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  1. have PolishTracker with over 3TB buffer want hdcorea or dvdseed or I am also able to sell it
  2. Amazon has removed the popular media center Kodi from the app store claiming it facilitates piracy. The software, formerly known as XBMC, doesn't link to or host any infringing content, but third-party add-ons are giving the software a bad reputation. Taking “infringing†apps out of popular app stores is one of Hollywood’s key anti-piracy priorities for the years to come. Various entertainment industry groups frequently report “piracy-enabling†apps to Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, alongside requests for the stores to take them offline. The stores themselves also screen for potentially problematic software. Apple, for example, has notoriously banned all BitTorrent related apps. Increasingly, Amazon is also policing its app marketplace for possibly infringing content. A few days ago, this led to the removal of the popular media center Kodi, previously known as XBMC. “In reviewing your app, we determined that it can be used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content. Any facilitation of piracy or illegal downloads is not allowed in our program,†Amazon wrote to Kodi. “Please do not resubmit this app or similar apps in the future,†Amazon’s support team added. TF spoke with XBMC Foundation board member Nathan Betzen, who was surprised to hear Amazon’s decision. In recent months the project has worked hard to distance their brand from piracy, so Amazon’s accusation is a huge disappointment. The Kodi software itself is an entirely legal media center that doesn’t come with any infringing features or content. However, there are many third-party addons that allow users to stream pirated movies and TV-shows. The Kodi team is actively pursuing infringing addons and sellers who abuse the brand, and is also trying to obtain a trademark so they can go after these piracy promoters more effectively. “Most importantly, we’re working to finalize our trademark filing. Once our trademark is registered, it becomes dramatically easier to issue takedown requests with the various organizations that provide voice for these groups advertising and selling pirate boxes,†Betzen tells TF. “We always say we don’t care what our users do with the software, and we stand by that position. But we sure do hate it when companies destroy the name of our software in order to make a profit.†For Amazon to ban the app is “absurd†according to the Kodi team, because the company is still allowing vendors to sell boxes that are giving the software this bad reputation. “I assume I don’t have to tell you how absurd it is that Amazon won’t let us into their appstore, but they have no problem selling the boxes that are pushing the reason they won’t let us into their app store,†Betzen says. Removing Kodi may also hurt Amazon in the long run, according to Betzen. The application allowed many other third-party services that are currently not on Amazon, available to Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick users. “This is a bad decision on Amazon’s part simply because Kodi is one giant reason people buy Amazon Fire TVs and Amazon Fire TV Sticks. Compatibility with our software makes for a really simple backdoor for entering the Amazon ecosystem.†“I personally have sideloaded Kodi onto Amazon sticks for a number of my family members, who then found themselves also using Amazon Prime and many other Amazon services,†he adds. Coincidentally, around the same time Amazon booted Kodi from their market, Google decided to include it in the Play Store. According to the Kodi team this is yet another reason for people to leave Amazon hardware behind. “It’s going to be extraordinarily difficult for Kodi users to justify going down the Amazon hardware path and recommending the Amazon path to others,†Betzen concludes. People who are interested in trying out Kodi’s media player, which is available on most operating systems, can head over to the official site.
  3. The former operator of the SurfTheChannel streaming site who received a landmark four year sentence in 2012 is facing another lengthy stretch behind bars. Anton Vickerman was released in 2014 but must now pay back £73,000 his site is said to have generated in advertising. Failure to do so by June 16 will trigger a further 21 month jail sentence. Three years after its birth in 2007, was among the most-visited streaming link websites on the Internet. The site enjoyed more than six million visits a day from 400,000 users who were mainly looking for the latest movies and the most popular TV shows. The site soon became the focus of an MPAA investigation carried out by the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft. As previously documented the anti-piracy groups went to extraordinary lengths to pin down site operator Anton Vickerman and present their evidence to the police. After the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service declined to take on the case, the MPAA and FACT brought a private criminal prosecution against Vickerman. Accusing him of being involved in a Conspiracy to Defraud the Movie Industry, the tactic paid off. In August 2012 Vickerman was sentenced to an unprecedented four years in jail. Following an unsuccessful appeal that was rejected a year after his conviction, Vickerman was eventually freed in August 2014. But for the MPAA the matter was from over. Just months later in December 2014, Vickerman was called before the courts again under the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA). It was argued that the money Vickerman made from the site was a proceed of crime and whatever hadn’t already been disposed of must be forfeited to the state – if any could be found. While Vickerman insisted that all of the money was long gone, police financial investigators said the former site operator had placed money not only in the UK, but also other countries including Spain, Latvia, Cyprus and Tanzania. “Vickerman moved the money he made out of the UK and into accounts around the globe, but working closely with FACT we were able to unravel his trail of bank transfers running across international borders and demonstrate to the court that six years on this convicted criminal still had access to assets worth over £73,000,†said Claudia Celentano from the City of London Police Asset Recovery Team. Following a court ruling last December which ordered Vickerman to pay back £73,055.79, the clock has been ticking for the former site operator. He now has little over a week to repay the full amount or face being thrown back into jail for a further 21 months. Surf the Channel’s Anton Vickerman In desperation, Vickerman’s family and friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to try and raise the money. “As anyone who knows [Anton] personally will tell you he is a man who has been financially ruined by the legal battle with the powers against him and is not a man who has any money. Currently he lives on a council estate in the North West of England with his fiance working multiple jobs to try and put food on the table,†the appeal reads. “This means that on June 16 [Anton] will be sent back to prison for another ten and a half months which, when added together with his first unjust sentence brings the total to a six year prison sentence [Anton] will have served for the victimless ‘crime’ of owning and running a search engine.†If Vickerman can’t raise the money by next Tuesday, he will be sent to prison. However, that still won’t be the end of the matter. The 21 month sentence (with half deducted for good behavior) will not cancel out the requirement to settle the debt. “The debt is for life and survives bankruptcy, it never goes away,†his family explain. “On release [Anton] can look forward to being regularly dragged back before the courts to explain why he hasn’t paid in full, attachment of all earnings he makes, regular visits from bailiffs to seize any goods (not that he has any now having sold everything he could to pay some of the POCA debt) and, finally, further prison sentences if the UK Government decides that the interest on the debt has risen to a level that justifies more prison time.†FACT declined to comment for this article but Director General Kieron Sharp previously thanked police for their assistance in the confiscation proceedings. “FACT would like to thank the City of London Police for their assistance in pursuing confiscation proceedings against Anton Vickerman,†Sharp said. “This private criminal prosecution produced many difficulties, not least of which was how to uncover Vickerman’s hidden criminal assets without the authorized powers of a financial investigator.â€â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹ Whether raising such a large sum of money in a week is a realistic proposition remains to be seen, but if Vickerman is to get any closure the debt (which is subject to interest at 8% per annum) simply has to be cleared. He’s managed to reduce it by £6,000 by “selling anything he owns of value†but that still leaves £67,000. “Help us stop this never ending persecution of a man who just wants the chance to rebuild his life and start afresh,†his family concludes.
  4. Hoping to find out more about the secret Internet censorship plans Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood was pushing, Google is now taking the MPAA to court. After several subpoenas remained largely unanswered, the search giant is now asking a New York federal court to ensure that the MPAA other parties hand over the requested information. Helped by the MPAA, Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood launched a secret campaign to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States. The MPAA and Hood want Internet services to bring website blocking and search engine filtering back to the table after the controversial law failed to pass. In response to the looming threat Google filed a complaint against Hood last December, asking the court to prevent Hood from enforcing a subpoena that addresses Google’s failure to take down or block access to illegal content, including pirate sites. This resulted in a victory for Google with District Court Judge Henry Wingate putting the subpoena on hold. At the same time Google requested additional details from the Attorney General and various other parties involved in the scheme, including the MPAA. Thus far, however, these requests haven’t proven fruitful. In a motion to compel directed at the MPAA (pdf), Google explains that the movie industry group and other petitioned parties have yet to hand over the requested information. “To date, the subpoenaed parties have produced nothing,†Google’s lawyers inform the court. “They have inexplicably delayed producing the few documents they agreed to turn over, and have objected that many of their documents, including internal notes or summaries of meetings with AG Hood, are irrelevant or protected by some unsubstantiated privilege.†In addition to the MPAA, Google has also filed similar motions against the MPAA’s law firm Jenner & Block, Digital Citizens Alliance, 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal and Viacom. All parties thus far have refused to hand over the requested information, which includes communication with and prepared for the Attorney General, as well as emails referencing Google. According to the MPAA this information is “irrelevant†or privileged, but Google disagrees. “The relevance objections are meritless. As Judge Wingate has already held, there is substantial evidence that the Attorney General’s actions against Google were undertaken in bad faith and for a retaliatory purpose,†the motion reads. According to Google’s legal team the documents will shine a light on how the MPAA and others encouraged and helped the Attorney General to push for Internet censorship. “Google expects the documents will show that the Attorney General, the Subpoenaed Parties, and their lobbyists understood that his actions invaded the exclusive province of federal law,†the motion reads. “More fundamentally, the documents are likely to show that the Attorney General’s investigation was intended not to uncover supposed violations of Mississippi law, but instead to coerce Google into silencing speech that Viacom, Fox, and NBC do not like…†District Court Judge James Boasberg has referred the case to a magistrate judge (pdf), who will discuss the matter in an upcoming hearing. Considering the stakes at hand, the players involved will leave no resource untapped to defend their positions.
  5. An angry YouTuber says he has had enough of the way YouTube handles the DMCA and allegations of copyright infringement. In a lawsuit filed against Google, Viacom and Lionsgate, Benjamin Ligeri complains of restrictive practices which favor copyright holders using YouTube's Content ID system, even when claims are invalid. While in previous years people were simply grateful to have somewhere to host their own vides, these days a growing number of YouTube users rely on the site to generate extra cash. Earning money with YouTube is now easier than ever, with some ‘YouTubers’ even making enough to invest in a mansion. For others, however, the environment created by the Google-owned video platform is far from perfect, with complaints over the company’s Content ID anti-piracy system regularly making the news. Now YouTuber Benjamin Ligeri is adding his name to the disgruntled list. In a lawsuit filed at the US District Court for the District of Rhode Island which lists Google, Viacom, Lionsgate and another YouTuber as defendants, Ligeri bemoans a restrictive YouTube user contract and a system that unfairly handles copyright complaints. Ligeri says that he has uploaded content to YouTube under the name BetterStream for purposes including “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and/or research,†but never in breach of copyright. Nevertheless, he claims to have fallen foul of YouTube’s automated anti-piracy systems. One complaint details a video uploaded by Ligeri which he says was a parody of the film The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It was present on YouTube for a year before a complaint was filed against it by a YouTube user called Egeda Pirateria. “Defendant Pirateria is not the rightful owner of the rights to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, nor did the Plaintiff’s critique of it amount to copying or distribution of the movie,†Ligeri writes. However, much to his disappointment, YouTube issued a copyright “strike†against Ligeri’s account and refused to remove the warning, even on appeal. “YouTube, although Defendants Pirateria or Lion’s Gate lacked any legal claim to any copyright to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, denied the Plaintiff’s appeal pertaining to his account’s copyright strike,†the complaint reads. Ligeri says Viacom also got in on the action, filing a complaint against his “critique†of the 2014 remake of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “A claim was made with YouTube on behalf of Defendant Viacom. Defendant Viacom does not have a legal or valid copyright to TMNT. Defendant YouTube allowed Viacom the option to mute, disable or monetize the Plaintiff’s Fair Use content,†Ligeri adds. Although the fair use argument could be up for debate, in 2009 Nickelodeon acquired the global rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand. Nickelodeon’s parent company is Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures. “Content ID is an opaque and proprietary system where the accuser can serve as the judge, jury and executioner,†Ligeri continues. “Content ID allows individuals, including Defendants other than Google, to steal ad revenue from YouTube video creators en masse, with some companies claiming content they don’t own deliberately or not. The inability to understand context and parody regularly leads to fair use videos getting blocked, muted or monetized.†Noting that YouTube exercises absolute power through its take-it-or-leave-it user agreement, Ligeri says the agreement and Content ID combined result in non-compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. “Normally, under DMCA, there would be a process where the reported content would be removed for 10-14 days so any dispute could be resolved by way of notice and counter-notice,†Ligeri writes. “Content ID and YouTube’s adhesion contract are not compliant with DMCA because, at a minimum, the software’s algorithm fails [to] recognize when content may or may not be violating copyright.†Ligeri says that rather than acting as a neutral party, YouTube favors larger copyright holders using Content ID over smaller creators who do not. “This software and YouTube’s terms of use circumvent DMCA by creating a private arbitration mechanism. Further, a party claiming copyright infringement has no burden of proof under this private arbitration mechanism,†he notes. In conclusion, Ligeri is demanding an injunction which compels Google/YouTube to restore the content taken down via the allegedly bogus complaints and “otherwise comply with the DMCA.†Ligeri also seeks declaratory judgments that he did not infringe the copyrights of the defendants and that YouTube’s terms of use are void on several counts, including that they ignore or fail to comply with the DMCA. A claim for nominal damages of $10,000, ‘special’ damages of $1,000,000 plus unspecified punitive damages and costs conclude the filing. This is not the first time Ligeri has personally targeted YouTube. In 2008 he unsuccessfully sued the company in an effort to obtain a 1/500th share in the revenue generated by the video site. The self-styled “#1 Most Viewed YouTube Icon†also appears to enjoy representing himself. In addition to the current case his Linkedin profile describes him as a “human rights activist private litigator†with previous experience working in a public defender’s office for the criminally insane.
  6. A new Hollywood commission report investigating the revenue sources of more than 600 supposedly infringing sites has controversially included file-hosting site Mega. The listing marks the second time in a matter of months that the cloud-storage service has been accused of online piracy via an industry-connected report. Yet again, the report's authors are refusing to comment. In September 2014, NetNames published a report titled Behind The Cyberlocker Door: A Report How Shadowy Cyberlockers Use Credit Card Companies to Make Millions. While the report was informative in many respects, NetNames made the questionable decision to include cloud-hosting service Granted, Mega’s Kim Dotcom connections might paint the site in an unfavorable light in some eyes, but the fact remains that covers all the bases when it comes to copyright law. And let’s face it – the site has had no other choice. As the most scrutinized file-hosting startup in history, any breach (even of the overseas DMCA) would prove absolutely catastrophic. Nevertheless and largely thanks to the NetNames report, payment processors including Visa, Mastercard and PayPal recently pulled the plug on the company. Then this week, just eight months after the NetNames report, came another turn of the screw. Titled The Revenue Sources for Websites Making Available Copyright Content Without Consent in the EU, a new MPA-commissioned report published by Incopro examined the money-making techniques of more than 600 ‘unauthorized’ sites in the file-sharing space. The study’s overarching tone is that the sites surveyed are criminal enterprises run by shady individuals aiming to get rich on the backs of the entertainment industries. In respect of many sites on the list it is difficult to argue with the assertion. But, yet again, finds itself on the list alongside the likes of The Pirate Bay and other similarly copyright-hostile domains. Just as we did following the NetNames report, TorrentFreak contacted the report’s authors and asked why Mega, a company with robust copyright protection mechanisms, had been included in the report. We received no response to what shouldn’t have been a particularly difficult question. It’s worth pointing out, however, that Incopro do list the factors that get hosting sites on the list. They say the factors “are drawn from case law†and are “typically used by courts†to “determine the status†of a site. They’re listed in bold below: Users are not charged for storage of files, instead revenue is accrued from subscription fees permitting download; per-download charges; and/or advertising While the above could indeed describe an infringing site if bad intent was present, it also describes the business model of YouTube. It seems unlikely that a court would find a site illegal on this basis alone. Anonymity for Users: The use of the service can be enjoyed in complete anonymity Allowing users to be anonymous is no indication of criminality, unless a service intentionally encourages its users to commit a crime. For the record, Mega users are not anonymous – the service logs user IP addresses to counter abuse. Anonymity for the Operators: Quite often the operators of the site will also be anonymous or based in jurisdictions where enforcement of the rule of law is quite difficult. Such sites tend to move less frequently, but will do so in response to perceived threats of legal action. While anonymity for operators can be an indication that facing the law isn’t a key priority, it is blatantly clear that is going nowhere. The company and its directors are registered in New Zealand, are public faces, and are currently pursuing a stock market listing. The Pirate Bay this most certainly isn’t. Inducement/Reward Scheme: Rewards for uploaders of large and popular files (with a particular emphasis on file size, i.e. additional rewards for popular files of over 200 megabytes, which are consistent with long-form copyright-protected audiovisual content). It is well known that some of the most shadowy file-hosting services use these kinds of affiliate schemes to attract uploaders of pirated content, but their presence alone is not an indicator of criminality. Again, YouTube is happy to share revenues with uploaders of popular files. In any event, Mega offers no such scheme. Ability to share files in the following formats (all consistent with long-form copyright-protected AV content): .rar, .zip, .avi, .wmv, .mpg, .mhv, .mp4, .divx, .xvid, .flv, .mov and .mpeg. That the hosting of these filetypes can result in a site being labeled as infringing is beyond ridiculous and doesn’t even warrant a detailed rebuttal. Free access for stored files is limited (in an attempt to encourage the purchase of premium membership) by methods such as increased wait times, bandwidth throttling, caps on the number of downloads freely accessed and online advertising. Again, many of these techniques are indeed employed by some of the most notorious file-hosters but on their own they are not indications of criminality. However, the important thing here is that none apply to Mega. Enabling Sharing of Links: Provision of ‘forum codes’ and ‘URL codes’ to facilitate the incorporation of links on third party indexing and linking sites. Providing a URL to stored content indicates that a site is pirate? Watch out Dropbox! THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS, THE ONES THAT REALLY MATTER Although not listed directly for hosting sites, Incopro does note that other factors can determine whether a site is likely infringing or not for the purposes of its report. This is where the meat of their claims against Mega and any other site should really hold up. The clear (and often stated) purpose of the sites is copyright infringement and facilitation of copyright infringement. The sites are highly structured and the content is referenced, categorized, curated and moderated. The operators are believed to exercise control over the content on the website. The sites provide guidance and deploy a variety of means of encouragement to users in accessing and making available content and advertise the availability of content on third party sites. The sites either don’t operate a takedown policy at all or such policies are mere window-dressing or even a sham. To even the most casual observer it must be clear Mega does not fit into any of these categories. Most importantly the company has a robust DMCA-style policy that has even seen it remove its own founder’s music following a bogus DMCA complaint. Conclusion When a site fails to meet any of the criteria for inclusion in a piracy report yet still finds itself included, one needs to ask why. Sadly (and like NetNames before them) the creators of this otherwise enlightening report refuse to answer that simple question. So why then have two big reports, both of which are likely to shape policy in the coming months and years, branded a legitimate file-hosting site a piracy haven? If it’s because Mega is breaking the law, the aggrieved parties should step up to the plate and say so. Better still, those funding the report (the MPA) should have their lawyers do something about it. If, however, it’s because Kim Dotcom founded Mega and everything he touches must now be destroyed at all costs, people should have the nerve to admit it. As noted earlier, both reports have their merits, but when suspicions of hidden agendas become apparent, their value is only diminished. Mega informs TorrentFreak it is analyzing the report with its lawyers.
  7. HBO and Showtime are not known to go after pirate sites, but the upcoming Mayweather v Pacquiao fight has proven to be an exception. Together with Mayweather Promotions and Top Rank Boxing the companies have sued two websites that announced intentions to stream the fight this weekend. HBO and Showtime are no stranger to online piracy. Their TV-shows are pirated millions of times each month. Nevertheless, both companies are not known for suing pirates or website owners, until now. Yesterday the two companies filed a complaint at a federal court in Florida targeting the websites and Both are accused of planning to stream the upcoming Mayweather v Pacquiao fight. In a unique pre-piracy case, the companies accuse the sites’ owners of various copyright related offenses of an event that has yet to take place. The suing parties have invested many millions of dollars which they hope to earn back in part through pay-per-view sales. But instead of the $89 to $100 people in the U.S. have to pay, both sites promise free access. “There are no authorized online streams of the Coverage for delivery to United States audiences,†the complaint clarifies, adding that the defendants “are seeking to benefit from this high profile, live Fight by infringing the rights of Plaintiffs.†The site’s owners would then profit from these free streams though various advertisements. The example below includes a screenshot of the site, which has since been removed. HBO and Showtime argue that the anticipated stream of the fight will infringe on their rights and cause irreparable damage. To stop the sites’ operators from linking to streams of the event the companies have asked the court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. In addition, HBO and Showtime demand damages to compensate for the expected losses. The lawsuit has already had some effect as has thrown in the towel and is no longer advertising the fight. Time will tell whether will be knocked down too.
  8. Popular TV-torrent distribution group EZTV is in trouble again. The site's new domain name has fallen into the hands of 'scammers' who are trying to cash in through various ads. EZTV, the go-to place for many torrenting TV fans, has suffered its fair share of troubles in recent months. In January the group lost its .it domain name, which was then taken over by impostors in March. The torrent distribution group meanwhile continued to operate from the new domain name, but during the past few hours this new home also became compromised. Instead of hosting official EZTV torrents the .CH domain now links to the same content as the ‘hijacked’ site. While there are plenty of TV-torrents available, these are sourced externally from RARBG. And there are more signs pointing to a hostile takeover. Users are not able to login for example, and the scam warning that was previously listed on the .ch domain in gone as well. In addition the site now serves various ads including popunders. TF reached out to ETZV’s Novaking to find out more about the apparent takeover, but we have yet to receive a reply. Upon close inspection it appears that the domain name was taken over at the registrar level. The WHOIS information was updated and now lists the UK-based “EZCLOUD LIMITED†as owner, which is the same company that registered the .it domain. The scammers who’ve taken over EZTV are looking to cash in from the site. EZCLOUD director Hernandez Dominguez Emmanuel previously said that he offered to partner with EZTV or sell the domain for a profit. “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: and and we will earn in the course of the next months by percentage of the ads revenues,†Emmanuel told TF. Novaking rejected this proposal and blocked the .it domain from using official EZTV torrents. EZCLOUD did not give up, however, and now appears to have taken complete control of ETZV’s new domain as well. — Breaking news, more updates may follow
  9. A group of major record labels including Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records and Universal Music Group have filed a lawsuit against the operators of the popular MP3 download site MP3Skull. The labels accuse the site's owners of copyright infringement and demand millions in damages. Unauthorized MP3 download sites have been a thorn in the side of the music industry for many years, and a group of well-known labels are now targeting one of the biggest players in the market. The coalition of record labels including Capitol Records, Sony Music, Warner Bros. Records and Universal Music Group have filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull, currently operating from the Tonga based .to domain name. In the complaint filed at a Florida District Court (pdf) the studios describe MP3Skull as a business that’s designed and operated to promote copyright infringement on a commercial scale. “MP3Skull is a website that is devoted to the infringement of copyrighted sound recordings on a massive scale, from which Defendants derive substantial revenue every year,†the complaint reads. “At the core of MP3Skull is a database that, according to Defendants, contains millions of links to MP3 music files from around the Internet,†it adds. MP3Skull has been around for several years and lists links to popular music tracks scattered around the web, free of charge. The operators of the site are not publicly known but the labels note that the Russian Monica Vasilenko was previously listed in the site’s Whois information. Besides offering a comprehensive database of links to music tracks, the labels also accuse the site’s operators of actively promoting piracy through social media. Among other things, MP3Skull helped users to find pirated tracks after a takedown notice purge. “MP3Skull’s official Twitter and Facebook pages contain several communications from Defendants openly encouraging users to download obviously infringing files, links to which were removed following takedown requests from copyright owners,†the labels write. “On several occasions, Defendants outlined various workarounds that users could employ to download MP3 files because the site was ‘forced’ to ‘remove a huge amount of our searches’ following takedown requests from copyright organizations,†the add. As a result of its allegedly infringing activities the site has gathered a broad audience of millions of users, resulting in significant losses from the record labels. “As a direct result of Defendants’ widespread and brazen infringement of Plaintiffs’ copyrighted works, MP3Skull has become one of the most popular illicit music download sites on the Internet, attracting millions of users from the United States and generating significant revenue for Defendants.†The complaint list more than 100 popular tracks that are freely available on MP3Skull. This means that the site’s operators face over $15 million in statutory damages. Perhaps more importantly, given the anonymous nature of the site’s operators, is the broad preliminary injunction the record labels request. Among other things, the proposed measures would prevent domain registrars, domain registries, hosting companies, advertisers and other third-party outfits from doing business with the site. If granted, the MP3Skull operators will have a hard time keeping the site afloat in its current form.
  10. HBO has sent thousands of warnings to Internet subscribers whose connections were used to share leaked Game of Thrones episodes. While there are no legal strings attached for the affected subscribers, HBO hopes that some will think twice before downloading future episodes. Last week’s pre-release leak of four Game of Thrones episodes is one of the most prominent piracy cases in TV history. The first copies, leaked from a review screener, quickly spread across public torrent sites and were downloaded millions of times. While most piracy occurred through BitTorrent, HBO seemed mostly concerned with a few dozen people who watched a shoddy stream via Twitter’s Periscope. Behind the scenes, however, BitTorrent pirates were targeted as well. Over the past week HBO sent out a flurry of takedown notices to those who shared the controversial leaks in public. TF has seen several notices, which all come in the standard format. Through its anti-piracy partner IP-Echelon, HBO instructs Internet providers to relay the alerts to the account holder associated with the infringing IP-address. “1. Contact the subscriber who has engaged in the conduct described above and take steps to prevent the subscriber from further downloading or uploading HBO content without authorization.†In addition, ISPs may want to take additional measures such as disconnecting the accounts of repeat infringers. “2. Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse Policy/Terms of Service Agreement.†As is always the case with DMCA notices, HBO doesn’t know the identity of the alleged pirates, so there are no legal strings attached. Nonetheless, HBO hopes that the warnings will deter some from downloading future episodes. And indeed, some users may panic when they see that their downloads were flagged. Not all warnings are effective though. Some DMCA notices were directed at VPN users who can’t be identified and never get to see the warnings in question. It’s clear that containing the Game of Thrones leaks is important for HBO, but the DMCA notices themselves are nothing new. The company has been sending these out for various shows over the years, they just never got much attention.
  11. Coppersurfer, one of the largest BitTorrent trackers on the Internet, has been taken offline after it refused to block 'infringing' hashes. Hosting provider LeaseWeb pulled the plug on the site after a tip-off from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, who also demanded that the site operator should step out of anonymity. In recent years has quickly become one of the most used BitTorrent trackers. Running on the beerware-licensed Opentracker software, the standalone tracker offers a non-commercial service which doesn’t host or link to torrent files themselves. The free service coordinates the downloads of 10 million people at any given point in time, processing roughly billions of connections per month. However, since last weekend has been offline. Responding to a complaint from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN, hosting provider LeaseWeb suddenly pulled the plug. According to a LeaseWeb rep “torrents are illegal†and the company had no other option than to shut down the tracker. This came as quite a surprise to the operator, since his service doesn’t link to or host torrent files. In fact, Coppersurfer doesn’t know what titles are tracked or where all the corresponding torrents are stored. Hoping to resolve the matter the tracker operator reached out to BREIN, pointing out that he provided a content neutral service. However, the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group disagreed. One of the problems for BREIN is that The Pirate Bay uses Coppersurfer as a default tracker. This means that all torrents shared through the site are automatically tracked by the service. “Your claim that a tracker can be compared to a neutral internet service provider is not correct. The Coppersurfer tracker is far from neutral. You are aware that your tracker is used for torrents of illegal websites like ThePiratebay,†BREIN’s Pieter Haringsma replied. “There is no question about the fact that ThePirateBay is an illegal website, which is being blocked in numerous countries and, whose founders have been sentenced to jail. You know that your tracker is added automatically to all the torrents that are uploaded to that website,†he added. Interestingly, BREIN is willing to make a deal with the tracker owner if he agrees to blocklist infringing hashes. In addition, BREIN demands that the owner identifies himself claiming that all commercial services are required to so under the European e-commerce directive. “That is why you have the obligation to check [The Pirate Bay] and blacklist all illegal titles of that site, because you know that your tracker is added automatically to all the torrents that are uploaded to that website,†Haringsma wrote. “Once you have stepped out of anonymity and have implemented measures to avoid illegal use of your tracker by blacklisting illegal torrents from ThePiratebay, BREIN is prepared to discuss the terms of a proper [takedown] procedure that Coppersurfer should put in place, including e.g. enforceable penalties,†he added. The Coppersurfer operator is surprised by the broad demands and has chosen not to comply. If a standalone tracker should ban hashes, should browsers and torrent clients do the same? He also fails to see how a non-profit service that doesn’t even require a website, can be seen as online commerce. While LeaseWeb is no longer an option, the tracker operator hopes to put the service back online at another hosting company. Another option would be to donate it to an organization that’s dedicated to protecting free speech digital rights. “My plans now are to seek a new home. I’m searching for a cheap server with 100Mbps/unmetered connection,†he informs TF. “I could also give the tracker for free to any organization related to free speech and human progress,†he adds. TF contacted LeaseWeb for a clarification on the “torrents are illegal†but at the time of publication we hadn’t heard back. The above example suggests, however, that hosting torrent related services in the Netherlands is getting more difficult.
  12. Belgian Internet providers have won their court case against music group SABAM, which had demanded a 3.4 percent cut of all subscriber fees to compensate artists. The court ruled that ISPs are a mere conduit and can't be taxed as a public broadcast medium. Over the past several years Belgian music rights group SABAM has pressured Internet providers to take responsibility for online piracy. An effort to force ISPs to monitor and filter copyrighted material found itself stranded in the European Court, but the group didn’t give up. In one of its latest attempts SABAM sued the Belgian ISPs Belgacom, Telenet and Voo, claiming a 3.4 percent cut of all Internet subscriber fees as compensation for the rampant piracy they enable through their networks. SABAM argued that authors should be paid for all “public broadcasts†of musical compositions. Pirated downloads and streams on the Internet are such public broadcasts according to the group, and therefore require proper compensation. This proposed “pirate tax†would not make it legal for consumers to download from unauthorized sources. In their defense the ISPs countered that they are not liable for pirating consumers, as they are mere conduits. ISPs simply forward information without knowing what travels through their networks. This week the Brussels Court ruled in favor of the Internet provider. According to the court ISPs should be characterized as mere conduits instead of communication tools for public broadcasts. As a result, the music right group is not allowed to demand royalties from ISPs, which means that the controversal “pirate tax†is off the table for now. SABAM is disappointed with the verdict which, according to CEO Christophe Depreter, opposes the general view of the European Court of Justice. “The European Court of Justice has frequently stressed that the economic benefit that someone has from relaying works, is often crucial for the decision if this is an act of communication to the public that falls within the exclusive right of the author,†Depreter says. The music rights group is still considering what steps to take in response. Next week SABAM will announce whether or not it will appeal the verdict.
  13. The UK's second largest ISP is about to hand over the personal details of customers to a company known for demanding cash from alleged file-sharers. Sky Broadband says it will hand over the names and addresses of subscribers to TCYK LLC and warns customers that the movie company will probably ask for compensation. Any regular reader of these pages will be familiar with the term “copyright trollâ€. These companies have made a business model out of monitoring file-sharing networks for alleged copyright infringements, tracking down alleged offenders and then demanding hard cash to make supposed lawsuits go away. The practice is widespread in the United States but also takes place in several countries around Europe. Wherever the location, the methods employed are largely the same. ‘Trolls’ approach courts with ‘evidence’ of infringement and demand that ISPs hand over the details of their subscribers so that the copyright holder can demand money from them. During September 2014, TorrentFreak became aware of a UK court case that had just appeared before the Chancery Division. The title – TCYK LLP v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd – raised eyebrows. From experience we know that TCYK stands for The Company You Keep and is the title of the film of the same name directed and starring Robert Redford, appearing alongside Susan Sarandon and Shia LeBeouf. While the movie itself is reportedly unremarkable, the response to it being unlawfully made available on file-sharing networks has been significant. In the United States TCYK LLC has filed dozens of copyright infringement lawsuits against Internet subscribers in many states including Illinois, Colorado, Ohio, Florida and Minnesota, to name a few. Those interested in their U.S-based activities can read about them extensively on ‘troll’ watching sites DTD and Fight Copyright Trolls. The big news today, however, is that TCYK LLC is about to start demanding cash from customers of the UK’s second largest ISP, Sky Broadband. TorrentFreak approached Sky back in September for information on the case but after several emails back and forth the trail went cold. We can now reveal what has transpired. Sometime during 2014 TCKY monitored BitTorrent swarms for individuals sharing their movies without permission. The company went to court to obtain what is known as a Norwich Pharmacal Order which would oblige Sky to hand over the identities of their subscribers to TCKY. TorrentFreak has now learned that an order has been granted. In a letter now being sent out to Sky subscribers, the company warns of what is to come. “We need to let you know about a court order made against Sky earlier this year that requires us to provide your name and address to another company,†the letters begin. “A company called TCYK LLC, which owns the rights to several copyrighted films, has claimed that a number of Sky Broadband customers engaged in unlawful file-sharing of some of its films. In support of this claim, TCYK LLC says it has gathered evidence of individual broadband accounts (identified online by unique numbers called IP addresses) from which it claims the file sharing took place.†Sky notes that it cannot vouch for the accuracy of the evidence but notes that the existence of the court order means that it must compromise its subscribers’ privacy. In several other countries ISPs have fought to keep their subscribers’ details secure so we asked Sky what efforts, if any, they took to do the same. At the time of publication we had received no response. To its credit, however, Sky is warning its customers of what is likely to come next. “It’s likely that TCYK LLC will contact you directly and may ask you to pay them compensation,†Sky notes. We’ll clarify something here. When TCYK get in touch their ONLY reason for doing so will be to obtain compensation. Many people will pay up out of fear since TCYK will imply (if not directly state) that a court case could follow if a settlement is not reached. It is almost certain that these threats are mere bluster and again, to Sky’s credit, the company outlines potential weaknesses in TCYK’s case. “We advise you to read the letter from TCYK LLC carefully. It may be that you are not aware of the things that are being claimed: for example, if other people have access to your Internet connection, or simply because you do not recall downloading or sharing the film.†The facts are simple. If letter recipients did not download or share the film or did not authorize someone else to do so (i.e by specifically telling someone else that they can use their connection to download and share pirate content) then the subscriber is not responsible for the infringement and does not have to pay a penny. If someone else did share TCYK’s film on the Internet connection in question then it is up to TCYK to identify that person by name. The bill payer is under no obligation to try to help TCYK to do so if they have no idea who that person is. Sky conclude by suggesting that letter recipients either contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or a solicitor. TorrentFreak spoke with Michael Coyle from Lawdit Solicitors who has dealt with these kinds of cases previously. “I am surprised that the [Court] Order was granted for the release of the names as the High Court has been particularly damning about speculative invoicing ‘claims’ – see in particular the words of HHJ Birss QC in Media CAT v Adams and HHJ Arnold (here),†Coyle told TF. “Added to the fact that the Claimant is a notorious troll in the US adds to the mystery and we can only wait and see what the letters are demanding. [Letter recipients] should not panic and above should not pay until as such time as they’ve taken legal advice,†Coyle concludes. In any event, recipients should read the following article detailing the Speculative Invoicing Handbook Second Edition, a publication which explains how UK copyright trolls operate and how they should be dealt with. At the time of publication Sky Broadband had not responded to our request for comment. Update: Sky’s response to TF “TCYK LLC successfully applied for a court order against Sky, which means we have been ordered to supply the details of some of our account holders that match the list of IP addresses they have identified. We advise any of our customers who receive a letter from TCYK LLC to read it carefully and if they want any further help to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau.†Update2: Sky’s spokesperson would not reveal the number of letters being sent out to Sky’s customers.
  14. Rightscorp, a piracy monetization company that works with Warner Bros. and other prominent copyright holders, has been sued for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Two victims filed a complaint at a Georgia federal court accusing the company of placing intimidating robocalls and text messages. Piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has made headlines over the past year, often because of its aggressive attempts to obtain settlements from allegedly pirating Internet users. Among other tactics the company sent DMCA subpoenas to smaller local ISPs in the United States, urging them to reveal the personal details of subscribers. While the legitimacy of these requests is in doubt, most Internet providers complied. This is also true for the City of Monroe, Georgia, which offers cable Internet to its residents. Rightscorp used the personal information of the Monroe residents to offer the alleged copyright infringers a settlement. The offers start with a snail mail letter, but if these are ignored things get worse. In a complaint (pdf) filed at a federal court in Georgia, Melissa Brown and Ben Jenkins accuse Rightcorp and its clients of using intimidating robocalls and text messages to solicit settlements. “Once Rightscorp obtains a consumer’s contact information, it commences autocalls and text messages in an attempt to intimidate the consumer into settlement,†the complaint reads. The victims, who deny having downloaded any infringing material, note that they never gave Rightcorp permission to contact them. On the contrary, after requesting that the letters, calls and texts stop, Rightscorp continued to press for settlements. “Jenkins sent Rightscorp numerous emails instructing Rightscorp to cease their calls, text messages, emails and letter solicitations to him and Brown. Regardless, Rightscorp continued to place calls and text messages to Plaintiffs’ cellular and home phones.†The complaint accuses Rightscorp of willfully violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which forbids companies from contacting people through robocalls and text messages without their consent. Brown and Ben Jenkins demand damages for each violation, which may run into the thousands of dollars, and hope that this will also stop the intimidating settlement requests. This is not the first legal battle Rightscorp has been involved in recently. A few weeks ago the company and its clients were sued for fraud, harassment and abuse for their controversial settlement scheme. If the piracy monetization firm loses, it’s not unlikely that other accused file-sharers will follow the example.
  15. Throughout history, you can observe that many groups have fought over the information advantage - to know more about other people than those others know in return. Whoever has held the information advantage has usually risen to power. We know little of spycraft before ancient times, but we do know that covert messaging was common in the Roman Empire. One well-documented method was to shave a slave’s head, tattoo a message into the scalp, let the hair grow back, and send the slave on foot to the recipient, presumably carrying a decoy message. (And you were complaining that PGP messaging takes too long.) It’s possible to assume that the concept of “information advantage†arose as soon as civilizations broke beyond tribal stage. We can observe groups spying on each other in all parts of recorded history, and even though the winners write the (surviving) history books, we can see that those who knew more were also the ones who came out on top. There are many reasons for this. One is the straightforward concept of military intel: if you’re at war with somebody and know about their weaknesses, you can exploit them and get the upper hand. Most of the net generation are perfectly familiar with the concept of the Fog of War, and the value of sending scout drones early in a StarCraft game. But it’s more subtle than that. If you establish yourself as knowing more than others, for whatever reason, other people will start asking you for information. Information – perceived truth – will flow from you to others. This is one of the most powerful positions somebody can be in; it establishes the power of narrative, and it lets a group essentially dictate truth, enlighten people, or poison the news-well according to what fits their interest on any particular day, as long as they are perceived to still hold the information advantage. It’s easy to observe that governments have had this role. “Our satellite imagery shows X, Y, and Z on the ground in Farawaystan.†You can’t really dispute it, you have to take that government at their word, simply because you don’t have any expensive satellite network of your own. It’s quite outside of your budget range. Or rather, you had to take them at their word: you don’t anymore. All of a sudden, you have distant acquaintances on the ground in Farawaystan who are confirming or disproving the statement, and usually doing so within minutes. It’s not hard to see what a power shift this creates – how the many are taking the power away from the few. It used to take an enormous nation-state-level machine to provide information detail at the satellite-level degree; today, better information can be obtained by the informal network that is the internet. Putting it another way: the net generation, the global net generation, has taken the information advantage from the world’s governments, using nothing but their everyday presence and practically no resources at all. And those dethroned governments are absolutely furious about it, and are turning to poisoning the news-well and destroying the net’s utility value by introducing mass surveillance and forcing the network operators’ dirty collaboration in a last-ditch attempt to regain that information advantage – knowing what everybody’s saying, thinking, planning, discussing. It’s not going to help. That cat is out of the bag. But it’s going to be a fight. The copyright industry is only a small part of this. It’s a really annoying small part of this, but the picture is still much bigger. There’s a reason the copyright industry gets so much governmental support (from the United States) when it tries to assert its continued power of narrative, despite YouTube and similar sites long having disproven the notion that you need a governmentally-awarded private monopoly – “copyright†– for culture to be created. (YouTube alone now has 300 hours of video uploaded every minute. In other words, it’s providing 18,000 24/7 television channel equivalents. Granted, those “channels†are of widely varying quality, so they’re quite exactly like yesterday’s TV concept.) We still need to fight for our basic civil liberties. But the power shift happening right now is immense – far beyond the question of where some entertainment studio is going to find its future revenue.
  16. Following in the footsteps of Apple, Amazon has decided to ban a popular BitTorrent client because it "can be used to facilitate piracy." The developer of the FrostWire Android app is perplexed and stresses that his software only promotes free and legal downloads. Taking “infringing†apps out of popular app stores is one of Hollywood’s key anti-piracy priorities for the years to come. Various copyright holder groups frequently report “piracy-enabling†apps to Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, alongside requests for the stores to take them offline. The stores themselves also screen for potentially problematic software. Apple, for example, has notoriously banned all BitTorrent related apps. This week, Amazon is following in Apple’s footsteps by banning one of the most used BitTorrent clients from its store. The Android version of FrostWire had been listed for well over a year but Amazon recently had a change of heart. FrostWire developer Angel Leon tells TF that the app was removed without prior warning. When he asked the company for additional details, he was told that Amazon sees his app as a pirate tool. “In reviewing your app, we determined that it can be used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content. Any facilitation of piracy or illegal downloads is not allowed in our program,†Amazon’s support team writes. Leon was baffled by the response. FrostWire had been a member of the Developer Select program for over a year and always made sure to avoid any links to piracy. On the contrary, FrostWire was actively promoting Creative Commons downloads and other legal content. “We have never promoted illegal file sharing, we actually promote creative commons downloads, and free legal downloads from soundcloud, The app is also a full blown music player, but none of this probably counts,†Leon tells us. “Web browsers and email clients are still there, programs that also fall in the category of being ‘used to facilitate the piracy or illegal download of content’,†he adds, pointing out the arbitrary decision. While it’s not clear why Amazon changed its stance towards FrostWire, it wouldn’t be a surprise if pressure from copyright holders played a role. FrostWire’s developer believes that the mobile developer industry may have to come up with a less censorship prone store in the future. There’s a need for a decentralized app store that secures the interests of both iOS and Android developers. For now, Leon hopes that other stores will be less eager to pull the plug on perfectly legal apps. While it may seem to be a small decision for the stores, having a popular app removed can ruin a developer’s entire business. The beauty of FrostWire and other BitTorrent clients is that they offer the freedom to share files with people from all over the world without being censored. Restricting access to apps that make this possible will harm society, Leon believes. “This is a freedom which eventually protects society from the likes of totalitarian governments, something some of us at FrostWire have lived first hand in Latin America, something that forced me and so many Venezuelans to leave our countries and start again from scratch in the US,†Leon concludes. Despite being banned from Amazon’s store, Kindle users will still be able to get updates via the FrostWire website. A special installer for Kindle will be available soon.
  17. The Stop Online Piracy Act, an anti-piracy bill that would have granted the US government and private corporations extraordinary power to battle copyright infringement on the web, failed to pass in 2012. But according to emails uncovered by the recent Sony hack and recent news stories, the movie industry is still fighting to revive the bill, even pushing Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to make life uncomfortable for Google, one of the bill’s biggest detractors. And Google isn’t too happy about it. On Friday, the search giant filed legal papers in federal court against Hood, requesting that the court stop his demands for information from the company. The move came a day after the company had unloaded a rather pointed blog post complaining about apparent efforts by the Motion Picture Association of America to revive SOPA and push an investigation of Google through Hood’s office. It’s a complicated situation, and it shows just how fierce the battle was—and is—over SOPA. With movie industry lobbyists behind it, SOPA pushed for new ways of removing pirated movies and other content from the net. But internet companies fought hard to stop the thing, saying it would legalize online censorship. In 2012, over 115,000 websites—including WIRED, Wikipedia, WordPress, and Reddit—altered their pages in some way to protest the SOPA bill, with many of them voluntarily going dark. Millions of Americans also sent emails complaining about SOPA, and Google collected 7 million signatures for an online petition protesting the bill. And still the fight goes on. According to a recent story from The Verge, hacked Sony emails showed that the Motion Picture Association of America and six major studios have joined forces to revive the SOPA legislation. The studios budgeted $500,000 to pay lawyers, The Verge reports, and the MPAA set aside an additional $1.17 million for the campaign. According to a later story from The New York Times, the MPAA instructed its law firm, Jenner & Block, to attack Google specifically. As The Times reports, the MPAA pitched Mississippi State Attorney General Hood, and Hood delivered a letter to Google making various accusations against the company, with most of it ghost-written by Jenner & Block. In October, Hood also sent Google a 79-page subpoena demanding 141 documents and 62 interviews from Google, as well as anything that might be construed as “dangerous content†on Google’s network. And this is what Google is trying to stop. “In order to respond to the subpoena in full, Google would have to produce millions of documents at great expense and disruption to its business,†Google’s suit reads. For Sherwin Siy, vice president of Legal Affairs for Washington, D.C.-based public interest group Public Knowledge, the subpoena sets a bad precedent. “The MPAA may have asked an attorney general to go after Google,†he says. “What happens when the MPAA is worried about a smaller entity? Maybe they won’t even need a state AG, they could send some other complaint and get a service that is actually legal to shut down because they just can’t afford to deal with it.â€
  18. The MPAA has long criticized Google on the issue of piracy but revelations from recently leaked emails indicate that Hollywood has embarked on an organized political campaign against the search giant. The fight has now bubbled over, with the MPAA and Google slamming each other in public. Even after running for weeks, the fallout from the Sony hacking fiasco is showing no signs of waning. In fact in some areas it appears that matters are only getting worse. Earlier this month a TF report revealed how the MPAA (with a SOPA defeat still ringing loudly in its ears) is still intent on bringing website blocking to the United States. The notion that Hollywood was intent on reintroducing something so unpopular didn’t sit well with critics, but that was only the beginning. A subsequent article in The Verge revealed a campaign by the MPAA to attack “Goliath†– a codeword for Google – by “convincing state prosecutors to take up the fight†against the search giant. The MPAA budgeted $500,000 for the project with costs potentially rising to $1.175 million. The Hollywood group subsequently called on SOPA-supporting Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood to attack Google, which he did. The New York times has a copy of the letter he sent to the search giant – worryingly it was almost entirely drafted by the MPAA’s lawfirm Jenner and Block. After a week of “no comment†from Google, the company has just broken its silence. In a statement from SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker, Google questions the MPAA’s judgment over its SOPA-like aims and apparent manipulation of an Attorney General. “Almost three years ago, millions of Americans helped stop a piece of congressional legislation—supported by the MPAA—called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). If passed, SOPA would have led to censorship across the web. No wonder that 115,000 websites—including Google—participated in a protest, and over the course of a single day, Congress received more than 8 million phone calls and 4 million emails, as well as getting 10 million petition signatures,†Walker writes. “We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means, and helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood.†Then, in what can only be a huge embarrassment for the MPAA and the Attorney General, Walker turns to the letter AG Hood sent to him in 2013. “The MPAA did the legal legwork for the Mississippi State Attorney General. The MPAA then pitched Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood, an admitted SOPA supporter, and Attorney General Hood sent Google a letter making numerous accusations about the company,†Walker explains. “The letter was signed by General Hood but was actually drafted by an attorney at Jenner & Block — the MPAA’s law firm. As the New York Times has reported, the letter was only minimally edited by the state Attorney General before he signed it.†The Google SVP ends with a shot at the MPAA and questions its self-professed position as an upholder of the right to free speech. “While we of course have serious legal concerns about all of this, one disappointing part of this story is what this all means for the MPAA itself, an organization founded in part ‘to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists’ right to free expression.’ Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?†Walker concludes. Without delay, Google’s public comments were pounced upon by the MPAA who quickly published a statement of their own. It pulls no punches. “Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal,†the statement begins. “Google’s blog post today is a transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google Search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct – including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property.†And, in a clear indication that the MPAA feels it acted appropriately, the Hollywood group lets Google know that nothing will change. “We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities,†the MPAA concludes. The statements by both Google and the MPAA indicate that in this fight the gloves are now well and truly off. Will ‘David’ slay ‘Goliath’? Who will get hurt in the crossfire?
  19. Russian officials have expressed caution over proposals to introduce an Internet tax to compensate copyright holders for online piracy. The proposals, which were put forward by the Russian Union of Rightsholders, are said to be worth around $860m a year to creators. Over the years there have been many strategies put forward aimed at reducing online piracy. Rightsholders have often pushed for tough legislation in the hope that hefty fines and lengthy jail sentences will encourage the masses to buy rather than download for free. Recent proposals in Russia, however, look at the problem from another direction. During October the Russian Union of Right Holders (RUR) suggested that a fixed royalty fee should be paid to rightsholders in exchange for people receiving certain freedoms to deal with online content. “[People would] get the right to freely and lawfully use for private purposes – including to receive, distribute and share – absolutely any content that is not excluded from the system of global licensing,†RUR told Izvestia. The proposals envision Internet service providers obtaining “universal licenses†from rightsholders or their collecting societies in order to legitimize the ‘infringements’ of their subscribers. While nothing has been set in stone, figures appearing in the press suggest an annual fee of anything up to $5 per subscriber. While the ‘tax’ could inflate ISP subscriptions by as much as 5% per year, reports suggest it could also bring in $860m for rightsholders. Unsurprisingly, the proposals have a number of potential pitfalls. Every Internet subscriber would be required to pay the tax, whether they are downloading copyrighted material for free or purchasing it legitimately. Also, public sharing of content would not be licensed, a serious limitation for most file-sharers. Furthermore, royalty charges would be “per deviceâ€, including home connections and cellphones, meaning some people could end up paying multiple times, whether they ‘pirate’ or not. For their part, ISPs have also expressed concerns that by accepting the proposals the Internet piracy ‘problem’ would be placed on their shoulders as they would have to collect fees from customers Even copyright holders seem to have issues with the proposals. Some say that no suitable system for distribution of royalties exists. Others are expressing concerns that the tax would amount to the legalization of piracy and the undermining of fledgling digital services. Still, reports now coming out of Russia suggest that the whole thing won’t easily or quickly get off the ground. Late Friday reported First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov as saying that the government “won’t be rushed†into a decision on the licensing model. All stakeholders need to negotiate, Shuvalov said. torrentfreak
  20. Ariana Grande reportedly cancelled her trip to Spain as she's scared of Ebola. The US star was due to travel to the European country to promote her music, but earlier this month it was announced that the visit had been postponed until November. Now it's emerged her apparent fear of contracting the disease, which saw a Spanish nurse infected recently, is behind the move. 'Ariana's promo trip had to be cancelled - her team weren't prepared to take any chances during the incubation period," a source divulged to British newspaper The Sun. 'Of course, some people might think it's an over-reaction but everyone agreed it was the right decision. 'It's nothing against her Spanish plans and she was conscious to make sure the visit was put back in the diary in the future.' Ebola has affected thousands in West Africa, but not many people in Europe have contracted the virus yet. It seems the 21-year-old's cautious decision could cause some havoc with her schedule. 'They ended up having to juggle all her plans at the last minute and reschedule the trip," the insider continued. 'Ariana headed to Paris instead and now won't get round to visiting Spain until November at the earliest, if at all this year.' And Ebola isn't the only thing on Ariana's mind. The Problem singer recently spoke out about why she turned to Kabbalah, citing her older brother Frankie's sexuality as the reason. "When my brother was told that God didn't love him I was like, 'OK, that's not cool.' They were building a Kabbalah centre in Florida so we both checked it out and really had a connection with it," she told Sunday Telegraph magazine. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  21. Judge rules against shareholders who sued the publisher over Battlefield 4's rocky launch. Electronic Arts has notched a partial victory in the ongoing lawsuit over the calamitous Battlefield 4 launch. On Monday, a federal judge ruled against the shareholders (Ryan Kelly and Louis Mastro) who last year filed a class-action lawsuit against EA, claiming executives at the company made false claims in earnings calls and media interviews about the game's quality ahead of its disastrous launch. As reported by Courthouse News, US District Judge Susan Illston ruled that pre-release comments about Battlefield 4 from EA CFO Blake Jorgensen and EA CEO Andrew Wilson amounted to nothing more than "puffery" and "corporate optimism." Illston also struck down Kelly and Mastro's contention that EA acted intentionally or deliberately reckless regarding the pre-release state of Battlefield 4. She found that that "the complaint fails to adequately allege falsity and scienter for reasons articulated by defendants." Kelly and Mastro say, however, that they relied on the EA executives' comments when deciding whether or not they should buy stock in the company. EA responded by showing that, in fact, five of the eight statements that Kelly and Mastro said they relied on were actually made after they purchased EA shares. As a result, Illston ruled that Kelly and Mastro cannot pursue securities fraud claims against EA. The case isn't over just yet, though, as Illston said she will allow new lead plaintiffs to come forward. Kelly and Mastro must amend their case by November 3. Battlefield's rocky launch did not hurt the game's commercial appeal, according to Jorgensen. However, the troubles at release "absolutely" resulted in a loss of player trust, EA has since admitted. Nearly a year after launch, EA continues to support Battlefield 4. The game introduced a massive fall update earlier in October, while the game's Final Stand expansion is due out soon. For more on Battlefield 4, check out GameSpot's review and previous coverage. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  22. 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
  23. "900p works perfect for us," says creative director of upcoming Xbox One exclusive. Back in September, developer Insomniac Games confirmed that upcoming Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive would run at 900p/30fps. Now, the studio has revealed that it had the game running at 1080p during development, but chose 900p in part because the lower resolution allowed the developer to create more on-screen mayhem. The end result, according to creative director Marcus Smith, is a game so stuffed with action thatTransformers director Michael Bay would be proud. "Why would you want less action on screen? That's insanity," Smith said when asked in an IGN video why the studio chose 900p over 1080p. "900p works perfect for us. We spent a lot of time comparing and contrasting. We had it running at 1080p, we'd play it; we had it running at 900p, we'd play it and they didn't look considerably different. But the things that you could draw on screen were a lot more, and we wanted to draw a lot more on screen. More action, more better. Michael Bay would be very proud." Also in the interview, Smith reveals that while Sunset Overdrive will not support free roam co-op at launch, this could be added to the game through a post-release expansion. If that doesn't happen, it could show up in a sequel. "Never say never," Smith said. Sunset Overdrive launches in the US on October 28 as an Xbox One exclusive. The game, which is published by Microsoft, will be accompanied by a $400 Xbox One bundle that includes a white system (and matching white controller) and a copy of the game. This is notable because it will represent the first time Microsoft will publicly offer the Xbox One in a color other than black. For more on Sunset Overdrive, check out GameSpot's previous coverage. You can also test-fire some of the game's over-the-top weapons through a special interactive website called Walter's Workshop. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  24. Demi Lovato has been playing DJ at a US radio station. The 22-year-old singer thrilled listeners of KISS 95-7 Saturday when she took over the airwaves to play her favourite tunes. She also took some time to answer questions from a few fans, including one so-called 'lovatic' curious about how she maintains such a positive aura. 'I don't always stay strong and confident... I work at it,' Demi replied. Fans meanwhile gushed over Twitter about the Heart Attack singer 'kidnapping' air time. 'Demi kidnapping this radio station is the best thing thats happened all day hahahaha streaming #demi957 just cause internet,' one wrote. Others praised her DJ skills as song requests came flooding in. 'DEMI YOURE LITERALLY THE BEAT DJ IN THE ENTIRE WORLD #DEMI957 (sic),' another fan added. Demi was enjoying a rare day off from performing Saturday as she's currently on her headlining world tour. The star resumes shows in Montreal Sunday and is scheduled to play throughout the US and Canada until October 27. She's then scheduled a few weeks off before launching the tour in Europe next month, with shows in Turkey, the Netherlands, France, Ireland, Scotland and England, wrapping up in Manchester November 29. The star has meanwhile offered fans the chance to be her 'BFF' for the day. In an online contest she promoted last week, Demi reshaped the link to a campaign she's running in support of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, named after a former student at Rutgers University whose 2010 suicide brought cyberbullying into the spotlight. 'Enter for a chance to be my VIP guest at the #DEMIWORLDTOUR & help @TylerClementi. #RememberTyler,' she wrote with a link sharing how followers could help. The page revealed two lucky fans would be flown to one of the pop star's concerts, have the chance to meet Demi and hang out with her backstage. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  25. An organization created to help injured veterans has sued a group with similar aims over a copyright dispute. The Wounded Warrior Project says the non-profit Keystone Wounded Warriors has a mission statement too close to its own and has a confusingly similar name and logo, which in itself is worth $500m in publicity. Helping the most disadvantaged in society is an honorable aim, so it’s always sad when charitable groups with similar missions choose to fight each other in the courts. Making lawyers rich is not what most donors have in mind when they make their contributions. Still, this is the path being embarked on by the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). The non-profit, which was founded after the events of 9/11 in order to support wounded veterans of the military, says another non-profit is unfairly piggybacking on its image and marketing. Keystone Wounded Warriors is an Eastern Pennsylvania-based non-profit which aids veterans by raising awareness and seeking the public’s support for related programs and services. “Funds donated to Keystone Wounded Warriors are used to support local post-9/11 veterans and their families located in or with ties to Pennsylvania,†KWW says. Unfortunately WWP have a number of issues with KWW and have ordered their legal team to resolve them via action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Lawyers for Wounded Warrior Project are seeking an injunction against Keystone Wounded Warriors on several grounds, including copyright and trademark. Firstly, WWP say that the logo used by KWW is too similar to its own. Both use silhouettes to depict scenes of war in which veterans help veterans, and each use a similar font. According to PennRecord, the Wounded Warrior Project has used its logo for 10 years and received trademark approval in 2005. This trademark, WWP says, has an estimated publicity value of $500 million. In addition to a dispute over WWP imagery allegedly present in photographs of KWW fund-raising events, the Wounded Warrior Project says the Keystone Wounded Warriors mission statement is far too close to their own. WWP promise “To honor and empower Wounded Warriors†while their ‘rival’ claims “To honor, empower, aid, and assist Pennsylvania service members.†While WWP appear to have a reasonable point that KWW’s branding is likely to cause confusion, their demands are such that if KWW lose the case, KWW-supported veterans will suffer. In addition to an advertising campaign to educate donors and the public that the WWP and KWW are not affiliated, WWP is seeking punitive and compensatory damage for any infringements. According to its latest report, Wounded Warrior Project generated revenues of $300 million, up from $200 million the year before.