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  1. Movie studio LionsGate has reached a settlement with the operator of video hosting service Played.to. The operator of the video hosting platform admits that he willfully infringed on the studios rights by allowing users to stream a leaked copy of Expendables 3. The exact details of the settlement remain confidential and for now the site remains operational. Last summer LionsGate suffered a major setback when a high quality leak of the unreleased Expendables 3 film appeared online. Fearing a massive loss in revenue, the movie studio sued the operators of several websites that allegedly failed to remove the infringing files. Over the past several months there has been little progress in the case, but yesterday LionsGate announced that it reached a settlement (pdf) with one of the accused site operators. In a new filing at the California district court, Jerome Gillan, the operator of video hosting site Played.to, admits to willful copyright infringement for his role in the controversial leak. While the video hosting service has nothing to do with the original leak, Gillian played a role by hosting copies of the film and allowing users to watch these through embedded streams. In addition, the Played.to operator admits that he failed to process or respond to takedown notices before the lawsuit was filed. As a result, he is liable for the resulting infringements under the DMCA. According to the proposed judgment which has been agreed by both parties, Gillan takes full responsibility by admitting to all claims the movie studio brought against him. “Gillan has willfully infringed Lions Gate’s copyright in the Film directly, contributorily and vicariously and is liable for all of the causes of action that Lions Gate has asserted against him in this action,†the proposed consent judgment reads. Together both parties inform the court that they’ve reached a confidential settlement. According to the agreement Gillan has accepted financial and other obligations to resolve Lions Gate’s claims, but how much he has to pay is not disclosed. In addition, Played.to and its operator are prohibited from “hosting, linking to, distributing, reproducing, performing, selling, offering for sale, making available for download, streaming or making any other use of any copy or copies of the Film.†The proposed judgment only applies to Played.to, the claims against other websites including the torrent search engine Limetorrents.cc remain unsettled. At the time of writing the Played.to website is still online. The site has lost a lot of traffic in recent months but is still widely used to host videos. Previously the UK police also arrested several people who allegedly leaked the Expendables 3 movie online, but thus far the true source of the leak remains unknown. https://torrentfreak.com/played-to-operator-admits-guilt-in-expendables-3-leak-150626/
  2. Copyright holder and government efforts to stop people from accessing websites simply won't succeed according to the boss of a leading VPN provider. Speaking in the wake of the latest developments in Australia, CyberGhost chief Robert Knapp says those doing the blocking should consider the technical abilities of who they are taking on. After years of pressure but mere months of deliberations, yesterday the Australian government imposed a new copyright law on its citizens. As soon as it receives the formality of royal assent, the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2015 will enter into force and soon after it’s expected that rightsholders will make their first moves to have a site blocked. After the passing of the law yesterday a lot of furious people took to the web, many decrying the censorship and filtering efforts of the Australian government. But despite the outcry there are others who are not only relaxed about the upcoming efforts but also stand to profit handsomely from them. They are of course VPN providers, services setup to cut through web-blockades and similar efforts like a hot knife through butter. They’re already extremely popular in Australia due to their geo-unblocking abilities and will now do even more business as a result of the country’s new law. However, there are still those that remain concerned over the future of VPNs and their status as site-blocking kryptonite. Might the government eventually run out of patience and do a U-turn on assurances they won’t tackle the technology by blocking? Would it matter, practically, if they did? Robert Knapp, chief executive at CyberGhost, one of the more popular VPN providers, doesn’t think so. He is calm, taking developments completely in his stride, and foresees no threat to his business. “We see in general the same that you see in nature if somebody tries to block a river floating – the water finds his way,†Knapp says. Despite attempts by the Australian Greens to have VPNs exempted from the new law, it is unlikely that services who play by the rules (i.e do not promote their products for infringing purposes) will be blocked. However, if the authorities want to test the waters, companies like CyberGhost will be up for the challenge. “They should also then realize with whom they play in the same league,†Knapp says. “Maybe they do it [blocking], maybe they don’t do it, it’s kind of a technical race. So it’s our daily business. They might do it, we will find a way to keep our servers running.†While most people understand that blocking a determined service provider could descend into an endless arms-race, rightsholders are also keenly aware of the political fallout from attacking legitimate technologies. “We didn’t intend this law to be used specifically against VPN because there are many legitimate uses of VPN and the intention of the law is not to stop people using the internet for legitimate purposes,†a Foxtel spokesperson told Mumbrella this morning. And herein lies the problem. By driving traffic underground, into the encrypted tunnels of VPNs, rightsholders now have even less of an idea of who is pirating what and from where. VPNs are a legitimate but “dual use†technology, one that can be used for privacy or indeed piracy purposes. It’s a giant loophole that will be difficult to close. Nevertheless, companies like Foxtel say they will keep an developments. “We would obviously be concerned if it meant there was a hole in the law,†the spokesman said. “We will be monitoring how things go and see if there is a serious issue in the future.†So what next for Australia’s blocking regime? If history from the UK repeats itself (and there’s every reason to believe that it will), rightsholders will first take on a site that is guaranteed to tick every ‘pirate’ box. That forerunner is almost certain to be The Pirate Bay, a site that is not only located overseas as the legislation requires, but one that also has no respect for copyright. The fact that it has been blocked in plenty of other regions already will be the icing on the cake. Once the case against The Pirate Bay is complete then other “structurally similar†sites will be tackled with relative ease and since none of their operators will be appearing in court to defend themselves, expect the process to be streamlined in favor of copyright holders. https://torrentfreak.com/surprise-vpn-provider-expects-victory-in-site-block-arms-race-150623/
  3. This is an automated message to make sure this seller really got the stuff what he/she is trying to sell, Please read it very carefully. PM Staff member all of your trackers unedited screenshot along with profile links, till then topic will remain closed. Best regards, Invite Scene Staff!
  4. It's taken more than two years for Swedish authorities to seize two key Pirate Bay domains but over in the United States the process is dramatically quicker. A TV company has just achieved similar aims against 11 'pirate' streaming domains after being granted a comprehensive ex parte restraining order by a Florida court. One the biggest piracy-related stories of the year broke this week after Swedish authorities succeeded in their quest to take over two key Pirate Bay domains. The court order, handed down Tuesday, will see ThePirateBay.se and PirateBay.se fall under the control of the Swedish government, provided no appeal is filed in the coming weeks. It’s been a long and drawn out process but given the site’s history, one with an almost inevitable outcome. Over in the United States and spurred on by ‘rogue’ sites such as TPB, much attention has been focused on depriving ‘pirate’ sites of their essential infrastructure, domains included. Just last week the MPAA and RIAA appeared before the House Judiciary Committee’s Internet subcommittee complaining that ICANN isn’t doing enough to deal with infringing domains. Of course, having ICANN quickly suspend domains would be convenient, but entertainment industry groups aren’t completely helpless. In fact, yet another complaint filed in the United States by TV company ABS-CBN shows how easily it is to take control of allegedly infringing domains. The architect of several recent copyright infringement complaints, in its latest action ABS-CBN requested assistance from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The TV company complained that eleven sites (listed below) have been infringing its rights by offering content without permission. To protect its business moving forward ABS-CBN requested an immediate restraining order and after an ex parte hearing, District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas was happy to oblige. In an order (pdf) handed down May 15 (one day after the complaint was filed) Judge Dimitrouleas acknowledges that the sites unlawfully “advertised, promoted, offered for distribution, distributed or performed†copyrighted works while infringing on ABS-CBN trademarks. He further accepted that the sites were likely to continue their infringement and cause “irreparable injury†to the TV company in the absence of protection by the Court. Granting a temporary order (which will become preliminary and then permanent in the absence of any defense by the sites in question) the Judge restrained the site operators from further infringing on ABS-CBN copyrights and trademarks. However, it is the domain element that provokes the most interest. In addition to ordering the sites’ operators not to transfer any domains until the Court advises, Judge Dimitrouleas ordered the registrars of the domains to transfer their certificates to ABS-CBN’s counsel. Registrars must then lock the domains and inform their registrants what has taken place. Furthermore, the Whois privacy protection services active on the domains and used to conceal registrant identities are ordered to hand over the site operators’ personal details to ABS-CBN so that the TV company is able to send a copy of the restraining order. If no active email address is present in Whois records, ABS-CBN is allowed to contact the defendants via their websites. Once this stage is complete the domain registrars are ordered to transfer the domains to a new registrar of ABS-CBN’s choosing. However, if the registrars fail to act within 24 hours, the TLD registries (.COM etc) must take overriding action within five days. The Court also ordered ABS-CBN’s registrar to redirect any visitors to the domains to a specific URL (http://servingnotice.com/BL4G47/index.html) which is supposed to contain a copy of the order. At the time of writing, however, that URL is non-functional. Also of interest is how the Court locks down attempts to get the sites running again. In addition to expanding the restraining order to any new domains the site operators may choose to move to, the Court grants ABS-CBN access to Google Webmaster Tools so that the company may “cancel any redirection of the domains that have been entered there by Defendants which redirect traffic to the counterfeit operations to a new domain name or website.†The domains affected are: freepinoychannel.com, lambingan.to, pinoymovie.to, pinoynetwork.to, pinoytambayan-replay.com, pinoytambayantv.com, tambaytayo.com, tvnijuan.net, phstream.com, streampinoy.info and tambayanatin.com. Despite the order having been issued last Thursday, at the time of writing all but one of the domains remains operational. Furthermore, and in an interesting twist, pinoymovie.to and pinoynetwork.to have already skipped to fresh domains operated by none other than the Swedish administered .SE registry. https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-domain-seizures-are-easy-in-the-united-states-150521/
  5. Anti-piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has failed in its bid to unmask alleged Internet pirates. The company attempted to use the DMCA to force ISP Birch Communications to expose its customers' identities but the company stood strong. A federal judge in Atlanta has now ruled in favor of the ISP by quashing Rightscorp's subpoena. Working on behalf of various copyright owners including Warner Bros. and BMG, last year anti-piracy company Rightscorp began sending subpoenas to dozens of smaller ISPs in the United States. The aim, as usual, was to unmask alleged file-sharers so that they could be pursued for cash settlement. While many ISPs complied with the requests, the practice was controversial. Such subpoenas aren’t considered applicable in file-sharing cases and largely avoid scrutiny since they can by signed by a court clerk and are not reviewed by a judge. In 2014, telecoms company Birch Communications kicked back by refusing to hand over customer details of subsidiary ISP, CBeyond. The company filed a motion to quash Rightscorp’s subpoena arguing that the anti-piracy outfit had embarked on a fishing exercise with no legal basis. “CBeyond contends that the section does not apply to service providers that act only as a conduit for data transferred between other parties and that do not store data. The court agrees,†Magistrate Judge Janet King said. Faced with this setback Rightscorp filed objections to the ruling and sought to have it overturned. The company has now failed in that effort. Last week the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia adopted the earlier ruling and quashed Rightscorp’s subpoena. “We safeguard our customer information and take privacy issues seriously,†Birch President and Chief Executive Officer Vincent Oddo said in a statement. “The U.S. District Court did the right thing by backing our view, and we’re very pleased to see that this case will serve to help protect our customers’ private information.†Birch Senior Vice President and General Counsel Christopher Bunce says the company’s first response is to always protect subscriber privacy. “Our first order of business when anyone requests access to a customer’s private information is to refuse, absent a valid subpoena or court order, which we then scrutinize as we did with Rightscorp’s illegal subpoena in this matter,†Bunce says. According to Gardiner Davis who acted as lead litigation counsel for Birch, Rightscorp’s interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was far too liberal. “They had not even filed a copyright infringement lawsuit,†Davis said. “So this attempt was essentially a fishing expedition and I think this ruling was correctly and wisely decided. The court interpreted the statute as Congress intended.†The defeat represents another blow to an embattled Rightscorp. The company’s latest financial report reveals a company hemorrhaging cash, despite substantial year-on-year growth. https://torrentfreak.com/rightscorp-fails-in-bid-to-unmask-pirates-using-dmca-150511/
  6. Primary Cameras Leica MP Fuji x100T Hasselblad 500 C/M
  7. As Grooveshark parent company Escape Media prepares to face off against the world's largest record labels in New York later today, the company is bracing for the worst. In a pre-hearing ruling a judge described Grooveshark's copyright violations on 4,907 tracks as "willful", potentially putting the company on the hook for $736 million in damages. Streaming music service Grooveshark has been through some turbulent times in its relatively short history, but events this week could determine the company’s future. The dispute with the world’s largest recording labels in UMG Recording Inc et al v. Escape Media Group Inc et al is without doubt Grooveshark parent company Escape Media’s biggest challenge yet. At its heart is a copyright infringement claim that could run into hundreds of millions of dollars. While the suit itself is complex, at its core is the complaint that Grooveshark co-founders and employees historically uploaded more than 150,000 infringing tracks to Grooveshark in order to increase its popularity. “Please share as much music as possible from outside the office, and leave your computers on whenever you can,†wrote co-founder Josh Greenberg in an email to staff. “This initial content is what will help to get our network started—it’s very important that we all help out!†As a result, last September U.S. District Judge Thomas P. Griesa ruled that the company’s two co-founders were directly and secondarily liable for infringing the copyrights of nine large recording labels. Ahead of the trial which is due to begin today in the Federal Courthouse, New York, Judge Thomas P. Griesa delivered yet another blow to Grooveshark parent company Escape Media. Noting that the case now involves ‘just’ 4,907 recordings (2,963 tracks plus 1,944 “employee uploadsâ€) Judge Griesa said that the label plaintiffs have chosen to pursue statutory damages, meaning that if infringements are found to be “willfulâ€, Grooveshark could be on the hook for $150,000 per track. In the event the ruling notes that the court has already determined that Grooveshark acted both “willfully†and “in bad faith†although some defense will be allowed. “Defendants may present proof as to the degree and extent of their willfulness or bad faith,†the Judge writes. Among other things, Escape will argue that between 2007 and 2009 it showed good faith by approaching a number of the record company plaintiffs in an attempt to negotiate licensing deals. “[The] court will permit defendants to present evidence at trial concerning the general factual background – but not the substantive financial terms – of the parties’ negotiations for future licensing. Such evidence or argument must be tethered to defendants’ state of mind or conduct in infringing the Works in Suit,†Judge Griesa adds. If the jury doesn’t buy the arguments of Escape / Grooveshark and decides it appropriate to award the top rate, Escape Media could be forced to pay in excess of $736 million in damages. The jury could also award much less, but it’s difficult to envision an affordable outcome to the case for the streaming music service. https://torrentfreak.com/grooveshark-faces-736-million-in-copyright-damages-150427/
  8. Should The Pirate Bay be allowed to carry on business as usual while using domain names under Swedish control? That's the argument the Stockholm District Court will consider next week following a demand from the prosecutor that the two .SE domains be disabled or placed under government control. Some of the key strategies employed by anti-piracy groups around the world involve attacking the infrastructures of so-called pirate sites. Pressuring hosting companies to cut off sites is one of the oldest and perhaps easiest method of disrupting activities, but finding a new host – even for the most blatant of infringers – is usually countered in a few hours. It’s a nuisance, but one that can be handled relatively easily. Blocking domains at the ISP level presents more of a problem for sites but actually seizing a domain or rendering it entirely useless really takes things to the next level. It’s a strategy being actively pursued in a number of cases, most recently by the RIAA in an important case against MP3Skull reported here yesterday. Next week in a separate action, a Swedish court will be required to decide whether The Pirate Bay will be allowed to keep control of two of its most important domains. ThePirateBay.se (the site’s main domain) and PirateBay.se (a lesser used alternative) are being targeted by Prosecutor Fredrik Ingblad, the man behind the now-famous operation that took the site down in December. Filed back in 2013 at the District Court of Stockholm, the motion targets Punkt SE, the organization responsible for Sweden’s top level .SE domain. Ingblad’s position is that since The Pirate Bay has been deemed an illegal site, its domain names are assisting in those crimes and should be subject to action, just like a tool used in any other crime In a case against both the .SE registry and former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij, Ingblad wants the Court to order the domains to be forfeited. “That is, in practice, that the state should take them over, or at least that .SE should not rent them out again, Ingblad says. In parallel The Pirate Bay is also facing its first web blocking action in Sweden. Last November, Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, Nordisk Film and the Swedish Film Industry filed a lawsuit against Swedish service provider Bredbandsbolaget. The ISP intends to fight the demand. In the meantime the blocking case is certainly one to watch, with Punkt SE CEO Danny Aerts framing the action as unique in Europe. “There are no previous cases of states suing a registry for abetting criminal activity or breaching copyright law,†Aerts notes. https://torrentfreak.com/fate-of-pirate-bay-domains-hang-in-the-balance-150421/
  9. Emails from the Sony hack reveal that the MPAA asked its member studios to pay $165,000 each to upgrade the screening rooms of several U.S. embassies. American ambassadors could then utilize these private theaters as indirect lobbying tools by showing off Hollywood content to high level officials. Yesterday Wikileaks published a searchable database of the emails and documents that were released from the Sony hack. While a lot of ground was already covered after the initial breach, some new information is now bubbling up to the surface. One of the conversations that caught our eye mentions a request from MPAA boss and former U.S. senator Chris Dodd. In an effort to get foreign policy makers onside, the movie group asked its member studios to help fund an upgrade of the screening rooms in various U.S. embassies around the world. In an email from Sony Pictures Entertainment Head of Worldwide Government Affairs Keith Weaver to CEO Michael Lynton last March, Weaver explains that the studio had been asked for rather a sizable contribution. “I wanted to make you aware of a recent MPAA request, as Senator Dodd may contact you directly,†Weaver’s email begins. “Essentially, the request is for the member companies to consider upgrading screening rooms at U.S. Embassies in various countries (Germany, Spain, Italy, UK, and Japan)…†These rooms could then be used by the ambassadors to show off Hollywood content to invited high-level officials. “…the idea being that these upgraded screening rooms would allow American ambassadors to screen our movies to high level officials (and, thus, inculcate a stronger will to protect our interests through this quality exposure to our content),†Weaver adds. In other words, the MPAA wants to pay for an upgrade of the embassies’ private theaters, to indirectly protect the interests of U.S. movie studios abroad. It’s a rather interesting lobbying effort and one that doesn’t come cheap. The estimated cost for the project is $165,000 per studio, which means the total budget for the project is close to a million dollars. Unfortunately for the MPAA, Weaver suggested giving the project a miss and in a reply Lynton agreed. “While studios have supported efforts like this in the past, my inclination is that we pass on this financial commitment at this time (of course, applauding the idea/effort),†Weaver noted. In an email a few months later the issue was addressed again with additional details. In this conversation Weaver notes that the request is “not unusual†and that the studio supported a similar request years ago. “Apparently, donations of this kind are permissible,†Weaver writes. Again, Lynton replied that he was not inclined to support the project. It’s unclear whether any of the other members chipped in, or if the plan has been canceled due to a lack of financial support. https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-wants-private-theaters-in-u-s-embassies-to-lobby-officials-150417/
  10. A pair of Internet providers who defied TV company demands to switch off their VPN services will be sued in the coming days. CallPlus and Bypass Network Services face legal action from media giants including Sky and TVNZ for allowing their customers to use a VPN to buy geo-restricted content. As Internet users demand more freedom online alongside an ability to consume media in a manner of their choosing, tools allowing them to do so are gaining in popularity. Notable has been the rise of VPN services, which not only provide an increased level of privacy but also allow users to appear in any country they choose. This opens up a whole new world of content availability – such as better service from Netflix – often at better prices than those offered on home turf. While popular with consumers, this behavior is frowned upon by distribution companies that spend huge sums of money on content licensing deals specific to their regions of coverage. Losing customers to overseas providers isn’t part of their plan and now some are doing something about it. Earlier this month media companies SKY, TVNZ, Lightbox and MediaWorks told several Kiwi ISPs that if they don’t stop providing VPN services to their subscribers, legal trouble would be on the horizon. Within days one of their targets, Unlimited Internet, pulled its VPN service after receiving a letter from a lawfirm claiming breaches of the Copyright Act. However, CallPlus and Bypass Network Services have no intention of caving in to the media giants’ demands. “To receive without warning a grossly threatening legal letter like that from four of the largest companies in New Zealand is not something we are used to,†wrote Bypass CEO Patrick Jordan-Smith in a letter to the media companies. “It smacks of bullying to be honest, especially since your letter doesn’t actually say why you think we are breaching copyright.†Pulling no punches and describing his adversaries as a “gangâ€, Jordan-Smith likens the threats to those employed by copyright trolls in the United States. “Your letter gets pretty close to the speculative invoicing type letters that lawyers for copyright owners sometimes send in the US ‘pay up or shutdown or else were are going to sue you’! Not fair,†he writes. “We have been providing the Global Mode facility for 2 years. In all that time, none of your Big Media Gang have ever written to us. We assumed they were OK with Global Mode and we continued to spend money innovating the facility and providing innovative NZ ISPs with a service that their customers were telling them they wanted – a service that lets people pay for content rather than pirate it.†The response from Bypass hasn’t been well received by the media companies who now say they will carry through with their threats to sue over breaches of copyright. “Our position has not changed and unless they remove the unlawful service we will begin court action in the next few days,†says TVNZ chief executive, Kevin Kenrick. “Each of our businesses invests significant sums of money into the rights to screen content sourced legitimately from the creators and owners of that copyrighted material. This is being undermined by the companies who profit from promoting illegitimate ways to access that content.†Claiming that the action is aimed at defending the value of content rights in the digital world, Kenrick says that the legal action is not consumer focused. “This is not about taking action against individual consumers or restricting choice, indeed each of our businesses are investing heavily in more choice so New Zealanders can have legitimate access to the latest TV shows and movies,†the CEO concludes. While the commercial position of the TVNZ chief is understandable, his claim that this legal action isn’t aimed at reducing choice simply doesn’t stack up. Kiwis using Netflix locally get access to around 220 TV series and 900 movies, while those using a VPN to tunnel into the United States enjoy around 940 TV series and 6,170 movies, something which Bypass Networks believes is completely legal. “[We provide our service] on our understanding that geo-unblocking to allow people to digitally import content purchased overseas is perfectly legal. If you say it is not, then we are going to need a lot more detail from you to understand why,†Jordan-Smith informs his adversaries. “Simply sending us a threatening letter, as frightening as that may be, does not get us there and is not a fair reason for us to shut down our whole business.†https://torrentfreak.com/tv-companies-will-sue-vpn-providers-in-days-150417/
  11. Former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij can't play games on his Nintendo 8-bit console in prison. The prison denied the request because there's no way to open the box to check it for concealed items, a decision the Pirate Bay operator is now appealing before the administrative court. Fredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key operators of The Pirate Bay and often referred to as one of the site’s co-founders. In 2010 Fredrik received a prison sentence for his involvement with the notorious site, which he initially avoided. Last November he was eventually arrested by Thai immigration authorities and later transferred to a prison in Skänninge, Sweden. Under the circumstances, Fredrik has been doing relatively well. However, prison life lacks distraction and entertainment, not to mention a digital connection to the outside world. To kill time The Pirate Bay’s former operator put in a request to play games on an old Nintendo 8-bit console. Not the most advanced gaming experience, but a real treat for someone with virtually no access to entertainment. Unfortunately, however, Fredrik’s request was outright denied by the prison administration. While gaming isn’t against the rules, they state that there’s no way to open the box to check it for concealed items. “The console is sealed in such a way that it can not be opened without the machine being destroyed,†the prison wrote in a reply. In light of this, the institution can’t implement the necessary control of the game console and it is therefore impossible to ensure that it does not contain prohibited items.†Fredrik doesn’t agree with the decision decided to appeal the case before the administrative court. Pirate Bay’s former operator doesn’t believe that a game console from the 80s without any network connectivity poses a threat, and points out that the prison only has to buy a simply screwdriver to check the box. “That the institution lacks a screwdriver which costs 100 kroner can not be considered reasonable,†Fredrik writes. “One has to wonder how many other victims there are when all video-game units of the brand Nintendo have the same screwdriver,†he adds. This isn’t the first time that Fredrik has appealed a decision from the prison. Earlier this month he filed an appeal after the institution denied a request to print three documents. TF note: The Nintendo case can actually be opened with a pen and a cigarette lighter https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bays-fredrik-neij-cant-play-nintendo-classics-in-prison-150417/
  12. Even as Kim Dotcom spends millions fighting extradition to the U.S., a relatively minor issue could see him kicked out of New Zealand in a matter of weeks. When applying for residency in 2010, Dotcom failed to declare a dangerous driving speeding conviction, a matter that could now escalate into deportation from the country. He’s one of the most famous people in the online space and the founder of the site at the heart of the world’s largest ever copyright infringement lawsuit, yet a relatively minor indiscretion has the potential to derail Kim Dotcom in a matter of weeks. It all stems back to September 10, 2009 when a police radar gun logged speed-loving Dotcom doing 149km/h (92mph) in a 50km/h (30mph) zone. According to the authorities police gave chase, eventually catching up with Dotcom’s 3.6-liter AMG Mercedes 1.7km (1 mile) later close to his Coatesville mansion. Explaining his three times over-the-limit endeavor as a “stupid mistakeâ€, Dotcom later pleaded guilty by letter four days later. During the hearing the court heard that the entrepreneur had been “testing†a new car. “When spoken to by police the defendant stated he had seen an 80km/h sign. He further stated that he stepped on the gas for 3-4 seconds and then braked and reduced his speed to the speed limit. He also stated he wanted to test the acceleration of the vehicle,†the records state. Despite Dotcom expressing regret for his actions, the judge fined him $500 plus $130 costs and banned him from driving for six months. Now, almost five years later, the case is coming back to haunt Dotcom after he failed to declare the motoring conviction on his New Zealand residency application eight months after the offense. In the (blurred) image below released under the Official Information Act, item three shows a ‘No’ response to the question “Have you or any of your family members included in your application, ever been: Convicted of an offense including traffic offenses committed within the last five years, involving dangerous driving [or] driving having consumed excessive alcohol. The same immigration records reveal that Dotcom disclosed both his 1994 hacking conviction and a 2001 suspended sentence for insider trading, but both were disregarded having been dealt with under Germany’s “clean slate†legislation. Nevertheless, it now appears that Dotcom’s position as a New Zealand resident is under threat due to his dangerous driving conviction and subsequent non-disclosure. According to NZHerald, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse could decide within the month whether Dotcom will be allowed to remain in New Zealand or be kicked out of the country. Dotcom insists that the omission was the result of a misunderstanding with his advisors but the discovery was considered serious enough to prompt a high-level deportation inquiry. “In the interests of fairness and natural justice, Mr Dotcom and his advisers have been asked to make submissions on the matter by 4 May,†Immigration NZ said in a statement. “Once that process is complete a decision will then be made by the Minister of Immigration on whether Mr Dotcom is liable for deportation.†The potential for deportation (albeit to either Finland or Germany, not the United States) only adds to Dotcom’s woes. Last month the United States seized dozens of millions of dollars worth of the Megaupload founder’s assets and in June he’ll face an extradition hearing having had a request for postponement denied. Whether Dotcom will be able to deflect ejection from New Zealand on either or both counts remains to be seen, but the tycoon certainly sees himself being backed into a corner. “Dear Mr. Dotcom,†he wrote this morning on Twitter. “Here are your options: Extradition or Deportation. Regards, The New Zealand Government.†https://torrentfreak.com/kim-dotcom-speeding-offense-could-lead-to-deportation-150416/
  13. 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/
  14. Former Pirate Bay operator Fredrik Neij, currently the last person serving a site-related sentence, was recently granted access to a tablet to read the details of an ongoing investigation. However, the prison reportedly backpedaled on granting him the right to make printouts, a decision Neij is now appealing before the administrative court. Fredrik Neij, also known as Tiamo, was one of the key operators of The Pirate Bay. In 2010 Fredrik received a prison sentence for his involvement with the notorious site, which he initially avoided. After being on the run for several years he was eventually arrested by Thai immigration authorities late last year, and later transferred to a prison in Skänninge, Sweden. While reportedly doing well, prison life has many limitations. Access to technology is limited, for example, but Fredrik recently managed to get a tablet so he could read the details of a preliminary investigation. According to Fredrik, he was also given verbal approval to write text documents on the device and make printouts for personal use, but the prison administration now denies this. In a response the former Pirate Bay operator has now filed an appeal at the Administrative Court. “When I received the e-reader I specifically asked if I could use it to write letters and make notes in the tablet’s word processing programs. I was told that it would be okay,†Fredrik writes. In addition to writing he was also promised that he could make several printouts. “The answer I got was that there wouldn’t be a problem,†Neij notes. Printing three files doesn’t seem to be a major issue, especially if the same documents are already available digitally. However, in prison things rarely come easy. The good news for Fredrik is that his prison sentence is half done, and he’s scheduled to be released later this year. Worryingly, however, there are more problems on the horizon. The former Pirate Bay operator is also facing hacking allegations as well as a criminal referral of his ISP, DCP Networks. https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bays-fredrik-neij-appeals-denial-to-print-in-prison-150409/
  15. Last month Voltage Pictures, the company behind the movie Hurt Locker, was told to pay Internet provider Teksavvy $21,557 to cover costs in exposing 2,000 alleged pirates. The ruling was a huge blow to Teksavvy which has now appealed, demanding $346,480 in costs. Meanwhile, Voltage is warning that 'pirate fines' could be much higher than some are predicting. After numerous experiments elsewhere, notably in the US, two years ago Voltage Pictures took its turn piracy-into-profit business model to Canada. The company’s targets were 2,000 Internet subscribers at local ISP Teksavvy. The early stages of the case saw the ISP dig in its heels while bringing on board the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) with the aim of protecting consumers from potentially large fines. While CIPPIC was allowed to intervene, the subscribers’ identities were ordered to be handed over and with that in hand the arguments turned to who would have to pay for proceedings thus far. Needless to say, Voltage Pictures’ and Teksavvy’s assessments were at the opposite ends of the spectrum, with the former saying that should it pay around $884.00 and the latter claiming a few hundred thousand dollars, $346,480.68 to be exact. In the event the court rejected both sides’ claims, but the ruling was far away from Teksavvy’s expectations. The Federal Court told Voltage to pay $21,557 – $17,057 in technical administrative costs plus $4,500 in legal fees – associated with the IP-address lookups. After being awarded just 6% of its original claim, it comes as little surprise that the ISP has now filed an appeal against the decision. Teksavvy says that Prothonotary Aronovitch’s decision to disallow the large majority of its claim was flawed in that it was “based upon a wrong principle, an error of law and/or misapprehensions of the fact that cannot reasonably be supported by the evidence.†Outlining its case, the ISP says that Prothonotary Aronovitch improperly interpreted the scope of an earlier decision by Prothonotary Aalto concerning Norwich order (disclosure order) jurisprudence, including the nature of costs to which an innocent third-party respondent (Teksavvy in this case) is entitled. The ISP further asserts that Prothonotary Aronovitch relied on “irrelevant jurisprudence†to justify excluding Teksavvy’s costs and disallowing costs on the basis they amounted to the “costs of doing business.†In support of several other complaints and claims, Teksavvy demands a four-hour hearing to outline why it should achieve the following: – An order which awards Teksavvy “reasonable legal costs, administrative costs and disbursements†or an amount the Court deems “just and appropriate†– An order which awards Teksavvy its costs in the previous hearing before Prothonotary Aronovitch – An award for the costs of this appeal, plus any “further and other relief†the court might deem “just†Commenting on Teksavvy’s decision to appeal, copyright lawyer Howard Knopf says that the ISP’s earlier decision to “take no position†on the original Voltage disclosure application may have cost the company dearly. “This appears to have been a key factor in the Federal Court’s refusal to reward TekSavvy and its counsel with almost $180,000 in legal fees,†Knopf writes. “Ironically, if TekSavvy had actually opposed Voltage’s motion, it may well have been in a much better position to successfully seek costs. Prothonotary Aronovitch cites [a similar case] where two the ISPs actively opposed the disclosure motion. In that case, the Court ultimately denied the motion but awarded the costs of the motion to the third-party ISPs who had opposed it.†So while the parties battle it out under appeal, there is still the matter of the consumers who are expecting a letter through the post from Voltage Pictures. Those letters still haven’t gone out and before they do so their content much be approved by the court. While that may offer recipients some protection, the end game is almost guaranteed – demands for some kind of cash settlement to avoid supposed legal action. And according to Voltage counsel James Zibarras, that be could more costly than people might have been led to believe. Discussions thus far have indicated that statutory damages in such cases sit at $5,000. However, Zibarras says that plaintiffs can also opt for actual damages instead. These take into consideration damages caused by those who distribute content as well as upload, he says. “And this is the thing, the people that Voltage goes after… technically aren’t downloaders. What Voltage goes after is people that make their product available for upload,†Zibarras says. “Once you switch to actual [damages], then there’s no cap, it’s whatever we can prove.†While that assertion is refuted by lawyer Howard Knopf, one thing is for certain. Voltage certainly sees dollar signs in this action and it’s not going to be giving up anytime soon. https://torrentfreak.com/isp-teksavvy-appeals-in-hurt-locker-piracy-case-150406/
  16. Multi-platinum pop-star Mika has announced the release of his much anticipated new album 'No Place In Heaven' to be released on 15th June via Virgin EMI. Following on from his multi-million selling worldwide debut 'Life In Cartoon Motion' and subsequent releases 'The Boy Who Knew Too Much' and 'The Origin of Love', Mika's fourth album 'No Place In Heaven' is a striking record that has been crafted by Mika over the past two years. Mika enlisted long-time collaborator and Grammy nominated producer Gregg Wells (Katy Perry, Pharrell Williams, Adele, Rufus Wainwright) to produce the new album. The pair creating a mature new record that exhibits Mika's incredible song writing talents and breath-taking vocals, evoking memories of classic 70s pop albums created by acclaimed song writers Billy Joel, Todd Rundgren, Elton John etc. Mika has spent the past couple of years conquering the hearts of audiences across Europe, appearing as a judge on the X Factor Italy, a coach on The Voice France and topping the charts in France with the release of "Boum Boum Boum". In addition to his musical achievements, Mika has been working closely with global watch company, Swatch, as their creative ambassador to create some unique designs for their collections. More recently Mika has been collaborating with renowned Italian fashion house, Valentino, producing bespoke suits with their creative directors. To celebrate the announcement of his new album, Mika is gifting 'Last Party' as an instant grat track to fans when the album is pre-ordered through iTunes. 'Last Party', an ode to Freddie Mercury, will be accompanied by a simple yet stunning , shot by celebrated fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh, the first time Peter has ever collaborated with a music artist. Mika rounded off his last album in the UK with an incredible string of live shows including a sold out show at Heaven and a headline slot at Lovebox Weekend as well as performing a live set at the 2012 Olympics in London and numerous European tour dates and festival appearances. Mika's previous single 'Popular feat. Ariana Grande' recently hit 100 Million views on YouTube and Vevo and has certified gold in the USA with over 500,000 sales. Mika has also sold over 10 million records and received Gold or Platinum awards in 32 countries worldwide across his previous three albums 'Life in Cartoon Motion', 'The Boy Who Knew Too Much' and 'The Origin Of Love', winning Brit and MTV Awards in the process.
  17. The popular TV-torrent site EZTV is warning its users not to visit the old EZTV.it domain, which is operated by impostors. The company that grabbed the old domain at an auction offered EZTV a deal. However, the torrent release group refuses to be involved in any profit oriented partnership so has launched a counter-attack. Earlier this year EZTV ran into trouble with the Italian domain name registry NIC.it over some paperwork. Facing a looming confiscation of the EZTV.it domain name, they swiftly moved to a new home using the Swiss based EZTV.ch. Soon after the EZTV.it domain was suspended, but in a surprise move it became available again after a few weeks. Unfortunately for the EZTV crew it was quickly scooped up by domain squatters. The domain was allegedly listed for sale at an auction where the company EZCLOUD LIMITED (Ezcloud is the same name the real EZTV used in the Whois previously) bought it for a five digit number. They then relaunched the domain using it as a reverse proxy to serve content from the original domain, with their own ads. Instead of making clear that the site was a proxy, the owners removed all references to the real EZTV.ch domain, probably in an effort to keep the traffic on board. TF reached out to EZCLOUD director Hernandez Dominguez Emmanuel, hoping to find out more about their motivation, and we were informed that they initially planned to make a deal with the real EZTV. Emmanuel sent a business proposal to EZTV offering them a percentage of the profit they made from advertisements. The other option was to buy the domain back for a larger amount, but a partnership was preferred. “The business proposal to Novaking was straightforward: he pays us a slightly bigger amount than we have paid at the auction or we somehow partnership by uniting both entities: eztv.it and eztv.ch and we will earn in the course of the next months by percentage of the ads revenues,†Emmanuel tells TF. EZTV’s Novaking was not interested in making a deal and made that very clear in a short reply. “Have no idea why you are trying to sound like business oriented people. I have no interest in making some crappy deals with you simply being a reverse proxy. Have fun with the domain,†Novaking wrote in a quick response. In addition, EZTV banned IP-address of the impostor site so it could no longer act as a reverse proxy. However, this ban was circumvented and ETZV.it still displays recent torrents via a workaround. According to Novaking it’s obvious that the impostors have bad intentions. They want people to believe that they’re the real site so they can make a profit. “They basically want us to do all the work and they make money from it,†Novaking informs TF. To warn people he posted a note on the official site urging users to avoid the old domain. “The scammers who own eztv.it appear to be trying to fool users to think they are the main website,†the warning reads. “Take caution, and stop using their website, the correct domain is eztv.ch. Please inform your family and friends who may still be using the old domain,†it adds. In response, EZCLOUD posted a message on the site inaccurately claiming that they are the real deal. “The correct domain address is eztv.it as always! Please inform your family and friends who may be using other cloned domains.†Considering the rift between both sides it seems unlikely that EZTV.it will be returned to its original owner anytime soon. For now it remains in possession of the impostors, something people should bear in mind. https://torrentfreak.com/eztv-impostors-hope-to-cash-in-on-eztv-it-150403/
  18. Cox Communications, one of the largest ISPs in the United States, is refusing to hand over financial details in a prominent piracy case. The provider is being sued by two music publishers for allegedly failing to disconnect 200,000 repeat copyright infringers. The rightsholders are requesting detailed financial information to show that the company profits from its inaction. Every month copyright holders and anti-piracy groups send hundreds of thousands of takedown notices to Internet providers. These notifications have to be forwarded to individual account holders under the DMCA law, to alert them that their connection is being used to share copyrighted works without permission. Cox Communications is one of the ISPs that forwards these notices. The ISP also implemented a strict set of rules of its own accord to ensure that its customers understand the severity of the allegations. According to some copyright holders, however, Cox’s efforts are falling short. Last December BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued the ISP because it fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claim that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction. The case is a critical test for the repeat infringer clause of the DMCA and the safe harbor protections ISPs enjoy. In recent weeks both parties have started the discovery process to gather as many details as they can for the upcoming trial. Cox, for example, is looking into the ownership of the 1,000 works for which they received seven million DMCA takedown notices. In addition, the ISP also wants an expert opinion on the source code of the Rightscorp’s crawler that was used to spot the alleged infringements. For their part, BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music have asked for details on Cox’s policy towards repeat copyright infringers and extensive details on the company’s financials. The ISP believes the latter request is too broad and as a result is refusing to produce the requested documents. In a response the music companies have filed a motion asking the federal court to force the ISP to comply (pdf). Among other things, they argue that the financial details are needed to calculate damages and show that Cox has a financial motive to keep persistent pirates on board. “The financial information that Cox refused to produce is directly relevant to Cox’s strong motivation for ignoring rampant infringement on its network because ignoring this infringement results in a financial benefit to Cox,†they argue. “Moreover, Cox’s financial motivation for refusing to take meaningful actions against its repeat infringing customers is important to both the knowledge element of contributory infringement and the financial benefit element of vicarious liability,†the music groups add. In its response Cox states that the rightsholders’ demands are too broad (pdf) since the documents requested include those related to the ISP’s market share, capital expenditures, profits per customer for each service, and so forth. According to Cox most of the information is irrelevant to this case. “Plaintiffs’ document requests seek virtually every financial record that Cox maintains about its internet Customers and its provision of internet services,†Cox notes. The ISP says it’s willing to share some financial detail but with a far more limited scope than demanded by the rightsholders. “To be clear, Cox has been and remains willing to produce high-level, aggregate financial data of the kind that courts permit in cases involving statutory copyright damages, for example corporate tax returns. But Plaintiffs have never offered to entertain even minor limitations to the scope of their discovery requests, making any compromise effectively impossible,†the ISP notes. The court has yet to decide how many of its financial secrets Cox must reveal but judging from the demands being made from both sides, it’s clear that we can expect more fireworks during the months to come. https://torrentfreak.com/cox-refuses-to-reveal-financials-in-promiment-piracy-case-150327/
  19. The MPAA and RIAA are backing a new copyright curriculum showing kids how to become "Ethical Digital Citizens." After public pressure the curriculum was edited to include fair use principles, but a leaked MPAA email shows that there's more fair use in the lesson plans than Hollywood wanted. During the summer of 2013 we voiced our doubts about an initiative from the Center for Copyright Information (CCI). The group, which has the MPAA and RIAA as key members, had just started piloting a kindergarten through sixth grade curriculum on copyright in California schools. The curriculum was drafted in collaboration with iKeepSafe and aims to teach kids the basics of copyright. Unfortunately, the lesson materials were rather one-sided and mostly ignored fair use and the more flexible copyright licences Creative Commons provides. These concerns were picked up by the mainstream press, creating a massive backlash. The CCI and other partners emphasized that the pilot was tested with an early draft and promised that the final curriculum would be more balanced. In the months that followed the lesson plans indeed got a major overhaul and last summer the “Copyright and Creativity for Ethical Digital Citizens†curriculum was finalized. As reported previously, the new and improved version was indeed expanded to discuss fair use principles and Creative Commons licenses. However, as far as Hollywood is concerned it now includes too much discussion on fair use. TorrentFreak received a copy of a leaked email the MPAA’s Howard Gantman sent to various insiders last summer, explaining what happened. It starts off by mentioning the negative response to the leak and states that the MPAA and RIAA will try to keep a low profile in future, probably to prevent another wave of critique. “After there was serious negative commentary on twitter, blogs and by news columnists who are not strong supporters of copyright last fall when a draft version of the curriculum was leaked accidentally by iKeepSafe – a determination was made to try to release this in a way that would keep a low profile for any MPAA or RIAA involvement,†Gantman writes. The copyright holder groups and CCI decided to let iKeepSafe and its PR firm handle the media, something which eventually came to pass. Continuing the conversation Gantman explains that the lesson materials were heavily edited to include a broader and more diverse perspective on copyright. “The curriculum that has been produced also went through numerous rounds of edits and debate involving a wide range of organizations with differing views on copyright,†Gantman writes. According to the MPAA, the end result is a compromise that includes more fair use than they had wanted, but still good enough to teach kids how to behave ethically on the Internet. “So the end result contains sections on fair use that are more extensive than we would use if we drafted the curriculum ourselves. But overall, the effort will hopefully lead to an active program within our schools to help get kids to understand what it means to behave ethically on the Internet,†Gantman adds. By comparing the first pilot materials with the final curriculum it becomes clear that nearly all additions are about fair use. Grade 4 lesson handout For example, where children were initially warned against using copyrighted images and music from the Internet in Powerpoint presentations, they are now told that this is totally fine, as long as the material is only shown in class. Similar changes have been made throughout the entire curriculum, as we documented in our earlier coverage. The question that remains is whether these extensive changes would have been made if the pilot materials hadn’t leaked in advance. That will probably remain a secret, but at least it’s clear that Hollywood got more fair use than they hoped for. https://torrentfreak.com/mpaa-wanted-less-fair-use-in-copyright-curriculum-150329/
  20. Infamous torrent site The Pirate Bay has a new European block to contend with after a judge in Spain handed down a ruling against the site today. Local ISPs now have 72 hours in which to block the site, the first instruction of its type under the country's so-called Sinde Law. When it comes be being blocked on copyright grounds, no site in the world can come close to the ‘achievements’ of The Pirate Bay. The infamous ‘pirate’ domain is blocked in more than a dozen countries including the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Belgium and Portugal, to name just a few. After a ruling today from Madrid’s Central Administrative Litigation Court No. 5, the torrent site can now add Spain to its ever-growing collection. Due to the site’s failure to respond to rightsholder requests to remove links to copyrighted material in a timely manner as required by Spain’s copyright law, ISPs are now required to block their subscribers from accessing the site. According to a statement issued by Promusicae, the trade association that represents more than 90 percent of the Spanish recorded music industry, the decision comes two and a half years after the Association of Intellectual Rights Management (AGEDI) submitted a complaint against Neij LMT Holdings, the company behind several Pirate Bay-related domains. “It is the first blocking of a website dedicated to pirating music and other content that takes place in Spain under the so-called Sinde Law,†the group said in a statement. According to Elmundo the injunction requires ISPs to block thepiratebay.org, thepiratebay.net, thepiratebay.se and thepiratebay.com within 72 hours. Early this year ISP Vodafone blocked The Pirate Bay in Spain believing that it was required to do so. Amid confusion, Vodafone lifted the block and said it would wait for a warrant before blocking the site again. From early next week the site should be inaccessible to most Internet users in Spain, a situation likely to spark traffic to other key sites and the take up of VPN services. Like all countries in the world, Spain had a taste of a Pirate Bay free world after the site was shutdown in December 2014. Almost two months passed before it reappeared at the end of January. https://torrentfreak.com/block-pirate-bay-in-72-hours-spanish-court-tells-isps-150327/
  21. Following a complaint from Rights Alliance, a Danish court has ordered ISPs to block 12 pirate sites including KickassTorrents, RARBG and TubePlus. With these blockades rightsholders hope to steer people towards legal content. One of the affected site owners, however, believe it serves as free advertising. For nearly a decade Denmark has been a testbed for pirate site blockades. The first blocks were ordered back in 2006 after music industry group IFPI filed a complaint targeting the Russian MP3 sites AllofMP3 and MP3sparks. Not much later Denmark became the first European country to force an ISP to block access to The Pirate Bay. After some small additions during the years that followed, a Danish Court has now ordered another round of pirate site blocks, the largest one thus far. Following a complaint from the local Rights Alliance (RettighedsAlliancen) group the blocklist was updated with 12 popular torrent, streaming and MP3 download sites. The new domains are free-tv-video-online.me, watchseries.lt ,solarmovie.is, tubeplus.me, mp3vip.org, rarbg.com, extratorrent.cc, isohunt.to, eztv.ch, kickass.to, torrentz.eu and music-bazaar.com. Due to a recent agreement the sites will be blocked by all ISPs, even those not mentioned in the lawsuit. Late last year Rights Alliance and the telecommunications industry signed a Code of Conduct which ensures that blockades are put in place country-wide. Speaking with TF, Rights Alliance head Maria Fredenslund says that their primary goal is to limit piracy through education. For this reason, the blocking page includes links to legal stores and services. “Right Alliance doesn’t merely take an enforcement approach. We want to understand user behavior offer people legal alternatives,†Fredenslund says. “We are quite happy that there are so many people who are looking for online entertainment. Our goal is to steer them in the right direction, instead of simply blocking access,†she adds. For the affected sites there will be a drop in Danish visitors. Interestingly, however, not all site owners are disappointed. TF spoke with the operator of one of the torrent sites on condition of anonymity. He says that these blocking efforts are free advertising and that users can still access the blocked domains through proxies or anonymizing services. “Blocking is the greatest thing that can happen to a site. It is free advertising for your site. People want the things they can’t have,†the operator says. “Whoever is blocking the sites is actually doing us a favor by telling the users that they can’t open the site, thus making the users want to open the site even more.†Rights Alliance sees things differently and points to the results of a test on the effectiveness of blocking efforts. “There are clear signs that our approach works. A recent test revealed that if people were warned that they had attempted to visit an unauthorized site, 84% chose not to continue,†Fredenslund tells us. The test in question was conducted at various Danish schools. Instead of completely blocking access the schools inserted a notification which allowed users to visit legal alternatives or continue to the illegal sites. The majority of the people who saw this notice decided not to visit the page. Whether the result will also translate to people’s non-monitored home connections is not clear. In any case, the new blockades in Denmark are throwing up an extra hurdle. https://torrentfreak.com/popular-torrent-and-streaming-sites-blocked-in-denmark-150327/
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  24. A leaked build of Windows 10 has revealed that Microsoft may be about to utilize BitTorrent-style tech to deliver updates to its new OS. Deep in the settings is an option to receive updates from multiple sources including Microsoft, local computers and those "on the Internet." Could this be BitTorrent or their own 'Avalanche' system? There once was a time when one could simply throw a disc – floppy or otherwise – into a machine and enjoy software functionality right off the bat. Those days have long gone. Massive complexity, online connectivity and associated cloud features have given way to a culture of almost continual updates with some component or other requiring a ‘fix’ or performance-based software upgrade on an annoyingly regular basis. While huge technology companies have plenty of bandwidth at their disposal, shifting data around doesn’t come free. It is relatively cheap, granted, but those bits and bytes soon cause the dollars to mount up. Much ‘better’ then, is to try and offload some of that load onto consumers. It could be that with its upcoming Windows 10, Microsoft is mulling doing just that. Deep in the settings of a leaked build spotted by Neowin, the company has introduced settings which give users the option of where to obtain updates and apps for their new operating system. DOWNLOAD APPS AND OS UPDATES FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES TO GET THEM MORE QUICKLY Of course, this is where distributed BitTorrent-like systems come into their own, with each user helping to share the load of shifting around data and providing excellent speeds, without any single entity (in this case Microsoft) footing the lion’s share of the bills. If Microsoft did choose BitTorrent, they would be in excellent company. Half a decade ago it was revealed that Twitter had implemented the protocol and in the same year Facebook confirmed deploying its own servers with technology. “It’s ‘superduper’ fast and it allows us to alleviate a lot of scaling concerns we’ve had in the past, where it took forever to get code to the webservers before you could even boot it up and run it,†the company said at the time. But even though Facebook is still having fun with torrent technology to this day, it seems likely that Microsoft has its own, more proprietary tricks up its sleeve. More than a decade ago with BitTorrent in its infancy, Microsoft also began looking at developing P2P distribution. Researcher Christos Gkantsidis published his paper Network Coding for Large Scale Content Distribution which begins with a now very familiar concept. “We propose a new scheme for content distribution of large files that is based on network coding. With network coding, each node of the distribution network is able to generate and transmit encoded blocks of information. The randomization introduced by the coding process eases the scheduling of block propagation, and, thus, makes the distribution more efficient,†the paper’s abstract reads. In 2006, Microsoft published Anatomy of a P2P Content Distribution System with Network Coding but by then the existence of a Microsoft equivalent to BitTorrent was public knowledge – Project Avalanche had been born. Named after traditional avalanches that start small but gain massive momentum as more snow (or peers) get involved, Avalanche claimed it would improve on BitTorrent in a number of ways. At the time, however, BitTorrent’s Bram Cohen criticized the project technically and concluded that it amounted to vaporware. But today in 2015, almost ten years on, things have definitely changed. Although there is no confirmation that Avalanche (or the Microsoft Secure Content Downloader as it was once described) is behind the Windows 10 update process option, there’s little doubt that Microsoft will have sharpened its tools. In addition, Microsoft owns patents (1,2) which describe DRM-protected P2P distribution systems which could potentially help to keep any P2P Windows 10 update system secure, a requirement predicted by Avalanche years before. “The Avalanche model includes strong security to ensure content providers are uniquely identifiable, and to prevent unauthorized parties from offering content for download. The project also ensures content downloaded to each client machine is exactly the same as the content shared by the content provider,†Microsoft said. Only time will tell if Microsoft takes the distributed update route for its eventual release of Windows 10, and whether avalanches or torrents cascade into (and out of) homes worldwide as a result. https://torrentfreak.com/bittorrent-style-updates-revealed-in-leaked-windows-10-150316/
  25. Virgin Media subscribers in the UK are being shaken down over alleged porn downloads by a Cyprus-based company. Worryingly, letter recipients are invited to ring a premium rate number for advice and the website operated by the company is not only non-functional but also has improper registration information. For the second time in a week UK-based Internet subscribers have found themselves on the wrong end of so-called ‘copyright troll’ threats. On Tuesday TorrentFreak revealed that Sky Broadband were handing over the details of an unknown number of customers to TCYK LLC, a US-based outfit aiming to extract cash payments from alleged pirates of the Robert Redford movie The Company You Keep. And today we have news of another attempt, this time executed by the masters of copyright trolling – the porn industry. The case dates back to last year when TF discovered that several porn producers had teamed up in an effort to force ISP Virgin Media to hand over the names and addresses of an estimated 1,500 subscribers said to have downloaded and shared adult content without permission. The companies (Sunlust Pictures, Combat Zone Corporation and Pink Bonnet, Consultores de Imagem LDA), none of which appear to be based in the UK, worked with Wagner & Co, a London lawfirm previously known for working with another troll, GoldenEye International. Sunlust Pictures, an adult movie company founded in 2009 by former porn actress Sunny Leone, has previously been involved in US-based trolling. Combat Zone Corporation (CZN) is an adult movie company based in California. They’re no strangers to the cash settlement model either. To keep things centralized these companies hired Mircom International Content Management & Consulting Ltd (MICM), a company already demanding cash payments from Internet users elsewhere in Europe. It is Mircom that are now sending out letters to Virgin Media customers. Copies received by TorrentFreak highlight the company’s case. One reads as follows: “It is with regret that we are writing this letter to you. However, the Claimants are very concerned at the illicit distribution of films over the internet,†the letters begin. “CZN is the owner of the copyright in the film sold under the name “SEXY BRAZILIAN LESBIAN WORKOUT (“the WORKâ€). The Work has been made available for sale in the United Kingdom. MICM has a license to act for CZN in relation to these claims.†Mircom claims that a “forensic computer analyst†searched for IP addresses making the content available on P2P networks without the necessary license. Virgin Media told TF that they previously challenged the reliability of the software used (FileWatchBT). In the letters Mircom accuses recipients of infringement and invites a “full written response as soon as reasonably possible.†After stating that “the High Court has not yet considered the merits of our claim against youâ€, the letter acknowledges that the letter recipient may not be the infringer, but then tries to bully that person into revealing who the infringer might be. “In the event that you were not responsible for the infringing acts outlined above because, for example, another member of your household was the user of the computer, you should make full disclosure to us of the other parties at your residence using your internet connection to make the Work available for download,†the letter reads. In common with all similar trolling attempts to these, one might also conclude that if Mircom is so confident of the accuracy and usefulness of its systems and evidence, Mircom itself should be the one naming names, rather entering into a information fishing expedition with account holders who may merely pay the bill. Nevertheless, Mircom continues with the threat that “failure to make such disclosure may lead to the claim being made against you with the court being asked to conclude, on the balance of probabilities that you were the user of the computer.†Further threats are leveled at those who might decide to treat Mircom’s threats as spam. “Should this matter ultimately be heard and determined by a court, adverse costs consequences against you could follow from a failure to constructively respond to this letter,†the letter adds. However, while all of these attempts at so-called “speculative invoicing†should raise alarm bells with consumers, this current effort by Mircom and its partners adds even more fuel to the fire. Firstly, while Mircom is taking action in the UK, the initial address provided – Spyrou Kyprianou 32 Nicosia, Cyprus – is the home of dozens of other companies. The UK address provided – Winston House, 2 Dollis Park, Finchley, London, N3 1HF – is also the home of dozens of further companies. If that isn’t enough to put recipients on alert, the contact number provided by the company should. Instead of providing a local number, Mircom provide a premium rate number (0871 990 3150) which can cost up to 40p per minute. As can be seen from this page there are already reports from letter recipients inquiring about the number. Also at issue is the email address provided by Mircom. The company lists mircom.co.uk as its web address but the site is non-functional and merely links to a web-hosting company’s landing page. The company’s WHOIS entry raises more eyebrows. In order to opt out from the requirement that certain co.uk domain holders must publish their personal details, Mircom has wrongly declared itself not as a company, but as a “non-trading individual who has opted to have their address omitted from the WHOIS service.†For the record, Nominet is clear on the matter. “Only domain name holders who are ‘non-trading individuals’ can opt out of having their address details published on the WHOIS. In other words, if the registrant is not a business or organization and – in the case of domain names registered to individuals – you do not use or plan to use your domain name for business, trade (such as pay-per-click advertising, etc.) or professional transactions, you may opt out of having your address displayed.†Those receiving letters are welcome to contact TF in confidence but in the meantime the advice remains the same. Read the Speculative Invoicing Handbook Second Edition cover to cover, contact Citizens Advice, and if a legal opinion is required Michael Coyle from Lawdit Solicitors (who has dealt with these kinds of cases previously) is at hand. Finally, bear in mind that Mircom’s current solicitors – Wagner & Co – who represented Goldeneye International in an almost identical case to this – also promised to take people to court and sue them for infringement. Not a single case has gone forward despite hundreds of threats. https://torrentfreak.com/virgin-customers-targeted-in-new-porn-piracy-shakedown-150314/