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  1. #221
    Amias's Avatar
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    Huge Torrent Tracker Calls it Quits After 12 Years, Citing Article 13

    Leechers Paradise, one of the world's longest-standing and most important BitTorrent trackers, has shut down for good. Launched 12 years ago, the site was recently coordinating the transfers of 132 million peers but now, with the EU's Article 13 legislation looming, its operator says its time to close before the platform is rendered illegal.

    Torrent sites come in all shapes and sizes. Most are known for being indexes of .torrent files or magnet links which facilitate access to various types of media. When these sites specialize in indexing copyrighted content, the law in most developed regions (particularly the EU) renders them illegal.

    However, some torrent platforms operate almost completely in the shadows, not necessarily by design, but because of the important services they provide exist almost exclusively behind the scenes.

    Most people who regularly load a torrent file or a magnet link into a torrent client will see information related to the content they’re downloading and sharing. Things such as peer counts (the number of seeders and leechers) probably attract the most attention but in every client one is also able to see which torrent ‘trackers’ are helping with their transfers.

    These ‘trackers’ are servers that are able to put torrent clients sharing the same content in touch with each other. The IP addresses of otherseeders and leechers are delivered to everyone in a torrent ‘swarm’ so that sharing of media can take place. The same goal can be achieved via
    DHT and PEX but trackers are more immediate and much appreciated by file-sharers.

    Unlike regular torrent indexes that can be monetized through web-based advertising, standalone trackers that aren’t connected to a particular torrent site are mostly run as non-profits. Indeed, many notable trackers over the years never generated a penny and were run as hobbyist projects. As such, their existence relies upon the operator’s desire to keep the thing going, which isn’t always easy.

    One of the longest-standing trackers was Leechers Paradise, words that have appeared in hundreds of millions of torrent clients over the years. However, an announcement from its operator means that the tacker will shut down for good due to fear over upcoming legislation in the EU.

    “Sadly after 12 years I am calling it quits. Article 13 of the new EU copyright law requires that all uploads are screened. This is impossible which would make this site illegal,” operator ‘Eddie’ writes.

    “This coupled with my ISP kindly asking to move my site out of there [sic] datacenter. Means no more: leechers-paradise.”

    While Article 13 certainly has sites like YouTube concerned, they actually host, curate, and promote content. Leechers Paradise, which simply acted as a networking tool, did not. There’s a big difference.

    It remains unclear whether the finalized Article 13 text will be applicable to the activities of a content-agnostic tracker like LeechersParadise, but after 12 years ‘Eddie’ probably has plenty of other reasons not to continue with his project, so that’s to be respected.

    As the image above shows, at the end of July the tracker was servicing 132.3 million peers, a figure that provides a small indication of how important the tracker was to torrent users around the world.

    Figures published in August indicated that the tracker was serving just over six million torrents using IPV4 and just over 54,000 using IPV6.

    As an indicator of how Leechers Paradise has grown over the years, one can compare stats from June 2013 with those of today. Back then the site was assisting transfers on ‘just’ 17,152 torrents which together had 95,817 peers and 56,505 seeders.

    While other important standalone trackers look set to continue, the loss of Leechers Lair should come as a disappointment to millions of torrent users worldwide. Perhaps the greatest irony is that most won’t have any idea of the scale of the role it played.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  2. #222
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    GTA V’s Take-Two Wants $150,000 in Damages From Cheat Maker

    Rockstar Games' parent company Take-Two Interactive has filed a motion for default judgment against the alleged creator of the "Elusive" GTA V cheat. The company estimates that the cheat has caused severe harm, and requests $150,000 compensation, the maximum statutory damages for copyright infringement.

    Over the past year there has been a wave of copyright infringement lawsuits against alleged cheaters or cheat makers.

    Take-Two Interactive Software, the company behind ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ (GTA V), is one of the major players involved. The company has filed several lawsuits in the US and abroad, targeting alleged cheaters.

    In August the company filed a case against Florida resident Jhonny Perez, accusing him of copyright infringement by creating and distributing a cheating tool. The software, known as “Elusive,” could be used to cheat and
    grief, interfering with the gameplay of others.

    “In essence, Defendant is free riding on TakeTwo’s intellectual property to sell a commercial product that interferes with the carefully orchestrated and balanced gameplay that Take-Two created for its players,” Take-Two notes in the court filing this week.

    The defendant has a clear profit motive, according to the company, which notes that “Elusive” was sold at prices ranging from $10 to $30, depending on the package. Buyers could pay through PayPal, but Steam and Amazon gift cards were also accepted.

    How much money was made in the process remains unknown. Prior to filing the lawsuit, Take-Two requested detailed financial records from Perez in an attempt to reach a settlement. However, the defendant didn’t hand over the requested information and eventually stopped responding.

    This lack of response continued after the lawsuit was filed, which prompted Take-Two to move for a default judgment. According to the company, it’s clear that the cheat maker is guilty of both direct and contributory copyright infringement.

    Take-Two submitted its proposed default judgment to a New York federal court this week, asking for the maximum statutory damages amount of $150,000.

    Among other things, Take-Two says this is warranted because the cheating activity resulted in severe losses. According to an estimate provided by the company, the harm is at least $500,000. In addition, the maximum in damages should also act as a deterrent against other cheat developers.

    “A maximum award would deter Defendant and other infringers from creating similar cheating tools that modify and alter GTAV,” the company argues.

    “Indeed, Defendant is not alone in his effort to create, distribute, and maintain a program that alters and modifies Take Two’s game, which is then sold to users for profit. Take-Two already has been forced to bring several lawsuits in the United States and around the world against other infringers.”

    On top of the $150,000 in damages, Take-Two also requests $69,686 in attorney’s fees, as well a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from continuing infringing activities moving forward.

    As far as we know, Elusive hasn’t been available since earlier this year when the developer informed the public that activities were being discontinued.

    “After discussions with Take-Two Interactive, we are immediately ceasing all maintenance, development, and distribution of our cheat menu services,” a public announcement read at the time.

    “We will also be donating our proceeds to a charity designated by Take-Two. We apologize for any and all problems our software has caused to the Grand Theft Auto Online community,” it added.

    That said, Take-Two has experience with developers who say one thing and
    do another, so the company would like to see details cemented in a court order. Given that the defendant has not responded in court, it is likely that the court will side with the gaming company.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  3. #223
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    Bizarre Blocking Order Targets ‘Pirate’ Domains Before They’re Registered

    Last week an Indian court issued one of the broadest site-blocking injunctions to date. To prevent the film "2.0" from being pirated by the masses, the Madras High Court ordered local ISPs to preemptively block 12,564 domain names. TorrentFreak can now reveal that this order only targets 16 websites and that most of the listed domains are not even registered.

    Website blocking is without a doubt one of the favorite anti-piracy tools of the entertainment industries.

    India is no stranger to this measure either. Over the years, local courts have issued a variety of blocking orders, often to protect films upon their initial release.

    This also happened last week. Following a request by Lyca Productions, the company behind the film “2.0,” the Madras High Court
    ordered 37 local ISPs to block access to a list of 12,564 domain names, should that be necessary to stop the film from being pirated.

    When the news broke it was unknown whether this number referred to separate sites or domains. Local reports only indicated that 2,000 of the ‘websites’ are operated by notorious Tamil movie website TamilRockers.

    This didn’t help, as we’re not aware of that many sites being operated by TamilRockers. Luckily, however, we managed to obtain a copy of the court order that explains what’s really going on here.

    As it turns out, the Madras High Court didn’t list more than 12,000 separate websites. The order really only targets 16 prime targets, which we can easily list in a single paragraph.

    These are Tamilrockers, Movierulz, Tamilmv, 1337x, Worldfree4u, Tamildbox, Tamilgun, Tamilrage, Isaimini, Filmlinks4u, Madrasrockers, Tamilyogi, Thiruttumovies, Mtamilrockers, Hiidude, and Mymoviesda.

    So how did the court order get to 12,564 domain names? As it turns out, for each of the targeted ‘sites’ it lists hundreds of domain names. Quite exotic ones too, as can be seen below.

    The person who came up with this idea must have thought that this was a great way to prevent pirate sites from simply registering a new domain. The majority of the domains are not even registered yet, which is something we’ve never seen before.

    While the makers of 2.0 probably saw this as an ingenious plan, the reality is quite different.

    Take the site Hiidude for example. They previously operated from Hiidide.biz and Hiidude.in. These are covered by the court order and so are other unregistered domain options, such as Hidude.lgbt, Hiidude.wtf, and even Hiidude.fail.

    However, the site is not without additional options. Whether it’s in direct response to this court order or not, today Hiidude is operating from Hiidude1.in. It only took a single character to circumvent the entire court order.

    In addition, it’s worth mentioning that the court order is not permanent. Instead, it only lasts until December 13, noting that the companies should block the domain names if that becomes necessary.

    Perhaps more importantly, the order didn’t prevent the movie “2.0” from being leaked. Last weekend,
    Venkat informed TorrentFreak that a high-quality copy had leaked online. It reportedly came out first on the site TamilRockers, but it spread to other sites soon after.

    This prompted Lyca Productions to retain the anti-piracy outfit “
    BLOCK X” to issue strongly-worded takedown requests to a variety of sites where “2.0” appeared.

    “We demand that you expeditiously remove or disable access to the material in question. In the event of your non-compliance you will no longer be protected by the veil of safe harbor,” it reads, referencing the US DMCA.

    Meanwhile, it appears that Indian law enforcement is also continuing to put pressure on Tamilrockers. Local news sites report that “
    a few” admins were arrested last week, while others state it was just one. The site remains operational though.

    Interestingly this isn’t the first time that TamilRockers admins or members have been arrested. The same ‘reportedly’ happened
    early November, in July, in March, September 2017, and even years earlier.

    Apparently, the site not only has a lot of domain names, but also plenty of admins.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  4. #224
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    Showbox: Is it ‘Back’ and More Importantly, is it ‘Safe’?

    Users of Showbox will no doubt be aware that the popular streaming tool has been under fire recently, targeted by lawsuits that shut down various websites and the app itself. The Internet is now buzzing with news of a return along with the inevitable question "But is it safe?" It's a difficult, if not impossible, question to answer.

    As first reported here on TorrentFreak, popular streaming application Showbox hit turbulent times recently.

    In May we
    revealed that a group of independent movie studios (Dallas Buyers Club, Cobbler Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, and others) were targeting sites and individuals said to be behind or offering Showbox.

    Back in September, a DMCA subpoena filed by the same companies ordered Cloudflare to
    expose the people linked to various sites offering the application.

    It is important to know that the companies behind this request are known serial litigants and have been involved in many “copyright trolling” cases against BitTorrent users in the US and elsewhere.

    Last month we
    reported that two websites connected to Showbox had settled their legal dispute with the companies previously mentioned. The terms of the settlement were not made public and the sites in question now display an ominous warning.

    While some will undoubtedly view these messages as scaremongering, it’s surprising that former Showbox users want anything to do with the application moving forward, given recent history. Nevertheless, dozens of threads online feature users asking whether new versions of Showbox popping up here and there are ‘safe’ to use.

    It is a difficult – if not impossible – question for anyone to answer conclusively.

    First of all, many of the individuals who previously used the app don’t even seem to know where they downloaded it from. This means they could’ve been using the original version or a modified variant from an unknown developer, with both options raising security issues but for different reasons.

    It appears that the original app is in trouble and as for the clones, who knows what their motivations are? And, with known copyright trolls heavily in the mix here, alarm bells of all kinds should be going off. That said, people clearly want their movies and TV shows for free and are happy to carry on doing that as long as someone says “yeah, this version is safe.”

    At this point, it might interest readers to learn that several times in the past few months we’ve been asked by random emailers to ‘update’ our old Showbox (and indeed TerrariumTV) articles with new links to what they claimed to be the original apps.

    There seems little doubt that this was an attempt to misdirect, so unlike some other news outlets who did change their links, we ignored the requests. We don’t know whether this was simply an attempt to drive more traffic to ‘safe’ clones, websites offering the original, or whether something more sinister was at play. It is something to think about, however.

    There are so many variables at play here (including what happens to data gathered from Showbox users’ machines, plus IP addresses etc) that to recommend a certain variant of Showbox as ‘safe’ would be pretty irresponsible. There’s also the fact that Showbox not only uses file-hosting links but also torrents, which are inherently ‘unsafe’ unless people use a VPN.

    Admittedly, certain versions and updates of Showbox may be completely benign but short of having a detailed analysis done on each app, plus having access to what happens behind the scenes, it’s a potential minefield that users will have to walk through at their own risk.

    Some seem very happy to do that, others are less keen. Only time will tell who made the ‘safe’ decision.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

  5. #225
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    Net neutrality could get a reprieve once Democrats take control of the House

    Public support for the concept combined with adoption from the Democrats has sparked renewed optimism.

    WASHINGTON — Somebody tell John Oliver — the battle over net neutrality is back on.

    Democrats are expected to use their upcoming control of the House to push for strong net neutrality rules — put in place by the Federal Communications Commission under President Barack Obama but pulled back by President Donald Trump’s FCC — highlighting how the once-wonky concept has become a national issue.

    While net neutrality advocates are expecting a setback in the near term (a Senate effort to undo the FCC’s decision is expected to fail), public support for the concept combined with adoption from the Democrats has sparked renewed optimism.

    “The FCC’s repeal sparked an unprecedented political backlash, and we've channeled that internet outrage into real political power,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of
    Fight for the Future, a digital rights-focused non-profit organization. “As we head into 2019, net neutrality supporters in the House of Representatives will be in a much stronger position to engage in FCC oversight.”

    The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

    Net neutrality refers to the concept that internet networks (and the companies that run them) should not block or manipulate web traffic. While most internet providers have agreed to abide by rules against blocking legitimate websites, net neutrality advocates have argued that major internet providers could prioritize internet traffic for profit, effectively scuttling the open nature of the internet and turning it into a system closer to cable TV.

    Net neutrality rules have been the subject of a decade-long push and pull that began in 2008, when the FCC punished Comcast for interfering with uploads to file-sharing service BitTorrent. Since then, the FCC’s rules and role in enforcing net neutrality have been the subject of a series of
    commission votes and court rulings.

    Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.

    Net neutrality as a political flashpoint, however, is a relatively new phenomenon. The topic became entered the national consciousness in large part due to John Oliver, who tackled the topic on his HBO show with a humorous segment on the topic and then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who helped push for the net neutrality rules and later
    received an apology from Oliver.

    Despite Oliver’s segment, it was something of a surprise when Obama endorsed strong net neutrality rules in 2014. Now, most Democrats have now come out strongly in favor of the rules.

    “Americans have greatly benefitted from an accessible and unrestrained internet,” said Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J. “It’s why I’ve been fighting to preserve net neutrality protections since the Trump administration entered office and began their efforts to repeal them.”

    Democrats will officially take control of the House on Jan. 3, and speculation about who the party will run against Trump in 2020 has already begun in full.

    Gigi Sohn, a former lawyer at the FCC who is now a fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology, Law and Policy, said she expects Democrats to use their new power to push for the restoration of strong net neutrality rules — and for the topic to be on the lips of presidential hopefuls.

    “I have no doubt that bills to restore the 2015 rules will be introduced in both the Senate and the House relatively early on,” Sohn said. “Every Democratic candidate for president, this is going to be one of their top issues.”

    Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner who has been a vocal supporter of net neutrality, noted that it has become a national issue — and one that has broad approval from Americans. She pointed to a University of Maryland study that found
    83 percent of people surveyedwere against the FCC’s move to undo the rules around net neutrality.

    “The only place that this has become partisan is in Washington, D.C.,” Rosenworcel said. “We awoke a sleeping giant.”

    On the state level, governors are already taking executive actions to protect net neutrality, and through bipartisan efforts, lawmakers in 30 states have introduced legislation to put in place net neutrality protections and standards.

    Ernesto Falcon, legislative counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, helped organize a grassroots campaign around the passing of California’s S.B. 822, one of the earliest laws to establish rules around net neutrality on the state level. Falcon said he is “extraordinarily confident” that proponents of net neutrality will win.

    “It really just boils down to how one side of the polling is in this space,” Falcon said.

    Though California’s bill, deemed a “
    gold standard,” will remain stagnant until pending litigation around last year’s FCC rollback of the federal rules is resolved, it represents opportunities advocates are pursuing to preserve net neutrality across all branches of government.

    The consolidated appeals against the FCC’s deregulation of Internet providers will be decided in D.C.’s Circuit Court.
    Oral arguments are set to begin on Feb. 1, 2019.

  6. #226
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    IFPI Slams Pirate MEP For ‘Lobbying’ Kids, Forgets a Decade of Rightsholders Doing It

    Yet another war of words on Twitter over Article 13 has delivered one of the great ironies of recent times. After Pirate MEP Julia Reda called on kids to 'lobby' their parents over the controversial legislation, she got a "shame on you" from IFPI for "manipulating minors". Trouble is, the entertainment industries have been doing the same for well over a decade.

    As the controversy over the EU’s Article 13 proposals continue, Twitter appears to be the communications weapon of choice for parties on both sides.

    While the debate has often been well thought out and considered, at times it has descended into a chorus of potty-mouthed name-calling that at times has proven embarrassing to read. But that’s the Internet, of course.

    As one of the main opponents of Article 13 and in particular its requirement for upload filtering, Julia Reda MEP has been a frequent target for proponents. Accused of being a YouTube/Google shill (despite
    speaking out loudly against YouTube’s maneuvering), Reda has endured a lot of criticism. As an MEP, she’s probably used to that.

    However, a recent response to one of her tweets from music giant IFPI opens up a somewhat ironic can of worms that deserves a closer look.

    Since kids will be affected by Article 13, largely due to their obsessiveness with YouTube, Reda recently suggested that they should “lobby” their parents to read up on the legislation. In tandem with
    pop-ups from YouTube advising users to oppose Article 13, that seemed to irritate some supporters of the proposed law.

    As the response from IFPI’s official account shows, Reda’s advice went down like a lead balloon with the music group, a key defender of Article 13.

    “Shame on you: Do you really approve of minors being manipulated by big tech companies to deliver their commercial agenda?” the IFPItweet reads.

    While Reda reaching out to kids probably irritated whoever was behind the keyboard at IFPI, it can’t have helped that the example given in Reda’s tweet was a response from UK Labour MP Jess Phillips. She’s one of the most plain-talking MPs in the UK currently and has a great sense of humor, even when it comes to her own kids offering education on copyright law.

    Joking aside though, it’s pretty ironic that IFPI has called out Reda for informing kids about copyright law to further the aims of “big tech companies”. As we all know, the music and movie industries have been happily doing exactly the same to further their own aims for at least ten years and probably more.

    Digging through the TF archives, there are way too many articles detailing how “big media” has directly targeted kids with
    their message over the last decade. Back in 2009, for example, a former anti-piracy consultant for EMI lectured kids as young as five on anti-piracy issues.

    That same year, it was
    revealed that the Copyright Alliance (of which the RIAA is a member) was pushing a pro-copyright curriculum to schools in the US. Then, in 2012, the French anti-piracy agency HADOPI, which has ties to the entertainment industries, put forwardproposals to target children at the Kidexpo exhibition in Paris.

    In 2013, both the RIAA and MPAA began
    teaching copyright classes in California public schools after developing a curriculum targeted at kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.

    More recently in 2016, the Creative Content UK initiative, which is backed by the copyright industries,
    hit classrooms in an effort to educate children about the dangers of piracy.

    Then, just this year, a
    special campaign targeted directly at kids tried to deter them from using ‘pirate’ sites by feeding them questionable information about malware.

    TL;DR Glass houses and black pots.

    Source: Torrentfreak.com

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