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Found 397 results

  1. Last week Pirate Bay founder Gottfrid Svartholm lost his appeal against his hacking conviction in Denmark. With an August release potentially on the horizon but an unexpected situation still to be resolved in Sweden, Gottfrid is longing to get in front of a computer and back into the world of IT. But before then he wants to set the record straight. Last week and after a technically complex hearing, a jury at the Appeal Court in Denmark again found Gottfrid Svartholm guilty of hacking IT company CSC. The Pirate Bay founder now has no further opportunity to officially protest his innocence. Nevertheless, if all goes to plan and considering time served and his good behavior, Gottfrid could be up for parole middle to late August. But in cases involving the now-famous Swede, it will come as no surprise that there are complications. Gottfrid’s mother, Kristina Svartholm, informs TorrentFreak that the Swedish Prison and Probation service has requested a Nordic warrant for her son. The reason for this is that Swedish authorities sent Gottfrid to Denmark a month before his previous sentence was due to expire in 2013. This means that when he is released from Denmark later this year, he could be sent straight back to prison in Sweden to serve a few more weeks. But despite the setbacks, Gottfrid remains upbeat. “What Gottfrid wants to do now, more than anything else, is to get back to his developmental work within IT (graphics etc),†Kristina told TF. “And, of course, first of all: to sit by a keyboard again after nearly three years away from one.†With those days potentially just a few months away (even when taking the Swedish situation into account) some might sit back and accept their fate. However, Gottfrid is still intent on shining light on what he believes was a sub-standard investigation in Denmark and a poor decision from the court when it denied his appeal. According to Kristina, Gottfrid seriously questions the reports presented by the Danish police and is disappointed by their content, quality and lack of professionalism. “Clumsy amateurs†according to the Pirate Bay founder. In respect of the verdict itself, Gottfrid insists that it contains many “errors, mistakes and misunderstandingsâ€. There is even a suspicion that the judges decided on his guilt before the date of the verdict. “The final speeches from the defense/the prosecutor respectively were made Monday June 15, 2015. The judges and jury met Tuesday for voting. The verdict was presented Wednesday morning. WHEN was this verdict written?†Gottfrid questions. While the answer to that question may never be forthcoming, Gottfrid and Kristina remain determined to shine a light on the Danish investigation and what they both believe to be an extremely flawed legal process. To that end and in conjunction with Gottfrid, Kristina has penned a 2200+ word document detailing what they believe to be the key points behind an unfair investigation, criminal trial, and subsequent appeal. It covers plenty of topics, from the encrypted container found on Gottfrid’s computer to a chat log that became central to linking him to the case, despite it being highly edited by the authorities. Also of interest are the details of discussions secretly recorded by the police that potentially place Gottfrid in the clear, but were still ignored by the Appeal Court. The report can be downloaded here (RTF) https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-founder-still-wants-to-clear-his-name-150628/
  2. For years popular sports streaming site Rojadirecta has been operating from Spain without trouble. This week, however, a Madrid court threw up a significant hurdle by ordering Rojadirecta to stop linking to certain football streams or have its site blocked by local ISPs. The site's operators are refusing to cave in without a fight and have already announced an appeal against the preliminary injunction. As one of the most prominent live streaming sites, Rojadirecta is a thorn in the side of many international sports organizations. The website is operated by the Spanish company Puerto 80, which previously won two lawsuits in Spain, declaring the site as operating legally under local law. Even the U.S. Government couldn’t bring the site down. In 2011 the Department of Homeland Security seized the site’s domain name, but facing a legal battle the authorities chose to hand it back to the rightful owners. Now, several years later the odds seem to have turned. Following a complaint from the Professional Football League (LFP), a Madrid court has ruled that Rojadirecta can no longer link to unauthorized streams of football events to which Mediapro and Gol Television own the rights. The court issued a preliminary injunction that orders the site’s operators to cease these activities within seven days. If the company fails to comply, local Internet providers will be instructed to block access to Rojadirecta. Martinez Trujillo, director Strategic Projects of the Spanish Football League, praised the court’s decision while openly insulting one of the defendants. “We have great news issued barely an hour ago,†Martinez Trujillo announced yesterday. “The Football League has been working intensively against piracy during the last 18 months and today we won the first great battle against this man, who is really a crook.†Speaking with TF, Rojadirecta stresses that the Madrid court issued the injunction without delving into the merits of the case. The company maintains that it’s operating legally and will appeal the verdict in a full trial. “This does not affect our right to continue operating the website,†a Rojadirecta spokesperson says, adding that they don’t expect to make any significant changes to the site. As a result, Rojadirecta may soon be blocked by Spanish ISPs but the company is confident that it can overturn the preliminary injunction in the long run. “Rojadirecta is advised in Europe by a number of legal teams with the best experience regarding Internet operators liabilities. We are very aware of the legality of Rojadirecta; our operations now and in the future are not reckless.†The preliminary injunction is based on misleading statements from the Spanish Football League, according to the streaming site, who note that the verdict would have been different if they were given the opportunity to defend themselves. There is no doubt that the injunction puts Rojadirecta at a disadvantage, but the company believes that it will win in the end, securing yet another legal precedent. “In any case, we continue to work this issue with hope. In the end we will win, but we will have to fight quite a bit. This new challenge will end up putting us in a better position,†Rojadirecta concludes. https://torrentfreak.com/court-forbids-rojadirecta-to-stream-football-or-else-150623/
  3. The company behind the Oscar-winning movie Dallas Buyers Club wants to interrogate alleged BitTorrent pirates over the phone. In order to assess how much to 'fine' individuals, Voltage Pictures wants people to reveal how much they earn and how much illegal downloading they've done in the past. ISP iiNet says the questions go way too far. Following prolonged legal action in Australia, the company behind the hit movie Dallas Buyers Club was given permission to chase down individuals said to have downloaded the movie illegally. An estimated 4,726 internet account holders will be targeted under the legal action and all will come under considerable pressure to pay Voltage Pictures a cash settlement to make a supposed lawsuit go away. Somewhat surprisingly, it has now emerged that the movie company will not only target people via letter, but will also phone account holders to interrogate them in person. During a Federal Court hearing today it was revealed that Dallas Buyers Club (DBC) have prepared a script which details several questions the company intends to ask its targets. Shockingly they include requests for individuals to reveal how much they earn each year and how many movies they have previously shared using BitTorrent. ISP iiNet, whose customers are targeted in the action, say that ‘fines’ should be as little as $5, but DBC wants to charge individuals variable amounts based on their income, how damaging their sharing of Dallas Buyers Club was, and how much infringement they have been involved in during the past. Richard Lancaster SC, representing iiNet, said the script “comes on too strong†and is too broad in scope. “There’s no justification for getting into a royal commission into end users’ use of the BitTorrent network,†Mr Lancaster said. “It’s about the film.†Lancaster also complained that the texts of both the script and letter imply that guilt of copyright infringement had already been established when in fact that is not the case. “The people on the phone aren’t told, ‘We’ve been given your details in respect to a court order,†he said. “They are being told much more firmly, ‘You have infringed and we are going to sue if you don’t settle’.†How much DBC will demand from alleged infringers is unknown, but it seems inevitable that anything said on the telephone by an account holder will be used against them in a bid to boost the amount. Counsel for DBC, Ian Pike SC, said that it will be up to the individual whether they choose to answer the company’s questions. While most lawyers will advise anyone getting a call from DBC to tell the company absolutely nothing, the movie company is keen for its targets to be unprepared. Firstly, DBC is refusing to reveal how it will calculate the amount each person will be asked to pay. However, it is believed the company will seek some kind of licensing fee and/or damages based on how many times the content was shared online, plus relevant court costs. Alternatively, DBC might simply arrive at the highest figure it can reasonably expect to retrieve from the alleged infringer based on what the company is told on the telephone. However, people being targeted by the company won’t be going into their ‘negotiations’ completely blind. Despite expressing concern that people will read their contents and learn how to reduce the claim against them, on the orders of Judge Nye Perram, DBC will be required to submit the texts of both their telephone script and settlement demand letters to the court. A final judgment on the case is expected between July 10 and 15. https://torrentfreak.com/trolls-want-to-interrogate-bittorrent-pirates-by-phone-150618/
  4. A man has pleaded guilty to costing the film industry several millions of pounds after operating websites which allowed people to view content illegally. The offenses, alleged to have taken place between 2008 and 2013 and initially denied at a hearing in February, involve websites including the now-defunct FastPassTV. In May 2011, police reported seizing £83,000 and computer equipment following a raid in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The operation was a culmination of an investigation carried out by the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). By the end of the month more details began to emerge, with TorrentFreak sources confirming that an operator of video streaming site known as ‘FastPassTV’ had been arrested. With hundreds of thousands of daily visitors the site was a significant player in the streaming market. However, FastPassTV did not store any content of its own, instead linking to movies hosted elsewhere. “Fast Pass TV does not host, store, or distribute any of the videos listed on the site and only link to user submitted content that is freely available on the Internet,†a notice on the website read. Somewhat typically the case dragged on through the legal system and it took more than four years to come to court. However, the case was more complex than it first appeared. At his arraignment in February 2015, Paul Mahoney from Carnhill, Londonderry, was not only charged with offenses connected with FastPassTV but also BedroomMedia, a discussion and linking forum he also operated. It’s alleged that the man generated £82,390 in advertising revenue from the criminal operation of both sites. Mahoney was also charged with two further offenses of conspiring with individuals known online as ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ to defraud the movie industry. The 28-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges and was bailed to appear at a later date. This week, however, Mahoney was back in court with an apparent change of heart, pleading guilty to all four charges. In what’s being described as the first prosecution of its type in Northern Ireland, Mahoney was re-arraigned Monday. He pleaded guilty to a charge that between April 2008 and May 2011 he conspired with others to operate websites which allow the public to view copyrighted movies without permission from rightsholders. Mahoney also pleaded guilty to a charge of generating £82,390 in advertising revenue between April 2010 and April 2013 from this websites FastPassTV and BedroomMedia. Finally, the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring with ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ between May 2011 and April 2013. “Paul Mahoney operated websites over a number of years which knowingly provided illegal access to thousands of films, generating significant income for himself and causing the film industry millions of pounds of loses,†Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT, informs TorrentFreak. Unusually, however, there will be no claim for compensation. FACT hopes that Mahoney’s prosecution alone will send a clear message to others thinking of embarking on the same line of business. “Websites of this kind cause untold harm to the UK’s creative industries. We hope that this prosecution will serve as a deterrent to others engaging in this type of criminality, and look forward to Mr Mahoney’s sentencing on 25th August,†Sharp concludes. https://torrentfreak.com/man-pleads-guilty-to-costing-film-industry-millions-through-piracy-150616/
  5. A man has pleaded guilty to costing the film industry several millions of pounds after operating websites which allowed people to view content illegally. The offenses, alleged to have taken place between 2008 and 2013 and initially denied at a hearing in February, involve websites including the now-defunct FastPassTV. In May 2011, police reported seizing £83,000 and computer equipment following a raid in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The operation was a culmination of an investigation carried out by the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). By the end of the month more details began to emerge, with TorrentFreak sources confirming that an operator of video streaming site known as ‘FastPassTV’ had been arrested. With hundreds of thousands of daily visitors the site was a significant player in the streaming market. However, FastPassTV did not store any content of its own, instead linking to movies hosted elsewhere. “Fast Pass TV does not host, store, or distribute any of the videos listed on the site and only link to user submitted content that is freely available on the Internet,†a notice on the website read. Somewhat typically the case dragged on through the legal system and it took more than four years to come to court. However, the case was more complex than it first appeared. At his arraignment in February 2015, Paul Mahoney from Carnhill, Londonderry, was not only charged with offenses connected with FastPassTV but also BedroomMedia, a discussion and linking forum he also operated. It’s alleged that the man generated £82,390 in advertising revenue from the criminal operation of both sites. Mahoney was also charged with two further offenses of conspiring with individuals known online as ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ to defraud the movie industry. The 28-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges and was bailed to appear at a later date. This week, however, Mahoney was back in court with an apparent change of heart, pleading guilty to all four charges. In what’s being described as the first prosecution of its type in Northern Ireland, Mahoney was re-arraigned Monday. He pleaded guilty to a charge that between April 2008 and May 2011 he conspired with others to operate websites which allow the public to view copyrighted movies without permission from rightsholders. Mahoney also pleaded guilty to a charge of generating £82,390 in advertising revenue between April 2010 and April 2013 from this websites FastPassTV and BedroomMedia. Finally, the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring with ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ between May 2011 and April 2013. “Paul Mahoney operated websites over a number of years which knowingly provided illegal access to thousands of films, generating significant income for himself and causing the film industry millions of pounds of loses,†Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT, informs TorrentFreak. Unusually, however, there will be no claim for compensation. FACT hopes that Mahoney’s prosecution alone will send a clear message to others thinking of embarking on the same line of business. “Websites of this kind cause untold harm to the UK’s creative industries. We hope that this prosecution will serve as a deterrent to others engaging in this type of criminality, and look forward to Mr Mahoney’s sentencing on 25th August,†Sharp concludes. https://torrentfreak.com/man-pleads-guilty-to-costing-film-industry-millions-through-piracy-150616/
  6. Nintendo has seized a large quantity of copyright infringing cookies featuring popular game characters, fearing that these could cause health issues for gaming fans. The cookies were produced in China where Nintendo managed to stop future distribution at a 'pirate' bakery. While not often in the news, Nintendo has a dedicated anti-piracy division that cracks down on unauthorized use of the company’s properties. The anti-piracy unit keeps a close eye on Internet piracy and the sale of hacked and counterfeit products which endanger the company’s revenues. However, there’s also a threat of a whole different kind: baked goods. A few months ago Nintendo spotted a surge of copyright-infringing cookies which were illicitly manufactured in China. Fearing that the ingredients posed a risk to the health of gaming fans, the company decided to take swift action. “After receiving a report of cookies being manufactured in China featuring Nintendo’s copyrighted characters, Nintendo took steps to protect consumers,†Nintendo announces in its quarterly update. The gaming company took its health concerns to the Chinese manufacturer and requested a halt to the baking process as soon as possible. “Out of concern that unauthorized cookies could pose possible health and safety issues to consumers, Nintendo contacted the manufacturer to immediately cease manufacturing and distributing the unauthorized cookies,†the company explains. This effort was successful and Nintendo reports that the manufacturer stopped producing the copyright infringing cookies, making the world a safer place for gaming fans. In addition to crushing the pirated cookies, the company also seized more than a thousand counterfeit Super Mario products in Asia. This includes the phone cover and backpack pictured on the right. “Nintendo of Korea provided vital support in a seizure of more than 1,400 pieces of counterfeit Super Mario merchandise at Incheon Customs in [the first quarter of] 2015,†Nintendo reports. It’s unclear whether the counterfeit goods were also health hazards, or if they were seized to protect Nintendo’s revenues instead. TF contacted Nintendo for more details on the exact health threats the cookies posed, as well as other anti-piracy efforts, but the company did not respond to repeated requests for comment. https://torrentfreak.com/nintendo-seizes-pirated-cookies-to-protect-fans-150614/
  7. In recent months copyright lobby groups have pressured the domain name system oversight body ICANN to take action against pirate sites. The organization is not happy with these calls and wants them to stop, making it crystal clear that they are not the Internet's piracy police. In recent years copyright holders have demanded stricter anti-piracy measures from ISPs, search engines and payment processors, with varying results. Continuing this trend, various entertainment industry groups are now going after organizations that manage and offer domain name services. The most influential organization in this industry is without a doubt ICANN, the main oversight body for the Internet’s global domain name system. Among other things, ICANN develops policies for accredited registrars to prevent abuse and illegal use of domain names. Still, various copyright groups believe that the organization isn’t doing enough. In recent months the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright industry groups have encouraged the organization to strengthen its anti-piracy policies. However, ICANN is not eager to take on the role of piracy police. Earlier this week ICANN president Fadi Chehadé noted that “everybody†is asking the organization to police content, which is a trend they hope to change. Speaking out on the issue for the first time, ICANN’s Chief Contract Compliance Officer Allen Grogan emphasizes that they are not going to police the Internet to protect copyright holders. “ICANN has no role in policing content – it’s entirely out of our scope,†Grogan informs TF. “Our mission is to coordinate, at the overall level, the global Internet’s systems of unique identifiers, and in particular, to ensure the stable and secure operation of the Internet’s unique identifiers,†he adds. While various copyright lobby groups suggest that ICANN has the ability and authority to take action against pirate sites, the organization itself clearly disagrees. “ICANN was never granted, nor was it ever intended that ICANN be granted, the authority to act as a regulator of Internet content,†Grogan says. Instead of letting the domain name industry decide what is allowed and what is not, copyright holders should fight their battles in court. According to ICANN, there are sufficient means to take on infringing sites through other venues. “It’s important people understand this and direct their content complaints to the institutions that are already in place to handle these issues, such as law enforcement, regulatory agencies and judicial systems,†Grogan notes. ICANN’s comments will be a disappointment to the MPAA and RIAA, who would have preferred an easy way to target the domain names of pirate sites. For now, their best option is to go through the courts, something we’re seeing more and more often these days. https://torrentfreak.com/icann-refuses-to-play-piracy-police-150612/
  8. Google has failed in its efforts to overturn a worldwide site-blocking order handed down by a Canadian court in 2014. The British Columbia Court of Appeal found that despite not being a party to the case, Google must block a range of websites from its worldwide search results due to its business presence in the country. The prominence of Google in endless Internet-related matters often sees the company get tangled up in the disputes of others. A case from 2014 provides a particularly interesting example. Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Jack saw two Canadian entities embroiled in legal action over stolen intellectual property used to manufacture competing products. Google has no direct links to the case whatsoever, yet it became sucked in when Equustek Solutions claimed that Google’s search results were helping to send visitors to websites operated by the defendants (former Equustek employees) that were selling unlawful products. Google previously removed links to the sites from its Google.ca results on a voluntary basis, but Equustek wanted a broader response. In a subsequent court ruling handed in British Columbia, Google was ordered to remove the infringing websites’ listings from its central database in the United States, meaning that the ruling had worldwide implications. Google was given a little under two weeks to comply with the decision but quickly appealed in the hope of achieving a better outcome. Now, a year later, the British Columbia Court of Appeal has handed down its decision and it’s more bad news for Google. According to an analysis by Canadian law professor Michael Geist, the decision addresses two key questions, both involving jurisdiction. i) Whether the court has jurisdiction over Google ii) Whether the injunction handed down in Canada has power outside its borders On the first issue, Google argued that it does not operate servers in British Columbia, nor does it have any local offices. However, the Court decided that the company does carry out business in the region. “Google does not have resident employees, business offices, or servers in the Province, but its activities in gathering data through web crawling software, in distributing targeted advertising to users in British Columbia, and in selling advertising to British Columbia businesses are sufficient to uphold the chambers judge’s finding that it does business in the Province,†the ruling (pdf) reads. On the second issue – whether a court order handed down in British Columbia could have jurisdiction beyond its borders – the Court of Appeal again ruled against Google. “British Columbia courts are called upon to adjudicate disputes involving foreign residents on a daily basis, and the fact that their decisions may affect the activities of those people outside the borders of British Columbia is not determinative of whether an order may be granted,†the ruling reads. Noting Google’s concerns that it could potentially be “subjected to restrictive orders from courts in all parts of the world, each concerned with its own domestic law,†the court underlined the importance of exercising caution when handing down orders that have the potential to limit expression in another country. However, it found no problem with the ruling of the lower Court. “In the case before us, there is no realistic assertion that the judge’s order will offend the sensibilities of any other nation. It has not been suggested that the order prohibiting the defendants from advertising wares that violate the intellectual property rights of the plaintiffs offends the core values of any nation,†the ruling reads. However, should any nation have an issue with the decision, they are free to appeal, the ruling adds. “In the unlikely event that any jurisdiction finds the order offensive to its core values, an application could be made to the court to modify the order so as to avoid the problem.†Dismissing Google’s appeal, Justice Groberman signs off on the blocking injunction in Equustek Solutions’ favor. “The plaintiffs have established, in my view, that an order limited to the google.ca search site would not be effective. I am satisfied that there was a basis, here, for giving the injunction worldwide effect,†the Judge concludes. Google is reportedly considering its options, with an escalation to the Supreme Court a potential (but as yet unconfirmed) outcome. https://torrentfreak.com/google-fails-to-overturn-worldwide-site-blocking-order-150612/
  9. Coppersurfer, one of the largest torrent trackers on the Internet, has been targeted by copyright holders throughout Europe. Most recently, a German court ordered a local hosting provider to hand over the personal details of its operator. In response the Greek Pirate Party has decided to adopt the tracker, providing political support in defense of people's freedom to share information. In recent years Coppersurfer.tk 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 itself. Despite the content neutral setup, the tracker and its hosting providers have become the targets of various copyright holder groups in recent months. In April, Coppersurfer was forced to leave its Dutch hosting provider following a complaint from Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN. The tracker then moved its service to a German hosting provider, but that didn’t end the trouble. The tracker’s operator recently informed TF that a German court ordered the tracker’s hosting provider to disclose the personal details of the associated account holder. The request came from the German lawfirm Rasch, who act on behalf of several major music labels. The order (pdf) came as a surprise to Coppersurfer’s operator as he complied with previous takedown requests from the same lawyers, and even offered them a hash blocking tool. The copyright holder, however, appeared determined to shut the site down. Facing this mounting pressure the operator decided to look for help, which he found in the Pirate Party of Greece (PPGR). The Greek Pirates inform TF that they have decided to officially adopt the tracker to protect it from further threats, by any means necessary. “The owner of the tracker has faced the absurd requests of the copyright lobby many times in the past, even though he was being wholly lawful. After these attacks we decided to adopt the tracker,†the PPGR board tells us. “Our decision gives political support to the tracker, which is very important in this context,†they add. The party also informed the German Pirate Party and MEP Julia Reda about the recent court order, and will see if there are any options to get it overturned. Meanwhile, the tracker is hosted in another European country, operating in accordance with local laws. The Greek Pirates aren’t under the illusion that the tracker will be shielded from legal pressure under their wings. However, they are prepared to fight the “copyright lobby†in order to protect the free flow of information. “Unfortunately, our experience, but also our knowledge of similar cases so far predisposes us to believe that we will see this kind of incident again. But they can’t scare us. On the contrary, it gives us courage to work harder in order to achieve a free society,†the PPGR board says. “A society where the exchange of ideas, files and information will be treated as what they really are: a basic human need,†they add. https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-party-adopts-torrent-tracker-to-fight-legal-pressure-150610/
  10. Speaking at Midem yesterday, Andrus Ansip of the European Commission shared his vision for the Digital Single Market. Noting that geo-blocking is bad for business, Ansip said that opening up content across borders and providing good legal options is the best way to tackle piracy. "Our legislation is pushing people to steal," he said. Last month the European Commission adopted a new Digital Single Market strategy with the aim of improving consumer access to digital goods and services. Among other things the Commission says it plans to end the “discriminatory practice†of “unjustified†geo-blocking. “I want to see every consumer getting the best deals and every business accessing the widest market – wherever they are in Europe,†Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. Another part of the strategy is to modernize European copyright law to enable consumers to more easily enjoy online content, such as accessing content they purchased at home in other countries across the EU. Speaking at music industry event Midem in Cannes yesterday, former Estonian prime minister Andrus Ansip who serves as Vice President for the Digital Single Market shared his vision for the strategy. “Our people have to get the possibility to buy content [across Europe] like they do at home and our businesses must get the possibility to sell across the European Union like they do at home,†Ansip said. “Today, we don’t have a Digital Single Market in the European Union. We have 28 relatively small markets and for small European companies it’s practically impossible to understand those 28 different [sets of] regulations.†Ansip underlined that what is possible in the offline world must be possible in the online world and key issues must be addressed if parity is to be achieved. “Today, the four basic freedoms in the EU – free movement of people, goods, services, capital – it’s a reality in a physical [world] but it’s not reality in the online world,†Ansip said. Describing the music industry as a “pioneer†that has grown out of disruption to largely abandon geo-blocking by enabling cross-border access, Ansip addressed concerns that the EU’s plans for modernization of copyright law are something to be feared by content creators. “I don’t think people here in this room or elsewhere have to be worried. Today, I would like to enjoy [film] masterpieces created by creators. I am ready to pay but because of copyright restrictions, because of geo-blocking, they are not accepting my money,†Ansip said. “Our aim is to create a win-win situation. I would like to enjoy, I will pay, creators will get more money. This is our way. We don’t want to destroy the whole copyright system based on a principle of territoriality. We have to allow cross-border access to digital content to all people, we have to allow portability.†Ansip said there are 100 million Europeans who would like to access content in other members states but they can’t because of geo-blocking. Around 271 million cross-border trips with at least one overnight stay are carried out by Europeans each year yet those people cannot always get access to the content they bought legally back home while doing so. This is just one indication that the law needs to change, but piracy itself will be challenged. “According to public opinion polls, 68% of film viewers say they are using [illegal] downloads. 20% of Internet users in the European Union are using VPNs to get access to digital content. That’s a huge amount of money that our creators are losing today, so of course we will pay more attention to ‘Follow the Money’ [anti-piracy strategy],†Ansip said. Assuring content holders that the EU Commission is not hostile towards copyright and rightsholders, Ansip asked the Midem audience to consider the 30% of Canadian Netflix users who use a VPN to access the U.S. version of the service. “In the European Union our creators are losing huge amounts of money because of piracy but honestly, somehow our legislation is pushing people to steal,†he said. “Take Spotify, for example. We can say that if somebody is able to provide services with better quality with higher speed, then people prefer to act as honest people. They are ready to pay. They don’t want to steal.†Highlighting the success of Norway in slashing piracy rates, Ansip says that was achieved by first offering access to quality legal services. “The European Commission wants to protect the rights of creators but first we have to provide legal access to digital content to all people. Then it will be more fruitful to tackle piracy,†Ansip said. When confronted with the reality that licensed services such as Spotify and Deezer exist while piracy persists, coupled with the perception that the EU Commission isn’t exactly “pro copyrightâ€, Ansip responded enthusiastically. “I can’t agree with you! I’m talking about 68% of [film viewers who pirate] who couldn’t care about this copyright because we are not providing legal access to digital content,†he said. “Some people say that if [the EU] cares about copyright then let’s deal only with law enforcement. To put 68% of people in jail is not really a good idea. I think that reforms are really needed.†It’s clear that the debate on the Digital Single Market is far from over and while it should end up as a positive for consumers, only time will tell how cooperative rightsholders will be throughout the process. https://torrentfreak.com/eu-copyright-legislation-is-pushing-people-to-piracy-150609/
  11. On June 16th 2015, Parliament will vote on how EU copyright reform will develop. On the table are all the sensible proposals: legalize file-sharing, promote peer-to-peer, enable technologies to be transparent and understandable. But all the non-sensible proposals are there as well: stricter laws, punish the people! If the people wont be punished – punish their service providers until their service providers cages them in prohibitive technical standards and digital locks! The pro-copyright lobbies are the best organised in the world. Second only to the tobacco lobby. They gather up employees and contractors and tell them real people and real internet users are bad people who want to harm them. When I was in the Parliament, I was at one time visited by a young mother of two who wondered why I was trying to put her children without food or education on the streets. She was a script-writer for tax-payer-financed French-German TV station ARTE. Even if I understand that her wages don’t come from copyright licenses, even indirectly, and even if she appeared not to have thought of that, it was uncomfortable to be accused of harming someone else’s children. Had I not been 10 years younger than her, and convinced that there are ways for her to make money that don’t include destroying the internet or putting file-sharers out of their homes, I may have opted to change my political opinion because of her heartfelt accusation. Many individuals like her are currently visiting our legislators. Many politicians are presently being accused of harming children should they consider progressive copyright proposals. What these politicians aren’t hearing, are the stories of those people who get cease-and-desist letters, get sued, or put through criminal trials or get handed damages so large they can’t reasonably be paid off in a life-time by a single individual. They’re not hearing the stories of those who’ve built networks for millions of Europeans where, for want of better words, cultural affinity arises. File-sharing and peer-to-peer culture, like no other culture in modern times, has created a common cultural base in Europe. Although I hope that even without my idealistic formulation of these matters, you’re all convinced copyright at least somehow needs to change. Politics too often gets stuck in the realm of the possible. It is possible that a 35-year-old mother could have her income impacted by a legislative reform that in no way influences her employer. It is not possible, but real, that many individuals in the European Union every year are caused heavy, even impossible, costs due to file-sharing trials and cease-and-desist letters. It is not possible, but real, that copyright laws are increasingly forcing technology companies to innovate to the disadvantage of the freedom of the users. The European Parliament needs to be taken back down to reality, and away from the realm of possible dangers before June 16th. If you are presently in the European Union, or if you can reach out people in the European Union, in any way at all: this is the time to ask them to contact their representatives in the European Parliament. Tell the Members about yourselves, your lives, your children and the world in which you want to live. Give them a taste of the reality which exists away from the speculative possibilities of professional lobbies. Whenever we’re too tired or too scared to tell our politicians what is important, whoever has the resources will weave them stories of realms of possibilities instead. The future of copyright, and of all of the Internet, is too important to leave in the hands of such story-tellers. Go to copywrongs.eu and figure out the specific demands you want to place to your MEP, but remember – your biggest asset is that you’re real, and the lobby stories mostly aren’t. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Amelia Andersdotter represented the Swedish Pirate Party in the European Parliament between December 2011 and July 2014. She’s an expert on topics related to the Internet, intellectual property and IT-policy. https://torrentfreak.com/how-you-can-help-to-fix-eu-copyright-law-150606/
  12. The RIAA has scored an important victory against CloudFlare after the company refused to terminate services to a Grooveshark replacement. District Court Judge Alison Nathan ruled that CloudFlare actively helps the pirate site to spread copyrighted works, and ordered to company to stop doing so. Last month the long running lawsuit between the RIAA and Grooveshark came to an end. However, within days a new site was launched aiming to take its place. The RIAA wasn’t happy with this development and quickly obtained a restraining order, preventing domain registrars and hosting companies from offering their services to the site. This was somewhat effective, as Namecheap quickly suspended the original domain name. However, not all parties were as cooperative. Popular CDN-service CloudFlare refused to take action on the basis that it is not “aiding and abetting†piracy. The RIAA disagreed and asked New York District Court Judge Alison Nathan to rule on the matter. In an order (pdf) just published, Judge Nathan agrees with the music group. CloudFlare argued that they were not bound to the restraining order since they were not in “active concert or participation†due to the automated nature of its services. In addition, the company countered that even if it disconnected Grooveshark, the site would still be accessible. In her order Nathan notes that she finds neither argument persuasive. The fact that CloudFlare is aware of the infringements and provides services that help the public to easily access the infringing site, shows otherwise. “Connecting internet users to grooveshark.li in this manner benefits Defendants and quite fundamentally assists them in violating the injunction because, without it, users would not be able to connect to Defendants’ site unless they knew the specific IP address for the site,†Judge Nathan writes. “Beyond the authoritative domain name server, CloudFlare also provides additional services that it describes as improving the performance of the grooveshark.li site,†she adds. The argument that the ‘new’ Grooveshark will still be around after CloudFlare suspends the account was found to be irrelevant. A third-party can still be bound by a restraining order even if terminating its services doesn’t render a website inaccessible. “… just because another third party could aid and abet the Defendants in violating the injunction does not mean that CloudFlare is not doing so,†the order reads. Finally, the Judge agrees that there may be other services that are not covered by the order. However, in this case CloudFlare is directly facilitating Grooveshark, with specific knowledge of the accounts that are responsible. For CloudFlare the ruling comes as a disappointment, opening the door for a slew of similar requests. The CDN has several of the largest pirate sites as clients, including The Pirate Bay, which is now a relatively easy target. At the time of writing Grooveshark.li is no longer accessible, suggesting that CloudFlare has already complied with the order. https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-cloudflare-to-disconnect-new-grooveshark-150605/
  13. 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. https://torrentfreak.com/google-takes-mpaa-to-court-over-secret-censorship-plans-150603/
  14. Following a European trend, the Russian telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor has ordered local ISPs to block access to The Pirate Bay. Without a separate court order, two domain names of the popular torrent site have been added to the national blocklist. As the arch-rival of many copyright groups, The Pirate Bay has become one of the most censored websites on the Internet in recent years. Courts all around the world have ordered Internet providers to block subscriber access to the torrent site and the list continues to expand. This week Russia’s telecommunications watchdog Roskomnadzor issued an update to the country’s blocklist adding two Pirate Bay domain names. Following a complaint from Mosfilm, one of the largest European movie studios, Russian ISPs are now required to block access to thepiratebay.se and thepiratebay.mn. Interestingly, there is no separate court order against The Pirate Bay. Instead, the domains were added to an existing injunction targeting tushkan.net, which was offering a pirated copy of Mosfilm’s movie “The Road to Berlin.†Under Russian law, copyright holders can add domain names to an injunction if their content appears on other sites as well. In addition to The Pirate Bay domains, a dozen other sites were added in the same update. Technically, The Pirate Bay can request a removal from the blocklist after they remove all links to the film in question. But considering the site’s stance on taking down content, this is not going to happen. Pirate Bay Blocked While the order aims to deprive millions of Russians from visiting the popular torrent site, it will be rather ineffective for now. Two weeks ago The Pirate Bay added several new domain names and four of those remain readily accessible. It is clear, however, that Russia is not averse to taking measures against websites that are accused of facilitating copyright infringement. Hundreds of websites have been blocked in recent years and there are calls to ban various circumvention tools including VPNs and TOR as well. The first step in this direction was set last week when an anti-censorship website from a local human rights group was blocked, and similar crackdowns may follow in the near future. https://torrentfreak.com/russia-orders-isps-to-block-the-pirate-bay-150603/
  15. In the wake of a UN report urging the protection of encryption and anonymity, a website run by a human rights organization that monitors web-censorship and pirate site blockades in Russia has been ordered to be blocked. The portal, which offers advice on how to use tools such as VPNs, TOR and Pirate Browser, has been declared illegal by a court. While there is still much resistance to the practice in the United States, having websites blocked at the ISP level is becoming easier in many other countries around the world. One country where the process is becoming ever more streamlined is Russia. The country blocks hundreds of websites on many grounds, from copyright infringement to the publication of extremist propaganda, suicide discussion and the promotion of drugs. Keeping a close eye on Russia’s constantly expanding website blocklist is RosComSvoboda. The project advocates human rights and freedoms on the Internet, monitors and publishes data on blockades, and provides assistance to Internet users and website operators who are wrongfully subjected to restrictions. Now, however, RosKomSvoboda will have to fight for its own freedoms after a local court ordered ISPs to block an advice portal operated by the group. The site, RUBlacklist, is an information resource aimed at users who wish to learn about tools that can be used to circumvent censorship. It doesn’t host any tools itself but offers advice on VPNs, proxies, TOR and The Pirate Bay’s Pirate Browser. Also detailed are various anonymizer services (which are presented via a linked Google search), Opera browser’s ‘turbo mode’ (which is often used in the UK to unblock torrent sites) and open source anonymous network I2P (soon to feature in a Popcorn Time fork). Unfortunately, Russian authorities view this education as problematic. During an investigation carried out by the Anapa district’s prosecutor’s office it was determined that RosKomSvoboda’s advice undermines government blocks. “Due to anonymizer sites, in particular http://rublacklist.net/bypass, users can have full access to all the banned sites anonymously and via spoofing. That is, with the help of this site, citizens can get unlimited anonymous access to banned content, including extremist material,†a ruling from the Anapa Court reads. Describing the portal as an anonymization service, the Court ordered RosKomSvoboda’s advice center to be blocked at the ISP level. Needless to say the operators of RosKomSvoboda are outraged that their anti-censorship efforts will now be censored. Group chief Artyom Kozlyuk slammed the decision, describing both the prosecutor’s lawsuit and the Court ruling as “absurdâ€. “Law enforcement has demonstrated its complete incompetence in the basic knowledge of all the common technical aspects of the Internet, though even youngsters can understand it,†Kozlyuk says. “Anonymizers, proxies and browsers are multitask instruments, helping to search for information on the Internet. If we follow the reasoning of the prosecutor and the court, then the following stuff should be prohibited as well: knives, as they can become a tool for murder; hammers, as they can be used as a tool of torture; planes, because if they fall they can lead to many deaths. “To conclude, I would love to ask the prosecutor of Anapa to consider the possibility of prohibiting paper and ink, because with these tools one can draw a very melancholic picture of this ruling’s complete ignorance.†RosKomSvoboda’s legal team say they intend to appeal the ruling which was the result of a legal procedure that took place without their knowledge. “We can only guess why the project is considered to be an anonymizer. It’s likely that no one in Anapa city court understands what they are dealing with,†says RosKomSvoboda lawyer Sarkis Darbinian. “We see that these kinds of rulings are being stamped on a legal conveyor belt. Moreover, we see the obvious violation of the fundamental principles of civil procedure – an adversarial system.†The court ruling against RUBlacklist arrives at the same time as a report from the United Nations which urges member states to do everything they can to encourage encryption and anonymity online. https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-vpn-tor-proxy-advice-site-to-be-blocked-150530/
  16. The Department of Justice has made a grave error as several seized Megaupload domains are now being exploited for nefarious purposes. A few days ago both Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com began directing visitors to scams and malware, presumably because the FBI's cybercrime unit lost control of the main nameserver. Well over three years have passed since Megaupload was shutdown, but there is still little progress in the criminal proceedings against the operation. The United States hopes that New Zealand will extradite Kim Dotcom and his colleagues, but the hearings have been delayed several times already. Meanwhile, several domain names including the popular Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com remain under the control of the U.S. Government. At least, that should be the case. In reality, however, they’re now being exploited by ‘cyber criminals.’ Instead of a banner announcing that the domains names have been seized as part of a criminal investigation they now direct people to a Zero-Click adverting feed. This feed often links to malware installers and other malicious ads. One of the many malicious “ads†the Megaupload and Megavideo domain names are serving links to a fake BBC article, suggesting people can get an iPhone 6 for only £1. And here is another example of a malicious ad prompting visitors to update their browser. The question that immediately comes to mind is this: How can it be that the Department of Justice is allowing the domains to be used for such nefarious purposes? Looking at the Whois records everything seems to be in order. The domain name still lists Megaupload Limited as registrant, which is as it was before. Nothing out of the ordinary. The nameserver PLEASEDROPTHISHOST15525.CIRFU.BIZ, on the other hand, triggers several alarm bells. CIRFU refers to the FBI’s Cyber Initiative and Resource Fusion Unit, a specialized tech team tasked with handling online crime and scams. The unit used the CIRFU.NET domain name as nameserver for various seized domains, including the Mega ones. Interestingly, the CIRFU.NET domain now lists “Syndk8 Media Limited†as registrant, which doesn’t appear to have any connections with the FBI. Similarly, CIRFU.BIZ is not an official CIRFU domain either and points to a server in the Netherlands hosted by LeaseWeb. It appears that the domain which the Department of Justice (DoJ) used as nameserver is no longer in control of the Government. Perhaps it expired, or was taken over via other means. As a result, Megaupload and Megavideo are now serving malicious ads, run by the third party that controls the nameserver. This is quite a mistake for one of the country’s top cybercrime units, to say the least. It’s also one that affects tends of thousands of people, as the Megaupload.com domain remains frequently visited. Commenting on the rogue domains, Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom notes that the people who are responsible should have known better. “With U.S. Assistant Attorney Jay Prabhu the DOJ in Virginia employs a guy who doesn’t know the difference between civil & criminal law. And after this recent abuse of our seized Mega domains I wonder how this guy was appointed Chief of the Cybercrime Unit when he can’t even do the basics like safeguard the domains he has seized,†he tells TF. “Jay Prabhu keeps embarrassing the U.S. government. I would send him back to law school and give him a crash course in ‘how the Internet works’,†Dotcom adds. Making matters worse for the Government, Megaupload.com and Megavideo.com are not the only domain names affected. Various poker domains that were previously seized, including absolutepoker.com and ultimatebet.com, also link to malicious content now. While the Government appears to have lost control of the old nameservers, it can still correct the problem through a nameserver update at their end. However, that doesn’t save those people who had their systems compromised during recent days, and it certainly won’t repair the PR damage. https://torrentfreak.com/seized-megaupload-domains-link-to-scam-ads-and-malware-150528/
  17. The High Court has granted an application by The Publishers Association to have several major 'pirate' eBook sites blocked at the ISP level. The action, a first for book publishers, requires BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE to block sites including Ebookee, LibGen and Freshwap within 10 days. Rather than tackling unauthorized sites with direct legal action, major entertainment industry companies are increasingly attempting to disrupt ‘pirate’ operations with broader strokes. One of the favored tools is site blocking, a technique that has gathered considerable momentum in Europe and the UK in particular. More than 120 domains are currently blocked by the country’s major ISPs, largely thanks to action taken by the movie and music industries plus soccer body The Premier League. This week the pool of organizations to succeed in site-blocking legal action deepened with the addition of The Publishers Association (PA). The group, which has more than 100 members with combined revenues of £4.7 billion, went to the High Court to demand the blocking of several eBook focused download sites. They are: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot. According to the PA its investigations found that over 80% of the material made available by the sites infringes copyright. In total the sites are said to offer in excess of 10 million titles. In response the PA and its members claim to have sent close to one million takedown notices directly to the sites and requested that Google remove 1.75 million related URLs from its search results. In common with all previous similar actions initiated by the MPAA and BPI, The Publishers Association (with support from the Association of American Publishers) sued the UK’s leading ISPs – BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk and EE – under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Presenting a case which demonstrated mass infringement on the eBook sites in question alongside evidence that the major ISPs have “actual knowledge†that their subscribers are infringing copyright, the PA argued that the sites should be blocked without further delay. After consideration, yesterday the High Court handed down its ruling in favor of the publishers. The outcome was never really in question – UK ISPs have long since given up defending these cases. “We are very pleased that the High Court has granted this order and, in doing so, recognizes the damage being inflicted on UK publishers and authors by these infringing websites,†says Richard Mollet, Chief Executive of The PA. “A third of publisher revenues now come from digital sales but unfortunately this rise in the digital market has brought with it a growth in online infringement. Our members need to be able to protect their authors’ works from such illegal activity; writers need to be paid and publishers need to be able to continue to innovate and invest in new talent and material.†The ISPs listed in the injunction now have 10 days in which to implement a blockade. High Court injunctions represent a new anti-piracy tool for The Publishers Association. In addition to its regular takedown work with search engines such as Google, The PA is also involved in City of London Police’s Operation Creative, run out of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU). Last year PIPCU acted on The PA’s behalf by taking down a domain operated by eBook site OnRead. The full list of sites to be blocked in the UK is now as follows: — New: Ebookee, LibGen, Freshwap, AvaxHome, Bookfi, Bookre and Freebookspot. Previous blocked: popcorntime.io, flixtor.me, popcorn-time.se, isoplex.isohunt.to, watchonlineseries.eu, axxomovies.org, afdah.com and g2g.fm, Bursalagu, Fullsongs, Mega-Search, Mp3 Monkey, Mp3.li, Mp3Bear, MP3Boo, Mp3Clan, Mp3Olimp, MP3s.pl, Mp3soup, Mp3Truck, Musicaddict, My Free MP3, Plixid, RnBXclusive, STAFA Band, watchseries.lt, Stream TV, Watchseries-online, Cucirca, Movie25, watchseries.to, Iwannawatch, Warez BB, Ice Films, Tehparadox, Heroturko, Scene Source,, Rapid Moviez, Iwatchonline, Los Movies, Isohunt, Torrentz.pro, Torrentbutler, IP Torrents, Sumotorrent, Torrent Day, Torrenting, BitSoup, TorrentBytes, Seventorrents, Torrents.fm, Yourbittorrent, Tor Movies , Demonoid, torrent.cd, Vertor, Rar BG, bittorrent.am, btdigg.org, btloft.com, bts.to, limetorrents.com, nowtorrents.com, picktorrent.com, seedpeer.me, torlock.com, torrentbit.net, torrentdb.li, torrentdownload.ws, torrentexpress.net, torrentfunk.com, torrentproject.com, torrentroom.com, torrents.net, torrentus.eu, torrentz.cd, torrentzap.com, vitorrent.org.Megashare, Viooz, Watch32, Zmovie, Solarmovie, Tubeplus, Primewire, Vodly, Watchfreemovies, Project-Free TV, Yify-Torrents, 1337x, Bitsnoop, Extratorrent, Monova, Torrentcrazy, Torrentdownloads, Torrentreactor, Torrentz, Ambp3, Beemp3, Bomb-mp3, Eemp3world, Filecrop, Filestube, Mp3juices, Mp3lemon, Mp3raid, Mp3skull, Newalbumreleases, Rapidlibrary, EZTV, FirstRowSports, Download4all, Movie2K, KickAssTorrents, Fenopy, H33T and The Pirate Bay.ly https://torrentfreak.com/high-court-orders-uk-isps-to-block-ebook-sites-150527/
  18. A federal court in Oregon has signed off on a highly peculiar judgment against a Dallas Buyers Club pirate. Citing "financial hardship," the woman doesn't have to pay the $7,500 in costs and fees as long as she promises not to download any infringing material in the future, and removes any and all BitTorrent clients. The makers of Dallas Buyers Club have sued thousands of BitTorrent users over the past year. Many of these cases end up being settled for an undisclosed amount. This is usually a figure around $3,500, which is what the company offers in their settlement proposals. However, there are exceptions to this rule with damages and costs in some cases hitting $14,000. This week we stumbled upon a new consent judgment between Oregon resident Krystal Krause and the movie studio. In this case the Magistrate Judge signed off on an order that requires the defendant to pay $7,500. Interestingly, however, the woman doesn’t have to pay anything as long as she promises not to pirate any movies in the future. According to the judgment the filmmakers offer this leniency due to the “financial hardship†and “extenuating circumstances.†“In recognition of the financial hardship and extenuating circumstances in this case, plaintiff agrees that though the below Money Judgment shall be entered and enforceable, plaintiff will not execute or enforce the Money Judgment so long as the defendant complies with the below Permanent Injunction…,†the consent order reads. The court documents do not explain what the extenuating circumstances are, but it suggests that money isn’t the only issue. Looking more closely at the permanent injunction it appears that there are more reasons why the order is unusual. In addition to barring any future infringements, Krause can’t use BitTorrent for legal purposes either. In fact, she has to remove all BitTorrent and P2P software she has installed. “Krystal Krause is hereby directed to immediately delete […] any and all BitTorrent clients on any computer(s) she owns or controls together with all other software used to obtain media through the Internet by BitTorrent peer-to-peer transfer or exchange,†it reads (pdf). For Krause it may be a small sacrifice to make, especially when it saves $7,500 in costs. That said, it’s still highly unusual to order someone to remove software that by itself isn’t infringing at all. https://torrentfreak.com/court-order-forbids-poor-pirate-to-use-bittorrent-150526/
  19. Cox Communications, one of the largest telecoms companies in the U.S., has been ordered to expose the identities of 250 of its subscribers whose accounts were frequently used to pirate music. The names, addresses and other personal details were requested in an ongoing lawsuit where the ISP is accused of failing to disconnect repeat copyright infringers. Last year BMG Rights Management and Round Hill Music sued Cox Communications, arguing that the ISP fails to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers. The companies, which control the publishing rights to songs by Katy Perry, The Beatles and David Bowie among others, claim that Cox has given up its DMCA safe harbor protections due to this inaction. The case revolves around the “repeat infringer†clause of the DMCA, which prescribes that Internet providers must terminate the accounts of persistent pirates. As part of the discovery process the music outfits requested details on the accounts which they caught downloading their content. In total there are 150,000 alleged pirates, but as a compromise BMG and Round Hill limited their initial request to 500 IP-addresses. Cox refused to hand over the requested information arguing that the Cable Privacy Act prevents the company from disclosing this information. The matter was discussed during a court hearing late last week. After a brief deliberation Judge John Anderson ruled that the ISP must hand over the personal details of 250 subscribers. “Defendants shall produce customer information associated with the Top 250 IP Addresses recorded to have infringed in the six months prior to filing the Complaint,†Judge Anderson writes. “This production shall include the information as requested in Interrogatory No.13, specifically: name, address, account number, the bandwidth speed associated with each account, and associated IP address of each customer.†The order The music companies also asked for the account information of the top 250 IP-addresses connected to the piracy of their files after the complaint was filed, but this request was denied. Similarly, if the copyright holders want information on any of the 149,500 other Cox customers they need a separate order. The music companies previously informed the court that the personal details are crucial to proof their direct infringement claims, but it’s unclear how they plan to use the data. While none of the Cox customers are facing any direct claims as of yet, it’s not unthinkable that some may be named in the suit to increase pressure on the ISP. The full list of IP-addresses is available for download here (PDF). https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-cox-to-expose-most-egregious-bittorrent-pirates-150523/
  20. A few days ago it was revealed that Google is forwarding controversial settlement demands from copyright holders to its subscribers. Responding to the news, Google says the notices are forwarded in an effort to be as transparent as possible. However, the company adds that targeting individual downloaders isn't the best way to solve piracy. In recent years it has become more common for copyright holders to include settlement offers in the takedown notices that are sent to Internet providers. While most large ISPs prefer not to forward these demands, Google Fiber decided it would. A few days ago we highlighted the issue in an article. Before publication we reached out to Google for a comment, but initially the company didn’t reply. Now, a week after our first inquiry Google has sent a response. Google explains that it’s forwarding the entire takedown notice including the settlement offers in an effort to be as transparent as it can be. “When Google Fiber receives a copyright complaint about an account, we pass along all of the information we receive to the account holder so that they’re aware of it and can determine the response that’s best for their situation,†a Google spokesperson tells TF. This suggests that the transparency is seen by Google as more important than protecting customers against threatening and sometimes inaccurate notices. Overall, however, Google notes that targeting pirates directly is not the best solution to deal with the issue. “Although we think there are better solutions to fighting piracy than targeting individual downloaders, we want to be transparent with our customers,†Google’s spokesperson adds. Google doesn’t say what these better options are, but previously the company noted that piracy is mainly a pricing and availability problem. While transparency is often a good thing, in this case it doesn’t necessarily help Google Fiber customers. After receiving the notice they can either pay up or ignore it. If they choose the latter generally nothing happens, but recent history shows that there’s a legal risk involved. Last week the news broke that Rotten Records, one of the companies which sends settlement requests to ISPs, sued Comcast subscribers for ignoring these infringement notices. With the possibility of false accusations, it would probably be in the customers’ best interest if ISPs ignored the notices entirely, which some do. https://torrentfreak.com/google-targeting-downloaders-not-the-best-solution-to-fight-piracy-150522/
  21. After escaping from the planet Krypton years ago, 24-year-old Kara Zor-El is embracing her superhuman abilities. Better known as Supergirl, her latest adventures were to be showcased in a CBS pilot scheduled to air this coming November. This morning and six months early, the much-anticipated pilot leaked online. After making an appearance as far back as 1958, Supergirl was intended to be a female counterpart to DC Comics’ Superman who first appeared 20 years earlier. While successful in her own right, she never quite reached the dizzy heights of the Clark Kent-based character. This yeah, however, the world is braced for the return of Supergirl in a new CBS TV series. Featuring Melissa Benoist (Glee, Homeland, Law and Order) as Kara Zor-El, an alien who has hidden her powers since escaping from Krypton, the show will see her transform into Supergirl and “the superhero she was meant to be.†After a commitment in September 2014, the series was officially picked up by CBS earlier this month. The pilot was scheduled to debut in November, but those plans have now massively unraveled after the episode leaked online, six months earlier than its planned debut. Two ‘Scene’ release groups – DiMENSiON and LOL – competed to premiere the title first this morning, with the latter beating the former by around 90 seconds. LOL’s version is a convenient 400mb so likely to become the most sought after copy. On the other hand DiMENSiON’s is more than 15 times the size, but for 1080p connoisseurs it’ll be worth the wait. Although it’s certainly possible that the pilot contains hidden watermarks, as far as visible identifiers go the 46 minute episode looks very clean. As illustrated by the image below, there are no tell-tale ‘property of’ warnings that are regularly seen on ‘screener’ copies of leaked movies. The leak of the pilot came as a complete surprise a couple of hours ago so download stats on BitTorrent sites are a currently quite modest 25,000 or so. However, given the anticipated media snowball effect during the day the number of downloads is likely to increase dramatically, probably to more than a million by this time tomorrow. The Supergirl leak comes just weeks after the first four episodes of the new series of Game of Thrones leaked online. That event triggered a piracy crazy that continues to this day. Whether more episodes of Supergirl will leak online in the days to come is unknown but in any event it seems likely that CBS will try to stem the current tide. The company is a prolific sender of DMCA takedown notices and regularly sends more than 100,000 each week to Google alone. Update: Another pilot has leaked, this time of the forthcoming NBC TV series ‘Crowded‘. Leaked by the same groups (LOL and DiMENSiON, which are connected) it is available in qualities up to 1080p. It runs for 22 minutes. Supergirl trailer https://youtu.be/Lm46-envrHo https://torrentfreak.com/supergirl-pilot-leaks-to-torrent-sites-six-months-early-150522/
  22. Copyright holders around the world are doing everything in their power to stop Popcorn Time. Following the UK example, Israeli media companies have now obtained a court order requiring major ISPs to block Popcorn Time websites. In addition, the rightsholders are pondering whether to have the application's ports blocked as well, which may get messy. Branded a “Netflix for Pirates,†the Popcorn Time app quickly gathered a user base of millions of people over the past year. The application has some of the major media giants worried, including Netflix which sees the pirate app as a serious competitor to its business. Since Popcorn Time is powered by BitTorrent it is hard to stop the downloads directly, but copyright holders can go after the websites that offer the application. In Israel the local anti-piracy outfit ZIRA went down this route. The group, which represents several media companies, applied for an ex parte injunction ordering local Internet providers to block access to the websites of several Popcorn Time forks. This week the Tel Aviv court granted the application, arguing that the application does indeed violate the rights of copyright holders. The copyright holders are pleased with the outcome, which shows that services such as Popcorn Time are infringing even though they don’t host any files themselves. “The Popcorn Time software provides users with a service to stream and download content on the Internet, including Israeli movies and foreign movies and TV series with English subtitles, without having any permission from copyright holders to do so,†attorney Presenti told local media. The ISP blockades will prevent people from downloading Popcorn Time in the future. However, applications that have been downloaded already will continue to work for now. To address this, ZIRA’s lawyers say the are considering additional steps including the option to block the ports Popcorn Time uses. While that may be effective, it may also block other traffic, especially if the app switches to more common ports such as port 80. Israel is the second country to block access to Popcorn Time websites. Last month the UK High Court issued a similar order, which also targeted the domain names of various APIs the applications use. https://torrentfreak.com/court-orders-israeli-isps-to-block-popcorn-time-websites-150521/
  23. Google Fiber is forwarding copyright infringement notices to its subscribers including controversial and automated piracy fines. Through these notices, rightsholders demand settlements of up to hundreds of dollars. Google's decision to forward these emails is surprising, as the company generally has a good track record of protecting consumer interests. Every month Google receives dozens of millions of DMCA takedown requests from copyright holders, most of which are directed at its search engine. However, with Google Fiber being rolled out in more cities, notices targeting allegedly pirating Internet subscribers are becoming more common as well. These include regular takedown notices but also the more controversial settlement demands sent by companies such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK. Instead of merely alerting subscribers that their connections have been used to share copyright infringing material, these notices serve as automated fines, offering subscribers settlements ranging from $20 to $300. The scheme uses the standard DMCA takedown process which means that the copyright holder doesn’t have to go to court or even know who the recipient is. In fact, the affected subscriber is often not the person who shared the pirated file. To protect customers against these practices many ISPs including Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have chosen not to forward settlement demands. However, information received by TF shows that Google does take part. Over the past week we have seen settlement demands from Rightscorp and CEG TEK which were sent to Google Fiber customers. In an email, Google forwards the notice with an additional warning that repeated violations may result in a permanent disconnection. “Repeated violations of our Terms of Service may result in remedial action being taken against your Google Fiber account, up to and including possible termination of your service,†Google Fiber writes. Below Google’s message is the notification with the settlement demand, which in this example was sent on behalf of music licensing outfit BMG. In the notice, the subscriber is warned over possible legal action if the dispute is not settled. “BMG will pursue every available remedy including injunctions and recovery of attorney’s fees, costs and any and all other damages which are incurred by BMG as a result of any action that is commenced against you,†the notice reads. Facing such threatening language many subscribers are inclined to pay up, which led some to accuse the senders of harassment and abuse. In addition, several legal experts have spoken out against this use of the DMCA takedown process. Mitch Stoltz, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) previously told us that Internet providers should carefully review what they’re forwarding to their users. Under U.S. law they are not required to forward DMCA notices and forwarding these automated fines may not be in the best interest of consumers. “In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,†Stoltz said. According to Stoltz these settlement demands are often misleading or inaccurate, suggesting that account holders are responsible for all use of their Internet connections. “The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true,†he notes. While Google is certainly not the only ISP that forwards these notices it is the biggest name involved. TF asked Google why they have decided to forward the notices in their entirely but unfortunately the company did not respond to our request for comment. https://torrentfreak.com/google-fiber-sends-automated-piracy-fines-to-subscribers-150520/
  24. Netflix is seriously considering adding support for P2P-powered video streaming using "state of the art" technology. Perhaps partly inspired by Popcorn Time, the video giant is inviting applications from individuals with BitTorrent experience to fill the post of Senior Software Engineer and help finalize and implement the ambitious project. With roughly 60 million subscribers globally, Netflix is a giant in the world of online video entertainment. The service moves massive amounts of data and is credited with consuming a third of all Internet traffic in North America during peak hours. Netlix’s data use is quite costly for the company and also results in network congestion and stream buffering at times. However, thanks to P2P-powered streaming these problems may soon be a thing of the past. In a job posting late April, Netflix says it is looking to expand its team with the addition of a Senior Software Engineer. While that’s nothing new, the description reveals information on the company’s P2P-streaming plans. “Our team is evaluating up-and-coming content distribution technologies, and we are seeking a highly talented senior engineer to grow the knowledge base in the area of peer-to-peer technologies and lead the technology design and prototyping effort,†the application reads. The software engineer will be tasked with guiding the project from start to finish. This includes the design and architecture phase, implementation, testing, the internal release and final evaluation. “This is a great opportunity to enhance your full-stack development skills, and simultaneously grow your knowledge of the state of the art in peer-to-peer content distribution and network optimization techniques,†Netflix writes. A few weeks ago Netflix told its shareholders that it sees the BitTorrent-powered piracy app Popcorn Time as a serious threat. However, the job application makes it clear that BitTorrent can be used for legal distribution as well. Among the qualification requirements Netflix lists experience with BitTorrent and other P2P-protocols. Having contributed to the open source torrent streaming tool WebTorrent or a similar project is listed as a preferred job qualification. In other words, existing Popcorn Time developers are well-suited candidates for the position. – You have experience with peer-to-peer protocols such as the BitTorrent protocol – You have strong experience in the development of peer-to-peer protocols and software – You have contributed to a major peer-to-peer open source product such as WebTorrent – You have strong experience in the development of web-based video applications and tools Moving to P2P-assisted streaming appears to be a logical step. It will be possible to stream videos in a higher quality than is currently possible. In addition, it will offer a significant cost reduction. BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen will be happy to see that Netflix is considering using his technology. He previously said that Netflix’s video quality is really terrible, adding that BitTorrent-powered solutions are far superior. “The fact is that by using BitTorrent it’s possible to give customers a much better experience with much less cost than has ever been possible before. It’s really not being utilized properly and that’s really unfortunate,†Cohen said. While the job posting is yet more evidence that Netflix is seriously considering a move to P2P-powered streaming, it’s still unclear whether the new technology will ever see the light of day. The job posting https://torrentfreak.com/netflix-needs-bittorrent-expert-to-implement-p2p-streaming-150520/
  25. The RIAA continues to reduce its workforce, which has been slashed in half in just five years. According to the organization's latest tax return the RIAA now employs 55 people. The group's top three executives account for a quarter of all salaries paid, including several sizable bonuses. The RIAA has just submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014. Time for us to see where the music industry’s anti-piracy arm stands. In previous years the RIAA reported a massive decline in revenue after the record labels cut back on their membership dues, but this trend now appears to have stopped. Total revenue according to the latest filing is $24.2 million, a slight increase from $24.1 million the year before. Despite the stabilizing income, which mostly comes from the record label’s membership dues, the RIAA continues to trim employees. Over the past five years the number of employees at the RIAA has been slashed in half, dropping from 117 to just 55. In its most recent filing the RIAA lists 55 people on the payroll compared to 58 the year before. In total these employees earned $11.7 million of which more than 25% went into the pockets of three top executives. Interestingly, while more than half of the organization’s workers have been let go, the RIAA’s top employees have enjoyed salary increases year after year, including some healthy bonuses. The top earner in the year ending March 2014 was CEO Cary Sherman with a $1.6 million a year payout for a working week of 50 hours. Sherman’s base salary is a cool million dollars, but that was boosted with a half million bonus and other compensation. Other high income employees were Mitch Glazier (Senior Executive VP), Steve Marks (General Counsel) and Neil Turkewitz (EVP International) with $776,616, $728,959 and $657,952 respectively, including over a quarter million in bonuses. RIAA top earners While these incomes are significant, they are relatively modest compared to other industry groups. For example, MPAA boss Chris Dodd earns $3.3 million, while its former General Counsel Henry Hoberman earned close to a million. Looking at other expenses reported in the tax return we see that the RIAA spent $2.3 million on lobbying, a figure that has remained relatively stable over time. The same cannot be said for the group’s legal fees, which dropped from $16.50 to $1.28 million in a few years. In part, this is because the expensive lawsuits against individual file-sharers and services such as Limewire have ended. Most recently the RIAA started another lawsuit, this time targeting the music linking site MP3Skull, so perhaps the amount spent will increase again in future years. The full 2013/2014 filing is available here. https://torrentfreak.com/riaa-cuts-more-jobs-awards-bonuses-to-execs-150517/