrent Inc. who launched a lawsuit against its German nemesis two years ago. Since the German company and its owner Harald Hochmann failed to respond in court, BitTorrent is moving for a default judgment. In a filing submitted this week they demand $5.8 million in damages. “BitTorrent filed this action to put an end to Defendant’s use of BitTorrent’s trademarks to promote what Defendant touts as an ‘advertising affiliate program’ used to ‘post ads and earn commissions..’,†the company explains. According to the complaint the sites don’t link people to the free software, but to sites where people have to pay for a mere redirection to third-party services. “For example, after paying over $50 to sign up for ultimate-downloadscenter.com, U.S. users are redirected to third-party websites of other digital media providers, like Netflix.com and Hulu.com, and invited to sign up for membership with those services.†These “scams†are a problem for BitTorrent Inc. as they reflect negatively on the company’s brand. However, there is another issue with the domains. Since the German company owns a lot of domains based on misspellings, they occasionally get emails that are intended for the U.S. company. “Hochmann admitted that his company registered many misspellings of BITTORRENT as or as part of domain names, and that, as a result of registering these domain names, he was able to intercept internal emails of BitTorrent when employees and executives of BitTorrent misspelled “bittorrent†in typing the domain name,†the company explains in its motion. Among other emails, the owner of Bittorrent GMBH obtained internal financial projections from early 2008. Based on this intercepted communication Hochmann allegedly suggested that BitTorrent Inc. should buy the German company for millions of dollars. Through the U.S. federal court BitTorrent Inc. now hopes to obtain an injunction against its German namesake. In their motion for summary judgment they demand a total of $5.8 million in damages and in addition BitTorrent Inc. wants ownership of all the BitTorrent related domain names. “BitTorrent requests an award of statutory damages in the amount of $100,000 per domain name for each of the 58 Infringing Domain Names identified in the accompanying memorandum of points and authorities, for a total statutory damages award of $5,800,000.†Interestingly, while Hochmann and his company failed to respond to the complaint in court, he did release a long statement and supporting documents which are available via the Bittorrent.net domain. In the statement Hochmann details his version of the dispute, which started more than a decade ago. Among other things, he disputes that he offered BitTorrent Inc. the opportunity to buy his company for millions, and he points to domain disputes his company won in the past against BitTorrent Inc. Talking to TorrentFreak, Hochmann said that in a week or two he will issue a more detailed response explaining why not he, but BitTorrent Inc. are the “scammers.†For the U.S. case this may be too late, due to the lack of response in the past it’s likely that the default judgment will be entered. It’s now up to the judge to decide what the exact punishment should be.
  13. The major record labels continue their efforts to drive The Pirate Bay underground with France being the next in line. A local music industry group has informed several ISPs that it has requested a court blocking injunction against the popular torrent site. In addition, more than a hundred Pirate Bay proxies are also being targeted. pirate bayThe Pirate Bay is without doubt one of the most censored websites on the Internet. Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site, and this list continues to expand. Today, news broke that the French Civil Society of Phonographic Producers has filed for an injunction to prevent ISPs from providing access to The Pirate Bay website and more than hundred of its dedicated proxy sites. NextINpact reports that the music association, backed by the major movie studios, filed a request in February. The French Internet providers Bouygues, Free, Orange and SFR have since been informed about the court proceedings. The complaint is based on a provision of the Hadopi law which allows copyright holders to request measures from third-party services to prevent or stop copyright infringements. Previously, a similar request resulted in a court order requiring Google to censor the search terms ‘Torrent’, ‘RapidShare’ and ‘Megaupload’ from its Instant and Autocomplete services. The court argued that Google indirectly facilitates copyright infringement by failing to filter these terms. Late last year another court order required Google, Bing and Yahoo to remove 16 video streaming sites from their search results on similar grounds. For now, it is still unclear whether the current legal action to block The Pirate Bay is only targeted at Internet providers, or if search engines are covered as well. The music labels have clearly learned from the blocking efforts in other countries, where proxy sites quickly picked up the slack. The record labels hope to prevent this from happening in France by listing all the Pirate Bay proxies they could find. Of course, it only takes one uncensored proxy to bypass the measures. Whether the French blockade, if granted, will be successful remains to be seen. There are still plenty of alternatives and circumvention tools available. This includes TPB’s own PirateBrowser which has been downloaded millions of times since its release last summer. Source: TorrentFreak
  14. A site hosting movie and TV show screenshots to be used as components in fan created artwork has received a copyright takedown from HBO. ScreenCapped says that the company ordered the takedown of libraries of Game of Thrones and True Blood screenshots. The action comes as a surprise considering HBO's stance that even full-on piracy of their TV shows creates valuable buzz. If one had to single out a current TV show that is most-often related with Internet piracy it would have to be Game of Thrones. The show has been shared by millions of people and just last week broke yet another swarm record with 193,418 simultaneous sharers. There has been much discussion over HBO’s stance to this massive piracy. Last year, HBO programming president Michael Lombardo described the unauthorized downloading as “a compliment“, a statement that was followed up by plans to smarten up release schedules. The theory at HBO parent Time Warner is that while piracy is largely undesirable, it helps to generate buzz and reduces advertising expenditure. The company also believes that when fans enthuse over Game of Thrones it’s excellent word-of-mouth promotion, so that makes today’s news even more unusual. The developing situation involves fan site ScreenCapped.net. The site hosts user-uploaded screenshots of popular movies and TV shows which its users transform into fan-created artwork. The piece below is based on the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The site has a pretty large archive of screenshots from dozens of movies and TV shows, which until recently included HBO’s Game of Thrones and True Blood. But in a surprise move HBO has now accused the site of engaging in copyright infringement and ordered it to remove screenshots of these key titles. Screenshots from both shows no longer appear on the site. Worried at the implications of the HBO DMCA notice, a petition has been launched on Change.org in support of the site and requesting that HBO reconsiders its move. In the petition, which at the time of writing has already received more than 2,000 signatures, ScreenCapped operator Raina Stephens lays out her request to HBO’s anti-piracy director Jake Snyder. “The fans and staff of Screencapped.net ask that you remove the DMCA against Screencapped.net so that the site may continue to provide HBO fans with high quality screencaps for non-profit use,†Stephens writes. Users of the site have been expressing their disappointment on Change.org. “Come on, guys. You’re going to slap a DMCA claim on ONE site out of HUNDREDS for hosting screen captures?! It’s not like they’re hosting downloads of your episodes!†user Mandi S writes. “Drop the claim so I can get my favorite screencap gallery back! How do you think we fan artists make those amazing arts that you KNOW you love. Get real and drop the suit, PLEASE.†Another user, Alessia Colognesi from Italy, questions whether the move makes financial sense to HBO. “It’s ludicrous to think that watching/having screencaps will take away from the income of money that you might have. The only reasons why screencaps exist is to let creative people share their love for something making graphics, designs and such; and that’s a good thing because that way other people can take a look at a show and maybe start watching it. Go do something better with your time,†Colognesi concludes. While the precise motivation behind the takedown remains unclear, it’s difficult to argue with the two key points above. ScreenCapped isn’t offering the actual shows for download and discouraging fans from getting even more invested in a show via innocuous-looking screenshots seems to run counter to Time Warner/HBO’s “buzz is good†plan.