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Found 4 results

  1. Rightscorp has decided to squeeze more money from BitTorrent users it accuses of downloading Warner Bros. TV shows. In a move that's likely to be connected to the anti-piracy outfit's precarious financial position, 'fines' are being increased from $20 to $30. Interestingly, TF has also seen evidence that Rightscorp is targeting server hosting companies too. Most companies attempting to “turn piracy into profit†seek to scare ‘pirates’ by billing them for alleged downloads. These ‘fines’ can reach many thousands of dollars but companies like U.S. based Rightscorp took a decision to hit the bottom end of the market with demands of just $20 per shot. While this has attracted giants such as Warner Bros. to the fold, Rightscorp can’t seem to make money. Year after year the company expands the amount of business it’s doing, but at no point has the company been able to turn a profit, quite the opposite in fact. Just last month after the publication of its most recent financial results, TF noted that if Rightscorp is put under severe pressure it may have to increase its $20 fines to something more practical. We didn’t have to wait long. In a new notice targeting an alleged sharer of the TV show ‘Arrow’ this week, Rightscorp delivers a message from its client Warner Bros. Noting that the company understands that the recipient is likely a fan of the show, the notice warns of serious consequences. “Your ISP service could be suspended if this matter is not resolved. You could also be liable for substantial civil penalties for copyright infringement,†it reads. In all previous notices seen by TF, Rightscorp asks for $20 to make a potential lawsuit disappear. However, they’re now asking for $30 for “legal release†and the opportunity to “receive future digital content offers from [Warner Bros], should you choose to receive them.†At this stage it’s too early to assess whether this ‘pricing’ change will be applied across the board or if it will have any negative effect on the numbers of people choosing to settle. However, 50% more revenue would be welcome. During the past two years Rightscorp has reportedly closed 200,000 cases of infringement – at $30 rather than $20 each that’s a potential $2m extra in revenue. That being said, an additional factor concerns how much money Rightscorp will hand back to companies like Warner Bros. Previously a $20 ‘fine’ was split 50/50, with the content holder getting $10 and Rightscorp desperately trying (and failing) to make a profit from the remaining $10. Keeping the full $10 increase would be better news for the anti-piracy company although at current rates that alone won’t be enough for it to turn its losses around. However, help is on the horizon. Earlier this month Rightscorp announced the appointment of a new CFO. Cecil Bond Kyte will oversee capital raising and investor development with the goal of “maximizing shareholder value and strengthening the company’s balance sheet.†Finally, there are signs that Rightscorp may be expanding its targets. The company already sends hundreds of thousands of notices to household ISPs such as Charter and Comcast, but this week TF has seen evidence that at least one server hosting company has also received a ‘fine’ to pass on to a customer. “I am a web developer and recently my VPS was compromised by attackers who were using my VPS as a seedbox. Needless to say, I got a notice from my ISP [REDACTED] via a support ticket they opened,†a reader told TF. In this case Rightscorp also asked for $30 to settle a case involving a TV show but the person targeted won’t be paying the fine. Instead he quickly informed his provider that his server had been hacked and immediately had it shut down to avoid any further issues. “[Rightscorp] have no idea who I am, due to the fact that they were asking me to fill in my name, email, phone number and credit card info on their payment page! “It’s almost like knowingly jumping in a well,†our source concludes. https://torrentfreak.com/warner-bros-inflate-tv-show-piracy-fines-by-33-150614/
  2. Google Fiber is forwarding copyright infringement notices to its subscribers including controversial and automated piracy fines. Through these notices, rightsholders demand settlements of up to hundreds of dollars. Google's decision to forward these emails is surprising, as the company generally has a good track record of protecting consumer interests. Every month Google receives dozens of millions of DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders, most of which are directed at its search engine. However, with Google Fiber being rolled out in more cities, notices targeting allegedly pirating Internet subscribers are becoming more common as well. These include regular takedown notices but also the more controversial settlement demands sent by companies such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK. Instead of merely alerting subscribers that their connections have been used to share copyright infringing material, these notices serve as automated fines, offering subscribers settlements ranging from $20 to $300. The scheme uses the standard DMCA takedown process which means that the copyright holder doesn’t have to go to court or even know who the recipient is. In fact, the affected subscriber is often not the person who shared the pirated file. To protect customers against these practices many ISPs including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have chosen not to forward settlement demands. However, information received by TF shows that Google does take part. Over the past week we have seen settlement demands from Rightscorp and CEG TEK which were sent to Google Fiber customers. In an email, Google forwards the notice with an additional warning that repeated violations may result in a permanent disconnection. “Repeated violations of our Terms of Service may result in remedial action being taken against your Google Fiber account, up to and including possible termination of your service,†Google Fiber writes. Below Google’s message is the notification with the settlement demand, which in this example was sent on behalf of music licensing outfit BMG. In the notice, the subscriber is warned over possible legal action if the dispute is not settled. “BMG will pursue every available remedy including injunctions and recovery of attorney’s fees, costs and any and all other damages which are incurred by BMG as a result of any action that is commenced against you,†the notice reads. Facing such threatening language many subscribers are inclined to pay up, which led some to accuse the senders of harassment and abuse. In addition, several legal experts have spoken out against this use of the DMCA takedown process. Mitch Stoltz, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) previously told us that 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 forwarding these automated fines may not be in the best interest of consumers. “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,†Stoltz said. According to Stoltz these settlement demands are often misleading or inaccurate, suggesting that account holders are responsible for all use of their Internet connections. “The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. 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,†he notes. While Google is certainly not the only ISP that forwards these notices it is the biggest name involved. TF asked Google why they have decided to forward the notices in their entirely but unfortunately the company did not respond to our request for comment. https://torrentfreak.com/google-fiber-sends-automated-piracy-fines-to-subscribers-150520/
  3. A long-running case in Sweden has concluded with a determination on how pirates should be sentenced for each movie downloaded illegally. The case, which involved the downloading of 60 movies, went all the way to the Supreme Court. The jail sentence demanded by the prosecution was rejected but stiff fines were handed down. While headlines may suggest otherwise, the vast majority of online file-sharers go about their business without ever falling foul of the law. Like hundreds of millions of speeding motorists every day, most breaches go unnoticed or unpunished. Nevertheless, that’s not to say people can forget about the risks. Breaches of copyright law can result in hefty fines in most developed countries, if rightsholders feel strongly enough about prosecuting the case. One such case began in Sweden four years ago when police investigating another incident stumbled across content being shared on a man’s computer. The discovery, which involved material obtained from The Pirate Bay, was reported to both copyright holders and the prosecutor. After moving through an initial case and an appeal, the prosecutor’s office was disappointed when the file-sharer was issued with just a fine. With ambitions for a scary legal precedent, those sharing files habitually should be sent to jail, the prosecutor argued. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court but it didn’t work out as planned. The Court agreed that the defendant (known as JS) had damaged the interests of copyright holders with his actions but noted that in the majority of cases (57 out of the 60 movies) his subsequent sharing with others had been brief. Also in the man’s favor was how the Court viewed his activities. No commercial motivation was found, with the Court noting that his file-sharing had been for personal use, despite its scale. “Such use of the current networks and services should not be considered as an aggravating factor when assessing the penalty amount,†the judgment reads. Sweden operates an income-calibrated system of fines known as “day fines†which are equal to the amount the defendant could have earned in a day. The Court ruled that for each movie download with a short upload, the man would be sentenced to 50 day fines. While that sounds like the fine could increase to a huge amount, in Sweden when people are convicted of several offenses at the same time the penalty is gradually reduced for each subsequent offense. In any event the maximum punishment is 200 day fines. In this case the man was sentenced to 180 day fines, up from the 160 handed down by the lower court. Anti-piracy group Rights Alliance who assisted with the case welcomed the judgment, but there can be little doubt that a custodial sentence (even a suspended one) was the target here. Nevertheless, it appears that the judgment could have drawn a line in the sand. “This is a borderline case where the sentence is located on the edge of going over to prison. If you’re looking to see what is necessary for a prison sentence, it’s not much more than this,†Supreme Court Judge Svante O. Johansson concluded.
  4. There are many ways to tackle the issue of online piracy and Louisiana State University has decided on its approach. At the bottom end, offenders will experience a temporary Internet disconnection, with repeat offenders receiving fines and potentially career-damaging notes on their education records. Anyone providing an Internet-access infrastructure to third parties needs to be aware of the online piracy issue. For service providers, whether that’s a regular ISP, web host, or the operator of a free open WiFi in a local coffee shop, knowledge of how other people’s actions can affect them is a useful asset. For universities in the United States, awareness of how Internet piracy can affect their establishment is especially crucial. On top of the requirements of the DMCA, in July 2010, exactly four years ago, the U.S. put in place a new requirement for colleges and universities to curtail illegal file-sharing on their networks. Failure to do so can result in the loss of federal funding so needless to say, campuses view the issue seriously. Yesterday the The Daily Reveille, the official news resource of the Louisiana State University, revealed that LSU’s IT Services receive between 15 and 20 complaints a month from copyright holders, an excellent result for around 30,000 students. At the start of the last decade it was music companies doing most of the complaining, but Security and policy officer Craig Callender says that with the advent of services such as Spotify being made available, reports from TV companies are more common. But no matter where they originate, LSU acts on these allegations of infringement. A first complaint sees a student kicked offline, with Internet access only restored after the completion of an educational course covering illegal file-sharing. Those who breach the rules again have worse to look forward to, starting with a fine. “LSU is effectively combating unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by fining students implicated in a verified DMCA copyright violation,†the university’s official policy document reads. “The $50 fine provides a mechanism for recovering costs incurred in reviewing and processing DMCA notifications, and funding programs for awareness (e.g., education and ad campaign costs).†Educational campaigns include the promotion of legal services, such as those outlined on the university’s chosen official resource list. Interestingly, while the links for music and books work, the MPAA page for legal TV shows and movies (for which the university receives the most notices) no longer exists. But while the $50 fine might be harsh enough for a student on a limited budget, LSU warns of even tougher sanctions. Allegations of illegal file-sharing are noted on the student’s academic record which can have implications for his or her career prospects. In addition, complaints can result in a referral to the Dean of Students’ office for violation of the LSU Code of Student Conduct. According to official documentation, the Student Conduct Office keeps Student Conduct files for seven years after the date of the incident, or longer if deemed necessary. It’s clear that the work of the RIAA and MPAA in the last decade seriously unnerved universities who have been forced to implement strict measures to curtail unauthorized sharing. LSU says it employs filtering technology to eliminate most P2P traffic but it’s clear that some users are getting through. Almost certainly others will be using VPN-like solutions to evade not only the P2P ban, but also potential complaints. Still, universities will probably care much less about these users, since they don’t generate DMCA notices and have no impact on their ability to receive federal funding. http://torrentfreak.com/university-sets-fines-worse-for-pirating-students-140724/