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  1. #201
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    Flixtor Promises to Return More Resilient and Better than Ever

    After more than a week of mysterious downtime, the popular pirate streaming site Flixtor is reachable again but there are no movies or TV-series appearing on the site. According to a message posted on the service, Flixtor must now be rebuilt from scratch. It's unknown how long this will take, but the team says that it's determined to make a comeback.

    Last Tuesday Flixtor
    became unreachable after its domain nameservers were updated.

    Initially, the domain name’s A records were removed, and later they were set to localhost, making the site unavailable.

    Without any official word from the operators, many users feared that this could be the end of their favorite streaming site. This was particularly painful for those who paid for VIP access.

    For these users, there is a glimmer of hope today. All of a sudden, the
    Flixtor website is accessible again. The usual list of movies and TV-shows is missing due to an unexplained catastrophe, but that will change.

    “As you’ve probably noticed, Flixtor is down. And the way it was done is difficult to recover from. We’re pretty heartbroken because all the work and love we’ve put into it went down the drain,” the notice reads.

    The Flixtor crew doesn’t provide any further details on what happened, but they’re working on a full return. The site will be rebuilt with new video software, a process that will likely take some time.

    “We’re currently writing fresh new video software, setting up new hardware and we’ve started with the rebuild of our complete video library. Please be patient because unfortunately, this takes time.”


    The team promises to compensate its VIP users when the site is back, encouraging them to keep their receipts around. Even for those without a receipt, they’ll figure something out.

    As often happens when a site goes offline, many copycats appear. This hasn’t been any different in Flixtor’s case and the operators caution users to beware of these impostors.

    “Please be aware that every other site claiming that they’re (the new) Flixtor is lying. It should be obvious because we don’t have advertisements, no pop-ups, no malware, no viruses, no tracking, no logging etc. And even if a site says they’re us and/or looks like us, it’s really not us,” they write.

    Meanwhile, the Flixtor team apologizes for any inconvenience they have caused. They’re determined to make a comeback and if there’s an update on the relaunch date it will be posted on the site.

    “We’ll be back. More resilient and better than ever,” they write.

    Flixtor’s message


    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  2. #202
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    Sci-Hub “Pirate Bay of Science” Blocked in Russia Over Medical Studies

    Many of Sci-Hub's domains have been blocked in Russia following a complaint from academic publisher Springer Nature. According to a complaint filed with the Moscow City Court, the 'pirate' research paper platform offered three studies covering heart and brain health without obtaining an appropriate license.

    With its massive library of research papers, Sci-Hub has been described as “The Pirate Bay of Science”.

    The site is dedicated to providing open access to scientific knowledge, something which millions of individuals truly appreciate.

    However, due to the copyrighted nature of much of the content provided by the platform, it has become public enemy #1 among academic publishers.

    Site founder Alexandra Elbakyan’s mission is to
    tear down the paywalls for the good of humankind, a position that has been supported to varying degrees among academics themselves.

    “When Sci-Hub became known, I thought that it will provide a good case against copyright law. When the law prevents science to develop, that law must be repealed,” Elbakyan wrote earlier this year.

    That challenge to the law has seen Sci-Hub implicated in several copyright suits, including one
    filed by publishing giant Elsevier, three years ago. However, despite best efforts, Sci-Hub has remained online.

    To tackle the site’s resilience, publishers have won ISP blocking orders in several jurisdictions, including
    Germany and more recently,Sweden. Now it is Russia’s turn to tighten the thumbscrews.

    In a case filed recently by UK academic publisher Springer Nature Limited, the Moscow City Court was told that Sci-Hub is infringing the company’s copyrights and should, therefore, be subjected to blocking.

    Listing “bulletproof” hosting company
    Quasi Networks Ltd and US-based CloudFlare as facilitating access to the site, Springer Nature complained that three specific works were being made available illegally by Sci-Hub.

    As the above table obtained from the Court shows, the research papers cover topics of interest to the medical community in the spheres of heart and brain health –
    Effect of glucose-lowering therapies on heart failure, Nitric oxide signaling in cardiovascular health and disease, andLactate in the brain: from metabolic end-product to signaling molecule.

    These would ordinarily sit behind paywalls but thanks to Sci-Hub, their contents are available for everyone to absorb for free. It’s a situation that’s unacceptable to Springer Nature and the Moscow City Court was sympathetic to the company’s complaints.

    A decision on preliminary interim measures was handed down last month, which compelled local telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor to take action to undermine “technical conditions that ensure placement, dissemination and other use of the works”.

    As a result, several Sci-Hub and Library Genesis domains (gen.lib.rus.ec,
    www.libgen.io, scihub.unblocked.gdn, lgmag.org, libgen.unblocked.gdn, sci-hub.tw and libgen.io) are now being rendered inaccessible by Russian Internet Service Providers.

    “Access to the Sci-Hub site in Russia is closed by Roscomnadzor. It turns out that Springer’s scientific publishing house filed a lawsuit demanding to restrict access to the portal,” Sci-Hub founder Alexandra Elbakyan announced on social networks VK and Telegram.

    Of course, Sci-Hub is no stranger to blocking efforts so has other domains up its sleeve. However, these can also be targeted by rightsholders, so Elbakyan encourages users to check for the latest updates.

    “The spare domain sci-hub.se works but for how long, I can not guarantee. Therefore, to access Sci-Hub, use tools to circumvent Internet censorship – which you can search for in Google or by using the bot in Telegram: @scihubot
    ,” Elbakyan concludes.

    While Sci-Hub continues its mission to provide open access, it’s interesting to note the indirect effect the site is having on the academic community.

    Last month, several prestigious European research councils
    announced a major push for Open Access publishing, designed to limit the influence of major copyright holders and “tear down” their paywalls.

    On Thursday, Sci-Hub appeared to be completely offline everywhere. It is not clear what caused the outage.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  3. #203
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    Scammers Hit Pirate Game Sites With ‘Irreversible’ Google Takedowns

    Scammers are abusing Google's takedown system to remove popular game piracy sites from search results. The notices are not standard DMCA notifications. They accuse the sites of circumventing DRM instead, which means that there is no counter-notification option available. Making matters worse, malware-ridden sites are now rising in Google's search results.

    Takedown notices are a particularly useful tool for copyright holders who want to make sure that infringing copies of their work are not widely distributed.

    Every single day, rightsholders and their representatives scour the web for references to pirated content, which aren’t hard to find.

    These links are then reported to various online services, such as Google, requesting their operators to remove the allegedly infringing content. This system works well in theory but it’s being abused by scam-artists as well.

    One of the most recent scams we’ve seen targets various popular game piracy sites, including skidrowgamereloaded.com, fitgirl-repacks.site, freegogpcgames.com, crotorrents.com, nosteam.ro, pcgames-download.com and skidrowreloaded.com.

    The notices in question are seemingly sent by prominent names in the gaming industry, such as
    Steam and Ubisoft. However, the sudden flurry of takedown requests appears to be initiated by scammers instead.

    TorrentFreak spoke to the operator of one of the affected sites who prefers to remain anonymous. He has been following the activity for a while and asked Google for information about a sender claiming to be Ubisoft.

    Google revealed that this “Ubisoft” sent notices from suspicious Gmail addresses, using a Russian user interface, from an unidentified Ukrainian IP-address. In addition, the handle used in one of the email addresses can be linked to game-related spam, which doesn’t build any confidence either.

    The site owner shared his findings with Google but the company repeatedly said that there is no option to file a counter notification.

    This is because the notices are not regular DMCA takedowns. Instead, they are notifications that the URLs circumvent technological protection measures such as DRM, which is separately covered
    in the DMCA.

    “Google has been notified that the following URLs distribute copyright circumvention devices in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 1201,” Google informed the site owner.

    “Please find attached the notice we received. There is no formal counter notification process available under US law for circumvention, so we have not reinstated these URLs. If you dispute that you are distributing circumvention devices, please reply with a further explanation.”

    Google is correct. The DMCA doesn’t prescribe a takedown and counter-notification scheme for DRM circumvention. While Google has voluntarily chosen to take the URLs offline, it is not required to offer a counter-notice option. This puts targeted sites at a severe disadvantage.

    The site owner informs TorrentFreak that he’s been following a spamming operation for a few months. Interestingly, one of the email addresses from the takedown notices could also be matched to a scammer he had contact with in the past.

    In addition to the Ubisoft notices, there are also similar requests from other popular brands such as Valve’s Steam. These notices also use the DRM circumvention argument and target popular game piracy sites.

    “We are the owners of these copyrighted games listed below. These games were only created by our devlopers [sic] and sell exclusively on steampowered.com,” a Steam notice reads

    Apart from the broken English and typo, this claim doesn’t really hold up. Steam or Valve are not the creators of many of the mentioned games, nor are they all exclusively sold on Steam.


    The end result of these fraudulent notices is that thousands of URLs have been wiped from Google’s search results by what appear to be scammers. In some cases, Google has rejected the requests, but many have been honored.

    What certainly doesn’t help is that the allegations are not incorrect per se. Pirated games often circumvent DRM. However, the scammy notices are sent out for a different purpose.

    One may wonder what the goal of these scammers is. While it’s hard to prove without a doubt, it looks like they are trying to get malicious sites ranked higher in search results.

    According to our source, the scammers can be linked to a couple of pirate gaming sites which trick people into downloading cryptocurrency miners. These sites are, of course, not targeted by the fraudulent DMCA requests.

    “I have been investigating those persons for a long time, and I can tell with proof that they are behind a massive spam attack spreading their miners. They are taking advantage of the lack of games cracks lately, creating websites claiming they provide cracked games, but all the links on these sites lead to cryptocurrencies miners,” he says.

    TorrentFreak visited one of the sites which indeed featured a link that looks rather suspicious. According to Virustotal, it’s flagged as ‘Filetour’ by several anti-virus vendors. This is malware that launches
    in-browser mining sites.

    As scammers remove Google search results for regular pirate gaming sites, these scammy alternatives get a better ranking and more traffic.

    To add to the mess, the situation also caused some upheaval between pirate sites. One of the targeted sites suspects that competitor GoodOldDownloads is behind the notices. So, in a retaliatory move, they targeted the site in question with a series of
    counter-takedowns.

    We have seen no sign that this is a matter of competition for a regular pirate site though, and neither has the site owner we have spoken to. Instead, it seems more likely that scammers are behind this scheme.

    TorrentFreak contacted Ubisoft, Valve, and Google for a comment on the situation but none of the companies responded.

    When we started working on this article none of the takedown requests were flagged as suspicious by Google, but that’s now starting to change. Google actively
    flagged several of the Steam and Ubisoft notices we referred to in our article.

    “We believe that an impostor or someone else abusing the process submitted this request. We report it here for the sake of completeness and to provide a view into one kind of abuse of the DMCA process,” a notice in Google’s transparency report reads.

    Interestingly, however, Google still lists the reported links as “removed” and it’s unclear if that will change.


    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  4. #204
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    Irdeto Targets Non-Pirate Kodi-Addon Developer’s PayPal Account

    The developer of a Kodi add-on that provided access to a streaming service as long as users had a fully-legitimate account has had his PayPal account limited following a copyright complaint. Anti-piracy outfit Irdeto previously filed DMCA notices against developer Matt Huisman, taking his software down from Github, but Huisman never charged a penny for his add-on so is bewildered by this action.

    TorrentFreak
    recently reported on the plight of developer Matt Huisman, the creator of what he believed to be a completely legitimate Kodi add-on.

    Huisman created the ‘Showmax Add-on’ which provided access to content provided by Showmax, an online video subscription service launched in South African back in 2015. As a competitor to Netflix and Amazon Video, Showmax requires a paid subscription.

    Despite suggesting that it wasn’t opposed to introducing a Kodi add-on of its own, Showmax never came up with the goods. So, after appeals from the company’s customers, Huisman took it upon himself to create an add-on so that Showmax users could conveniently view content inside Kodi.

    The important thing to note is that the ‘Showmax Add-On’ was designed from the ground up to be non-infringing, in that it required all users to have a valid, paid-for subscription with Showmax. Nevertheless, Showmax recently asked anti-piracy company Irdeto (Denuvo’s owner) to take action against the add-on, filing complaints with both Huisman and Github, where the add-on had its official repository.

    With the Showmax Add-On taken down from both Huisman’s site and Github, the matter was considered to be over. However, that clearly wasn’t the case. In a move that makes little sense, Irdeto has now filed an infringement complaint against Huisman with PayPal.

    “We are contacting you as we have received a report that your website
    www.matthuisman.nz is currently infringing upon the intellectual property of Irdeto BV. Such infringement also violates PayPal’s Acceptable Use Policy,” an email sent to Huisman by PayPal reads.

    “If you feel your sales do not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of Irdeto BV, please complete the attached Objection to Infringement form.”

    Huisman, who is the developer behind several similar projects, has a “Show me Love” page on his site, in which he invites fans to donate in appreciation of his work. He informs TorrentFreak that he never sold the Showmax Add-On and he’s shocked that Irdeto has taken such action.

    “Irdeto have just had my PayPal (for donations) shut down. Wow! I wasn’t even selling [the Showmax] add-on,” he says.

    Huisman is now required to file a counter-notice with PayPal in the hope of regaining full access to his account. However, PayPal has already warned him that if action isn’t taken soon, the company will “escalate” the matter.

    “Failure to respond by the following date will result in the further escalation of this issue: December 01, 2018,” PayPal’s Brand Risk Management center advises.

    On face value, this action by Showmax and Irdeto (who are both owned by corporate giant Naspers) is somewhat confusing.

    It is perhaps understandable that they don’t want a third-party Kodi add-on being used to access their content (even though an account is still required), but going after a developer’s means to take donations for all of his projects is a measure usually reserved for fully-fledged ‘pirate’ sites.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  5. #205
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    Director Shares Movie on Torrent Site Before ‘Official’ Release

    The major Hollywood studios hate to see their movies ending up on torrent sites. A small production company from Utah has a different view though. Lee Gardner, director and co-writer of "Adopting Trouble," sees torrents as a promotional tool. He reached out to RARBG to coordinate an official torrent release, which came out before the film made its debut on Amazon this week.

    Hollywood frequently stresses that piracy not only hurts the major studios, but also smaller independent productions.

    While that may be true, for many independent artists obscurity is actually a bigger problem than piracy.

    This idea is also shared by Lee Gardner, the Director and co-writer of the film “
    Adopting Trouble.” A digital copy of the film came out on Amazon this week where it can be rented for $0.99 or brought for $4.99.

    The problem is, however, that people have to notice the film first. That’s a tough job when there’s virtually no marketing budget available. This is why Gardner and his team at
    Rare Legend Films decided to reach out to RARBG, one of the top torrent sites.

    Realizing that pirates will get their hands on the film anyway, he sent the film’s master files to the site, whose in-house release group FGT
    turned those into torrents of varying qualities.

    The releases come with a special note from Gardner himself, who explains why his production company took this unconventional step.

    “The thing they never tell you when you are making your film is that you won’t have enough money for marketing and without it, no-one will see your film. Maybe torrenters can fill that gap and spread the word on independent films,” he writes.

    The director sees torrenters as trendsetters. This is why the film came out on RARBG before the official Amazon release. While there are no obligations, a donation or plug are welcome of course.

    “So we are giving it to torrenters a little earlier than anyone else. If you like our movie. Please donate. Throw us a clam, a shekel or two. Tell your friends, your family and everyone you know,” Gardner adds.


    Other filmmakers have shared their work on torrent sites in the past, and it’s always interesting to hear their motivations. Especially when they work directly with a site such as RARBG.

    Speaking with TorrentFreak, Gardner says that RARBG was the only site he reached out to. The director was already familiar with the site and knew that it displayed a list of newly released movies, so it was a good fit.

    The reason is simple as well; it’s all about exposure.

    “The worst thing for an independent filmmaker is if no one ever sees their film. We had a micro-budget for our film and it was mostly out of our own pockets with no interest from distribution companies since we have no name talent involved,” he says.

    Without a marketing budget and knowing that the film would be pirated anyway, they felt like they had nothing to lose.

    That said, Gardner certainly isn’t arguing that piracy helps the movie industry as a whole. However, it’s a reality that they have to deal with.

    “I wish piracy didn’t exist but I don’t think it will ever go away. Our little three-man production company certainly doesn’t have the means or the time to go after people the way Hollywood does,” he says.

    “Piracy clearly has an impact economically on filmmakers, theaters, and distribution companies, but I don’t know that anyone can say exactly how it affects everything.”

    The effects of piracy can vary but so can the motivations of pirates. Gardner doesn’t believe everyone pirates because they refuse to pay. In part, it’s a sign of anti-establishment, but also skepticism about what’s being offered.

    “I think many people are hesitant these days to spend money on movies, even Hollywood offerings. When I take my family of five out to the theater it’s hard if the movie is a letdown,” Gardner says.

    For independent films, there is even more hesitance. People often have no clue what to expect. They often don’t know the directors, writers or actors. So there might be room for innovation there.

    One option would be to allow people to watch the beginning of a movie for free, so they can decide whether it’s worth their money or not.

    “We need to find solutions to ease that hesitancy and better support independent filmmakers. One solution could be a platform where a potential customer can see the first 20 minutes of a film for free,” Gardner notes.

    As for “Adopting Trouble,” people can watch it entirely for free on RARBG and other torrent sites where it was uploaded. Those who like it can choose to make a donation or grab a copy on Amazon.

    To avoid issues, Gardner stresses that his company will keep standard performance copyright. This means that others can’t take it and sell it elsewhere, as happened with “
    The Man From Earth: Holocene.”

    It will be interesting to see whether the torrent release delivers the exposure Gardner hoped for.

    If that’s the case it might be worth repeating in the future. That would also depend on other factors of course, as a sanctioned torrent release may be harder to pull off with outside investors in the project.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  6. #206
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    GoodOldDownloads Calls it Quits, Publishes Source on Github

    GoodOldDownloads, a pirate site specializing in gaming titles, has announced its closure. Noting that it began as an alternative to other sites with aggressive advertising and tracking, the platform says that attacks from competitors and the fear of being targeted with legal action means that it will shut down with immediate effect. However, things have already become awfully messy.

    There are hundreds of pirate sites online today with many offering a broad range of content. Others prefer to work in a niche, aiming to lure fans of particular media to grow a dedicated following.

    In recent months, GoodOldDownloads (GOD) – a site dedicated to gaming – has been growing powerfully, attracting millions of visitors every month. The site built its reputation on trouble-free downloads while trying to make the experience a smooth and safe one for users.

    “We looked at other popular game piracy sites and discovered they were all filled with dozens of tracking scripts, infuriating ads (sometimes viruses) and mainly existed for the sole purpose of making money,” the site said in a statement over the weekend.

    “In response, we created a website without any of those things and improvements; it was easy to download files, a clean design, and dead links became a thing of the past with the voting system where you could vote to have games re-uploaded automatically. Best of all, almost everything was automated so you didn’t have to rely on some person at their computer to upload files!”

    But while a good time was had by all while it lasted, the site has now chosen to relegate itself to the history books. Announcing its closure, the site’s operators cite attacks from competitors and the ever-present threat of legal action as the reasons behind their decision.

    “Rival sites started to target us by making threats and claiming they have reported us to anti-piracy corporations. We also want to move on with our lives and enjoy other things without the constant fear of legal action breathing down our necks,” the team confirmed.

    As reported here on TF on Saturday, rival pirate sites have recently been making life difficult for each other with various bogus anti-piracy reports, some of which involved GOD.

    While it is difficult from the evidence available to definitively point the finger at any particular platforms, it does seem that there’s been a simmering tit-for-tat conflict.

    GOD doesn’t indicate specifically who they had problems with but as a parting blow, the platform has taken the unusual step of publishing the results of an ‘investigation’ into the security of two “gaming piracy sites” on its
    main page.

    The report makes for interesting reading but it controversially involves the ‘doxxing’ of individuals said to be behind two popular rival sites, something that rarely ends well.

    “The purpose of this document is to summarize information found online that reveals the identity of the individuals that operate the gaming piracy websites ‘igg-games.com’ (
    http://igg-games.com/) and ‘gamestorrent.co’ (http://gamestorrent.co/) which profit from the distribution of illegal copies of video games via advertisements (pop-up ads, etc). At the time of publication, they are ranked 1,305 and 5,958 globally by Alexa.com,” the report notes.

    Predictably, this is causing additional friction and conflict. IGG-Games has already retaliated with the apparent ‘doxxing’ of the alleged operator of GOD and even his alleged family members, something that makes particularly uncomfortable reading.

    Due to the hugely private information placed online, we aren’t linking to either report and several gaming piracy discussion forums have also banned their publication. Considering the details published, it’s possible that the fallout from this war of words could have serious implications for all of the parties involved.

    While GOD is now bowing out, the site is leaving something behind to cement its legacy. Unlike most defunct platforms that simply fade away, GOD has taken the interesting step of publishing its source code on Github.

    “The source code for all our sites is
    being released under GPLv3. Feel free to fork and improve the project; we have been working on this almost every day for nearly 2 years,” the site’s operators write.

    While GOD offering so-called ‘Scene’ releases and specialized in offering titles from official distributor platform GoodOldGames, GoodOldDownloads recently made the headlines after stepping into a freshly turbulent area of the gaming scene.

    https://torrentfreak.com/images/goodold.jpg

    After Nintendo filed a complaint at a federal court in Arizona, accusing gaming sites
    LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co of massive copyright and trademark infringement, a domino effect rippled through the retro-gaming community, with other sites choosing to close down rather than share the same fate.

    In response, however, GoodOldDownloads decided to fill the gaps in the market by directly challenging Nintendo with the launch of a
    retro-gaming sectionon the site.

    While the move was celebrated by fans, this weekend’s shutdown means that the initiative has now come to an end, along with everything else the site offered. Considering the tit-for-tat ‘doxxing’, however, this might not be the last we hear of this controversial affair.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com


  7. #207
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    ‘Movie Piracy Brings in Millions of Extra Revenue Through Promotion’

    Online piracy is generally seen as a major source of losses by the entertainment industries, with many studies backing the claim. However, the effects of piracy are quite diverse. New research reveals that DVD-sales are more impacted than box office sales, for example. At the same time, it shows that piracy has a promotional effect which brings in additional revenue.

    Statistics are great. As long as you have enough data points, you can ‘win’ virtually any argument by citing only those that support your claim.

    This technique is used everywhere, also in debates about copyright, especially when it comes to the impact of online file-sharing on revenue.

    Rightsholders frequently cite from studies that reveal major losses. At the same time, their opponents pick findings which clearly prove that there is no serious harm. Both may be right, but neither tell the full story.

    If you read the headline of this article it’s easy to see that the ‘pro-piracy’ side will gladly put the findings in their arguments folder. However, the same research actually has something in store for anti-piracy advocates as well.

    The research we’re referring to is published by Zhuang Liu of the University of Western Ontario, in a
    paper (pdf) titled “Quantifying the Heterogeneous Effects of Piracy on the Demand for Movies.”

    Liu conducted an in-depth study on the link between piracy and sales, using estimated download numbers from pirated torrents as a key variable. This revealed that different types of piracy can have different effects.

    After monitoring downloads and sales, including box office and DVD figures, for a period of 40 weeks and comparing it to the tracked piracy activity, he concludes that piracy does impact sales negatively. That said, its effect is far from uniform.

    “File sharing reduces the total revenue of the motion picture industry from the box office by $ 231 million in total or 2.71% of the current box office in the US for my sample of 40 weeks in 2015,” the article reads.

    On average, piracy results in a loss of roughly $500,000 per movie. That’s not insignificant. The bulk of the harm is not created at the box office though, but with DVD aftersales, the research found.

    “Unlike the box office, in the home-video market, DVD revenue decreases by a surprising 36% due to piracy,” Liu writes.

    What’s interesting to note is that not all piracy types have the same effect. For the earlier low-quality releases (CAM and TS), the “word-of-mouth” effect outweighs the negative effects on sales. Most of the harm is done by later high-quality leaks (WEBDL, DVDrip and BRRip), which compete directly with DVD and Blu-ray sales.

    While the net effect of piracy is negative, pirates can also serve as promoters. Through word-of-mouth ‘advertising’ piracy positively impacts box-office attendance, Liu estimates.

    “There’s some benefit from piracy, the word-of-mouth from piracy actually contribute to a total of $68.7 million to the industry box office and DVD revenue,” Liu says, clarifying that the figure applies to a period of 40 weeks and is limited to the US.

    There’s another upside of course, as pirates save a lot of money, much more than the movie studios lose. This means that if all piracy could be eradicated, consumer welfare would be ‘lost.’

    “Consumer welfare decreases when we ban piracy, which is much higher than the increase in motion picture industry revenue,” Liu notes.

    That said, it’s unrealistic to expect that piracy could be banned entirely. Movie studios take down files and sites whenever they can, but a pirated copy is never hard to find. That brings us to another important finding.

    If a single movie is protected from piracy successfully, it ‘only’ gains an average $70,000 in additional revenue.

    “Consumers who watch pirated movies simply like ‘pirated stuff’, so if studios try to report and remove torrents of a movie on the file-sharing network, the pirate consumers will just switch to other pirated movies. The improvement in revenue will be very small, around $70,000 on average per movie,” Liu tells us.

    That last point is important. If all piracy was eliminated, films would see a $500,000 increase in revenue per title. But in more isolated cases, which is what mostly happens today, the effect is much lower.

    The research offers several interesting insights, to say the least. However, it is not without shortcomings. As it only looks at BitTorrent traffic, it captures only a small part of the piracy ecosystem.

    In addition, tracking torrent downloads accurately also has its challenges. Liu aggregated completed counts form various BitTorrent trackers, which likely means that the downloads are overestimated.

    We would caution anyone from drawing strong conclusions from this or any other study. What it does brilliantly show, however, is that not all piracy is the same. The quality and timing of leaked files are crucial, and the effects differ greatly between the box-office and DVD aftersales.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  8. #208
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    New ‘Valeroa’ Anti-Piracy System Cracked “In 20 Minutes”

    A new anti-tamper technology with aims similar to those of Denuvo has been rapidly defeated. Valeroa has been touting itself as the latest anti-tamper technology "that cannot be cracked in a reasonable time." However, after appearing for the first time on the game City Patrol: Police, a cracker says he defeated the system in just 20 mins.

    With online piracy still running rampant, content producers are keen to prevent copying wherever they can.

    Music and movies are extremely vulnerable, with no effective technology available after several decades of trying. However, software and video games are able to put up a bit more of a fight when appropriate DRM and other technologies are put in place.

    Situated on top of regular DRM, Denuvo has made its way to the top of the pile as one of the most effective and hated (by pirates at least) anti-tamper technologies. This reputation has in part been earned through its ability to prevent low-level crackers from defeating its locks but also due to a perception that it can be anti-consumer.

    With this reputation, Denuvo is consistently targeted by crackers, who are getting
    more and more successful in defeating the technology. A few days’ protection now seems to be the most the product can offer, with the company itself now openly suggesting that a couple of weeks’ protection is a reasonable aim and valuable in itself.

    Given Denuvo’s profile, it was interesting to see an apparently new technology being touted by its makers a few months ago. Dubbed ‘
    Valeroa‘, this new kid on the anti-tamper block seems to have Denuvo in its sights, with interesting marketing which presents the tech as a more consumer-friendly tool to achieve the same aims.

    “Valeroa anti-tamper does [not] require you to have an internet connection. Not even when you launch your game for the first time or after you upgraded your hardware. Some games require you to be online, but this is not a Valeroa requirement,” the company claims.

    “The protected game behaves as if there is no protection applied at all. Gamers don’t need to re-validate hardware or need an internet connection. They also don’t need to install additional software or drivers. They can play the game as it was intended by the game developer.”

    Addressing other complaints usually aimed at Denuvo, Valeroa claims not to continuously write to the gamer’s hard drive while placing no limit on the number of daily installations or changes of hardware.

    In common with Denuvo, however, the company behind Valeroa states that its tech is “extremely difficult to crack before and closely after the game release date.”

    Curiously, it also adds that the protection “becomes a lot easier to crack after a predefined period” noting that the company has “no problem with organized pirate groups or individuals who crack Valeroa once the protection is weakened.”

    This contrasts with statements made on the company’s website back in May (now deleted) that said the following:

    “We closely watch the ‘Warez Scene’, P2P and reverse engineering communities. We report criminal activities to legal institutions. Pirate release groups, we know who you are and you have been warned!” the statement read.

    On November 29, Valeroa made its debut on the game
    City Patrol: Police, a racing/action game that doesn’t appear to be particularly popular with early adopters. Doubling up on the disappointment, the Valeroa technology didn’t stand up as promised either.

    On Saturday December 1, two days after launch, the game appeared online with its protection cracked. A user known online as ‘Steam006’ (who claims to be from Turkey) was reportedly responsible and if his report is to be believed, Valeroa didn’t put up much of a fight.

    “It took about 20 minutes to make the crack,” he announced.

    While this rapid defeat was greeted with amusement by the game cracking community, a number of questions about Valeroa remain.

    The site itself gives no indication as to who is behind the technology and its domain WHOIS is protected, something which is not common when traditional corporate entities are involved. Its Linkedin page states the company is in the UK, providing a London postcode of EC1 and stating that Valeroa is “almost impossible to crack”.

    However, an early version of the website claimed the company was situated in France, offering the address 54-56 Avenue Hoche, Paris 75008.

    Adding to the unconventional approach, the site’s promotional material actually
    carries comments from users of Reddit’s /r/crackwatch forum which stop short of commending the technology but cautiously praise it for being less anti-consumer than some alternatives.


    While Valeroa fell quickly on this first occasion, it did manage to hold up as long as some of the latest variations of Denuvo, which is an achievement in itself, if one discounts the low interest in the game itself.

    Whether its strength will improve over time remains to be seen but the people behind the technology, whoever they are, do seem to understand why gamers hate DRM and similar technologies. That is certainly novel, if nothing else.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  9. #209
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    Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of The Week on BitTorrent – 12/03/18

    The top 10 most downloaded movies on BitTorrent are in again. 'Venom' tops the chart this week, followed by ‘The predator'. 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls' completes the top three.

    This week we have five newcomers in our chart.

    Venom is the most downloaded movie.

    The data for our weekly download chart is estimated by TorrentFreak, and is for informational and educational reference only. All the movies in the list are Web-DL/Webrip/HDRip/BDrip/DVDrip unless stated otherwise.

    RSS feed for the articles of the recent weekly movie download charts.

    This week’s most downloaded movies are:

    Movie Rank Rank last week Movie name IMDb Rating / Trailer
    Most downloaded movies via torrents
    1 (…) Venom 7.0 / trailer
    2 (…) The Predator 5.6 / trailer
    3 (…) The House with a Clock in Its Walls 6.1 / trailer
    4 (1) The Nun 5.5 / trailer
    5 (2) Mission: Impossible – Fallout 8.0 / trailer
    6 (3) Peppermint 6.5 / trailer
    7 (…) Smallfoot 6.7 / trailer
    8 (6) The Equalizer 2 6.9 / trailer
    9 (…) Halloween (Subbed HDRip) 7.0 / trailer
    10 (8) Incredibles 2 8.0 / trailer


  10. #210
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    DuckDuckGo Removes ‘Pirate’ Site Bangs to Avoid Liability

    The privacy centered search engine DuckDuckGo has cleaned up its bangs database. In the process, the company also removed several search shortcuts for 'pirate' sites, to avoid potential liability issues. The removed bangs include those of the popular torrent sites The Pirate Bay and 1337x, as well other resources such as Sci-Hub and OpenSubtitles.

    First launched just a decade ago, search engine
    DuckDuckGo is a goto tool for Internet users who value their privacy.

    Unlike many competitors, the site doesn’t keep a record of users’ IP addresses or other sensitive information.

    The search engine also has a variety of useful features such as instant answers and
    bangs. The latter are particularly useful for people who want to use DuckDuckGo to search directly on other sites.

    Typing ‘!yt keyword’ will do a direct search on YouTube, for example, ‘!w keyword’ goes to Wikipedia, and ‘!torrentfreak keyword’ does a search on TorrentFreak. This library of bangs has been around for a long time and has grown to more than 10,000 over the years.

    However, a few days ago, roughly 2,000 of these were removed. Interestingly, this included many bangs that link to torrent sites, such as The Pirate Bay, 1337x and RARBG. Similarly, bangs for OpenSubtitles, Sci-Hub and LibGen are gone too.


    Initially, it was unclear what had happened, but after people started asking questions on Reddit, DuckDuckGo staff
    explained that this was part of a larger cleanup operation.

    DuckDuckGo went through its bangs library and removed all non-working versions, as well as verbose ones that were not actively used. In addition, many pirate site bangs were deleted as these are no longer “permitted.”

    “Bangs had been neglected for some time, and there were tons of broken ones. As part of the bang clean-up, we also removed some that were pointing to primarily illegal content,” DuckDuckGo staffer Tagawa explains.

    The search engine still indexes the sites in question but it feels that offering curated search shortcuts for these sites in their service might cause problems.

    Apparently, this wasn’t a major issue when the bangs were first introduced. However, perhaps in part due to a changing perspective on the role of third-party intermediaries, DuckDuckGo sees potential liability issues now.

    “It may not seem like so at first blush, but it is very different legally if it is a bang vs. in the search results because the bangs are added to the product by us explicitly, and can be interpreted legally as an editorial decision that is actively facilitating that site and its content.

    “We operate globally, as do bangs, and products that actively facilitate interaction with illegal content can have us and our employees face significant legal liability, and jeopardizing the entire service,” Tagawa adds.

    Not all users are happy with the decision. They point out that some of the removed sites can be used to access legal content as well, such as open source Linux versions. But DuckDuckGo doesn’t want to take any risk.

    It is pointed out that users can still achieve the same with other tools. For example, Firefox allows users to create
    their own search shortcuts, which work pretty much the same as bangs.

    Luckily, the TorrentFreak bang has rightfully survived DuckDuckGo’s purge. Also, anyone who’s looking for a recent Linux distribution can still use the ‘!distro’ bang.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  11. #211
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    4.6 Million Italians Consume Pirated Sports Content

    Around 4.6 million Italians over the age of 15 are consuming sports content from illegal sources, a survey has found. The study, carried out by market research company Ipsos, reveals that there were 21 million illegal viewings of live sports in 2017, with around 35% of streaming pirates utilizing unauthorized IPTV services.

    For many years, pirating of ‘live’ sports was only possible when people downloaded content after the fact via torrents and similar systems. With the dawn of fast Internet connections and more advanced streaming technologies, all that changed.

    As a result, the majority of live sporting events can now be accessed in close to real-time via hundreds of streaming websites and dedicated IPTV services. This presents an unprecedented challenge to broadcasters who routinely pay out tens of millions for the right to offer such content through official channels.

    While no countries can escape this situation, Italy is considered to be one of the regions where unlicensed consumption has grown particularly rapidly. New research from anti-piracy outfit
    FAPAV and market research company Ipsos highlights the extent of problem.

    According to the study, 4.6 million Italians over the age of 15 are now viewing sports content from illegal sources, with an estimated 21 million instances of piracy in 2017 alone.

    While ‘pirate’ streaming sites are reported to be providing much of the content, premium unlicensed IPTV services are taking a large slice of the action. According to Ipsos, around 35% of Italians consume live sports via such services while paying an average of 10 to 15 euros per month for the privilege.

    During a recent presentation and conference, anti-piracy group FAPAV revealed that IPTV is already a serious problem for broadcasters.

    “This is an issue of enormous importance and a new phenomenon in the field of audiovisual piracy, which needed to be studied in detail,” said FAPAV Secretary General, Federico Bagnoli Rossi.

    “Copyright is being challenged internationally. There is a decisive confrontation on copyright and to defend it we need to make a system. The copyright directive under discussion in Europe and the new emerging issues must be tackled by working together, creating synergies.”

    Rossi noted that the results of the Ipsos study indicate that the problem is not going away, affecting not only live sports but other forms of audiovisual content, all of which are available from illicit vendors at a market disrupting price.

    “[T]he Ipsos data presented shows how the illegal IPTV galaxy is taking root in our country, becoming, in fact, a new form of piracy linked not only to films and TV series but also to live sporting events,” Rossi
    said.

    “Our Federation, understanding the seriousness of the problem, wanted to bring together for the first time all the main actors operating in the production, distribution and protection of audiovisual content, to understand how to deal, in an inclusive and effective way, a behavior that not only damages the industries and the economy of our country, but also goes to feed the illicit market and the criminal organizations that run it.”

    Maria Vittoria De Simone, Italy’s Deputy National Prosecutor for organized crime, agreed that IPTV is now one of the preferred methods to watch content illegally, noting that soccer matches are now the most pirated content, with an outlay of just a few euros per month enabling the public to get in on the action.

    Citing a 2017 survey which found that damage to the Italian economy is now estimated to be around a billion euros in turnover affecting some 6,000 jobs, Simone said that dealing with the IPTV problem won’t be easy.

    “This crime is difficult to investigate, because it is widespread on an international scale, with individuals who evade the police in an area that for too long has been underestimated and little considered,” Simone said.

    “What is certain is that the phenomenon has a high impact on the market, with alarming economic dimensions,” she added, noting that this type of piracy is often tolerated by the public, since they are offered a cheap alternative to more expensive commercial offerings.

    “In the absence of a concerted action at the international level, the criminal groups have emulated the commercial models of legal companies, with obvious advantages to act outside the market rules. Thus a parallel and criminal commercial context was born, with a cloned product put in circulation even in advance of normal programming.”

    While calling for new tools and strategies, Simone said that the problem should be dealt with using blocking measures, restrictions on sales and advertising, plus a “follow-the-money” approach.

    “I believe that there are no obstacles to the possibility of using these blocking measures not only against DNS, but also to static IPaddresses, so as to prevent the repetition of illegal activities,” she added.

    Stan McCoy, MPA President EMEA, praised Italy for its contribution to the audiovisual industry but noted that the problem presented locally by streaming piracy is not unique.

    McCoy said that there are an estimated 1.9 million users of illegal IPTV in Germany while in the US, 6.5% of household access pirated services, with almost all of those utilizing set-top boxes to access premium TV including live sports. The UK, he said, is also suffering with the problem.

    “In Britain, over the past three months, about 6.5 million people have benefited from pirated content and 10% of the British population have access to illegal devices to enjoy pirated content,” McCoy added.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  12. #212
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    ‘YouTube Was The Top Source for Pirated ‘Fury vs Wilder’ Streams’

    This weekend, millions of people tuned into the highly anticipated boxing match between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. While many paid the premium PPV or streaming rates, there was also a massive crowd of pirate viewers. According to piracy-tracking firm MUSO, these unauthorized streams were viewed ten million times, with YouTube being the 'top' provider.

    A few days ago, the undefeated WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder took on Tyson Fury.

    Millions of people saw the fight end in a controversial
    split draw, something neither side had hoped for.

    In common with many of these events, plenty of money was made regardless of the outcome. In part, this was generated by people who paid to watch the fight live or through premium PPV or streaming channels.

    However, there was also a large audience on not-so-official channels. According to piracy-tracking outfit
    MUSO, as many as 9.98 million viewers tuned into unauthorized streams.

    The pirate streaming alternatives were by far most popular in the US, with 1.9 million viewers, followed at a distance by the UK where roughly 1.1 million streamers were counted.

    These viewers had plenty of options to choose from according to MUSO. In total, the company tracked down 133 piracy streaming domains and 80 YouTube live links where the game was displayed.

    While YouTube responds to takedown notices, these often come too late it seems. The data published by MUSO shows that YouTube was by far the top source of pirated streams (18.3%), followed by Ripple.is (12.8%), and Vipleague.lc (9.4%).

    According to MUSO’s CEO Andy Chatterley, a pirate audience of this size should not be ignored. Instead, copyright holders should find ways to get these people back on board.

    “This fight was always going to draw in a massive audience, and it certainly did that. In fact, our MUSO Discover data shows that, globally, nearly 10 million viewers chose unlicensed channels to watch the bout,” Chatterley says.

    “This is a huge audience that is, to all intents and purposes, being ignored. Data like this offers insights that could help bring fans back to legal content, but they need to be acknowledged first,” he adds.

    The question remains how this can be done effectively. Cracking down on pirate streams hasn’t worked very well in recent years. And perhaps there’s room for improvement on the supply side as well?

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  13. #213
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    YouTube Terminates ‘Kodi No Limits’ Account With 600K Subscribers

    The popular 'Kodi No Limits' channel, filled with hundreds of 'educational' videos about Kodi, was removed by YouTube recently. The video streaming service states that it received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement, likely for videos that promoted third-party 'piracy' tools. While all videos and more than 600,000 subscribers are gone, Kodi No Limits is not backing down.

    YouTube has opened the door for millions of people to share knowledge and information with the rest of the world.

    This is also true for piracy-related topics. While YouTube itself doesn’t allow users to post copyright-infringing movies or TV-shows, there are many videos on the platform that demonstrate how to get this content elsewhere.

    A lot of these ‘tutorials’ center around Kodi media player. While Kodi itself is perfectly legal, there are numerous third-party add-ons that turn it into a piracy platform. To achieve this, there are dozens of high profile YouTubers who are willing to offer a helping hand.

    A search for “
    Kodi addon guide” on YouTube reveals a treasure trove of options. Many of these feature Kodi addons that clearly display pirated movies while showing users how to access them.

    This has been going on for years, but there are more and more reports of videos and YouTube accounts being flagged. Several Kodi-piracy related YouTubers have lost their videos or have found themselves demonetized.

    This is also what happened to “
    Kodi No Limits” a few days ago. The popular channel with over 600,000 videos was removed by YouTube following multiple takedown requests from copyright holders.

    “This account has been terminated because we received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted,” a message on the channel reads now.


    It’s unknown which videos were found to be infringing. As far as we know, the account didn’t post any pirated videos or TV-shows, so we assume that copyright holders reported several ‘tutorials’ as copyright infringement.

    The
    Kodi No Limits website remains online. It still features several Kodi-related guides, including how to install the “No Limits Magic” build. However, none of the embedded videos are showing up as they still point to the terminated YouTube account.

    There is a chance that these may be updated in due course though. While losing 600,000 subscribers is a severe blow, Kodi No Limits is not backing down. Its
    Twitter account and other social media are still active, including Instagram where the channel shutdown was confirmed.


    The message also teased a new channel. And indeed, recent posts on social media now link to new video content which appears on a newly registered ‘No Limits’
    YouTube account.

    The question remains how long that will stay up of course. YouTuber
    Doc Squiffy rightfully points out that many others who operate in the same niche have had videos taken down or entire channels demonetized by YouTube recently.

    That also brings us back to an article we wrote a
    few months ago. This suggested that YouTube won’t put up with blatant piracy tutorials forever. This appears to be the case indeed, especially when copyright holders are actively targeting them with takedown requests.

    TorrentFreak reached out to “Kodi No Limits” via an associated contact address, but at the time of writing we haven’t heard back.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  14. #214
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    Kim Dotcom case rolls on in Supreme Court

    A lawyer for the United States says after seven years the ongoing Kim Dotcom extradition legal saga "might almost be at half-time".

    David Boldt was making submissions in the Wellington Supreme Court in the case's latest legal battle.

    In July, the Court of Appeal ruled Kim Dotcom and his co-accused could be extradited to the US to face criminal copyright breach cases.

    That followed earlier cases in the District Court and High Court which reached the same conclusion.

    The men now want to appeal against that decision in the country's highest court, but Mr Boldt told the Supreme Court today there was no direct right of appeal in criminal cases such as that involving Kim Dotcom.

    He said when the Dotcom case began in 2012 there was no eligibility for a third appeal to be heard in an extradition case.

    "You have said before 'if it's not mentioned we are simply unable to say we have jurisdiction'.

    "That contrasts with the civil jurisdiction where there is a right of appeal."

    However Grant Illingworth, acting for co-accused Bram Van der Kolk and Matthias Ortmann said there was no material which supported the position Mr Boldt was taking.

    He also said that the Bill of Rights gave certain guarantees to people facing extradition including that they would not be taken from this country "except on grounds prescribed by law".

    "The US argument denies the Bill of Rights issue ... and also seems to be based on a false premise.

    Lawyers for Kim Dotcom and Finn Batato did not make submissions themselves, simply adding their support to Mr Illingworth's points.

    David Boldt said whatever the Supreme Court decides, there is still the 'surrender phase' ahead when the case is referred to the Minister of Justice for a final decision.

    That process can also be the subject of Court challenges.

    The Supreme Court reserved its decision.

  15. #215
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    Kim Dotcom Extradition Battle May Have Years to Run

    Despite fighting legal battles in both the United States and New Zealand, Kim Dotcom and his former Megaupload colleagues have a long road ahead of them. Speaking in the Wellington Supreme Court today, lawyer for the US David Boldt indicated that the extradition battle may only be "at half-time".

    When Megaupload was shut down by United States authorities in 2012, along with the arrest of its operators in New Zealand, few people anticipated the scale of the legal battle that would ensue.

    After countless legal processes and procedures, every attempt to force Kim Dotcom and colleagues Mathias Ortmann, Finn Batato, and Bram van der Kolk into submission have been met with resistance.

    Perhaps the most important battle – to have the quartet sent to the US to face charges including copyright infringement, racketeering, and money laundering – is still underway and being fiercely contested. Comments made in the Wellington Supreme Court today indicate that the process is moving at glacial pace.

    David Boldt, a lawyer for the United States, told the Court that the extradition battle “might almost be at half-time”, opening up the potential for more years of struggle.

    Back in July, after the case had traveled through the District Court and High Court, New Zealand’s Court of Appeal
    ruled that Dotcom and his former colleagues are indeed eligible for extradition to the United States.

    “We are satisfied that New Zealand law permits extradition for copyright infringement in the circumstances of this case. That is so although we have held, contrary to previous authority, that double criminality is required in extradition between New Zealand and the United States. The appellants are accused of conduct that, if proved, would establish extradition offences in New Zealand law,” the ruling reads.

    “A criminal offense is committed by anyone who knowingly possesses an infringing digital copy of a protected work in the course of business with a view to committing any act, such as online dissemination, that infringes the copyright.”

    Dotcom and his co-accused hope the Supreme Court will come to a different conclusion but according to
    RNZ, Boldt told the Supreme Court today that there is no direct right of appeal in Dotcom’s criminal case, since in 2012, when the case began, there was no eligibility for a third appeal in extradition cases.

    “You have said before ‘if it’s not mentioned we are simply unable to say we have jurisdiction’. That contrasts with the civil jurisdiction where there is a right of appeal,” Boldt told the Court.

    Of course, lawyers for the Megaupload quartet disagree.

    Grant Illingworth, appearing for co-accused Bram Van der Kolk and Matthias Ortmann, said Boldt’s position is unsupported, adding that New Zealand’s Bill of Rights states that people cannot be extradited “except on grounds prescribed by law”. Lawyers for Dotcom and Batato supported Illingworth’s submissions.

    Even if the US Government gets its way and the appeal is not accepted by the Supreme Court, the so-called “surrender” phase could take years. After the District Court decides whether someone can be extradited, it’s for New Zealand’s Minister of Justice to make the final decision. That, Boldt said, could lead to yet more processes and debate.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  16. #216
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    Banksy’s Own Video Shredded By YouTube Following Canal+ Copyright Claim

    While Banksy prefers to operate in the shadows, he does have a YouTube account where he uploads some background info. This is what he did after a stunt at Sotheby's in October. Today, this video has disappeared. Assuming that it's not another 'prank,' the French media outfit Canal+ is responsible.

    Banksy is without a doubt one of the most mysterious yet best-known street artists in the world.

    His works are the most sought after in their genre for which collectors are happy to pay serious cash.

    One of his paintings was sold at Sotheby for £1.4 million in October, which is a reasonable amount. However, as soon as the hammer went down a
    built-in shredder tore half of it to pieces.

    Apparently, Banksy had built a shredder into the painting, carefully planning his ‘stunt,’ which carries a deeper criticism of course.

    The stunt was widely covered in the media and also documented by Banksy on his own
    YouTube channel. The street artist rarely uploads anything so media outlets were keen to republish the video, which offered a behind-the-scenes perspective on the shredding.

    Apparently, the French media giant Canal+ used the material as well. However, they went a step further and have claimed it as their own, asking YouTube to remove the original, which it did.

    “Video unavailable This video contains content from Canal Plus, who has blocked it on copyright grounds,” a message
    now reads instead.

    The issue was picked up by professional engineering YouTuber Dave Jones
    on Twitter. He describes YouTube’s takedown system as a joke, adding that Canal+ should love its Content ID privilege.

    While it’s not entirely clear how this happened it’s likely that Canal+ used Banksy’s video in its own programming, adding it to the Content ID system. That certainly would not be the first time this has happened.

    It’s impossible to summarize all mistakes, but the fact that a
    bird chirping and white noise videos were previously flagged as copyright-infringing content says enough.

    In all honesty, mistakes are bound to happen when a company operates on a scale as large as YouTube. On the other hand, opponents of EU’s proposed ‘upload filters’ under Article 13 will use it as an example of what can go wrong.

    In a few hours or days, this mistake will likely be corrected. However, there is certainly room for more balance. Right now, YouTube users can lose their channel after three copyright strikes, but rightsholders can make mistake after mistake.

    As for Banksy, we doubt that he’s seriously upset by any of this. He has seen some of his most iconic works being painted over in the past. Unlike with YouTube, these aren’t so easy to restore.



    The header image was taken from another Banksy video, which is still online.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  17. #217
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    Demonoid’s Troubles Worsen as Domain Name Expires

    The semi-private BitTorrent tracker Demonoid was once one of the largest torrent sites on the Internet. In recent months, however, things have gone from bad to worse. The site has been offline for weeks and a few days ago its main domain name expired. In the absence of assurances from Demonoid's operator, staffers have now launched a backup community, to keep the spirit going.

    As one of the oldest torrent communities online, the
    Demonoid tracker has gone though many ups and downs.

    The site has disappeared for months, more than once, but always reappeared.

    Earlier this year things were looking quite positive for the site. The founder and operator Deimos was committed to
    rebuilding the site to the thriving community it once was, but at the end of this summer new problems emerged.

    Initially, there were some technical issues and isolated downtime. However, as the weeks passed on, the site disappeared completely. All the while,
    Deimos was nowhere to be found.

    Over the past few weeks, staff received a sign of life from the operator, but the issues are far from over. In fact, a few days ago the most recent Demonoid.pw domain name expired, which means that it’s at risk of being lost completely.

    TorrentFreak spoke to Demonoid staffer ‘Phase’ who believes that Deimos may resurrect the site in the future, but whether he’s aware of the domain issue is unknown. If the domain isn’t renewed soon,
    the registrar will delete it from the records completely.

    This is something the staff hope to prevent, but their hands are tied.

    “I contacted TLD registrar solutions on behalf of the Demonoid and staff members asking if it’s possible to pay up the domain expenses so the domain doesn’t get lost,” Phase tells us.

    However, that hasn’t gotten them anywhere yet. All .pw email addresses are inactive as well now. Phase still has the old
    phase@demonoid.comhandle and he hopes that by some miracle the registrar will contact him there to help out.

    That seems to be a long shot, but there are few other options.

    Demonoid’s staff don’t have access to the site’s
    Twitter account either, so it’s hard to inform users about the current situation. According to Phase, many are being tricked by copycat sites. Demonoid.to is particularly problematic, as it encourages visitors to download a scammy client.

    As a temporary solution, the staff have decided to create new fora at
    Demonoid.info where Demonoid users can get the latest updates or just chat randomly.

    “We staff established a Demonoid Fora for the fans so they can have at least some sense of home while Demonoid is gone. This forum is not file sharing related in any way, it’s just a way to help the community stay together,” Phase says.

    While several long-time Demonoid users have found their way to the new fora, it remains unsure if or when the real Demonoid will return.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  18. #218
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    Three Sentenced For Placing Advertising on Pirate Sites

    Three employees of an agency that placed adverts on pirate sites have been handed suspended prison sentences in Germany. After brokering ad space on popular piracy portals including kino.to and iload.to, generating profits of more than 350,000 euros in the process, the individuals were found guilty of aiding and abetting copyright infringement.

    While there are several business models that are able to keep pirate sites up and running, advertising is one of the most popular.

    With huge amounts of traffic landing on both torrent and streaming platforms, even with low-quality adverts it’s possible for both site owners and advertising companies to generate decent profits.

    Until now, pirate site operators have been the main targets for law enforcement agencies but a recently concluded case in Germany shows that the authorities are prepared to extend their reach when required.

    According to Germany-based anti-piracy group GVU, the Leipzig District Court has now sentenced three employees of an Internet advertising agency to prison terms for aiding and abetting copyright infringement.

    The investigation was led by the Integrated Investigation Unit Saxony (INES) at the Saxon Attorney General’s Office and supported by the GVU with analysis and insights.

    “The defendants had brokered advertising space on well-known piracy portals such as kino.to or iload.to and displayed lucrative banner ads on a large scale,” GVU reveals.

    “In this way, they achieved profits of more than 350,000 euros. They were aware that they were involved with structurally infringing sites, which apparently offered almost exclusively copyrighted files for download and streaming.”

    The sentences for the trio were considerable, despite not being directly involved in the running of the sites. The manager of the agency received a sentence of one year and eight months, with two programmers each receiving one year and four months in prison. However, since the defendants confessed, all sentences were suspended.

    “The verdict sets a significant precedent because up to now no advertising agency in Germany has ever been prosecuted for its support of illegal portal sites,” GVU concludes.

    While they attracted significant volumes of traffic in their prime, both Kino.to and iLoad.to are long gone from the piracy ecosystem.

    Kino.to was once the king of all Germany-based streaming sites. It was
    raided in 2011 as part of a huge multi-national anti-piracy operation but various clones have since tried to keep the pirate flag flying in its honor.

    Finally,
    Tarnkappe reports that GVU is about to lose its funding from the MPA. The organization told the publication that Germany is still important but a new and more integrated approach is required.

    “The MPA continues to promote a vibrant and diverse creative industries in Germany and throughout the European Union – and to defend the rights of authors to be compensated for their work,” an MPA spokesperson said.

    “However, as film and television piracy continues to develop rapidly, become increasingly online and international, we need to develop our overall approach to be more integrated and coherent. This requires a more flexible local presence and direct cooperation with local and regional law enforcement agencies. Germany is a strategically important market for the MPA and we are determined to continue playing a key role.”

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  19. #219
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    Major Rightsholders Are Not Happy With Article 13 Either

    Several prominent representatives of the audiovisual and sports sectors, including the MPA and the Premier League, are not pleased with the current Article 13 proposals. Their objections don't concern the possibility of upload filters, but with potential new liability shields for large Internet services, which they say will only gain power at the detriment of copyright holders.

    In a plenary vote in September, the European Parliament
    backed the controversial Article 13 proposal, which is part of EU’s copyright reform plans.

    The outcome was welcomed by many copyright holders, particularly in the music industry.

    “This vote is great news for music fans and for anyone who values exciting and original online entertainment. It’s an important step towards creating a fairer internet that encourages and rewards creativity,” BPI’s Geoff Taylor
    said at the time.

    The vote was not the end of the process though. The final text of Article 13 will be agreed upon during the “trilogue” meetings. The second of three meetings was held earlier this week. When the text is final, the EU Parliament will vote again.

    It is no secret that Article 13 and the potential for “upload filters” is being met with fierce resistance from activists, scholars, academics, and many members of the public. However, it turns out that not all copyright holder organizations are happy either.

    A coalition of major representatives from the audiovisual and sports sectors sent a letter to members of the EU Parliament, ahead of the meeting this week. They include the Motion Picture Association, the International Union of Cinemas, the Premier League, and La Liga.

    The groups say that they are extremely concerned with the current version of Article 13. They fear that it will do more harm than good for their industries, as it will strengthen the position of major online content sharing service providers (OCSSPs).

    “[U]nfortunately, the Value Gap provision has mutated in such a way that it now strengthens even further the role of OCSSPs to the direct detriment of right holders and completely undermines the status quo in terms of the EU liability regime,” the letter reads.

    The organizations warn that large Internet services will only gain more power. Article 13 will create a new safe harbor for some online services that take measures to prevent infringement, which undermines current law and weakens the position of copyright holders.

    “These would constitute gifts to already powerful platforms, and would de facto constitute the only real change to the current status quo in legal terms, thus improving the position of platforms, but not of right holders.”

    The letter points out that EU case law already makes it clear that online services themselves can communicate to the public and be held liable for infringing activity. They feel that the new proposal could undermine this.

    Their solution would be to draft Article 13 in such a way that existing jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice is not at risk.

    Alternatively, Article 13 could be framed in a way that the film industry and sports leagues are not affected. For example, by limiting it to music only, which is the sector that’s believed to be benefitting from it the most.

    “If, on the contrary, any new safe harbour/’mitigation of liability’ would be part of a final trilogue agreement, we would respectfully urge you to disapply the entire value gap provision to our respective sectors,” the letter reads.

    Pirate Party
    MEP Julia Reda, who shared the document in public, notes that since even major rightsholders are unhappy, something must clearly change.

    “It can no longer reasonably be denied: Article 13 was misguided from the start. Rather than solving a specific, well-identified problem with a well-assessed solution, lawmakers attempted to use copyright law to rebalance power between several big industries, with no regard for the collateral damage they were causing.

    “Instead of resolving these concerns and converging on a reasonable middle ground, the negotiations have just muddied the waters further,” Reda adds.

    Upload filter opponents, including Reda, have an entirely different view on the matter than the film and sports sectors, of course. However, both sides clearly want Article 13 to change.

    The Pirate Party MEP naturally has a different solution as well. If the main goal of the music industry is to get more money from companies such as YouTube, this problem should be tackled more directly, she argues.

    By finding a way to ensure that collective licenses are in place, for example, without upload filters. And by legalizing modern remix and fan culture at the same time.

    “But if we can’t even agree that that’s what we’re trying to achieve here – that leaves only one way forward: Let’s drop Article 13 altogether and send the directive back to the drawing board,” Reda concludes.



    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  20. #220
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    Just Cause 4 Cracked a Day After Release – But it Gets Worse

    The much-anticipated action-adventure game Just Cause 4 was released on December 4, protected by Denuvo. On December 5, cracking group CPY posted the game online, Denuvo defeated. While this is yet another hammer blow to the anti-tamper system, the game is currently 'enjoying' a review average of just 5/10 on Steam, which could exacerbate the problems.

    After being
    acquired by anti-piracy company Irdeto earlier this year, it was expected that anti-tamper technology company Denuvo would go on to even bigger things.

    Instead, the anti-tamper protection is being subjected to a barrage of cracking activity.

    With a
    recent announcement detailing the importance of protecting AAA titles if only for a couple of weeks, the company appeared to be lowering expectations of a longer piracy-free period. Now, however, even those aspirations have been shattered following the release of Just Cause 4.

    This long-anticipated AAA action-adventure title is the follow-up to Just Cause 3, which was also protected by Denuvo. That game was released in December 2015 but wasn’t cracked until the end of February 2017.

    Compare that with Just Cause 4. The game was released on December 4, 2018 then cracked and leaked online December 5, 2018. Just Cause 3 and Just Cause 4 were both defeated by cracking group CPY, who are clearly getting very familiar with Denuvo’s technology.


    While having the game appear online the day after release is bad enough, another problem is raising its head. According to
    numerous reviewers on Steam, the game is only worthy of a ‘thumbs down’ based on complaints about graphics, gameplay, and numerous other issues.

    While these things are often handled via early patches from developers, the negative reviews mean that the average score on Steam is currently just 5/10. That, combined with the availability of a pirated version online, seems like a possible recipe for disaster and something that could raise its head later should sales fail to impress.

    That being said, dedicated Steam users can be particularly critical. Metacritic scores show an improved picture, with a Metascore of 75 out of a possible 100. Not great, but still slightly higher than the 73 achieved by Just Cause 3.

    These are undoubtedly tough times for Denuvo but it would be premature to count out the technology just yet. There can be little doubt that its high-profile has presented a challenge that’s being relished by cracking groups, who seem prepared to invest significant resources into undermining its work.

    A turnaround is still possible but protecting a title for just a day just isn’t enough, even by the company’s shortening expectations. Certainly, having a game cracked before its official launch,
    as happened with Hitman 2 last month, is almost as bad as it gets.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

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