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  1. Every day thousand of Internet subscribers receive a piracy warning from their Internet provider. Increasingly, these notifications also include a settlement request ranging from $20 to hundreds of dollars. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, ISPs should protect their customers from these invasive tactics. There are many ways copyright holders approach today’s “online piracy problem.†Some prefer to do it through innovation, while others prefer educational messages, warnings or even lawsuits. Another group is aiming to generate revenue by obtaining lots of small cash settlements. Rightscorp and CEG TEK have chosen the latter model. Their emails are sent as regular DMCA notices which many ISPs then forward to their customers, often with a settlement demand included. Both companies send millions of warnings to U.S. Internet providers every year, but how these are handled varies per ISP. Some, including Charter, forward the entire notice, while others such as Comcast strip out the settlement details. To find out more about the legality of these notices, and the options Internet providers and subscribers have, TorrentFreak sat down with Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) staff attorney Mitch Stoltz. According to Stoltz, Internet providers should carefully review what they’re forwarding to their users. Under U.S. law they are not required to forward DMCA notices and stripping out settlement demands is in the best interest of the consumer. “In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,†he says. “An ISP can also choose not to forward notices at all if they are deficient, misleading, or inaccurate,†Stoltz adds. Misleading notices The notices these companies send are designed to threaten and pressure the recipient, who is often not the person who downloaded the allegedly infringing material. “The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading,†Stoltz notes. “They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true.†Some of the notices mention disastrous consequences, such as excessively large jury verdicts against file sharers who previously had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. However, they forget to mention that these type of piracy cases almost never go to court. Similarly, ISPs rarely disconnect casual copyright infringers. “Rightscorp, for one, has never sued an accused file sharer. Having an ISP forward a demand for money also makes it seem like the ISP will cut off the subscriber if they don’t pay, which is also not true– most ISPs don’t ban customers just because a penny-stock outfit in Santa Monica asks them to,†Stoltz says. Legal repercussions? As a result of the threatening language many subscribers fear that they might be made bankrupt. The reality, however, is that nothing usually happens if they opt to ignore the threats. Stoltz advises people who receive a notice not to reach out to the sender. Instead, they should carefully consider their options and consult a lawyer if needed. “Circumstances vary, and it’s always a good idea to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. Be cautious about communicating with any company or lawyer that accuses you of copyright infringement – they will use anything you say against you. Stop, think, and read carefully before you decide to send money or information.†In theory ISPs do have the right to disconnect an account after a subscriber receives multiple notices, but this is relatively rare. The same is true for lawsuits. As far as we know neither Rightscorp nor CEG TEK have taken a file-sharer to court. “They would rather scare a hundred people into paying $20 than spend thousands on a lawsuit against one person,†Stoltz says. The problem remains that even a minuscule chance of getting in trouble is enough for some to pay up. Some people just want the whole thing to go away, that’s what the settlement model is based on. The only way to make this threat disappear is for Internet providers to either strip the settlement demands, or simply toss all notices in the trash.
  2. Following the introduction of Canada's notice and notice system earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of ISP subscribers have received piracy warnings, often accompanied by hefty settlement demands. In response, a diverse range of copyright experts and organizations are now calling upon Canada's Minister of Industry James Moore to protect the public from threatening piracy notices. Due to a recent change i Canada’s copyright law, ISPs are now required to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Internet subscribers have received warnings in their mailboxes since the start of the year, with some asking for cash settlements. The so-called notice-and-notice system aims to reduce local piracy rates but this hasn’t been without controversy. From the start, copyright holders have taken advantage of the system to send subscribers settlement offers, or threaten them with inaccurate legal penalties. Hoping to fix these ‘abuses’ copyright experts and advocacy groups have this week written a letter to Canada’s Minister of Industry, James Moore. Signed by the University of Ottawa, OpenMedia, Project Gutenberg Canada, Consumers Council of Canada, Electronic Frontier Foundation and many others, the letter warns over abuse while proposing several changes. “As we feared, copyright trolls have in fact taken advantage of the Notice and Notice system to ramp up their abusive practices in Canada,†the groups write to the Minister. “We have seen notices claiming infringement of foreign law, misrepresenting the scope of damages recipients potentially face, omitting mention of defenses, and failing to identify the notice as a mere allegation of infringement.†In the short-term the Minister should use his regulatory powers to correct abuses, the groups suggest. For example, notices should make clear that they represent an allegation, not a clear determination of infringement. The popular settlement demands or offers, which can amount to hundreds of dollars per notice, should also be banned. In addition, notices should include a mention of copyright exceptions such as fair use. The groups further propose various penalties for copyright holders. For example, senders of notices with false or misleading information should be held liable and punished appropriately. In the long-term the letter recommends that the Government should adopt new legislation to tackle copyright trolls and various other forms of abuse. “Canada requires a legislative response to the abusive and deceitful tactics of a minority of copyright owners and their agents. The emergence of a cottage industry of copyright trolls and their migration to Canada is just one example of how copyright can be abused,†the groups write. “The next round of copyright reform must include a copyright misuse provision to curb such wrong-doing,†they add. The full letter, which includes more recommendations, is available here.
  3. Less than 24 hours after the site moved over, the Isle of Man Registry has revoked the new domain name of KickassTorrents. Continuing the domain shuffle the popular torrent site will now move to the Costa Rica based domain name, Since KickassTorrents (KAT) became the most visited torrent site on the Internet, various anti-piracy groups have been keeping a close eye on the site’s movements. So when the KAT team announced a move to the new domain yesterday, it’s likely that several copyright holders sprang into action. The new domain belongs to the Isle of Man authorities and wasn’t an ideal choice for the torrent site since the local registry employs a “zero tolerance†policy towards copyright infringement. Just a few hours after the switch the domain was taken down, forcing the KAT team to prepare a new move, this time to the Costa Rican .cr TLD. “We have been seized by the Isle of Man domain registry. The new domain will be,†KAT admin Mr. Pink informs TF, adding that the new domain is expected to go live soon. It’s unclear if any copyright holder group or groups filed an official dispute, but the IM Registry confirms that the site violates its terms. “The domain was in breach of the .im rules and has accordingly been revoked. I cannot correspond any further in relation to this domain name,†an IM registry spokesperson tells TF. The KAT team wasn’t completely unprepared and has several domain names in reserve just in case. And so the Whac-a-Mole continues for now, until the site docks in a safe haven. While the Isle of Man registry was quick to take action, others including the Icelandic .IS and the Swedish .SE registry will not revoke any domain names without a court order. TF reached out to the .CR registry to find out what their policies are regarding domain name revocations, but at the time of publication we were yet to receive a response.
  4. With a DMCA notice sent to Github this week, Microsoft aimed to stop widespread access to its Russia-only version of Halo Online. But speaking with TF, the team leading the modding charge says that it will continue in its quest to provide a free version of the game without geo-restrictions. Last week Microsoft announced Halo Online, an all-new, free-to-play online multiplayer experience on PC. While the upcoming late spring release generated excitement, that was tempered somewhat by the revelation that the game will be restricted to players in Russia only, at least for the foreseeable future. The news was met with predictable resistance from the ‘modding community’, the hardcore few who prefer to play Halo on their own terms. After a leaked copy of Halo Online was obtained, a tool enabling exploration of the game was uploaded to Github. It didn’t stay there long. Microsoft hit Github with a DMCA takedown notice and the code platform responded by disabling access to the tool, titled ‘ElDorito’. Just before the weekend TorrentFreak caught up with the loose-knit ElDorito team who gave us the background to the leak and subsequent interest from Microsoft. “Microsoft is probably quite bothered by what we’ve done already as these files were leaked. We obtained the files from a user on 4chan’s /v/ board,†team member ‘Woovie’ told TF. Sure enough, even now a post by the 4chan user in question contains a still-live link to a file hosted by Microsoft partner Innova, helpfully titled ‘halo_setup-ru.exe’. No takedowns in this instance. “From there, user Emoose proceeded to create a hack that would allow the client to load files and thus get in game,†Woovie adds. “He has in the past done the same for Halo 2 and Halo 3 betas so he had experience with this. The files we have are definitely an early internal alpha. A lot of left over code from other Halo games.†The big question is whether the copyright move from Microsoft has put the team off continuing. Initially TF was told that might be the case, but subsequent discussion painted a very different picture. “In terms of DMCA/C&D mitigation, we have made redundant git backups on private and public git servers. This is to ensure we will always have one working copy. These are being synchronized so that data is always the same,†Woovie explains. “Further DMCAs may happen potentially, it’s not really known at the moment. Our backups will always exist though and we will continue until we’re happy.†So what is motivating the ElDorito team to carry on? Aside from a passion for Halo itself, the team seems perplexed by the Russian geo-restrictions and also what they believe could turn into a free-to-play game requiring in-game purchases for players to succeed. “We of course still don’t know 100% what items are purchasable with real money, but it would appear at first glance to have pay-to-win potential. We also of course want to play this game, which as far as we see, is a Russian market only game,†Woovie adds. Of course, all this could mean more action from Microsoft, but team member Neoshadow42 sees the modding of leaked files as more of a service. “As someone involved in game development, I’m sympathetic with some developers when it comes to copyright issues. This is different though, in my opinion,†the dev explains. “The game was going to be free in the first place. The PC audience has been screaming for Halo 3 for years and years, and we saw the chance with this leak. The fact that we could, in theory, bring the game that everyone wants, without the added on stuff that would ruin the game, that’s something we’d be proud of.†Refuting claims by some that the team’s actions might be damaging, Neoshadow42 says this case is different. “I don’t particularly see this as damaging, as some people have said. I don’t believe it for a moment, honestly. We’re working to improve people’s experience, bring it to those who wouldn’t have been able to play it anyway. I’d see that as a noble cause.†But isn’t this just the same as pirating any other game and making it free to play? “This whole project would be completely different in an ethical way if we had taken a paid game and reversed it for everyone to access for free,†Neoshadow42 insists. “At the end of the day, El Dorito aims to deliver exactly what everyone wants. The closest thing to a Halo 3 experience as possible, but on PC. If we can manage that, I’ll be more than happy.†
  5. Tracker name:STP or Stop the press Tracker URL: Tracker genre:E-lerning Tracker acces:Invite only Tracker type:It's a very high level tracker almost secret with very good download speed and a very nice community Tracker logo Tracker Stats Categories: Browse: Forums: Rules: Users clases: Hope that you will enjoy the review...have a nice day friends
  6. In a response to the draft code tabled to deal with the Australian online-piracy problem, some of the world's largest music publishers have presented a set of draconian measures. ISPs should not only use technology to spy on their own customers, but also to proactively block access to infringing content and websites. Following intense pressure from the Australian government, ISPs were warned that they had to come up with a solution to online piracy or face a legislative response. In collaboration with some rightsholders, last month a draft code was tabled by ISPs which centered on a three-strikes style system for dealing with peer-to-peer file-sharers using systems including BitTorrent. In a response to the code just submitted by the Australasian Music Publishers Association (AMPAL) – which counts EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing and Warner/Chappell Music among its members – the companies accept that the proposals are moving in the right direction but suggest boosting them in a number of ways. Firstly, in an attempt to plug the so-called ‘incorporation’ loophole, the publishers say that all Internet subscribers should be subjected to the graduated response scheme, not just residential customers. While that suggestion could cause all kinds of problems for businesses and providers of public wi-fi systems, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AMPAL says it recognizes that the code requires rightsholders to do their own online monitoring of file-sharers. It’s a practice employed around the world in every jurisdiction where “strikes†systems are in place. However, the publishers would prefer it if the draft code was amped up to the next level. “The Code does not place a general obligation on ISPs to monitor and detect online copyright infringement,†the publishers write. “AMPAL submits that ideally the Code should include such a duty using ISPs’ monitoring and filtering techniques.†The publishers don’t elaborate on their demands but even in this form they are troubling to say the least. While rightsholders currently monitor only file-sharers distributing content without permission, in theory and to meet AMPAL requirements ISPs may have to monitor the activity of all customers. Not only that, the ‘filtering’ aspect would mean that ISPs become much more than mere conduits of information, a real problem for those seeking to avoid being held liable for infringing activity. But AMPAL’s plans for ISPs go further still. Not only should they be pro-active when it comes to monitoring and warning subscribers, ISPs should also use technology to actively block access to infringing content on other levels. “The Code does not require ISPs to block access to infringing material. AMPAL submits that ideally the Code should include provisions obliging ISPs to take such action following provision of the relevant information by Rights Holders and/or following discovery of copyright infringing websites by ISPs’ monitoring and filtering techniques,†the publishers write. Again, AMPAL provides no elaboration, but on face value these suggestions will horrify ISPs. The premise is that after being told by a rightsholder that specific content is infringing, ISPs should use filtering technology to stop its subscribers from sharing that content. Difficult – if not impossible. Furthermore, ISPs should be both responsive to rightsholder request and pro-active when it comes to the practice of blocking ‘infringing’ websites. Who decides the criteria for such blocking isn’t detailed, but presumably AMPAL feels well placed to do so and that the ISPs should do its bidding. When it comes to dealing with subscribers, AMPAL is also seeking penalties for those who persistently disregard infringement notices. The current proposals allow rightholders to request the details of errant subscribers after they get caught sharing content three times, smoothing the way for legal action. But AMPAL wants more. “AMPAL submits that ideally additional options should be available to Rights Holders in the form of sanctions or mitigation procedures to be imposed on Account Holders,†the publishers write. “Rights Holders are severely limited in the realistic damages that they can recover. Litigation in this area is costly and difficult particularly for the small to medium enterprises that make up a large proportion of all rights holders.†Describing the draft code as “an important initial stepâ€, AMPAL says that a revised code to incorporate its demands should be implemented in the future. “Only with a concerted effort by ISPs, Rights Holders and government can the damaging effects of online copyright infringement be addressed,†the trade group concludes. Finally, in its submission to the draft code the BBC expresses concern that subscribers could use VPN technology to circumvent the whole system. “The code is ill equipped to deal with consumers who spoof or mask their IP addresses to avoid detection, behaviour that we believe will increase as a result of an introduction of a notice scheme,†the BBC said.
  7. The Pirate Bay is still having difficulty keeping the ship afloat. After a curious login problem redirected users to the wrong accounts this weekend, the upload functionality now appears to be broken. As a result, no new files have been added to the site for half a day. More than a month has passed since The Pirate Bay returned online, but the notorious torrent site continues to face problems. Aside from a persistent hosting whac-a-mole the site is also dealing with failing features. For example, a few days ago several users were surprised to see that they were being redirected to other user’s accounts after logging in. Several users panicked fearing that their accounts had been hijacked or breached, but luckily the users were only redirected. They didn’t actually gain access to the accounts of others. Today another issue popped up, one that’s blocking new content from being added to the site. Starting roughly 12 hours ago the The Pirate Bay’s upload functionality broke, displaying a “500 Internal Server Error†instead. The upload problem appears to be global as no new files have been added to the site since. The most recent upload listed on The Pirate Bay is from 5:15 CET. It’s not clear what’s causing the upload issue. It appears to be a misconfiguration or related technical error, possibly the result of a recent move to a new hosting company. TorrentFreak reached out to The Pirate Bay’s admin and we will update this article if we hear back. For the time being Pirate Bay users will have to do without fresh uploads. Torrentfreak
  8. "There is no place in the video game community--or our society--for personal attacks and threats.†The Entertainment Software Association manages the E3 event The Entertainment Software Association, the games industry trade group that manages the annual E3 event, has called for an end to online harassment amid a bitter row between gamers on social media. In recent weeks, a diverse range of people have been using a hashtag on Twitter as a platform to air their criticisms of the games media. Some have used this "Gamergate" tag to allege that media outlets are too close to the companies they cover, while others have used it to scrutinse the media's stance on issues of sexism and diversity. However, the "Gamergate" row on social media has coincided with the targeted harassment of female games developers and critics, and supporters of them, leading some to believe that the hashtag is both an incentive and catalyst for online abuse. The feminist games essayist Anita Sarkeesian, for example, on Tuesday decided to cancel a university speech after an anonymous phone call threatened a "massacre" if her talk went ahead. Sarkeesian, who regularly publishes images of threats of sexual violence she receives, recently abandoned her home after one harasser appeared to have found her address. Meanwhile, a recent awards show that honoured Sarkeesian's work was issued with a bomb threat, warning of casualties if Sarkeesian picked up the prize. Now the US's key games body has called for an end to the harassment. On Wednesday, an ESA spokesperson said "threats of violence and harassment are wrong. They have to stop." In a statement to The Washington Post, the ESA Added: "There is no place in the video game community--or our society--for personal attacks and threats.†The ESA represents some of the games industry's biggest publishers, and lobbies for their causes in Washington. ESA members include Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft and Nintendo of America. The statement coincides with a separate campaign on Twitter to bring an end to the GamerGate row. On Wednesday, more than 90,000 tweets were generated on Twitter with the hashtag #StopGamerGate2014 Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
  9. An announcement later this week will confirm Google as a member of a new coalition to cut off "pirate" sites from their ad revenue. Following similar initiatives in the U.S. and UK, a Memorandum of Understanding between the online advertising industry and the music and movie industries in Italy will signal a creation of a central body to tackle the piracy issue. google-bayThere is a theory in the entertainment industries that if running torrent, file-sharing or streaming sites makes no commercial sense to their operators, then they will soon wither and die. Evey week there are often aggressive opinions published on why cutting off revenue is perhaps the most powerful weapon in the online piracy war. This crescendo has already grown into notable action in both the United States and United Kingdom. Later this week a new initiative will be presented to the public, and the fact that Google is onboard will no doubt help to promote the completeness of the effort. Continuing the European effort after the UK, this Thursday in Rome, Italy, a coalition of key advertising players plus the main anti-piracy groups of the music and movie industries will announce the signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding. The announcement, taking place at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s IAB Events 2014 conference, will see the IAB, music industry anti-piracy group FPM and Fapav (the Italian MPAA) announce a new coalition to deprive revenue from pirate sites. Speaking with TorrentFreak, Enzo Mazza, chief at music industry group Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI), explains how the initiative will work. “IAB Italia, the local branch of Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has been very active in discussing with music and movie associations a self-regulation approach to promote an effective action to prevent advertisers from posting ads on rogue sites,†Mazza explains. “IAB already educates marketers, agencies, media companies and the wider business community about the value of interactive advertising. In our goal the agreement should promote a cooperation in order to implement effective measures to prevent ads being placed on rogue sites and to quickly remove any ads that are found to have been so placed.†Having Google on board is also a plus, Mazza says. “Google is already doing a lot of efforts in this area and the company promoted a strategy so-called ‘follow the money’ which we consider part of a general strategy based on enforcement on one side, self-regulation and legal offer on the other side.†Mazza says that a joint committee compromised of MoU signatories will be created to oversee the technical implementation of the project, with consideration given to how similar schemes are operating elsewhere. This will include the auditing of advertising companies and networks for compliance with a code of conduct respectful of intellectual property rights. On a day-to-day basis the committee will receive complaints from rights holders detailing the appearance of advertising on “rogue sites†and take action on these with brokers and the advertisers themselves. Whether they will be able to cut through the complex and labrynthine mechanisms often employed by such sites will remain to be seen. The Memorandum of Understanding has been passed to the Italian competition authority for approval and while the project is clearly in the early stages, momentum is clearly there.
  10. European ISPs Can Stop Logging User Data, Court Rules The European Court of Justice has overturned Europe's data retention directive, arguing that it's disproportionate and a violation of people's privacy. The decision has far-reaching consequences for the collection of data from European internet users, including their IP-addresses. In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice has declared Europe’s Data Retention directive to be a violation of Internet users’ privacy. Under the Directive Internet providers and other telecom companies were required to log and store vast amounts of information, including who their subscribers communicate with, and what IP-addresses they use. The local authorities could then use this information to fight serious crimes, but it was also been frequently used by third parties, in online piracy cases for example. Today the Court ruled that the data collection requirements are disproportionate. In a case started by Digital Rights Ireland the Court effectively annulled the directive, and it’s now up to the individual member states to change local laws accordingly. “The Court is of the opinion that, by adopting the Data Retention Directive, the EU legislature has exceeded the limits imposed by compliance with the principle of proportionality,†the Court states. “By requiring the retention of those data and by allowing the competent national authorities to access those data, the directive interferes in a particularly serious manner with the fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data,†it adds. The judgement has far-reaching implications for large telecom companies, but also for smaller businesses including many VPN providers. With the new ruling these companies are no longer required to log extensive amount of user data as was required under the EU Directive. While many ISPs are waiting to see what local Governments decide, the Swedish provider Bahnhof immediately announced that it would wipe all subscriber data it stored. “Bahnhof stops all data storage with immediate effect. In addition, we will delete the information that was already saved,†Bahnhof CEO Jon Karlung says. There’s also resistance against the Court decision. The Dutch Minister of Justice Fred Teeven, for example, wants local ISPs to continue storing user data for law enforcement purposes. The European Court of Justice judgement is a clear victory for privacy activists, but mostly for the public who will regain some of their online privacy. While the ruling specified that some data retention may be needed, broad and mandatory retention laws and NSA-style data dragnets are no longer the standard.