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The company has filed a lawsuit at a federal court accusing unknown AT&T subscriber(s) of activating pirated copies of its operating system and other software products. The AT&T account was tracked by the tech giantâ€™s own cyberforensics team due to â€œsuspicious activation patternsâ€. Although Microsoft is known worldwide as one of the most pirated software vendors, the company doesnâ€™t have a long track record of dealing with individual infringers. Actually, a couple months ago, the company even noted that piracy could sometimes even act as a conversion tool. Apparently, this didnâ€™t mean that all pirates could have their way. The tech giantâ€™s cybercrime center seems to be keeping a close eye on the unauthorized use of Microsoftâ€™s software products. A few days ago, the company has filed a copyright infringement complaint against an individual (or a group) who activated pirated copies of Windows 7 and Office 10 from an IP address assigned to the AT&T subscription account. You may think that pirated copies are hard for the company to detect, but Microsoft explained that it uses modern technology to track software piracy. The software developer described its investigative approach as cyberforensics: its team looks for activation patterns and characteristics that make it likely that certain IP-addresses are engaged in illegal copying. For example, the company analyzes product key activation data received from users when they activate the software. This data includes the IP address from which the key has been activated. By the way, such reports are sent by users voluntarily. The lawsuit claims that the defendants have activated numerous copies of Microsoft software products, including Windows 7 and Office 2010, with suspicious registration keys. The company believes that those were stolen from its supply chain, then used without permission from the refurbisher channel, and more often than the Microsoft license permitted. Now the company wants the court to allow it to identify the individual or a group of them responsible for the copyright violations in order to compensate the damage it has suffered. According to Microsoftâ€™s complaint, it looks like the defendant is not an average user, but perhaps a person selling PCs with pirated software. Well, letâ€™s see what the court has to tell the company.
Voltage Pictures, a movie company with a reputation for chasing down alleged Internet pirates, is being sued for "blatant" breaches of copyright. After promoting its own version of a Godzilla movie without first obtaining permission from its Japanese owner, Voltage is now being called out as "outrageous in the extreme." There are dozens of companies engaged in so-called â€œcopyright trollingâ€ worldwide, the majority connected with adult movie companies. While most are generally dismissed as second-rate companies out to make a quick buck, U.S. producer Voltage Pictures has developed a reputation for making fairly decent movies and being one of the most aggressive â€˜trollsâ€™ around. The company has targeted thousands of individuals in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and most recently Australia. The company has largely prevailed in these actions but a new case filed this week in the U.S. sees the company on the receiving end of procedures. The spat concerns Voltageâ€™s plans for a new movie. Starring Anne Hathaway and titled â€˜Collosalâ€˜, the flick sees a giant lizard-like creature stomping its way over Tokyo. It sounds an awful lot like Godzilla, recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest-running movie franchise ever. Toho, the Japanese movie studio behind the Godzilla brand, noticed the similarities too. In a lawsuit filed yesterday in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Toho highlights the hypocrisy of Voltageâ€™s actions. Describing the company as a â€œstaunch advocate for the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rightsâ€ after filing hundreds of copyright suits involving its movies The Hurt Locker and Dallas Buyers Club, Toya says that Voltage began promoting its new movie via email at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month. As can be seen from the screenshot below, the email features three large photos of Godzilla, actress Anne Hathaway, and a giant robot. â€œGloria is an ordinary woman who finds herself in an extraordinary circumstance. Tokyo is under attack by Godzilla and a giant robot and, for some strange reason, Gloria is the only person who can stop it,â€ the email reads. Predictably Toho is upset at Voltageâ€™s use of the Godzilla character and associated breaches of the companyâ€™s copyrights and trademarks. Only making matters worse is the fact that the image of Godzilla used by Voltage is actually taken from promotional material published by Toho to accompany the release of its 2014 movie, Godzilla. â€œGodzilla is one of the most iconic fictional characters in the history of motion pictures. Toho Co., Ltd., the copyright owner of the Godzilla character and franchise of films, brings this lawsuit because defendants are brazenly producing, advertising, and selling an unauthorized Godzilla film of their own,â€ Toho begin. â€œThere is nothing subtle about defendantsâ€™ conduct. They are expressly informing the entertainment community that they are making a Godzilla film and are using the Godzilla trademark and images of Tohoâ€™s protected character to generate interest in and to obtain financing for their project,â€ the company continues. â€œThat anyone would engage in such blatant infringement of anotherâ€™s intellectual property is wrong enough. That defendants, who are known for zealously protecting their own copyrights, would do so is outrageous in the extreme.â€ Noting that at no stage has Voltage ever sought permission to exploit the Godzilla character, Toho says it asked Voltage to cease and desist but the company refused. â€œUpon learning of Defendantsâ€™ infringing activities, Toho demanded that Defendants cease their exploitation of the Godzilla Character, but Defendants refused to do so,â€ Toho writes. In response Toho filed suit and is now demanding that all profits generated by Voltage as a result of its â€œinfringing activitiesâ€ should be handed over to the Japanese company. That, or payment of $150,000 in statutory damages for each infringement of Tohoâ€™s copyrights. Trademark issues are at stake too, with Toho demanding preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against Voltageâ€™s use of the Godzilla marks. Being on the wrong end of a copyright infringement lawsuit will be a novel experience for Voltage Pictures. After recently winning a case to reveal the identities of thousands of alleged pirates in Australia, the company is currently engaged in negotiations with a Federal court over how its first letters to the accused should be worded. With a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, the studio is still experiencing resistance against what is perceived as a so-called â€œspeculative invoicingâ€ business model. Local ISP iiNet is providing comprehensive advice to its customers affected by Voltageâ€™s action and is even working with a law firm prepared to provide pro-bono services. https://torrentfreak.com/voltage-pictures-sued-for-copyright-infringement-150520/
Ignoring copyright infringement warnings is something thousands of Internet users do every month but for two alleged music pirates things are about to get heavy. After ignoring hundreds of notices from anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp, both are being sued by a record label over a pair of 20+ year-old albums. Through various programs, such as the â€œsix strikesâ€ scheme in the United States and the fledgling Canadian program launched earlier this year, warning notices are delivered to BitTorrent users suspected of distributing content online. While most are relatively benign, other warning notices come with a price tag attached. The most common are sent by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp which routinely adds $20 settlement demands to ISP-delivered infringement notices. The key with these notices is that Rightscorp and its clients donâ€™t know the identities of the people theyâ€™re targeting so in the vast majority of cases these cash demands can be ignored. However, it now transpires thatâ€™s not always the best strategy. In a lawsuit filed at the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Rightscorp client Rotten Records is suing a Comcast user who allegedly downloaded and shared When the Kite String Pops, the 1994 debut album from sludge metal band Acid Bath. In a second filed at the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Rotten Records is suing another Comcast user who allegedly downloaded and shared Definition, the sixth album from crossover thrash band D.R.I. According to both lawsuits, Rotten Records hired Rightscorp to monitor BitTorrent networks for infringement. The company connected to the defendantsâ€™ BitTorrent clients and downloaded a full copy of each of the albums, later verifying that they were identical to the original copyright works. Distancing themselves from any accusations of wrongdoing, the lawsuits state that neither Rotten Records nor Rightscorp were the original â€˜seedersâ€™ of the album and at no point did Rightscorp upload the albums to any other BitTorrent users. However, the company did send warnings to the Comcast users with demands for them to stop sharing the album. â€œRightscorp sent Defendant 11 notices via Defendantâ€™s ISP Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. from March 26, 2015 to April 4, 2015 demanding that Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiffâ€™s work. Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiffâ€™s work,â€ the Acid Bath lawsuit reads. While eleven notices is significant, that number pales into insignificance when compared to the D.R.I case. â€œRightscorp sent Defendant 288 notices via their ISP Comcast Cable Communications, Inc. from December 14, 2014 to May 12, 2015 demanding that Defendant stop illegally distributing Plaintiffâ€™s work. Defendant ignored each and every notice and continued to illegally distribute Plaintiffâ€™s work,â€ the complaint reads. In closing, Rotten Records demands an injunction forbidding further online infringement in both cases in addition to the deletion of both albums from each Comcast userâ€™s computer. Unsurprisingly the record label also wants statutory damages (potentially $150K per work if any infringement is deemed willful) plus attorneysâ€™ fees. The cases are interesting ones for a number of reasons, not least the decision to target Comcast customers. The ISP routinely strips settlement demands from notices sent by Rightscorp, so itâ€™s possible a message is being sent here. The other angle is money. Sure, Rotten Records can probably come away with a few thousand dollars by way of settlement, but for Rightscorp the cases could prove much more valuable. Despite warning that not settling for $20 could have a much worse outcome for an alleged pirate, itâ€™s become relatively common knowledge that the company hardly ever shows its teeth. Victory in a case like this could be just what it needs to force settlements from greater numbers of notice recipients. Keep an eye out for forthcoming (and noisily high-value) settlement announcements. They could make $20 sound like a bargain and boost Rightscorpâ€™s failing bottom line. https://torrentfreak.com/comcast-users-sued-after-ignoring-piracy-notices-150516/
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. â€œOnce Rightscorp obtains a consumerâ€™s contact information, it commences autocalls and text messages in an attempt to intimidate the consumer into settlement,â€ 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. â€œJenkins 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 Plaintiffsâ€™ cellular and home phones.â€ 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, itâ€™s not unlikely that other accused file-sharers will follow the example. http://torrentfreak.com/rightscorp-robocalls-150220/
Last month Seattle-based photographer Christopher Boffoli sued Imgur claiming the popular image hosting site had failed to remove a few dozen of his photos. Before the case gets well underway the photographer is facing a much bigger problem, as 20,754 of his photos are now being shared on The Pirate Bay. When it comes to online piracy most attention usually goes out to music, TV-shows and movies. However, photos are arguably the most-infringed works online. Virtually every person on the Internet has shared a photo without obtaining permission from its maker, whether through social networks, blogs or other services. While most photographers spend little time on combating piracy, Seattle-based artist Christopher Boffoli has taken some of the largest web services to court for aiding these infringements Boffoli has filed lawsuits against Twitter, Google and others, which were settled out for court under undisclosed terms. Last month he started a new case against popular image sharing site Imgur after it allegedly ignored his takedown requests. The photographer asked the court to order an injunction preventing Imgur from making 73 of his photos available online. In addition, he requested millions of dollars in statutory damages for willful copyright infringement. Imgur has yet to file an official reply to the complaint. In the meantime, however, Boffoliâ€™s actions appear to have triggered another less welcome response. A few days ago a user of The Pirate Bay decided to upload a rather large archive of the photographerâ€™s work to the site. The archive in question is said to hold 20,754 images, including the most famous â€œBig Appetitesâ€ series. A torrent with 20,754 images The image archive, which is more than eight gigabytes in size, had to be partly wrapped in an .iso file because otherwise the .torrent file itself would have been too large. The description of the archive mentions Boffoliâ€™s recent actions against Imgur, which could have triggered the upload. One of the commenters points out that the Imgur lawsuit may have done more harm than good, and a new Internet meme was born. â€œSued for 73 images, got 20,754 uploaded to TPB, LOL. About the Big Appetites series, if I ever get my hands on a copy, Iâ€™ll scan it at 600 dpi and upload it here, have fun trying to censor the internet, Boffoli,â€ the commenter notes. TorrentFreak asked Boffoli for a comment on the leak and whether he will take steps to prevent the distribution, but we have yet to hear back. While not everyone may agree with the lawsuit against Imgur piracy can impact photographers quite a bit. Itâ€™s usually not the average Pirate Bay user thatâ€™s causing the damage though, but rather companies that use professional photos commercially without a license. Add Rep and Leave a feedback Reputation is the green button in the down right corner on my post
In a twist of irony that has entertained Kim Dotcom, Eminem's publisher has sued the National Party in New Zealand over the alleged unauthorized use of one of the rapper's songs. The party is headed up by current Prime Minister of New Zealand and Dotcom nemesis John Key. The party denies copyright infringement. When it comes to polarizing figures standing accused of copyright infringement in New Zealand, there can be few more famous than Kim Dotcom. The entrepreneur and now political activist is in a bitter battle with not only the New Zealand and US governments, but also the worldâ€™s largest entertainment companies. Thatâ€™s why the news today that the ruling National Party is being sued for copyright infringement has somewhat amused the German-born businessman. The party is led by political rival Prime Minister John Key, one of Dotcomâ€™s most vocal critics and a leader who the Megaupload founder says played a key role in having him arrested in 2012. The lawsuit, filed by Eminemâ€™s publishers, follows allegations that the song â€œLose Yourselfâ€ was used in a 2014 New Zealand General Election advertising campaign run by the National Party. Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated told local media that Eminemâ€™s publishers were not approached to use the songs. â€œIt is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the three strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright,â€ the publishers told 3News. â€œWe do not hesitate to take immediate action to protect the integrity of Eminemâ€™s works, particularly where a party, as here, has sought to associate itself with Eminem and his work.â€ The National Party insists that it obtained all necessary licenses by purchasing the track from official sources known to work with the film and entertainment industry. However, in order to try and calm down the complaint by the publishers use of the song by the party was withdrawn two weeks ago, an unusual thing to do if money had indeed been invested in a legitimate license. â€œWe think itâ€™s pretty legal, we think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because itâ€™s an election campaign. I think theyâ€™re just trying to shake us down for some money before the election,â€ said Nationalâ€™s campaign manager Steven Joyce. While â€œpretty legalâ€ probably isnâ€™t the standard required by Eminemâ€™s publishers, Kim Dotcom was already made up his mind on how to end the dispute. Posting on Twitter, the Internet Party founder didnâ€™t let a golden opportunity pass to take a shot at his arch political rival. Source
VAP, the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry, has sued four local ISPs after they failed to act on a request to block streaming portals Movie4k.to and Kinox.to. The IFPI says it is preparing legal action against the ISPs for their failure to block The Pirate Bay. Favorable rulings in both the European Court of Justice and the local Supreme Court earlier this year gave Austrian anti-piracy groups the power they needed to move forward on site-blocking. What transpired was an attack from two directions. The first involved VAP, the anti-piracy association of the Austrian film and video industry. The second was launched by the local branch of IFPI, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. In late July, VAP wrote to UPC, Drei, Tele2 and A1 with a request for the ISPs to block ThePirateBay.se plus streaming sites Movie4K.to and Kinox.to. Days later in a letter dated August 4, the IFPI asked five local ISPs to block access to four torrent sites â€“ ThePirateBay,se, isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to. Unfortunately for VAP and the IFPI, the ISPs were going to need more than just a letter to begin censoring the Internet. By mid August, with their deadlines expired, none had initiated blockades. That led to threats of lawsuits from both anti-piracy groups. With August now drawing to a close, VAP has made good on its word. CEO Werner MÃ¼ller confirmed to German media that his organization has now sued four Austrian ISPs. MÃ¼ller would not be drawn on their names, but DerStandard spoke with UPC and A1 who both confirmed receiving letters. â€œ[The decision on blocking] should be left to the judgment of a judge, since in a specific case the rights of Internet users and the movie / music industry can be weighed more,â€ said A1 spokeswoman Livia Dandrea-BÃ¶hm. â€œWe will now take a position in the time allowed by the court. Thereafter, the judge has to decide.â€ Of further interest is VAPâ€™s decision to exclude The Pirate Bay from their legal action and only sue for blockades against kinox.to and movie4k.to. There are suggestions that this could prove an easier legal route for VAP as the local Supreme Court is already familiar with the operations of Kinox and Movie4K, sites similar in structure to the now defunct Kino.to, the site which originally prompted calls for blocks in Austria. However, The Pirate Bay will not escape so easily. The IFPI will tackle the infamous torrent site alongside others including isoHunt.to, 1337x.to and H33t.to. The music group is expected to sue several ISPs to force a blockade, although papers are still being drawn up.
The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies has launched a class action lawsuit against Ford and General Motors over the CD-ripping capability of their cars. The music industry group claims that the car companies violate federal law and demand millions of dollars in damages. A quarter century ago the music industry was confronted with a new threat â€“ cassette tape recorders. These devices were able to make â€œnear perfectâ€ copies of any audio recording and the RIAA and others feared this would be the end of the recorded music industry. The record labels took their fears to Congress, which eventually resulted in the Audio Home Recording Act (AHRA) of 1992. Under this law importers and manufacturers have to pay royalties on â€œdigital audio recording devices,â€ among other things. The legislation also applies to some newer recording devices common today, which is now causing trouble for Ford and General Motors. Both companies ship cars with the ability to rip CDs onto internal hard drives and according to a coalition of artists and record companies this violates copyright law. The Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies (AARC), which lists major record labels and 300,000 artists among its members, filed a class action lawsuit on Friday in which they demand millions of dollars in compensation. TorrentFreak obtained a copy of the complaint (pdf) which states that Fordâ€™s â€œJukeboxâ€ device and General Motorâ€™s â€œHard Drive Deviceâ€ allow consumers to rip CDs onto an internal hard drive. According to the music group these devices fall under the Audio Home Recording Act and the car companies are therefore required to pay royalties. Thus far, neither Ford nor General Motors has complied with any requirements of the Act. Both companies have sold cars with these devices for several years on a variety of models including the Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Ford Explorer, Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac SRX, Chevrolet Volt, and GMC Terrain. In addition to the two car companies, the lawsuit also targets their technology partners Denso and Clarion. Commenting on the dispute the AARC notes that a class action lawsuit was unavoidable. â€œTwenty-two years ago, cooperation between music creators and device manufacturers resulted in legislation that led to a digital electronics revolution. But having reaped the benefits of this bargain, Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have now decided to ignore their obligations to music creators and declare themselves above the law,â€ AARC Executive Director Linda Bocchi comments â€œWhile no one likes litigation, Ford, GM, Denso, and Clarion have stonewalled long enough, and we are determined to collect the royalties our members â€“ and all artists and music creators with rights under the AHRA â€“ are owed,â€ Bocchi adds. The artists and record labels are looking for both actual and statutory damages, which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition, they want to prevent the manufacturers from selling these unauthorized devices in their cars. The case will prove to be an interesting test of the legality of â€œrecordingâ€ devices in car entertainment systems. As is usually true, the law is not as black and white as AARCâ€™s complaint states. For example, the lawsuit doesnâ€™t mention that the Audio Home Recording Act includes various exemptions for personal use and for recording equipment thatâ€™s part of a larger device, such as CD-burners in computers. Itâ€™s now up to the court to decide how cars fit into this picture.
Soundcloud caused controversy recently by letting Universal Records delete content and now it's becoming clear why. Soundcloud, Universal, Sony and Warner are said to be on the cusp of a deal, one in which the music hoster gives the labels royalties and up to 15% of its business in exchange for not getting sued. Anyone running a user-generated content site needs to seriously consider the implications of its users uploading infringing material, because itâ€™s pretty much guaranteed to happen on a very large scale indeed. Once the worldâ€™s largest recording labels and movie studios see this happening, things can go bad quickly, unless certain preventative steps are taken. Bringing the business into line with the DMCA is a necessary first step, one which will see the hosting site respond to takedown notices in a timely fashion. Other sites have gone a step further. As underlined by the MegaSong debacle, YouTube gives some big record labels the right to take down content they donâ€™t like, even if there are no apparent copyright infringement issues. YouTube doesnâ€™t appear to get involved much in the process either, leaving the labels to decide what goes and what does not. Another company that headed down that route recently was SoundCloud. The audio upload site has been coming on in leaps and bounds over the past five years, in part due to the popular and sometimes illegal content uploaded by its users. Recently, however, it was revealed that not only had the company given Universal Music the ability to take down infringing content, but to do so without oversight. YouTube allows the labels to do that because it struck a distribution deal with them, but why would Soundcloud follow suit? News today suggests that this particular question answers itself. According to a Bloomberg, Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group are â€œclosing inâ€ on a deal with Soundcloud which will see the service obtain licenses to host and distribute content from these major labels. An anonymous source familiar with the negotiations said that the deal will not only see the labels getting a share of future Soundcloud revenue, but Universal, Sony and Warner each picking up a 3% to 5% stake in the business. On top of that and most importantly, Berlin-based Soundcloud will receive assurances that it wonâ€™t get sued, a valuable stability that US-rival Grooveshark is unlikely to enjoy anytime soon. No one involved in the talks is speaking on the record, but sources suggest that the agreement would value Soundcloud between $500 million and $600 million, not bad for company that was nibbling at the heels of MySpace just five years ago. The 200 employee company is definitely on the up. One year ago Soundcloud reported having 200 million unique users, but by November 2013 that had increased to 250 million. A target of one billion users leaves Soundcloud with plenty to do, but with the threat of large-scale litigation off the table, the process will be much, much easier.